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The Town and Parish of Ballinrobe

Ballinrobe, in Gaelic Baile an Rodhba, means "town of the Robe River".

The town of Ballinrobe is in the Union of Ballinrobe, Civil Parish of Ballinrobe, Kilmaine Barony, County of Mayo, Ireland. Ballinrobe was (and is) the largest town in south Mayo. Most of south Mayo is rural, with a few small villages and lots of pastureland. Ballinrobe was a market town, a garrison town, a post town, and contained the regions "workhouse". The combinations of services available in Ballinrobe made it a magnet for the local rural population and a stopping off point for people who subsequently immigrated to England, Australia, and America.

The parish of Ballinrobe is comprised of the following townlands: Annagh, Ballinaya, Ballinrobe Demesne, Caher, Cahercroobeen, Cahernabudogy, Carn, Carrowmore, Carrownalecka, Cartron, Cavanquarter, Clooncorraun, Cloonee, Cloonenagh, Cloongowla, Cloonkerry, Cloonliffen, Cornaroya, Creagh Demesne, Curraboy Kilmaine, Curraboy Knox, Curramore, Cuslough Demesne*, Friarsquarter East, Friarsquarter West, Ballinrobe Town, Gorteenlynagh, islands in Lough Cara and Lough Mask, Kilkeeran, Killosheheen, Knockadoon, Knockanotish, Knockfereen, Knockglass, Knocklahard, Knocknagulshy, Knocknakillew, Liskilleen, Lissanisky, Rahard, Rathcarreen, Rathkelly, Rathredmond, Rocksborough North, Rocksborough South, Springvale.

*Demesne, pronounced di mayn [main], was an estate occupied by the owner rather than being rented out.


Joseph Walsh and Fanny Feeney in Ballinrobe

John Walsh and Fanny Feeney lived in the parish of Ballinrobe.

From at least the birth of their daughter, Mary, in 1865 until the birth of their son, James, in 1867, they lived in the "townland" of Carrownalecka .

From at least the birth of their son, Thomas, in 1869 until the birth of their daughter, Bridget in 1882 they lived in the "townland" of Knockanotish .

At the death of Fanny Feeney Walsh in 1892 they lived on Abbey Street, Town of Ballinrobe.

At the death of John Walsh in 1894 they lived on Abbey Street, Town of Ballinrobe.


Mathias Langan and Penelope Byrne in Ballinrobe

Matthias Langan and Penelope Byrne Langan lived in both the town of Ballinrobe and the village of Mochara in the Parish of Shrule. Shrule Parish is also in the Barony of Kilmaine and the Union of Ballinrobe, County of Mayo.

At the birth of their son, Pat, in 1866 the Langans lived on Creagh Road in the "townland" of Carrownalecka in the Town of Ballinrobe.

From at least the birth of their son, Martin in 1872 until the birth of their daughter, Maggie, in 1875 they lived in village of Mochara in the Shrule Parish.

From at least the birth James in 1877 until the birth of Bridget in 1879 they lived on Glebe Street in the "townland" of Friarsquarters, Town of Ballinrobe

From at least 1890 to 1892, when they left for America, they lived at #10 Creagh Road, Town of Ballinrobe.

After his return to Ireland Mathias Langan lived in Ballinrobe, address unknown.


Ballinrobe, the Parish and the Town

Ballinrobe was the name of both the town and the parish around it.

The parish was comprized of numerous "townlands" within a several mile radius of the town.

Several of the townlands form sections of the town itself.

The Walshes and related kin lived in the townlands of Carrownalecka, Knockanotish, some extent Rathkelly and at a later date in Friarsquarters West. These four townslands were contiguous and formed part of the north west section of the town of Ballinrobe.

The Langans lived in borh Friarsquartess West and in the townland of Carrownelecka.

Carrownalecka

The townland of Carrownalecka triangular in shape its boundaries to the east and west are:

  • East: The unnamed road to Ballyglass
  • West: Chapel Road, N84, the road to Partry

Knockanotish

Knockanotish is in the rectangle formed by the following boundries:

  • East: The unnamed road that goes past the Augustine Abby.
  • South: High Street. An address in this section might be given as "Knockanotish, High Street Town of Ballinrobe".
  • West: The unnamed roadroad to Ballyglass
  • North: Uncertain

Rathkelly

Rathkelly is in the triangle formed by:

  • Chapel Road, N84, the road to Partry
  • Greagh Road: The road to Creagh Demesne

Friarsquarters West

The Langans and related kin lived in townland of Friarsquarters West. The Walshes also lived in Friarsquarters at the death of Fanny Walsh in 1892.

Friarsquarter West is also triangular in shape and is bounded on the north by the Robe River and on the south by teh North Side of Glebe Street. It includes Glebe Street, which was a known address for the Langans, and Abbey Street, which was the address of John and Fanny Walsh in 1892.


Acreage and Population of Carrownalecka and Knockanotish

PlaceAcreagePopulation 1841Population 1857 Population 1901Population 1911
Carrownalecka 278 187404 55 53
Knockanotish 291 32 20 3 5

Discriptions Ballinrobe from the Pigots Directory, 1824

In the county of Mayo, is 120 miles west of Dublin, 14 miles by east of Castlebar, 15 south-east of Westport, 21 south-3ast of Newport, 30 south of Ballina, and in the patronage of Colonel Cuff, M.P. It is a small neat town, consisting of several streets, pleasantly situated on a considerable eminence, and commanding from all points extensive prospects of a delightful and richly varied country. The church is a plain neat edifice, but has little else to recommend it to public notice; the incumbent is the very Rev. Thos. John Burgh, Dean of Cloyne, and the Rev. Robt. Potter is Curate. The Roman Catholic Chapel in Bridge-street is tolerably well and substantially built; the duty is at present performed by the Rev. Michael Green. The Market and Court House is a plain stone building, in which are held quarter sessions, besides weekly petty sessions. Ballinrobe possesses great claim to antiquity, and was formerly considered of much more importance than it is now; as a garrison-town it has long been distinguished and is at present the head quarters of a regiment of cavalry. The barracks (once the residence of Lord Tyrawly) stand unequalled, for their beautiful, healthy convenient and romantic situation of the banks of the river Robe, from which the town derives its name. The market is held every Monday, and is generally well attended; a linen market is also about to be established, which will be held on the same day. Ballinrobe has a fair on Whit-Tuesday, and another on the 5th of December. The population is about 1,000.


