Baile Uí Mhatháin
|Motto: Is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn.|
|Elevation||82 m (269 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Look up Longford in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Ballymahon (Irish: Baile Uí Mhatháin, meaning "Mahon's town") on the River Inny is a town in the southern part of County Longford, Ireland. It is located at the junction of the N55 National secondary road and the R392 regional road. Ballymahon derives its name from Gaelic Baile Mathuna Town of Mahon. Mahon (Mathgamain mac Cennétig) was a southern chieftain, the elder brother of Brian Boru, who in 960 fought a battle in the vicinity of Ballymahon at Shrule, in Irish Sruaith Fhuil, River of Blood. Mahon defeated O'Rourke of Cavan at this Battle and laid claim to lands in the area. Hence the town of Mahon originated. Mahon may also relate to a sub chieftain of the O'Farrells who established control over Co. Longford in the 1400s. In comparison to other towns and villages in Co. Longford, Ballymahon is a young town. The earliest documentary evidence was in the year 1578. The map of the 'Down Survy' 1654 by Sir William Petty shows Ballymahon as a group of houses situated at the southern end of the present town, on the right bank of the Inny River. Two main families, the Shuldham family of Moigh House and the King-Harmans of Newcastle House developed the town in the mid-nineteenth century. The buildings in the town are of late Georgian architecture, with two and three storey gabled houses, colour-washed and in rows of three and four. A special feature of the town is its wide main street.
The River Inny, a tributary of the River Shannon, flows westwards through Ballymahon in the direction of Lough Ree three miles from the town. A stretch of the Inny from Newcastle Bridge to Ballymahon town is a renowned route for beginner to intermediate kayaking, canoeing and time trials.
The Royal Canal also passes westwards through Ballymahon from Dublin to Clondra, Co. Longford. Following extensive works the canal has recently been restored and is now fully navigable. Brannigan Harbour, c.1km from Ballymahon town is the most notable location on the Royal Canal in the area and is a convenient location for boats and barges to stop and pass and has also become very popular as a venue for water-sports.
Buildings of note
- Ballymahon Courthouse and Market House, is a 3 bay 2 storey commodious building and has recently been renovated into a new branch library, one stop shop and community facility. It is situated in the centre of the town (built 1819).
- St. Catherine's Church with its graceful narrow spire is a prominent feature in the town (built 1800)
- Ballymahon Mill now renovated and restored into apartments on the southern end of the town and adjacent to the town bridge and River Inny is a fine mid-19th century six storey building, (built 1839)
- St. Matthew's Church is an impressive and richly detailed Gothic-style Church and dominates the northwest side of Ballymahon (built 1906)
- Other Buildings of interest in the area are Newcastle House (built 1710 to 1860), Castlecore House (built 1740 to 1765 to designs by Davis Ducart), Ledwithstown House (built 1746), The Bank of Ireland Building (built 1869), Convent of Mercy (A former Parochial House built 1882)
- Opposite St. Catherine's Church is the old RIC police barracks built on the norther edge of what was locally rumoured to have been castle or fortress of the O'Farrell Clan, earthworks of which can still be seen off the "Fairgreen /Thomand Lodge" road. It became a Garda barracks after the establishment of the Irish Free State and remained in service until 1996 when a new, smaller, station was built on the Southern bank of the river opposite the old mill. The barracks was successfully attacked during the War of Independence on Thursday night 19th August 1920. The attack was led by General Sean MacEoin, known as The Blacksmith of Ballinalee, Sean Connolly (later killed at the Selton Hill ambush and Frank Davis. A small party of local volunteers also took part in the raid which mainly aimed to seize firearms. Sean MacEoin later visited the barracks to campaign during an election campaign in the 1950s. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was also held here in the 1950s during the 'border campaign' by the IRA.
Transport & communications
- Ballymahon is on the N55 road, a major route leading from Athlone, about 22 kilometres to the south, towards Belfast and Northern Ireland. The county town of Longford lies about 22 kilometres to the north-west.
- The author Oliver Goldsmith was born in the nearby townland of Pallas on 10 November 1728. Ballymahon has a fine monument on the main street commemorating the poet.
- The area is also central to the life of John Keegan Casey, known as "Leo" the Fenian Poet whose best known work was the 'Rising of the Moon'. Casey was born in 1846 in a nearby townsland in Westmeath before the family moved to Gorteen outside Ballymahon where his father became schoolmaster. Casey himself later taught in the area and became extensively involved in the Fenian movement in the area while at the same time writing under the pen-name "Leo". Following poor health as a result of imprisonment and injuries sustained in a coach accident, Casey died on St. Patricks Day, 17 March 1870. Many members of the Casey family still live in the area.
- Ballymahon is the birthplace of Mary Flynn. As a teacher in Dublin, Flynn told stories of a rabbit named Cornelius and his friends to her pupils. These later became a series of books, the best known of which is Cornelius Rabbit of Tang.
- John Henry Patterson (author) was born in Forgney in 1867. He was an Anglo-Irish soldier, hunter, author and Zionist, best known for his book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo (1907), which details his experiences while building a railway bridge over the Tsavo river in Kenya in 1898-99. In the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness, he was portrayed by actor Val Kilmer.
- Thomas Marlay, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, was born at Creevagh Beg, Ballymahon, in about 1680.
Culture & sport
- Ballymahon is home to the Bog Lane Theatre.
- The Ballymahon Scout Troup are active in the area.
- The town has a Gaelic Athletic Association Gaelic football club.
- The town has a Soccer Club Ballymahon AFC
- The Inny Kayak Club is also in the town.
- Angling on the River Inny and Royal Canal. (Trout,Pike,Perch,Bream,
Roach,Chub and Hybrids)
- The early twentieth century music-hall star, Gertie Gitana, had a hit with her nostalgic song "There's a cottage in ballymahone. [sic]"
- The Oliver Goldsmith Summer School, a festival of literature is held every year on the June Bank Holiday Weekend, with poetry readings held at Goldsmith's birthplace in Pallas.
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