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Towns and Villages along the way

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Portumna town is situated to the west of the point where the River Shannon enters Lough Derg. Its bridge is the largest early- twentieth century swivel bridge in Europe.

Portumna Castle, now open to the public, was built by Richard Burke or de Burgo , 4th Earl of Clanricarde in 1618. It was gutted by fire in 1826. The castles 17th century walled kitchen is also open to the public.

 Close by is the ruined Dominican Priory with its fine terraced windows and an unusual west doorway, surrounded  by a window and its cloister which was partially restored in 1954.

 Workhouse

A visit to the Irish Workhouse Centre is a must as it  tells the history of workhouses in Ireland  during the Great Famine.  It was opened in the old Portumna Workhouse to the north-east of the town, and received the overall Galway Heritage award in 2011 for its exciting conservation and redevelopment project on its nine acre site.

 Portumna Forest Park on the shores of Lough Derg, covering some 1100 acres is managed by Coilte  as an amenity area. Sixteen species of wild mammals reside within the Forest Park and 85 different type of birds breed within the Park.

 Portumna Golf Club is set in the middle of the Forest Park and the holes are laid out through mature deciduous and evergreen trees and herds of deer can frequently be seen roaming the course.

 Marine tourism is to the fore in Portumna and it has two public Harbours as well as one private one and boats are to be seen plying the Shannon all the year around whether for pleasure or angling.

 Portumna has its own Tourist Office on Abbey Street Tel.09097 41867.

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 Its location coordinates are: 53 05’21 “N 8 13 08 W

Portumna’s fine Hurling Club won the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship in 2006,2008 and 2009 and have won five Galway county titles during this period also.


Meelick population wise is quite small but has many popular attractions as it is steeped in history.

Meelick coordinates 53 10 3 North

Meelick is dominated by its Abbey  which was founded in 1414 by the O Madden family of the Order of Franciscans and is according to local sources the oldest church in Ireland still in use for Catholic worship. The original walls were exposed during recent restoration work and other features worth noting are the  mounted mural slabs in false relief with Latin and English inscriptions, the small effigy of Saint Francis on the south wall, dating from the fifteenth century, and the single squat arch piece on the door to the sacristy, The corbelled remains of the cloister are to be found in the ruins surrounding the church.

 Melelick Weir and its adjoining rampart, was erected to control the river levels. It houses the mechanical winch used to raise and lower the sluices in winter to regulate the water flow and control flooding. Meelick Lock is one of the busiest on the Shannon Waterway and was built in the 19th. century. The river crossing at this location was guarded by substantial defences including a Martello Tower.

Meelick is well regarded  location for fishing, primarily salmon and wild brown trout.

The village regularly attracts a large number of fishing tourists from England.

Meelick Hurling Club is regarded  as one of the oldest in Ireland  having been founded in 1884. It competed in its first All Ireland  Hurling final in 1887 but  were defeated by Thurles of Tipperary on that occasion.

Due to declining population Meelick has merged with neighbouring Eyrecourt to form the Meelick –Eyrecourt Club.


Clonfert is a tiny spread out village in East Galway but its  but its significance as an archeological site cannot be over emphasised because on Tuesday Sept. 14th 1999 St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Clonfert Co. Galway was officially listed on the World Monuments Watch as one of the top one hundred of the World’s Endangered Monuments.

The diocese of Clonfert itself was founded by St. Brendan the Navigator c.557 and is now used as a Church of Ireland parish church. The medieaval building has a nave dating back to the 10th. century and the chancel and  transepts date to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. By far the greatest treasure at Clonfert is the Hiberno Romanesque Doorway dating back to 1180.  This world famous doorway boasts a rich array of artistic styles and influences, its decorative devices consisting of animal, human and stylized floral or vegetal forms. It is carved in brown sandstone and has suffered badly from erosion and weathering.

It is said that 3,000 students came to study here in the 16th. century but today people come here  today to pray  in Emmanual House Of Providence which is a Catholic Centre for prayer and evangelisation and also to the local Catholic Church which houses the wooden 14th. century statue of Our Lady of Clonfert.

