If you ever visit Clifden, the largest town in Connemara, County Galway, you will notice a prominent stone monument on a hill overlooking the town. This is the D’Arcy Monument, erected in honour of John D’Arcy (1785-1839), the man who founded Clifden in 1812.
John D’Arcy was born in 1785 in Kiltullagh, County Galway, to a wealthy Anglo-Irish family. He inherited a large estate of over 17,000 acres in Connemara, which was mostly barren and sparsely populated. He had a vision to develop the region and improve the living conditions of his tenants.
In 1812, he decided to establish a new town on a coastal site that he owned, which had access to a natural harbour and a river. He named the town Clifden, meaning “stepping stones” in Irish. He planned the layout of the town, built a castle nearby, and encouraged settlers to come and trade. He also promoted agriculture, fishing, mining, and road building in the area.
D’Arcy was a progressive landlord who cared for his tenants and supported Catholic emancipation. He was also involved in politics and served as a member of parliament for Galway County from 1832 to 1834. He died in 1839 at the age of 54, leaving behind a legacy of development and improvement in Connemara.
The D’Arcy Monument is a square-plan stepped monument made of rubble stone, granite, and limestone. It has a pyramidal concrete cap and a carved limestone plaque that commemorates John D’Arcy. It was erected around 1842 by his son Hyacinth D’Arcy, who inherited the estate after his father’s death.
The monument is located on a peak of a hill that offers stunning views of Clifden and its surroundings. It is a popular spot for visitors and locals to enjoy the scenery and learn about the history of the town. The monument also bears various examples of graffiti dating from 1871, which add to its historical interest.
The D’Arcy Monument is accessible by foot from Clifden town centre. It takes about 15 minutes to walk up the hill, following a signposted path. The path is steep and uneven in some parts, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and bring water. The monument is open to the public at all times and there is no admission fee.
Alternatively, you can drive to the monument by taking the Beach Road from Clifden and turning left at the fork. There is a small parking area near the monument, but space is limited.
The D’Arcy Monument is a must-see attraction for anyone who wants to discover the history and beauty of Clifden and Connemara. It is a tribute to a visionary man who shaped the destiny of this region and its people.
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