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The history of Killyfole

Some 200 years ago Killyfole Lough was only about two-thirds it's present area. A stream from the Strananeriagh Glen was diverted into it, a rampart constructed at the Southwest end, and the water level was raised by several meters. This flooded the flat area around the original lake and resulted in a shallow shoreline with gradually increasing depth around most of the perimeter. In the time eroded sand was carried across the Lough and deposited along the Eastern shoreline to form an excellent and safe bathing facility. This of course was the unintended result of raising the water level, the real reason for doing so, being to build a corn mill at Killyfole. This was duly done in the last half of the eighteenth century and operated under a variety of owners until the beginning of the 20th century.

Over the last two hundred years the lake has evolved with a gravely strand for the most part, but with one area covered in a fine layer of sand at the Eastern corner. There was little vegetation around it and in summer a wide strand was exposed. Local people used it as a bathing facility at weekends or on long summer evenings after a hard day's work in the fields.

As private cars became common from the late 40's, it became a favourite venue for family outings and picnics. Many came from local towns especially Clones and it was not unusual to see the Killylackey Road lined with cars at the long established entrance there to the sandy shore. Even as early as the 1920's a caravan was parked there for the summer belonging to Clones bank official and it is known that the local people bathed there for at least 100 years

However in the mid to late 1960's the lake was closed to local people as a picnic or bathing area and it was fenced around to prevent use by surrounding farmers so that it could become a reservoir. Nothing was provided in the area to compensate for the loss of amenity. A jetty and a variety of unattractive buildings were constructed and the contours of the fields, which had sloped towards the lake, were totally altered. Worse still was the complete destruction of the old corn mill, which had stood for two hundred years at Killyfole. The then Ministry of Agriculture stocked the newly created reservoir with trout for a few years, having first killed off the indigenous fish stock and then lost interest and allowed the lake to revert to nature.

Prior to taking over of the lake farmers with adjoining land allowed their cattle free access to the shore line for drinking purposes. This seemed to keep the shoreline vegetation controlled so that weeds and bushes made little encroachment on the "beach" area. With the removal of the animals, unrestricted weed and bush growth remained unchecked and in the last thirty years the characteristics of the lake have been greatly altered.

The area is rural in character and most of those living in the district are engaged in grassland farming enterprises or travel out of the district to find employment elsewhere. Farms tend to have relatively small acreage's, rainfall is heavy and soils in the area are poor. Many farmers find it necessary to supplement their income with off farm employment.

In addition the area is remote from most recreational amenities that one would expect to be normal in more favourable districts Our Development Association is directing its efforts towards rectifying this situation and, where possible developing a sense of community cohesiveness, through promoting and supporting any projects which will be of benefit to people of the district.

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