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rriHERE are few towns so modern or so devoid of historic interest 
•^ as not to afford sufficient sabject-matter to fill a moderate sized 
volnme; bat in the compilation of a local history, many difficulties arise 
in collecting reliable information, which has to be gathered from sources 
very widely scattered and often not easily attainable. 

The town of Ballyshannon, though now suffering from the chilling 
effects of a diminished trade and a decreased population, can at least 
boast of its superior antiquity, and its many historical associations. 

To collect these scattered memorials of bygone times, and present in 
a connected and readable form, an epitome of all that relates to our 
town, past and present, is the aim and object of the following pages. 
In their preparation no pains have been spared to obtain the best and 
most accurate information, and I have carefully consulted many 
manuscripts hitherto unpublished. 

My best acknowledgements are due to the Very Hev. William 
Reeves, D.D., M.B., M.R.I.A., Dean of Armagh, oar greatest living 
authority on Irish ecclesiastical antiquities, for his valuable aid and 
kind encouragement. Through the assistance of F. W. Joyce, Esq., 
LL.D., M.S.. I. A., I have been enabled to give much interesting in- 
formation respecting the origin of our local names, a branch of literary 
research with which his name has become famous. To Richard G. 
Symes, Esq., F.G.S., Royal Geological Survey, I am indebted for the 
particulars respecting the geology of the district. My thanks are also . 
due to W. F. Wakeman, Esq., whose pen and pencil have so often 
gracefully depicted the antiquities of Ireland. 

Note. — ^The view of BallyBhannon which forms the frontispiece, though only 
comprising a portion of the town, has been selected as being picturesque and 



For permissioii to insert the copyright poemB, ''The Goblin Child 
and '* The Winding Banks of Erne," I am indebted to their anthor, 
William AUingham, whose poems, especially those relating to the Town, 
have taken a firm root in the memories of Ballyshannon people, both at 
home and abroad. 

To all those friends who have assisted me by placing at my disposal 
varioas books and papers, not otherwise obtainable, I tender my best 

The zoological notes are the resnlt of carefnl observation and inqairy, 
and the particulars respecting t\^e Flora have been derived in most 
instances from personal investigation ; all the donbtfal species having 
been submitted for indentification to an experienced botanist — 
8. A. Stewart, Esq., Fellow of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. 

Though conscious of many defects and shortcomings in the execution 
of my task, I yet indulge the hope that this little book may be the 
means of rescuing from an undeserved oblivion, the memory of many 
persons and circumstances associated with the history of our town in 
former times ; and that throughout its pages, the stranger as well as 

the resident, may find varied items of useful information. 

H. A. 
Ballyshannon, Decembeb, 1879. 




I. — Physical Featnres and Geology, - • 6 

11. — ^Early Traditjonary Accounts, - - 14 
IIL— The Waterfall of Bed H^gh, and the Early 

Christian period, - - - - 16 

IV.— The Abbey of Assaroe, - - - 22 

V. — ^The O'Donnells in Ballysbannon, - - 28 

YL — Capture of Ballysbannon and close of the 

O'Donnell period, . • «. • 45 

Vn. — Confiscation and re-distribution of Lands, - 48 

VIII. — Ballysbannon as a Corporate Town, - 52 

IX. — The Jacobite Troubles, • - - 69 

X. — Parochial History, - . - 63 

XI. — Ballysbannon in the Eighteenth Century, - 76 

XII. — Biographical and Literary Notices, - 83 

Xni.— Trade— Past and Present, - - - 96 

XIV.— Antiquities, - - - - 107 ' 

XV. — Zoology and Botany, - - - 119 

XVI,— Local Names, - - - - 133 

General Ind^x, ^ ,. . ^141 




Ballyshannon an ancient town in Ulster, the largest in the 
County Donegal, is in the barony of Tirhugh;* it forms a portion 
of two parishes — ^that of Kilbarron and Inismacsaint — and lies 
close to the frontier line dividing Tirconnell (now Ulster) from 
the "Kingdom of Connaught." 

The most prominent physical feature of the town is the river 
Erne, which, dividing it into two portions, flows rapidly to the 
celebrated waterfall of Assaroe, where it discharges, it has been 
estimated, four hundred thousand tons of water per hourf into 
the estuary below. 

That the site of Ballyshannon was chosen by its founders by 
reason of its possessing this joint natural attraction — ^river and 
waterfall — ^there can be little doubt. Waterfalls we know were 
sources of especial interest to the early inhabitants of Ireland ; 
almost every fall of any consequence possesses a legend of its 
own, and the early settlers and inhabitants of our country have 
left behind them abundant proof that they were not wanting in 
a just appreciation of what was beautiful in nature, and best 
suited to their personal comfort and safety. 

Ballyshannon was generally called by the old annalists Ath- 
seanaigh. Bel-atha signifies ford entrance, or mouth of a ford ; 

* Tirhugh is called in Iriih authorities Tiar-Asdha, i.e. the territory of Aedh or Hugh, 
king of Ireland, who summoned the celebrated Convention of Drumceat in 673. 

t Messrs. SteyensoH*8 Report on Ballyshannon Harbour, 1832. 



Seanaigh, from Seanna^ wbo wafi tgirimdson of Conal Galban, the 
progenitor of St. Columbkill, and also of the race of theO'Donnells, 
princes of Tirconnell, hence the name means the mouth ofSeanacVs 
ford. The termination on in the present name is a modern cor- 
ruption, and is discarded by many of the old-fashioned inhabitants, 
who still call it Bcdlyshanny. In the charter granted by James I. 
the name is spelt Balleshannon, while Spenser in his "View of 
the state of Ireland," calls it Ball-shannon. 

The natural features of the country neighbouring the town 
are varied and interesting ; that on the north side of the river 
being pleasingly diversified by numerous hills and valleys, fre- 
quently interspersed with small lakes and streams. On the south 
side lies the extensive but broken plain (about 15 miles by 7) 
known as the Moy^ while the fine mountain range of Dartry, 
extending from Rossinver to Ben Gulban, forms the southern 
boundary of our district. Truikmore^ the highest of this range, 
is 2,115 feet above sea level ; Ben Gulban or Ben Bulben, 1,722 
feet. Looking seawards, three miles distant, is Donegal Bay, 
into which the waters of the Erne, after many bends and curves, 
make their final exit at the Bar, and mingle with the Atlantic 
waves. At Coolnargit (cml-an-airgttj — i.e. the recess or winding 
of the silver — ^are extensive sandbanks; owing to the composition 
of this sand — minute particles of shells and rocks — it possesses 
little or no cohesive properties, hence it is the sport of every 
passing storm; and though the sea-reed (Peamsa arenariq) with its 
wide-spreading roots helps to keep the sand together, the hills 
have within the last qusurter of a century rapidly decreased in 
size, and their shape has been greatly altered. 

There is one other feature of our neighbourhood which will 
particularly strike the stranger, and that is the vast quantity of 
stones and rocks scattered about the fields, and the almost com- 
plete absence of trees and shrubs, excepting a sprinkling here 
and there round country houses. Bereft of trees as our district 
now is, at one time extensive forests clothed the surface of the 
country; indeed, the locality was noted for the extent of its oak 


forests, under whose umbrageous shelter, the wild boar (sua scro/aj 
and the red deer (cervm elaphusj f onnd a suitable refuge from 
the huntsman and his wolf-dog. In many of our local names 
of places is preserved a remembrance of the ^' king of trees,** 
the prefix Derry (Doire or Daire), meaning oak wood, is in rerj 
frequent occurrence in the composition of names in our district, 
as Derryhirh^,e, the oak wood of the boar ; DerrywuMr-^.e. 
the oak wood of the carpenter, &c. 

The Moy at one time was an extensive forest, and trees grew 
even to the water's edge, on that now treeless wind-swept region 
of Ballymacward and Ealdoney. Near to the Bar those rugged 
rocks known as the ^^ forest rocks" once marked the limit of trees 
whose roots must have been washed by the tidal waves. The 
climatic changes brought about by the removal of such extensive 
planting must have been considerable ; among these an increased 
temperature and a diminished rainfall were probably the most 
important. Ballyshannon now enjoys a comparatively warm 
temperature, which is owing in a great measure to the heating 
influence of the Gulf Stream.* The isothermal line (or line 
of mean annual temperature) which passes (Yieima, London, 
<&c., reaches its highest latitude about 80 miles north-west of 

The average yearly rainfall at Ballyshannon, of which a daily 
register has being kept since Ist January, 1874, is 41*64 inches.! 
Our district, though wetter than some placed on the east coast, 
is much dryer than the southern and more western portions of 
Ireland. Moreover it is in a great measure free from the cold 
easterly winds. Westerly and south-westerly currents prevailing 
during the greater part of the year. 

The harbour or tidal portion of the river covers a superficies 
of 606 imperial acres. The tides at springs rise about 10 or 11 

* So great is the heat communicated by this ocean river, it has been calculated that 
the warmth thrown into the Atlantic by the Qulf Stream on a winter's day, would be 
sufficient to raise the temperature of that part of the atmosphere which rests upon 
France and Great Britain, from freezing point to summer beat.— "Norway and its 
Glaciers" by Professor Forbes. 

t An inch of rain represents about 100 tons per acre. 


feet (varying with the force of winds and other causes) and at 
low water there is abont 2 feet on the Bar. The channel is 
considerably deeper, in many places being 20, and in some 30 
feet deep at springs. The harboar being situated east of the five 
o'clock tidal line, the time of high water at springs may be 
approximately stated as 5.40. 

The strength of the in-coming tidal wave is suflBcient for some 
hours to check the outward progress of the great volume of fresh 
water coming down from Lough Erne, but generally about half 
an hour before high water at the Bar, the pent up "fresh** 
becomes too strong for the rising tide, and consequently begins 
to flow down, thus sometimes presenting a serious difficulty to 
the navigation of vessels crossing the Bar. 

The town of Ballyshannon stands on the north-west margin of 
the carboniferous limestone which forms the extensive plain known 
as the "Great Central Plain of Ireland;" but that the lotoest 
rocks of the lower carboniferous period are to be found in Bally- 
shannon is not to be inferred from this statement, as a large 
faulty or series of faults (the technical term for a fracture in a rock), 
separate the limestone from the metamorphic rocks which are to 
be found immediately north of the town. The observer has only 
to go down to the Pool, where he will see these "faults" well 
marked for a considerable distance to the west. Along the 
road leading from Ballyshannon to Pettigo is the boundary line 
which divides the two great series — the limestone and the 

The rocks of our district may be divided into two classes. I. 
The Carboniferous Limestones and their Associated Sandstones. 
II. The Metamorphic Series. 

The rocks south of the town, consist chiefly of thin bedded 
dark cavernous limestone, with shales, resting on which are 

* The physical featurei north and south of this road, especially in the vicinity of Cliff, 
are very remarkable. On the one side we have the cold barren outline with its stunted 
vegetation (such is observable wherever the metamorphic rocks prevail), on the other, 
a rich and luxuriant growth clothed with trees, which add an additional cb«rm to the 
river scenery of the Erne. 


dolomite or magDesian limestone. Over these are irregalarly 
bedded light gray limestones, which weather rapidly, and are 
well seen sooth of Waterloo. Over these again are bluish lime 
stones and shales, which are probably the representatives of the 
*' Calp" of the east of Ireland. Above these is a tolerable thickness 
of sandstones* which extend from Lennox Bridge and Mnllinaleck 
Bridge to Belleek, and thence to Boa Island on Loagh Erne. 
Over the sandstones are the upper limestones, well exemplified 
in the Dartry Mountains, and at Maghoo on the south shore 
of Lough Erne. Surmounting all are the representatives of 
the Goredale series^ which are composed of sandstones and 

The palaentological character of the limestones about Bally- 
shannon is much the same as that of the lower limestone of the 
West of Ireland. At the salmon weirs, whole beds of limestone 
are composed of crinoids or " stone lilies," and a few specimens 
oiproducta (a fossil of the cockle species) and some corals are 
occasionally met with. As to the thickness of the carboniferous 
beds south of the town, at present it is enough to say that the 
Geological Survey have the district in hand, and until it is com- 
pleted, the position of the great east and west fault connot be 
pointed out. That such faults exist, may be assumed with 
tolerable certainty, as from examination already made, .it has 
been found that the beds of the limestones, sandstones, &c., all 
dip in one direction, viz., towards the south. Some of the beds 
dip at an angle of 35°, and if this were constant we should have 
between Ballyshannon and Mount Prospect, on the south shore 
of Lough Melvin, such a thickness of the carboniferous series as 
would lead us to expect coal in the Dartry Mountains. But as no 
such trace is found there (in them the upper limestone appear), 
it must be assumed that a fault, or more likely two faults, exist, 
and the external features of this neighbourhood suggest two- 
one from Ballyshannon up Lough Erne, the other running almost 
parallel with it from Lough Melvin to Cliffony. 

* These sandstones are supposed to be the representatives of Sir B. Griffith's " Calp 


The metamorphic series of rocks Is well exemplified in the 
historic island of Inis-Samer ; also at the qnay and along the 
road leading to the Gas Works. These rocks rnn in an eastward 
direction nnder the church on Mnllaghnashee, towards that 
monntainons district north-east of Ballyshannon, of which Dhn- 
bally and Breesie are prominent points. These rocks are for the 
most part mica schist and quartzites. Although their form has 
been altered as their name implies, yet as in the case of the rocks 
on the island, the foliation corresponds with the bedding. They 
were smidstones prior to their change, and the difference in time 
between their deposition and that of the superincumbent limestones 
marks a geological period. The only other rocks which we will 
here notice are the fault rocks near the Pool ; these are composed 
of an aggregation of pieces of quartzites and schist (from the 
metamorphic series) generally bound together by a calcareous 
cement, and their origin is due either to the depression of the 
limestone, or the elevation of the quartzite. 

The river Erne which flows through Ballyshannon receives 
only the drainage of a very small area around the town. It rises 
in Lough Gowna (the Lake of the Calf) about thirteen miles south- 
west of the town of Cavan, and at a point about 214 feet above 
the level of the sea. The meaning of the name Chvma is explained 
by a legend which describes the origin of Lough Erne. There 
is a well in the townland of Rathbrackan, one mile from Granard, 
in the County Longford. In this well once lived a magical calf 
who was kept enclosed in it by means of a door which all persons 
using the well were strictly enjoined to close after them; but one 
day a woman going to draw water, forget to shut the door, and 
the wonderful calf jumped out, the water following him, expanding 
its course as it went so that neither calf nor watw stopped their 
race till both leaped into the sea at Ballyshannon! ! 

The Erne, after passing from Lough Gowna, flows as a narrow 
river into Lough Oughter^ which is 1 60 feet above sea level, from 

According to Sir B. Oriffith's estimate the carboniferous limestone of the Iforth of 
Ireland is about 2,700 feet thick. 


thence into Upper Lough Erne (151 feet above sea level) and 
then into Lower Lough Erne (149 feet 9 inches above sea level),* 
and in the short distance of four miles from its exit, from the 
lake proper at Belleek, it passes over numerous falls and rapids, 
descending in many places the cavernous limestones through which 
it flows, till it takes its final plunge over the rocks at Assaroe 
(about 16 feet high). In its course, the river Erne (for such it 
may be regarded from its source to its exit) receives the following 
tributaries — The Annalee from the neighbourhood of Cootehill ; 
the Woodford near Ballyconnell ; the Golebrooke at Maguire's 
Bridge; the Claddagh at Swanlinbar; the Ametf from Lough 
Macnean; an«l the Sillees from Derrygonnelly. 

North of Ballyshannon, the drainage passes into the TuUymore 
(or Abbey) river which flows into the estuary at the Abbey Bay. 
A mile and a half south of the town, the drainage about Stormhill, 
&c., passes into the river Bradogue (the little gorge), which flows 
into Donegal Bay at Bundoran. 

The geological period known as the "glacial period," or 
ice age of this country, is remarkably well exemplified in the 
neighbourhood of Ballyshannon. Not only have we the erratics^ 
or blocks, carried from a distance, but where the rocks are newly 
exposed from their capping of boulder clay (the term used for 
the drift as transported), we find the polished and striated surface 
produced by the passage of glaciers over them. From this 
testimony of the rocks we have ample and satisfactory proof that 
glaciers did pass over our diatrict, and we have further evidence 
of the exact direction in which they travelled, until they finally 
passed into the sea where they assumed the form of bergs, or 
floating ice. For good examples of transported blocks and 
boulder clay, we may point to Shegus on the north side of the 
town, and the Boon Hill on the south side (in the townland of 
Dunmuckrum) both of which are typical examples of the hundreds 
of similar saddleback hills of Ireland, which owe their existence 

* Summer water in the lake ia 188 feet above high water at 10 feet Bpring tides at 


to the agency of ice, and are nothing more than an accnmalated 
mass of boulders (chiefly in our locality, limestone) and drift, 
transported thither by that great motive power — ice, in its 
passage from east to west. It is further noticeable that the 
direction of the axis of these hills indicates the direction of the 
flow of ice. A fine example of boulder clay or ice action, ue. 
striation, may be seen along the line of railway from Bally- 
shannon to Belleek. The best illustration will be found at a 
point about 200 yards west of the wooden bridge at Fortwilliam. 
There, the railway cutting shows the boulder clay resting on the 
polished and striated rocks. The polishing and striation are 
peculiar, inasmuch as the rock presents a wave-like polished 
surface, the wavy appearance having been produced by the ice 
in its progress passing along the lie of the limestone beds, and 
hot across them. These striations or scratches, which a casual 
observer from their distinctness might suppose to be quite recent, 
when examined by a clinometer (an instrument used to ascertain 
the angle or dip of strata), have been found to consist of two sets 
of stria^ showing that, although the general direction of ice-action 
from east to west was constant, yet other and smaller currents 
from different quarters also contributed to the carving and 
scratching of the surface. 

In Ballyshannon traces of minerals are frequent, but like many 
other parts of Ireland the mineral deposits are but superficial, and 
in our immediate neighbourhood we have had many proofs of the 
necessity which exists for thorough scientific knowledge before 
embarking in projects which only end in disappointment and 
pecuniary loss. Traces of lead, copper, and barytes, have been 
found at Ballyshannon, and trials have been made at the Abbey, 
at Finner, and at Belleek, but none of these mines are now in 
operation. At Belleek, however, there are numerous traces of 
iron, and quantities of red hematite, and iron pyrites are to be 
found at Castlecaldwell. In Boate's "Natural History of 
Ireland," a book written more than 200 years ago, mention is 
made of extensive iron works having been in operation on the 


banks of Lough Erne, where the ore was dug up, and the 
smelting carried on by Sir Leonard Blenerhasset. This industry 
was, however, entirely upset by the Rebellion of 1641. Brick 
clay is very plentiful in the district, especially on the hills about 
Ashbrook, Newbrook, &c., and the presence of this stiff clay, in 
that long vein of country extending from the shores of Lough 
Melvin towards Pettigo, is a serious obstacle to successful 

In the country surrounding Ballyshannon, on both sides of the 
river, are extensive peat hogs, which offer an inexhaustible store 
of fuel, and have proved a beneficent compensation for the absence 
of coal in our district. These peat bogs are the most recent of 
our accumulations, and are still in process of development. A 
large portion of the extensive plain of the Moy, which now 
abounds in peat, was at some former period under water, 
and probably formed a portion of what is now Lough Melvin. 
Through the gradual accumulation of such plants as reeds^ mosses^* 
&c., the water was dried up, and the bogs formed. Remains of 
the forest vegetation of former periods are abundant — birch and 
hazel, fir and oak, are found submerged at various depths in the 
peat deposits. The bark of many of the plants which compose 
our bogs is furnished with an abundance of tannin^ which, when 
mixed with water, has the property of preserving from decay 
most kinds of animal and vegetable substances ; hence it is that 
"bog butter,"! timber, &c., which are frequently dug up from a 
depth of many feet, are sound and undecayed. 

* The mosses known as tphagnwn are thoee whicb have most largely contributed to 
this formation. 

t A vessel of "bog* butter" has recently been dug up in a neighbouring b(^. It is 
of a cheese-like substance, and free from uiv rancid smell. In former times it was 
customary to sink vessels of butter deep down in bogs, to improve their flavour. Among 
the food of the Irish, Dinley (a.d. 1675) mentions '''butter mixed with a kind of garlick, 
and buried for some tim^ in a hog, to make a provision of a high taste for I^nt."— 
See " Irish Names of Places ** (2nd Series), page 208. 




Some of the earliest traditionary events, of which there is any 
record in the chronicles of Ireland, are associated with Bally- 
shannon, and its neighbourhood. 

The Island of Inis-Samer, now known as "Fish Island" is 
mentioned as having been for a time the residence of Partholan, 
a Scythian chief, who was, it is said, a co-temporary of the 
patriarch Abraham, and consequently lived about three centuries 
after the deluge. According to the old chronologists, these 
adventurous explorers set sail from a country called Migdonia, 
(a part of ancient Macedon, or Thrace), and having braved the 
fieas, they at length dropped anchor at the Bay of Kenmare, on 
which coast they planted a colony; then sailing northward, they 
came into Donegal Bay, and having crossed the Bar at Bally- 
shannon, landed on this little rocky island. Here Partholan 
built a house, and lived with his wife and three sons for an 
unrecorded period. The island, it is said, got its name Samer, 
from a favourite greyhound of Partholan's which was buried in 
it, and a romantic tale in which this dog appears, has been 
handed down, but as it is doubtless familiar to most readers it is 
needless to introduce it here. According to Keating's "General 
History of Ireland** the island was also called the Dog's Isle. 
It seems however more probable that its name was derived from 
the River which was called Samhair or Samer — i,e, the Morning 
Star. The Partholanians, it is recorded, at a subsequent period 
left the neighbourhood of Ballyshannon, and settled at Howth, 
near Dublin, where the entire colony, numbering several 
thousands, were cut off by a plague* The modern village of 
Tallaght in that locality, has in its name a reference to this 
plague. It may be added that there is still to be seen, on a hill 
near the village, a remarkable collection of sepulchral tumuli, 
evidently of great antiquity. 

After the destruction of this colony, the country is said to have 
remained uninhabited for a period of thirty years, when another 


colony of Scythians, called Nemedians, arrived and occupied it, 
until they in their turn had to succumb to a stronger and more 
warlike race named Fomorians, natives of Africa, who, under the 
command of Gonaing, their chief, established their head-quarters 
on Tory Island. This island lies some nine miles from the main- 
land, and is a part of the barony of Kilmacrenan, in the County 
Donegal. On a cliff, at its eastern extremity, was the tower 
celebrated in the old annals as 

*' The tower of the island, the island of the tower, 
The citadel of Godnaing, the son of Toelar/' 
The exploits of "Balor of the mighty blows" are still pre- 
served in the local traditions of the islanders. This Balor is 
represented as having one eye in the middle of his forehead, and 
another directly opposite, in the back of his head. This hinder 
eye was kept constantly closed, as it had a mortiferous power, 
and he only used it when he wished to destroy an enemy. The 
accounts which tradition has handed down of this mighty chief, 
bear a strong resemblance to some of the strange beings which 
Baron Munchausen met with in his voyages to the Dog Star ; 
possibly the writer of this satire on travellers' tales, who was 
said to have lived for some time in Ireland, may have had this 
description of "Balor of the blows" in his mind's eye when he 
wrote his book. 

According to the old chronicles, Magh Gceidne* (the Moy), 
situate between Drobhaois (the ancient name for the Drowas 
river) 'and Eime (Lough Erne) was the scene of great oppression 
and cruel exactions, for it was here that the Fomorians of Tory 
compelled the Nemedians to pay over their annual tribute on the 
1st November. This tribute consisted of "two parts of their 
children, cattle, milk, butter^ and wheat." A woman it is said, 
was employed as '' cess collector," and this amazon, no doubt 
supported by an armed force, compelled each family to contribute 
their portion. 

Respecting these notices of the primitive history of Ireland 

I _ ■■■ ■ ■ — -- ..- — - — ■■ ..* -. — -^- .- . — ^^ — - - . - - ■ — .— . ... 

* M<igh Gceidne, Le. the Plain qf Treaty the xuune originated in the above circum- 


which have been handed down, chiefly through the bardic 
historians, it is difficult, if not impossible, to discriminate between 
what may be accepted as a fact, and what must be relegated to 
the domain of romance; one thing, however, is certain — that 
Ireland was knoum to the inhabitants of other countries, at a 
very early date. It was known to Aristotle as leme (the 
western extremity), and Tacitus says ^Hhe ports and landing 
places of Hiberuia are better known than those of Britain, 
through the frequency of commerce and merchants," Ptolemy 
in his geographical writings places Ireland amongst the celebrated 
islands of the world. In his Map of Eirin he styles the river 
Erne, the Ramus, and in a very ancient manuscript, our river 
is mentioned amongst the nine rivers of Ireland. " The ancient 
streams that made the country fruitful were Laoi, Buas, Banne, 
Bearbh, Samer^ Sligo, Mudhom, Muadh, and Liffee." 

The poet Spenser in his "View of the State of Ireland," 
written more than two and a half centuries ago, describes the 
country as so antique ^^ that no monument of her beginning and 
first inhabiting remains;" he also adds : ^^ it is certain that Ireland 
hath had the use of letters very anciently, and long before 
England." The opinion of Spenser on this subject carries more 
weight with it when we remember that he was an Englishman, 
and not favourably disposed towards Ireland. 




We now reach the epoch which is assigned by the annalist 
Tighemach as the limit to authentic Irish history ; he asserts 
that all events anterior to this are uncertain. 

More than five centuries before the Christian erat the 
sovereignty of Ireland was committed to Aedh Ruadh (Bed Hugh) 
the son of Badum, and to Dithorba, son of Deman, and to 
Kimbath, son of Fintan, sons of three brothers, and each took 

t Book of Leinster. 


his turn to reign for seven years. Bed Hugh's turn was firsts and 
came round twice again, and towards the end of his third period he 
was drowned while attempting to cross the river Erne at one of 
the fords. The old king's body having been swept down the 
cataract, was recovered and buried on the summit of the hill 
overlooking the scene of the disaster, and over the grave was 
heaped up a mound suflSciently large to indicate the resting place 
of a king of Ireland. To the death and burial of Aedh Ruadh^ 
the waterfall and hill above, owe their name. The former being 
henceforth called Eos Buadhj (now Assaroe) the latter Sidh Aedha 
Buadh (now MuUaghnashee). 

From the untimely end of the old king arose a series of events 
which culminated in the foundation of the celebrated palace of 
Emania, which was the resort of the Bed Branch Knights, and 
kings of Ulster, for more than eight hundred years. King 
Aedh Ruadh left no son to succeed him on the throne of Ireland, 
but he had a daughter — Macha of the golden-hair ; a young 
lady who was as great a stickler for '' women's rights " as any 
of the strong-minded sisterhood of the nineteenth century ; 
Macha claimed her father's right to the seven years' reign, 
when her father's turn came round, but the other sovereigns 
refused to recognize a woman's claim to the crown. The strong- 
hearted Macha was not to be put down ; she raised an army, 
and, after a fierce contest, made good her right by force of arms. 
Dibthorba was slain, and his five sons banished to the wilds 
of Gonnaught; but the new queen, fearing danger might be 
brought about by the outlaws, followed them herself to their 
retreat and made them all prisoners. She spared their lives, on 
condition that they should become her vassals, and by her com- 
mand they constructed the palace of Emana. The site of this 
celebrated resort is still to be seen in a field about two miles west 
of Armagh. Thus did our Waterfall become associated with 
some of the most important events in early Irish history. 

St. Patrick in his missionary travels also visited the Cataract 
(Eas), and it is recorded that he blessed the south side of the river, 


leaving the north side to be blessed by his successor, CoUma GiUe, 
whose advent he foretold. At a later period, King Brian Boruj 
in one of his annual progresses through Ireland, visited the 
Cataract. It has therefore not been inappropriately styled a 
Royal Cataract, in an old tale entitled "The Banquet of Dunagay 
and the Battle of Moira." "The clear-watered, snowy-foamed, 
ever-roaring, in-salmon-abounding, beautiful old torrent, whose 
celebrated well known name is the lofty, great, clear-landed, con- 
tentious, precipitate, loud-roaring, headstrong, rapid, salmon- 
full, sea-monster-full, varying, in-large-fish-abounding, royal and 
prosperous Cataract of Eas Ruadh" ! ! 

Nations and kingdoms have arisen, flourished, and been over- 
thrown, centuries upon centuries have passed by since Red Hugh 
met his death in the rapid stream, and yet "the music of the 
waterfall" sounds in our ears as of old, and still rolls down, its 
ceaseless murmur mingling with the rougher but more distant 
rumble of the Atlantic breakers. But of the regal grave, nothing 
now remains to mark the spot where the old king sleeps, the last 
vestige of the mound on MuUaghnashee having been, it is said, 
obliterated in 1798, when a star fort was constructed on the hill 
top, hence the spot is now called Fort-hill. It should be borne 
in mind that in early times, there were no dividing walls between 
the present churchyard, the paupers' burial ground, and the field 
adjoining, but that these collectively constituted Sidh Aedh 
Ruadh. The termination shee (sidh or sith) in the modern name, 
is of mythological, not historical, origin. The popular belief in 
fairies assigned to them as dwelling places the interior of "pleasant 
hills," and from time immemorial, MuUaghnashee was regarded 
as a gentle spot. Another celebrated fairy resort was Shegus or 
Sheegy's hills (fairy hills), and close to the shore beneath, is 
MuUaghnashee frog (the hill of the fairy dwellings). Besides 
these local habitations of the "gentle folk," tradition has handed 
down many marvellous accounts of their exploits, more especially 
among the sandhills, and in the Wardtown district; but the 
present is a dull matter-of-fact age, and the folk-lore of the good 


old times is fast fading away, and in a generation or two will be 
entirely obliterated. Reference has been already made to St. 
Patrick's visit to the Fall of Assaroe; there are beaides other 
circumstances which point to the fact of the saint having been 
in our neighbourhood. 

In the name Kildoney, Cill-dornhnaigh'^Le. Sunday Churchy we 
have evidence that there was at one time or other a church in that 
district, which was founded bj St. Patrick himself. According 
to the "Tripartite Life,** Jocelin, XJssher, &c., all the churches that 
bear the name of Domknach^—OT in the anglicised form, Donagh 
or Doney — were originally founded by St. Patrick, and were so 
called because he marked out their foundations on Sunday 
(Dominica, the Lord's day). Nothing now remains to mark the 
site of this early foundation, but this is not to be wondered at, 
when we remember the many centuries which have elapsed since 
the time of St. Patrick, and the primitive and not always sub- 
stantial character of the structures erected in the early years of 
Christianity in Ireland. The existence of a burial ground in 
Kildoney, is however, interesting, as it is a satisfactory proof of a 
Christain Church having been at some time standing there. 
Wherever old burial grounds are situated, it may be assumed 
with almost absolute certainty, that churches were originally 
attached to them, though no ruined walls appear, and though their 
very name is lost. The graveyard of which we are speaking is 
in the townland of Kildoney, upon the summit of a hill about 
midway between the Glebe-house and the Castle of Kilbarron. 
It is not now used for interments, but has about it evidence of 
great antiquity. Near the Blackrock, at the Bar, is Pollpatrick 
(Patrick's hole) a deep pool of water; and close to the "Pound 
Bridge," leadmg to the Abbey, is Toberpatrick, a well bearing 
the saint's name. 

In due time St. Columb CUle (the dove of the churches), was 
raised up to spread the blessings of Christianity throughout the 
land. The ancient church of Kilbarron, which gave its name to 
our parish, was, according to the oldest records, founded by 


Colomb Gille. SL Barrcdn^ or Bairrfionn, was appointed bishop 
of this church, and his name is commemorated in the '^Martyr- 
ology of Donegal" at the 21st May. The ruins which now re- 
main are not, however, those of the original church, but probably 
belong to the thirteenth or fourteenth century. 

