Newtown is, or was, just that – a new town. It came into being when local landlord Major Andrew Crean-Lynch evicted numerous families from his estate in the first third of the 19th century. Those thrown out from their homes didn’t move far – just as far as this road junction, where they built a new community, a series of small cottages where they could restart their lives.
The Major later fell into financial difficulty and had to sell off his considerable landholding. Perhaps he had time to reflect on his past misdeeds; one would like to imagine that was so.
In the centre of Newtown stands the cottage and forge that have become our visitor centre. The 18th century style cottage, which now serves as a mini-museum, was built from scratch in 1993, by workers on the local Community Employment Scheme on land donated by Mrs. B. Cosgrave and her family.
On entering through the red half-door visitors are often struck by the capacious fireplace and the ‘hag’, a sleeping compartment close to the fire. There were no proper bedrooms in most of the old labourer’s cottages, although this one does have a small room at the end of the main room. It also has a mezzanine, an upstairs and open sleeping area. The mezzanine was more commonly found on cottages built on better land, especially in the more southern counties of Limerick and Clare.
The cottage is open to visitors on a daily basis, from 10.00 to 4.00pm through the week.
Visits outside these hours can be made by arrangement.