Discriptions of Carrownalecka, Knockanotish and Friarsquarters

Carrownalecka

The Ordnance Survey Field Name Books for County May (1838) Parish of Ballinrobe lists Carrownalecka as Ceathrom hadhna Leice meaning "Quarter of the flagstone" and describes it as:

"A central townland bounded on the North by Cloongowla and Knocheherd townlands; East by Knockanotish townland, South by Glebe, North and West by Rathkelly. It contains 278 A Or 39P. It is the property of Colonel Knox and is let in farms from 1 to 9 acres at the yearly rent of from 15s to 2s per Irish acre. The inhabitants are all Catholic. There is a holy well, called Patrick's well in the center of the townland."
It lists the following variations for the spelling of Carrownalecka:
  • Carrownalecka (source B.S.S.)
  • Carownaleck, (source J O'D)
  • Carrownalockie (source Stafford's Survey)
  • Carrownelech (source Inq. temp Jac I)
  • Keroukelecki (source Inq. Temp. Car I)

Unfortunately I don't know what some of the sources are. However, the variations in the spelling gives some indication that Carrownalecka must have been a difficult word for the English to pronounce. The spellings in the civil and church records are also quite varied.

Major Landmarks in the Carrownalecka

  1. The Carrownalecka Church

    In the Treasures of South Mayo, John Jones says that this church was,

    "once called "Teampall Ruadhain"-Church of Rudharain. He was a local chieftain who lived at Liskillen in the pre-Norman times and founded this church probably around the sixth century. The church was dedicated to St. Patrick. It was later rebuilt in the thirteenth century by the descendants of Turlough Mor O'Connor. It is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in the area. An arched doorway is present in the middle of the west wall. The remains of three narrow rectangular slit-windows are present in the south wall but a gap suggests that a fourth one originally existed."
  2. The Ballinrobe Graveyard

    The Ballinrobe Graveyard consists of three parts, the first being inside the ruins of the old gothic church, and the other two outside the church and walled off from each other.

    When we visited on June 17, 2000, the walled off area closest to the church and the church itself were pretty much impassable due to overgrown weeds, very tall grass, and brambles. A man we talked to the Ballinrobe Cemetery told us that the overgrown section contained the oldest graves. There were a few paths worn through the tall grass and we wandered around these paths as much as we could. The graves we could access in this section did not seem particularly old and all had dates in the 1960s through 2000. The graves with the paths worn to them were most likely graves where there were still people alive to visit them, so there may have been older graves that we were unable to reach.

    The remaining section of the cemetery was mowed and the graves were all from the 1900s. We did not find any Walshes in that section who I could relate to the known members of the Walsh family.

    It is not clear when this graveyard was founded, however, it was in existence at the time the Walshes were living in Carrownalecka. It was listed on the 1857 Griffith tax list.

The Lough Mask and Lough Carra Tourist Development Association in their book An Archaeological Survey of Ballinrobe and District lists three archaeological sites listed in Carrownalecka:

  1. The Carrownalecka Church is listed under Medieval Churches.

    The entry reads:

    "OS 118:1:6 (213,468) 'Carrownalecka Church (in Ruins)' (1929 OD 100-200 11899,26500. In NE corner of large graveyard. Ruins heavily overgrown rectangular church (7.5 m. N-S;31.3 m E-W), built with roughly coursed limestone rubble on protruding plinth. Poorly preserved remains of N wall contains remains of at least two narrow lights in splayed embrasures; and lintelled niche near E end. S wall (H3.4m) contains three narrow single-lithe windows; niche near E end; and blocked up arched feature at E end. Opening in W wall may have been doorway. Original E window altered for insertion of later window which had subsequently been blocked. Interior filled with gravestones."
  2. A Souterrain, described as:

    "Isolated, marked by hallow, in low-lying filed of rough pasture. Inaccessible camber (L 2.5 m;Wth 1.5 m), visible through displaced lintels. Of dry stone construction and oriented NE-SW."

    Note: Souterrains are underground man-made structures. They are dated from the 6th to 13th centuries. It is believed that they were used primarily for refuge and possibly for storage.

  3. A holy well dedicated to St Patrick, described as follows:

    "In undulating rough grazing land. Stone wall delimit well in a heavily overgrown depression."
  4. The well was also mentioned in the Ordnance Survey of 1838.

    Note: Holy wells were important pre-Christian sites. They continued to be Christian places of pilgrimage.

The 1857 Griffith Valuations divided Carrownalecka into two parts:

  1. Carrownalecka (Ord. S. 118 & 110): This is the section of the townland that lay outside the town proper. This section includes numbers 1 through 27. There were, however, more than 27 properties in the townland because several of the listings were further subdivided. Some addresses were for land only, while others included a house and/or other buildings . Several people were listed at more than one address. The graveyard was listed at number 27 and was exempt from the tax. In all there were 29 heads of households listed in this section of Carrownalecka in 1857.

  2. "Town of Ballinrobe (part of)".

    This was the section which lay inside the town. It was further divided into three parts:

    1. High-Street (part of)", which included number "28", subdivided into numbers 1 through 7.
      Note: The other part of High Street was listed in the townland of Knockanotish, see below.
    2. Chapel-Road (part of), which included numbers 1 though 46.
      Note: The other part of Chapel Street was listed in the townland of Rathkelly.
    3. Creagh-Road (part of), which included numbers 2 through 28.
      Note: A other part of Creagh Road was listed under the townland of Rathkelly .

Knockanotish

John Walsh and his family lived in Knockanotish in the town of Ballinrobe from at least 1869 until 1881

John's occupations while living in Knockanotish were: farmer in 1869, gardener in 1871, gardener in 1873, steward in 1875, gardener in 1877, and land steward in 1881.

Knockanotish or Cnocan Fhoid Taias means "the hill of the soft sod".

The 1838 Ordnance Survey Field Name Books of Mayo described it as:

" A central lowland. It is bounded on the N and W by the townland of Carrownalecka, S by Friars quarters West, East by the townland of Cloongowle. It contains 293 A 1 R, 16 including 9 A 2R 25 parts of water. It is the property of Colonel Knox of Castlelacton and is held on a lease of 3 levies of 31 years by Courtney Kenny, Esq of Robe Villa. The principal part of this townland is pasture, but there is a good deal of bog and marshy pasture."

The Archaeological Survey of Ballinrobe does not list any sites in Knockanotish.

The 1857 Giffith Valuation listed ----- sections for Knockanotish.

  1. Knockanotish: This is the part of the townland that lay outside of the town. It included two acres of land with a house and 283 acres of land, with a caretakers house, "offices", and a house
  2. Knockanotish, Town of Ballinrobe (part of), High Street (part of). It included: 17 "tenements", a flour mill, 16 houses
    Notes:
    • John Walsh must have lived in one of the 17 tenements or 16 houses listed on High Street.
    • Tenement in this sense was any kind of permanent property and did not have the connotation that it does today.
    • "High Street" and "Bridge Street" are the same.
    • One of the houses in this section belonged to Courtney Kenny and included in addition to the house, "offices", a yard and 4 acres of land.
    • All the local histories refer to the flour mill as Kenny's mill. The mill was seven stories high and was powered by the Robe River. The ruins still remain.

Friarsquarters

Mathias Langan and family lived on Glebe Street, Friars Quarters in Ballinrobe. John and Fanny Walsh lived on Abbey Street, Friars Quarters in Ballinrobe in 1892.