Located inside the small roadside gate, it consists of a votive tree bearing rags and various objects left by people seeking a cure for various ailments

A ruined 17th. century mansion was the home of the Protestant bishops of Clonfert  until the 1830’s  when it was occupied by John Eyre Trench, a local landlord.


Unless a visitor was well versed in the history of the late 17th and 18th centuries he would find it  hard to believe that the communities of Aughrim traces its roots back to the bloody hills and  valleys that was once the scene of the battle of Aughrim, the fiercest fight ever fought in Ireland’s turbulent and bloody history. By visiting the Battle of Aughrim Interpretive Centre you can relive the scene of  the fateful events the Battle of Aughrim 1691 where over 7,000 people lost their lives

An interesting landmark is a solitary whitethorn bush known as St Ruth’s Bush where St Ruth is supposed to have been killed. It is marked as a National Monument.

After visiting the Interpretive Centre, a leisurely stroll through the adjoining Park, with its various displays,  will help the visitor to visualise the people and events that made and shaped Aughrim’s past.

The 7,000 who fell at Aughrim are commerated by 22 foot Celtic Cross close to the now in ruin O’ Kelly Castle.

On the 10th. January 1603- the day  after the Shannon the hazardous Shannon crossing, O’ Sullivan Beara’s famished and battle- weary  convoy had their passage blocked at Aughrim Hill by two troops of cavalry and five companies of soldiers under the command of Captain Henry Malby.

O’Sullivan Beare’s convoy scattered at the sight of this well- organised army. However, in a remarkable battle speech, O’ Sullivan Beare rallied his troops to fight, though vastly outnumbered, Henry Malby and Richard Burke, his senior officer, were killed.

Demoralised, the crown forces retreated to a nearby garrison. Despite his remarkable victory, O’Sullivan Beare and his camp, many of whom were wounded, marched 20 miles into the night to avoid further attacks from surrounding garrisons.

Points Of Interest Along The Way : Aughrim to Killure 

1 A standing stone which may date back to the Bronze Age can be seen at Cappagh Bridge. It is a squat granite boulder, roughly D shaped in plan with a notable groove accroos the top. An “ axehead ‘’ was found nearby

2 Esker Riada and its exposed face  is a series of ridges stretching from Dublin to Galway across the midlands. These geological features were created at the end of the last ice-age when silt, sand and gravel were deposited by rivers of glacial melt- water under the ice. “Eiscir’’is a mound or an elevation and this was the highway used by travellers going from east to west through the midland bogs of Ireland.

The eskers have developed an abundance of their own species of rich flora and wild flowers.

3 Cloonigny Castle, now in ruins, with its moated site, was occupied by “Shane De Moy’’ (O Kelly) in 1574. Close by is a ringfort containing a souterain.  

4 Killure bog due to the ecological importance of its plants and animals Killure Bog was declared a Natural Heritage Area in 2003.

It consists of raised bog and cut over bog and part of it is afforested.

Raised bogs are valuable wetland habitats and are becoming increasingly rare in Ireland

Description of trail : Aughrim to Killure

Allowing  3.5 hrs for this section and leaving  Aughrim behind, the walker goes on his northward journey, crosses over the bridge spanning the M 6 Motorway  and follows a relatively quiet  country road past the Wade estate before he branches left up a narrow boreen. As he traverses over pasture land he sees to the left the Esker Riada, once the path of traveller and pilgrim alike.

Following the fast moving stream, caution is advised  as the road ahead can be busy but it is only for a few hundred metres, until reaching again another boreen where the walker travels over varied pasture land. Turning right on reaching a little used road, the walker will navigate varied types of moor-like lands, woodlands and farmers land tracks until he arrives at a cut-away bog and some raised bog.  Arriving now at Killure, the walker may continue his journey or divert to Ballinasloe for refreshments - a distance of 6 km.

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For more information on the Battle of Aughrim, why not click this link... 


Killure or “ church of the yew’’ is a small village on the fourth stage of the Beara Breifne / Hymany  Ways from Portumna to Balygar to meet the next stage of the journey northwards to meet with the Suck Valley Way.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that St. Ciaran once  considered  building his seven churches here, instead of Clonmacnoise.

