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Subject: County Cavan, N16 road (Ireland), Séamus Dolan, Opry Mills, Shannon Pot
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an Blaic

Main Street, Blacklion in July 2007
Blacklion is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Cavan
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)

Blacklion (Irish: an Blaic) is a Republic of Ireland-United Kingdom border village in west County Cavan, Ireland. It is situated on the N16 national primary road, just across the border from the County Fermanagh village of Belcoo.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Transport 3
    • Rail transport 3.1
    • Coach/bus transport 3.2
  • Local attractions 4
  • Notable people 5
    • Yellow Cathal 5.1
  • Sport 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The village is within the townland of Tuam (Irish: Tuaim, meaning "tumulus"). A stone cairn, a burial cist and two stone cashels are all within the townland, giving evidence of early habitation.

The original name of the village was Largay (also Largy, Largain, Largin and Largan, from the Gaelic Leargaidh meaning a hillside), which was a túath belonging to the Coffey McGoverns, a sub-sept of the McGovern clan, from the 8th century until the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century. King James I then granted it to Nicholas Pynner in the following grant:

Patent 13 James I. XL-8. 14th December. Grant from the king to Nich Pynner, Gent. Cavan Co. In Largy, or Largin Ter. The Precinct of Toom, containing 4 polls, called Gortnesillagh, Mullaghgarrowe, Rossan and Ture or Toore. Total rent £1-12-0 English. To hold for ever, as of the Castle of Dublin, in common socage.

The Annals of The Four Masters under the year 1594 state:

M1594.7: O'Donnell, as we have stated, was encamped, laying siege to Enniskillen, from the middle of June to the month of August, until the warders of the castle had consumed almost all their provisions. Messengers came to O'Donnell from the Scots, whom he had before invited over, to inform him that they had arrived at Derry. And those who had come thither were Donnell Gorm Mac Donnell, and Mac Leod of Ara. O'Donnell then set out with a small number of his forces to hire them; and he left another large party of them with Maguire to assist him, and he ordered them to remain blockading the castle. When the Lord Justice, Sir William Fitzwilliam, had received intelligence that the warders of Enniskillen were in want of stores and provisions, he ordered a great number of the men of Meath [
  • Shannon Gaels GAA Club
  • The Cavan Burren
  • Belcoo and Blacklion Station
  • Old photos of Blacklion

External links

  1. ^ Seward, William Wenman (1795). Topographia Hibernica; or the Topography of Ireland, Antient and Modern. Dublin. Black-Lion-Inn [situated] in County Cavan ... is otherwise called Largay... 
  2. ^ Wilson, W. (1786). The Post-Chaise Companion or, Travellers Directory through Ireland. Dublin. pp. 92–93. 
  3. ^ "Reality, and how to miss it". 2011-11-10. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  4. ^ Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights (July 2006) (PDF). Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk (Report). Houses of the Oireachtas. p. 167 [187]. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Ó hUltacháin, Séamus (2007). "The Relict Landscape of the Burren Area of North-West Cavan". 'Breifne' – Journal of Cumann Seanchais Bhreifne (Breifne Historical Society). Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  7. ^ Chalmers, Robert (2005-12-04). "Tony Booth: Confessions of a loose cannon, The Independent". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  8. ^ "Shannon Gaels Official Website". Retrieved 15 September 2012. 



See also

Blacklion is home to the most westerly and northerly Gaelic Athletic Association club in County Cavan, the Shannon Gaels. They team currently plays in the County Division 3 league. The club covers the geographical area of Blacklion, Glangevlin and the divided village of Dowra.[8] The club's name derives from Shannon Pot, the source of the River Shannon, which is located southwest of the village below Cuilcagh mountain.


Cathal Buí moved away from the Blacklion area and lived out most of his adult life as a travelling poet and seller of trinkets and tin cans in the South Monaghan/South Armagh/North Louth area; he is buried in a graveyard of Dunamoyne in this region.

According to legend the poet, who was famously a drinking man, was walking homewards along the lakeside on a frosty winter morning when he came upon a dead bittern, which he assumed had died of thirst because it was unable to get water from the frozen lake. He wrote the famous poem, An Bonnán Buí ("The Yellow Bittern"), which laments the fate of the bird and notes wryly that the bird had died for want of a drink while he himself was dying because of too much of it. There is a monument to his memory on the shore of Upper Lough MacNean, 2 kilometres (1 mi) from Blacklion on the Sligo road.

The townland of Barran, three miles from the village, is the reputed birthplace of the gaelic poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna ("Yellow Cathal McElgunn"), whose life and work is celebrated annually in a festival/summer school started in 1998 by Belcoo man, Aidan McGourty. Cathal Buí's name is also visible on local tourist signposts bearing the legend "Cathal Bui Country" with an image of a dead bird alongside.