I do not have the 1838 Ordnance Survey Field Name Books of Mayo discription of Friars quarters. At the time I had access to it I did not know that there was family in this part of town.

The Archaeological Survey of Ballinrobe lists three sites in Friarsquarteers

  1. A church in Friarsquarters East is listed under Medival Churches.

    The entry reads:

    OS 118:2:5 (335, 471) ' St John's House (site of) (1929)OD 100-200 12034,26495
    Church in undulating pasture, Church of St John the Baptist, belonging to Kinghts Hospitallers; conservation work carried out in 1414, afterwards granted to Augustine Friars (Gwynn and Hadcodk 1970, 339). Very poor remains of structure containig at least two sectors. (8.8m N-S; 2.5m E-W and 4 m N-S; 4.1m E-W). Various sod-covered foundations around site.
    118:7-------------- 7-12-1989

  2. A Friary is listed in Friarsquarters West under Abbeys and Friaries

    The entry reads:

    OD 118:6:1 (237,453) 'Abbey (in ruins)(1929) OD 50-100 11947,26483
    Fiary On slightly raised ground, just above former flood plain of River Robe. Founded c. 1312, probably by Elizabeth de Clare; first Augustianian house in Connaught. Building repaired in 1400 and 1431. Friars in occupation in 1574 and again after rebellion of 1641 (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 296). Had its own seal (now in British Museum). Excavated prior to restoration and conservation (1900-1994) by FAS/LMLCTA. Church (7.1m N-S, 34.6m E-W) consists of a nave and chancel; parts of W doorway with rope fluting are original while window overhead was retrieved from E gable. E tracery window not original; reconstructed based on original fragments. On S wall are two piscinia and a sedilia. Also on S wall, splayed windows contain two distinct mason marks. Building of unknown function on NE external corner of church; accessed through doorway and steps in N wall. Much of S aisle surveying (sic) with narrow doorway connecting it to nave; contains piscina. Narrow doorway on N wall gives access to square chapel with widely splayed embrasure containing narrow light. Cross slab (598) found beneath W doorway during excavations. Surrounded by graveyard.
    118:154/01------2-7-1993

    The man we talked to in the Ballinrobe Graveyard told us that the oldest graves in town were in the cemetery at the Ballinrobe Priory. There are indeed some older graves at the Abbey, but again we did not find any Walshes, Feeneys or Langans who I could relate to the known members of the Walsh family.

    According to Birdie Mulloy's book published in 1994, The Restoration of Ballinrobe Priory, the South Mayo Family Research Centre, Main Street, Ballinrobe has a list of all the gravestones. Bridie Mulloy gives a summation of this list at the end of her book and says that there were 29 Walshes with the earliest date to 1747. She did not list any Feeneys or Langans.

  3. An enclusure is listed in Friarsquarters West.

    The entry reads:

    OS 118:6:1 (244,452) Hachured (1929) OD 50-100 11938,26477
    Enclosure In backyard, used as lawn. Circular area (diam. c>32m), enclosed by remains of low earthen bank. Undulations of land make interpretation difficult.
    118:6----28-11-1989
The 1857 Giffith Valuation
in 1857 listed two sections for Friarsquarters: Friarsquarters East and Friarsquarters West.

Friarsquarters East is listed as one seperate section. All of Friarsquarters East lay outside the town.

Friarsquarters West is divided into the following sections

  1. Friarsquarters West
    Note: This must be the land outside of town.
  2. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Glebe Street (part of)
    Notes:
    • This means that part of Glebe Street is in another townland.
    • The Langnas lived on Glebe Street in Friarsquarters
  3. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Abbey Street
    Note: This means that all of Abbey Street was in Friarsquarters West.
  4. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Bridge Street (part of)
    Note: All of Bridge Street was actually in Friarsquarters. The rest of it was listed under a seperate heading in Friarsquarters.
  5. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Brewery Lane
    Note: This means that all of Brewery Lane was in Friarsquarters West.
  6. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Abbey Road
    Note: This means that all of Abbey Road was in Friarsquarters West.
  7. Friarsquarters West, Town of Ballinrobe, (part of) , Bridge Street

The Brief History of the Town of Ballinrobe

While the megalithic ruins in the immediate vicinity of Ballinrobe are not as numerous as they are to the north, east and south, there are sufficient remnants of stone circles, standing stones, enclosures, and fulachta fiadh to indicate that the area has been inhabited since ancient times.

The Archaeological Survey of Ballinrobe and District gives the following description of the fulachta fiadh.

"This ancient cooking site consists of a mound, usually crescent-shaped, of fire-cracked stone and charcoal. They are invariably sited, either isolated or in groups, close to water sources such as streams or marshy areas. Cooking took place in a trough constructed of wooden planks or stone slabs. Stones heated in a nearby hearth were placed in the water-filled though which brought the water to a boil. The meat, wrapped in straw, was then cooked in it. After the cooking, the remains of the heat-shattered stones were removed from the trough and discarded to the side. After many cooking fires, a mound, curving around three sides of the trough was formed."

Radio carbon dating places these mounds in the Bronze Age. There was a fulachta fiadh near Ballinrobe along the Robe River less than a mile from the town of Ballinrobe in what is now the townland of Rathkelly. It was discovered when a leveled spread of burnt material was uncovered during the laying of some pipeline. The subsequent excavation revealed flint arrowheads.

It can be assumed that the area was continuously inhabited, however sparsely, since about 1000BC.

Following the preaching of St. Patrick in the 5th century, many monasteries and other churches were founded in the west of Ireland in the 6th and 7th century. There were several abbeys in the area around Ballinrobe including the Ballintubber Abbey and Burriscarra Abbey several miles north of Ballinrobe, Inismaine Abbey on the shores of Lough Mask a few miles south west of Ballinrobe, and Cong Abbey (in ruins), to the south of Ballinrobe. All of these abbeys have roots dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, even if they were later enlarged and rebuilt.

In the immediate area of Ballinrobe was the Carrownalecka Church (in ruins), which originally dated to the 6th century and was not monastic, but run by secular clergy.

Later monastic establishments in or near Ballinrobe were the Killeentreva Church (in ruins) and the Augustine Abbey (in ruins). The Killeentreva Church, which is on the road to Creagh Demesne, was possibly established in the 12th century by a small settlement of nuns. The Augustine Abbey, which is in the town of Ballinrobe, was built around 1313 by Elizabeth DeClare in honor of the birth of her first son, William, as a gift for the Augustine Hermits.

In the 1400s the Knights Hospitallers had a house and chapel near the Abbey in Ballinrobe.

The Plague of 1348-1349, fires, plunder, and anti-Catholic laws such as the one passed in Dublin in 1536 for the dissolution of the monasteries, were all causes in the decline of these monasteries. While the Abbey in Ballinrobe survived later than most, (Mass was celebrated in the Abbey as late as 1692) by the end of the 17th century the Ballinrobe Abbey was deserted.

