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Béal Átha Fearnáin
Approaching from the northwest on the R284
|Elevation||59 m (194 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference||G863138|
Ballyfarnon (historically Bellafernan, from Irish: Béal Átha Fearnáin, meaning "ford-mouth of the alders") is a village in northern County Roscommon, Ireland. Built on the River Feorish at the foot of Arigna Mountain, it lies between Loughs Skean and Meelagh with Lough Arrow, Lough Allen, Lough Bo and Lough-na-Sool nearby. It lies on the Sligo/Leitrim R284 regional road on the border with County Sligo.
The first Church at Kilronan, Keadue, County Roscommon, was built in the 8th century by St. Ronan and his daughter St. Lasair. It was replaced in 1339 by one built by Fergal O'Duigenan which was burned down in 1340 and replaced three years later by the Church, one gable of which stands today. Sheltered by that gable is the vault of the McDermott Roes, in which Turlough O'Carolan was interred in 1738.
This gable is a memorial to the Gaelic Literary tradition from the 13th -18th century as represented by the O'Duigenans, hereditary erenachs of Kilronan (lay abbots who held church land from generation to generation), and chroniclers (as well as bards and ollavs-hereditary poets) to the MacDermots, Princes of Moylurg, down to Turlough O'Carolan, sometimes styled "The Last of the Bards". The O'Duigenans maintained a School of History on this site. The origin of the bards is lost in the mists of pre-historic Ireland.
This castle, which was also known as Castle Tenison, is a 19th-century castle dating from two different periods. The earlier part was built by Thomas Tenison, consisting of a 3-storey-over-basement, 3-bay symmetrical castellated block with slender corner turrets, pinnacled buttresses and tracery windows. This was built in about 1820, and may incorporate a Palladian style Georhian house. The later part is two storeys high, designed by a famous architect of the day, irregular, and of rubble stone with a baronial tower.
The Tenisons were remarkable early photographers. In particular Edward King-Tenison travelled in Spain in the 1850s, where he took some remarkable pictures of the castles and scenery. Some of the E.K. Tenison pictures can be seen in the National Photographic Library, which is part of the National Library. E.K. Tenison took photographs of Kilronan Castle in 1859 which were printed with albumen.
In 1814 the castle was occupied by Thomas Tenison.
The castle is a now a luxury hotel, situated close to the village, popular with weddings.
Town sights and attractions
A memorial to a local musician and songwriter, Josie McDermott, is the focal point of the village centre, and a memorial garden on the Feorish bank is dedicated to all who attended fair days in the village for centuries, and who worked in Arigna Coal Mines overlooking the village.
Kilronan Castle Hotel can be seen on walks to Lough Meelagh, the former home of the Earl of Kingston, and Alderford House, the last home of Turlough O'Carolan, is adjacent to the village. Turlough O'Carolan is buried in nearby Kilronan Abbey.
A primary school, church, GAA field.
There are one and a half pubs in town, Shivnan's (full-time) and Kiloran's (part-time). A Healys Garage, Killoran's Store and Lynn's/Lavins Hardware.
St. Lasair's well is a spring feed well on the road out of town past the castle which is thought to have healing properties for those that drink the waters.
- "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Ballyfarnan". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 22 July 2018.
- Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
- Mark Bence Jones, Burkes Guide to Country Houses.
- National Photographic Library