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Baile Mhic Shamhráin
The Ballymac Inn, Ballymagauran
The Ballymac Inn, Ballymagauran
Ballymagauran is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°04′15″N 7°40′47″W / 54.0708°N 7.6797°W / 54.0708; -7.6797Coordinates: 54°04′15″N 7°40′47″W / 54.0708°N 7.6797°W / 54.0708; -7.6797
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Cavan
Elevation 78 m (256 ft)
Irish Grid Reference H209134

Ballymagauran (Irish: Baile Mhic Shamhráin, meaning "The Town of Mac Shamhráin", historically Ballymagowran)[1] is a village and townland in County Cavan, Ireland. It lies on the border with County Leitrim, within the parish of Templeport and barony of Tullyhaw on the Ballinamore to Ballyconnell road.


In medieval times, Ballymagauran was the chief seat of the McGovern clan, who were lords of Tullyhaw. A medieval Duanaire or Poembook belonging to them is the oldest such surviving book in Ireland and describes various incidents at Ballymagauran.[2] The Vikings may also have been in the area as the pommel of an inlaid Viking sword (Petersen Type H) dating from c.900 A.D. has been excavated from a fort on the shore of Ballymagauran Lake.

The earliest surviving mention of the placename is in the Annals of the Four Masters under the year 1431 A.D., which states that "Thomas, proceeded with a great host into Teallach Eachdhach, to take vengeance on the inhabitants for the death of his kinsman. He plundered, spoiled, and ravaged the territory, and slew many of the chiefs of it. He also burned Ballymagauran, and then he returned home in triumph."[3]

In 1455, the Annals state that a war broke out between Philip, the son of Thomas Maguire, heir to the lordship of Fermanagh, and Magauran. Philip pitched his camp at Beann-Eachlabhra and Brian and Tuathal, Philip's sons, "went forth with twelve horsemen and thirty-seven infantry, burned Magauran's town, and the greater part of his territory, and killed Melaghlin Duv Magauran and a great number of his people; after which he returned home triumphantly."[3]

In 1459, the village was burnt down by Thomas Oge, after seizing the area. It was burnt again in 1485 by Turlough Maguire, son of John. On the following day Magauran "with his kinsmen, went in pursuit of the army, and deprived them of sixteen men, who were killed or taken prisoners, and two hundred horses."[3]

Philip, the son of Turlough Maguire and Thomas, son of Manus Magauran went to Teallach Eachdhach and killed Turlough. They then proceeded to the Crannog of Magauran and took Magauran prisoner, only to set him free and leave him behind as he had become sick, making transport inconvenient. The son of O'Reilly, Edmond Roe then "came up with these men of Fermanagh, and with the son recte grandsons of Manus, defeated them, and slew Donough, the son of Redmond, son of Philip Maguire; Philip, the son of Owen, son of Donnell Ballagh Maguire; Hugh, the son of Owen, son of Turlough Maguire; Murtough Roe, son of Murrough; and James, the son of Magrath Maguire, besides many others; and many horses were taken from them on that day."[3]

The older seat of the McGoverns was on a crannog in the nearby Killlywillin Lake.

In the Plantation of Ulster in 1609 the lands of the McGoverns were confiscated, but some were later regranted to them. The Manor of Ballymagauran was regranted to the chief of the clan, Felim McGovern. The name of the townland in which the village was situated was called Drumcork or Drumhirk at that time and was only renamed as Ballymagauran in the Ordnance Survey of 1836. The grant to Felim McGovern included "Dromcorck, 1 poll". In a visitation by Sir George Carew in autumn 1611 he states that "Magauran had his own land given him on this division".