Had it not been for the chance encounter by workmen of a red haired lady while building the second  church which caused them to flee the site and changed the course of monastic history in Ireland forever.

However, their eminent departure might have more to do with the fact that St. Ciaran got a more lucrative deal in Clonmacnoise.

The surrounds of the unfinished church was used as an infant  burial ground with stones from the church used as markers for their graves including a holy water font, worn smooth by worshippers through the ages.

The three storeyed building, known locally as Killure castle, is a Tower House  dating from the 15th. to 17th. century

A standing stone, which folklore says may have sacrificial origons, may date back to the Bronze Age can be seen at Cappagh Bridge. It is a squat granite boulder, roughly D shaped in plan with a notable chiselled groove across the top. An “ axehead ‘’ was found nearby.

The Esker Riada and its exposed face  is a series of ridges stretching from Dublin to Galway across the midlands. These geological features were created at the end of the last ice-age when silt, sand and gravel were deposited by rivers of glacial melt- water under the ice. “Eiscir’’is a mound or an elevation and this was the highway used by travellers going from east to west through the midland bogs of Ireland.

We are fortunate that this part of the glacier has survived as many have been lost due to gravel extraction, forestry and being levelled by farmers for tillage and grazing.

The eskers have developed an abundance of their own species of rich flora and wild flowers.

Cloonigny Castle, now in ruins, with its moated site, was occupied by “Shane De Moy’’ (O Kelly) in 1574.

It is surrounded by a well preserved moated site. It is defined by two banks with an intervening fosse. The inner bank is well preserved and there is a mound defined by a scarp and an external  fosse. Close by is a ringfort containing a souterain.  

Killure bog due to the ecological importance of its plants and animals Killure Bog was declared a Natural Heritage Area in 2003.

It consists of raised bog and cut over bog and part of it is afforested.

Raised bogs are valuable wetland habitats and are becoming increasingly rare in Ireland.  These bogs once formed extensive wetlands over much of the central  lowlands of Ireland. Over milennia, they were intrinsically linked with Irish culture, but for the most part, they were considered wastelands, to be converted to more productive purposes on a large scale such as the production of fuel and horticultural peat.

There are sports grounds  in nearby Ahascragh where both hurling and soccer are played.

A particular attraction in the area is the participation by enthusiasts in vintage rallies.

 

Points of Interest : Killure to Aughrim

1 Killure bog due to the ecological importance of its plants and animals Killure Bog was declared a Natural Heritage Area in 2003.

It consists of raised bog and cut over bog and part of it is afforested.

Raised bogs are valuable wetland habitats and are becoming increasingly rare in Ireland

2 Cloonigny Castle, now in ruins, with its moated site, was occupied by “Shane De Moy’’ (O Kelly) in 1574.

. Close by is a ringfort containing a souterain.  

Esker Riada and its exposed face  is a series of ridges stretching from Dublin to Galway across the midlands. These geological features were created at the end of the last ice-age when silt, sand and gravel were deposited by rivers of glacial melt- water under the ice. “Eiscir’’is a mound or an elevation and this was the highway used by travellers going from east to west through the midland bogs of Ireland.

The eskers have developed an abundance of their own species of rich flora and wild flowers.

3 A standing stone which may date back to the Bronze Age can be seen at Cappagh Bridge. It is a squat granite boulder, roughly D shaped in plan with a notable groove accroos the top. An “ axehead ‘’ was found nearby

Description of trail : Killure to Aughrim

The walker should allow 3.5  hours for this 13 km stretch.

In the first part of his journey to Aughrim the walker goes on tracks and on either side he encourters some raised bog or cut- away bog until he arrives at some rich pasture land  and he can see in the distance the Esker Riada, once the path of traveller and pilgrim alike.

Once again the  walker travels by the banks of the Kilmalaw river and through rough pasture land followed by a quiet country road and some more pasture land until he follows a quiet contry road, past the Wade Estate and over the Motorway bridge into Aughrim.

Points of interest: Killure to Clonbrock

 1Clonbrock and the Dillon family was  amongst the first of the Anglo- Norman families to settle in Connaught in 1580 on a 3,000 acre farm and by 1870 the Clonbrock estate in Ahascragh, Co. Galway amounted to 28,000 acres of land.

