Location in Ireland

Coordinates: 53°10′25″N 8°01′09″W / 53.173611°N 8.019167°W / 53.173611; -8.019167Coordinates: 53°10′25″N 8°01′09″W / 53.173611°N 8.019167°W / 53.173611; -8.019167
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Offaly
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
  Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)

Lusmagh is an area and townland in County Offaly, Ireland, situated approximately three miles south-west of Banagher. It is bounded on three sides by rivers, the River Shannon, the River Lusmagh and the Little Brosna River. It is also a Roman Catholic parish, in the Diocese of Clonfert, the only parish in the Diocese east of the River Shannon. Prior to 1373, Lusmagh was in the province of Connacht.[1] According to the history of the O'Kellys of Hy-Many, the name means the plain of the healing herbs.[2] In Christian times, the parish was named Cill Mochonna (the Church of Mochonna), after Saint Mochonna. Saint Crónán founded a monastery in the parish that survived for many centuries. The name Lusmagh was restored to the Parish around 1810. The present Roman Catholic parish church is named after St. Crónán.

Cloghan Castle

Cloghan Castle

Cloghan Castle was originally built as a monastery by St. Crónán in 600. The Normans fortified the remains of the monastery in 1203 by building a defensive wall around it, a part of which still exists. The Gaelic Chieftain Eoghan O’Madden constructed the castle keep in 1336.[3] His kingdom stretched to the west as far as Loughrea in County Galway. The castle was attacked and razed in 1595 by Sir William Russell, the Lord Deputy, and confiscated for the Crown.[4] It was granted, together with 6,000 acres, to Sir John Moore in 1601 and he was responsible for the existing oak beamed roof. Sir John was sacked from his Government post when it was discovered that he was a Catholic. The castle remained in the Moore family until it was taken by Cromwellian soldiers in 1654. They remained in residence until 1683 when King Charles II granted it to Garret Moore. It was garrisoned by the Jacobites in 1689 and 1690 and remains of their gun emplacements can still be seen in the grounds.[3] The Moores were good landlords and tried their best to alleviate the suffering of their tenants in the Great Famine of 1845 to 1847. As a result of the Famine, the Moores became bankrupt and had to sell the lands. It was purchased by Dr. Robert Graves, the Dublin Doctor who discovered Graves Disease of the thyroid, at the insistence of his wife.[5] He died a year after purchasing the castle. After his death, his widow evicted up to 100 tenants from the property.[6] His grandson sold it in 1908 before emigrating to Australia, where his descendants still live.

The land of Lusmagh was eventually taken over by the Land Commission, and divided among the local tenant farmers around 1910.


Lusmagh was the birthplace of Michael Larkin (1837–1867) one of the three Manchester Martyrs. He was born on the properties of Cloghan Castle, the entrance of which is just past St. Cronan's Church and parish house.


Lusmagh is probably best known for its hurling tradition. Joachim Kelly, Brendan Bermingham, Jim Troy, Brendan Kelly, Pat Temple and John Troy have all won All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals with Offaly as well as numerous provincial titles. Brendan Kelly, Ronald Byrne and John Troy have also won All-Ireland Minor medals, with John Troy having the distinction of being one of only three men in the history of the GAA to win three all-Ireland Minor medals.

Lusmagh GAA club won their one and only County Senior title in 1989, having been promoted from the Junior ranks in 1973. They defeated Seir Kieran in the final by one point. Joachim, Jim and John Kelly and Brendan Bermingham figured on both the successful teams of 1973 and 1989.

Lusmagh have also won two All-Ireland 11-a-side titles, an annual club competition which is held in Carlow, beating neighbours St.Rynagh's of Banagher in the inaugural competition in 1990 and Ferns in 2000.

In 1908, Edward Dolan, who was 20 years old, left Lusmagh as an emigrant to Australia. On the long journey he wrote a song about the pain of emigration and of parting from his native land, which he enclosed with his first, and only, letter home. He was never heard from again, but his song called Lusmagh Fields is still remembered and sung wherever Lusmagh people get together. It has been recorded by the Banagher singer Johnny McEvoy. One of the verses is as follows: "In London Town I do lie down upon my bed to sleep; When I think of home and how I must roam across the waters deep; I can't sleep a wink whene'ere I think of my home and my cailín; Ah, will I ever more see you a stór, or the Lusmagh fields so green."


  1. Banagher - A Brief History, Banagher Parish Council, June 1957.
  2. Weston Joyce, P., Irish Local Names Explained, 1870.
  3. 1 2 Thompson, B.D., Cloghan Castle, Lusmagh, Banagher, Ireland: 1400 years of living history, 1994.
  4. , Lewis, S., A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
  5. Cooke, Jim, The Graves Family in Ireland, Dublin Historical Record (Old Dublin Society) 50 (1): 25–39, 1997.
  6. Lusmagh, County Offaly, Ireland, Killeens of Dublin Ireland. Retrieved on 27 January 2013.
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