The Penal Laws which favored the Protestants and discriminated against the Catholics, were in effect in Ireland between 1559 and 1829. These laws enabled the non-Catholic population of Ireland to gain wealth and left the native Irish in poverty.

Powerful Protestant English landlords took over much of southern Mayo in the early 1600s. The earliest landlords under the English Plantation System were the Nolans who were Catholic and the Cuffs who were Protestant but reportedly more tolerant than other landlords. Many of the smaller landlords who had been Catholic switched to Protestantism in order to retain their land during the cruelest days of the Penal Laws.

While the Catholic Church and the native Irish were repressed under the Protestant government, Ballinrobe grew in other ways. Its development into an important economic center in south west Mayo was due to a Royal Patent granted to the people of Ballinrobe on December 6, 1606 by King James. This Patent allowed the town to hold fairs and markets. It was necessary to obtain the approval of the king to hold a market or fair in any town in Ireland or England. Obtaining a market charter was an important step in the economic development of a town and required having a spokesperson who was in the king's favor. Once a market charter was obtained it virtually assured that the town would become the largest and most important in the area. In addition to the exchange of money and goods the market brought, it also increased the local economy because all the people traveling to market from any distance needed a place to stay and food to eat. It was the custom to retire to the pub for a drink to seal a deal on the purchase of cattle or other livestock. The established market day in Ballinrobe was Monday. Each commodity had its special place in the town. According to local Ballinrobe historian, Bridie Mulloy, well into the mid 1900s, "Turf" or peat, hay, potatoes, turnips, and cabbage were sold on Abbey Street, poultry on Glebe Street, calves on Bridge Street, cloth, flannel, woolen socks, lace, wheat, oats, and barley outside the Market House. There were special live stock fairs held a different times of the year for pigs, cattle, and sheep. Perishable goods such as butter, meat, and bread were sold in the lower part of the Market Hall. The upper floor was used as a meeting hall. In 1698 it was the site of a "Commission of Inquiry" which among other things, relocated property from Catholic to Protestant landlords. In 1716 the County Assizes (Civil and Criminal Courts) were held in Ballinrobe, most likely in the Market Hall.

In 1704 a law was past that required the registration of all Catholic priests. The Catholic Church was suppressed thoughtout all of Ireland. There are no records for any Catholic rites in the area before 1831. There were, however, priests who continued to preform the rites in secret. The name of at least one of the local priest is known. Fr. Duffy ministered in Ballinrobe from 1696 until 1712. He was captured and deported to Spain where he died. There also appears to have been a number of priest between 1649 and 1875 who where associated with the Augustine Abbey.

The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 allowed the Catholics to freely practice their religion. It wasn't until 1847, however, that the first curate, Fr. Conway, was appointed Curate of Ballinrobe. He was the minister to both Ballinrobe and Partry for a number of years. He was responsible, after long negotiations with Colonel Knox in obtaining permission to start the construction of St. Mary's Catholic Church on Main Street. The church was stated under Fr. Conway in 1853. Subsequent curates were Fr. Hardiman and Dean Ronayne. Fr. Hardiman is credited with bring the Mercy Order of Nuns to Ballinrobe in 1851 and Dean Ronayne is credited with bring the Christian Brothers to Ballinrobe in 1876. The Sisters of Mercy Convent in Ballinrobe was founded from Westport in 1851. Their mission included the education of children, visitation and care of the sick, and helping the poor.

The Catholic Church, St. Mary's on east side of Main Street, is considerably larger today than when it was first constructed in 1855.

The Protestant landlords and the army left Ballinrobe after WW1. The workhouse closed in 1926. According to Mulloy there are no Protestant families living in Ballinrobe today.

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Ballinrobe in the 1821 Census

Unfortunately, the actual census was destroyed. All that remains are statistical analysis done on the census returns which at least gives some idea of the town and parish at the time.

According to the statistics compiled from the 1821 census:

  1. County Mayo contained 1,235 square miles, 53,051 dwellings and an average population of 4.5 persons per square mile.
  2. The Parish of Ballinrobe contained 968 families in 941 houses with 2,386 males and 2,433 females. 1,407 persons were employed in agriculture, 1,574 in the trades and 155 in "other". The parish included 15 males and 4 females in school. Under "Observations" was the following comment: " One female, upwards of 100 years of age in Ballinrobe Parish.
  3. The town of Ballinrobe contained 1,103 males and 1,088 females with 188 persons employed in agriculture, 949 in the trades and 309 in "other". The town included 139 males and 103 females in school. Under observations was the following comment: "The town of Ballinrobe is in the Parish of that name. One male upwards of 100 years of age in the town. There is a charter school of 52 boys and 41 girls."


Ballinrobe in the 1831

In 1831 there were 74,812 people in the Ballinrobe Union.

Ballinrobe Electoral Division had a population of 9,415 in 1831.


Description of Ballinrobe in 1837

The following descriptions of Ballinrobe is from "A Topographic Dictionary of Ireland "by Samuel Lewis, written in 1837

" Ballinrobe, a market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of Kilmaine, county of Mayo, and province of Cannaught, 14 miles (S. by E.) from Castlebar, and 116 1/2 miles (W. by N.) from Dublin; containing 8,923 inhabitants, of which number 2,604 are in the town. A monastery for friars of the order of St. Augustine was founded here some time prior to 1337, in which year it is mentioned in the registry of the Dominican friary of Athenry, under the name of the monastery of "de Roba." The town is situated on the river Robe, from which it derives its name, and on the road from Hollymount to Cong; it consists of one principal street, from which two others diverge, and, in 1831, contained 441 houses, of which nearly all are well build and slated, and several are of handsome appearance. There are barracks for cavalry and infantry; the former adapted to the accommodation of 8 officers and 106 non-commissioned officers and privates, with stabling for 84 horses; the latter for 6 officers and 96 non-commissioned officers and men, with a hospital for 20 patients. A considerable trade is carried on in corn; and large quantities of wheat and potatoes, the latter of excellent quality, are sold in town. There are a large flour-mill, an extensive brewery and malting establishment, and a tan yard, all in full operation. The market is on Monday, and is well supplied with corn and provisions; and fairs are held on Whit-Tuesday and the 5th of December, chiefly for sheep and cattle. A chief constabulary police station has been established here. There is a patent for a manorial court, but none is held; petty sessions are held every Monday, and general sessions take place in June and December. The courthouse is a neat building well adapted to the purpose, and affording also accommodation for the market. The Bridewell contains four cells, three day-rooms, and two airing yards, with other requisite accommodations.