St. Gollum Gille, whose family name was Grimthain, was 
great-grandson of Gonall Gulban, who was the ancestor of the 
O'Donnells, hence their territory came to be called TircanneU 
(Gonall's land). Gonall got the cognomen Gulban from having 
been fostered near Benbulben (Gulban's peak) mountain. Its 
majestic outline may we]l have inspired the old poet who has 
thus apostrophized it : — 

"Thou art sad to day, oh, Bin Bolbin ! gentle height of the 
beauteous aspect I It was pleasant. Oh, Son of Galpuin! in other 
days to be on its summit; many were the dogs and the youths ; 
oft arose the sound of the chase. There a tower arose; there 
dwelt a mighty hero. Oh, lofty hill of contest! many were the 
herons in the season of night, and the birds of the heath on the 
mountains, mingling their sounds with the music of the little 
bird. 'Twas sweet to listen to the cry of the hounds in the 
valleys, and the wonderful son of the rock.* Each of the heroes 
would be present with his beautiful dog in the slip, many were 
the lovely maids of our race who collected in the wood. There 
grew the berries of fragrant blossom ; the strawberries ; there 
grew the soft blushing flower of the mountain and the tender 
cresses. There wandered the slender fair-haired daughters of 
our race ; sweet was the sound of their song. It was a source 
of delight to behold the eagle, and listen to her lonely scream— 
to hear the growl of the otters, and the snarling of the foxes ; 
and the blackbird singing sweet on the top of the thorn !"| 

Associated with the name of St. Golumba is also the ancient 
church of Drumholm, now the name of the parish in which 
Ballintra is situated. The west gable still remains in the grave- 
yard of Mullinacross. The church was called Druimtuama — t.c. 

* The Irish poetical name for an echo. f This fragment is ascribed to Ossian. 


tbe ridge or long hill of Tomma (a pagan woman's name), it was 
dedicated to St. Adamnan, the biographer of St. Columba. 
Here was also the celebrated monastery of which St Eman was 
abbot. This monk was a disciple of St. Golamba, to whom also 
he was related; and we are told that when Colnmba had finished 
his great work of spreading Ohristianity in Scotland, and was 
peace! ally breathing his latest breath in lona^ that St. Eman, 
otherwise called Ferreolns, in his secladed monastery at Dram* 
holm, had a yision in which he saw angels gliding down from 
heaven, filUng the air with hearenly music, and bearing off the 
pnie soul of the saint, after it had left its earthly tenement, 
into the donds of hearen. The monastery of Dromhohn was 
one of great mark in its day, and within its precincts were 
deposited the remains of many of the most noted chiefs and 
abbots of Tirconnell. Nothbg howerer now remains to mark 
the site of this once illustriona foundation, and even the name of 
its abbot wt>uld be forgotten, were it not perpetuated in the name 
of Mr. Hamilton's picturesque residence near the town of Donegal, 
which he has called St. Ernan's. 

We have already spoken of Tory Island as having been the 
head-quarters of the warlike tribe of Fomorians, but there are 
other and more pleasing associations connected with the island, 
for even to this wild secluded spot St. Colnmba found his way, 
and there founded a church and monastery. Tbe monastery, 
according to the ^^MonasUcon Htbemkuml* was founded in the 
year 650, and St. Eman, son of Colman, was first abbot. This 
monastery continued to flourish through many ages down to the 
time of Queen Elizabeth, when Bingham, governor of Con- 
naught, made a raid upon the island,, destroying and pillaging all 
before him. It seems, however, that the Tory islanders did not 
even then submit to English rule, for in the ''treasury papers'* 
(time of James L) we find the following entry : "To Sir Henry 
FoUyot, Ent, for money by him disbursed for the hire of one 
boat, two mariners, and ten sailors, that were employed by the 

space o£five weeks at the surprising of Torrey— ^£29 Gs. Sd.** 



A fine roand tower, known as Clog^teach {Le, Bell house) is 
still standing on the island. It was contemporaneous with the 
monastery founded there by St. Columb Gille. Its doorway 
presents a fine example of the semicircular arch formed of a number 
of small stones, and is regarded as one of the earliest instances 
of the use of the arch in Ireland.* 

Besides the round tower, are pointed out by the inhabitants 
the foundations of seven little churches or cells, and a curious 
round stone is preserved, which, when struck, emits a sharp 
metallic sound. This is said to have been used before the in- 
troduction of bells, to summon the islanders to worship. The 
name of St. Columb Gille is also preserved in our neighbourhood 
by a well and a lake. The well is near the one-mile^stone on 
the road to Donegal, and ''stations" wore formerly held there ; 
the lake which bears the saint's name, lies about two miles north 
of Belleek, and is a . good example of the numerous class of 
mountain tarns which are dotted here and there over our 



Before the foundation of the monastery of Assaroe, there was 
on the island of Inis-Samer a building; whether this was a 
" religious house," or a residence for the princes of Tirconnell, 
chosen by them for its quiet and seclusion in a bloodthirsty and 
turbulent age, it is difficult now to conjecture. Archdale, in his 
"Monasticon Hibernicum," says that "there seems to have been 
a religious house on this island;" and this supposition is supported 
by a record which exists, to the effect that Flaherty O'Muldory, 
king of Tirconnell, having renounced the cares of the world and 
dedicated himself to heaven, died on this island in the year 1197. 

* See *' The Origin and Uses of the Round Towers of Ireland/' page 406, by Petrie. 


• The narrow limits of Inis-Samer could not, however, afford 
sufficient space for the erection of a monastery, but it should be 
born, in mind that long before the foundation of the abbey of 
Assaroe, there was the Cistercian abbey, " De SamariOy" which 
was so called from Inis-Samer. Of this foundation we have no 
records, and it is impossible to say where it may have stood. 
But from its name it has been supposed by some to have been 
built somewhere near the river and island from which it was 

The abbey of Ashroe, Easroe, Easruaidh, or Assaroe, was, 
according to some chronicles, founded by Roderick O'Cananan, 
prince of Tirconnell, in a.d. 1178. Following, however, "The 
Annals of Boyle," which account has been adopted by "The Four 
Masters," its foundation is attributed to Flaherty O'Muldorry, 
Lord of Kinel Connell, in A.D. 1184. It was this prince who 
died on Inis-Samer thirteen years later. The monastery of 
Assaroe was dedicated to God and St. Bernard,* and was, as 
well as the older abbey, "De Samario," for monks of the Cistercian 
order. O'Muldorry, the benefactor of Assaroe, who was in his day 
a great warrior, and had reigned over Tirconnell for thirty years, 
was not buried there, but in the older monastery of Drumholm, 
of which mention has been already made. 

The abbey of Assaroe was richly endowed by the successive 
princes of Tirconnell. By an "inquisition" taken in the 31st year 
of Queen Elizabeth, the abbot of Assaroe was found to be in 
possession of the ground on which the abbey was built; also the 
village known as "Abbey Island," in which was a cemetery, a 
church and steeple, partly roofed with shingles (thin boards), 
and partly with thatch, the ruins of a dormitory, three other 
stone buildings, and four small cottages. There were also attached 
to the monastery, fifty-three quarters of landt and the fourth 
of half a quarter (it being near the abbey demesne). These 

* St. Bernard of Clairvaux bom 1091, the founder and first abbot of the celebrated 
Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux in 1115. The abb^ of Assaroe, as well as the other Irish 
foundations of the same order, kept up friendly and intimate relations with that of 

t The old townlands were divided into four ports or quarters. 


quarters were Laghye, Bebj, Ardgyllew^ Tallaghcorke, Brown- 
kylly, LeghdaghtaD, Groghan, Masseboj, Gashill, alias Lack, 
Crevaghtartan, Downeshiragh, Balljnageragh, Grevemonagb, 
Tawnagh, Irren, Killecroghan, Ardpatin Oashill Tully, Dacool- 
callows, Tnllaghmore, Drnmskilly, Altyn Towre, Cavan Egarre, 
the Oastle of Bellyke, BaUynamannagh^ Carrowcashill, Carrow« 
corlea, Oarvannagh, Carrowclough, Garrowtobber, Cloaghter, 
Knader, Grange of Tawnyshyntallen (in O'Boyle's country), 
Grange of Daryragb, Grange near the mountain of Kyseure, 
Grange of Kilteman in Fermanagh, etc., etc. In this long list 
the reader will be able to identify some with our modem names. 
The prefix Carrow^ which occurs in several of the names, is from 
the Irish word ceathair (four or quarter) thi^s Garrowclough, the 
stoney quarter, Garrowtobber, the quarter of the well It is also 
noticeable that these landed possessions appertaining to the 
abbey, were not confined to the surrounding neighbourhood, but 
some of them were at a distance, and others even in the cou;ity 
of Fermanagh. 

Besides these landed possessions, the abbot of Assaroe was 

possessed of ten weirs on the river Erne (at the time of the in- 

quisition), valued at £10 per atmvm. He had also the privilege 

of having two fishermen on the river Erne, and he was entitled 

to the second draught of every person fishing on the river "when 

they began to fish." Moreover he had the right of keeping a 

boat to carry salmon and other fish from the island to the sea. 

This mode of transit was doubtless often used for the purpose of 

conveying fish to Kilbarron castle, the residence of the historians 

of Tirconnell, who were always on friendly terms with the abbot 

of Assaroe. Tithes from various Ballyboes (cow or grazing 

lands) and townlands were attached to the monastery. It will 

be seen that the princes of Tirconnell endowed the religious 

houses in their territory with no sparing haind. The Franciscan 

monastery of Donegal likewise enjoyed the right of fishing on the 

river £sk, which at that period seems to have abounded in 

salmon, as we find the monks asserting that their river ^^was 


eret te fishfall as the Hirer Erae.** Local tradition says that 
the tnonks of Assaroe had a weit constructed on the abbey riyer 
at Catsby^ tot entrapping any stray fish which might chance to 
pass ap the little stream, and that the ''box'' was so contrived 
that when a fish got in, a wire connected with a small bell in the 
refectory made known the fact to the monks withm. 

Associated with the abbey was an interesting funereal custom, 

the remembrance of which is still preserved in the names of 

PortnamorroWy and Lugnanore, Before bridges were bnilt in onr 

neighbourhood) and when fords were in use, the dead who were 

to be buried in the cemetery of Assaroe were usually brought by 

boat, and the place of embarkation on the south side of the river 

was called Port-nO'marbh^ pronounced Portnamorrow, or Port- 

namorra, ix. the port of the dead or dead person. Daring the 

passage across the harbour^ it is said, the friends of the deceased 

were forbidden to speak^ or utter any sign of their inward grief, 

and no other sounds than the plash of oars, and the echoing 

tolls of the monastery bell were allowed to break the silence of 

the ^'green-hilled harbour." But when the boat touched the 

abbey shore, and was met by the monks who accompanied 

the funeral as it slowly moved up the little gorge by which 

the river flows, the people were allowed to give expression to 

their hitherto restrained grief ; henee the passage got the name 

of Lug-na^ndeor or Lugnacore,-^the hollow of the tears. In 

Gatsby (the steep settlement) just below the monastery, are two of 

those circiilar hollows in the rock, called "bullavms" (little pools) 

which tradition saja were used by the monks as baptismal fonts. 

These buUawns are found in the vicinity of churches of great 

antiquity^ and are supposed to be eo-eval with the earliest age of 

Christianity in Ireland. 

The monastery wae doubtless in its day an extensive and im- 
posing strneture ; the carved stones which seem to have been 
so freely used in the construction of the cornices, mnlMons, and 
arches, many fragments of which still exists bear testimony to the 
care and skUl which were expended on its erection. According 


to ao account written a little more than a century ago, it seems 
that the rnin retained considerably more of its architectural 
features than it now does; it is thus referred to: ^^Kear Bally- 
shannon are the remains of the abbey of Ashrow; some of the 
gilding in the vault of the cloister is still visible"* 

In the ecclesiastical edifices of this period, the gothic style of 
architecture was adopted in Ireland, and our abbey, as well as 
other monasteries of the Cistercian order, was doubtless adorned 
with the richly decorated door-ways, arches and windows, which 
were characteristic of this style. The little rustic bridge of two 
arches which crosses the abbey river was doubtless bailt by the 
monks, and may therefore be regarded as one of the oldest 
bridges still existing in the country. It appears that no brides 
of any importance were built in Ireland before the twelfth 
century, and many of them were wooden. The little bridge at 
the abbey seems to have been partially rebuilt, as an examination 
of one of its arches will show, and at a later period it was across 
its narrow limits that an invading army passed to invest the 
abbey buildings. 

The following are a few of the events connected with the 
history of the monastery, as recorded in the <' Annals" A.D. 1241: 

Donnell More O'Donnell, Lord of Tirconnell, died in the 
monastic habit, victorious over the world and the devil, and was 
interred with honour and respect in the monastery of Assaroe in 
the harvest time. 

Thomas O'Heraghty, abbot of Assaroe died, AJ). 1319. 
Thomas, son of Gormick O'Donnell, abbot of Assaroe, was then 
elected to the bishopric of Raphoe, A.D. 1333. 

Hugh, son of Donnell Oge O'Donnell, Lord of Tirconnell, the 
most eminent man of his time for jurisdiction, laws, and regu- 
lations, and the chief patron of the hospitality and munificence 
of the west of Europe, died victorious over the world and the 
devil, in the habit of a monk, and was interred with great honour 
and solemnj|;y in the monastery of Assaroe. 

* Gutherie's Gazetteer published about 1776. 


A.D. 1377 — The monastery of Assaroe (near Ballyshannon) 
was burned. 

A.D. 1398 — A great army was led by Niall Oge O'Neill, king 
of Kinel-Owen, and the sons of Henry O'Neill, against O'Donnell ; 
they arrived at Assaroe, and there plundered the monastery of 
all its riches. 

A.D. 1422— Turlough, the son of Niall Garv ODonnell, Lord 
of Tirconnell, took the habit of a monk in the monastery of 
Assaroe, after gaining victory over the present world. 

A.D. 1450 — Edmond, abbot of Assaroe, died. 

A.D. 1502— Art O'Gallagher and John O'Loiste, two abbots, 
who contended for the abbacy of Assaroe, died in one day. 

A.D. 1519 — Edmond Duv O'Dwyer, abbot of Assaroe, died. 

A.p. 1550 — The abbot of Assaroe (John, son of Donnell Koe 
O'Oallagher), died on the 29th of April. 

A.D. — Gosnahmach O'Clery was buried under the asylum of 
Ood and St. Bernard, in the monastery of Assaroe. 

From the foregoing extracts from the '^Four Masters" it will 
be seen that the monastery did not, during its existence, enjoy 
uninterrupted prosperity, but like everything else in Ireland at 
that period, suffered from the ravages of an unsettled and war- 
like age. In the earlier period of its existence it was stormed 
and plundered by O'Neill's soldiers, and in later times, when the 
English had directed their energies to the conquest of Tireonnell, 
the monastery of Assaroe was the first place in our neighbourhood 
which the invading army surrounded and attacked. When and 
how these later attacks were made, shall be related iti their 
proper place. Its fortunes were so closely interwoven with those 
of its patrons and supporters, the O'Donnells, that when they 
fell, the monastery met with the same fate — ruin and confiscation. 

Of all the massive building which was the pride of Tireonnell — 
the treasure-house of letters, in an unlettered age, and the quiet 
retreat of men of peace, from the turbulence and bloodshed of 
the outside world — nothing now remains but a few shapeless 


walls, fast crumbling away, and some carved stones of the arches 
and cornices, scattered along the walls of the graveyard 
adjoining: — 

^'Gray, gray is Abbey Asaroe, by Ballyshaony town, 
It has neither door nor window, the walls are broken down ; 
The carven stones lie scattered in briar and nettle«bed ; 
The only feet are those that come at burial of the dead. 
A little rocky rivulet runs murmuring to the tide, 
Singing a song of ancient days, in sorrow, not in pride; 
The elder-tree and lightsome ash across the portal grow. 
And heaven itself is now the roof of Abbey Asaroe."* 

It may be observed that the abbeys of TirconneU, Tyrone, and 
Fermanagh, preserved their independence, and therefore their 
existence, to a much later date than the other Irish foundations; 
for although all the monasteries were formally dissolved by 
Henry VIII., yet these monasteries "were never surveyed or 
reduced into charge** but ^' were continually possessed by the 
religious persons " till the time of James I. 



In A.D. 1200, the ODonnell family succeeded to the chieftain- 
ship of TirconneU, but it was not until 1423 that their illustrious 
name became intimately connected with Balljmhannon. 

It was at the latter date that the castle of Ballyshannon was 
built by Neal Garv O'Donnell. From its close proximity to the 
rival kingdom of Connaught^ and from the fact of its being a 
seaport, the place was regarded as an important military post — 
in short, as the chief gateway of TirconneU. 

The site of the castle was chosen that it might command the 
principal ford of the river— the ford of Aikseanaigh. Bridges, it 
should be remembered, are of comparatively modem introduction 

* jSwm the poem *' Abb^ Aaaroe ** hy WUMmh Alltnghmn. 


into this coantry; even two and a half ceatories ago they were 
far from general in Ireland ; for we find a writer of that period 
sajring concerning the fords: ^'It is to be observed that not 
everywhere, where the highways meet with great brooks, or small 
rivers, bridges are fonnd for to pass them, bat in very many 
places one is constrained to ride through the water itself."* 
The ford of Athseanaigh lay a little above the present bridge, it 
was one of the class of oartifioially constructed fords, as its remains 
still testify, though it is only when the river is low of a dry 
sammer that the stones now remaining, can be seen. It has been 
saggested to the writer by a gentleman of great antiquarian 
knowledge, that the large ^^standing stone'' in the ''big meadow," 
in College Lane, may have been used in former times in con- 
junction with another large stone now prostrate, near ^'Tom 
rye's bridge," as a landmark of this ford; and it is worthy of 
notice, that a line drawn across the river from one stone to the 
other would exactly indicate the course of the ford. Although 
however, the ^'standing stone'' in the big meadow might have 
been^used as a landmark, it is not to be supposed that it was 
erected for that purpose. From its name, Cloughnanome.(p\och- 
na-nogham), ue. the stone of the ogums, or ogham-inscription, 
this stone doubtless belongs to the class of ''standing," or pillar 
stones, which were erected in ancient times to mark the spot on 
which some important event occurred. Upon these stones are 
frequently found ogham characters (a species of rock inscriptions 
used in times of remote antiquity). In the example of which we 
are speaking, no traces of rock writing are now observable ; 
perhaps they have been obliterated by time, or by the vandalism 
of some past generation; or it may be that the inscription was 
cut on the end placed in the ffround. That such was sometimes 
done the following extract shows. In an account of the battle 
of Ollarba, fought in a.d, 285, it is stated, ^Hhere is a pillar stone 
at the cairn of Fothadh, and an ogum is on the endof the piUar^ 
stone which is in the earthJ'1[ While speaking of these curious 

* Boate's Natural History of Ireland, 
t Treatise on the Round Towers of Ireland, by Dr. Petrie. 


pillar-stones, mention should be made of another in our district. 
On the summit of a hill overlooking the river, in the townland of 
Clougkore^ is a tall pillar-stone. The word Cloughore means 
the stone of gold^ and it seems probable that from this stone 
originated the name of the surrounding district, and that it 
received its name from the fact of gold having been buried or 
discovered somewhere in proximity to it. The precious metals 
were, it should be remembered, frequently buried in this country 
in ancient times, and to this practice many Irish local names owe 
their origin. Coolnargit (cuil-an-cdrgitX i*e. the recess or winding 
of the silver or money, is another of our names which owes its 
origin to some traditional treasure which was doubtless deposited 
in the adjacent sand-bank. While speaking of the frequency of 
treasure trove, we may mention a curious and interesting dis- 
covery of gold in the neighbourhood of Ballyshannon, at the 
beginning of the eighteenth century. It is thus recorded in 
"Camden's Britiania," published in 1722: — '^ear Bellishannon, 
were, not many years ago, dug up two pieces of gold, discovered 
by a method very remarkable. The bishop of Derry happening 
to be at dinner, there came in an Irish harper, and sung an old 
song to his harp. His lordship, not understanding Irish, was at 
a loss to know the meaning of the song; but upon enquiry he 
found the subject of it to be this, that in such a place, naming the 
very spot, a man of gigantic stature was buried, and that over his 
breast and back were plates of pure gold^ and on his fingers rings 
of gold, so large, that an ordinary man might creep through 
them. The place was so exactly described that' two persons 
there present were tempted to go in quest of the golden prize, 
which the harper's song had pointed out to them. After they 
had dug for some time, they found two pieces of gold (one of 
these gold pieces is figured in "Ware's Antiquities" it is of 
circular form, and curiously engraved).* 

Of the castle of Ballyshannon nothing now remains but a 
portion of one of the walls (about 10 feet high and 5 feet thick), 

* See Wilde's catalogue of the Antiquities of Gold, page 83. 


part of which is incorporated with a grain store, and part with 
a batter shed on the north side of the market yard. The castle 
baildings doubtless occupied the whole or greater part of the 
ground now used for market purposes, and probably extended 
some way further up the river bank, and from its "well battle- 
mented" towers were poured many a volley of bullets and other 
missiles on the luckless enemies without. The castle park (a 
name still preserved in some old leases of adjacent premises) ex- 
tended almost, if not entirely to the summit of the hill northward 
of the castle ; and long after the building was demolished, a 
quantity of human bones was discovered in a garden close to 
the castle walls; and within the past few years a further discovery 
of bones was made upon the south bank of the river, while the 
road was being opened for the laying down of gas pipes. These 
remains doubtless belong to the period of the O'Donnells, when 
many a warrior fell in the battles of the ford. Besides the ford 
of Athseanaigh, there were other fords on the river which were 
occasionally used. One of these was about half a mile west of 
Belleek, the ford of Ath-cul-uain, There was another further 
down, under Laputa; this ford was commanded by a small fortress, 
the walls of which are still standing on the south bank of the 
river, at Cherrymount. This " keep" was built on the summit of 
an artificially constructed mound, so that the soldiers in charge 
might have better command of the river below.* Yet another 
ford, but only seldom used, owing to the difficulties and dangers 
attached to it, was Casari'narg'Curaidh (the path of the champions), 
immediately above the waterfall, where the old king was drowned. 

The regular military force of Tirconnell, under the command 
of O'Donnell, consisted of 1,500 foot, and 300 horse; of these, 
200 foot soldiers and 40 horsemen were usually kept in the castle 
af Ballyshannon, but their number was further augmented in 
times of need by additional detachments. The western limit of 

* This fortress seems to have foUeu into disuse before the time of Queen Elizabeth, 
as in an old map of that period, preserved in the Public Record Office, London, this 
building is marked as " an olde castell " and is represented as a ruin, while Ballyshannun 
Castle ^the name in spelled on the map Bellashange) and Belicke Castell, as well as Aasaroe 
Abbey, are given in their perfect proportions. 


Tirconnell was JDrobhaots^ the ancient name of the river Drowas 
— « name often mentioned in Irish history as a scene of many a 
desperate conflict. It was here the ^^ Kingdom of Gonnaoght'' 
began, and on some spot near the river bank (not now r^ 
cognizable) stood the Castle ofBundroos, which was bnilt by the 
O'Gonors abont the same time as O'DonnelPs castle was erected 
at Ballyshannon. ODonnell, hearing of the building of the 
former, and thinking it might be dangerous to his territory, at 
once marched his forces to the spot for the purpose of putting a 
stop to his rival's project. He was, however, unable to turn them 
from their design, and had to return to Ballyshannon without 
success. The Gcurburians (people of Garbnry, in Sligo) being 
enraged by O'Donnell's interference at Bundroos, collected their 
forces, and marched to Ballyshannon, where the rival aamies 
confronted each other. A battle was fought, which resulted in 
the defeat and rout of the men of Garbury, many of their officers 
being killed, and the soldiers only escaping by a hurried flight. 
Five days after this engagement, the irrepressible Gonnaught men 
made another raid on Ballyshannon ; this time by stealth. A body 
of cavalry came through the Moy, and having crossed the river un* 
observed(not by the ford of Athseanaigh, but at the waterfall) late 
on a summer evening, and finding (yDonnell's sons, Donal and Nial, 
with their horsemen, enjoying themselves ^^ after their wine " on 
Part'TiO'long (the bank of the ships), they rushed on the un* 
suspecting Tirconnellians; Donal was slain, and Nial only escaped 
by leaping from the bank and swimming out to a merchant tessel 
then at anchor in the harbour. This act of revenge (for legitimate 
wcurfare it could not be called) took place at what is known as 
the Fall Park, or Pool bank; and it should here be remarked that 
in former times Ballyshannon did not rejoice in the possession of 
that fashionable place of resort^the Malk Our forefathers were 
satisfied with the homely but appropriate name of Fish Lant^ 
and where it ended (at the passage up to the back Mall) the Fall 
Park began.* At its entrance was a style, and as there wAs no 

* In the beffixming of the present century, the name FiO^ Lwm was changed to Pwtk 
Lan$. It is thus designated in Pigot's Hibernian Directory, published in li24. 


road othe? than a footpath, and no houses or other enclosor^s, 
from the water to the sommit of MoUaghnashee spread one un- 
broken I'^aoh of green sward, dotted here and th^re with trees. 

The castle of Bnndroos* which proved such a thorn in the flesh 
to the ODonnells, must not be confounded with the ruin which 
still exists in that neighbourhood. The tottering walls which 
we see standing on an elevated mound near the roadside at 
Tullaghan, are the remains of the castle of Dun-cairbry (the fort 
or dun of Cairbre). It was erected in the 16th century by the 
MacGlanchys, a clan who possessed the ancient district of Dartree 
or Dartry. The chief residence of these chiefs was the castle of 
Rossclogher, the picturesque remains of which are still standing 
on an island in Lough Melvin. The '^Four Masters*' thus refer 
to this island in the year 1421 : — ^^Cathal O'Bourke and his sons 
made a nocturnal attack on MacClanchy on Imskeen^ an island 
of Lough Melvin, and the guards of the lake delivered up the 
boats of the lake to them. They took young MacClanchy prisoner, 
and possessed themselves of Lough Melvin audits castle." The 
property of the MacGlanchys was confiscated after the rebellion 
of 1641, but their name is still very common in the <&trict. 

The princes of Tirconnell, like other great Irish chiefs, main- 
tained a large retinue of followers — historiajas, bards, and house- 
hold officials, upon all of whom certain duties devolved, and to 
whom certain grants and privileges were accorded. Foremost 
among these were the Ollaves^ or chief historians, whose residence 
was the castle o( Kilbarron. Here, for many years lived the 
CSgingin family. One of them, Matthew O'Sgingin, was ollave, 
when Niall Garbh O'Donnell was Lord of TirconnelL This 
(ySgingin had no son to succeed him as hereditary historian,, but 
he had an only and beautiful daughter, and at this time there 
arrived at the monastery of Assaroe a young man comely in 
appearance, and a proficient in both canon and civil laws; his 
name was Cormac (yClery. He did not belong to the race of 

* This Cagtie aeems to have fallen into 0*Donnell*8 hands during the viceroyship of 
Sir Heoiy Sidn^. Bee memoir of Sir H. Sidney's Govenmient of ueland, year 1666. 


Tirconnell, his family being of the county Galway, nevertheless 
the monks perceiving that the young stranger was of good morals, 
wisdom, and intellect, invited him to stay for a time at the 
monastery. It was during Celery's stay there that he became 
acquainted with the old ollave of Kilbarron, and became the 
fortunate possessor of O'Sgingin's handsome daughter. It was 
customary in Ireland, as well as in some other countries, that the 
husband should make a present to his wife's father. In this case 
the only dower the ollave demanded, was that in the event of a 
son being born to them, he should be trained up in the knowledge 
of literature and history, so as to become a worthy successor to 
the now almost extinct race of the O'Sgingins. In due time a 
son was bom to Gormac and O'Sgingin's daughter, and the 
parents did not forget to carry out the wishes of the ollave. 
Thus, the family of the O'Clerys became regularly installed in the 
office of historians of Tirconnell, and in the quiet and seclusion 
of their rock-bound dwelling at Kilbarron, they laid the foundation 
of a literary fame, destined to survive the wreck of their castle 
and their worldly fortunes. The castle of Kilbarron has been 
wrongly supposed by some to have belonged to a tribe of lawless 
freebooters, who chose its isolated position as being best suited 
to their plundering designs; and popular tradition still points out 
the ^^murderiiig hole^^ through which the bodies of hapless victims 
used to be hurled into the sea. Such a supposition is, however, 
entirely without foundation. As to the precise date of its erection, 
historical records do not inform us, but it is probable that it was 
originally built by some of the O'Sgingin family in the thirteenth 
or fourteenth century. The "Annals" state that the castle of 
Kilbarron was rased to the ground by Donnell, son of Murtogh 
O'Connor,* in 1390. It was probably afterwards re-edified by 
Cormac O'Clery, but the "stone houses," the remains of which are 
now standing, were built at a subsequent period by the three 
sons of Teige Cam (or, the stooped) O'Clery, whose names were 

* It wj« this family of O'Connor who subsequently built Bundroos Castle alreuiiy 
ref ered to. 



Tathal, Gillareagh, and Dermot. In addition to the lands 
attached to Balbarron, O'Donnell bestowed upon them several 
additional quarters of land, including ^^Kildoney, Coolremur, and 
Drumnacrin in Moy Enne." So richly were these learned men 
endowed, that it has been calculated that the lands held by them 
would produce at the present time a rental of more than £2,000 
per annum! Instead, therefore, of associating with Kilbarron 
castle ideas of a lawless and uncivilized age, let the visitor, as he 
looks upon its weather-beaten and linchen-covered ruins, now 
the haunt of chough and rock-pigeon, remember that it was once 
the home of men of learning and piety, who honestly and patiently 
laboured for their country's good, and who have left behind them 
in their Uterary works, a memorial more enduring than stone and 

The Macwardsy the hereditary bards of the O'Donnells, dwelt 
in the neighbouring townland of Ballymacward (the town of 
Macward), now called Wardtown. In those literary compositions 
of these laureates of Tirconnell which are still preserved, there 
is abundant evidence that they were not wanting in poetical 
spirit and skill in versification. Even Spenser, the English poet, 
and no friend to the Irish, had to acknowledge that the verses 
of the Irish bards "savour of sweet wit and good invention." 
Further on we shall have an opportunity of quoting one of 
Macward's poems. 

Attached to the household of the O'Donnells was another im- 
portant functionary — the keeper of the Cathachy or "battle book.'' 
This ancient relic was handed down from the time of St. Columb 
Cille, through the line of the (yDomhnaill, or O'Donnell family, for 
a period of 1,300 years. The Cathach, which is still preserved, 
consists of a highly ornamented silver shrine or box, enclosing a 
portion of the psalms of David, consisting of fifty-eight leaves, 
written on vellum, by St. Columb Cille's own hand, and is regarded 
as one of the oldest and most interesting relics of the early 
Christian period in Ireland. The custodians of this reliquary for 
many centuries were the family of Mag Rohhartaigh (Magroarty), 

36 THE o'donnells in ballyshannon. 

and the townland of BaUymagroarty, near Ballyshannon^ was held 
by them in Tirtne of their office. The Cathach was carried on 
the breast of the custodian, before the army of Tbconnell, and 
three times before a battle did the keeper carry it roimd the 
soldiers of CyPonnell as a talisman to Tictory. It did not how- 
evw always ensure saccess, for in 1497 Con ODonnell was de- 
feated in a battle with MacDermott, in the Cnrliew mountains, 
and the Cathach was taken by the enemy, and MacRoarty, its 
keeper, slain. Subsequently it was recovered, and remained in 
the charge of the MacRoarty family till the close of the 17th 
century. In 1 724 it was in the possession of Col. David ODonnell, 
from whom it passed to Sir Neal ODonnell, thence to Sir Richard 
ODonnell, Bart., by whom it was deposited in the museum of the 
Royal Irish Academy, and can now be seen by any one who will 
visit that depositary of Irish antiquities. 

In times of peace, within the walls of the castle of Ballyshannon, 
the CDonnells exercised that lavish hospitality which was 
characteristic of Irish chiefs, and became them as the princes of 
TirconnelL A glimpse of their way of living is afforded by an 
account contained in the ^^ Four Masters," of a visit paid by a 
neighbouring chief of Fermanagh. GioUaise Maguire, having a 
grievance, determined to go and consult ODonnell. Accompanied 
by a troop of cavalry, whom he commanded to carry with them 
a supply of the choicest liquors for the journey, he at length 
anrived at the castle of Ballyshannon. When O'Donnell heard 
that his friend Maguire, attended by his horsemen, was in the 
castle lawn, he went out to meet him, and having affectionately 
kissed GioUaise, and given orders for the proper entertainment 
of his men, he brought the Fermanagh chief into the banqueting 
hall, where the sweetest meats and best flavoured liquors were 
served up, and there they spent their time till the usual hour of 
dinner. They enjoyed Aeir evening together, and their ears 
were delighted with the iKreet sound of harp and voice. When 
sleeping time came, OTDonnell escorted his friend to the "guest 
chamber," followed by attendants carrying " sweet and delicious 


mead'' (a beverage then much used in Ireland). Here it may be 
remarked that in O'Donneirs castle was always a plentiful 
supply of the choicest wines. Irish chieftains living on the sea 
coast carried on a considerable traffic with French and Spanish 
traders, who brought them wine and other products of their 
countries, and took fish and farm produce in return. This 
exchange of commodities was carried on extensively by the 
O'Donnells at Ballyshannon, and in a manuscript pedigree of the 
family, which was written by Sir George Carew, he observes : — 
^^O'Donnell is the best lorde of fishe in Ireland, and exchangeth 
fishe allwayes with foreign merchants for wyne, by which his 
call in other countryes the kinge of fishe.*'* 

Amongst the officials attached to an Irish chieftain's household, 
not the least curious was the *^ keeper of the hees^^ or purveyor of 
honey, an article much in request for making midoil and medaib 
(mead and metheglim); also the astronomer^ who was none other 
than the family doctor, who generally combined the science of 
the stars with an knowledge of the healing art. These last- 
named officials, with many others, were doubtless attached ta 
O'Donnell's establishment, but being of inferior importance to 
the oUaves and bards, no particulars have been handed down 
concerning them. 

