The Heritage Council
Short Interpretive Text
Medium Interpretive Text
Long Interpretive Text
At Querrin Pier, the visitor can see Scattery Island, home to a 6th century monastic site, founded by St. Senan, who was born locally. The site contains the ruins of six churches and has one of the largest round towers in Ireland at 120 feet in height but unusually its door is at ground level. The main church on the island is Teampall Naomh Mhuire (Cathedral of Saint Mary), which is situated next to the round tower. Scattery was invaded by the Vikings in the 9th century and the word Scattery might come from the Norse word Scatty, which means treasure. Folklore suggests that St. Senan fought the sea serpent for control of Scattery. The sea serpent is a common figure in local legend in the area. It is reported that St. Senan would not allow females on the island so a nunnery was built on the main land, overlooking Scattery. The nunnery buildings no longer exist but the nuns graveyard can still be seen at Cill a’ Cailleach to the north east of Querrin.
In the 1840s Scattery was part of the estate of the Marquis of Conyngham whose son-in-law, Marcus Keane, acted as land agent. In March 1843, pilots from Kilbaha boarded a deserted ghost ship, The Windsor Castle of Liverpool, which had left Bombay in June 1842. They brought it ashore and were eventually awarded compensation for their efforts. Keane approached the compensated families and offered to sell them land on Scattery, an offer which many families took up, increasing the population of the island considerably. There are nine surnames associated with Scattery Island, some of them belong to the pilots families; Keanes, (Kanes or O'Cahanes), Scanlon, MacMahon, Brennan, Melican, Hanrahan, Hehir, Moran and Griffin. Scattery Island consists of a diverse range of habitats including lagoons, saltmarsh, loughs and eroded sea cliffs on the western fringe. Over forty-one species of birds have been recorded on the Island.
From this point at Querrin Pier, the extent of the mouth of the Shannon, Ireland’s largest river and a natural heritage hotspot is evident. This is a designated SAC (Special Area of Conservation). The site is of international ecological importance, comprising of Carboniferous limestone, mudflats and salt marshes. It contains many important habitats, including three species of lamprey, bottlenose dolphin, otter and freshwater pearl mussel. The estuary is also a designated SPA (Special Protected Area) for bird species including Brent Goose, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Black-tailed Godwit.
The Mouth of the Shannon has been the route for boats in and out of Limerick Port since the 9th century. There was a ferry disaster on 12th December 1849, when those seeking relief at the workhouse in Kilrush took the ferry from Cammoge Pier. They had come from the western parishes of Kilballyowen and Moyarta but didn’t receive relief at the workhouse that day and were turned away. On the return journey, the ferry sunk and 41 victims drowned, no doubt partly because they were too weak to swim ashore. A memorial to those that died is located at the ferry crossing at Cammoge and was unveiled as part of the National Famine Commemoration in 2013.
Querrin pier was built in the 1842. It took a year to build and the justification for its construction was the boat traffic at Querrin at the time. A large number of locals were involved in commercial fishing. There were at least 50 currachs, 15 bigger boats and another 15 trading boats operating from Querrin. At the time, the locals had rights to the seaweed along the shoreline, which they used for cultivating their potatoes and vegetables. As well as the pier, Querrin also has a creek which fills at high tide, protected by what is known locally as the Island. This area is not actually an island at all and locally the story is that the area was kept attached to the mainland by stones placed by the local community. The pier is a popular place for fishing with flounder, bass and dogfish popular catches.
On the sea shore, an example of a currach can be seen, this is an example of the traditional canoes of the Loop Head peninsula, which were used for both fishing and transport. These sturdy and versatile vessels were constructed from a frame of wooden ribs, or hoops, traditionally with animal hides stretched over it, and more recently canvas. The West Clare Currach Club was established to resurrect the old boat building methods and Querrin Pier is home to the Sally O'Keeffe, a replica Shannon hooker, a 25 foot gaft- rigged sailing craft that was launched in 2012. It was named after a local woman whose family had the last hooker in the area.
County Clare’s maritime tradition has been an integral part of local communities for many years, especially true of the community at Querrin. In recognition of this, Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Study was commissioned and published in 2008. The study examined the distribution, diversity and social intricacies of Clare’s boats and currachs, as well as contextualising their profound role in Clare’s history and culture.
The two towers at Moneypoint power station rise high above the estuary to the southeast. This is Ireland's largest electricity generation station and the only coal fired power station. It was constructed at cost of €700 million euros and is capable of meeting 25% of the country's electricity needs.
There is a handball alley at the pier. Handball was one of the original four sports of the Irelands Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884, with the earliest written record of the game from the town statutes of Galway City in 1527. The alley at Querrin Pier has been the location of many tournaments and competitions over the years but nowadays is more commonly used by locals playing tennis and racket ball.
Site Recommendations and Observations
It is recommended that adequate road signage for the proposed Heritage Trail be provided for this site at the nearby crossroads. Replacing any existing signage should be considered to avoid any confusion. At present it is not visually obvious that you have arrived at Querrin. It is therefore recommended to again consider an ‘Arrival Sign’ to inform arriving visitors of their destination.
At present there is no existing interpretation at Querrin Pier. With several points of interest on view from Querrin Pier and nearby, it is recommended that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be used to help the visitor orientate themselves and view their surroundings with ease while reading the interpretative text.
There is significant potential for the development of a walking route (s) at Querrin using the roadway, foreshore and possibly what is known as ‘The Island’ dependant on rights of access. It is recommended that further research be undertaken.
It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this and all site.
The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:
- ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
- ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
- ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’
Sources of Information
1) Interview with Trea Heapes
2) Review of OSi Discovery and Historical Maps
3) Online Research
Other Research and Facts
Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Study 2008 - http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/heritage/pdfs/clare_traditional_boat_and_currach_project_2008.pdf
Scattery Island -National Monument
Category of Interest