During Famine times, the Dillons were described as one of the most considerate in the country.

The estate papers were bought by the National Library in 1977 and the mansion was accidently burned in 1983.

2 Photographic studio owned by Luke Gerald Dillon, 4th. Baron of Clonbrock and his wife Augusta who were keen photographers and built a studio and dark room at Clonbrock. They left a lasting legacy containing a collection of portraits of three generations of the Dillon family of  Clonbrock. The collection was acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 1977 and contains a collection of all aspects of life on the estate as well as photographs of the house itself, the servants, tenants and estate workers and community events involving the family.   

3 Thomas Coen was born in 1779 near Clonbrock House. He was the very first name on the register of the newly built Maynooth College built for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland. He later became Catholic Bishop of Clonfert and became embroiled in controversy when John Wesley Methodist and the Evangelical Movement targeted Catholic children, setting up a school at Killure, in order to bring about their conversion to Protestantism.

Description of trail:

Killure to Clonbrock

 This a relatively short hike of about 2 .5 hours. In inclement weather the first  500m of this section  can be quite heavy going due mainly to the soil structure and lack of drainage. After a long stretch of boreen, the walker arrives on a quiet  country road meeting the Secondary road  where care must be taken and the wide grass margins used. Turning right, the last part of this leg passes through some farmland and forest paths until it arrives on what was once the avenue into Clonbrock Estate, a local big house, that was accidentally burnt down in the 1980’s. The walker has a choice of continuing on or travelling about 4 km to Ahascragh village.

Points of interest: Clonbrock to Killure

 

11Clonbrockand the Dillon family was  amongst the first of the Anglo- Norman families to settle in Connaught in 1580 on a 3,000 acre farm and by 1870 the Clonbrock estate in Ahascragh, Co. Galway amounted to 28,000 acres of land.

 

During Famine times, the Dillons were described as one of the most considerate in the country.

 

The estate papers were bought by the National Library in 1977 and the mansion was accidently burned in 1983.

 

2 Photographic studioowned by Luke Gerald Dillon, 4th. Baron of Clonbrock and his wife Augusta who were keen photographers and built a studio and dark room at Clonbrock. They left a lasting legacy containing a collection of portraits of three generations of the Dillon family of  Clonbrock. The collection was acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 1977 and contains a collection of all aspects of life on the estate as well as photographs of the house itself, the servants, tenants and estate workers and community events involving the family.   

 

3 Thomas Coenwas born in 1779 near Clonbrock House. He was the very first name on the register of the newly built Maynooth College constructed for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland. He later became Catholic Bishop of Clonfert and became embroiled in controversy when John Wesley Methodist and the Evangelical Movement targeted Catholic children, setting up a school at Killure, in order to bring about their conversion to Protestantism.

 

Remembered, all are guides here are printable, at the top right of the article you will see a small clickable button for a printer.


The place - name Fohenagh is derived from the Irish word fothannan meaning thistle  - the village of the thistles. The Normans described the area as “ all waste and no man inhabited it.’’

Clonbrock and the Dillon family was amongst the first of the Anglo- Norman families to settle in Connaught.

In 1580 Thomas Dillon, Chief Justice of Connaught, purchased 3,000 acres of land   from Teige O Kelly .

At the time of  Griffeths Valuation in 1870 the Clonbrock estate in Ahascragh, Co. Galway amounted to 28,000 acres of land

Clonbrock House, now, in ruin as a result of a fire in 1984, was built by Robert Dillon, afterwards Ist. Lord Clonbrock and completed in 1788. It was designed by William Leeson replacing the old castle which remained intact until 1807 when it was destroyed by fire that resulted from a fireworks display on the estate to celebrate the birth of the 2nd. Lord Clonbrock’s son and heir.

Clonbrock estate was one of the best managed in the country,  largely due to the fact that the Dillons were the most resident of all Irish landlords and were hardly known in London. Fortunately the estate papers were bought by the National Library 1977 and the collection illustrates the very best management practice of any large estate in the nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland.

During Famine times Lord Clonbrock was described as one of the more considerate landlords maintaining a good tenant relations on his estates.