The parish, which is situated on the Loughs Mask and Carra, comprises 13,504 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, of which 7290 are arable, 3888 pasture, 324 woodland, 1120 bog, and 882 acres waste land. The land under cultivation has been greatly impoverished by burning and other defective modes of management, and the pastures might be much improved by draining; the system of agriculture, however, is gradual improving. The plantations are mostly on rushy land; and of the waste, about 400 acres are limestone rock. Limestone of very good quality is quarried for building and agriculture purposes. The surrounding scenery, particularly towards Lough Mask, is very pleasing; the mountains of Joyce country, rising in the distance on the west side of the lake, and the east side being embellished with numerous handsome demesnes. Among the gentlemen's seats are Carramore, the residence of Jeffrey Martin, Esq., pleasantly situated on Lough Mask; and on the same lake Cuslough House, formerly the seat of Lord Tyrawley, and now of R. Livesey Esq.; and Creagh, that of J. Cuff, Esq. on Lough Carra is Lakeview, the residence of Mrs. Blake. Robe Villa is the seat of Courtney Kenny, Esq., in the demesne of which, and on the bank of the river are the remains of the abbey; Lavally House, of R. Fair, Esq.; Springvale, of Henry Joseph Blake, Esq.; and Cluna Castle, the residence of J. Gildea, Esq. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Taum, and in the patronage of the Archbishop; the tithes amount to L 480. The church, a neat plain building, was repaired in 1815, towards which the Board of First Fruits granted a loan of L 300; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted L 251 for further repair. The glebe-house, a handsome residence, was build by aid of a gift of L 100 and a loan of L 1050 from the late Board; the glebe comprises 10 acres. The R.C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; the chapel, a large slated building with a lofty square tower, was erected in 1815 by subscription, toward which the late Lord Tyrawley gave L 50 and one acre of land. There is a place of worship for Baptists. Two schools in the town are aided by donations for C.N. Knox, Esq. and afford instruction to about 200 children; and there are seven private pay schools in the parish, in which are about 320 children, and a Sunday school. There is also a dispensary. Numerous remains of ancient forts may be traced; and on the grounds of Mr. Clendinning and Mr. Rycroft are chalybeate springs."

Notes:

For information on some of the local landlords GO TO Local Landlords

Notes:

  • Samuel Lewis was an "Anglican ", and a member of the "gentry".
  • The description was written before the Great Famine of 1845-8 and therefore describe Ballinrobe before the potato crop rotted and about two million four hundred thousand people in Ireland either died from hunger and disease or emigrated from Ireland. For information on the famine GO TO Life in Ireland
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Definitions of Terms Used in the Above Descriptions of Ballinrobe

The following are definitions of some of the terms that might be unfamiliar. All of the terms connected with the church refer to the Church of Ireland (Protestant).

  • Plantations were similar to those we know from America. The plantation system was instituted under James I, in 1625. In the case of Ireland, the native Irish were uprooted and their land given to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. This was followed by a great period of prosperity for the Anglican landed gentry, who build the large estates Lewis describes. Catholics were not allowed to buy land.
  • The Bridewell was the jail.
  • Demesnes were estates.
  • The rectory, as used above, was the material benefit derived from the payment of the tithe, which was basically a tax, paid to the (Anglican) Archbishop.
  • The vicarage, as used above, was the salary paid to the (Anglican) priest in charge of the parish, presumably paid by the (Anglican) Archbishop from the tithes he received.
  • The glebe-house was the land belonging to a clergyman's, in other words: the material lively-hood of the parish.
  • In the 1840's the British pound was worth about $4.86 in US currency
  • A prebend was a stipend paid out of cathedral revenue or the land or tithe which produced this revenue.


The Workhouse and The Famine in Ballinrobe

A workhouse was built on the Kilmaine Road in Ballinrobe in 1840-42.

In common with other unions in Ireland, Ballinrobe suffered greatly during the famine years 1845-50. The workhouse was greatly overcrowded with over two thousand inmates at the height of the famine. Fever ravaged in February 1847 after an infected person was admitted. Dysentery was also common. The Mayo Constitution of 23rd March 1847 reported:

"In Ballinrobe the workhouse is in the most awfully deplorable state, pestilence having attacked paupers, officers, and all. In fact, this building is one horrible charnel house, the unfortunate paupers being nearly all the victims of a fearful fever, the dying and the dead, we might say, huddled together. The master has become the victim of this dread disease; the clerks, a young man whose energies were devoted to the well-being of the union, has been added to the victims; the matron, too, is dead; and the respected, and esteemed physician has fallen before the ravages of pestilence, in his constant attendance on the diseased inmates. This is the position of the Ballinrobe house, every officer swept away, while the number of deaths among the inmates is unknown; and we forgot to add that the Roman Catholic chaplain is also dangerously ill of the same epidemic. Now the Ballinrobe board have complied with the Commissioner's orders, in admitting a houseful of paupers and in striking a new rate, which cannot be collected; while the unfortunate inmates, if they escape the awful epidemic, will survive only to be the subjects of a lingering death by starvation!

Some notes from the 1841 Census

The census (taken 6 June) showed the population of Ireland to be 8,175,124. This census was carried out by the Royal Irish Constabulary in a single day, and is the first reasonably accurate one for Ireland.

The census indicated that 47% of persons over five years of age could read.

The census showed that 60,000 migrant workers passing through Irish ports in 1841.

Unfortunately this census and all other up to the 1901 census were destroyed before copies could be made.

In 1849 it was stated in the London Times that in 1841 the population of the electoral division of Ballinrobe was 10,879 with a Poor Law valuation of 9,040. In the electoral division of Ballinrobe in 1849 "exclusive of the town, there are not ten families who can pay the rates and one-half year's rent and support themselves up to the 1st of May."


Some notes from 1849

The London Times of January 1849 reported that in January 1848 about 300 to 400 of the most destitute families in the electoral district of Ballinrobe had crawled some 10 to 12 miles to the workhouse or seeking outdoor relief only to be turned away. Many stood outside the workhouse for days in the cold and rain. Six people had died the week of Jan 8 dued to hunger.


Slaters directory 1848

Slaters 1846 Directory LDS microfilm #1696703

Roman Catholic church on Castlebar Road, Rev. John Morris, Abbey Street Parish Priest Rev. James O'Malley, Abbey Street and Rev. John Gibbons Market St curates.

Gentry

Cuff, James Esq. J. P. Creagh
Golding, Richard, Shrule
Kenny, Courtney, Esq. J.P. Villa Robe
Kenny Courtney, jun . Esq. Market Street


The Saxon in Ireland : or, The rambles of an Englishman in search of a ... By John Hervey Ashworth, 1851

"Long before we reach the town, the tall octagonal tower of the Roman Catholic Chapel is visible, surmounted with many crosses, and forms a striking oject to all the cuntry round".
Note: He is describing the church on Chapel Road.

It was market day when he arrived and he passed many of the local people returning form the market. "the costume of the women being generally the blue cloak and scarlet petticoat."

"Notwithstanding the number that had left, the town was full when I arrived, and it was altogether a busy bustling scene. No one who has not visited these remote districts can have a conception of the noise, the jabbering, the perpetual movement in an Irish market."
Apparently there was a lot of "shouting" and "violent gesticulation". Instead of civilized "bargaining" to strike a deal "desperate battle" was waged.


