Just 11km east of Tulsk is one of Ireland’s most striking planned towns, STROKESTOWN, whose story embodies Ireland’s troubled history in microcosm. The land on which the town lies and the surrounding area, known as Corca Achlann, belonged for more than a thousand years to the MacBranan clan, underlords of the powerful O’Connor kings who ruled Connacht, until dispossessed by Cromwell in the 1650s. Subsequently, part of their territory was granted by Charles II to Nicholas Mahon, whose kin later amassed more than thirty thousand acres for their huge estate, second only in size to Rockingham in Roscommon, becoming one of the great landed families of Ireland in the process. In the early nineteenth century, his descendant Lieutenant-General Thomas Mahon, Second Lord Hartland, requiring a grandiose symbol reflecting the extent of his property, determined to have constructed a central avenue wider than Vienna’s Ringstrasse. This tree-lined mall leads a couple of hundred metres both east and west from the town centre. At its western end sits an octagonal church, now housing the County Roscommon Heritage and Genealogy Company, which conducts research for anyone seeking to trace their Roscommon roots; the eastern end of the mall terminates in a three-arched gateway, marking the entrance to Mahon’s massive estate.

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