Updated: 18/04/17 : 05:05:25
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Mullaghmore pays tribute to the forgotten poor

Freddy McHugh lived at the gates of Classiebawn Castle on the Mullaghmore peninsula in Co Sligo until he died some time in the 1960s. Locals say no photograph of McHugh (72) has since been found and that his burial place is not known.

However, the poverty McHugh experienced before his death was uncovered when neighbours discovered he had burned almost every stick of furniture in his home in an effort to stay warm.

According to Marese McDonagh writing in The Irish Times the people of Mullaghmore gathered on Easter Monday to pay tribute to McHugh and to the inhabitants of the nearby lost village of Mullach Gearr, whose homes were demolished following the construction of Classiebawn in the 1860s.

Local historian Joe McGowan said the community felt it was important to honour the lives of those who had little status in their lifetimes and who had been long forgotten since death.

“The rich and titled have too much of the good things in this life; the poor deserve a place in the sun too,” said Mr McGowan.

He remembers McHugh as a local character whose pithy sayings were often quoted by neighbours, but he said that even though he died “not that long ago”, it was clear survival was a daily grind for him.

Homeless people

Independent Sligo county councillor Declan Bree, who addressed the gathering, drew parallels between the austerity experienced by McHugh and the suffering of today’s homeless people, including some 2,500 children.

McHugh resided in the castle’s gatehouse, best known as the holiday home of Lord Louis Mountbatten. When McHugh died shortly after collapsing with apparent hypothermia on a frost-bleached ditch, locals were shocked to find even part of his bed had been used for firewood.

The Griffiths Valuation of 1858 gives details of eight families living in Mullach Gearr but by the time the Ordnance Survey map of 1910 was drawn up, the houses had been demolished.

               Historian Joe McGowan addresses the  gathering at the unveiling of the memorial

No trace of the village remains and the Mullaghmore Residents and Heritage Group commissioned a memorial, created by sculptor Brendan McGloin, on the Wild Atlantic Way in an effort to ensure that McHugh and the residents of Mullach Gearr are not forgotten.

The memorial includes a sun dial which Mr McGowan said marked the passage of time and symbolised a link between the generations.

Sligo Today
yesterday outlined the inclusion of a time capsule containing over 70 items which will not be seen for at least 100 years. See link below.

Link: Sligo Today 17/4/2017