Convent of Mercy

Sister Gertrude O'Brien founded the Convent of Mercy in Ballinrobe 15 February 1854. (Frances Warde: American Founder of the Sisters of Mercy, 1973)

1854:

At Ballinrobe, the same contractor, Mr. Egan, has undertaken to complete the Convent of Mercy for 2,000 [pounds]. The M. Rev. Dr. McHale advanced 500 [pounds] towards it. The building is already covered in and glazed.

The Metropolitan: A Monthly Magazine, Devoted to Religion ..., Volume 2 By Martin Joseph Kerney

1866: Convent of Mercy Ballinrobe listed Annals of the Society of the Holy childhood By Society of the Holy Childhood in 1866.

1891: Irisleabar na Gaedhilge: The Gaelic journal, Volume 4

The National language has lost two practical friends and supporters in the death of Mother Mary Paul and Mother Mary Aloysius, of the Convent of Mercy Ballinrobe. The deceased ladies taught Irish in the Convent schools with great zeal and success.

A County Mayo nun founded the Sisters of Mercy in Philadelphia:
Anne Mary Waldron, later known as Mother Mary Patricia Joseph Waldron, was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, in 1834. She entered the Convent of Mercy in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, in 1852 and professed her vows as a Sister of Mercy on July 20, 1855.

Gwynedd-Mercy College.

She later went to the states where she established the Philadelphia foundation of the Sisters of Mercy. She died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 30, 1916.

"Sister May Ignatious, an only child, was born in Caunty Galway, at the castle of Ballycurrin, on January 23, 1834. At the age of twenty-three, she entered the Convent of Mercy at Ballinrobe, County Mayo. County Mayo, where the famous Archbishop Philip McHale gave her the holy habit, June 10, 1858." (Sisters of mercy of Nebraska, 1864-1910)


1875 - Annual Bazaar to Benefit the Convent of Mercy

The Freeman's Journal Dublin ran and ad in April 1875 for the Annual Bazaar and Grand Drawing for the Convent of Mercy in Ballinrobe. The event was held at the Convent School house on Thursday June 24, 1875.

"Prizes" donated by the local Ballinrobe population (and some people from Dublin) included: Two sheep and two lambs, a "nice American clock", a carved wood reading stand, some handsome bound books, an electroplated handsome kettle with lamp and stand, an electroplated Epergne (table centerpiece) with cut crystal fruit bowl,a chest of tea, a beautiful table cloth, a prime sheep, a music stand and some sheets of music, an assortment of carved wood table ornaments, a hall clock, a nice Paisley long shawl, plated dinner candlesticks, a one pound note, a gentleman's portable dressing case and a pair of handsome ruby vases, a beautiful workbox and writing desk combined, a black lace shawl, a case of foreign stuffed birds, a handsome chain drawing room lamp and excellent walnut writing deck, a ladies valuable ring, an electroplated butter cooler and an alabaster inkstand, a richly embroidered cushion, an electroplated biscuit box, a handsome drawing room lamp, a valuable paisley scarf, a beautiful table cover, a gold puzzle ring and a pair of handsome vases, a set of china toilet requisites and cigar stand furnished, a pair of electroplated vases with crystal tops, a dozen of superior pale sherry, an ornamental coal box, a very superior evening tea and coffee service, half dozen best Champagne, a pictorial family bible, Irish Varieties, on oil painting beautifully framed, an electroplated cruet stand, bagatelle table and electroplated butter cooler, a nice drawing room lamp, one dozen best sherry and and "American clock".

Lady Louise Knox donated a "valuable piece of china". Miss Valkenburg donated a deer's head inkstand and Japanese tatting companion. The Rev. Father Barrett, C. C. Ballinrobe donated a pair of beautiful vases and a richly bound album containing photographic groups of eminent personages. Rev. Father O'Malley P. P. the Neale donated an electroplated tea and coffee service. Rev. Father Ronayne, P. P. Ballinrobe donated 5 pounds. Mrs. Captain Knox, Cranmore donated a portfolio and envelope case in scarlet morocco. The Rev. Father Brennan, P. P. Turlough donated one pound. The Rev. Father Lavelle P. P. Cong donated a electroplated tea pot.


Ireland (part II): East, West, and South including Dublin and Howth By Charles Slegg Ward, John Bartholomew, 1888

Ballinrobe (Valkenburg's Hotel, very fair), a neat and rather sombre town of 2200 inhab. Close at hand, west of the main street, there is a pleasant walk along the river Robe, which flows hence into Lough Mask, and was at one time navigated up to this point.

The road from Ballinrobe to Cong is over a flat plain with the hills of Joyces' country visible to the right, across Lough Mask. The highest of them (2207 it.) is Maamtrasna, a name only too familiar in the records of agrarian crime. To the right, further away, rises the graceful cone of Croagh Patrick. Capt. Boycott's house (whence "Boycotting") is near at hand on the right, but not seen. At the hamlet of Neele (4 m, from Ballinrobe), there is a pyramidal monument on the left of the road, and a little further we come broadside on to the wall that encloses the extensive demesne of Lord Ardilaun (Guinness). The road to the left and then right again round the wall leads to the pier, whence the steamer for Galway starts every morning; that to the right takes us direct into Cong. Just before entering the village we see on the right the Titanic rums of the canal by which an abortive attempt was mide to effect a navigable channel between Lough Corrib and Lougli Mask (see p. 188).

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Herapath's railway journal, Volume 56, 1894

Advertisement

Free Shooting & Fishing

CLONBUR, CO. Galway

(8 miles from Ballinrobe Station, M. G. W. Ry)

6000 acres of good Shooting (partridges, hares, grouse woodcock, snipe, wild dnck, &c.. in profusion) free of charge. Grand pike and trout fishing in Lough Mask, Lough Nafooey, and Lough Corrib (many miles of water which are seldom fished) also free of charge. Good hotle accommodations (45s. per week - no extras!) cars and horses at very low charges; lake flshing-boat and two men, 6s. per day. Ballinrobe is only 4 hours' rail from Dublin. Passengers leaving Eustou at 8.20 p.m. reach Ballinrobe at 12.25 next day. Another route: Dublin to Galway, 3 1/2 hours: thence by steamer (daily at 3 p.m., except Sundays) up Lough Corrib to Cong, arriving at Clonbur in the evening. Cars for Clonbur meet trains at Ballinrobe and steamers at Cong. Further particulars of Mr. J. A. Joyce, J.P., Mount Gable Hotel, Clonbur, co. Galway.