Yellow Cathal

  • Séamus Dolan (1914–2010), Fianna Fáil politician, Cathaoirleach (chairman) of Seanad Éireann from 1977 to 1981.
  • Neven Maguire (born 1974), chef and television personality, was born in Blacklion and is head chef and proprietor of his family's restaurant in the village.
  • Anthony Booth (born 1931) lived in Blacklion[7] from 2003 to 2009. Tony, an actor who appeared in films and TV shows such as Coronation Street and Til Death Us Do Part, is sometimes better known as the father in law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Notable people

Blacklion also has a nine hole golf course and an award-winning restaurant, the MacNean Bistro, run by chef Neven Maguire. Upper Lough Macnean is known as an excellent coarse fishing lake and contains bream, roach, hybrids, pike, perch, eel and brown trout. The Lough MacNean Sculpture Trail circles the lakes.

There are many attractions nearby Blacklion, including the lakes of Upper and Lower Lough MacNean, the Marble Arch Caves, the Cladagh Glen Nature Reserve, Florence Court house and grounds, Glenfarne forest with its lakeside walks, Shannon Pot (the source of the River Shannon, Ireland's longest river) and Cuilcagh Mountain Park. 3 kilometres (2 mi) south of Blacklion lies the Cavan Burren, a limestone landscape containing a wealth of Neolithic remains, which was planted with forestry in the 1950s and has since been partially reclaimed and signposted to provide access to the many notable structures and geological features.[6] The Cavan Way, a 25 km (16 mi) marked walking trail runs from the village of Dowra, County Cavan to Blacklion. It links up with the Ulster Way at Blacklion and the Leitrim Way and Beara-Breifne Way in Dowra.

Local attractions

Blacklion is a stop on the Bus Éireann Sligo-Manorhamilton-Enniskillen Expressway route 66. [5] The coach stops at Sligo bus station which is beside Sligo railway station.

Coach/bus transport

Today the nearest railway station is in Sligo with trains to Dublin Connolly.

In 1879 the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway line opened with Belcoo station serving both Belcoo and Blacklion. The last trains ran through the station on 20 September 1957. The railway bridge crossing the river between Blacklion and Belcoo was blown up by the British army in the late 1970s, ostensibly to prevent its potential use by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for moving arms across the Irish border.

Rail transport


Blacklion is on the N16 road that goes from Sligo to Enniskillen and on to Belfast (becomes the A4 road in Northern Ireland). In addition to being on the border of County Fermanangh, Blacklion is also just 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the border of County Leitrim. The point where the three counties of Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh join is in the centre of Upper Lough McNean.

Blacklion is situated between the lakes of Upper and Lower Lough MacNean. The river which connects the two lakes forms the border between County Cavan and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. A bridge over this river connects Blacklion to the village of Belcoo in County Fermanagh. Blacklion sits at the foot of the hills below Cuilcagh Mountain, across which the border extends.


During The Troubles Blacklion, as a main border crossing was home to a joint Irish Army/Garda Síochána checkpoint. It was the scene of a bomb attack in 1974 by the UVF.[3][4]

In the 1950s the village name plate read Learga. This was the name by which local older generation people would have called the place – colloquially called Leargy. Learga is the plural of an Irish word Learg meaning rising ground, slopes, or mountain side. This description would connect with the topographical location of the village, which sits below steeply rising ground and hills. Today, Learga no longer appears on the village signs, which now show An Blaic. The village is generally referred to by local residents as 'The Black'.

Blacklion's urban growth was hampered until the mid nineteenth century, by the nearby village of Red Lion, some miles to the west on the coach-road to Sligo. The weather event known as The Night of the Big Wind in January 1839 caused structural damage to the Protestant church at Thornhill, to the west of Blacklion. This was never fully repaired. According to local tradition Blacklion was the first place in Co. Cavan to be affected by the potato blight in the autumn of 1845. Deaths as a result of malnutrition and disease in the subsequent Irish Potato Famine were high.

The afore-mentioned inn may have been the establishment which gave shelter and hospitality to the founder of Methodism, John Wesley In the 1770s, during one of his many tours through Ireland he recorded how bad weather forced him to stay the night at a local inn, whose proprietor was sympathetic to his message.

Within 2 miles and a half of the Black Lion, on the L. are the ruins of a church; and within a mile of the Black Lion, on the L. is Marle Bank, the seat of Mr. Irwine. On the R. is a large and beautiful lake, called Lough Machnean [sic], with three finely cultivated islands in it. About a quarter of a mile to the R. of Largay, or the Black Lion inn, is Belcoo Bridge, which leads to Garison [Garrison] road.[2]

The name was changed to Blacklion in honour of a famous coaching inn in the village.[1][group 1] Wilson's "Post-Chaise Companion" of 1786 states:

The Market House, one of the oldest buildings in the village, is now home to a tourist information centre.
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