Besides the historical associations which have rendered the 
castle of Ballyshannon famous, the halo of romance has also been 
thrown around its walls. Within them once lived Helen 
O Donnelly the most beautiful and accomplished young girl of her 
time; a graceful mien, a lovely face, and a benignity of dis- 
position like hers, did not fail to attract the nobles of Irclar4d. 
Tliere was one fortunate suitor — the young chieftain of Fer- 
managh, who was favoured with her regard. He had spent his 
early years in Spain, and added to a'^gentlemanly deportment a 
good education, and those habits of gallantry for which the 

* Pinkerton's History of Irish Commerce. 


Spanish coart was famoas. Helen's father eacoarged his sait, 
but the coarse of true love was unfortunately destined to be 
rudely and cruelly cut short. The celebrated Shane OWeillj 
Earl of Tyrone, came on a visit to O'Donnell, for the purpose of 
arranging an attack on the English border. All the chieftains 
of Donegal belonging to the sept of O'Donnell, as well as Maguire 
of Fermanagh, assembled at Ballyshannon. The entertainments 
given on this occasion were in keeping with that profuse 
hospitality which was characteristic of the times. The outdoor 
amusements were divided between hunting the red deer, then 
common in the country, and shooting excursions on Lough 
Erne, and the nights were passed within the castle walls, amid 
songs and merriment; but all these diversions were lost upon 
O'Neill, he had seen Helen O'Donnell, and had fallen madly in 
love with her. He spoke to her father, who informed him that 
Helen was betrothed to the chieftain of Fermanagh. O'Neill 
appeared satisfied, but in his inmost heart was kindled a deadly 
jealousy of his rival. One evening after the banquet, Maguire 
left the hall, and went to seek his intended bride in the castle 
garden. Helen came forward to meet her lover, attired in a 
little Spanish hat and feather, and a crimson scarf. ^^Eeginald," 
she said with maidenly playfulness, "why did you delay so long] 
come let us walk near the lake — 'twill be long ere the evening 
closes — let us enjoy the scene." "Let me bear your harp, Helen," 
said Reginald, as he bowed acquiescence. They walked a 
considerable distance from the castle along the river banks, and 
between music and conversation the hours stole away. At 
length they came to a verdant slope near to Belleek. The view 
was enchanting — 'twas sweet summer time, nature was decked 
in her gayest apparel, the sun had just set behind the distant 
hills, and his last rays. still resting on the valley beneath them, 
threw a splendid radiance on the scene around. "Reginald,'* 
said Helen, "shall I sing you a wild scrap I composed lately?" 
He gladly assented, and as she softly touched the strings of 
her harp, she sang:-— 


"Hail to my birthplace on high. 
Hail to the noble and free; 
Hail to my home near the sky. 
Where the wild deer away, 
Dash thro' heather so gay ; 
Oh, this is liberty ! 

Hail to my own land above. 
Towering so gallantly; 
Hail to the land that I love, 
Where the eaglets roam, 
Where all find a home ; 
Oh this, this is liberty ! 

Then hail to my birthplace once more, 

I shall never again quit thee ; 

Bat list to the waterfall's roar, 

'Tis my music so wild, 

I'm liberty's child, 

And I love, I love liberty ! 

The young maiden ceased to sing, but her fingers were still 
'wandering along the strings of her harp, when Begiaald started, 
saying, ^^Helen did you not hear a noise among the brushwood 
jonder ? " Hardly had he uttered these words than Shane O'Neill, 
mad with jealousy, and attended by four of his clansmen, rushed 
from his concealment. Maguire instantly drew his sword, and 
•clasping the now unconscious form of his sweetheart in his left arm, 
defended himself gallantly, but Helen was torn from his embrace, 
and the young chief, no match for his powerful opponent, soon 
lay dead at O'Neill's feet. Having horses at hand, the inanimate 
form of Helen O'Donnell was placed on that ridden by O'Neill, 
and the party at once, and with all speed, hastened to their own 
•border. The unfortunate Helen was subsequently restored to 
lier father, but the shock she had received, had so effectually 
blighted her happiness, that the rest of her days were spent in tha 
^strictest seclasioa« 


About the middle of the 16th century, Callogh (^Donndl^ the» 
Lord of Tirconnell, seems, from prudential motives, to have sought 
and obtained English succour, to aid him in repelling the inroads 
that O'Neill was then making on his territory. At this time th& 
attention of the English was directed to the subjection of the 
^^Arch rebel, Shane O^Neill^^ and in 1565 a treaty was made 
between Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy, and Callogb 
O'Donnell. By this, O'Donnell resigned certain rights and 
claims to the Queen, and in return received assistance from the 
Lord Deputy, in regaining several castles which had been seized 
by O'Neill. ' 

The following account of this transaction is contained in 
"Sir Henry Sidney's memoir of his government in Ireland," 
written in 1583. "By the way, I left not one castell in the- 
possession of the rebel (O'Neill), nor unrestored to the right owner 
(O'Donnell), so marchinge on still, and passing the great water 
Assurroo, and having the castell there called Balieshannon 
(Ballyshannon) delivered me, I came to the strong castell of 

Dunyngall where I re-possessed the old exiled 

Callogh O'Donnell lorde of it, and the Country." From this 
time down to 1587, a comparatively friendly feeling seems to have 
existed between the O'Donnells and the English government. But 
all this was shattered by Sir John Perrott's plot in kidnapping 
Hugh Eoe O'Donnell. This young man was from his childhood 
filled with a desire to secure the complete independence of his 
native Tirconnell, and making no secret of his intentions, became 
a source of no small alarm at Dublin Castle. Here he was 
confined for years, and the treatment he received, served to fan. 
the flame of his hatred to English rule. 

Though for a time apparently favourable to O'Donnell's rule 
in Tirconnell, the English government had cast their eyes upon 
the territory, and their attention was specially directed to Bally- 
shannon as an important and desirable acquisition. Besides it& 
value as a seaport^ possessed of a strong fortress, its relative 
position as a convenient gateway to Tirconnell 9nd Connaught,. 


rendered its conquest of great moment, and no expense or pains 
were considered too great to accomplish so desirable an object. 
It was then little more than thirty years after the signing of the 
treaty between Callogh O'Donnell and the Lord Deputy, that 
the first determined effort was made by the English to get 
possession of Ballyshannon. In A.D. 1597 Sir Conyers Clififord 
was sent over from England as governor of Connaught. He 
had at his command a plentiful snpply of arms, and a large 
military force, which was supplemented by Donough, the son of 
Oonnor, and Murragh, baron of Inchiquin, together with several 
other of the Irish nobles who had joined the English ranks. 
Having mustered all their forces, which consisted of twenty-two 
standards of foot, and ten of cavalry, they marched to the banks 
of the " Samaoir of blue streams " (the ancient name of our river), 
where they pitched their camp. On the south bank they passed 
the night, and early on the following morning prepared to cross 
the river, thinking their overwhelming numbers would strike 
terror into the hearts of O'Donnell's garrison, and that they 
would carry the place by storm. O'Donnell, however, had all 
the fords well guarded by his soldiers, so that the invading host 
tried in vain to effect a crossing near the town. They at length 
-made their way to an intricate ford called Ath-cuil-uain, about 
half a mile west of Belleek, and near Teetunny burial ground, 
where they succeeded in crossing the river, the time being July 
and the river at its summer level. Here also they were opposed 
by O'Donnell's soldiers, one of whom taking aim at the Baron 
of Inchiquin (who was crossing on horseback, and encouraging 
Ills men to advance), shot him off his horse; the ball penetrating 
his mail armour, he fell into the river and was drowned* The 
soldiers did not take time to recover the body of their fallen 
oaptain, but having made good their passage to the north bank of 
the river, they pressed forward, not halting till they reached the 
monastery of Assaroe, where they encamped from Saturday till 
Monday. On Sunday, whilst the besieging army was encamped at 
the Abbey, a number of vessels from Galway, laden with ordnanc<i 

42 THE o'doknells in balltshaknon. 

and military stores, crossed the Bar and came up to the island of 
Inis-samer, where they landed their supplies for the use of the 
invaders. On the following day — Monday — the cannon were^ 
brought off to the mainland, and placed in position before 
O'DonnelPs castle ; the troops then marched from the Abbey,, 
and took up their quarters on the summit of Sith Aodh% (Mnllagh- 
nashee). Having then marched down to the neighbourhood of 
the castle, they commenced their cannonade, which they kept 
up without intermission till Wednesday. The good old fortress 
was proof however, agaiust all their battering, and after a three- 
day's siege it held out as impregnable as ever. The attack is 
thus graphically described by the "Four Masters" — *'They 
continued firing at the castle with thick flashes of fire and red 
fihot, from loud-roaring guns, and immensely large and heavy 
ordnance, which they planted before the fortress, so that their 
resounding and echoing reports were heard in the vaults of the^ 
air, far and distant from them ; having their bodies clad with 
thick, strong iron armour, fine polished helmets on their heads, 
and completely guarded with bright round broad-bucklers and 
shields of hard iron to protect them against the shots of their 
enemies. O'Donnell's soldiers on their part, gallantly defended 
the castle, pouring down thick showers of shot upon the enemy,. 
while from the battlements of the castle, they threw down heavy 
stones, beams, and other missiles upon any of their foes who came 
under the castle walls." At length the besiegers, nothwith- 
standing their great numerical strength and extensive stores, 
perceiving that ^11 their efforts to take the castle were in vain, 
tnrned their backs upon its walls and retired to their camping- 
ground, on MuUaghnashee, receiving as they went, a parting 
salute of shot from the castle garrison. During the engage- 
ment, the besiegers lost great numbers, and many more were 
badly wounded. Upon MuUaghnashee a council of war was 
held by the commander and officers, their deliberations lasting 
all through the night, till break of day on Thursday, when they 
came to the decision of making a precipitate retreat. Their 


plan was to descend the hill in companies, if possible unperceived 
by O'DonnelFs soldiers, and to cross that little used and 
dangerous ford called Casan-na-g-Curaidh, immediately above 
the waterfall. In endeavouring to carry out this project, many 
of their numbers were swept down the fall and drowned ; but 
the commander, officers, and all who were able, crossed over to 
the south bank of the river, from thence retreating by the Moy. 
Whenever O'Donnell's soldiers became aware of their move- 
ments, they opened fire upon them, and O'Donnell (though not 
himself within the castle during the siege), who had come to the 
rescue with additional soldiers from other parts of TirconnelU 
at once put his men in fighting trim, and crossing the river* 
after the enemy, followed them for a considerable distance, as 
they retreated to Sligo. The English losses were not less than 
600 killed, besides the loss of the greater part of their baggage 
and stores, which, in their hurried flight they had left behind 
them. O'Donnell, as we have already remarked, was on friendly 
terms with the Court of Spain, and had received a couple of 
months before the siege, a cargo of stores from thence, which 
were called into requisition in this emergency. This memorable 
siege shows what can be accomplished by bravery and deter- 
mination, for the odds against O'Donnell were tremendous. The 
invading army consisted of not less than four thousand men, 
well armed and provisioned ; whereas the garrison within the 
castle numbered only eighty men^ who were commanded by a 
Scotch captain, named Owen Crawford ; six of his men were 
Spaniards, the rest Irish. 

After things had settled down in Ballyshannon to their 
accustomed quiet, Cormac O'Clery, one of the monks of Assaroe, 
recovered, after careful search, the body of the Baron of 
Inchiquin: his remains were interred with all due solemnity in 
the Monastery burial-ground. However, the friars of Donegal 
Abbey hearing of this, contended that the body should be buried 

* From this memorable engagement the ford got its name Catan-mhCuraidh, i.e. 
the paUi of the champions. 


in their abbey, becanse it was in a monastery of their order 
(Franciscans) that the ancestors of the Baron were interred. 
The dispnte between the two orders of monks was referred to 
O'Donnell and the Bishops of Raphoe and Derry, who decided 
in favour of the claims of the Donegal monks* The remains 
were therefore exhumed, and being taken to Donegal were 
finally deposited in the abbey there. 

O'Donnell, not long after the siege that we have described, 
received intelligence from the Earl of Tyrone, that the Lord 
Justice was on the march with a powerful army to attack him. 
He immediately mustered his forces, and being joined by O'Neill, 
marched against the English. A battle was fought at a ford 
on the Avonmorey where the English were defeated. O'Donnell 
then returned to Tirconnell in triumph. After a succession of 
victories and defeats, this Bed Hugh O'Donnell, the most 
illustrious man of his name, and one of the most extraordinary 
men that Ireland ever produced, went to the Spanish court in 
the beginning of the year 1602, for the purpose of inducing that 
King to send an army into Ireland. There he was seized with 
sudden illness and died on the 10th of September, in the same 
year. His body was removed to Yalladolid, and interred in the 
monastery of St. Francis, with all the state and honour the 
Spanish court could confer. The friendly intercourse between 
the Spaniards and the O'Donnell family was destined to survive 
the wreck of their supremacy in Tirconnell ; for even to the 
present day there are direct descendants of that illustrious 
family, who occupy a distinguished position in the Spanish 




The absence of Eed Hugh O'Donnell from his castle at 
BallyshannoD, presented an opportunity to the English govem- 
ment to make an attack on "that long desired place." Ever 
watchful of O'Donneirs movements, and being aided and abetted 
by Niall Garv O'Donnell, a cousin of Hugh Roe, they decided 
on surprising Ballyshannon. In the spring of 1602, a body 
of soldiers under the command of a Captain Digges, one of 
Sir Henry Doewra's officers, marched thither, and being provided 
with heavy ordnance, attacked the castle. Owing to the absence 
of their chief, the defences of Tirconnell had been allowed to 
fall into a weak and inefficient condition, consequently, when this 
unexpected attack was made, the few men within the castle 
walls, being without succour or reinforcements, had at once to 
surrender, and escape for their lives. Thus, in the short space 
of five years after the memorable battle related in the last 
chapter, were the fortunes of war reversed, and the English 
soldiers who had then to fly before O'Donnell, now found them- 
selves masters of their enemy's fortress. 

The circumstances connected with the taking of the castle are 
best told in Doewra's own words. "And now being earnestlie 
called upon for a supply of victuells for them at Dunnagall, I 
took up garrons* in O'Doghertie's country, loaded them with 
salt and biskit't, and with one hundred beeves (cattle), went over 
the mountains, most part on foote, the wayes were so rotten, 
and on the 12th day of December, brought them relief e; and 
because I sawe that little pile reserved from the rage of fire, to 
small a greate deale to contain a large and important garrison; 
I removed part of them, and added two companies more to lye at 
Ashrowe, an abbey ten miles further, and not above quarter of 
a mile distant from Ballyshannon; left Gaptaine Edward Digges, 

the Sergiant Maior, to command there; tooke a viewe of the* 

■ ■ ■ .» 

*Qarron8, an Erse word meaning strong korscM. 


castle; promised as soon as I came home to send him the Derry 
cannon, which before I had taken Ainogh withall, gave mj 
opinion ho we he should proceede in the nse of it; tooke oath 
and pledges of the chief of the inhabitants thereabouts, and so 
returned. ... I sent away the cannon as soon as I came 
home, and on the 20th March it arrived there, and on the 25th 
(being the first day of the year 1603),* was that long desired place 
taken by the said Captain Digges, with lesse than a tenth parte 
of that charge which would have willingUe (been) bestowed upon 
it, and the consequence thereof brought many furtherances to 
the general service." 

With the unexpected death of Red Hugh O'Donnell in Spaint 
and the capture of Bally shannon castle, both happening in the 
same year, the independence of Tirconnell came practically to an 
end. For though Bory C Donnelly on his submission to James I.^ 
got the title of Earl of Tirconnell, it proved but an empty 
honour and faint reflection of the former greatness of this re> 
markable family. Though not yet deprived of all his principality, 
Rory O'Donnell had henceforth no control over the castle of 
Ballyshannon, which was occupied by an English garrison. In 
1607, the Earl of Tirconnell and the Earl of Tyrone were 
suspected by the English government of being in conspiracy to 
overthrow their rule in the North, and hearing of the feeling which 
existed in Dublin Castle towards them, (yDonnell and O'Neill, 
with many of their friends and followers, having regard to their 
personal freedom and safety, resolved to quit their native shores 
and seek an asylum in a foreign land. They embarked from 
Lough Swilly. The circumstance is thus referred to in the 
"Annals :" "They embarked on the festival of the Holy Cross, in 
Autumn. This was a distinguished company; and it is certain 
that the sea has not borne, and the wind has not wafted in modern 
times, a number of persons in one ship more eminent, illustrious, 
or noble, in point of genealogy, heroic deeds, valour, feats of arms,, 
and brave achievements than they." Amongst those who accom« 

^ *The *'old style" of the calendar in which the year hegan on March 24th, coiitinued 
to be used by the English till 1762, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. 


XMtnied the earls in their flight was Owen Roe MacWardj th& 
last of that family who filled the office of bard to the O'Donnells. 
Upon the death of his chief, which followed quickly on the wreck 
of his fortunes, Mac Ward composed an Elegy, from which tho 
following is an extract: — 

"0 woman of the piercing wail. 
Who mournest o'er yon mound of clay 
With sigh and groan ; 
Would God thou wert among the Gael ! 
Thou wouldst not then from day to day 
Weep thus alone. 

'Twere long before, around a grave 
In green Tirconnell, one could find 
This loneliness ; 

Near where Beann-Boirche's banners wave 
Such grief as thine could ne*er have pined 

Beside the wave, in Donegal, 

In Antrim's glens, or fair Dromore, 

Or KilUloe, 

Or where the sunny waters fall, 

At Assaroe, near Erna's shore. 

This could not be. 

On Derry's plaias — in rich Drumcliefif — 

Throughout Armagh the great, renown'd 

In olden years. 

No day could pass but woman's grief 

Would rain upon the burial-ground 

Fresh floods of tears. ! 

If on the day the Saxon host 
Were forced to fly — a day so great 
For Ashanee* 



The chief had been untimely lost, 

Oar conquering troops should moderate 

Their mirthful glee. 

There would not lack on Lifford's day, 

From Gal way, from the glens of Boyle, 

From Limerick's Towers, 

A marshalled file, a long array. 

Of mourners to bedew the soil 

With tears in showers! 

What do I say? Ah, woe is me! 

Already we bewail in vain 

Their fatal fall I 

And Erin, once the great and free, 

Now vainly mourns her breakless chain. 

And iron thrall ! 

Then, daughter of O'Donnell!* dry 

Thine overflowing eyes, and turn 

Thy heart aside! 

For Adam's race is bom to die, 

And sternly the sepulchral urn 

Mocks human pride ! 



The flight of the Earl of Tyrconnell was followed in due course 
lay the entire confiscation of his territory. The abbey lands met 
with a like fate ; and the O'Clerys, O'Donnell's hereditary 
historians, at Kilbarron Castle, from this date were no longer 
possessors of their rich estates. O'Donnell's lands were dis- 
tributed to the various settlers and " undertakers," who cam© 
into this country at the "plantation of Ulster." The castle of 

*Tbe elegy is addressed to Nuala, O'Donneirs sister. 


Ballyshannon was garrisoned by a strong body of English 
Boldiers, under the command of Sir Henry Folliott^ "Captain of 
foot at Ballishanan/' who was destined from henceforth to occupy 
a prominent position in this town and neighbonrhood, and to 
become the principal landowner of the district. He was styled 
"goTemor of Ballishanan," and received the order of Knight* 
hood from Robert, earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on 
6th September, 1599; he was subsequently raised to the peerage 
of Ireland, under the title of Baron Folliott of Ballishanan, on 
22nd January, 1619. The first lands which he seems to have 
been possessed of, were the abbey lands at Assaroe and land» 
at Belleek, both of which he obtained, not by grant from the 
crown, but by purchase from the original patentees, about the 
year 1610.* In this year also an agreement was made between 
the English government and Sir Henry, that on condition of his 
keeping the castle of Ballyshannon and that of Bundrowes in 
repair, and without charge to the king; holding them always in a 
fit and defensible state; if trouble and rebellion should arise, he 
should obtain a fee farm grant, as "undertaker" of the lands 
li/ing between the two castles. In addition to the lands thus^ 
acquired, the salmon and eel fisheries fell into his hands. 

The defences of the harbour and Lough Erne were also pro- 
vided for, and for this purpose a special corps was organized, a? 
the following extract from the calendar of state papers, 1606-8 
shows : — " 1607, May 15th. The king to Sir Arthur Chichester : 
Captain William Cole to be continued by patent, in the place he 
has for many years held, of Captain of the king's long boats and 
barges at Ballishannon^ and Lough Eme^ with an allowance of 
3s. 4d. for himself by the day, and 8d. a piece for ten men, &c.'' 
On the summit of a hill overlooking the Bar, are the remains of 
a circular fort, evidently intended for the purpose of defending^ 
the entrance to the harbour; this fort probably belongs to the 
English period, and may have been constructed in the time of 
James the First. 

* Calendur of Treasury Papers. 


The last of the O'Clery family who held the lands bestowed 
on his ancestors, was Lughaidh or Lewis O'Clery, the most 
distinguished literary man then living in the north of Ireland. 
He held his lands till the close of the year 1609. He was 
selected as one of the " good and lawf al men " of the county, 
tippointed to hold an ^^ inquisition '* into the confiscated lands of 
Tirconnell. This inquiry was held at LifFord, on September 
12th, 1609, when the following statement respecting the parish 
of Kilbarron was made : — " The parish of Kilbarron contains 
£ye quartei&in all, whereof one quarter is herenach land, possessed 
by the sept of te O'Cleries as herenachs,* paying thereout 
yearUe to the lord bussKopp of Eaphoe, thirteen shillings and 
four pence Irish per annum, six meathers of butter, and thirty 
four meathers of meal ; and that there is one quarter named 
Kildoned^ in the tenure of the said sept of the O'Cleries, free from 
ftny tithes to the busshopp, also that there is in the said parish, 
three quarters of CoUumbkille's land, everie quarts conteyninge 
six balliboes, in the tenure of Lewis O'Clerie, to whoa the said 
lands were sithence mortgaged for fortie pounds by the said 
late earl of Tirconnell, unto the said Lewey, who hath paid 
thereout yearly unto his Majestie since the late earl's departure, 
four ponndes, two muttons, and a pair of gloves, but nothing to 
the said bus^shopp." The O'Clery's lands being forfeited to the 
king, became the property of Sir Henry Folliot and the bishop 
of Raphoe. Peregrine O'Clery^ son of Lewy, was allowed to 
hold a small portion of land in the barony of Boylagh and 
Banagh, for which he paid a yearly rent ; but it appears from 
an inquisition taken at Lif^ord on 25th May, 1632, that he 
^* being a mere Irishman and not of English descent or surname/* 
was dispossessed, and his lands forfeited to the king. The 
O'Clerys were thus reduced to poverty, but they could not be 
deprived of that noble heritage of learning, which they had 
always used for their country's good ; and now that they had 
lost their temporal possessions, they devoted themselves with 

* The Herenacha were men partly ecclesiastical and partly lay; in them were yesiecJL 
4he termon (or church) lands. See Davies* *' Historical Tracts/' page 217 et seq. 


i«Dftwed vigoar to the service of literature. It was in the same 
year that they wem d^iy&d of the last of their lands, that the 
great work known as the '* Annals al ihie Four Masters," and 
sometimes styled the ''Donegal Annals'' was bagon. The 
compilers were — Teige of the Mountain, O'Clery (who afterward 
adopted the name of Michael), Maurice O'Mnlconary, Fergus 
O'Mulconary, Cucogry O'Duigen, Cucogry O'Clery (also called 
Peregrine mentioned above), and Conary O'Clery. It thus 
appears that there were actually six persons engaged in the 
compilation of the annals, though the work is popularly known 
as the "Annals" of the Four Masters — three of the Masters 
being of the O'Clery family. The work was not strictly speaking, 
written in the monastery of Donegal^ as it had been burned to the 
ground by the English, in 1601. An attempt was made to re- 
build the abbey, but it was never carried out. The friars of the 
abbey having fled after the destruction of their edifice, when 
affairs settled down, came out of their hiding places, and with 
the materials at their hand, built a, few cottages amongst the ruim 
of their former abode. In these cottages the O'Clerys and their 
fellow labourers found a temporary home, and it was in 
them the annals were compiled. The work was begun on 
22nd January, 1632, and finished 10th August, 1636. They 
commence with the year 2242, and end with tha year of our 
Lord 1616. To an Irish chief unconnected with TirconneH 
one Fearghal O^Gadhra, belongs the honour of having originated 
the idea of thus collecting the Records of Irish History, and 
defraying the expenses of the O'Clerys during the progress of 
the work. A striking proof of attachment to learning in the 
midst of adversity, is given by Peregrine O'Clery in his will. 
He thus bequeaths his most valued possessions : — '^ I bequeath 
the property most dear to me that I ever possessed in this world, 
namely my books, to my two sons, Dermot and John. Let them 
extract from them without injuring them, whatever may be 
necessary to their purpose, and let them be equally seen and 
used by the children of my brother Cairbre as by themselves ; 


and let them instract them according to the [obliterated]. And 
I request the children of Cairbre to teach and instruct their 
children. And I command my sons to be loving, friendly, and 
kind to the children of Cairbre, and to their own children, if they 
wish that God should befriend them in the other world, or 
prosper them in this, and give them the inheritance of heaven." 
It is satisfactory to find that these solemn injunctions of the good 
man were faithfully fulfilled by his posterity. His books were 
carefully studied and preserved by his descendants, from gener- 
ation to generation, and at the commencement of the present 
century were deposited in the Royal Irish Academy, Within 
the past few years a handsome monument in the form of a richly 
decorated Irish cross, with an appropriate inscription, has been 
erected in Dublin to the memory of the "Four Masters;" but 
independently of this tribute of respect to their memory, their 
name and fame will continue as household words, as long as the 
History of Ireland's fortunes and reverses is preserved by her 



In 1613 a parliament was summoned to meet in Dublin, one 
of the objects of which was to place the "plantation" on a firmer 
footing, and to render absolute the distribution of the escheated 
lands of Ulster. Haviug this object in view, James conferred 
grants on certain towns, which made them corporate; appointed 
fairs and markets, with other liberties, and with the power of 
sending members to parliament. 

Ballyshannon was one of the towns thus favoured; it was 
created a borough by Royal Charter, dated 23rd March, 1613. 
The charter which is a very lengthy document, too much so for 
repetition here, begins thus: — "James, by the grace of God, of 
England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the 
faith, to all to whom these our present letters shall come, greeting. 


Know ye that we, as well as the humble petition of the town of 
Balleshannan in our county of Donegall, in our province of Ulster, 
in our kingdom of Ireland, as for the inhabiting and planting, 
according to the form of constitution nobly established in our 
kingdom of England, of those northern parts of the same our 
kingdom of Ireland, which have been depopulated and devastated, 
and for the better progress and advancement of that new plant- 
ation lately happily begun there We determine, 

ordain, and declare by these presents, that the aforesaid town or 
village of Balleshannan, and all and singular the castles, messauges, 

tofts, mills, houses, edifices, structures, etc., etc from 

henceforth are, and for all future times shall be, one whole and 
free borough by itself, under the name of the borough of Balle- 
shannan And further, we will, ordain and constitute 

by these presents, that within the aforesaid borough, there shall 
be one corporate and politic body, consisting of one Provost (in 
English, portrieve), twelve free burgesses, and a county, and that 
all the inhabitants within the said town and lands henceforth 
for ever are, and shall be by virtue of these presents, one corporate 
and politic body, in deed, fact, and name, by the name of the 
Provost^ Free Burgesses and County of the Borough of Balleshannan,^^ 
The grant goes on to recite the powers conferred on the borough 
in parliamentary representation, and proceeds to appoint the first 
provost and burgesses thus — ^'To the intent that in future times 
it may appear that this new incorporation is now composed of 
good and honest men, we make, constitute, and ordain Bennett 
Payne to be the first and modem provost of the said borough 
• • « • and similarly we make, constitute, and name, Henry 
Folliott Miles,* William Rastell, Richard Bennett, Stephen 
Michael Richard Orme, William Atkinson, John Connor, John 
Olasson, Hugh Allingham, John Forster, John Stephenson, and 
Francis Edmunds, to be the first and modem free burgesses of the 
aforesaid borough." The charter appointed a court to be held 
in Balleshannan on every Wednesday ^ under the presidency of the 

* Sir Henry Folliott, soldier. The charter is written in Latin. Some authorities say 
that MiUi here means knight. 



provost. The court was empowered to hear cases concerning 
'^ actions, dues, agreements, transgressions, detentions, contracts, 
and personal demands whatsoever, not exceeding the sum of five 
marks* sterling." The provost and burgesses were likewise 
empowered to make laws "for the good guidance and safe 
government of the inhabitants." The charter also constituted a 
"Guild of Merchants," who should have a common seal, "graven 
with such form and device as shall appear better fitted for the 
business of the borough." There were also appointed two Sergeants 
at Mace^ and other* inferior ofl&cers, to whom certain duties 
belonged; and finally, a Clerk of the Markets^ who regulated the 
tolls, and saw that the marked rules were not infringed. 

In what building the Corporation of Ballyshannon first met 
for the transaction of public business, we cannot now tell, 
as it appears from an old minute book that the market house, 
which stood on the site of the present one, was not built till 
the year 1760. In an entry bearing date 5th November, 1760, 
it was said: "The Portrieve Burgesses and Commonalty of said 
Borough have resolved, that as the Market House erecting within 
said Borough, is now so far finished as to be capable for the 
reception of the Corporation, that the court be held in the great 
room of the said market house, on Wednesday next, for the tryal of 
pleas, pursuant to Charter." The Parliamentary privileges con- 
ferred on Ballyshannon, appear to have possessed but little real 
value for the inhabitants in general, who had no voice in the 
election of members to represent them m the Irish parliament. 
It was what was termed a close borough, and the provost and 
burgesses (with whom the nomination of the members rested) 
retuimed ivhoever their patrons directed them. A parliamentary 
election in those days seems to have been a tamer affair than 
even in the present age of ballot boxes. Here is an example 
taken from the borough minute book, April, 1761 — "We, the 
provost and burgesses of the Borough of Balleshannan, pursuant 
to a precept directed to Henry Major, Esquire, provost of said 

* A Mark was equal to 138. 4d, 


borough, by Richard Bateson, Esquire, high sheriff of the county 
of Donegal, bearing date the 10th day of April, instant, requiring 
the said Henry Major to cause to be elected according to the form 
of the statute in that case made and provided, tivo burgesses to 
attend and serve in parliament in the city of Dublin, on the 19th 
day of May next ensuing, do, with mutual assent and consent of 
^ach of us, make choice and elect Thomas ConoUy, of Castletown, 
in the county of Baldare, Esquire, and Michael Clarke, of the 
•city of Dublin, Esquire, to be burgesses of our said borough, 
.and to represent us in the said parliament?' — (here follows the 

The following is a complete list of the gentlemen who re- 
presented BaUyshannon, from the time it was created a borough 
till its disfranchisement in 1800: — 

1613. April 29. Powle Goare (Bart), Magherylwgg. 

„ Edward Cherrye, Esq. 

1613. Sir Arthur Savage, Kut., Kildare (vice 

Cherrye, deceased). 
1634. June 27. Thomas Leake, Esq. 

„ Michael Stanhope, Esq. 

1634. Dec. 27. James Dillon, Esq. (vice Leake, retired). 
1639. Feb. 28. Sir Robert Meredith, Kut, Greenhills, KH- 


„ James Cusacke, Esq. (Cusacke was expelled 

for connexion with the rebellion of 1641). 
1661. April 19. John Bridges, Esq. 

„ Sir Anthony Morgan, Knt. 

1661. May 2. Robert Emge, Knt., Boyle (vice Bridges, 


„ William Hill, Esq. (vice Morgan, resigned). 