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More History of Ballinrobe based on an article by Patrick F Wallace in The Bridge December 1972

The Plight of The Pre-Famine Irish Peasant

In Pre-Famine Ireland four out of five farmers held less than fifteen acres of land. Almost half held less than five acres of land. It must be remembered that the farmer neither owned this land nor the right to a permanent lease. Most of his effort went into raising whatever was necessary to pay the rent; the farmer and his family for the most part getting by on an acre of potatoes. In addition to his rent he had to pay tithe to the Church of Ireland (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland) and he had to pay fees (albeit a very small sum) to the Catholic Church for marriages baptisms and funerals. Opposition to these burdens was a cause for social wars in the 1830's and a

"reason for his participating in the notorious activities conducted in places by armed and secret peasant societies like the White Boys especially near the beginning of the century".
But the farmer was not even the worst off. Below him was the agricultural labourer
"who had a plot of ground attached to his cabin in which he grew potatoes which were almost the sole diet of his generally large family while his rent was paid by his own labour."
He frequently kept a pig not to eat but to pay the rent.

Lower still was the labourer who had no land and lived by conacre (a system of shared land usage). For the peasant working conacre

"Pay was bad, work seasonal, dwelling conditions deplorable, clothes scanty, shoes, virtually non-existent especially as far as women"

Food

An inferior, lumpy, soggy, potato was the mainstay of the poor's diet. They were eaten at every meal, sometimes with a little salted fish or buttermilk. Meals were occasional supplemented with eggs. Meat, if eaten at all, was reserved for Christmas and/or Easter. There were the hungry months of the summer when the old harvest had run out and the new was not yet ripe when the poor ate nettles and weeds. Townspeople who did not rely directly on the land fared somewhat better. "Nevertheless the poorer people of the towns were reduced to beggary at certain times of the year". Beggars were mentioned by almost every travel account of the West.

Animals

Ballinrobe and surrounding area like the Neale and Hollymount were known for their cattle and sheep and all the surrounding towns had animal fairs. The mutton of the area was supposed to be exceptional. These animals grazed in the summer and were fed hay and straw in the winter. The poor feed all of their animals, cattle, horses, poultry and pigs on potatoes. The poor did not raise animals for their own consumption but to pay the rent.

At the Ballinrobe fair in 1801 claves sold for £3 to £7 pounds, milk cows for £10 to £15 and sheep for £3. On the other hand a man's average wages were eight pence a day.

Housing

In 1801 farm houses in the area were neither "neat nor good" and fences were "loose and bad". Most of the land was open as enclosure had not yet occurred in most of the area. The "upper ranks of the poor" were "snugly lodged" while the very poor had "very bad cabins, some made of sods and some of loose stones badly thatched, in which the cattle herd with the family". Villagers and farmers with some acreage lived in neatly plastered snugly built stone houses. Most houses were build by the people themselves and not by the landlord.

Courtney Kenny and Rev. Thomas Burgh testified before the Poor Enquiry Commissioner in 1835 that the cabins of the poor in Ballinrobe were: built of dry limestone, thatched with straw over peat sods and wattling, plastered inside with clay, and that only some had chimneys. They varied in size from 12 to 16 feet in width and twenty to thirty feet in length. Some had bedsteads although the bedding was generally bad. Many families slept in one bed that was really a little straw on the clay floor.

"Nevertheless, in 1836 the rent of such cabins was very high." A cabin without land costing £1 to £ 2 per year with some as high as £4. The tenant had no right to the land the cabin sat on. The held their property without lease, and many of them paid the rent by working for the landlord for a rate of 6 pence a day. There was often more than one family to a cabin.

Turf

Turf was the main fuel. The bog near Ballinrobe was extensive and many of the poor harvested peat, living in crude cabins along deep ditches and carrying the peat into town on there backs for two or three miles.

Employment

Employment was low in the winter and summer. Averages wages were six to eight pence a day with some laborers such as mowers and shearers getting 10 to 12 pence a day. Road work was sporadic and paid 9 pence a day. Linen weaving had been introduced into the area some years before but was not a viable industry and the line weavers made less than the common labourer. Kenny said that he employed people to clean and drain his land. Other landlords clearly did not employ many locals and two of the major land lords in the area, Charles Nesbitt Know Gore and Lord Lucan, were absentee landlords.

Pre-Famine emigration

Emigration was relatively low. Rev. Burgh said that many people emigrated from the parish in the three years prior to 1836. Kenny said that about 30 families emigrated in 1831 but hardly any in the intervening years. All of those who left "went to Canada".

Population Growth

The surprising fact is that despite these apparent hardships the population of the parish soared. At 8,933 in 1831 it jumped to 11,150 in 1841 while the population of the town went from 2,604 to 2, 698.

Trades and Businesses

Two directories (one published in 1824 and the other published in 1846) despite some problems, give an indication of the trades and occupations in the town of Ballinrobe at the time. There included one or more of the following: tobacconist, tallow chandler (candle maker), spirit dealer, wine dealer, grocer, brewer, ironmonger, woolen and linen merchant, haberdasher, publicans, boot and shoe maker, baker, tailor, hotel owner, apothecary, miller, cooper, harness maker, agent, letter press printer, plasterer, printer, carpenter, blacksmith, physician and surgeon.

Other occupations not listed in the directories but included by the Bridge article were; tanner, millwright. feather dealer, and saddler.

Later records indicate other occupations that may have been represented but were not listed by either the directories or the Bridge such as some of the occupations connected with the Walsh/Langan clan: stone mason, chimney sweep, clog maker, car (wagon) driver, steward, gardener, and of course the servants in the big houses, such as maids and cooks.

Business appear to have changed hands quickly.

The Town in 1818

In 1818 Ballinrobe appears to have been a small "neat" town where a few new building had recently been constructed. Most of the houses on the main thoroughfare between Cong and Hollymount (Main Street) were well built of stone with slate roofs while "cabins" lined the road to Westport (Bridge Street) and "meanly edificed" houses were to be found on the "less important streets".

Differences in the Town between 1831 and 1851

There were 441 houses in 1831 with a population of 2,604. In 1841 the number of houses had risen to 535 with 41 unoccupied and 6 in the process of erection while the population stood at 2,678. By 1851 the population had dropped to 2,161, mostly due to the Famine. Supposedly there were now 354 houses in the town with only 327 being occupied. What happened to the other 181 houses that were listed in 1841? Were they torn down? Left in shambles? Tumbled for nonpayment of rent?

The numbers quoted indicate that there was a 20% reduction in population and a 33% reduction in house numbers. I do not know about house reduction due to the famine, but estimates of population reduction vary from 30% to 50%. This indicates that the population of Ballinrobe did no fall as much as the surrounding countryside.

Schools

"Ballinrobe had a charter school for forty boys at least as early as 1800"

By 1837, two schools in the town were aided by donations from C. N. Knox, and between them they afforded instruction to about two hundred children."

There were also some Sunday church school instruction for Protestants.

"From this it would appear that the children of the own and parish were well catered for in the realm of schooling during the fifty years with which we are concerned; especially when the lack of educational facilities elsewhere in the Ireland of he day is considered".

