Market House 1992

Extract from the Clonmany Festival 25th Anniversary Souvenir Booklet 1992

The village of Clonmany is situated about the centre of the parish of Clonmany in the quarterland of Dunally. The first houses were built around a crossroads hence the local name of 'The Cross". This was in the late 1920s. The mode of transport was "shank's mare" and since the town of Carndonagh was 8 miles distant and Buncrana 10 miles, the then owner of the lands, Mrs. Annie Loughrey, decided to build the Market house to facilitate the tenants and collect tolls. She had the building erected at a cost of 700-800 (a very princely sum in those days) which included labour and materials. They also provided the cowpark or Fair Green.

The Market House was equipped with a weigh-bridge and scales and a large loft which was often used as a social centre as well as a commercial one. Grain and seed were bought and sold here. As well as wool and kelp (a substance from seaweed, locally known as slac mara or budaghs). Markets were held twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays from the year 1858 until the mid 1960s. In 1874 with the demise of Mrs. Annie Loughrey, the quarterland of Dunally and the markets passed into the possession of John Loughrey under the will of his brother Michael Loughrey (to whom the original patents were granted on 17th December, 1856. John Loughrey died in 1901 and his estates passed onto his widow, Mrs. Fanny Loughrey. Up to this time the toll fees amounted to 2 - 3 weekly. From this period the "fees" were auctioned yearly until 1901 when a dispute arose regarding payment. Henceforth, the Market House including the loft, was let to a local seed merchant for 22 per annum. Under the broad elliptical archway, the village hearse was housed. From the 1960s onward, horses became few and far between. Tractors became the principal method of transporting cattle, sheep and grain, so distance became no object, and the mart in Carndonagh became the centre for all the marketing transactions in Inishowen and so ended a hundred years of our heritage and a new era began.

Like the Market House in Ballybofey. it is an odd mixture of stone and brick. It has very pleasant railings with interesting hinges in the form of a clasped fist. Over the past 25 years, the gradual deterioration of this lovely building became more evident. The ravages of wind and weather took their toll until the focal point of the village has become an eyesore. Efforts by a couple of local groups to buy the building and turn it into a useful community centre have met with failure. Hopefully in the not too distant fixture something will be done about this once fine building before it becomes just a pile of rubble.

M. M. Comiskey,


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