Céad Míle Fáilte, (a hundred thousand welcomes) to the Molly Gallivan’s web site! Our names are Stephen and Frances O’Sullivan. Back in September 1999 …. We had a dream! That dream was to purchase Molly Gallivan’s old cottage and farm, here in the Kerry hills. Our vision was to save a small piece of old Ireland, and in doing so to preserve some of Irelands unique and rich heritage for our, and hopefully future generations to enjoy. Luckily that dream has become a reality. Together with our three daughters, we run a small visitor centre at Molly Gallivan’s. Each day we have the pleasure in welcoming people from the four corners of the World to share with us in “our dream” We would also like to invite you to Molly Gallivan’s to share that dream and some of Ireland’s rich Heritage.
Traditional Farm Walk
When one lifts the latch at Molly Gallivan’s cottage, you open a precious door to our treasured past. Molly’s Cottage is over 200 years old. It was originally a single story thatched cottage, half of which still stand today. The Cottage was raised and slated in the early 1900s. It was home to one of Molly’s descendants, Jeremiah, until his death in 1997. Today, a visit to Molly’s cottage helps remind us of a simple but often challenging lifestyle endured by our ancestors.
We invite you to step back in time on Molly’s traditional farm, enjoy the animals while soaking in the history.
Molly’s farm is typical of a small holding of land, rented from the local landlord. Large families were expected to eke out a living from a few acres of often poor land. Molly would have sat up to an acre of potatoes to feed her family, as they were the main element of the diet at the time. She would have also reared a pig for its meat, a cow for milk, hens and chickens for their eggs and a donkey for doing the work around the farm. The Farm has changed little since Molly’s time, and is a reminder of harsh times endured by our ancestors.
Traditional Farm Walk
1. The House
The house is over 200 years old! Originally a single story thatched cottage, part of which still remains, it was extended, raised and slated in the early 1900s. There has been little change since then. The house as it is today was home to one of Molly’s descendants until 1997. The large open hearth, where the fire rarely if ever went out, was the only energy source providing hot water, heat and cooking facilities.
2. The Well.
A reliable and convenient source of fresh spring water for drinking and cooking was essential for any house.
3. The Garden
The garden provided most of the food for the house, potatoes and an array of vegetables were planted in mid to late Spring. In Molly’s day the garden could have been extended up to an acre.
4. Oats & Barley Field
Oats was grown as fodder for the horse and donkey, while barley was milled into flour for baking, or in Molly’s case provided the raw material for her home-made whiskey. The straw was used as bedding for the livestock and as thatch.
Here are to be found the cow house, stable, pig sty, hen house and hay shed. This would have been the busiest place on the farm, where animals were housed and fed and cows milked, by hand, twice daily. There was activity here literally from cockcrow to sunset!
6. Poitin Still
Here Molly distilled her renowned home made poitin locally known as “Molly’s Mountain Dew”. The potatoes or barley were first fermented with sugar and baker’s yeast in large barrels to give “the wash”. It was then heated over an open fire distilled through a “worm” or coiled copper pipe to give a clear but potent whiskey.
7. The Sheep House
Sheep are well wrapped against all weather conditions and rarely stay indoors. They would be brought here for shearing and in more recent times for dosing and dipping. In olden times the wool was plucked, carded and spun into yarn for knitting or weaving. Nowadays the sheep house is an ideal place to shelter from an unexpected shower!
8. Famine Ruin
This ruin stands as a poignant reminder of the extreme poverty of many, forced to eke out an existence on very small and poor parcels of land. Potatoes were the staple diet and when the crop failed as a result of potato blight in the 1840s, starvation and death were the inevitable consequence.
9. 10. Neolithic Stone Row
Follow the druid’s path to a neolithic stone row alignment (3000 BC). It consists of two large flag stones that were placed and propped into position. They form part of a very rare ancient sun calendar. The stones may also mark burial or ritual sites.
11. Turf Bog
Peat or turf was a primary source of fuel for the fire. In spring the wet peat was cut and laid on the ground to dry. When it had dried sufficiently to handle, it was stacked up in “stokes” so that the wind and sun could dry it completely. It provides excellent firing with a distinctive aroma.
12. Lime Kiln
Burned limestone was used not only as fertiliser but also for a variety or purposes such as making mortar or “whitewash” for painting. The nearest source of limestone is Kilgarvan, some twelve miles away.
13. Duck Pond
Apart from being a haven for the ducks and geese the pond would have provided water for washing clothes in the days before washing machines or even running water.
14. The Orchard
The orchard was a source of fresh fruit for eating and a key ingredient for Molly’s home made jams and tarts. Apples, gooseberries and blackcurrants were among the most popular fruits. The orchard was also a choice spot to keep the beehives.
“The Druid” proudly stands in the car park at Molly Gallivan’s. This imposing figure was carved from the remains of a pine tree in 2002 and represents the first settlers in the Sheen Valley more than 6000 years ago. These people had a great devotion to their Gods and their dead and had an advanced knowledge of astronomy. This is evident from the vast legacy of burial and ritual sites they have left us. The Druid looks across the valley to the highest peak “Barra-Bui”, where a Cairn on the summit marks the resting- place of an ancient Chieftain.
Traditional Irish Evenings
Treat yourself to an authentic Irish meal and evening’s entertainment. These are nights of Irish food, music, song, dance and story telling, re-enacting the old customs that took place in Irish homes the night before a family member emigrated, or returned from a foreign land.
Customers can relax and enjoy a pleasant shopping experience in our old-world craft shop. Here Molly Gallivan originally sold her hand spun woollens and obviously her Moonshine, the Poitin. Today we continue that traditional trade, selling many locally made produces and crafts. Hand and machine knitted Aran sweaters, grandfather shirts , locally made pottery, hats and scarfs, just to name a few.