While Patrick Wallace felt this reflected that the children of the town were "well catered for". I feel that it indicates that they were very poorly served. Taking the population at its lowers in 1851 (at 2,161) and given the very high birth rate of the time, it is impossible to imagine that less than ten percent of the population was of school age. Even if we assume a very low minimum of at least one quarter of the population to be of school age this would mean at least 540 children. Surely the percentage of school age children was even higher than this. Furthermore this estimate only considers the town population and does not take into consideration the immense number of children living in the outlying townlands

Communication

Communication with other towns in the area was by post. There was a daily jaunting car between Tuam and Ballinrobe that could carry four passengers, a car from Galway to Westport also passed through the town and a daily pos/passengert car to Hollymount.

Water

In 1912 the Robe River was still used for drinking water.

Thanks

Thanks to Patrick F Wallace who researched and wrote the article in The Bridge on which the above information was based and to John Doherty who emailed be a copy of the The Bridge (December 1972) in December 2005.


A Petition for the Fortification of Ballinrobe

JOURNAL OF THE GALWAY ARCHAELOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY JGAHS Vol. VII. Part III. (1911-12), A Petition for the Fortification of Ballinrobe, 168-170.

168 GALWAY ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

A Petition for the Fortification of Ballinrobe.

By C. C. ORMSBY.

THE following petition, which may have some interest for the members of this Society, as showing the disturbed state of the West country in the early part of the 18th century, was found not long ago in a box of old papers at Milford, Co. Mayo, where it appears to have lain for nearly two centuries.

It reads as follows:

To THEIR EXCELLENCIES THE LORD JCSTICES OF IRELAND. MAY it please your Excellencies WE the High Sherriff of the peace Grand Jury and other Protestant ffreeholders of the County of MAYO assembled att the General Assizes held for the said County att Ballenrobe this twenty seaventh day of July one thousand seaven hundred and sixteen. Most Cheerfully Embrace this Opportunity of Rendering to your Excellencies our hearty thanks for the tender care your Excellencies have all along expressed for the

169 A PETITION FOR THE FORTIFICATION OF BALLINROBE.

security of the protestant Interest in this Kingdom in Generall during the late unnaturall Rebellion in Great Brittain and particularly for Appointing an Additional Number of Barracks to be erected in such Convenient places of this County, as will enable us, under God to Defend ourselves in time of Danger from the many papists with which we are environed and to whose Insults we have too long been exposed. As these seasonable precautions Justly raise in us a very Gratefull sense of your Excelencies most Consumate wisdom, so, will our latest posterity be obliged to retain the same, because those Advantages will Equally Descend to them.

BUT while we are thus paying our Dutyfull Acknowledgements to your Excellencies for the many Inestimable Benefits which we receive from your Vigilant Administration under our Most Gracious Soveraigne King George we with the greatest submission begg leave to inform your Excellencies that we Conceive the Barrack which is now Errecting in this Town in and near which place is a good Stand of Protestants; may, with a very small Additional Charge be made More Usefull and secure in any time of Danger, for the Militia and other protestants in this County, if the outward Wall of the same were raised seaven or eight foot higher, and a ffosse or out Ditch Drawn about it, and the Earth which might be taken out of the said ffosse or Ditch being Carryed in, would raise a Rampart sufficient to render it Tenable against flying partyes and thereby would become a Magazine for stores of Amunition and provission and a place of Security for the protestants of this County to retreat to, who Upon any Dangerous Emergency, must otherwise be obliged to run great risques and hazards by sending to remote places for any of those Warrlike necessaries, and perhaps (as formerly) be forced to fly to other places for the greater security of their lives. This said Town of Ballinrobe standing upon a pass between the plains of this County of Mayo (which open to all the County hence to Athlone) and the Inaccessible Lawless large Country of Coonamarra, Joyce Country and Mountains of Partry, where few Protestants dare inhabitt, where the late Inhuman and Barbarous Practise of Haughing Cattle was first Invented and thence Diffused into the plain Country, and from whence in the time of the late Warrs (which most of us to our Sorrow Remember) many Companyes of Dissolute fellows Enter'd the plain Land and Comitted many murthers Depredations and other Barbarityes, and the horrid Murther of many Protestants of this Country was Comitted in the Warrs of one Thousand Six hundred and forty one att Shrule within five or six miles of this Town for want of such a Tenable place of Refuge. AND for a. further Demonstration to your Excellencies that this Town of Ballinrobe should be made more Capable of Securing the Lives of Protestants in Case of Danger we assure your Excellencies and can Easily prove our affirmation, That this Town was made a Garrison and more particularly taken care of by the late King James in the late Warrs as being the principall place of secureing this County to his Obedience and that here they held their Generall Meetings for that purpose. We thought it our Duty humbly to lay those Considerations before your Excellencies and if your Excellencies approve of them that you will be pleased to give such further Directions to the undertaking here as will

170 GALWAY ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

answer this good intention or as to your Excellencies great prudence shall otherwise seem most meet and Expedient.

Will Bell
Thos. Hamilton
Joseph Ritchepon
John Bell
Robt. Selwood
Joshua Thompson
James Baill
John ffleming
Jeams ffleming
Ja. Lawlor
John Phillpott
Samuel Phillpott
James Hughs
James fiz Gerrald
Thos. Martin
Thos. Rippingham
John Tunbridge
Benj. Tunbridge
Geo. Ruttledge
Abra. Cammell
Will. Moynaghan
James Rice
Hen. Bell
Edward Pepper
Thos. Bell
Thos. Quinn
Cha. Quinn
David Edwards
John Lacky
Thos. Rippingham
Francis Kelly
James Murray
Thos. Hamilton
M. A. J. Blake
Edwd. Wilson
Rob. Moore
David Courtney
James Rush
Chas. Ousley (?)
Hen. Lawrence
Wm. Cuff
Thos. Kenny
Edmund ffynn
Thos. Kinglake
Patt. Clarke
ffrancis Cuff
Hen. Bingham
And. Semple
John Birmingham
Clerk
Gerald Cuff
Math. Browne
Tho. Lindsey
Tho. Cuff, jun.
Thos. Elwood
Tho. Swanwick
Jno. Carter
Walther Winter
Rob. Lewis
James Clark
Edward Lewis
John Cuff
Robt. Miller
Robt. Miller, foreman
Thos. Vaughane
Matt. E. Bell
Tho. Lewin
Geo. Jones
Tho. Chambers
James Miller

How this document found a resting place at Milford, instead of in Dublin Castle, it is impossible to say, but it is probable that Robert Miller, the then owner of Milford, who was foreman of the Grand Jury, brought it home with the view of forwarding it, but for some unknown reason failed to do so; and the result is that Ballinrobe remains to this day unfortified and has neither rampart, fosse nor out ditch drawn about it. However, as the "dissolute fellows" inhabiting Connemara and the Mountains of Partry confine their invasions to market and fair days, no serious results need be apprehended.

My thanks to Tim Scott who in August 2011 made me aware of this paper from the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society.


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©Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2004 - Latest update December 2014