1692. Sep. 22. John FoUiott, Esq., BaUyshannon. 

„ Francis FoUiott, Esq., „ 

1695. Aug. 6 Hemy FoUiott, Esq., „ 

„ Francis FolUott, Esq., „ 


1697, May 21. Richard Warburton, Esq. (viceH. FoUiott, 

created Lord Folliott). 
1703. Aug. 30, Richard Geermg, Esq., DubKn. 

„ Richard Warburton, Esq. 

1713. Nov. 13. Major-General Owen Wynne, Sligo» 

„ John Rochford, Esq., Carlow. 

1715. Oct. 2G. Major-General Owen Wynne. 

„ John Rochford, Esq. 

1727. Oct. 4. WnUam ConoUy, Esq., Dublin, 

„ Thomas Pearson, Esq., Co. Meath. 

1 727. Dec. 7. William Conolly, Junr. (vice Conolly, retired)^ 
1737. Oct. 28. Edward Walpool, Esq. (K.B. Dublin, \1ce 

Pearson, deceased). 
1754. June 28. Michael Clarke, Esq.(vice Conolly, deceased). 
1761. April 20. Thomas Conolly, Esq., Castletown. 

„ Michael Clarke, Esq. 

1761. Nov. 10. John G. Handcock, Esq., Dublin (vice 

Conolly, resigned). 
1766. March 31. Hugh Henry Mitchell, Esq., Dublin (vice 

Handcock, deceased). 

1768. July 2. Francis Andrews, LL.D., Dublin. 
„ Michael Clarke. 

1769. Nov. 21. William Gamble, Esq. (vice Andrews, re- 


1774. Sep. 13. Thomas Smyth, Esq., Lunerick. 

1776. May 11. John Staples, Esq. 

„ Sir Michael Cromie, Knt. 

1783. Aug. 7. WnUam OgUvie, Esq. 

„ Sir Michael Cromie, Bart. 

1790. April 26. Thomas Dickson, Esq. 

„ Sir Michael Cromie, Bart. 

1797. July 27. Hon. Somerset Lowry Corry. 

„ David Babington, Esq. 

The two last named, represented the borough till its disfran- 
chisement at the Union of 1 800, when the Eai^l ofBelmoi-e received 


Hie sum of £15,000 as a compensation for disfranchisement. The 
following extract from "Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount 
Castlereagh" will throw some light on the position of a close 
borough, such as Ballyshannon was : " With respect to what are 
•called " close boroughs " it is conceived this compensation (for 
loss of parliamentary franchise) may be given to the individuals 
possessed of the commanding interests, without regard to any claiin^ 
from actual electors.'' The Earl of Belmore, having in this case, 
the " commanding interest," received this large sum, but it does 
not appear how he came to exercise such an influence over Bally-« 

At the time of the "Union" there were in Ballyshannon 198 
houses paying that oppressive tax — ^the Hearth and Window 
Duty.* The total amount received per annum was £307. In 
^addition to the charter granted to Ballyshannon in 1613, there 
was a subsequent one granted to Lord Polliott, dated 9th April, 
1622. Under this charter a Seneschal's court was established in 
this town, which was presided over by Lord Folliott as Lord of 
the manor, who now became owner of the town as well as the 
surrounding lands on both sides of the river. Thomas, second 
Baron Folliott of Ballyshannon, was bom in 1613, and his son 
and heir, Henry, third baron died in 1716, when the title became 
•extmct. The Folliotts of Holybrook house, of whom Col. John 
Folliott is the present representative, are descended from a 
•common ancestor with Lord Folliott of Ballyshannon. 

About the middle of the 17th century there lived in Bally- 
shannon a man named Patrick Conolly. He kept a small inn, which 
stood on or near to the ground now occupied by the new bank 
building. He had a son named William who lived with him, and 
it happened that there came to Ballyshannon two gentlemen who 
were sent to secure the return of members to the Irish parliament. 
They lodged at Conolly's inn, and perceiving that William was 
an unusually smart, intelligent boy, they induced him to follow 

* The Window Tax was first imposed by William III. in 1669, for the purpose of making: 
good the deficiency in the coinafire, caused by the practice of elipping money.^Hanis'ft 
^History of the Life and Reign of William III." 


them up to Dnblin, where they promised to have him edaeate<f 
and started in life. Havrng availed himself of their generous 
offer, the yomig man in doe time became an attorney; from this 
point he rose step by step, at length becoming speaker of the- 
Irish House of Commons. He purchased extensiye estates, amongst 
others, the toTm of Ballyshannon, with some adjacent property,, 
from the FoUiotts. "Speaker" ConoUy, who died in 1729, had 
no son, and he left his estates to "Tom ConoUy of Castletown,*^ 
his grand-nephew; he also was childless, and after Lady Louisa 
Conolly, his widow, enjoying the property during her life, it 
descended to her nephew. Col. Edward Michael Pakenham, who 
then took the name of Conolly, and whose son and hen*, the late 
Thomas Conolly M.P., was so weU known to the people of Bally- 
shannon. In an interesting manuscript entitled, "A Description 
of Lough Erne," written in the year 1739, which is preserved in 
the British Museum, and from which we have gathered some- 
particulars respecting this town and neighbourhood, the following 
reference is made to the founder of the fortunes of the Conolly 
family: "The greatest honour of this town (Ballyshannon) is its 
having given birth to the late Right Honourable William Conolly 
Esquire, whose zealous attachment to the protestant interest and 
liberties of his country, after having exposed himself to immiaent 
dangers in evil times, at length raised him to the highest honours 
of the state, to be the Commissioner of the Revenue, Speaker of 
the House of Commons, and one of the Lords Justices for Ireland^ 
in which eminent stations, he acquitted himself with wisdom, in- 
tergity, and zeal for many years, till his death, and left after him 
the amiable character of an affectionate father of his country, and 
a faithful minister to his Prince." 

Eight years after the granting of the charter, an "Inquisition" 
was held in Ballyshannon by order of King James, for the purpose 
of inquiring into the disposal of the lands and privileges escheated 
from O'Donnell and the monasteries. 

This inquisition was held on Tuesday, the 2nd January, 1621v 
when the foUoyring "good and lawful men" were examined on 


oath before the commissioners, touching the objects of the inquiry : 
"William Rastell,* gent., Donell O'Sleven, gent., Gillonie 
McGomell, gent., Teige McGilwell, gent., Cormack O'Callenan, 
gent., Patrick ODaly, gent., Donnogh . . . gent., David 
McGroertie, gent., Hugh Allegan,t gent., Hagh McAffertie, gent., 
Enogher McArt, gent., Bryan McTorlagh McAlmn, Patrick 
Banys, gent., Owen Oge McBrogan McTirlagh, Lowry McEwarf, 
gent." This inquisition^ which is preserved in the Rolls OfficCf 
Dublin, contams a long and most minute description of the lands 
and rights of fishing appertaining to the monastery of Assaroe and 
some neighbouring foundations, and of the mode in which they 
were disposed of at the " plantation.'* Unfortunately, some of 
the writing in the original is obliterated. Some of the names 
above mentioned are familiar, though strangely spelt ; others have 
long ago died out. 



From the time of James T. till the period of the Jacobite 
struggle, history furnishes few details of local interest. In the 
wars between Cromwell and the Royalists, Ballyshannon for a 
tune was held against the republicans, and the way was kept 
open for the passage of the royalist troops between it and Con- 
naught. Oliver Cromwell, however, never himself visited this 
part of Ireland, his military operations having been carried out 
by Sir Charles Coote, who eventually reduced the whole of Ulster 
into subjection. 


From the year 1641 to 1661 a gap occurs in the parliamentary 
representation of our borough (see list of members) during which 
tune the Irish parliament never met. 

On 24th March, 1689, King James II. made his entry into 
Dublin, and on the following day issued a proclamation for 
parliament to sit on the 7th May. The parliament was 

* One of the Burgesses of Ballyshannon. f One of the Bui^esses of Ballyshannon* 


accordingly held in the Eling's Inns, Henrietta Street, and there 
was passed the Act entitled, " An Act for the Attamder of Divers 
Rebels, and for Preserving the interests of Loyal Subjects." By 
this Act the following persons connected with Ballyshannon were, 
amongst many others, deprived of their lands and possessions 
for favouring the cause of King William — ^Sir James Caldwell of 
Belleek, bart., Patrick ConoUy of Belashannon, gent.,* Thomas 
J^olliott of Belashannon, gent., Francis Earles, Belashannon^ 
gent,, Prancis Jennings of Belashannon, gent., John Folliott, 
Esquire, Belashannon, Charles Caldwell of Belleek (son and heir 
of Sir James Caldwell), John Montgomery of Carrickboy, gent., 
Thomas Atkinson, senr., Belashannon, gent., Thomas Atkinson, 
junr, Belashannon, gent., Michael Hueson of Coolebegge, gent., 
John Hueson of Coolebegge, gent., Robert Delapp of Bela- 
shannon, gent.. Lord Folliott of Belashannon." Li the same 
month in which this Act of Attainder was passed, Ballyshannon 
was besieged by a Jacobite army. The Connaught contingent, 
under the command of General Sarsfield, pitched their camp at 
Bundrowse, waiting their opportunity to seize Ballyshannon. 
The toYm was, however, strongly garrisoned, and the troops were 
under the command of Henry (afterwards third Baron Folliott). 
The Jacobite army, on the other hand, though numerically strong, 
were ill-disciplined and but poorly equipped.! 27ie Castle of 
Ballyshannon was still used as a military head-quarters, and con** 
tained a large number of soldiers. Folliott, however, finding 
himself beset by such a formidable army, sent to Enniskillen for 
re-inforcements, and on 6th May, Col. Lloyd, in command of the 
afterwards celebrated regiment, the 27th Inniskilliners, started 
for Ballyshannon. The Jacobites, having heard of their approach, 
marched to Belleek for the purpose of preventing them from 
reaching Ballyshannon, and having placed themselves in the most 
advantageous position they could select, awaited the advent of 
the enemy. 

* Father of Speaker Conolly. 
t At the si^e of Orom, their only ordnance were two tin cannon, covered with buckram ! 


At that disturbed period there were no high-roads in the 
district, and the Jacobites held the only "pass " which existed. 
This was bounded on the one side by the lake, and on the other 
by a bog. Nothwithstanding all this, Lloyd, being better ac- 
quainted with the country, succeeded in flanking the enemy, who 
turned and fled without firing a shot. The Jacobite losses were 
190 horse, slain in pursuit. Most of the foot soldiers escaped 
through a bog in the Moy, and made good their retreat to Sligo. 
Some, however, of Sarsfield's men fled to Ballyshannon, where they 
took refuge on the island of Inis-samer. These refugees, to the 
number of sixty, were soon made prisoners, and thus ended the 
engagement, the Inniskilliners haying only one man wounded. 
The siege was then raised, but in July, Sarsfield and his men once 
more took up their position at Tullaghan, with the view of 
gaining possession of Ballyshannon. The town was, however, too 
well prepared to afford them an opportunity for attack, and the 
sharp repulse they had received a couple of months before, taught 
them that "discretion was the better part of valour." On the 
evening of the day (28th July, 1689) on which Derry was relieved, 
a message was sent to Ballyshannon, asking for help at Crom, 
which was besieged by Lord Mountcashel. The gallant officers 
in command at Ballyshannon, remembering how recently they 
had received valuable aid from the Inniskilliners, at once complied 
with the request, and notwithstanding the presence of the enemy 
a few miles off, between 400 and 500 men were despatched. 
Having arrived at Enniskillen, after their long march from 
Ballyshannon, they declared themselves ready to go on without 
resting that same night.* The battle of Newtownbutler on the 
31st July, which resulted in the total rout of the Jacobites, 
having reached the ears of Sarsfield as he lay at Tullaghan^ in- 
duced him to give up his design of attacking Ballyshannon, and 
he consequently withdrew his men to Sligo. 

* A few days before a vessel had arrived at Ballyshannon from Deny with arms and 
ammunition for Enniskillen, which were landed here, and at once transmitted by Lough 
Bme to their destination. The frigate *' Bonadventura " also called at Ballyshannon to 
ascertain the state of the garrison here and at Enniskillen. 


In the "Calendar of Treasury Papers," under date 1692, we 
find the following reference to Henry Caldwell, merchant of 
Ballyshannon — "Sir Joseph Horn, Knight, petitioned Govern- 
ment, which was certified by several of the officers who held out at 
Ballyshannon, and other adjacent garrisons in the county, for the 
Etng against King James, and that there were used by the 
garrison several goods which belonged to Henry Caldwell, Esq., 
and that he was never compensated for them." From a record 
preserved in the church books, in the year 1691, it appears that 
the 27th regiment of InniskilUners, under the command of their 
first* colonel, Zechariah Tiffin, was stationed at Ballyshannon 
in the beginning of that year. The following is a copy of the 
minute: — "A vestry held within ye church of Mullaghnashee 
vpon Easter Monday, 13th April (1691), hath chosen John Jones 
and Arch. Harvy, church-wardens. Mr. Robert Delap and Mr* 
Lewis first overseers of high ways. Enacted that a petition be 
drawn and presented to Colonel Tiffin for a contribution of his 
regiment and reparation of ye church." After King William 
bad established his authority in Ireland on a firm basis, the par- 
liament passed an Act "declaring all Attamders, and all other 
Acts made in a late pretended parliament" held dlider ELing James 
at Dublin, about 7th May, 1689, to be void. AH the roUs, etc., 
of that parliament were cancelled and publicly burned, and 
the persons whom we enumerated at the begining of this chapter, 
as having had their property confiscated, were reinstated in their 
titles and possessions. 

The prolonged wars which England and Holland waged with 
Erance, from 1689 to 1697, after the termination of the Jacobite 
struggle in this country, engrossed the attention of King 
William's government. In the Calendar of Treasury Papers, at 
the year 1691, we find the following strange entry in which our 
town is mentioned : "the government bought 8,000 bushels of 
oats at Whitehaven, at a cost of £726 16s. 8d. to he sent to 
Ballyshannon, for the purpose of the army being brought into 

* After the raiment was coimnMsioiMd; at first it was a VQlwfiX,ew corps.. 


Holland.'* From this it seems probable that the troops, with 
their stores, embarked ai Ballyshannon for the seat of war on th& 
continent. It should be remembered that in those dajs the 
transport of troops and stores across the country was a serious 
matter, both as to time and cost, and as there was a large 
garrison here and at Enniskillen, advantage was taken of the 
port, by shipping them at Ballyshannon. 



The preservation of the parochial records in the Established 
Church of Ireland, was not in former times a matter of much 
consideration, and as a consequence, the earliest and probably 
most interesting chronicles of the parish of Eilbarron, in common 
with others, are irretrievably lost. The oldest documents which 
would throw light on our parish were deposited in the episcopal 
library at Eaphoe, but these were destroyed by the Jacobite 
soldiers, when passing through that town to the siege of Derry» 

It has been asserted that the old church of Kilbarron which 
gave its name to the parish, was one of the first in Ireland in 
which the English service was used after the reformation ; we 
cannot however discover any record or evidence to support this 
statement, and having submitted the matter to a high authority* 
on all points of ecclesiastical antiquities, his opinion will doubt- 
less be allowed to settle the question. He thus refers to the subject 
— ^^I am not aware, nor do I think it likely, that Kilbarron old 
church had any priority over the principal churches throughout 
Ireland in the use of our reformed prayer book. Indeed I would 
a priori say that so wild and primitive a district as Tirconnell 
would be long behind the churches of the "pale" in the employ- 
ment of our English service book." The old church of Kilbarron 
may possibly have been used for protestant worship during the 

*Dr. Beeves. 


first part of the 17th century, and the English settlers may have 
occasionally attended service there, which was perhaps conducted 
by the clergyman of the neighbouring parish of Drnmholm* 
There does not, however, appear to have been any settled minister 
in Kilbarron even as late as 1622. In the ^^TJlster Yisitatioii 
Book" of that period, the nearest parish in which a clergymaa 
resided was Drumholm. The inconvenient distance of the old 
church of Kilbarron from Ballyshannon would in any case have 
prevented its having been long used for worship, and the necessity 
for a church in the town must have made itself apparent as the 
English inhabitants increased. As to the exact date of the 
erection of the first church at MuUaghnashee, we are left in 
ignorance; the first parochial vestry book being lost, and other 
documents which might throw light on it, not being forthcoming. 

The oldest existing book goes back to Easter, 1691. At that 
date the church seems to have been a good while built, and in 
want of considerable repau*, as the following extract from the 
vestry book of 1692 shows — "it was ordered that the sum of 
twenty-one pounds, should be apploded and levied off ye parish 
of Elilbarron, for the reparation of ye church and other pious 
uses." It should however be remembered that the first church 
on MuUaghnashee was not built in the substantial manner of 
more modern buildings : it was roofed with shingles. These were 
thin boards, generally of oak, and afresh roof composed of them 
was put on the church in 1692, the shingles having been brought 
from Enniskaien by Lough Erne. This method of roofing 
churches existed in Ireland from the earliest Christian period.''' 

At the time of which we are speaking, slates as well as shingles 
seem to have been simultaneously used, as the following item at 
the year 1692-3 shows — "To 15 hundred of slates drawn from ye 
church to ye castle." The old church did not stand upon the 
same ground as the present one, but further down and nearer to 
the u*on gate. The west wall of the churchyard stood near to the 

* See Petrle'a Ecclesiastical Architecture, pages 186-7. 


east window of the present structure ; this wall was built round 
the churchyard in 1697, and in the same year trees were planted 
in it, and the bell which was hung in ^ small open belfry, sur- 
mounted by a weather-cock, was taken down and a new bell 
obtained from Dublin. The particulars connected with its 
cost and erection are sufficiently curious to justify reproduction 
here: — 

*' To Captain Ffolliott for ye Bell ... 
„ Bringing it from Belturbet 
„ Drawing it from Balleeke 
„ 14 barrels of lime 
„ Digging sand and riddling it ... 
„ Horses drawing stones, and men from abbey 
„ Oads and hurdles for scaffolding 
„ Drawing water ••• ... ... 

„ 39 lbs. Iron and to ye smith for working it 

„ 3 lbs led, hanging it ... 

„ Carrying home ye scaffolds 

,, jCe mason •• ... ... ••• 

„ Michael Conolly's subn. and Thomas Lee's not 
paici ... ... ••. ... 

Carriage of Bell from Dublin ... 


£6 02 07 



04 08 


09 02 

01 06 


11 Oil 

02 00 

00 04 




£10 06 05J 

At the time of the Jacobite siege, the church appears to have 
been used for military purposes, as was frequently the case ia 
troublous times. From its commanding situation, the church- 
yard was well suited for heavy ordnance, and that they were 
placed there, the following extract from the vestry book in 1692-3 
shows — "To carrying Bombs out of ye church, one shilling. To 
John Horcoy drawing these to ye castle two shillings.** This 
last item is of historical interest, as it shows the castle of Bally- 
shannon existed at that date as a military fortress. At the year 
1694 there is a curious entry of four shillings and sixpence^ being 
the hire of three horses to convey the parish representatives to 


the visitation of Derrj. Hotel expenses mnst have been very 
moderate in those days, as the charge for the parochial depntatioii 
for board and lodging, was only ^tx and eightpencel Besides the 
•extracts already given, the early vestry books contain many 
morsels of antiquarian and historical Interest, a few of which may 
here be noted: — In the latter part of the 17th century a labourer's 
hire was fivepence per day; wine 2 2d. per bottle; a lather* for 
-church use, cost three and sixpence. In 1 698, intramural interments 
seem to have been usual. '^ The said vestry have ordered that all 
persons buried within ye church, below ye pulpit, shall pay ten 
shillings for ye use of ye poore or repairing of ye church; and 
all persons buried above ye pulpit in ye chancery,f it shall be 
left to ye discretion of their friends to pay according to their 

In the year 1700, the sum of one pound fifteen shillings, was 
paid for a baptismal font of ''hewen stone" which was set in 
the west end of the first church. It now lies in the church porch, 
having been rescued by the present incumbent from a yard in the 
town, where the top portion was used a sa trough for feeding 
ducks! In 1718, a school house "for the instruction of poor 
children" was built by Archdeacon Michael Hewetson. This 
primitive structure stood upon the site of the present sexton's 
house, and was like the church, roofed with shingles. In 1735, 
the church had fallen into such a ruinous condition that it was 
deemed unsafe to use it any longer for public worship, and it 
was resolved by the parishioners that a new church should be 
built "with all convenient speed" on the level ground lying 
between the west wall of the church and the sodfortX The new 
church which was cruciform, was of the following dimensions 
— length of nave and choir, 85 feet, width 23 feet — length of 
transept, 58 feet, width, 23 feet. During the erection of this 
church, public worship was conducted in the old school house. 

-> Many words were at this time spelt as pronounced : the word ladd$r is still commonly 
sounded leather. Many more examples could be given of this phonetic method of spellin|^ 
words in old MSS. and of their suryival in local pronunciation 

t An old term for Chancel, from the same root, eanoeUi, railings. 

X This was the SiM Aodha Eu4iidhf th9 regal mound having been then in existence.. 


The tower now standing on Mullaghnashee, belongs to the 
■second church which was dedicated to St. Ann, and is so 
styled in the vestry minutes of that period. The present 
church, which is considerably larger than either of the earlier 
ones, was built by the ecclesiastical commissioners in 1841. 
It is solid and roomy, but devoid of architectural beauty. The 
sum expended on its erection would have been more than 
sufficient to have added a picturesque feature to the general 
appearance of the town. 

At the beginning of the present century, the old church bell 
which was put up in 1698, was stolen from the belfry by some 
young men and thrown into the pool, out of which it was sub- 
sequently fished up, and was, after the purchase of the new bell, 
put up in the school house, where it remained for many years and 
was used to summon the reluctant scholars to their task: 
eventually this ill-fated bell once more disappeared and no trace 
<)f its whereabouts has since been found. The present bell was 
a sweet and sufficiently powerful one till it was broken by a 
careless ringer.* 

Owing to the imperfect state of the church records, it is im- 
possible to give a complete and accurate list of the beneficed clergy 
of this parish. The following we have compiled from the 
existing vestry books, and the dates attached show the period at 
which they held office — 1691, Rev. John Forbes — 1718, Rev. 
James Forbes — 1734, Rev. George Knox — 1745, Rev. James 
O'NeU— 1S09, Rev. Henry Major— 1820, Rev. Robert Ball— 
1823, Rev. Robert Pakenham— 1827, Rev. George Griffithf- 
1830, Rev. George N. Tredennick (the last vicar previous to the 
disestablishment). The gift of the livmg was vested in the 
Conolly family from the time of their obtaining the property, till 
the disestablishment. 

* It is surprising that the parishioners of Eilbarron should have so long allowed them- 
selvM to be summoned to worship by a cracked bell, when for a moderate outlay the 
bell eould be re-cast, and made as tuneful as at first. The change for re-catting is only 
Two guinecu a etot. 

t Rev. Geo. GrifSth discharged the duties of Ticar for three years, but did not hold the 


In the antumn of 1831 a curions discovery was made in the 
charchyard. As the sexton and graye-digger were opening a' 
grave in the centre of the churchyard, they were arrested in their 
work by coming on some large flat stones, which on examination 
proved to be the roofing flags of a subterranean chamber runnings 
in a north-westerly direction ; this unexpected "find" was thus 
described by an eye witness : "By the time the corpse (for the 
reception of which the grave was being made) was brought into 
the burial ground, attended by its sorrowing friends, and while 
the procession was slowly proceeding to the grave, it was in- 
terrupted by a voice saying '^ don't go there, the place is not 
safe;" the procession immediately stopped, and the affrighted 
sexton drew near to explain the cause. He said that when he 
had removed the clay, to the depth of about three feet, the crow- 
bar he was using to loosen the earth, suddenly disappeared all 
but about four inches, and that in endeavouring to pull up his 
bar he perceived a hole, on looking into which he saw a vault of 
considerable size. Here there was a general ejaculation "Heaven 
preserve us." The corpse was then interred in another part of 
the yard, and a few of the bystanders cautiously approached the 
dreaded spot, and one who ventured to look in said he thought he 
smelt sulphur !! The chamber which is said to be heart-shaped 
— 9 feet long by 6 feet wide — was subsequently closed, and it is 
to be regretted that it was not examined by some one of anti- 
quarian knowledge, as it probably formed part of that system of 
souterrcdns or artificial caves and passages, whose ramifications 
began in theBooley Bawn and extended up the hill of Dungravnen^ 
to the summit of Mullaghnashee. This kind of cave-construction 
is believed by antiquarians to be the oldest existing example of 
the builders' art in Ireland. 

In the churchyard of Mullaghnashee are some tombstones 
which from theur age or quaintness of inscription, possess con- 
siderable interest for the curious. At the period of the removal 
of the old church m 1841, several tombstones had to be removed 
for the purpose of clearing the ground for the foundation of the^ 


presmit chnrch ; it is to be regretted that some other plan was 
not devised, so as to hare avoided interfering in any way with 
the graves, which at all hazards should be held sacred. Some 
of the old tombstones are sadly weather-worn and battered, and 
the inscriptions almost obliterated, while others of equal age, are 
in tolerably good preservation; those in raised letters seem to 
which through the wearing down of the surface of the stone and 
have withstood the ravages of time better than the^un^inscriptions, 
the growth of lichens, often become very difficult to decipher. 

It win be gratifying to all who have friends buried in Mullagh- 
nashee, to know that the present incumbent, the Rev. S. G. 
Cochrane, is taking an interest in the preservation of the tomb- 
stones and monuments, and has at his own expense had many 
of them cleaned and repaired. 

The following inscriptions are amongst the most noteworthy: — 
^'Here lyes Jean Banerman, alias Forbes, who dyed September 

the seventh, 1681, aged 65." 

> — ^— — — ^— 

''Here lyes the body of Elizabeth Caldwell, wife to Francis Irvine, 
who departed this life, the 30th day of June, Anno Domini 1711." 

"Here lyes the body of John Favset, who departed this life 
the forty-fourth year of his age, in July 9, 1712." 

''Here lies the body of John Delap, who departed this life the 
28th day of November, Anno Domini 1713." 

"Here lyes the body of Robert Delap, who departed this life 
the 64 year of his age, in May the first" [Year omitted but 
appears to be one of the oldest stones in the churchyard]. 

"Here lies the body of George Henderson, who departed this 
life on the 10th August, 1776, aged 56 years." 

^^Beneath are deposited the remains of Thomas Atkinson, of 
Cavangarden, Esq.; he departed this life the 11th May, 1783, 
aged 70 yearsw Also the remains of his daughter Bebecca, who 
died 17th January, 1768, aged 12 years." 



^Here lies the body of Hagh Finch, who died September 1^ 
1782, aged 84 years. Also to the memory of his son William^ 
who departed this life the 24th Jane, 1790, aged 46 years." 

^'Here lies the body of Francis Forster, who died Febmary^ 
14th, 1782, ^ed 82 years." 

^^Here lies the body of Thomas Fanlkin, who departed this 
life 20th November, 1786, aged 38 years, and who for friendship, 
hospitality, and beneTolence, some might equal, but few coold 


"Here lyeth the body of Edward Scanlan, Esq., who departed 
this life October 10th, 1789, aged 62 years." 

"Sacred to the memory of the Rev. Robert Caldwell, for many 
years dissenting minister of this place, who departed this life the 
28th day of November, 1790, aged 53 years." 

"Here lyeth the body of Margaret Lockhart, who departed 
this life 22nd November, 1790, aged 52 years." 

"Here lyeth the body of Jane Curry, who departed this life 
the 13th of March, 1791, aged 86 years." 

"Sacred to the memory of Francis McDonagh, who departed 
this life the 26th day of February, 1796, aged 75 years/' 

"Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Mr. Archd. 
Murray, who departed this life 22nd April, 1798, aged 67 years; 
also the remains of Mrs. Florinda Murray, relict of the above 
Archd. Murray, who departed this life the 17th day of April, 
1799, aged 66 years." 

"Sacred to the memory of John Campbell, who departed this 
life the 19th May, 1796, aged 74 years; also to that of Jane 
Campbell, his wife, who changed this life for immortality, on 
the 16th March, 1800, aged 75 years. 


The heartfelt and general affliction occasioned bj thdr deaths 
IS the best record of their virtnes, which were truly Christian.'' 
[The aboTe were the parents of Sir Robert Cam^elly ^orf.] 

''In memory of Henry Thompson, who departed this life 
March 25th, 1799, aged 46 years." 

^^ Sacred to the memory of Jane Brandon, wife of Mr. Edward 
Brandon, of Ballyshannon, Merchant, who died the let January, 
1801, aged 35 years. 

Admired when living for many domestic virtues, and sincerely 
lamented at her death by all her acquaintances." 

(The above were the parents of Bev. Wm. Brandon, who died 
in the pulpit of Finner church ; and the Eev. Dr. Barclay, now 
Bishop of Jerusalem, is their great-grandson]. 

^^ Here lieth the body of Balph Babington, of Greenfort, in the 
Co. of Donegal, Esq. He died in February, 1806, aged 40 years." 

''Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Patrick 
Haly, Esq., who departed this life the 26th day of April, 1813, 
Aged 65 years.** 

[The Gentleman Piper of Ballyshannon]. 

" Returned to his native earth, lieth all that was mortal of 
Lieut. Taaffe M'Govem, late of Northumberland Eegiment of 
Fencible Infantry. He fell in a duel on the 2nd March, 1802, 
in the 23rd year of his age., 

If the esteem and regard of his brother officers who have 
•erected this stone to his memory could assist his soul in its flight 
to heaven, its ascent must have been rapid and its reception 

'^ William Urquhart, Esq., late Captain in the Loyal Essex 
Eegiment of Infantry, son to the late William Urquhart of 



Meldrim^Esq^Aberdeensliire, Scotland, died September 29, 1798^ 
aged 42 years. This memorial was erected by his disconsolate 
widow ;— 

How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not, 

To whom related or by whom begot, 

A heap of dost alone remains of thee, 

Tis all thou art and all the great shall be." 

^'Sacred to the memory of John Studdart, late Major, 45- 
Begiment, who departed this life the 1st January, 1814, aged 50- 
years. And also to the memory of his grandson, Thomas Studdart 
Kobinson, who departed this life on the 10th of April, 1827, aged 
10 months." 

"This tomb was erected by the oflBcers, non-commissioned 
officers and privates of the light company of the 91 Argyleshire^ 
Eegiment, as a mark of their esteem and respect, in memory of 
Private David Mcintosh, who was drowned near Ballyshannon,. 
28 June, 1832, aged 38 years, after having served in the regiment 
At home and abroad, during a period of 21 years." 

** Here lies the body of William Bean, late private in the 79th,- 
1st Company, who departed this life January 7th, 1804, aged 22 
years. As a token of regard for their deceased comrade, this 
stone was erected by the non-commissioned officers and privates 
of the company." 

We have already spoken of Mullaghnashee Church, as having 
been nsed as a place of military defence at the period of the 
Jacobite disturbances. In less than a century from that time 
was originated within its walls a local corp$j which was called 
** The Loyal Ballyshannon Volunteers." In the year 1779 the 
coast defences of England were in such a weak and unsatisfactory 
state that a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships entered 
the English Channel in overwhelming force, and the ^'Serapis " 
man-of-war, a frigate, and several smaller vessels belonging to 
England, were captured. 


This occnrrence, conpled with various political agitations, 
-created a great feeling of insecurity in Ireland, and was the 
cause of the enrohnent of volunteer corps throughout the country. 
On the 1st August, 1779, the following resolutions were passed 
in MuUaghnashee Church : " We, the underneath inhabitants 
of the town and neighbourhood of Ballyshannon, having at this 
critical time, when our country is threatened with an invasion 
of the natural enemies of the present constitution (the French 
and Spaniards), formed ourselves into an independent company, 
by the style and title of the " Loyal Ballyshannon Volunteers,'* 
in which we are further encouraged by the countenance and 
protection of the Right Honourable Thomas Conolly, who has 
done us the honour of accepting the command, have come to the 
following resolutions : — Begimentals — each man to furnish himself 
with a scarlet cbak faced with green, white waistcoat and 
breeches. A good firelock and bayonet; cartridge box and 
belt. Eesolved, that whenever the company are called upon, 
they shall pay strict obedience to their officers. Eesolved, that 
the company shall attend every day at parade, until such time 
as they are expert and perfect. Any one absent from parad» 
without leave, to pay a fine of sixpence. Eesolved, that the 
-drum and fife be paid by the treasurer the sum of three 
shillings and three pence each per week, and that they do regu- 
larly perform their duty of beating the drum, and playing the 
fife, at the proper hours each day. Resolved, the commanding 
officer present each parade day, be desired and empowered if 
any volunteer appear on parade, not being cleanly and properly 
dressed (his hair well powdered, himself completety accoutred 
with his arms in proper order), instantly to fine such volunteer 
any sum he shall think proper under one shilling, or in default of 
payment, to be instantly turned out of the ranks for that day 
with disgrace." The corps used to march to church on Sundays, 
and afterwards to go on parade in an adjoining field. Henry 
Major who was agent on the Conolly estate, and at that time 
provost of Ballyshannon, was appointed captain of the volunteers. 