All this was to change however with Lord Clonbrock’s refusal to sell his land under the terms of the Land Act of 1903. The United Irish League started extreme agitation on the estate and forced him to sell. Six years later, and by 1914 most of the lands was in the hands of his tenants.

Robert Dillon died in 1925 without issue and the title became extinct and the mansion passed on to his sister Ethel Dillon. She in turn passed it on to her grand- nephew, Sir Luke Dillon Mahon and he sold the remainder of the estate in the 1970’s.

Photographic studio owned by Luke Gerald Dillon, 4th. Baron of Clonbrock and his wife Augusta who were keen photographers and built a studio and dark room at Clonbrock. They left a lasting legacy containing a collection of portraits of three generations of the Dillon family of  Clonbrock. The collection was acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 1977 and contains a collection of all aspects of life on the estate as well as photographs of the house itself, the servants, tenants and estate workers and community events involving the family.   

Thomas Coen was born in 1779 near Clonbrock House in a place known as the Island and as “ Coen Park’’ He was the very first name on the register of the newly built Maynooth College built for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland. He later became Catholic Bishop of Clonfert and became embroiled in controversy when John Wesley Methodist and the Evangelical Movement targeted Catholic children, setting up a school at Killure, in order to bring about their conversion to Protestantism.

 

Points of interest: Clonbrock to Killure

 

11Clonbrock and the Dillon family was  amongst the first of the Anglo- Norman families to settle in Connaught in 1580 on a 3,000 acre farm and by 1870 the Clonbrock estate in Ahascragh, Co. Galway amounted to 28,000 acres of land.

 

During Famine times, the Dillons were described as one of the most considerate in the country.

 

The estate papers were bought by the National Library in 1977 and the mansion was accidently burned in 1983.

 

2 Photographic studio owned by Luke Gerald Dillon, 4th. Baron of Clonbrock and his wife Augusta who were keen photographers and built a studio and dark room at Clonbrock. They left a lasting legacy containing a collection of portraits of three generations of the Dillon family of  Clonbrock. The collection was acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 1977 and contains a collection of all aspects of life on the estate as well as photographs of the house itself, the servants, tenants and estate workers and community events involving the family.   

 

3 Thomas Coen was born in 1779 near Clonbrock House. He was the very first name on the register of the newly built Maynooth College built for the education of Catholic priests in Ireland. He later became Catholic Bishop of Clonfert and became embroiled in controversy when John Wesley Methodist and the Evangelical Movement targeted Catholic children, setting up a school at Killure, in order to bring about their conversion to Protestantism.

Description of trail : Clonbrock to Ballygar

The final stage of the Hymany Way takes 4.5 hrs to complete. As this walk cover rough wet, boggy terrain, it is essential that walkers have approptiate footwear and rainwear.

After leaving Clonbrock, the walker will travel 200m of a busy road before entering bog roads and tracks.  Once leaving the bog, a return to the road requires the walker to exercise caution once more, until the turn-off to Loonaghton bog appears. Now, the way-marked route negotiates raised bog, quiet country roads and low lying land before it crosses the river Shiven  at Tri Hill bridge.  In the final stretch, the walker encounters quiet roads and bog roads until arriving in Ballygar where the walker meets the next phase: the Suck Valley Way.

 

Clonbrock to Killure

This 9.5 km stretch is relatively easy as the walker travels along the avenue that leads to the partially in ruin Clonbrock Mansion he arrives at the Coilte Forest and if he is lucky he may see  the fallow deer. On leaving the forest the next 1km of his journey is along quit country roads with the exception of 200m of a relatively busy section of the Secondary road where caution must be used and  the relatively wide grass margins used.

The last leg of this journey is on a path leading to cut away bog and on arriving in Killure the walker may continue on his journey or else travel 5 km into Ballinasloe or 3 km to Ahascragh.

Points of interest: Clonbrock to Ballygar

1 Father James Finnerty 1614-1683 was a native of Tuam and he served in the diocese of Elphin.  Fr. Finnerty is buried in Chapelfinnerty Graveyard. That area bears his name and is known as Chapelfinnerty.

