The ancient town, Magheross, south of the river Proules, dates back to the 6th century. The ruin of the 16th century St. Finbarr's Church is the site of the ancient 6th century St. Finbarr's Monastery which was destroyed in 685AD. Tobar Inver (St. Finbarr's Well) nearby seems to have been a place of pilgrimage in prechristian times. The modern road from the well to Shantonagh is a unique feature in the region. It travels straight for a distance of 13km. This is believed to have been the path followed by pagan pilgrims who visited the well for celebrations and rituals. Christians would have maintained the customs associated with the well and the fact that a monastery was established beside it suggests that the well had indeed a regional significance. A settlement, Magheross, comprised of mud huts, grew up in the vicinity of the well and monastery..
Queen Elizabeth I of England granted the Barony of Farney to the First Earl of Essex, Walter Devereaux, in 1576. That decision set the scene for modern Carrickmacross. The inevitable turmoil lead to the 9 years war, 1594-1603, waged by the Ulster Gaelic Chieftains against the invaders. Gaelic Ulster lost the war, the Gaelic Earls left Ireland, and the Devereaux family eventually succeeded in gaining control of their estate. In 1630 the Third Earl built Essex Castle on high ground north of the river on a site now occuppied by the St. Louis Convent. He brought in English settlers and gave them plots of land stretching north from the Castle. The houses built by the settlers formed the main street of the fledgling town, much as it is today.
Carrickmacross Lace, a beautiful handmade lace, is world-famous. It has been incorporated into the wedding dress of every English Princess for hundreds of years, most recently at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.
Patrick Kavanagh, was born in Inniskeen near Carrickmacross. He is recognised as one of Ireland's finest poets. His father was a cobbler with a small farm. Patrick, who left school at age fourteen, preferred to work the small farm. He wrote: ‘A man (I am thinking of myself) innocently dabbles in words and rhymes and finds that it is his life’. He left the farm and headed off to Dublin to ply his poetry.
The Workhouse, with the mass graves behind, is a reminder of the horrors of the Great Famine in Carrickmacross.
The Market Square is a symbol of trade and commerce. The town had a strategic location on the main route from central Leinster into Ulster. Carrickmacross was always an important regional centre and today it is a bustling modern town with 5,000 inhabitants in south Ulster.
The road from Tobar Inver, Carrickmacross, goes straight as the crow flies for 13km to Shantonagh. It is a unique feature in the region. There is evidence that this was an Ancient Pilgrims' Way.
St. Peter's unique Tin Church, Laragh Village, is a worldclass site.
The Land of Lakes and Drumlins:
This is the land of lakes and drumlins ... and limestone rock. Rivers, hidden underground in limestone caves, emerge and dissappear again; underground lakes (turloughs) emerge overground each winter.
Geologists have discovered that the limestone rock was formed 30 million years ago under a shallow subtropical sea off the coast of west Africa.
The topography of the area, the lakes and drumlin hills, was formed, much as it is today, as the ice floes melted at the end of the Ice Age 11,000 years ago.