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Where to go in Louisburgh, County Mayo, Ireland. Gowlaun Church

  Louisburgh. Cluain Cearb├ín - Meadow of Buttercups

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Gowlaun Church: 1816-1897

The parish of Kilgeever at the turn of the century included Louisburgh, the half parish of Killeen and the half parish of Lecanvey and also included were Clare Island and Inishturk.

Historically the churches were situated in Louisburgh, Kilgeever, firstly in Doughmore and later in Gowlaun. Gowlaun Church was first referred to in 1839; it was erected after the Catholic Emancipation of 1839. Made from rubble stone and plastered with windblown lime and sand it still stands complete today, a testament to the craftsmen that built it.

Though there is no apparent reason for naming the church Gowlaun (it is situated in South Devlin) the site was already a place for gatherings for mass and trading. There was already a pound for herding strays, a public house and patterns were held yearly.

According to folklore it was the MacNamara's of Bunlough, Devlin North who built the church. The builders deserve special mention regarding the steeple in particular. Built 35 feet high the stones at the bottom were the same weight as the top, which gave a uniform balance to the walls. A block and tackle made of wood was used similar to that used in the raising of the sails in sailing ships of that period. The more blocks used, the easier it was to lift heavy stone with little friction to the required height.

The church was roofed twice in its lifetime. Firstly with thatch and secondly in 1871-1872 when it was slated. The same family, the MacNamara's carried out the work.

Rev William Joyce, the parish priest founded a new church at Killeen, although the church at Gowlaun was in a good state of repair. Apparently the priest felt that following the evictions at Thallabawn, all the congregation lived north of the church. Most of Bundorragha who previous to this attended mass at Gowlaun started to go to Leenane. The local people were very distressed at the founding of a new church especially since the slates of Gowlaun were removed and used to roof the new building at Killeen.

Gowlaun Church has two important features.

The Holy Water font at the entrance to the church which never dries up.

The Steeple was graced with a Sundial; the outline is still visible. Sundials were greatly used in English churches in the early 1800's.