Mattie and Bridie Higgins on the steps of the Reading Tower
From what I have heard from the old people of thirty and forty years ago and the information that has come my way, this mini-Tower at Coshla on the borders of the three parishes – Athenry, Lackagh and Claregalway was erected by John Kidd in 1884. He was the local land-lord and between the sowing of the Spring and the thinning of the root crops, he had a period of four or five weeks and with fourteen workers to keep occupied, he decided to give them a job. Labourers got 4 pence a day and 9 pence with a horse and cart. The stones were quarried in the field where Tommy Heffernan’s house is presently built, called the Cregg field.
The job lasted two to three weeks. The tower has four stairs – all stone, leading into four fields. Presently there are only three because one was taken away. It was called a reading tower for the Kidd family. John Kidd, an Orange man and a North of Ireland Presbyterian, had six sons. The Orange Flag was flown there on the 12th July each year. History has it that a young Cregmore man on his way to the Docks in Galway to catch the liner for America pulled down the flag and went to the toilet on it. Later Kidd tried to have him extradited from America for this offence but he was unsuccessful.
John Kidd left Coshla during the years 1908 – 12 because he thought that his sons were mixing too much with the locals and the Catholic girls of the area. They used to go to the cross-roads dances and the barn-dances which were the entertainment of the time. Kidd once brought seed oats from the North and it was a very good strain of seed and was named Kidd Oats. His family were very sad leaving the area and for years they would visit Coshla during their holidays, Kidd was a County Down man and one of his sons settled in County Tyrone. I visited his house in 1968, as I worked for a firm in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim and I called on my way. His address was Dromgoole House, Moy Road, Dungannon off the M4 Motorway.
The tower is still there in Coshla but without the stone seats which were brought from Headford by horse and cart some 22 miles away. This story was told to me by Pat Rabbitte who died in the mid-fifties. He was a horse man for Kidd and a young man at the time when it was built.
Written by Mattie (William) Higgins
Published here 09 Feb 2021 and originally published December 1999
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