STATELY DECLINE Treanlaur Lodge, as it stands today. Pic: John O’Callaghan
Treanlaur’s beautiful fishing lodge is now sadly abandoned and neglected
Many townland root names are derived from the Irish word for ‘half’, or ‘leath’, as in Lecarrow or An Leithcheathrú, the ‘half-quarter’. ‘Quarter’ itself, or ceathrú, commonly anglicised to ‘carrow’ or ‘carra’, is the second most common townland root-name element, at 207, after baile, in Mayo, which is in 225 names.
A ‘third’ or trian, usually written as ‘treen’ or ‘trean’ is in 20 townland names. Previously, when we were out in the Silver Strand/Thallabawn area, southwest of Louisburgh we encountered a townland called Dadreen, from dá thrian or ‘two-thirds’. Today I’m looking at the ‘thirds’ or ‘trian’, and we’re back down outside Newport on the Nephin Drive through Srahmore.
One of the first townlands we encounter, along the southeastern shore of Lough Feeagh, (Loch Fíoch, ‘Lake of the Wooded Place’) is Treanbeg, An Trian Beag, ‘The Little Third’, bounded on the north by Treanlaur. Treanlaur, An Trian Láir, ‘The Middle Third’, is situated on the eastern shore of Lough Feeagh.
The sources mention a related place called Treanmór or ‘Great Third’ that appears to have been north of Treanlaur. There are four townlands called Treanlaur in Mayo, but today I’m interested in the one in Burrishoole. At 925 acres, it is almost the size of the other three combined. (For the record, two more are in the Barony of Gallen, near Attymass and Kilconduff, and another in Carra, in Ballyovey Civil Parish, near Tourmakeady.)
The reason I single out this particular Treanlaur is because it lies at one of the best entry points to the Wild Nephin Wilderness and contains within its bounds the wonderful Treanlaur Lodge, sadly abandoned and neglected now. It was an ‘An Óige’ or ‘Youth’ Hostel between 1980 and 2008. Closed due to flood damage in 2009, it was put up for sale in 2011.
The house itself, a detached six-bay two-storey fishing lodge, erected on a site leased in 1852 by Peter Denis Browne (1825-83) from his cousin George John Browne (1820-86), third Marquess of Sligo, represents an important component of the mid 19th-century built heritage of County Mayo. The architectural value of the lodge, recalling the earlier Delphi (1820), in Tawnyinlough, is confirmed by the deliberate alignment – maximising on panoramic views over Lough Feeagh to Ben Gorm.
According to the Westport Estate Papers (WEP, p330) the lodge had subsequent connections with the Laprimaudaye family, including Captain Charles Henry Laprimaudaye (1839-1923), to whom Peter Denis Browne assigned the lease on February 23, 1871. Sadder times are also recorded in these WEP, including several bundles of legal papers referring to the ejectment of McLoughlins from Treanlaur in 1814-15, and again in 1848, and two ‘surrenders’, dated May 8 and Nov 19, 1860.
In the mid 1890s, Captain Laprimaudaye sold the lease of the estate, and for a number of years the shooting rights, lodge and fishing were leased to a variety of clients. During the Second World War there was little shooting or fishing done in the area, and the lodge would have been destroyed during the War of Independence only for the influence of some local people.
A century of change
In 1927, a Mr Templar, who was on a fishing holiday in Newport, became interested in Lough Feeagh and made enquiries about purchasing the lodge. At the same time a Mr Roberts was on a fishing holiday on Beltra Lake with his two sons, Charles and John, and he also made known his intention of buying Treanlaur, but he was outbid by Mr Templar, who purchased the fishery and the lodge, to which he made major improvements. He died in 1929.
A short time later, the Roberts family became the new owners of the fishery and lodge and retained a Mr Tom Cleary who had great knowledge of the area. In the late 1940s the Roberts purchased Burrishoole fishery from a Mr Brennan, who moved to the Castlebar area.
The old Mr Roberts died in 1937, and his son, Major Charles, who was a Director of Lloyds Bank in London, was made manager of the fisheries and owner of Treanlaur Lodge.
In later years, when Major Charles Roberts retired, the Salmon Research Agency took over the fisheries and in July 1999 it became part of the Marine Institute. However, the first laboratory was actually located to the rear of the lodge.
I acknowledge my neighbour, Noreen Holmes, who worked for the Roberts family in Treanlaur Lodge during the summers in the 1960s, for inspiring this article.
Dr John O’Callaghan is a mountain walk leader who has organised and led expeditions both at home and abroad. He has served on the board of Mountaineering Ireland and is currently on the Irish Uplands Forum board. In 2012, he wrote the winning article that secured Westport’s accolade as the Irish Times’ ‘Best Place to Live in Ireland’.