Killala Historic Town Walk
Tourist Information Office Cathedral Road Ballina Mayo Republic of Ireland
About this listing
Although it’s said that St. Patrick founded Killala, the town is best-known for its key role in the 1798 rebellion. In that year, General Humbert arrived in the area from France, combining with Irish rebels to take on the British army. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the Year of the French was a seminal moment in the struggle for Irish independence.
Killala’s heritage trail starts at the diminutive St. Patrick’s Cathedral (built on the site of a fifth-century church founded by the saint), meandering around the town centre before heading north towards the harbour and southeast to Killala House and stables. The full 3km route takes about 90 minutes to complete.
One of the highlights is Killala’s round tower - rising from the centre of town and dating from the 12th century. Though struck by lightening in 1800, necessitating a re-building of the tower cap, it is one of the finest of its kind in the West.
Humbert’s visit, of course, remains integral to the town’s history. The French general is believed to have stayed at Killala Lodge, a Georgian house overlooking the bay and his troops also made use of Killala Castle, another private residence dating from the 16th century, which was formerly known as the Bishop’s Palace.
Elsewhere along the trail, visitors can explore the ninth-century souterrain (a multi-chambered subterannean passage) at the cathedral, the ruins of a workhouse and fever hospital and Wolf Dog Tavern, a 16th-century coaching inn which featured in the 1982 RTE television series, The Year of the French.
As well as being a heritage town, Killala is surrounded by archeological treasures – ranging from the Céide Fields (a complex of farms, houses and megalithic tombs dating back 5,500 years) to Rosserk Abbey, a finely-preserved Franciscan abbey on the River Moy.