Ballard, County Clare
||This article may require copy editing for info totally unreliable and inaccurate. (August 2013)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2010)|
Ballard (Irish: Baile Ard, meaning "high settlement") is a townland in west County Clare, Ireland. It is on the N67 national secondary road between the urban areas of Doonbeg and Kilkee. The nearest large towns are Kilrush and Kilkee which, respectively, are about 10 and 5 miles away.
The townland is within Killard parish and the diocese of Killaloe.
Ballard is famous for having avoided the blight which caused the potato famine in the 1840s that wiped out the neighbouring village of Killard.
The current Ballard National School opened in 1911. The old school, set in the lower storey of Flynns' or Cremins' two storey house, still remains.
There is a legend that St. Senan was brought to Ballard Hill to see the location of Scattery Island where he went on to establish his main monastery. A version of this legend refers to him being mysteriously 'transported on a rock' from the hill to the island. During Penal times one of the locations where Catholic mass was held in secret was at the western gable end of Ballard House. The now demolished Ballard House (locally known as Father Mc's house) was the location of the Parochial House or Presbytery for Killard parish (and for a while the joint Killard and Kilkee parishes) until a new Parochial house was built in the 1970s in the nearby village of Bealaha.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters, an earthquake occurred in West Clare almost 1,000 years ago, splitting the land between the Cliffs of Moher on the north and Cliffs of Ballard on the south. The subsequent tidal wave engulfed the whole district between these two headlands, and the Atlantic is now rolling over what was once dry land. The earliest evidence of habitation are the various forts located in the townland. The most spectacular of these was a promontory fort located at Donegal Point. A promontory fort is a defensive structure located above a steep cliff, often only connected to the mainland by a small neck of land
Ballard Castle was a Napeolonic signal tower built in the 18th century as part of a ring of towers around Ireland. Other towers in Clare were located at Carheenaveelane, Carn Crohane, Mutton Island and Hags Head. Unfortunately the castle was demolished in the 1960s and the stones were reused in local farm buildings.
Ballard House was built as a summer residence for the Singleton family of Quinville Abbey Estate in Quin in the early 19th century. The other main landlords were the Blackhall family who lived in the nearby Killard House (also now demolished).
Ballard is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and has some of the most dramatic cliffs on the west coast of Ireland at Donegal Point, the Hubawns and Ballard Bay or Bealnalicka. Donegal Point is a peninsula that is reached by crossing over one of two spectacular naturally formed natural bridges. The shore front at Bealnalicka is noted for its Blow Hole locally referred to as the 'Puffing Hole'. The highest point in Killard Parish is Ballard hill where castle once stood. From this point it is possible on a clear day to see four counties; Co. Clare as far east as Ennis, North Kerry: the southern bank of the Shannon estuary and beyond to Ballybunnion, West Limerick: the Shannon estuary towards Tarbett and Co. Galway the Aran Islands and the Twelve Pins mountain range in Connemara.
The cliffs and coastline of Ballard have been receiving visitors since the Victorian Era, when it was a popular day trip for visitors to make from Kilkee on jaunting cars. The Cliffs of Ballard are recommended in the latest Lonely Planet guide to Ireland. The Kilkee Diving centre uses the coastline around Donegal Point and the underwater caves as part of their diving trips.