The National Enterprise Town Awards: Moynalty

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Moynalty in Co Meath.

The beautiful 19th century rural village of Moynalty, with its 116 inhabitants, is located five miles north of Kells in Co Meath and was a famed winner of the national Tidy Towns awards in 2011.

According to the Annals of the Four Masters, the name Mágh nEalta was introduced into Ireland about 2000 BC when Partholon, a Greek, gave that name to a treeless fertile plain in Dublin. Because the description also described its location, the area now known as Moynalty got the name Mágh nEalta also. The name was initially used to describe the manorial lands and settlement in the area.

The village was built by the grandson of James Farrell who purchased the lands of Moynalty and its hinterland in 1790. That grandson, John Arthur, completed the building of Moynalty Village in 1837 and it is to some extent based on a Swiss design. The village was built on one side only, earning it the saying; “All to one side like the village of Moynalty”. It was only after 1900 that houses were built on the river side of the village.

The village is known historically for lace making and other crafts such shoemaking and repairs, but more recently, Moynalty is famous for being the birthplace of the Moynalty Steam Threshing festival which is now the largest of its kind in the country.

The festival is the brainchild of the local community, which started as a fundraiser for an extension to the local church in 1976, but it is now in its 44th year. The festival evokes an authentic picture of the past where steam threshing was the social highlight of the agricultural calendar. Its success is due to a palpable passion within the whole community who are welded together by a common purpose.

The village is unique in the way it encompasses the trades of the past and merges them with business today. Most businesses in the community partake in the festival and benefit greatly from its esteem, having huge amounts of visitors annually.

This is a prime example of town enterprise feeding from business and business feeding from town enterprise. The festival now has its own permanent grounds and the committee continue to support the community through development of the park and the facilities at the Threshing Field.

The facility is also given to the local men’s shed group and other community groups. The festival is a non-profit making venture which is made possible by the voluntary work of those who give of their time and energy to organise and support the event.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 16 September, 2019