The Bat House

Bonane's Bat House on the N71 secondary national road
The old O’Sullivan (a’Graith) weaver’s shop in its present incarnation as a bat roost.

The Bat House is located right by the side of the N71 national secondary road ascending from Releagh Bridge towards the Tunnels. It is also known as ‘a’Craith’s’ and ‘The Hostel’, both these nicknames pointing towards the building’s past uses.

Printers Hood & Co of Middlesbrough in Yorkshire, UK, produced postcards which carry the firm’s distinctive Sanbride logo (a church spire). Two such cards show two well known Bonane residents and craftspeople of the late 19th and early 20th century:

Vintage postcard showing weaver Con O'Sullivan working his loom Cornelius (Con) O’Sullivan whose family moniker ‘a’Craith’ indicated his profession as a weaver, and his mother Catherine (also known as Kate or Kitty).

Vintage postcard showing Kitty O'Sullivan spinning woolCon is shown working the loom in his workshop whilst Kitty is depicted spinning wool by the roadside.

Mary C. Daly, daughter of Michael J Daly, principal of Tulloha N.S. from 1904-1949, recounts in the fabulous little book entitled ‘Bonane – A Centenary Celebration’ that Con a’Craith “had a very flourishing weaving industry at his home just above Raleigh Bridge, on the road to Glengarriff. Employing two Dublin weavers Luke Hanlon and Jimmy Kerins, he produced the most colourful tweeds imaginable.”

Information sign on a wall of Bonane's Bat HouseAfter Con got married and moved to Glengarriff, the house was used as a Youth Hostel for several years before it passed into the ownership of Jim a’Craith, the son of Con’s brother Jeremiah. The building fell into disrepair after Jim’s death in 1980 and was eventually bought with its surrounding woodland for The Vincent Wildlife Trust, Co. Galway, in 2008.

lesser horseshoe bat
Lesser Horsehoe Bat (Photo by Janice Whittington)

The Vincent Wildlife Trust has been playing a key role in bat conservation in Ireland since 1991, with a particular focus on the creation and management of reserves for the Lesser Horseshoe Bat. This bat species is one of the smallest mammals in Ireland and the Irish population is considered of international importance as populations are declining dramatically to an extent that the species has already become extinct in many other parts of Europe. In a’Craith’s old house, Bonane’s Lesser Horseshoe Bats have found a save home.