Towns of Galway
Letterfrack —County Galway
The delightful village of Letterfrack, 13km from Clifden, has a short but varied history. James and Mary Ellis, a Quaker couple from Bradford, came here in 1849 to contribute to post-famine relief in the area. Within a decade, they had established a thriving range of activities - a schoolhouse, a farm providing employment to over 60 men, doctor's surgery, housing for tradesmen, etc., and planted over 40 acres of woodland, most of which is now part of Connemara National Park. After the Ellis's returned to England in the late 1850's, their property changed hands a couple of times before it was eventually purchased in 1886 by the Catholic Church and developed as an Industrial School by the Irish Christian Brothers. The Brothers ran the school up to 1974 when it was closed and the property put up for sale. The farm and farm buildings were purchased by the State in 1976 to form the nucleus of what is now Connemara National Park. The Industrial School complex was purchased by Connemara West, a local community development company in 1978, and is now a thriving centre of activity for local and regional development. It houses a Furniture College linked to G.M.I.T., Galway, and has over 160 full-time students, a furniture restoration and conservation workshop, Connemara Community Radio, a public library service with internet access, a hostel, a farmer's co-operative and numerous enterprise and community services for youth, elderly and the unemployed.