Roslea- Ros Liath
St Tierneys
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Rosslea (or Roslea; Ros Liath in irish) is a small village in County Fermanagh, close to the border with County Monaghan, it stands on the Finn river and is aurrounded by small natural lakes.

The village was daringly constructed in drumlin country so that even its winding main street has a steep incline. A street called Copper Alley (now demolished) had thatched houses with an interesting pattern of uneven ‘pitch and toss’ windows, the name derived from a game once played in the village. A large painting of the Crucifixion is set in an unusual side wall altar in the early 19th century Catholic church of St Tierney.

The village of Roslea is in the parish of Clones, which also straddles the border and includes area's of County Monaghan

The photo's on this page were kindly donated by the grand daughter of Michael Joseph Mcabe. He worked in the stables of Cannon McGlone, Monica tells me her grandfather used to clean the stables and look after his horses, he also drove him around the village to meet his parishioners , he was paid very well and in 1933 went to visit America, he stayed there and never came back.

click here for more photo's off Monica


The following article was written by Dr F.D' Arcy , former president of the Clogher Historical Society. In the article he discusses what Rolsea would have been like in the years 1600-1922.

The Article has been copied in part from a piece that was published in volume 2 of the Roslea Historical Journal, these journals were published by the Roslea heritage centre.


"So let us imagine the year is 1600. What was the position then in London, Scotland and more importantly in Roslea? In London, Queen Elizabeth I is ageing and coming to the end of her reign and in Scotland James VI, the architect of the Plantation of Ulster, was the King in Edinburgh.

He was called the wisest fool in Christendom; he was a crafty devious man, and he was looking forward eagerly to his succession to the throne in London. Roslea, or Slat-Mul-Rony (as it was called then) in Irish means the territory of the Rooneys. The reason for the name is that the main people in the locality were Rooneys and indeed they are until the present day.

What kind of life would John Rooney have had in his mud and wattle cabin in 1600? Now in those days Roslea was a very isolated place, with no roads only bridle paths. The land was very bad, wet, and covered in brush wood with a lot of oak trees. The Rooney family living at that time were self-sufficient, grew their own food, had their own fuel and even if they needed it their own stimulant - poteen. So they were completely independent. Their houses were very warm in winter time with roaring fires of turf or wood.

There were no potatoes yet. Sir Walter Raleigh had brought a bag over from America for seed but they had not penetrated as far as Roslea. Neither had tobacco which Sir Walter Raleigh also brought from the New World penetrated here. Tobacco has since become the blessing or the scourge of mankind whichever way you want to look at it. If you wanted to make a journey out of Roslea there were no roads, just tracks for pack horses. If you had wanted to go to Clones, you would have had to wade through the river at the bottom of the village up into the townland of Tattinbar, take a right turn and go by packhorse road to the neighbourhood of Lackey Bridge and from there into Clones.

There were two pack roads out of Roslea at that time, the one I have just mentioned starting in Tattinbar and the other, of which the remnants are still there, in the townland of Drumbrughas, some two miles outside Roslea on the Lisnaskea side. Today if you go up this old pack road at Drumbrughas to the summit there is, or was some time ago, a rudely fashioned stone cross at the road side. Old people told me that here at this cross pilgrims from the Clones area going to Clogher would stop and say a word of prayer. Things were fairly quiet and completely isolated in Roslea at that time. There was no talk of any settlers or planters coming into the area. Rooneys were the undisturbed masters of the locality.

The Plantations

Then we come on to about 1617 when the first planters arrived in the area. The first grantee of land was one John Sedborough who got a grant of land at Rateen. He gave out portions of land to his followers and the Roslea portion was given to a man named William Flowerdew. There is very little on record about William Flowerdew, except that when he came to Roslea he built a large English type house which was surrounded by about twelve mud and wattle cabins of the natives.

There is no record of what type of man he was, good or bad. We just know that he built the house and changed the name of the village from Slat-Mul-Rony to Roslea, which translated means the grey peninsula. If any of you chose to go up in a helicopter you would understand why it is so named.

You see Roslea stands out on a loop of the River Finn. If it stood out much more, the river would have surrounded it entirely and made it into an Island. Other grants of land were given to Sedborough's followers at Shannock Green and Gortindarra. Gortindarra House is now the property of a Mr Downey but there is evidence that it was an old plantation castle, in which a lintel stone bears the date 1617. Likewise, at Shannock Castle near Lackey Bridge, up a long lane and now the property of a Mr Erwin, the remains of an old castle, round tower and stone buttress can be seen. The plantation of the Roslea area was effected comparatively peacefully. We arrive then at the time of Sir Phelim O' Neill's big Ulster rebellion in 1641, which had no impact whatsoever in Roslea although it affected the Clones area pretty badly. Here there was no disturbance, and I know this from reading the Me Mahon family chronicles which they lent me some years ago. The Me Mahon family I refer to, are the spade manufacturers who have lived in this area for years and years, and these books refer to the peaceful state of the area at the time.

We pass on quickly to 1690 of glorious, pious and immortal memory, as they say, and to the Williamite Wars. After the Battle of Newtownbutler and the defeat of King James' troops there, a party of Jacobite troops fled in the direction of Roslea. They arrived at Derrygannon that night, battle- weary and exhausted, lay down and went to sleep in a field near the present Derrygannon Hall. At day-break they were overtaken by a party of pursuing Williamite troops, put to the sword and all killed in that field. The memory of this has passed out of the present generation but years ago older people told me the legend. The place where this happened is called Stra-na-faile which when translated means 'the river valley of deceit'.




Copy of a Rosslea trade directory from 1880

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