A similar corps was organized in Killybegs, and an interesting 
memento of the local spirit and patriotism of Ballyshannon and 
Killjbegs was exhibited at the Boyal Irish Academy, where th«r 
banners of both corps formed part of the decoration of the 
building of that learned body at the conversazione given in honour 
of the British Association, which met in the Autumn of 1878 in 

B^ore the era of the "plantation/' there seems to have been 
no ecclesiastical edifice in the town, though there were both 
churches and "chappies of ease'' in thesurrounding neighbourhood. 
The one most generally resorted to by the inhabitants was doubt- 
less the "church with a steeple" which adjoined the abbey of 
Assaroe. The old church of Kilbarron, though also attached to 
the abbey, was, owing to its isolated position, probably allowed 
to fall into disuse and decay, long before the English settlement 
was effected. The Donegal portion of the parish of Inismacsaint 
was provided with two chapels of ease, as the following extract 
from an inquisition taken at Enniskillen, 18th September, 1609, 
shows: — "they alsoe sale that in the said parish (of Enishmissaugh) 
is a chappie of ease, called Ffennoare in Macginey, unto which 
said chappie the viccar of the said parish is to send a curate to- 
sale divine service; and that in the said parish also is another 
cha{^le called BaUihannyJ' The first of these is Finner church,* 
one mile distant from Bundoran, the other is probably identical 
with the ruined church at Sminver^ near to the railway station at 
Ballyshannon. Though Sminver is not in the townland of Bally- 
haima, it is contiguous to it, and some confusion in the 
boundary lines may have been made when the inquisition was 
taken. There was also in former times, a chapel in the townland 
of Bathmore, not far distant from Ballyshannon. The Romaic 
€atholicGhurch,nowstandinginapartof theoldparkof O'Donnell's 

* Since the above was written, the district has been examined by Dean Beeves, wha 
is of opinion that the "Chappie of ease/' called FUnnoare^ is not identical with the- 
ruined Church at Finner, which he believes to be of comparatively modem date, and 
that the Gbapel of the inquisition, stood in the neighbouiinff towmand of CaMragK (a. 
^derivative from Oitt a Chujob), ii^«re is aa old burial ground. 


castle, was erected in 1842. It stands on the site of the old chapel, 
which was bnilt in the year 1795. The old building was cruciform, 
and not of such large proportions as the present edifice. The 
abbey burial ground which has been used without interruption for 
seren centuries, was enlarged by the Most Rev. Dr. McGettigan, 
Archbishop of Armagh, during his residence in Ballyshannon. 
The Rock chapel, situate in the adjoining parish of Inismacsaint, 
was, with the burial ground attached, consecrated in September, 

The first Presbyterian Church was in College Lane. It 
was built in the last centilry, and remained in use till 1832, 
when it fell into such a ruinous condition that it was decided to 
build a new one. This was erected on the Mall in 1833, and 
rebuilt with extensiye additions in 1878-9. 

Of the two Methodist chapels, that in the Main Street is much 
the oldest, having been, according to the tablet inserted in the 
wall, built in 1791. The Rev. John Wesley, the founder of 
Methodism, visited Ballyshannon on more than one occasion; and 
in 1771 preached here. At that time, he seemed to have but 
few supporters in the town, as the following entry in his journal 
shows: — "I rode to Ballyshannon, and preached,in the Assembly- 
room. I was acquainted with some of the chief persons in the 
town; but they were ashamed to ovm me. Only some of them sent 
their complimOTits to me, properly so called." In subsequent 
years, the cause of Methodism grew and flourished in Ballyshannon, 
and at one time there was a large number of members, which 
however, have dwindled away with the decreased population. The 
Methodist Chapel on the Mall is a more modem structure, and 
being roomy and commodiously situated, will soon supersede the 
Main Street Chapel. 

* There are 44 townlands comprised within Kilbarron, which, but for a nominal tithe 
in the case of 7 townlands, have alvrays been tUhe-frte. The cause of this freedom is 
accounted for by a curious legend in which a lame monk relieved the parish by walking 
tlirough its bounds in one day ; tUl the ground that his crutch touched was to be free. 
When he came to the sea shore and could go no further, he flung his crutch across to 
the Island of Ratlin 0*Beime, which from henceforth became a part of the parish of 
Kilbarron ! 



Often as it has been said of our town that it is at a stand sUH, 
" the same old place as ever," yet, were some Rip Van Winkle, 
who had lived in Ballyshannon a century ago, to awaken from 
his slumbers, and once more revisit his old haunts, he would miss 
many of the old landmarks ; would see many of the buildings 
which in his early days were the scene of bustle and animation 
now in ruinsi and inquire in vain for the descendants of his 
formw friends and acquaintances. The names as well as the 
faces of the new inhabitants would appear strange to him, and 
he at least would be slow to admit that it was '^ the same old 
place as ever." The following notice of Ballyshannon is from a 
manuscript written in 1739, from which we have already quoted : 
— '*The most southerly town in the County (Donegal) is Bally- 
shannon, a borough and seaport, lying on the northern shore of 
the Eiver Erne. The situation is beautiful, being washed by so 
great a river, from which the town, rising in a pretty steep 
ascent, appears to advantage ; over the river is a large stone 
bridge, in the nddst of which rises a tower with a gate, and a 
guard-room at the end of the bridge ; along the shore of the river 
stands beautifully two very fine barracks, that on the west side 
of the street for two companies of foot, the other on the east 
for two troops of horse ; on the top of the hiU over the town 
stands a neat church ; and a quarter of a mile on the north side 
of the harbour an old abbey. Except about Ballyshannon there 
is no large flock of sheep (in Donegal) nor are there many herds 
of black cattle but whB,t grase there, and at Horn Head." From 
Guthrie's New General Gazetteer (published about 1750), we take 
the following : — "Ballyshannon, aborough, market andpost town, 
in the County Donegal, province of Ulster, 101 miles from Dub- 
lin, having a good harbour, east of Donegal Bay. It has a 
bridge of fourteen arches over a river, which runs out of Lough 
Erne, which river falls down a ridge of rocks about twelve feet, 
and at low water forms a most beautiful and picturesque cascade; 


it is rendered singtilar by being the principal Salmon Leap in 
Ireland. It has a barrack for one (?) company of foot ; it sends 
two members to Parliament.*' 

In a book entitled "A Tonr in Ireland in 1775, with a map, 
and a yiew of the Sahnon Leap at BaHyshannon," the following 
description of the town is given: — "The next day I arrived at 
Ballyshannon, and was so pleased with its beantif ol situation that 
I remained thwe fonr days. It is a small town, situated near the 
sea, with a bridge of fourteen arches over a river, which a little 
lower falls down a ridge of rocks, about twelve feet, and at low 
water forms one of the most picturesque cascades I ever saw. 
It is rendered still more singular and interesting by being the 
principal Salmon Leap in Ireland." The writer of this "Tour" 
.seems to have paid special attention to the salmon fishery, during 
his stay in Ballyshannon. After describing at length the various 
habits of salmon, he goes on to say that "every morning during 
the fishery, they are taken out by means of a staff, with a strong 

barbed iron hook, which is stuck into them They 

have often been shot while leaping at the fall At 

the bottom of the feAlporpoises and seeds disport themselves among 
the waves." The author, as the title of the book sets forth, has 
honoured our town by selecting as the subject of his frontispiece, 
" A view of the Salmon Leap at Ballyshannon." In this curious 
plate, in which the Leitrim mountains and the sandhills are made 
to stand out as prominent features in the immediate background, 
a number of seals are represented as airing themselves on the 
rocks below the "pool," and the old manor mill^ with its rustic 
wheel, occupies the site of the present ruined distillery. 

There is in existence an oil painting of Ballyshannon in the 
last century. It is taken from the south side of the river, and 
. shows tbe steeply ascending hill, with the old church on Mullagh- 
nashee, with its transept facing the river. Also another painting, 
in the possession of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, which 
shows the aspect of the town a century or so back. This picture 
takes in the bridge with its tower in the centre, and the gateway 


whkh stood on the south end; also the ^^Port" and Bock show- 
ing the houses then standing. It must have been painted some^ 
time subsequent to 1700, as the barrack which was built in that 
year appears in it. Both these pictures, which represent the town 
from different points of view, are very interesting and valuable. 

In the last century, Ballyshannon must have been a cheap and 
desirable place of residence, as the following prices given in liie^ 
above-mentioned book show : — Salmon, Id. per lb. or 6s. per cwt. 
Babbits, 3d. per pair. Turkeys and geese. Is. each. Ducks or 
Fowl, 2d. or 3d. each. Potatoes, Is. per barrel (of 48 stones). 
But these must have been unusually low prices, as 8s. and lOs.. 
per barrel was the general price, and after the long frost of 
1739-40, potatoes were sold at 32s. per barrel Whkkey was 
Is. per quart ; and of port wine, the author remarks — '' I found 
the port wine better in Ireland, than any I had tasted in other 
countries ;" he also observes that one of the customs peculiar to 
Ireland, is that of having constantly boiled eggs for breakfast,, 
with tea. I After "doing" Ballyshannon, the author of the 
Tourwent on to Castlecaldwell, where he was hospitably received,, 
and lodged for a week, by Sir James Caldwell^ then the owner of 
that estate. Aiter enjoying a round of fishing and musical 
parties on the lake, he was conveyed from Castlecaldwell to- 
Enniskillen in Sir James's six oared barge.* 

While speaking of Castlecaldwell it may not be out of place to* 
mention some particulars respecting that picturesque and 
beautifully-situated residence. The Castle was, it is said, formerly 
a monastic building, but aU particulars respecting its ongioal 
foundation, are now unfortunately lost. Archdale, in his 
^^Monasticon Hibemicum," makes no mention of it. Though 
that work was written nearly a century ago, even then all trace 
of many of the most ancient foundations had disappeared, and 
often the only thing left was their name. There are, however, in 
the Castlecaldwell building, several architectural features, which 

* A curious monument in the shApe ot a stone fiddle was erected by Sir James to the- 
memory of Denis H'Qabe, Fiddler, who was drowned out of the *' St. Patrick" Barge, 
IMh Augvt, 1770. It wfll be found at the south wing of the castle. 




lead to the supposition of its having been at some former 
period an ecclesiastical structure. It was after the dissolution. 
of the Irish monasteries, and when their lands became forfeited 
to the crown, that the Gastlecaldwell property came into the 
possession of the Blennerhassett family. In 1611, King James 
made a grant of these lands to Sir £. Blennerhassett, and for 
many years afterwards the old monastery seems to have been 
nsed as a family residence, and received the name of CastlehasaeU. 
One of thefamily — ^yslieoTias^Blennerhasaett — owned and worked 
extensive iron mines on the shores of Lough Erne, where the ore 
was smelted, and sent away in a manufactured state.* This 
industry, together with others of a similar kind, was entirely 
apset by the rebellion of 1641.f In 1671, Sir Augustus Blenner- 
hassett sold the property to James CcddwelljWho was subsequently 
created a baronet. His son, Sir Henry, during his early life 
carried on business as a merchant in Ballyshannon, where he 
built the Custom House ; and upon the death of his father, went 
to reside on the property, which was from hence called Castle- 
eaJdwslL The house, which was in a rather dilapidated condition 
when it came into the hands of the Caldwells, was by them re- 
newed and partially rebuilt, though its original features seem to 
have been in the main, carefully preserved. The title of baronet 
in the Caldwell family descended in the following order, the two 
last named holding title only : — Sir James Caldwell, Bart.; Sir 
Henry Caldwell, Bart.; Sir John Caldwell, Bart.; Sir James 
Caldwell, Bart.; Sir John Caldwell, Bart, (grandfather to the 
present owner, John Caldwell Bloomfield, Esq.,) Sir John Cald- 
well, Bart. ; Sir Henry Caldwell, Bart,, at whose death the title 
became extinct. 

At the close of 1739 this country was visited with a frost of 
extraordinary length and severity. It extended into the year 
1740, lasting in all 108 days. A period of great scarcity and 

* Boates' National History of Ireland, 
t There were also Iron works at Garrison, in which more than 100 men (mostlj 
English), were employed. These were burned down in the Autumn of 1048 by some of 
the neighbouring clans. A portion of one of the Iron hammers is still preserved. 


distress succeeded, and it was at that time that General FoUiott^ 
the owner of Wardtown, decided to build Wardtown Castle, 
thereby giving employment to the distressed classes of the 
neighbourhood. The remuneration they received during the 
progress of the work was sixpence per day^ and their food. Con- 
sidering the value of money in those days, this was a liberal 
allowance, and fully equivalent to 2s. per day at the present 
time. Before the erection of Wardtown Castle, the Folliott 
family had a residence on their property there. In a ''Collection 
of Papers communicated to the Royal Society" by Thomas Moly- 
neux, M.D., F.R.S.B., the following passage occurs : — "In the 
year 1691, Major Folliott told me, that digging for marl near the 
town Ballymacward, where he lives, not far from Ballyshannon, 
he found buried ten foot under plain solid ground, a pair of these 
sort of horns (Megaceros), which he keeps still in his possession.'' 
•Oeneral Folliott, the builder of Wardtown Castle, was an 
ancestor of the present Colonel John Folliott, of Holybrook 
House, Co. Sligo, who still holds a portion of the lands of the 
old barons of Ballyshannon, and is descended from the same stock. 

Ballyshannon was in the last century an important military 
depot. Besides the infantry barracks on the left hand side of 
the bridge, and the cavalry barracks on the opposite side of the 
road, the Rock barracks seem to have been built prior to the year 
1800, when all three were in occupation together. A detachment 
of soldiers was also stationed for a time at Portnason. The 
cavalry barracks (which stood within the present market yard 
enclosure), was probably built with stones from O'Donnell's castle, 
but no vestige of it now remains, the ruins having been removed 
previous to the building of the railed wall which now separates 
the market yard from the street. 

The introduction of the military element into this town upon 
such an extensive scale, though not an unmixed good, nevertheless 
afforded a great impetus to local trade and enterprise, and 
caused large sums of money to circulate in the neighbourhood. 
The wine trade especially, became, under the patronage of the 


officers, an important and lucrative bnsiness, and large quantities^ 
of wine— port, sherry, claret, etc., etc. — were annnally imported 
direct by the local merchants, who, having established their re- 
putation, carried on a considerable trade, sending their wines to 
the inland counties and even to the southern parts of Ireland.^ 
Amongst those who were wine importers in the last century, was 
Archibald Murray, an extensive merchant whose perseverance^ 
and enterprise, owing to reverses in trade, did not result in an 
accumulated fortune. Erom one of his letter books, we glean 
some curious particulars of the way in which trade was carried 
on before the introduction of banking facilities. Money re- 
mittances were made by the purchase and transfer of bills of ex- 
change, which were obtained by the remitter from some outside 
party, and seldom represented the exact sum required to settle 
the transaction. Consignments of wine from Bordeaux and else- 
where, were occasionally paid for in kind by a return cargo of 
butter and grain. 

Notwithstanding the extent of the trade by sea to Ballyshannon 
in the last century, the bar was in those days, as it still is, a 
subject of anxiety to the merchant. There is, we believe, still 
in existence a map and survey, bearing the following title : ^^The 
survey and soundings of the Ship Channel from the Bar of 
Ballyshannon to Murray's Quay — taken at low water September 
23rd, 1778, by order of Archibald Murray, merchant of Bally- 
shannon." The following note is added as explanatory of thia 
survey : "The present course of the river at the bar, spreads 
over a crooked stony bottom, by which the current there lose* 
its force, and runs on the stony shore to the north side. It is 
therefore humbly proposed, that a wall or battery of stonea 
(which are very convenient) should be made on the dotted line^ 
A. C, viz. — from the Black Rock to the South Rock, being only 
60 perches, by which the current would leave all the stones to 
the north side, run in a direct confined course through a channel 
where there is nothing but sand for eight feet deep (proved), so 
that the water would then be as deep at the entrance of the 


!harboar, as^ in any other part of the channel aboye the black 
rocks, as was the case a few years since, when the current ran in 
the coarse now proposed, by nncommon great floods that winter, 
and mnst ever continne so, if confined or assisted in this manner, 
from the great current of fresh water always ranning ontwards. 
By this improvement, which could be made at a small cost of 
£2000, large ships might trade here at all tides and seasons, as 
the tides rise about 10 to 16 feet, so that BaUyshannon would 
very soon become a place of great trade, as well from its natural 
advantage of inland navigation of 50 miles, as from its situation 
contiguous to the fisheries, and for the export of beef, fish, butter, 
leather, and other produce. By the increase in trade, a small 
tax on shipping would very soon reimburse this inconsiderable 
expense of £2000. — (Signed) Archibald Murray." 

In the latter part of the last century, BaUyshannon possessed 
a large and well-assorted nursery — the only one in the County 
Donegal. The grounds were in the Knather^ or as it was then 
styled ^^ Nadir," and an extensive trade was done in supplying 
plants and shrubs to this neighbourhood, as well as the counties 
of Fermanagh, Leitrim, and Sligo. Unfortunately, the enterprise 
did not exist long into the present century, and the town is now 
tleprived of the benefit of a local nursery.* 

In the year 1800, "The Tyrhugh Farming Society" wasfounded* 
The first meeting was held in the house of Mrs. Pye, in Bally- 
shannon, on the first Monday of November. A committee of 
gentlemen was appointed to promote the following laudable 
objects : — A liaen market in^allyshannon ; to encourage good 
enclosures, and quickset hedges ; draining land and growing 
wheat; the improvement and watering of meadow land; reclama- 
tion of bog lands ; the cleanest and neatest farm houses, and 
best enclosed kitchen gardens; best sallow gardens, &c. How 
long this society continued to exert its beneficial influence upon 

* In 1836 there was a nursery in Gashel, which was furnished with a good collection 
of trees and flowering shrubs ; it seems, however, that the demand for these was not 
sufficient to encourage the continuance of the enterprise. 


ihe farming operatioDS of this neighbourhood we cannot say, 

but it is certain that a society having each nsefol and necessary 

objects in view is much wanted in onr midst at the present day, 

and the benefits which wonid arise from such a local institution, 

were it intelligently conducted, cannot be over estimated. 
Ballyshannon did not suffer much by the disturbed state of the 

country in 1798. It was about that period that the Rock 

Barracks were built, and a strong military force, both cavalry and 

infantry, were stationedhere. Theaccommodation afforded by the 

l)arracks at the bridge, and those on the rock, was not sufficient, 

«nd soldiers were posted at Portnason, and at Belleek. It was 

at this time that the Star Fort was constructed on MuUaghnashee, 

and cannon placed there. The town was regarded as a sale 

refuge from more disturbed localities, and numbers of people 

from Sligo and other parts flocked thither, where they remained 

till more peaceful times arrived. 

In October, 1798, a French frigate of 30 guns sailed into 

Donegal, where they intended to land, but the militia having 

been called out, and determined preparation for resistance being 

made by the inhabitants, the vessel beat a retreat. In their haste 

the chain of the anchor snapped, and the anchor still remains 

stuck in the mud, as a memento of this futile attempt at invasion. 



A LOCAL historical sketch would be incomplete were no particulars 
to be given of its former inhabitants. 

In the preceding chapters, mention has been incidentally made 
of several names, formerly well known in Ballyshannon. There- 
fore it is only necessary to give a short sketch of persons once 
residents of the town, who seem to call for special notice. 

Early in the last century, there lived in Ballyshannon a lady 
named Elizabeth Dixon, some of whose relatives are supposed to 
have been engaged in the wine trade, and to have resided in the 


Main Street, There was also another Dickson family liTing i» 
the town at the same time, the descendants of whom are still in 
this neighbom'hood, but the two families were in no way related 
to each other, though it appears from Bome existing documents,, 
that the first named Dixon family, sometimes at least, spelled 
their name DicksoUy which was the usual mode of spelling it in 
this district. It should, however, be remembered that there have 
been in past time, frequent instances of persons altering the 
mode of spelling their surnames, sometimes writing them cme way 
and sometimes another. 

Elizabeth Dixon seems to have left Ballyshannon about the, 
middle of the last century, and to have gone over to England, 
where she married a farmer named Wollestonecraft, and they 
appear to have resided for a time in the vicinity of London, where- 
on 27th April, 1759, was bom to them Afar^ WoUstonecrqft, who- 
was destined to become celebrated by the brilliancy and versatility 
of her literary talents ; the many romantic circumstances 
connected with her career, and finally by her marriage with WtU» 
iam Godwin, the Philosopher, Novelist, and Historian, and by her 
being the mother of Mary Chdwin^ who became the second wife 
of the poet Shelley. Amongst the many works of Mary 
Wollstonecraf t may be mentioned ^' Thoughts on the Education- 
of Daughters " (her first work), one on the French Revolution, 
which brought her into notoriety. " A Vindication of the Rights- 
of Woman/' A version of Lavater's Physiognomy; an interesting 
series of "Letters from Norway &c.'* Mary Wollstonecraf t's- 
daughter also inherited much of her mother's literary power, and 
proved a congenial companion and suitable wife to the poet 
Shelley. From anything that is known of WoUstonecraft, the 
husband of Elizabeth Dixon, it seems probable that it was from 
the mother's side that the daughter inherited her genius. 

Amongst the names associated with the trade of Ballyshannon 
in former times, was that of the Jennings family. The English 
branch of which spelt the name Jenyns* Francis Jennings, who 
was brother of Sir John Jennings or (Jenyns), the grandfather 


of Sarah, Dnchess of Marlborough, came from Somersetshire and 
settled in Ballyshannon in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth. 
His family became connected bj marriage with the Forbes, Major, 
Scanlan, and Babington families. His son, who bore the same 
christian name, was extensively engaged in the iron export trade, 
which in the reign of James I. was an important branch of 
business in Ballyshannon. In a former chapter reference was 
made to the Iron Works of Lough Erne, which were at the period 
of which we are speaking in full operation. The supply of iron 
in England did not at that time equal the demand, and con- 
sequently all the ore which could be supplied by this country, 
found a ready and profitable sale in the English market. Most 
of the iron produced by Donegal, Tyrone, and Fermanagh, found 
its way to Ballyshannon, where it was bought at about £11 per 
ton; from thence it was shipped to London, where it realized 
£17 per ton. Francis Jennings, junr. (son of this iron merchant), 
left Ballyshannon and settled in Stockholm, where he became an 
affluent man, and anaturalized Swedish nobleman. His son Johnre- 
ceivedin that country the title of "Knight of the Polar Star," and in 
company with his wife, visited Ballyshannon, his father's birthplace. 

Up to this very day the name continues in Sweden, the 
present representative of the family being John Gus, Ad. Mac- 
Jennings^ who is connected with one of the most extensive iron 
mines of Sweden, and is great-grandson of the Francis Jennings 
who left this town for Stockholm. 

The enormous wealth which accumulated in the family owed 
its origin, it is generally admitted, to the profits derived from 
their connexion with the iron trade in Ballyshannon and England, 
but owing to the wilful destruction of family papers by some in- 
terested persons, since the death of Wm. Jennings of Acton Hall, 
Suffolk, who died intestate in 1798, all traces of legal identifica- 
tion between the English and Lrish branches* are lost and a 
rightful owner has not been found for the stored-up wealth. 

* SeveTaJ of the descendants of the Irish branch, wh« hogKn their career in Ballyshannon^ 
sre still living, and occupy respectable and influential positions both in this country and 


Thonuxs Crawford^ the American sculptor, thongh claimed b j 
our transatlantic friends as a native of New York,* was born in 
Balljshannon. His father's name was Aaron Crawford, and his 
mother's Mary Gibson. At an early age he accompanied his 
parents to America, bnt he ever cherished a fond remembrance of 
his birthplace, and looked forward to the pleasure of revisiting it. 

He showed an early tnm for art, and learned to draw and to 
carve in wood. In his nineteenth year he was placed with a firm 
of monumental sculptors in New York. At the c^e of twenty, he 
went to Rome, and became a pupil of the famous Danish sculptor, 
Thomwaldsen. The first work that brought him into general 
notice was his "Orpheus" (1839); after which he produced 
"The Babes in the Wood," " Flora," "Sappho," "Vesta," "The 
Dancers," "The Hunter," etc. His bust of Josiah Quincy, is in 
the Boston Athenaeum; his equestrian statue of George Wash- 
ington, at Richmond, Virginia; his statue of Beethoven, in the 
Boston concert room; and he also did busts of Channing and 
Henry Clay, and a large number of bas-reliefs of scriptural 
subjects. For the capitol at Washington, Crawford executed 
the colossal figure of "Armed Liberty"; also figures for the 
pediments, and the bronze doors. He went to reside in Rome 
for a time, where his studio was a place of great attraction, and 
revisited America in 1844, in which year he married Miss Ward, 
an American banker's daughter. Li 1849 and in 1856 he was 
attacked by a tumour on his brain, which caused at last the loss 
of his- sight; he sought relief in Paris, but in vain; and coming 
to London for the same purpose, he died there on the 10th of 
October, 1857. His works are especially noticeable for invention 
and freshness. 

Another Ballyshannon man worthy of notice is Sir Robert 
Campbell^ Bart,^ who was born on the Rock, towards the close of 
the last century. His father, Mr. John Campbell, occupied a 
respectable position in this town, where he acquired some 

* According to the American accounts, he was bom at New York, llarcfa 22nd» 1814. 
The above account of his birth has been confinned by his relatiyes here, as weU as by 
the published statement of the sculptor's mother. 


property which still remains in the family. His son Robert left 
Ballyshannon when young, and went out to India, where he 
became connected with the East India Company, of which he was 
subsequently appointed a director. In 1831 he was created a 
liaronet, in recognition of his services in the promotion of Indian 
commerce. He spent the latter part of his life in London, and 
re- visited his native town, which, amid all his prosperity he was 
never ashamed to own; and during his public career in London, 
he always showed a disposition to lend a friendly hand to all his 
fellow-townsmen, whom he had the opportunity of advancing. 
He died in England at a ripe age, respected and beloved by all 
who knew him. 

A well-known personage in Ballyshannon was Tom Patten, a 
pensioner of the 28th Regiment, who died not very many years 
ago. The recollection of his tall gaunt figure and shambling 
•gait, is still fresh in the memory of many, but the exploit by 
which he distinguished himself while in active service, in the 
Peninsular War, is worthy of being recorded. 

When the regiment was on duty in Spain, and during the 
cessation of hostilities, at the barrier between the English and 
French forces, was a rivulet, and our soldiers had established an 
underhand trafl&c in tobacco and brandy with the French, in the 
following manner; — a large stone was placed in that part of the 
rivulet screened by the wood, opposite to a French sentry, on 
which our soldiers used to put a canteen with a quarter dollar, 
for which it was very soon filled with brandy. One afternoon, 
/about dusk, Tom Patten had put down his canteen with the 
usual money in it, and retired; but though he returned several 
times no canteen was there. He waited till the moon rose, but 
;still found nothmg on the stone. When it was near morning, 
Tom thought he saw the same sentry there, who was on duty 
when he put his canteen down; so he sprang across the stream, 
seized the unfortunate Frenchman, wrested his firelock from him^ 
and actually shaking him out of his accoutrements, recrossed, 
Towing he would keep them till he got his brandy. Two or three 


lionrs afterwards, a flag of truce was displayed on the French side- 
of the barrier, and an officer of the regiment haying gone down,, 
found the officer of the French picqnet in a state of great alarm,, 
saying that a most extraordinary circumstance had occurred 
(relating the adventure), and stating that if the sentry's arms- 
were not inmiediately returned, his own commission would be 
forfeited, as well as the life of the poor sentry. A sergeant was 
at once sent to the picquet-house to search for the articles, when 
Tom Patten came up, scratching his head and saying "he had 
them in pawn, for a canteen of brandy, and a quarter dollar!" 
The arms were at once given up to the French officer, who was 
delighted to get them back so easily. The Frenchman, stepping 
behind, put two five-franc pieces into Patten's hand. Tom how- 
ever was not to be bribed by an enemy, and returned the money. 
He was then put into confinement, And tried by court martial^ 
"which sentenced him to receive three hundred lashes. When the 
time came for the carrying out of the punishment, Tom was 
brought out, and his sentence read in presence of the assembled 
zegiments ; the General remarked upon the nature of the offence, 
and the possible consequence of Patten's imprudence, but he said 
that, having taken into consideration the gallantry of the offender 
on former occasions, at the passage of the Douro, and Talavera,. 
he was resolved to remit his sentence. On Tom's release he got 
three hearty cheers from his company for his good fortune. 

In the last century, and even at the beginning of the present 
one, duels were of frequent occurrence. A slight dispute was- 
often followed by a challenge, which was always accepted, and in 
some quiet corner, attended by their seconds, the combatants 
settled their "affairs of honour," too often with deadly result. 

At the beginning of the present century theatrical performances, 
which were largely patronized by the military, were frequently 
given in Ballyshannon ; and Lady Morgan^ then a young girl, 
accompanied by her father Owenson^ performed in the town» 
After one of these entertainments in the spring of 1802, a dispute 
lurose between Lieut. McGovem^ of the Northumberland Regiment 


•of Infantry, then stationed here, and Geo. Henderson, an attorney; 
The qnarrel resulted in a chaUenge, and early on the morning oi 
the 2nd March, the two combatants, attended by their seconds, 
met in a field on the riverside at Lapnta. The signal was giyen 
(the dropping of a handkerchief), and Henderson's shot took 
deadly effect — Lieut. McGovem was killed. The duel was 
witnessed by many bystanders, and henceforth the field was known 
as McGoverrCs Meadow. 

The body of the fallen man was brought to Ballyshannon, and 
buried with military honours in Mullaghnashee. He was a 
favourite in his regiment and great sorrow was felt amongst his 
comrades for his untimely end. The anger of the soldiers against 
Henderson waxed so hot that they attacked his house in Castle 
Street, and he had to escape from his dwelling to avoid summaiy 
vengeance being wreaked upon him. 

A tombstone, with a curious epitaph,* was placed over the 
.grave of McGovem by his brother ofl&cers. 

Another duel was fought on the island of Inis-samer, but 
neither party was wounded ; and a duel vntk swords was fought 
in the town, but was brought to an abrupt termination through 
the intervention of a lady, who appeared on the scene and dis- 
armed the belligerents. 

In the last century flourished the ^* Ballyshannon Union Hunt," 
and an interesting memento of its existence is still preserved in 
a large punch jug of elegant shape, upon which are portrayed 
scenes from the hunting field, and the initials F. G. (Francis 
Gillespie, who was master of the hounds, and lived at Danby). 
This jug was specially made in China, and was brought over from 
that country at a time when the Chinese ports were closed ta 
European commerce. While speaking of hunts, mention should 
be made of the exploit of a gentleman formerly well-known here 
— Kit Allingham. One day in the winter time, while hunting a fox 
in the Knather district, rei/nard bent his course towards the 
river, a little below Lapnta; the hounds and riders foUowed for 

* See Chapter on Parochial History. 


swlifle, but Kit Allingham pressed forward his horse, breasted 
tlie stream and crossed over to the opposite bank. 

