Raphoe

Infobox Irish Place
name = Raphoe
gaeilge = Ráth Bhoth
crest

motto =
map

pin coords = left: 97px; top: 66px
north coord = 54.835599
west coord = 7.477913
irish grid =
area =
elevation =
province = Ulster
county = County Donegal
dailconstituency = Donegal North East
stdcode =
town pop = 1,065
rural pop =
census yr = 2006
web =
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Raphoe (IPAEng|'ræfoʊ; _ga. Ráth Bhoth) is a town in County Donegal, part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland. It is the main town in the fertile district of East Donegal known as the Laggan, as well as giving its name to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raphoe and the Church of Ireland Diocese of Raphoe and Derry.

In recent years, Raphoe has come under the media spotlight following the establishment of the Morris Tribunal to investigate allegations of corrupt and dishonest policing in the County by the Garda Síochána. The Tribunal's second report related to Garda attempts to frame a local publican, Frankie McBrearty, for the murder of cattle dealer Richie Barron. [ [http://archives.tcm.ie/irishexaminer/2005/06/02/story348793566.asp "Irish Examiner": 'Morris Tribunal condemns garda negligence'; 2 June 2005. Viewed 2008-04-14] ]

On August 27 2005, the first Royal Black Preceptory march in the Republic of Ireland was held in Raphoe. [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0827/donegal.html RTÉ News: 'Royal Black Preceptory holds Donegal parade'; 27 August 2005. Viewed 2008-04-14] ]

The name

Raphoe gets its name from the Irish "Ráth Bhoth", the origin of which is believed to be traced to the arrval of these early monks near the town. The name is constructed from the words "ráth" (fort) and "both" (hut), identifying with the clay and wattle huts built by the monks and surrounded with a strong fortified mound. [ In and Around Raphoe published 1999 ]

History

The rich agricultural land around Raphoe has been inhabited and cultivated for thousands of years,and evidence of this can be seen through monuments such as the Beltany Stone Stone Circle, just outside the town. The stone circle is one of the largest in Ireland with a diameter of 44 metres (165 feet) and made up of more than sixty stones in all. The site is believed to date to around 2000 BC, and that it was originally an enclosed cairn. Its name is believed to be linked the Celtic festival of fertility known as 'Beltane'. [Noonan, D: "Castles & Ancient Monuments of Ireland", page 137. Aurum Press, 2001] Around 550 AD Columba (also known as Colmcille), one of the three patron saints of Ireland, founded a monastic settlement in the area. This site was further developed by his kinsman Eunan, who gives his name to the town's cathedral and is patron saint of the Diocese of Raphoe.

In 1198, John de Courcy, a Norman knight who had invaded Ulster in 1177, returned to County Donegal to devastate Inishowen and on his way destroyed churches at Ardstraw, County Tyrone and Raphoe. [cite book | last=DeBreffny, D & Mott, G| year=1976 |title=The Churches and Abbeys of Ireland | publisher=Thames & Hudson | location=London | pages=p60-61]

The design of the modern town is traced to the Ulster Plantation of the early 1600s, when the town was granted to English and Scottish settlers. It was these settlers who laid out the town with the 'Diamond' at its centre, in a similar manner to other Plantation towns like Derry and Donegal.

The strong religious connections of the town's history are still in evidence in today through the presence of the Church of Ireland Cathedral, as well as the remains of the 'Bishop's Palace' (often referred to as Raphoe Castle or Raphoe Palace). Built in the 1630s, the house, which is now nothing more than a shell, was laid siege to during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, captured by Cromwell's troups in 1650 and was damaged by supporters of King James II in 1689. [Noonan 2001, p.146.]

Religion

The town lends its name to both the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland dioceses, which cover most of Donegal, with the exception of Inishowen. Raphoe's status has declined significantly in recent centuries however, with the Anglican diocese being merged with Derry, while the Roman Catholic bishop now has his See in the larger town of Letterkenny. The Church of Ireland Cathedral, built on the site of Columba's monastery, is named for St Eunan (as is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Letterkenny).

Transport

Raphoe railway station opened on 1 January 1909 and finally closed on 31 January 1959. [cite web | title=Raphoe station | work=Railscot - Irish Railways | url=http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf | accessdate=2007-11-22|format=PDF]

References

External links

* [http://www.fiacharts.com/ Fiach Arts]
* http://www.beltany-circle.com/index.htm Beltany Stone Circle]


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