Coordinates: 53°46′N 7°38′W / 53.767°N 7.633°W / 53.767; -7.633
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Béal Átha na Lao
Approaching the village on the R194
Approaching the village on the R194
Ballinalee is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°46′N 7°38′W / 53.767°N 7.633°W / 53.767; -7.633
CountyCounty Longford

Ballinalee (Irish: Béal Átha na Lao),[2] sometimes known as Saint Johnstown, is a village in north County Longford, Ireland. It is situated on the River Camlin, and falls within the civil parish of Clonbroney.[2] As of the 2016 census, the village had a population of 347 people.[1]


The village name in Irish, Béal Átha na Lao, (anglicised as Ballinalee) means "mouth of the ford of the calves". The village is also sometimes known as Saint Johnstown, a name associated with the local Church of Ireland church of St John.[citation needed]


The St Johnstown borough constituency in the Irish House of Commons was nominally representative of the town.[3] In 1833, the Commissioners appointed by the UK Parliament to inquire into municipal corporations in Ireland reported that the corporation of the borough was "virtually extinct".[4] The 1846 Parliamentary Gazetteer records:

It stands on the Camolin rivulet, and on the road from Granard to Longford, 6 miles west-south-west of Granard, 6 north-northwest of Edgeworthstown, and 6 north-east by east of Longford. It is a poor and miserable place,—a small daub caricature of even a rotten borough. In 1833, it contained only a new police barrack, a cottage ornée in course of erection by a gentleman who had acquired some of the burgess-freeholds, 5 houses of annual value between £5 and £10, and 40 houses of annual value less than £5. The charter, which incorporated it was granted in the third year of Charles II.; assigned 88 acres of land as the site and property of the town; ordered the place, still then only in posse, to be called the Borough and Town of St. Johnstown; appointed it a corporation, consisting of a sovereign, 11 other burgesses, and an unnamed number of free commons; gave that corporation the power of sending two members to parliament; and granted a weekly market on Tuesday, and annual fairs on May 1 and 2, and Nov. 11 and 12. The Earl of Granard eventually carried the borough in his pocket, and in consequence received the £15,000 of compensation for disfranchisement at the Legislative Union. The landed property granted by the charter was vested, not in the corporation as a public body, but in the twelve first burgesses to descend from them by inheritance or purchase; and it now exists in plots of from 6 to 8 acres, —two of which are called the Lords Plots, and belong to the Earl of Granard, while the others bear the names of Gladstone's, Adair's, Lecky's, and Kennedy's Plots, and Furrcy-Park, John's-Park, Rowleys-Hill, Gallow's-Hill, and High-Park. A grey friary, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is supposed to have stood on the site of the town; but, if it ever existed, it has become completely untraceable. Area, 11 acres. Pop., in 1831, 255; in 1841, 299. Houses 50.

— [5]

Antoine Ó Raifteiri's poem "The Lass From Bally-na-Lee" references the town.[6]

In 1798, the town was the scene of numerous summary executions of United Irish prisoners of war after the Battle of Ballinamuck in a field now called Bully's Acre.

During the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921), the town was the scene of the Battle of Ballinalee, where IRA leader Sean Mac Eoin (sometimes known as the Blacksmith of Ballinalee) was the leader of a well-equipped flying column known as the North Longford Flying Column. They defeated 100 members of the Black and Tans and the Auxiliary Division in Ballinalee on 4 November 1920.[citation needed] It was the only successful defence of a town by the IRA against Crown forces during the entire conflict. Within the parish is the ruins of Old Clonbroney; it was reportedly the home of the first convent in Ireland, which was founded by St Patrick around 440 AD.

There are two lakes in the parish. Corbeagh lake, or Currygrane Lough, is situated in the middle of the parish and is located within the townlands of Drumeel Corbeagh and Currygrane. It has four small islands on it and one, called "Round Island," is thought to be a Crannog or ancient settlement. The other lake is called Gurteen and is situated near the village and adjacent to the Maguire Park.

Henry Hughes Wilson was born in the area in 1864, and would become the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff before his assassination by Irish Republicans. He was born in Currygrane near the village.

Between 30 and 31 January 1953, a riot took place at the post office.[7] The position of postmistress was re-appointed due to unscrupulous business activities. Sean Mac Eoin TD Fine Gael supported the position of the former post mistress. A riot ensued also in support, causing damage and assault to the family and home of the newly appointed post mistress.[8][9]


The local Church of Ireland church is dedicated to St. John. This church was built to designs by the Cork-born architect John Hargrave and was completed in 1825.[10]

There are two Roman Catholic churches in the parish; the Church of the Holy Trinity in the village and the Church of St James in Clonbroney. Ballinalee was the site of the first convent in Ireland at Old Clonbroney. Its remains are still to be seen.

The parochial hall on the Granard road, was opened in 1939 and is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Ashe, the Irish patriot. The local national school is adjacent to the hall and is named after Saint Samhthann.


Donnelly's Pioneer Bus Service, a local bus company based in Granard, operate a route from Granard to Longford via Ballinalee. There are three journeys each way daily (no Sunday service) [11]


The village's Gaelic Athletic Association team, Sean Connollys GAA Club, primarily plays Gaelic football. The club is named after Sean Connolly, the former IRA member who was born in 1890 near the club's grounds and died in the Selton Hill ambush in 1921. The club's grounds, "James McGuire Park", are located on France Road.

The club grounds also hosts an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, which is known as "The Acres" and a basketball and tennis court, concrete walkway, as well as gymnasium and meeting room. The underage section of the club goes under the name of the parish, Clonbroney. The club won the Senior Football Championship for the only time in 1919 as Clonbroney Camlin Rovers (later renamed Seán Connollys).[12]

Community Games and soccer are also participated in at parish level.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Ballinalee". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. April 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Ballinalee or Saintjohnstown". Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Constituencies: St Johnstown (Co. Longford)". History of the Irish Parliament. Ulster Historical Foundation. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  4. ^ Commissioners on Municipal Corporations in Ireland (1835). "Report on the Borough of St. Johnstowne (Longford)". First Report: Appendix. Command papers. Vol. XXVIII (8). HMSO. pp. 1287–93. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Johnstown (St.)". The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland: Adapted to the New Poor-law, Franchise, Municipal and Ecclesiastical Arrangements, and Compiled with a Special Reference to the Lines of Railroad and Canal Communication, as Existing in 1814-45. Vol. 2. A. Fullarton and Company. 1846. p. 336.
  6. ^ admin (20 April 2009). "Antoin Ó Raifteirí: Máire Ní Eidhin (The Lass from Bally-na-Lee)". Love poems & quotes: German, French, Italian, Russian etc. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Baton charge at Ballinalee Post Office". "Gardai, Civilians Injured in Melee" (The Irish Press).
  8. ^ Erskine Childers Minister of Posts and Telegraphs Fianna Fail v Sean Mac Eoin TD Fine Gael. Dail questions and answers Feb 1953.
  9. ^ "MacEoin, General Seán - Thursday, 5 February 1953 - Dáil Éireann Debate - Vol. 136 Nbr. 2". Oireachtas Debates. 1953. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017.
  10. ^ "St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Ballinalee, Longford". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Club SFC". Longford Gaelic Stats.