A. little below this point of the river was the scene of another 
curious equestrian exploit. In the Knather, not far from the 
main road, lived, towards the close of the eighteenth century^ 
a tall swarthy woman who was locally known as Kathleen 
Bwee^i.e.<, Yellow Kathleen; she dwelt alone in a small cottage, 
her only companions being a white mare, and a couple of large 
dogs, all of whom attended her in her rambles abroad. Kathleen 
rode (without side saddle) and bareback; and one day, wanting 
to get her mare shod, and the smithy being on the other side of 
the water, she crossed the river a little above the rapids, hence 
they have since borne the name ^^Kathlem's FaUJ* 

Another feminine name associated with our river, but of a very 
different class, is that of ^^O'More's Fair Daughter" or "The 
Hawk of Ballyshannon.'^ This is the title of a song written and 
composed by Carolan, the great Irish musician. It was finely 
translated into English by Thomas Furlong; the ode, which 
contains seventy-one lines, is too long for insertion here, but as a 
specimen, we may quote the following:— 

"Bejoice ! rejoice ! with harp and voice. 
For the Hawk of Erne is near ns ; 
She comes with a smile our cares to beguile 
She comes with a glance to cheer as : 
Kot loved and lovely alone is she, 
Bttt bounteous as high-born dames should be. 
On she moves, while the eyes of all 
Hail the ground where her footsteps fall ; 
Sweet are her tones as the measured store. 
Which the weary weary bee 
Culls from the flowers he lingers o'er 
When he wanders far and free. 
Sweeter far than the cuckoo's lay 
That rings on the ear on a summer's day ; 
But come, let this the rest declare 
In the bumper flowing o'er, 
We pledge the fairest of all thelf air 
The daughter of Old O'More." ♦ 

♦ See Hardiman's Iriah Minstrelsy, vol. L 


The tone of Garolan's '^Hawk of BaUjshannon'' is a fine 
stirring air, with the genuine Irish ring in it. A composition, 
entitled the Donegal Polka^ which introduces Garolan's original, 
was published by Mr. Oliver, while bandmaster of the Donegal 

The following poem, the original of which is in Spanish, was 
written by Dr. D. Joaquin Lorenzo Yillanueya, chaplain to the 
King of Spain, and Knight of the Royal and Distinguished Order 
of Carlos III. Yillanueva left Spain owing to the political 
troubles of the period, and lived for some time in Ireland. He 
wrote and published while in this country a work on Irish history, 
also a volume of Spanish poetry, which was printed by sub- 
scription in Dublin, in 1833. 

During his residence in Ireland, he must have visited Bally- 
shannon, and the view from the summit of Sheegus Hilly its sides 
shining with golden gorse, the town, and "the river-tide," 
separating this "mountainous slope" from the great Dartry 
range beyond, seems to have suggested 


"Ballyshannon, flowery Tillage, 
Flowery Tillage, once my home ! 
Peaceful rest among thy mountains, 
That afar off see me roam. 
Left my little flock for ever-^ 
Never by the river-tide 
Shall I tend the merry kidling 
Leaping by its mother's side ; 
On the upland pasture never 
Pass the glowing noon away. 
Shaded 'neath the wavering wild rose 
Looking o'er the dreary bay. 
Bear I thesel alone for dower— 
Flowery village, once my home ! — 
Sweet old times and songs of childhood 
In my breast, where'er I roam. 

* TnuDdated from the Spanish by Dr. Oeorge Sigerson, DubliD, to whom we are in- 
dabted lor the above purueuhun reqpectiDg yillanueva^ 


On this moantain slope above thee. 
Where I spent my happy time, 
'Mid the fruit my hands had planted 
Gladdened by thy distant chime. 
Here, ere leaving thee for ever. 
Here I light a fire — ^the last, 
'Mid my cot's down-broken roina 
And the ruins of the past. 
Nought remains of all my labour — 
Nought but broom and nettles rank. 
Thistle, gorse, and wild weed claster 
Over meadow, field, and bank. 
Burst in flames dry wood and bramble. 
Light the ruins of my home. 
And the sad steps of its master. 
Who afar off now must roam. 

Seeking some fair spot of safety. 
O'er the hills my path shall lie. 
Sleeping, mayhaps, in their bosoms^ 
'Neath the vigil of the sky — 
Sleeping, mayhaps, by the fireside. 
Of some shepherd, rough and kind. 
With my heart gone back in slumber 
To the land I left behind ; 
Or it may be in the valleys. 
Wander through the gentle spring. 
Tilling 'mid the lowland gardens. 
When green leaves are opening ; 
Or upon the moving waters. 
Seek the good gifts of the sea^ 
'Till another tempest coming, 
Drive me off, as now from thee. 

But amid the cities never. 
Never shall my pathway lie^ 
Where great walls shut out the mountains, 
And dark smoke the holy sky. 
Ballyshannon, flowery village. 
Flowery village once my home. 
Peaceful rest among thy mountains. 
That afar off see me roam." 


In by-gone days there liyed a race of musicians in Ireland, 
ivhich have become extinct. For sach there was always an open 
door and a hearty welcome. They were received and treated as 
honoured guests, and in return, charmed the ears of the company 
with their performance on the pipes or harp. Macdonndl^ a 
famous Irish piper, lived in great style, and kept servants, grooms, 
and hunters, etc. His pipes were small, and of ivory, tipped with 
silver and gold. One day there was a large dinner party in 
Cork, and Macdonnell was sent for to play for the company 
during dinner; a table and chair were placed for him on the 
landing outside the room, a bottle of claret and a glass on the 
table, and a servant waiting behind the chair designed for him, 
the door left wide open. He made his appearance, took a rapid 
survey of the preparation for him, filled his glass, stepped to the 
dining-room door, looked into the room and said, ^^Mr. Grant, 
your health and company!'' drank it off, threw half -a-crown on 
his table, saying to the servant, ^^ There, my lad, is two shillings 
for my bottle of wine, and keep the sixpence for yourself." He 
ran out of the house, mounted, his hunter and galloped off, f oUowed 
by his groom!! Of this race of musicians, was Patrick Haltfj 
the gentleman piper of Ballyshannon, a skilful performer, who 
was much sought after, in the society of the neighbourhood, in the 
latter part of the last century. Haly was a burgess of the cor- 
poration of Ballyshannon. He was bom in 1748, and died in 
1813. *Haly, like others of his class, was a jovial fellow and 
fond of good living. He was a frequent visitor at Castle- 
Caldwell, and the sound of his pipes often enlivened the musical 
parties which Sir James Caldwell gave in the " St. Patrick" 
barge on Lough Erne. Some local rhymster has perpetuated 
the remembrance of Haly's visits to Castlecaldwell in a " song '' 
which was at one time a great favourite, but is now almost for- 
gotten. The following verse will be sufficient to show the 
character of the composition: — 

* An interestiDff portrait in oils of Haly is still in existence. In it he is represented 
as playing the gmtar. 

94 BioGSArmcAi. and lttesajbt notices. 

" With his pipes and songs 
And chanter longs. 
He sits in high decornm, 
And at his ase* he snnffs and plays, 
And pushes about the jomm. 
Amongst the officers quartered in the old barrack at the bridge^ 
in the last century, was the Hon. Robert Stewart, afterwards 
Lord CasiUreagh. An officer's wife, known as the " Green Lady'* 
(from the colour of her dress), was said to have fallen by the hand 
of her husband, while in this barrack, and many strange stories 
were whispered about the house being haunted. Whether or not 
Lord Gastlereagh had his imagination excited by these rumours, 
we know not, but it is certain he related several strange circum- 
stances many years after, at a dinner party in Paris, one of those- 
present bemg Sir Walter Scott, who afterwards referred to it in 
bis wTitmgs. 

The circumstance is graphically described in a poem entitled 
the "Goblin Child of Ballyshannon," by William Allingham: — 
''A Begiment, filing row by row. 
One evening ninety years ago. 
As wintry dusk was drawing late. 
Through Ballyshannon's old bridge-gate. 
Changed pass-words with the pacing gnard. 
Left-wheeled into the barrack-yard. 
And halted willingly—^for tired 
The men were, drooping^ soaked, and mirod ; 
And ev'n the highest in command. 
With trembling knee and fevered hand. 
Felt on his horse almost as jaded 
And glad to end the march as they did. 

Ko wonder then that he withdrew 
Betimes to bed ; and though ^twas tnie^ 
His quarters here proved strange enough ; 
Snatched as they seemed, with trimming rough, 
From long disuse ; yet in a pile 
Heaped on the hearth in good old style, 

* The local way of sotinding the word ease. 


Bogwood and tarf with jovial roar 
Threw ruddy blaze on wall and floor, 
And the new-comer thought he might. 
On such a fagged November night, 
Ev'n in a rougher place have found 
A door to sleep's Enchanted Ground. 

Tet when he tried, he tried in vain, 

A dim, fantastic, endless train 

Of stirring fancies vexed his brain ; 

Till as the weary hours went by 

He ever grew, he knew not why. 

More anxious, and his heart was sick, 

And the pulse in his pillowed ear beat thick. 

The wide half -furnished barrack-room 

Was full of heavy midnight gloom. 

Save when the sinking coals gave birth 

To smouldering flashes on the hearth. 

And from the single darkness made 

A thousand ghostly forms of shade, 

Ob which the waker gazed and gazed 

Until his thoughts grew mazed and mazed. 

And down at length his aching lids were weighed.. 

When suddenly — ^Oh Heaven ! —the fire 
Leaped up into a dazzling pjre. 
And boldly from the brightened hearth 
A Naked Child stepped forth. 

With a total, frozen start, 
A bound — ^a pausing of the heart, 
He saw. It came across the floor, 
Its size increasing more and more 
At every step, until a dread 
Gigantic Form stood by his bed. 

Glaring for some seconds' space 

lX>wn into his rigid face — 

Back it drew, with steadfast look. 

Dwindling every step it took, 

Till the Naked OhOd returned 

To the fire, which brightly burned 

To greet it : then black sudden gloom 


Sank upon the silent room. 
Silent, Baye the monotone 
Of the river flomong down 
Through the arches of the bridge. 
And beneath his casement ledge. 

This happened when our island still 
Had nests of goblins left, to fill 
Each mouldy nook and comer close, 
Like^spiders in an ancient house. 
And this one read within the face 
Intruding on its dwelling-place. 
Lines of woe, despair, and blood. 
By spirits only understood; 
As mortals now can read the same 
In the letters of his name. 
Who in that haunted chamber lay. 
When we call him — Castlereagh." * 



In a former chapter reference has been made to the extensive 
trade carried on in the importation of wine and the exportation 
of fish and iron from this port. 

Notwithstanding the serions obstacle which the Bar presented 
to the successful carrying on of the shipping business, the port 
of Ballyshannon was, from its proximity to Lough Erne, in for- 
mer times the channel of supply for the large inland districts of 
Fermanagh and Cavan. Its material advantages for such have 
been well expressed by a writer in the " Gazateer of Ireland.** 
" Ballyshannon is favourably situated for trade : it occupies the 
position of the capital of a considerable extent of rich agricul- 
tural country; it stands at the junction of the sea with a water- 
line which descends from a great distance inland, and has very 
large lacustrine expansions and communications by still-water 

* 1£60.— The room is stOl known m Lord CattUnagh't Chamber, 


navigation with a great portion of the north of Ireland; and it 
overlooks the grand sea-path to America, and seems to court 
much of the commerce arising from the inter-commnnication of 
that great continent with Europe." 

For more than a hnndred years past, various schemes have 
been proposed for deepening and otherwise improving the Bar. 
In the spring of 1785, a survey and report of the Bar was made 
by Richard Evans, an engineer of eminence in his day. His 
proposal was to direct the course of the river to the south side of 
the rocks, by which plan he expected to have from eight to ten 
ieet at low water^ on the Bar. The entire cost of his specification, 
including the necessary breakwater, was £2,080. He also pro- 
posed the construction of a canal between the harbour and Lough 
Erne, and this part of his proposal was attempted, for in 1789, 
a company was formed under the style of the " Lough Erne and 
Ballyshannon Navigation Company," and a sum of money was 
granted by government for the purpose, but the rebellion of 
1798 put an end to the project, and a solitary lock and some 
rough cuttings at Belleek are aU that remain of the enterprise. 

In 1832, Robert Stevenson and Son, the eminent engineers, 
were employed to make a survey of our Bar and Harbour, with 
a view to tho improvement of the port, and the construction of a 
tramway to Belleek. Their plan was simply the deepening of 
the Bar and "Patch," to the extent of three feet, and the removal 
of a portion of the Black Rock. The estimated cost of this work 
was £5,561 2s. The cost of extension of the quay was esti- 
mated at £397 2s. The tramway by which they proposed to 
connect the harbour with Lough Erne, was to commence with a 
deep cutting upon leaving the harbour. It was then, by means^ 
of a small bridge or tunnel of 60 feet in length, to pass under 
the Main Street, immediately above the Barracks, and follow the 
north side of the river, crossing it at the Mullans by a bridge of 
four arches, and terminating at the quay of Belleek. The esti- 
mated cost of this work was X18,133 4s. 9d. Followiag up 
Messrs. Stephenson's proposals, an effort was made by those 


interested in the trade of the town to obtain a grant from go^vm- 
ment; this however was refused, and Colonel ConoUy^ with tba;^ 
liberality characteristic of his family, expended from his private 
resources upwards of dS5,000 in ranoTiB^ rocks and stones frooi 
ihe Bar month. Many thousand tons of stone were blasted and 
taken off the *' Patch," which was therefore considerably deepened, 
and a permanent improvement did certainly result from this ex- 
penditure, but unfortunately the requisite funds were not forth- 
coming for the completion of the scheme. 

At present the following are the soundings on the Bar: — 

Low water at springs, 3^ feet; high water at springs, 18| to 
14 feet. 

Low water at neaps, 4 feet; high water at neaps, 9 feet. 

In 1852, by order of the Board of Public Works, a fresh 
survey of the Bar and Harbour was made by Mr. William 
Forsyth, G.E. This gentleman's proposal was the erection of a 
circular pier, faced with cut stone, on the South Rock, of 40 feet 
average diameter, and rising 10 feet in height above the level of 
ordinary spring tides, and to connect this pier with the Black 
Bock by a mole of rough blocks of stone. This plan would do 
away with the north entrance, and render the south entrance deep 
enough to admit vessels of 14 or 15 feet draught. The esti- 
mated cost of this work was £10,000; and besides, it was re- 
commended that a small Lighthouse should be put on the round 
pier head, for the guidance of vessels entering the port at night. 
The necessity for this will at once appear when it is remembered 
that the time of high water at spring tides being six o'clock, in 
winter it is dark at the very time vessels can cross the Bar. Tho 
<*onstruction of a protecting breakwater on the south side of the 
entrance was also proposed, and there is little doubt that had 
Mr. Forsyth's plans been carried out by the Board of Trade, and 
supplemented by a small tug steamer, Ballyshannon would now 
occupy an important position amongst the seaport towns of 
Ireland, instead of having in a great measure to draw its supplies 
from Derry, Dundalk, etc. 


Amongst the trades aud occnpations fonnerly carried on in 
BallyshannoD, the following have fallen into disnse — fish salters, 
bacon cnrers, salt manufacturers, brewers, distillers, soap boilers, 
gun makers, confectioners, nurserymen, breeches makers, dyers, 
weavers, linen dealers, iron exporters, direct wine merchants, and 
tobacco and snuff manufacturers. To a decreased population, 
and an incretised facility of communication with the large manu- 
facturing centres, this decay of trades is mainly owing, but steam 
and improved machinery have also abolished many of the old 

In the last century there was a distillery at the head of the 
town (at the foot of the "Kiln Well" lane), some of the ruins 
.still remain. Owing to its distance from the water it was ill 
adapted for its purpose, and fell into disuse. 

The Old Manor Mill stood on the south side of the fall, and 
it was here that tenants were obliged by their leases, according 
to ancient usage, to bring their com to be ground. Upon the 
site of this mill, was erected by the "Bally shannon Distillery 
Company " a large building, now a roofless ruin, and in it was 
•carried on an extensive trade. The distillery began to work in 
1827, and ceased in 1852. While in full operation, upwards of 
100,000 gallons of whiskey were manufactured annually. 

Formerly Ballyshannon possessed a large Custom House staff, 
whose head quarters were in the house built by Sir H. Caldwell, 
in the 17th century. In those days of timber and sugar duties 
the customs tariff was so extensive that the shipping trade of the 
town gaye abundant employment to these of&cials. A house 
stood below the gas works, in the "Boat House hole," in which 
sugar and other commodities were bonded, and the approach to 
this was formerly called the "Dirty Causeway.** The " bonding 
yards" and stores on the Mall all testify to the shipping enter- 
prises of by-gone days. In 1831, 61 coas^g, and 12 foreign 
vessels entered the port, in all 5,600 tons. 

The following, amongst other articles, were then imported: — 
New York, pot ashes; Barilla, oak bark; coals — Liverpool, 


Kendal, Scotch, and Malting; coffee, dyestnffs, logwood, madder, 
shnmac, corned herrings; Swedish, Russian, and British iron, 
lead, oils, pitch, rosin, slates, sugar, Memel timber, American 
timber, oak, mahogany, tallow, tar, tobacco. Besides these, 
extensive importations of Norway timber were occasionally made. 

In the summer of 1832, the terrible plague of cholera broke 
out in this town and neighbourhood. It first appeared at 
Bnndoran, and it was supposed the disease was carried there by 
a smack from Liverpool which called to take in salmon. The 
mortality of Bally shannon during that dreadful visitation was 
small, compared with many neighbouring towns, but the panic 
which prevailed at that time, gave a serious check to the trade 
of the town. The total number of deaths from cholera in 
Ballyshannon was 93; recoveries, 152. 

In 1835, the exports were 10,764 quarters of oats, value, 
JB11,130, and the imports amounted to X9,524. 

The salmon and eel fisheries have been from the time of the 
O'Donnells down to the present, of great local importance^ 
From the time "Speaker" ConoUy purchased the property from 
the Folliot family, the Erne fisheries remained in the possession 
of the Conollys as landlords till their recent sale. Amongst 
those who worked them were Mr. Major (Provost of Bally- 
shannon); Mr. Daniel; The Right Hon. Thomas ConoUy; 
Messrs. Eichardson and Little; Lady Louisa ConoUy; Mr- 
Edmonds; Dr. S. Shell; and lastly S. Sheil, Esq., M.D., who held 
them till the fisheries were sold in the Landed Estates Court to- 
the present owners Messrs. Moore and Alexander. 

Before the days of railways and steamers, most of the salmon 
were salted and cured before being exported to England and the- 
Mediterranean ; in later times when the ice-packing system was 
introduced, they were shipped in smacks for England, some of 
which made the ruip from Ballyshannon to Liverpool in two days 
and the eels were transmitted thence in well boats, a kind of 
lighter containing large tanks or wells, for the preservation o^ 
the eels, and when railway communication reached Enniskillen^ 


carts ladea with boxes used to start every day from the fish 
house to catch the earliest train for Dondalk — the point of ship- 
ment. The following is the weight of salmon caught [half a 
century ago: — 






































This shows the average annual weight of fish taken, for the seven 
years enumerated, to be about sixty tons. As many as 2,000 
fish have been taken in one day, and 400 in a single haul. The 
average weight is about 9 lbs. but many much heavier fish are 
often caught. From time immemorial, Ballyshannon has been a 
favourite resort of gentlemen fond of the "gentle art" of Isaac 
Walton, and no inconsiderable sum is circulated in the town 
through their annual visits. Sir Humphrey Davy^ who more than 
once enjoyed the pleasure of angling on our river, thus mentions it 
in his Salmonia — "I should place the Erne, at Ballyshannon, as 
now the first river for salmon fishing from the banks with a rod, in 
the British dominions ; and the excellent proprietor of it, Dr. Sheil, 
is liberal and courteous to aU gentlemen fly fishers. » » • I 
have taken in the Erne two or three large salmon in the morning.'* 
In another part of his book, Sir Humphrey describes the peculi- 
arities of the Gillaroo trouty and mentions having caught them at 
Lough Melvin. The trade of fly4ying has always been profitably 
followed in Ballyshannon, and the town has always possessed 
persons well skilled in the mysteries of the art ; indeed without 
the assistance of such experts, who know every curve and pool 
in the river, and who watch the atmospheric changes with aa 
mucb assiduity as the staff of the Meteorological office, it would 
be impossible for strangers to obtain good sport* 



In former times, the mannfactare of salt was carried on here^ 
both at Portnason and Milltown. The salt water used in the 
process, was bronght from the Bar in large boats constructed for 
the purpose, and it was no uncommon thing to see one of these 
lumbering crafts towed canal-fashion to Portnason by a horse, 
who walked or waded on the edge of the sands. The importation 
of English salt, long ago put an end to this local industry. 

The weaver's loom and the housewife's spiiming wheel, once so 
common in our neighbourhood, have become scarce, and In a few 
years more, the spinning wheel, once regarded as a necessary piece 
of furniture in the country house, will be regarded as an anti- 
quarian relic. In the early part of the present century a linen 
market was in existence here, and the weavers brought their 
webs to the market which was presided over by an inspector and 
stamper^ both of whom were appointed by the "Board of Trustees 
of the linen and hempen manufacturers." These officials were 
for the purpose of preventing frauds, such as *'fine laps," "short 
lengths," "thick selvages," and "uneven cloth," and the market 
;stamp was impressed on perfect pieces onli/^ as the stampers had 
to allow compensation whenever their seal was found on the 
defective pieces. In 1828 this Board was dissolved, and the 
trade appears to have dwindled away afterwards. More than 
twenty years ago a scheme was set on foot for the establishment 
•of a spinning mill on a large scale at Laputa, and a considerable 
sunr was expended in the erection of a suitable building, which 
however was never completed, and the building has since been 
tenanted by a body of rooks, who aJone disturb the silence of 
this gloomy-looking structure. It is much to be regretted that 
dome one of capital and enterprise has not taken this building, 
and utilised the vast water power, second to none in the country, 
which has so long been allowed to run waste. The building 
would be leased for ever, we understand, ybr little or nothing to 
anyone undertaking to establish a factory in it; and considering 
the small outlay which would be requisite to complete the edifice 
and water course, and its close proximity to both railway and 


seaport, the snccess of such an enterprise, if undertaken by com- 
petent hands, would be certain, and the benefit to the surrounding 
neighbourhood substantial. 

The manufacture of kelp^ a substance formerly much used in 
^lass-making and soap-boiling, but now chiefly used for the 
production of iodine^ is carried on about our shores, and is ex- 
ported annually from Ballyshannon. The marine plants from 
which the kelp is made, are collected and dried in the open air ; 
they are then thrown into a kelp kiln (a kind of grave-like ex- 
cavation, lined with large stones), and burned. The melted 
alkali the bottom, and when cold, forms the hard 
I)lui8h mass called kelp. 

In the first half of the present ' century Ballyshannon was in 
direct and frequent communication with America and Norway> 
as well as other foreign countries, and many of the vessels whick 
plied this trade were owned by Ballyshannon merchants. The 
brisk demand for building materials which then existed, gave a 
^reat impetus to local enterprise, and large consignments of 
timber from Bussia, Norway, and Canada, were frequently being 
received. Ballyshannon, it should be remembered, was at that 
time the chief emporium for Fermanagh and the neighbourmg 
' counties. One important result of this direct communication 
with America was the facilities it offered for emigration; and 
many were the persons who left their native place, and sought 
a home in the new world. In 1831 the brig "Mayflower/* 
belonging to Mr. James McGowan, an enterprising merchant of 
Ballyshannon, made two trips to America, conveying a numh^r 
of passengers. On one of these occasions she accomplished the 
run in eigkken days. The "Josephine" also brought away a 
large number of emigrants in 1S34. 

In the spring of 1836, the brig ^' Jane" left our port for 
Quebec, with 100 passengers, all of whom were industrious 
iarmers and mechanics. She was comfortably berthed and 
provided. The brigs " Hope " and « Charlotte " (the latter 400 
tons), both bound for St. John*s, N. B. also left our shores the 


same year with many passengers. In the following year th& 
*^Samael Freeman" and the ''Elizabeth" sailed from this port 
to St. John's with passengers. 

The tide of emigration swept from our midst many of our 
ablest artisans and laboorers, and made a serious reduction io 
the population. In 1831, the census of the town was close on 
4,000. In 1841, 4,307. In 1831, the population of the Kilbarron 
section was 2,385, and in 1841, the same portion contained, 
2,423. It is a curious fact that though the figures are larger in 
1841 than in 1831, the town contained fewer houses, when th& 
number of inhabitants was at its highest point. In 1831, there^ 
were 597 houses; in 1841, 409 houses.* Since 1841, the popu- 
lation steadily decreased. In 1861, it was 3,197; while in 1871, 
the date of the last census, it had fallen to 2,969. 

The merchants and those interested in the progress of the towrr 
had long felt the want of banking facilities and the difficulty of 
transacting business without such an establishment; and in 1834,^ 
a numerous and influential meeting was held ^^for the purpose of 
adopting such measures as might appear essential for the for* 
mation of a bank ia Ballyshannon.** A committee was formed for 
the purpose of arranging with the Bank of Ireland or Provincial 
Bank for the establishment of a local branch, and the following^ 
resolution, amongst others, was carried: — "That the want of a 
banking establishment in this eictensive and populous district has 
been productive of much injury and inconvenience to trade, and 
is daily becoming more so. That Ballyshannon being by much 
the largest town in the county of Donegal, having a considerable 
import and export trade, in the midst of an extensive and populous 
district, where numerous fairs are held, and the principal inter* 
course between Connaught and the north takes place; having a 
Custom House, an Excise Office, an extensive Distillery, and 
being an important Military Station, it has decided advantages 
(even at present), over any other town in the comity for the 
forming of such an establishment.'' 

* Oaxeteer of IrelantL 


The result of this meeting was that the Directors of the 
Provincial Bank of Ireland established a branch in the following 
year, which has since that time contributed much to the pros- 
perity and well-being of the town and surrounding district. 
The bank commenced its operations on the Mall, but soon re- 
moved to the more central and commodious premises which it 
«till occupies. In 1869, a branch of the Belfast Bank was also 
opened in Ballyshannon, and its business is now conducted in the 
handsome structure which that company has recently erected. 
The clock-tower, facing north and south, is a conspicuous object, 
«,nd the bell on which the hours are struck, can be heard at a 
considerable distance outside the town. 

The prices obtained for market produce in Ballyshannon forty 
years ago, offer a great contrast to present rates. 

In May, 1833, the following are a few examples of the prices 
of commodities: — 

Potatoes (old). Id. per stone; new potatoes, 3d.; beef and 
mutton, 5d. and 5Jd. per lb.; lamb, 3s. 6d. per quarter; firkin, 
butter, 8d. per lb.; fresh butter (18 ounces) 6d. per lb.; Bally- 
.shannon whiskey, 7s. 8d. per imperial gallon. 

The prices of coals, both English and Scotch, were about the 
same as at present. Tea and sugar were considerably dearer, 
And consequently but little used in comparison with present con- 

In olden times there were not so many fairs held in the town; 
Jour only in the year, viz., on April 4th; the Tuesday before 
June 11th; September 18th; and Tuesday before November 11th. 
The fair held on September 18th was, as it still remains, the great 
•event of the year, and in former times was much larger than it 
now is . It began on the 1 8th, and was continued for the following 
•days. The first day was principally devoted to cattle sales, and 
the following ones to lighter merchandise; pedlars and hawkers 
tised to bring their goods from all parts of Ireland, and con- 
eiderable sales were made at this gala time. The great crowd* 


irhicli used to congregate at the harvest fair, often made it diffi^-> 
colt to preserve the peace of the town, for it should be remem- 
bered that Balljshannon was not, even half a century ago, the 
peaceable law-abiding place it now is. On more than one occasion 
a detaahment of soldiers had to be called into requisition to quell 
the riotous mob at the fair; and in the 1835 fair, the police wer» 
attacked by a "mob of idlers" who took their bayonets from them 
and beat them desperately. 

Education and enlightenment have done much during the past 
fifty years, to smooth down what was rugged and uncouth, and 
as they become more widely diffused in our midst, a further im- 
provement will be sure to follow. 

Before the era of steam, the Dublin mail did not arrive till 
late in the afternoon. In 1824, the postal arrangements wer& 
as follows : — 

Arrival of Dublin mail every day (except Monday), 3 minutes 
past 5 in the evening. Dispatch every morning (except Friday),. 


OflBce hours, 7 in the morning till 11 at night. 

Reference having been made to various branches of industry 
which have become extinct in our district, it is only proper to* 
mention those still in operation around us, besides the ordinary 
handicrafts common to every town. These are, flour milling, meal 
grinding, flax scutching, brick making, lime burning, &c., &c. 
The only mill at Ballyshannon which is worked by the vast water 
power of the Erne, is that of Mr. Neely, who supplies the town 
and surrounding neighbourhood with flour and meal, and has 
also, on the same premises, improved machinery for sawing all 
kinds of timber. There are also some small mills at the abbey 
which are kept busily going; and though not belonging to the-- 
town, the porcelain works of Messrs. D, McBimey and Co. of 
Belleek, deserve special mention, as the first and only establish- 
ment of the kind in Ireland. 

These works have been erected at an enormous outlay, and 
liave turned out work second to none in the kingdom. The- 



merits of their manufacture have been acknowledged in England^ 
France, and America, to all of which consignments are being 
sent, and it is to be hoped that the proprietors may reap a rich 
harvest of profit, in return for their spirit and enterprise. Much 
of the raw material for the Belleek ware is imported to Ballj- 
shannon, where the proprietors have a quay and depot. 

The general aspect of the town has of late years decidedly 
improved; the shipping has iocreased;* the markets are larger 
than formerly; more money is being circulated throughout the 
country. With these indications, we may fairly indulge the hope 
that the ebb-tide of our prosperity has turned; that coming years 
may bring fresh capital and enterprise to our depopulated town; 
and that the ruined houses (unfit for human habitation), which 
now mar the appearance of the streets, may be superseded by 
respectable and substantial houses, the existence of which would 
induce new comers to take up their permanent abode in our midst. 



Those who are interested in the relics of the past ages c^ Ireland, 
will find in our neighbourhood msmy existing memorials of pre- 
historic and early Christian times. Those of greatest antiquity 
belong to the class of sepulchral mommmts. In ancient times tl^ 
remains of the dead were disposed of by inhumation^ or burying 
the body whole, and by cremation or urn-burial, which existe(l 
extensively in the North of Ireland. 

Of cromUch8j'\ (supposed to be derived from a Celtic word 
<Tom, }.«. crocied-^hoYfed or bending — lech a stone), our district 

* The imports by sea are now oyer 3,000 tons annuaDy. 

t Hie term Cromlech , as applied to this class of Irish Antiquities, is not an old Irisli 
word and is not found m any of the old writings. Indeed it is not appropriate, as it is 
believed that these (^dopean tombs were not constructed with sloping r0o/«, but that 
the incline which the roofing flags generally show is due to the sinking of the ground 
beneath them. 


presents some very interesting examples. These monmnents when 
perfect, consist of three or more nnhewn stones, generally so 
placed as to form a small enclosure, over which a large flat stone 
is laid. The position of the covering stone is generally sloping^ 
and to this circumstance the first part of the name probably 
refers. Owing to the frequency of their being found to contain 
cinerary urns holding portions of calcined bones, and sometimes 
human skeletons, it is believed they were constructed for tombs, 
and monuments of distinguished persons. Indeed, the popular 
appelation of "Giants' Graves," which country people give them, 
accords with this theory, and though they may not contain the 
remains of giants in stature, they were doubtless erected as rude 
memorials of men of mighty and heroic deeds. 

A fine and perfect example of the cromlech was, we regret to 
say, deprived of its roof a few years ago at Coolmore, The owner 
of the field in which it was standing, became possessed of the 
idea that treasure was concealed within it, and rested not till he 
had removed the gigantic roofing-flag, and began his search 
within. He was, it is said, interrupted in the work by the 
crowing of a cock on his housetop, which was believed to be a 
warning not to be slighted; the search was therefore relinquished, 
and the stones replaced in the centre of the enclosure; the 
roofing-flag however, being too heavy to restore to its original 
position, remains prostrate. Another fine example will be found 
in CorkeTy not far from Kilbarron old Church. Here is an 
nnusually large cromlech which retains its roof entire. About 
half-a-mile north of the O'Cler/s Castle, is another giant's grave 
of colossal proportions. The visitor to these memorials of a 
by-gone age may well be struck with wonder at the labour which 
must have been expended on these cyclopean works, some of the 
stones of which are several tons weight. In the townland oi 
Ballymagrorty Irish is also a series of these grave stones large 
enough to contain many human remains. Two cromlechs stood 
on the high ground near Bowcmkeekill and Rockfidd; that 
nearest Belleek, was of very large proportions, but of these relics^ 


only just enough remains to mark their position, and preyent 
their name from being altogether blotted out. The owner of 
the land on which the largest of these cromlechs stood, is said 
to hare broken up the flags (which were limestone) and filled a 
limekiln with the fragments, but tradition says that ^^ no power 
OH earth could bum one of them." This giant's grave as well as 
the Coolmore one, was supposed to contain treasure^ and ib is 
related that two men who went to search the enclosure had 
hardly struck their spades into the sacred ground when they 
found their feet miraculously fastened to their spade shafts ! In 
the cromlech which stood at the back of Rowantreehill was 
found, a good many years ago, a cinerary urn containing ashes 
and several bones of large size. Nearer Ballyshannon, and close 
to Fortwilliam, are the remains of a cromlech which preserves In 
its Irish name Ledba-an^kteich, (pronounced Labbinlee) a 
remembrance of the object for which it was erected — ^the word 
signifying the bed, or grave of the hero. 

