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The Seven Sisters

In the evenings, from the rooftop of Brackloon, the sun sets in the west beside the Seven Sisters.

The sisters are seven groves of beech trees crowning the eastern crest of Redmount Hill, the only significant natural height in this most easterly region of County Galway. Both hill and trees are therefore well-known local landmarks. Both are visible not only from the mostly flat landscape of five surrounding parishes but from neighbouring counties across the River Shannon also.

The trees were planted within the view of Eyrecourt Castle, the ruined former home of the Eyre family who founded the local village. Folklore tells us that they were planted to commemorate the seven daughters of John Eyre junior of Eyrecourt Castle and his wife Eleanor Maria, daughter of Hubert Butler Moore of nearby Shannongrove. Whatever their true origin, the romantic story of the seven sisters or ‘Seven Miss Eyres’ has captured the imagination and is the name by which the trees are almost universally known locally.

An author once wrote that he recalled as a young boy arriving by train in the town of Banagher, across the River Shannon and seeing the familiar sight of what he called the four elephants on Redmount Hill in the distance. They were never widely known as such, but the sister’s resemblance, when viewed from a certain angle (including Brackloon) to four elephants lumbering slowly across the east Galway landscape has been remarked by more than one.

Nobody locally recalls the original name of the hill by which it was known to the earliest occupants of Brackloon Castle centuries ago. That name was lost to local knowledge with the passage of time and with the early decline in this region of the native Irish language. It can, however, be identified from a few contemporary references as Knockmoyldearg, which translates into English as the ‘hill of the red rounded top’. Beyond the trees, the townland name of ‘Rooghan’ suggests an area originally known for its reddish brush or vegetation and supports the view that the name by which we now know the hill; Redmount Hill, derives directly from this more ancient Irish name and succinctly describes the former topography and landscape in which it occurs. 

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