The fact that he had a price on his did not prevent this very saintly and healing cleric ministered to both Protestant and Catholic alike during the height of the Cromwellian persecution when government policy was to “Hell or to Connacht’’

2  Castle Ffrench house was the former residence of Ffrench family and was built in 1779 – same year as family (Catholic) were advanced to the peerage. Family originally one of the 14 tribes of Galway – moved there from Wexford in 1425. Charles became Chief Magistrate in 1444 and other family members John, Robuck and Edmond were elected mayors of Galway at different times. John purchased CastleFfrench from an O’Kelly Chieftain in 1636. He was soon dispossessed by Cromwell but re-purchased it in 1671.

3 Gowla bog trackway was uncovered during Bord na Mona archaeological programme in recent times. Theses tackways were constructed over marshy wetlands  to join one piece of high ground to another. The trackways have a wide date range from the Bronze Age right through to the 15 century AD.

4 Bohill  Emigration records recounts that on one horific day all the entire community  of one entire village left  during the famine 1845 to 1850. 

5 Ballinlass Evictions took place 13th March 1846 when all the 76 families comprising 300 people of the were evicted by the landlord, Mrs Gerard, and their homes raised to the ground. Their unfortunate plight was raised by Lord Londenderry in the House of Commons.

6 General Edward Lawrence Logan was grandson of Lawrence Lohan, from Tri Hill, Ballinamore Bridge who emigrated to America in famine times. At immigration the name Lohan somehow  became Logan.

Lawrence Lohan’s, grandson, Edward Lawrence Logan, A. B., L.L.B. was born on 20 th. January 1875, in South Boston and attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University studying law.

On joining the army, he had a distinguished military career, rising to the rank of general in 1921, and saw combat in the Spanish- American War.

The former Boston Airport and the airport was renamed General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport at a public ceremony  in 1956.

7 A 93-foot stone tower was built by Denis Kellys  in 1860 in Killeroran Graveyard but so much was the expenditure at that time that the entire  O Kelly estate was offered for sale by the courts, under the encoumbered Estates Act.

8 Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore was born in Ballygar Dec. 25th.1829. After spending some time in Canada he moved to Boston becoming leader of the Suffolk, Boston Brigade and later the Salem bands. Such was his stature in the musical field that was regarded as “The Father of the American Band’’

Gilmore served in the Union Army during the Civil War and wrote the lyrics to the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home ‘’

During the inauguration of President James Buchanan 1857, the Salem Brigade Band led the parade conducted by Patrick Gilmore.

In 1869 he organised a giant musical festival in Boston “ The National Peace Jubilee‘’ attended by President Ulysses S.Grant, followed by the “World Peace Jubilee’’ in 1872 at which Austrian Waltz King Johann Strauss participated.

The last twenty years of his life he spent travelling the world and in died at St. Louis 24th. Sept. 1892 and is buried at Old Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.

Description of trail

Clonbrock to Ballygar

The final stage of the Hymany Way takes 4.5 hrs to complete. As this walk cover rough wet, boggy terrain, it is essential that walkers have approptiate footwear and rainwear.

After leaving Clonbrock, the walker will travel 200m of a busy road before entering bog roads and tracks.  Once leaving the bog, a return to the road requires the walker to exercise caution once more, until the turn-off to Loonaghton bog appears. Now, the way-marked route negotiates raised bog, quiet country roads and low lying land before it crosses the river Shiven  at Tri Hill bridge.  In the final stretch, the walker encounters quiet roads and bog roads until arriving in Ballygar where the walker meets the next phase: the Suck Valley Way.

Clonbrock to Killure

This 9.5 km stretch is relatively easy as the walker travels along the avenue that leads to the partially in ruin Clonbrock Mansion he arrives at the Coilte Forest and if he is lucky he may see  the fallow deer. On leaving the forest the next 1km of his journey is along quit country roads with the exception of 200m of a relatively busy section of the Secondary road where caution must be used and  the relatively wide grass margins used.

The last leg of this journey is on a path leading to cut away bog and on arriving in Killure the walker may continue on his journey or else travel 5 km into Ballinasloe or 3 km to Ahascragh.

 Remembered, all are guides here are printable, at the top right of the article you will see a small clickable button for a printer.