In Finner Warren are three examples, one of which was 
unroofed some years ago and found to contain an urn full of 
burnt human bones. In the same locality is also a stone circle, 
and a chambered caim^ which was discovered by some labourers 
while engaged in building a wall in the warren. In this 
sepulchral cave which is artificially constructed, were found 
portions of several human skeletons, the teeth in some of the 
skulls being in good preservation. In this case there was no 
evidence of cremation having been used. This form of cairn 
burial is supposed to be of great antiquity. 

The earliest form of human habitation, examples of which are 
to be found in our district, are artificial caves or sotderrains. As 
the inhabitants increased in numbers, the woods could not afford 
them the necessary shelter; and the construction of artificial cavesy 
partly for hiding treasure in, and partly as dwelling places, 
naturally suggested itself. The best example we possess of these 
rude dwellings is at the " Bully Bawn,** where the sides of these 
^' coves," as they are generally styled, are formed of flough flags 


set on edge^ over wbicli two or three feet of soil was tlirown. 
The entrance to this cave, in common with all of its class, is mnch 
narrower than its internal dimensions, and it is believed that 
this cave may have been at one time connected with the subter- 
ranean chamber discovered in Mullaghnashee (reference to which 
has been ah^eadj made), the passage ronning up by Dungravenen, 
the hill overlooking the '^new road." If this was the case, and 
the evidence we possess seems to point to that conclusion, we have 
here the remains of a system of early cave-construction, both 
extensiveand interesting. Sometimes theseunderground dwellings 
occur in connection with earthen forts or raths, and of this also 
we have an example at Raheeit, Le. Utile forty on the Bdleek road, 
less than a mile from Ballyshannon. Here is a series ci earthen 
circumvallations, in the centre of which is a chamber formed in 
the manner already described. Outside Kilbarron old church is 
another of these artificial caves. It is of smiall dimensions, and 
its entrance is now stopped up. The sides are constructed of 
small stones built in the form of a wall, the roof is covered in the 
usual manner with flags. It does not appear to have been in 
any way connected with the church, and although that structure 
is of great antiquity, this cave probably belongs to a still more 
remote period. 

Our district contains a vast ntunber of Baths. These are 
popularly known as ^^ Danish Forts** Formerly it was customary, 
even for antiquarian writers, to ascribe all such remains to the 
period of the Danish invasion, and this impression still lingers 
in our local traditions. It is, however, now well known that 
these raths existed in Ireland long prior to the arrival of the 
Danes ; moreover these antique dwelHug-places are found dis*^ 
tributed all over the country, inland as well as seaboard, though 
it is known that the Danes confined their settlements to places 
bordering on the coast. That the Danes had a settlement in our 
neighbourhood, there can be no doubt ; the very name of our 
county — ^Donegal, Dun-na-n Gall, Le, the fortress of the foreigners — 
preserves a remembrance of this. There is, however, more direct 


evidence afforded of the presence of the Danes in this oountj, bjr 
a poem written by Flan Mac Lonan, the Tirconnellian bard. 
This composition, which was written at the commencement of the 
tenth century, relates that Egneachan, Ihe father of Donnell, from 
whom came the G*D<mneU8^ gave his three beautiful daughters in 
marriage to three Danish princes, for the purpose of securing: 
iheir friendship, and these marriages were, according to the 
poem, solemnized at Donegal. Where this "Dmw'* or " fortress 
of the stranger " was situated cannot be pointed out, but it was 
in all probability an earthen fort * or rath, and it is likely the 
Danes may have utilized these fortifications which they found 
already made. 

The raths of our district are so numerous, that it is unnecessary 
here to specify them« Ihough differing in size, they are all 
circular in form. O'Donovan mentions that *^ the Irish kinga 
and chieftains lived in a.d. 637 in the great earthen raths or lisaes^ 
the ruins of which are still so numerous in Ireland." The fort 
of Eathmore^ i.e. great fort (pionounced Bamore) near Bally- 
shannon, and in the territory of Magh Cedne^ occupies a fine 
commanding position, and is of very large proportions, being more 
than 1000 feet in circumference. 

In the toYmland of GlasboHe (only an hour's drive from 
Ballysbannon), is a spot of extreme interest and antiquity — the 
fort Ard Fothadh. Here it was that Domhnall, son of Aedh,f 
son of Ainmire, king of all Ireland, had his residence in the 
seventh century. His death is thus noted in the Four Masttisi — 
JLD. 639 — "After Domhnall, son of Aedh, son of Ainmire, had 
been 16 years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he died at Ard 
Fothadh, in Tir Aedha (Tir Hugh), after the victory of penance^, 
for he was a year in his mortal sickness; and he used to receive 
the body of Christ every Sunday." In the Tripartite Life of 

*The term Rath, Lis, and Dun, are applied to these earthen forts. Rath it- is sup- 
posed refers to the eneloAingr rampart, JAe to the place enclosed, and Dun to the 
central mound within the Rath. All three terms occur as prefixes in names of places 
in oar district. 

t Aedh or Hugh was of the race of Conal Gulhan, and from him was derived the title- 
Tir Aedha or Tir Hugh. 


'St. Patrick, it is recorded that thesaiat while in this n^hbonr- 
hood visited this very spot, npon which he purposed to build a 
'chorch; it was however miraculoasly made known to him that 
the place was not destined for a sacred house, bat for a royal 
palace, which in due time was to be occupied by king DomhnalL 

This kingly fort, which is in tolerably good preservation, has 
an outside circumference of 870 feet, and its diameter inside the 
•enclosure is 230 feet. Upon the summit (not in the centre, bat 
towards the north side), is a curious beehive-shaped mound 
"(190 feet in circumference), covered with sods, but built of stone, 
-and containing a chamber, the entrance to which is now closed. 
Such structures it is thought were generally used as storehouses* 
Afd Fothadh is upon the farm of Mr, James M'Gonigle, and is 
known in all the surrounding country as " i^ forth.* It at once 
-strikes the observer as something more than, and altogether 
different from, the usual class of raths, scattered over the country. 

The stone forts or ccdseals were not so frequent in our neighbour- 
hood. These were also circular in form^ and a good example 
exists a little to the north of the lane leading to Bunatroohan. 
Within the circumference of this caiseal, are the remains of a 
small underground chamber. The townlands of Casket^ i.e. stone 
■fort, and Cashelard, i.e. stone fort of the hills or height, derive 
their names from the existence of this kind of fortress in theur 

In Corker, on the summit of a hill close to the '^giant's 
grave " already mentioned, is another fine cashel of great circum- 
ference ; within it are the remains of a chamber. 

CrannogeSj or lake-dwellings, in Ireland were used from an 
early period down to the sixteenth century, and perhaps later. 
They were usually rude habitations, built on artificially con- 
structed islands in deep lakes. During the wars with the English, 
the Irish chiefs often took refuge in them. At Dernacrannogey 
i.e. the oak wood of the crannoge, not far from Belleek, is a small 
deep lake, in which one of these lake dwellings once existed. 

Specimens of implements belonging to both the stone and bronze 

ANTIQUinES. 113* 

periods have been found in our district.* SilTer coins, mostly 
English (from the Edwards to James I.), have been found in 
considerable numbers ; several Scotch coins (king David), have 
been nnearthed at Rilbarron castle. 

A remembrance of the industries of our ancestors is preserved 
in the names CanicknarorUa and Lugalusiran^ both names re* 
ferring to the preparation and manufacture of corn into meal. 
On the shore below Wardtown are a series of sandstone rocks,, 
their name, Garrick-na-mbrointe, i.e. the rock of the mill stones^ 
shows that it was here the querns or ancient Irish hand-mills 
of the district were obtained. Kot long ago the upper stone of &. 
quern was found in the vicinity of these rocks, and as it is only 
partially shaped, it is evident that it must have been cut where it 
was quarried, and left by its maker in an unfinished state. In 
former times it was customary for families to grind their own 
com in these primitive mills, which were similar to the Eastern 
ones, and the practice has only recently died out in some back- 
ward parts of the country. The owners of water mills regarded 
querns with great aversion, and in their interest the use of querns 
was prohibited by law. In 1794, the proprietor of Kesh mills> 
in the neighbouring county of Fermanagh, gave orders to his 
miller to break all the querns he could find ; and the only pair 
left untouched used to be secretly lent about and concealed from 
the miller, with as much care as if it were a ^^ still." Lugalustran^ 
ie. the hollow of the burnt corn, is a place not far from the 
^^Rock." It was here that corn used to be burned in the ear ta 
prepare it for the querns. This process of removing the husks 
continued in operation in some parts of the country a century 
ago, and was prohibited by parliament. 

In former chapters reference has been made to the castles 
which belonged to our district, and to the interesting associations 
connected with their history. It is only necessary here to en* 
nmerate those remains of former strongholds which have not 
been already described. 

* A fine ttone hatchet of the Neolithic period has recentiv been found at Wardtown, 
and some yean ago a Immie axe was discovered in the neighbourhood. 

114 AKnQT3ITIE8. 

The castle of Belicky some remains of which still exist, was 
situated on the north bank of the river Erne. In the lime of 
James I. the land npon which this castle stood was called 
Castellane; the locality is now called Bach Lane, The name of 
the founder of Belleek Castle is unknown, but it seems to have 
been in the possession of the abbot of Assaroe in Queen Eliz*> 
abeth's time : — ^In an inquisition taken in the 3l8t year of her 
reign, ^^The castle of Bellyke" is mentioned as a part of the 
abbot's property. 

The most interesting ruin of its class in our district is that of 
Kitbarron Castle, whose shattered and weather-wom walk still 
remain as silent memorials of the old OUaves of Tirconnell:*-- 
^^ Broad, blue, and deep the Bay of Donegal 
Spreads north and south, and far a-west before 
The beetling cliffs, sublime and shattered wall 
Where the O'Clerys' name is heard no more."* 

The cliff on which the castle stood, is circular in shape, and 
the wall facing the sea was built upon the extreme edge of the 
precipice; below, at a distance of nearly a hundred feet, roll 
the Atlantic breakers. Besides its romantic and beautiful 
situation, the s|>ot was eminently fitted for the erection of a forti- 
fied dwelling, as from the sea below, no enemy could effect a 
landing, and the land side was easily secured from incursions by 
the outer castle wall, which was of great thickness, and extended 
from edge to edge of the narrow isthmus which connects the 
cliff on which 'the castle stood, with the mainland. In the 
centre of the building, was a small open space or eourt-yard« 

Within the ^^keep^ or northern wing, are traces of a stibterraneam 
jpassage, which is now stopped up with stones. Nothing is known 
of its extent or design, but it was open and used for distillery 
purposes within the past century. The portion of the building 
which comprises the two chambers next the cliff-edge, seems to 
be older than the other walls, and is probably co-eval with the 
first foundation of the castle. The walls of this portion are of 

•T. DarcyMcGee. 

AimQUIIIES. 115 

immense thickness and solidity, and were probably capped by a 
stone roof. Through the oatside wall facing the sea was an 
oblong passage of chimney-like shape, whose mouth (a small 
square opening) may still be seen from the adjacent shore. It 
is difficult to conjecture how the masons of Kilbarron Castle 
built the wall on this dizzy height The tradition of the castle 
having once been the abode of ^'pirates and freebooters/' who 
first robbed, and then threw their victims down ^*the murdering 
hole," has now almost faded away before the clearer light of 
history, which has been thrown on the castle and its occupants, 
by the writings of Drs. Petrie, O'Donovan, and others on Irish. 

Of ecclesiastical antiquities, the old church of Kilbarron, 
about half a mile distant from the castle, is perhaps one of the 
most interesting in our neighbourhood, a church havmg been 
established there by St, Columcille.* The present ruin is not» 
however, of that early period^ but belongs to medieval times. 
The building is massive, but destitute of ornamentation : — ^the 
following are the dimensions — length 39 feet, width 21 feet 4 
inches, thickness of wall 2 feet 9 inches. The materials are 
sandstone, procured from the neighbouring shore, cemented to- 
gether with a grouting of coarse shelly mortar, with which 
substance the inside of the building seems to have been roughly 
covered. There are two doorways (one in either sidewall) with 
<* pointed " tops, the arch being formed of two well-cut convergent 
stones. This pointed style of doorway is much later than the 
horizontal stone lintel, and semicircular arch, and characterizes 
the present ruin as not earlier than the end of the thirteenth or 
beginning of the fourteenth century. In the western gable is a 
narrow splayed Ught; in. the east gable next the road, was a 
larger window, but all trace of its shape has disappeared along 
with the roof, which was doubtless constructed of oak shingles* 
Around the church was a cemetery of considerable dimensions, 
and on the north side are a series of small plots of ground, each 

•See chapter UL 

11& ANnQITTtlES. 

separated by low diyiding walls. These enclosures seem to have 
been made for the purpose of keeping apart family burial-places- 
from the other portions of the graveyard. There are many 
headstones still remaining, but hidden from yiew by long gra8» 
and brambles. 

At Parkhill, is the site of Kilcarbery church, nothing beyond 
the name has been preserved of this foundation. Carbery was* 
of the race of Gonal Grulban, and from him, doubtless, the church 
derived its name. 

. In the townland of BaUymagroarty — Irishy overlooking the- 
road leading from Bally shannon to Balliutra, is a hill called Eacoo. 
Upon the summit of this hill St. Patrick founded the church of 
Bathcunga. In the Tripartite Life, it is stated that the saint 
having passed through that portion of Tirconnell which lay 
between Eas Euadh (Ballyshannon) and the ocean, came to & 
place called Rathcunga, and there built a church from the founda- 
lion. The church which was doubtless built of wattles^ and 
roofed with shingles, has long since disappeared, but the rath- 
shaped mound with many headstones, still remain to mark the 
spot. Such circular enclosures, whether composed of earth 
or stome, are characteristic of, and peculiar to the earliest 
ecclesiastical establishments in Ireland."^ This ancient cemetery 
has of late years been only used for the interment of nnbaptised 

Another of the ecclesiastical raths or lisses still exists in the 
Knader townland, though sadly broken down and obliterated.. 
Here was a church in the sixth century, which has been identified 
as Cnodain (pronounced Noden) by Dean Reeves, who is of 
opinion that the modern name of the district Knaiker'v& a trans- 
formation or corruption of the old one. In the early part of the 
present century much of the rath existed, but was subsequently 
levelled for agricultural purposes, and a sufficient quantity of 
human bones were discovered to show that it was once used as 
a burial ground. 

* Petrie'8 Eoclestastioal Architeetore, page 445. 



^HTKQUnXBS. 117 

In chapter III. we have spoken o! Kildoney as beiag one of 
the favoured districts where St. Patrick founded a church : it 
may here be added tiiat the disused graveyard of RQdoney 
possesses some remains of earth-works of the roilh kind, and its 
name BeiUg (from the Latin reliquse), is an uncommon name for 
a graveyard, and could only be attached to a place of remote 


The church of Domhnagh^Mor, the site of which is now un- 
fortunately unknown, was founded in our district by St. Patrick. 
It stood somewhere in the Moy, between the townlands of 
Ballymunterhiggen (Higginstown) and Drumachrin, and St 
Nennidhius was abbot and bishop of it. The foundation of this 
early church is thus mentioned in the Tripartite Life of St. 
Patrick — "Patrick went afterwards past Druim-cliabh (Drum- 
diff) from Caisel-Ivra, by the Eosses eastwards, along Magh- 
Bni (the Moy), and founded Domhnagh-mor of Magh-Eni." 
Attempts have been made to identify Domhnagh-mor with 
Teetunny^ a small burial place in the townland of Cloughore, but 
there are no grounds for this supposition, and it is certain from 
some old inquisitions in which Domnagh-mor is mentioned, that 
it lay rrwre to ike west than Cloughore. The name Teeiurmy 
(Tigh-ni Thonaigh) means ^ house of O'Tony. The O'Tony or 
O'Tuny family were of the stock of the 0*Donnells of Tirconnell, 
and had a stronghold here, close to the bank of the river; and 
the circular shape of the graveyard, leads to the supposition 
that it was originally a rath or fort. A little to the north of the 
graveyard, and nearer to the river's edge, is the site of Teetanny 
Church, which belonged to the aJabey of Assaroe, and was probably 
a " Chapel of Base," built for the use of those living on the ex- 
treme edge of the parish of Kilbarron. Half a century ago, a 
portion of the waits of this little church were standing, but have 
since been removed to provide materials for building the wall 
which now surrounds the graveyard. Before this wall was bmlt, 
a circular earthen enclosure existed, which was probably part 
of the original earthwork of OTony*s dwelling. 


118 AiniQuiTiEeu' 

In Ballymagroarty-Irish, is the site of the monastery or chnrch 
of BaiUmegrabhartaick* which was founded by St. Golmnba, and 
in which the celebrated reliqne of that saint called the Oaihach^ 
was deposited by the keepers of the ^' Battle Book " — the Mac^ 
Boarty family. Half a centory ago, there were sufficient remains 
of the building to indicate its shape and position (the bailding 
was east and west); now there is literally nothmg but. traces of 
the foundations. A heap of stones lying in a hay field, and a 
number of massive blocks and quoins, now incorporated with the 
wall enclosing the field, are all that remain of the venerable pile. 
It is worthy of note that the stones used in its construction were 
not of the kind found in the locality, but must have been brought 
from a distance, and that these are of such a size as to show 
that the building was of an exceedingly massive character; the 
mortar used (a good deal of which is still attached to the stones) 
!s a coarse shelly kind, as hard as the stones it held together. 

Within a mile of the village of Garrison, and close to the shores 
of Lough Melvin, are the remains of the abbey church of Bosinbhir 
;(now Bossinver, i.e. the peninsula of the river's mouth). Its 
foundation dates from the sixth century, and its patron was St. 
Moedoc, or St. Mogne, whose memory is still kept in the district. 
A good deal of the walls still remain, which are gradually being 
^undermined by the thick growth of ivy. The architectural 
features still remaining, show that the pile was rebuilt during the 
middle ages. A local tradition exists that the church was buHt by 
angels in one night. 

^^ In smiling vale of silver streams (the ruins still respected), 
St. Moeg's holy abbey gleams, by angel hands erected." 

All persons were cautioned against looldng out of their houses^ 
but a certain woman overcome by curiosity, peeped out, and the 
building was therefore left unfinished. In the churchyard are 
many curious and interesting tombstones. Near the gate is a 

* In an inquisition taken at Ballyshannon in 1621, this monastery is thus referred to 
— ** All those three Quarters and a half of lands of BattirowertU, parcel of the late abhey 
or religious house of St. Colmekill of Deny, situtate, lying and being in the barony oC 
Tirahu in the oountye of DanncigaU.*' 

t See chapter IV. 



leaCf or headstone, without inscriptioii, but bearing on its face aa 
ancient Irish cross.* The existence of this one stone, cut probably 
more than 1,000 years ago, is sufficient evidence of the great 
antiquity of this graveyard. 

About three miles distant from Garrison, in the townland of 
Killybeg {CcdUe Bega, little church), was another church founded 
by St. Moedoc. Here, according to Colgan, quoted by Bev, 
Dr. Beeves, was a '^miraculous stone" called Lac-MaodhoCy or 
Maedoc's stone. No trace of this now remains, but there are a 
series of '^giants' graves," now in a ruined state, and a dallau, 
or '^standing stone," known amongst the country people as 
/'Eion MacCumhars finger stone/' 

On a small island in Lough Melvin, called ImahtempU^ are tba 
jremains of an old church, and in a neighbouring one, the site of 
rthe ''Friars' Garden" is still pointed out. Did space permit^ 
many additional details might be noted of remarkable places in 
the immediate neighbourhood of Ballyshannon. What has been 
rsaid is sufficient to show the richness of our district in historical 
.Associations, and objects of antiquarian interest. 



TlESPECTma the fauna of our district it would be impossible here 
to give a detailed or exhaustive description; it will therefore 
suffice to mention those animals which are regarded with most 
-general mterest. Subjoined are a few notes respecting the several 

MammdUa, — ^To this class belongs the hedgehogs (Erinaceug 

EuropcBUs) which are often met with. This harmless quadruped 

• lias been wrongfully suspected of sucking cows. The common 

bat {vespertilio pipistrellus) is plentiful, and it is probable that one 

or two other species occasionally occur, but these have not been 

* Another ancient croae of rude workmanship stands at Tnllaghan, in a field over^ 
looking the ooaeh-way to SUgo. This relie was found on the ne^fabouilng sea-ihei<e» 
and erected here in 1778. 


recorded. The black rat {mu8 rattus) has been observed, also the 
Norway rat; the common brown species is nnfortunately too 
common. Of the hare family, both the red and brown species- 
are plentiful. Foxes, though occasionally met with, are fast 
disappearing. The stoat {musfela erminea) is common, and is 
usually mistaken for the weasel^ which, according to Thompson's 
** Natural History of Ireland," is not known in this country.. 
The badger (meles taxus) is occasionally met with. The rabbit 
(lepus cuniculus) occurs in very large numbers in the warrens on 
either side of the river; and throughout the country; a black 
Tariety is also met with. Large numbers are exported annually 
to England. Ferrets and wire snares are used in their capture. 
The otter (luira vulgaris) is frequently captured in our streams, 
being regarded as a formidable enemy to salmon. The fallow^ 
deer are still preserved in our neighbourhood. At Oastlecaldwell 
there may be seen a goodly herd ; there was in former times, a 
large deer-park attached to Wardtown Castle. 

The Aqiuitic Mammalia are represented by the phoddcn^ (seal 
family) which often visit the estuary, coming up close to the 
Fall in search of fish. The seals frequent the numerous caves 
along the coast of Donegal Bay, from whence they make ex- 
cursions to the neighbouring riv^s. Porpoises are often seen 
airing themselves in the vicinity of Kilbarron Castle and Cool- 
more, and whales are frequently seen in Donegal Bay. In the 
summer of 1691, a sperm whale {cePus derUaUts), which measured 
seventy-one feet in length, was captured close to Ballyshannon 
Bar. In the last century, whales were so numerous in the bs^ 
that a scheme was set on foot in 1736 for establishing a whale 
fish^. Boats w^e built upon the Gre^land model, and 
famished with harpoons, and other instruments, and a grant of 
£500 was made by the Irish parliament. The enterprise was,^ 
however, unsuccessful, as it was found that the general roughness 
of the sea, compared with the smooth water at Greenland, rendered 
the capture of the whales (though many were seen) next ta 
impossible. The company who carried on these operations ex- 


upended £3,000 in tbe undertaking, when they abandoned it* 
Subsequently, a novel plan was contrived by Mr. Nesbitt, who 
discharged the harpoons from a swivel gun, thus giving jnuch 
greater power to the weapons. By this method he killed three 
whales ia 1762, and in the following year, two of very large 
dimensions, when the Irish parliament granted him an aid of 
£1^500. No attempt has been made of late years to capture 
whales in the bay. 

Extinct Spmes. — The red deer (cervm elaphus)^ though once 
plentiful in this part of Ireland, has long since disappeared. A 
perfect antler and a portion of another, together with some bones 
ol this noble species, have recently been discovereid at the sand- 
hills. In the sixteenth centary the red deer was so plentiful in 
the north of Ireland that they could be bought for half-a-crown 
each.* In prehistoric times, the great Irish elk, or " big horn'* 
(megaceros Mbernicus)^ moved his stately form through the dense 
woods and thickets that clothed the river's sides. In 1691 a 
pair of these gigantic antlers was discovered by Major FoUiott at 
Wardtown. They were buried at a depth of ten feet from the 
isurface of the ground.t The wild boar {sus scrqfa) once roamed 
through the woods of Magh Gedne. The remembrance of these 
formidable animals is preserved in our district by the name of 
DerryMrk^ i.e. the oak wood of the boar. 

Aves. — The birds (especially those of the sea) occupy a con- 
spicuous place in the natural history of our district. Owing to the 
comparative absence of trees, many birds, generally distributed, 
a«re but seldom noticed near the town. 

Amongst the natatores (swimming birds), the white-fronted 
goose {amer erythropus) is occasionally seen in flocks; they at- 
tract attention by their peculiar v-shaped flight and clamorous 
call, in consequence of which they are sometimes called the 
laughing goose. The wild swan {cygnm Bemckii) is occasionally 
observed in the winter. The shell-drakes (tadoma vidpanser)^ 

* Payne's " Brief Description of Ireland, 1689.** 
t Boate and Molyneaux Natural History of Ireland. 


a showy and elegantly marked species, freqnent the sand hills^ 
where they rear their young; hence they are sometimes called 
the lurrow-drdke. The wild dnck {aruts boschas) and its young; 
-which are commonly called ^^flaj^pers^^ are very plentiful. The 
widgeon (anas penelope\ the teal (anas crecca) are also frequent. 
The red-throated diver (colymbtis septentrionalis) is a regular 
winter visitant to our shores; and the great northern diver 
(colymhua glacialis) is occasionally observed. The common 
guillemot (uria troile), the razor bill (alca torda)^ and the 
puffin, or sea parrot (fratercula arctica) frequent the rocky shores 
of Kilbarron. The cormorant (j>halacracorax carho) is plentiful 
in the estuary, and is easily distinguishable from other swimming 
"birds by its long upright neck and immersed body. The green 
cormorant, or shag (p. cristatus) though much rarer than the 
common variety, has been observed here. The gannet or solan 
goose (svia lassana\ a large species of white plumage, is oc- 
casionally seen in Donegal Bay. The common tern {sterna 
A/77/wdb), and the arctic tern, or "sea swallow," and several species 
of gulls, are plentiful. The lesser black-backed gull {larusfuscus) 
a rare species, has been shot near Lough Melvin. The tippit 
grebe (podiceps cristatus) has been frequently met with, and the 
little grebe (p, minor) are common on Lough Erne and elsewhere^ 
and are popularly but erroneously known as puffins. The great 
skua {lestris catarrhactes) is a frequent winter visitant, and the 
pomarine skua (/. pomarinus), another interesting bird, has been 
often met with. 

Amongst the grallatores (wading birds), represented in our 
locality, is the heron (ardea cinerea), commonly but wrongly 
called the crane^ Differing from almost all the birds of its class^ 
the heron selects a tree for its breeding place. Like the rooks, 
they breed in communities, and a long-established heronry exists 
at Camlin. They frequent the river banks and shores of the 
estuary. The curlew is common, and the whmhrel^ or " jack 

* The flesh of the heron though now despiaed, was at a farmer period reserved for the . 
tables of kings. A^ a banquet given by Henzy II. in Dublin, to we Irish kings, heron's 
iSesh was among Uie chief dishes. 


eorlew," visits us in the spring bat does not breed here. The 
lapwing or green plover (vanellus cristatus) occurs in flocks ; and 
the ring plover^ or sand lark, is seen in company with the chtnlin^ 
or stint, and other birds, on our strands at low water. The water 
hen (gcUlinula cMoropus), water rail (rallus aquaticug), and bald- 
coot (fulica atra\ also occur. The snipe (scolopax gaUinago), 
abounds in suitable localities. 

Amongst the insessores {perching birds), are the chough or sea 
crow (fregihis graculns); this graceful bird is occasionally observed 
at the cliffs of Kilbarron, and the Fairy bridge. The nests are 
built in the most inaccessible parts of the cliffs. The hooded 
crow (corvus comix) is common; it is this species that frequent 
our shores, from a single pair to five or six, in search of food 
left by the receding tide. The rooks (corvus frugilegus) are seen 
all over the country in large flocks. In the evening may be seen 
^Hhe blackening trains of crows to their repose" hastening to 
the shelter of their rookeries in the neighbourhood. The jackdaw 
and magpie are too well known to require any note; and the king- 
fisher {alcedo ispidd), the most beautiful of our native birds, is 
often seen on the banks of the river, and occasionally at the 
estuary. The brown hawk or marsh harrier (circus oeruginosus), 
peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus) occur, and the golden eagle 
(aquila chryscstos), has been shot at Wardtown and Glenade. 

Of the rasores {scraping birds), the rock pigeon (columba livia) 
is plentiful about the cliffs at Kilbarron and Ooolmore, and the 
woodquest (columba palumbus) is a constant resident in the 
neighbouring woods. 

Amongst the smaller birds may be noticed the most beautiful 
of the finches — the goldfinch {carduelis elegans), which is 
plentiful; the bullfinch (pyrrhula, vulgaris) less common; the snow 
bunting (plectrophanes nivaiis) is occasionally seen in winter. The 
creeper (certhia familiaris) in wood plantations. The wren 
(troglodytes Eurqpceus) is worthy of note, not because of its rarity, 
for it is everywhere common, but by reason of the cruel per- 
secutiou to which it is often subjected. Though esteemed a 


f Avoorite in England and elsewhere, here it is locally known as 
^^ the deviFs bird^ and while the red breast is held sacred hom 
molestation, the wren is hunted down. It is to be hoped that 
this traditionary dislike to a harmless and interestuig bird may 
be speedily forgotten. 

Pisces. — ^The yarions species of fish which abound in our waters^ 
both tidal and inland, form a prominent feature in the natural 
history of our district. 

Oigarwid fishes^ which are allied to the sharks, and are the living 
representatives of the fish-remains found in the older geological 
formations, the sturgeon (adpenser sturio) is occasionally met 
with in the estuary. 

Amongst osseous fishes is the perch (perca ftuvicUiUs) which 
abounds in our lakes. Specimens of 3ibs. weight have been 
caught. The red gurnard [trigla cumLua)^ and the gray gurnard 
{T, gumardus) or " crooner," so called from the croaking noise 
they make, are plentiful in the bay. The sea-bream {sparuA 
auratus) is caught in the summer. The mackerel {somber vidgaris) 
is taken in the autumn in large quantities. The scad or horse 
mackerel (scomber trachurus\ is also frequently caught, but not 
in the same numbers as the common kind. This fisli is locally 
known as the ^ crake-hem." It is generally a larger and coarser 
fish than its relative, and may be recognized by the row of spines 
for a considerable distance on each side from the taiL The spines, 
which are of ahom-like substance, fall back, andarelancet-shaped. 
The John Dory {zeus faber\ is sometimes taken, and is much 
esteemed by epicures. The gray muUet (rrmgil capito) and the 
thick-lipped grey mullet (m, chela), also occur. The herring 
(clupea harengus), is caught in vast quantities in the bay, and 
occasionally comes into the estuary. The sprat (clupea sprcOtus) 
is, in its season, very plentiful. The common cod (ffodus morrhua\ 
forms the principal item of our winter fish supply, but its more 
delicate relative the haddock (g. osglefirms\ occurs in but small 
numbers, and seems to be getting scarcer. The whiting (mer-^ 
langus vulgaris) is abundant; as also is the coal fish (m. carbona- 


fiu9\ which in the aatnmh months, swanu in the estaary. These 
fish when young are locally known as ^^sheans,'' and when folly 
grown are called ^^ glassan."* 

The common hake {gadus merlw^)^ and the ling (lota moltd) 
Are also common. Of, the family of fiat fishy are the plaice 
{platesad tndgaris)^ the flonnder or flake (p.fiesus), both of which 
ocenr in our estuary. Large specimens of the hoHbat (kippoghagug 
vulgaris^ are occasionally taken in the bay. The tnrbot {rhombus 
maxitmi8\ and the sole (solea vulgaris}, are plentiful. Of eels, 
the conger (anguiUa conger^ are sometimes met with of large 
size, often measuring over six feet in lei^h. They are said to 
be used in England in the manufacture of mock turtle soup, but 
here they are not esteemed. The common eel (a. €ieutirostris\ 
is taken in our river in vast quantities, as much as ten tons having 
been caught in one night. Theie are altogether seven weirs on 
the river, five of which are attached to ^Hhe several Erne 
fisheries," one worked by Mr. D. Johnston, Belleek, and one of 
late, by the Marquis of Ely«t 

The sun-fish (orthagoriscusmola) is occasionally met with in the 
bay. They occur in the summer, and the oil from their livers is 
of some value. Specimens of dog-fish, skate, and other predatory 
fish, are also often met with. 

The poUan or fresh water-herring (coreganus poUan), has hwa 
taken in the estuary, where they have doubtless come from 
Lough Erne. The number of these fish in Lough Melvin has, 
it appears, greatly increased of late. Their size is from 9 to 18 
inches long, and they are most abundant in the months of 
November and December; these fish belong to the genus 
saimOy by far the most interesting and important fish in our 
waters, and the name of our town has always been associated 
far and near with salmon, ka a paradise for anglers of 

* These flsh. though not attaining in our waters any great size, specimens have been 
caught in Engumd weighing from 20Ib. to 251b8. 