By 1613 Magauran had progressed with building work. Sir Josias Bodley reported on 6 February 1613-"Proportion No. 31: 1,000 acres. Magauran is strongly seated, and near to his Irish house by a lough's side hath begun an English building of lime and stone of 40 feet long and 20 broad, not yet raised above the first story, but with this season intendeth to set it forward: There is round about it a trench and dike of earth and sod, which with little labour may be made of good strength, and that, it seemeth, by his beginning, he hath a purpose to do."[4]

By 1619 Pynnar's Survey of Land Holders found that Magauran had built a castle on his holdings.[5] Felim died on 20 January 1622 and the estate went to his son and heir Brian McGawran. A survey taken in August 1622 stated that- "Brian Magauran hath 1,000 acres in which is a bawn of sodds and within it a stone howse thatched, with chymneys and a part of it lofted. He setts his land from yeare to yeare to ye Irish, who plowgh by ye taile." Brian was married to Mary O'Brien and he died in 1631 leaving the estate to his son and heir Edward Magauran who was born in 1616.

The castle that Felim Magauran erected after 1611 was besieged and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army in 1649. Sir William Petty’s Down Survey map of 1659 shows the castle in the townland of Dromkirke with inscription "Stone house in repair". In the Hearth Money Rolls of 1664 there were only two houses in Templeport with two hearths at Munlough and Sruagh, indicating that the castle had been abandoned by that time.

After the Irish Rebellion, Ballymagauran was confiscated from the Magaurans and was granted to Sir Tristram Beresford, 1st Baronet under the Act of Settlement by patent on 3 November 1666. The grant included "Ballymagowran alias Drumherke". On 11 September 1670, King Charles II created the 'Manor of Beresford' out of lands in Tullyhaw which Beresford acquired, at a rent of £0-6s-8d per annum for each fair & market held there. Beresford died on 15 January 1673 and was succeeded by his son Sir Randal Beresford.

Major Edward Magauran was born in Ballymagauran on 16 April 1746, the grandson of Colonel Bryan M’Gauran, the Chief of the Clan McGovern who fought in the Battle of the Boyne for King James II against William III of Orange. In his autobiography,[6] he states "I was born in 1746 at the residence of the M'Gauran family, called from them Balli M’Gauran. It is a market town of some note, wherein four considerable fairs are annually held. During their prosperous days, a stately castle reared its head, adjoining to the town, and was the abode of the Barons, but it was dismantled by order of Oliver Cromwell, and now lies in ruins."

The ruined castle is described and pictured as 'Site No.1846, Tower House, Ballymagauran townland' in "Archaeological Inventory of County Cavan"[7] and in “The Castles of County Cavan”.[8]

Nicholas Carlisle stated that "Ballymagauran, in the Barony of Tullaghagh, Co. of CAVAN, and Province of Ulster. It is 4 in. N. E. from Ballynamore. The Fairs are holden on the 93d of May, 12th of August, and 23d of November."[8]

Samuel Lewis described it as "Ballymagauran, a village, in the parish of TEMPLEPORT, barony of TALLAGHAGH, county of CAVAN, and province of ULSTER, 4 miles (N. E.) from Ballinamore, on the road to Killesandra; containing 20 houses and 89 inhabitants. Fairs are held on May 23rd, Aug. 12th, and Nov. 23rd, of which the last is a good fair for cattle. Some remains of the old castle, which was destroyed by Cromwell, yet exist."[9]

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland for 1845 noted that Ballymagauran was "A hamlet in the parish of Templeport, barony of Tullaghagh. Co.Cavan, Ulster" and that "It stands on the western frontier of the county, four miles north-east of Ballinamore. Fairs are held on May 23, Aug. 12 and Nov.23. Population in 1831 was 89."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. ^ L. McKenna (1947), The Book of Magauran 
  3. ^ a b c d Margo R. Griffin-Wilson (1982), Sidelights on History: The Book of Magauran and the Annals 
  4. ^ Survey of Undertakers in Co. of Cavan 6 Feb. 1613- Tullaghagh Servitors, in Report of Manuscripts of Reginald Rawdon Hastings, Historical Manuscripts Commission, London 1947, vol. IV, p. 164.
  5. ^ A Special Census of Northern Ireland, Pynnars Survey of Land Holders. 
  6. ^ Memoirs of Major M’Gauran, 1786 
  7. ^ Patrick O'Donovan (1995), Archaeological Inventory of County Cavan 
  8. ^ a b O.Davies (1947), The Castles of County Cavan 
  9. ^ [1]

External links[edit]