+ It appears from an inquisition taken in the Slat year of Queen Elizabeth, that there 
were ten noeira on the river Erne, in the possession of the abbot of Aaiaroe. So far back 
as the reign of Elizabeth, eels seem to have been held in esteem, as an act was the^ 
passed for their protecticm. 


high and low de^ee, Ballyahannon has ever been esteemech 
^^Li the whole of Ireland {says a writer in ike ^Field^\ there is 
probably no place so central for a fishing station thronghont 
the entire year as Ballyshannon, situated on the river Erne, in 
the sonth-west of the comity Donegal. Lake, river, and sea- 
fishing in abundance, and the variety wonderfal." The following 
species occur in our waters. — ^The salmon {salnw solar). The 
ball trout (salmo eriox\ a specimen was lately caught in the 
estuary which weighed 241bs. Sea trout (salTm trutta\ common 
trout {salmo fario\ great lake trout (scUmo ferox\ the gillaroo 
trout {salmo stomacJdcus). In Lough Melvin, the char and minnow 
abound; and in Lough Erne and in some of the small lakes in the 
neighbourhood there are plenty of pike (esox Indus). This fish 
does not occur in Lough Melvin. 

Crustacea. — The common lobster (astacus marinus) is plentiful, 
and large numbers are caught at Bnnatroohan and Bundorah, 
and fetch a good price both in this country and England. The 
eray-fish {A. Jluviatilis) has been found in a small stream in the 
townland of Eeenaghan, about five miles east of Ballyshannon. 
The common crab {cancer pagums) is also a source of profit to 
fishermen who capture them in ^4obster pots/' and sell them in 
the local market. The hermit crab, (pagurus bemhardus), 
dwelling in the shells of whelks and other molusca, and other 
species of crabs, also abound. 

The crangons or shrimps. The true shrimps (crangon vulgaris) 
occur in small numbers in the sand, but are seldom caught. 
The praums which are very numerous, though not of very large 
size, are easily distinguishable from the shrimps by their 
red colour, and saw-Uke prolongation of the head. Falasmon. 
serrattLs and P. squilla are found in our rocky pools, both in the 
estuary, and at Bundoran. Of the echinidece or sea-m-chin family,, 
the echinus lividus may be found in thousands, making its cup- 
like nest in the soft limestone rocks at Bundoran. The curious^ 
egg-like amphidotm cordatus^ a species of heart-urchin, is often 
found on dur strands at Tullan and elsewhere. 


MoUusca. — ^The lover of conchology will find on the shores of 
15nndoran and Coolmore, many interesting specimens. The 
following amongst others occur : — ^Blnnt gaper shell (mt/a 
iruncata); otter shell (hUraria ell{ptica\ this is plentiful on 
Tullati Strand ; porcelain shell {tellina tenuis) ; convex tellen 
{T. solidula); common wedge shell {donax anatinus); polished 
wedge shell (i). polUtts); radiated trough-shell (mactra stuUorum); 
elliptical trough-shell (M.ellipUca); blunt do. (M. truncata); edible 
cockle {cardium edule); red-nosed do. (rusiicum); banded do*. 
iC, fasdaturn). The edible mussel {mytilus edulis) is largely used 
as an article of food. A variety of the horse mussel (modiola), 
is occasionally met with. Allied to these, is the fresh water 
pearl shell (unto margaritiferus)^ which abounds in the Donegal 
River. The average size is 5 inches long by 2 broad. So far 
back as the 17th century, these shells have been sought for the 
pearls they contain, and at that period, one was sold at £30 ; 
they are not however now of mnch value, and can be often 
purchased for a few shillings a piece. Yarious species of the 
pecten or scallops are found. The common limpet {patella 
vulgatd) ; the horse limpet (P. athleticd) ; and the smooth limpet 
(P,pellucida\ a small variety of pale horn colour, with a series 
of blue radiating lines. The elephant's tusk shell (dentalium 
entalis). Top shells, the largest of which is (trochus zizyphinus\ 
and T, duminyi, are found at Bundoran; the only British locality 
where the latter has been observed. The violet sea snail {ianthina 
communis) whose habitat is the wide Atlantic, is sometimes drifted 
to our shores, and has been picked up at Bundoran. The wentle- 
trap (scalaria communis)^ natica monilifera^ murex enn^zceus, and 
the common whelk (buccinum undatum\ also occur. * 
• A group of microscopic organisms, known as Foraminifera (on 
account of the numerous holes in their beautiful shells), have 
been found in the sands at Coolmore ; these are well worthy the 
attention of microscopists. 

* For figures and detailsof these shells, see Wood's *' Common Shells of the Sea Shore," 
or any work on British conchol(^y. 


Botawy. — ^The flora of onr district is extensive and interesting^ 
To the botanist, the extensive coast line, as well as the country- 
inland, offers a wide field for investigation; while the diver- 
sified geological features of the neighbourhood (limestone and 
metamorphic), possess plants characteristic of each. The relation 
between geological strata and the plants growing upon their 
superincumbent soils, has long been recognized in the scientific 
world. For instance, the Blood geranium or cranesbill (^. soa^ 
ffuineum\ is a plant almost peculiar to limestone and magnesian 
soils, where it is sometimes observed growing in great luxuriance* 
Upon the limestone rocks in Ca/rridcboy^ this beautiful plant grows 
in profusion, while on the metamorphic rocks on the north side of 
the river, it never occurs. This is not a solitary instance of the 
connection which exists between the vegetable and mineral 
kingdoms, for hundreds of familiar plants might be pointed out 
with similar peculiarities of habitat. 

The Dartry Mountains, extending from Kossinver to Ben- 
Bulben, may be regarded as the extreme southern limit of our 
district. Upon these mountains, at various altitudes, are found 
plants of great rarity, while in the woods and lowlands, flourish 
flowering plants, ferns and mosses of sufficient diversity to rejoice 
the heart of the collector, or lover of nature. 

Within our narrow limits, it is impossible to offer a complete 
list of our native plants (even were they ascertained). The 
following particulars may serve as a corUribution to a local flora, 
— ^Alpine meadow rue (thalictrum cUptnum); Ben-Bulben (a very 
rare plant); wood anemone (a. nemorosa), frequent. The following 
species of crowfoot {t^anunculus)^ occur : — common water R., small 
spearwort, great spearwort, pilewort crowfoot, wood crowfoot, 
celery-leaved do., upright meadow do., creeping do., bulbous do* 
Marsh marigold {caltha palustris); white water lily (nymphcBa 
alba) is abundant, and the yellow water lily (mphar luteum) also 
occurs, but less frequently. The common red poppy (papaver 
rhoeas) is common in fields, and the welsh poppy (meamopsis 
cambricd)^ a rare and beautiful yellow flower,, grows on Ben 


Bnlben, at an altitude of from 800 to 1,000 feet. The fumitarj 
(Jmnaria offieinalii) a humble relatiye of the favourite garden 
flower, dicentra spectcMlis^ is very common. 

Of ernciferons plants we have many representatives. — Alpine 
rock cress (arahis petrcea)^ a rare plant, and the hairy rock cress 
(a. hirsuto\ grows on Ben Bnlben. A. ciUata occurs near the 
town. Water'cress (nasturtium officinale)^ is widely distributed in 
ditches and rivulets. The creeping yellow cress (n. »ylvestre\ 
has been found on the banks of Lough Erne. Scxurvy grass 
(cochlearia ojfftcinalis)^ is common on our shores, and occurs on the- 
summit of Ben Bulben. Whitlow grass (draba vema\ is found? 
on walls near the town, and the twisted podded species (d incana)y 
grows on Ben Bulbmi at an altitude of 1,200 feet. Sea rocket 
(cakile maritimd) grows on Tullan Strand. Sea cabbage (brasma 
oleracea) the progenitor of the garden variety, a rare plant in 
the north of Ireland, grows on the New Boad. Wild mignonette 
{reseda luteola)^ occurs in a couple of places in the neighbourhood. 
Dog violet (v. canina\ is very common, also the wild pansy (viola 
tricolor); the variety curstisii, has been found at MuUagkmore. 

Of the family droseraeem, a British representative of the curious 
class of carnivorous plants, two species occur, the round-leaved 
8nndew(d rotundifoIia% and thespathulate leaved do. (d,longifoIia), 
The beautiful Grass of Parnassus (p. pa^tbstris)i3 abundant in 
mareihy places. Milk wort (pelf/gala vulgaris)^ with blue flowers,. 
18 common ; specimens with pink flowers also occur. A sub- 
species (grandijtora) with large daik blue flowers, occurs on Ben 
Bulben. Moss cionpion (silene acofulis) a rare Alpine plant, grows 
on Ben Bnlben. Bladder campion (s. tnflatd) is very comnu)n. 
Meadow lychnis (l.floS'-cucuK) and the red campion are common; 
the white campion (/. vespertma) grows near tiie bar. This 
species is fragrant in the evening. Com cockle (agrostmma gitkago) 
occurs in fields. SmM ]^BilwoTt(saginaapetaIa); sea pearl wort 
(s. mariMmd) and the knotted pearlwort (a. nodosa) also abound.. 
8ea purslane {]umckenya peploides) grows at the bar. . Fringed 
aand-wort (arenaria cUiatd)^ a mountain plant of middle Europe^ 

180 i^ooLoar and bota^st. 

Tdiich does not occur elsewhere in Britain, grows in abnndanee 
on Ben Bulben. This rare plant seems to be peculiar to the 
Dartry range. Great stitchwort (stellaria holostea) and the grass* 
leaved species (s, gramned) are frequent. Common mallow 
(malva aylvestris) is plentiful, and the Tree mallow (lavatera 
wrhored) is not truly wild, but is occasionally seen growing ia 
gardens in the neighbourhood ; this is a sea-side shrub. The 
square-stalked St. John's wort (hypericum quadrangidum)^ as well 
as some other 8p0cies, occur. Of the geraniums or cranesbills, 
we have the beautiful Blood Cranesbill (g, sanguineum) a rare plant 
already referred to. Shining cranesbill (g. lucidum\ stinking do* 
(g. robertianum)^ doves foot c. (g. molle). Hemlock stork's bill, 
(erodium cicutarium\ musky do. (e. moschattm). The wood sorrel 
(pQcalia acetosella\ asserted by some writers to be the true Irish 
shamrock, is general in shady places. Furze (ulex Europceus) is 
very plentiful. Broom (sarothamnus scaparius) occurs in a hw 
places in the neighbourhood. The kidney vetch (anthyllis vid^ 
nerarid)^ purple trefoil (t praten8e% hares-foot do. (tarvense\ birds 
foot do. (lotus carniculafui), narrow leaved do. (Z. major), tufted 
vetch (victa craccd)^ and the yellow meadow vetch {latkyrm 
pratense)^ all occur. 

The Mountain Avens (dryas octopetald) a rare plant, grows on 

Ben Bulben, and is said to grow '^ on rocks at Ballyshannon,'' * 

but we have never met with it. Marsh-cinque foil {comarum 

palustre)^. and the strawberry-leaved cinque-foil (poterUilla 

frdgariastruvfi)^ occur, as also Lady's mantle (aZc^emiZZa vulgarts)^ 

. and alpine do. (a. cUpind) on Ben Bulben. Common agrimony 

. (a. eupatorid), frequent. Burnet-leaved rose (r. spinmssimd), dog 

; rose (r. ccmtui\ common crab apple (pyrus malus) occasional; and 

the white beam tree (pyrus arid)^ on the cliffs of Ben Bulben. 

Monntain ash or rowan tree (p.^aucuparid)^ rose bay willow herb 

(epilobium aiugu8tifoUiim\ small flowered do. (e. parviflorum), and 

. others are frequent*, alpine nightshade (circacea alpind)^ on Ben 

Bulben. Purple loosestrife (Z. sal%caria\ common sandwort- 

* Flora of Ulster, page 86. 


spnrry (s. mcerina), grows on rocks at Fairy Bridge. Wall 
pennywort {cotyledon umbilicus), English stonecrop (sedum 
anglicum), biting do. (s, acre) occur. Alpine saxifrage (s, nivalis)^ 
the purple mountain do. (9. opposiUfolid)^ and the yellow mountain 
do. («. cdzoidea)^ all rare plants, occur on Ben Bulben. The white- 
rot (hycbrocotyle vulgaris)^ common in marshes. Bishop's weed 
(cBgopodium podagrana)^ a plant formerly held in repute as a 
Temedy for gout, and introduced by the monks, grows plentifully 
about the town. Hemlock (conium maculatum), occurs occasionally, 
but is often confused with other umbelliferous plants. Shepherds 
needle (scandix pecten) .is occasional. Common elder (samhtcus 
nigrd)y and honeysuckle (lomcerd), common bedstraw (gcdium 
rerum), smooth heath do. (g. saxaiile)j\w]iite water do. {g.palu8tre\ 
cross leaved do. (g, boreale). Goose grass do. (jg. aparine) occur ; 
Blue field madder {sherai^ia arvensis)^ sweet woodruff (aspenda 
odorata\ and great wild valerian (v. officinalis), frequent. Scabious 
(s, succisd)^ common (a white variety has also been found). The 
hairy hawkweed (hieradum lasiophgllum\ a very rare plant, occurs 
on Ben Bulben. Black knapweed (centaurea nigra\ mugwort 
^artemisia vulgaris). Hemp agrhnony (eupalorium cannahinum)^ 
mountain everlasting (antennaria dioica\ marsh cudweed 
4jgnaphalium uliginosum). Butterbur (petasites vulgaris), a plant 
with, large rhuharb4ike leaves^ sea aster or starwort (aster tripolium) 
Feverfew (mairicaria ckamomlla\ sneezewort milfoil, as well as 
many other common composite plants, occur. The bilberry 
{vaccinum myrtillus)]B frequ^t. Gross-leaved heath (erica tetralix) 
and the common ling (sometimes with white flowers), are plentif uL 
Common centuary (erythraea centaurium)^ field gentian (^. 
^4xmpe8tri8\ buckbean (menyanthes trifoliaUt\ Hooded bindweed 
{calystegia sepium). Sea-side bindweed ($oldanella\ gromwell 
(litkospermum officinale), comfrey (Symphytum officinale)^ ocgmt* 
The ivy-leaved toad flax (linaria cynibalasHd), this interesting 
plant which is an alien, has established itself in profusion on old 
• walls round the town* The large flowered hemp nettle (gcUeopsia 
versicolor) and the calamint (c. officin€^is\ a rare plant, occurs at 
the abbey. 


Common bntterwort ( pingnicula vulgaris) is frequent, aad the 
pale species {p. lusitanicd) also occure ; ^ese as well as thfk 
mmdewsy are insectivorous plants. The cowslip (primula veri$% % 
rare plant in Ulster, grows in profusion at Wardtown. Yellow 
pimpernel {lysimackia n€morum\ scarlet p. {orMgalUsarvmrn) and 
bog p. (a. tenella) are general. Sea pink or thrift (armeria imlgarisy 
sea-side plaintain (p, maritima) common. Mercurj goosefoot 
(chenopodium bonus henricm\ a plant cultivated in some parts of 
England as a vegetable, occurs at Bund<»*an. Priekly saltwort 
(salsoli kali) grows on Tnllan Strand* Common l^tort 
{polygonum bistortd). Ejnot grass (p, (m<sulaTe\ spotted p» 
(p. persicaria) frequent. The Alpine bistort (p. viviparvm) 2Jid 
mountdn sorrel (o. remformis\ both rare plants have been found 
on Ben Bnlben. Portland spurge occurs at the bar, and sun 
spurge (euphorbia helioscopia}, locally known as '^ the seven 
sisters," and a cure for warts, is co mmon. Sweet gale, or bog^ 
myrtle, abounds in the bogs; and the alder (almis gluHnosayi^ 
frequent; feams i&f72 (the hill of alders, atKildoney) derives its name 
fiom this tree. Broad-leaved garlic (aUium ursimm) and bog 
asphodel (narthedym ossifragtm). Cuckoo-pint (amm macukstum^ 
Cotton Grass (enophorum)^ frequmit. Sea-reed ( psamma arenaridy 
clothes the sandhills, and with its wide 8|H*eading roots protects 
the sand fnxns the action of the winds. The American water 
thyme (annaeharis Sanadensis) was introduced into Connty Down 
about 1836, from whence it rapidly spread throughout Ireland f 
it has proved very injurious to ^bnon fisheries^ and to river 
navigation ; it is abundant in the Erne. 

Filices. — The family of f^ns are well represented in our 
Bflighbouriiood. The following spedes, besides many othera 
well known, occur: — Scaly spleenwort (certerach officinarum\ 
ptilypody (p. vnigare% Alpine holly fern (a^divm lonchitis% 
prickly shidd fern (a. aGuleaium% angular leaved s. (a, angulare) 
male fern (a^filix akj») broad prickly s. (a. dihtatum). Brittle 
bladder fern (oystopterisJhigili8% wall rue (asplenium ruta-muraria\ 
coimnoa spleepwort (c^ triohomane8\ green do. (a. viride) sea do. 


(a^marmum).* Black spldejkWoH(adianium nigrum\ lady fsm ( jfitti; 
fiBmna)y hart's tongae (scol(^pendnumtxulgare\ ncorthemhardfem 
(6/#cAi>i«m borecUe}f royal fern (osmumfap r^alis).t 



Xif pr^oediQg ohap^^s, the meaning of names of plaoaa whicli 
ba^A incidentally oiK^orred, have in most instances been appended^ 
Here it is only necessary to speak o| certain names in our 
distriot, which seem to deserve especial notice. The researches 
of Dr, Joyce into the subject of ^' Irish Names ofPlaceu^'X \x9iy% 
thrown fresh light upon the past habits and customs of th^ Irist^ 
people, and show what a mine of historical and traditional lorc^ 
lies oonoealed beneath local names, in constant daily use» bul| 
too often cQnveying no intelligible meaiimg to those who speak 

Of names occurring within the lunits of the town, a few. 
particulars will suffice. — ^The port or part (a bank) from its 
projqmity to the river. Milltowu, from the old mcmor mill which 
stood on the site of the distillery. Pprtnaaony the bank or landing 
place of the ramparts ; the name seems to be derived from some 
artificial earth-work defence which has. now disappeared. Carricb' 
hoy (carraig baidhe). The yellow rock : this name may be derived 
from the proximity of the ford and waterfall, the term ^^yellow' 
being often applied to fords, etc* CoBtU Street^ from ODonnell's 
castle. College Lane^ from a Soman Catholic seminary which 
formerly existed there. Clochan^ the ford of the stepping stones, 
which led across the little stream which flows tliere. Cairiekadavy^ 
the rock of the vat or caldron, referring to the deep ^^pool " in its 
proximity. BuUyhaum (bnaile ban), whitish booly, an enclosed 

* This beautiful fern grows in profusion aloi^ the rocks in the estuary. 

•VThe botanical names are here given to facilitate reference to any of the numeroiu 
works on British Bottmy. 

tTo these volumes of Dr. Joyce, which'contabi ft vast 9CCumulftUon of Yahiftble and 
interesting information, the reader is referred. 


place where cattle used to be fed and milked in. Why the word 
tohzte was here applied, remains nnexplained. Carriekevlin^ the rock 
at the foot of the Mall, derives its name from a woman, meaning 
EveleerCs roch; the most ancient form of the name is Eblin. Oihhy 
or Gihhagh, meaning a rngged place, is the name of the sharp rock 
which projects mto the water at the Bullybawns. 

In the townland of Balli/macward is a rock at the shore called 
Carrickruxdanty^ i.e. the rock of the dans or poems. This name 
may owe its origin to having been owned by the Mcucwards^ who 
were the hereditary bards of the ODonnelk, and held the town* 
land in which the rock is situated. 

The following names occur incur district — Ardeelan, the height 
Of the sea-gulls. Bcdlintra^ the town of the strand. Bcdlyna^ 
earrick^ the town of the rock. Ballyruimvddagh, the town of the 
hodachs^ or churls. Behy^ birchland.. BeUeeJc (BeUleicS), the 
ford mouth of the flagstone. Bundoran^ the mouth of the Doran 
or Dohhar (little water), supposed to be the ancient name of the 
Bradoge. Candin^ crooked line (referring to the course of the 
river). Cloughbolie^ stony booley or dairy place. Cashellackcm^ 
stoney cashel. Carrickndhorna^ the rock of the barley. Clontyseer^ 
the meadow of the carpenter. Corlea^ gray round hill. Crocka- 
cappky the hill of the horses. Coranamcmagh^ the monks' weir 
(this is near Oliflf). Dumish, oak island. Derryhillagh, the oak 
wood abounding in sallows. Derrt/nahinck^ the oak wood of the 
river-meadow. Derrynaseer^ the oak-wood of the carpenter or 
builder. Doon is the name of a hill and lake in the townland of 
Dunmuckrum; it is another form of dun^ a fort or ra^A, and owes 
its origin to some such structure having been erected there. 

DooJaZZj^, blacktown. FaiTancassidy, the O'Cassidys were phy- 
sicians to the Maguires of Fermanagh, and held these lands in 
virtue of their office. Fmner^ a whitish place (from the prevalence 
of sand). Fartagh, a place of graves (this is a word of pagan 
origin). Fasagh (Faussagh), an uncultivated place. Lotigh 
Melvin was called in the annals, Loch-Meilghe, from Meileghe^ 
king of Ireland in a.m. 4678. Lough Erne was called Loch 


Eime, from the Emai^ a tribe of Firboigs who dwelt on the 
plain now covered by the lake. The ancient mannscripts contain 
traditions of the sndden eruptions of almost all the .principal 
lakes of Ireland. Lough Unshin (the source of the ^^abbey 
rirer," and the name by which that stream was anciently known), 
means the lake of the ash trees. Lotighnamanjin (the small circular 
lough in Wardtown), the lake of the white or fair-haired womaji. 

Near the fair-green was the Tyburn, or <galIowshill of Bally- 
shannon; upon the summit of a steep rock which still retains 
its distinctive name, Carrick^na-croghery^ i.e. the hangman's 
rock, once stood the gallows, where doubtlesis many a culprit 
was executed in the "good old times." From various passages 
in Irish antiquities it appears that criminals were executed both 
by hanging and decapitation, and various names of places in 
Ireland still preserve the remembrance of such modes of punish- 
ment. In our district are several names which owe their origin 
to the introduction of the English element. For example the 
well called Tohemassassonagk, i.e. the well of the Saxon, on the 
north side of the town, derived its name from being dug or used 
by the English settlers. The word ^^Camp^^^ which is the nam^ 
of a small townland near the town, owes its origin to its having 
been the site of an Enelish encampment^ probably during the 
period of the O'Donnells. ^^Park" a name which occurs more 
than once, is another of these "borrowed" words.* The village 
of Oarrism on the shores of Lough Melvin, owes its name to its 
selection as a military station in the disturbances which took 
place towards the middle of the 17th century, and not only is 
this circumstance preserved in the name of the village, but by 
vestiges of the old military barrack, and by the name " ba/rrack 
street" where the building stood. At "the Garrison" (as it was 
styled in a letter printed in 1643), were iron works,t carried on 
by English settlers, and it wasregarded, from its close proximity to 
the " kingdom of Gonnaught," as a pass worthy of being guarded. 

Many of the local names in common use two centuries back 

* SeQ Joyce's f Irish Nam«s of Places/' 2ud aeim Cbapter m. f 9«« not« poge^ 79. 


have now disappeared. For example, BaBgnam/magk, le., the 
toivti of the monks, a district obmprisiDg Bevend townlands on 
the sooth bank of the Erne, was so known here in the 17th and 
18th centuries, as it is freqaehtly referred to in the chnrch books 
of that period. Another name now lost is Donnoghmare; this 
^quarter of land" is mentioned in an inquisition taken in the year 
1621. In this townland, wMch probably lay somewhere betwe^ 
Ballymnnterhiggen and Drnmachrin, was the Patrician founda- 
tion of Domhnagh-Mor.* In the neighbonrhood of the abbey of 
Assaroe, was a place called the Desert or Disert, a name now 
tinknown there ; the word is from the latin desertnm, and means 
a seqmstered place. In the Irish MSS. it is generally used m 
an ecclesiastical sense to denote a hermitage, or place of retire- 
ment, such as the early Irish saints used as dwellings.f The 
only place at the abbey which from its situation seems likely to 
liave been selected for such a purpose is Catsby. The name 
taisby means cafs dwdling which may be a translation of the 
Irish name of the cave, such as Bonnagat, Coosnagat, Dercnagat 
or PoUnagat, all of Which would mean cafs cave^ or Catsby. The 
name is at all events comparatively modern, and the existence (A 
a circular hole or bullan cut in the rock, is evidence that the 
place was used for ecclesiastical purposes at a very early period. 
There are many other local liatnes occurring in our district 
"whose origin is both curious and interesting, but of these we 
'mul3t not now speak. We cannot, however, bring these pages 
to a close without expressing the hope that Ballyshannon of the 
present, as well as future generations, may strive to imitate the 
good example set them by the old inhabitants, of industry, 
enterprl'se (notwithstanding many obstacles), and tmtty of effort 
in promoting the welfare Of the town; that setting aside sectarian 
and political differences, all may be ready to work together for 
the common good, remembering that ^' unity is strength," and 
•that in helping on any well-devised scheme for the prosperity o^ 
the community, each individual member will reap advantage. 

.» — — _ _ _ - _ — — ^ — -- — — ■ ■ _ ■ ■ ■ ■ ^^^^^^ 

* See Chap XIV. f Jejee's Irish KMotes of Places, let series, pag:e 208. 


8i«i<» 1831* «Mffiy ImiiA^ilsof perdbus hltVd kit <diir town for 
America «'bd othet foreign countries, some few have returned, 
bat by far the greater number have found new homes across 
the seas. However great their success, they seldom forget the 
old towB of their early days or 



At>rBtr to Bftllyshftiiny I where I was bted and bom ; 
' Go where I may, 111 thhik of yon, as snro as night and moMi, 
The kindly Spot, the friendly town, where every one is known, 
And not a face in all the place but partly seems my own' ; 
Thei?e's not-a house i^ window, tiiere's not a field or hill, 
But, east or west, in foreign lands, I'll recollect them still. 
I Imve my warm heart With yon, thongh my back Tm forced to 

turn — 
So adieu to BaUyshaiiny, and tho Winding banks Of !fiffie 1 


No mo^ on |>Ieai^ant ^v^hlngs we^ll saunter down the Mall, 
When the trout is rising to the fly, the salmon to the fall. 
The boat comes straining on her net, and heavily she creeps. 
Cast off, oast off 1^ she feels the oars, and to her b^h ehe sweeps; 
Now fore and aft keep hauling, and gathering up the clue. 
Till a silver wave of salmon rolls in among the crew. 
Then they 'may sit, With pipes a-lit, and many a joke and 'yam';— 
Adieu to BaUyshanny, and the Winding banks of Erne 1 

The music of the waterfall, the mirror of the tide. 
When all the green-hiU'd harbour is full from side to side — 
Trom Fortnasun to Bulliebawns, and round the Abboy Bay, 
From rocky Inis Saimer to Ooolnargit sandhills grey ; 
While far upon the southern line, to guard it like a wall, 
The Leitrim mountains clothed in blue gaze calmly over all, 
And watch the ship sail up or down, the red flag at her stern ;-^ 
Adieu to these, adieu to all the winding banks of Erne ! 

Farewell to you, Eildoxny lads, and them that pull an oar, 
A lag-sail set, or haul a net, from the Point to Mulfa^hmore ; 

* S6e Chap. Xtl*, pa^e 103* 
•f Or, « the £migmnt<ii Adieu taJBiJJyHhftimy." (▲local iMiUsd)^ hy^miam AUisgham. 


!Fcom Eillybegs to bold SlieTe-Leogue, that ocean-moiintaiii steep. 
Six hundred yards in air aloft, six hundred in the deep ; 
From Dooran to the Fairy Bridge, and round by Tullen strand. 
Level and long, and white with waves, where gull and curlew 

stand ; — 
Head out to sea when on your lee the breakers yoa disewn !^ 
Adieu to aU the billowy coast, and winding banks of Erne ! 

Farewell Coolmore, — Bundoran ! and your summer crowds that run 
From inland homes to see with joy th' Atlantic-setting sun ; 
To breathe the buoyant salted air, and sport among the waves ; 
To gather shells on sandy beach, and tempt the gloomy caves ; 
To watch tho flowinc^ ebbing tide, the boats, the crabs, the fish ; 
Young men and maids to meet and smile, and form a tender wish ; 
The sick and old in search of health, for all things have their turn — 
And I must quit my native shore, and the winding banks of Erne 1 

Farewell to every white cascade from the Harbour to Belleek, 
And every pool where fins may rest, and ivy-shaded creek ; 
The sloping fields, the lofty rocks, where ash and holly grow, 
The one split yew tree gazing on the curving flood below ; 
The Lough, tiiat winds through islands under Turaw mountain 

And Castle Caldwell's stretching woods, with tranquil bays between; 
And Breesie Hill, and many a pond among the heath and fern, — 
For I must say adieu — adieu to the winding banks of Erne ! 

The thrush will call through Camlin groves tb^ livelong summer 

The waters run by mossy cliff, and bank with wild flowers gay ; 
The girls will bring their work and sing beneath a twisted thorn. 
Or stray with sweethearts down the path among the growing com ; 
Along the river side they go, where I have often been, — 
O' never shall I see again the days that I have seen ! 
A thousand chances are to one I never may return, — 
Adieu to Ballyshanny, and the winding banks of Erne i 

Adieu to evening dances, when merry neighbours meet. 
And the fiddle says to boys and girls, ** Get up and shake your 

To ''shanachus* " and wise old talk of Erin's days gone by — 

>■! '■' ■ " • ■ I I .1 ., ^ ■ ■■.11 .11 ~ 

**<SbaiUM}hu8," old 8tori68,~^hi6tori<$s, genealoflfieB* 


Who trenoh'd the rath un such a hill, and where the bones may lie 
Of saint, or king, or warrior chief ; with tales of fairy power, 
And tender ditties sweetly snng to pass the twilight honr< 
The mournful song of exile is now for me to learn — 
Adieu, my dear companions on the winding banks of Erne \ 

Now measure from the Commons down to each end of the Pnrt, 
Bound the Abbey, Moy, and Enather, — I wish no one any hurt ; 
The Main Street, Back Street, College Lane, the Mall and 

If any foes of mine are there, I pardon every one. 
I hope that man and womankind will do the same by me ; 
For my heart is sore and heavy at voyaging the sea. 
My loving friends Til bear in mind, and often fondly turn 
To think of Ballyshanny, and the winding banks of Erne. 

If ever I'm a money'd man, I mean, please God, to oast 
My golden anchor in the place where youthful years were pass'd; 
Though heads that now are black and brown must meanwhile gather 

New faces rise by every hearth, and old ones drop away-— 
Yet dearer still that Irish hill than all the world beside ; 
It's home, sweet home, where'er I roam, through lands and waters 

And if the Lord allows me, I surely will return 
To my native Ballyshanny, and the winding banks of Erne. 

Thb End. 

Printed by Humphrey & Armoue, Letterpress & Lithographic Printers, 

64^ Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, 

g^eneraIj iisruEX, 

Aedh Buadh, 

Architecture of Abbey, .. 

Ard Fothadh, 

Assaroo, Abbey of 


^•Attainder of Divers Rebels," 60 
Aquatic Mammalia, ... 120 







Ballymacward, 7, 35 

Barrain Saint 20 

Bards, hereditary ... .. 35 
Bally magroarty, ... 36, 118 

Bar, projects for improve- 
ment of ... •>• 
Banks, establishment of ... 
Benbulben, ... 
Bernard, Saint 

Beneficed Clergy, 

Belick, Castle of 

Birds of the Neighbourhood, 
Bogs, peat ... ... 


Brian Born, King ... 


Burgesses, the first 
BundrooB, Castle of 














OarbonUerous .limestone, 8 
Oastleoaldwell, ... 12, 78 

Castle of Bally shannon, ... 30 

Caihac or " Battle Book," 36, 118 

Campbell, Sir Bobert ... 86 

Carolan, .... 90 

Gastlereagh, Lord 94 

Canal to Ballyshannon, ... 

Caves, artificial 


Churches in and near Bally 

Church of Mullaghnashee, 

Charter of Ballyshannon, ... 
* * Clerk of Markets, " 
Columbkill, Saint ... 


ConoUy, "Speaker," 
Do., Colonel... 


Crawford, Thomas 


Crannoges, ... ... 

Cross, ancient Irish 







... 116 

6, 19, 118 





... 107 
... 112 
... 119 
... 126 

Davy, Sir Humphrey 

J)e Samario, 

Descriptions of Ballyshannon 
in last Century, 

Dixon, Elizabeth 

Digges, Captain, ... 


Doewra, Sir Henry 


Drumholn, ... 

Elegy hy Macward, 


Emania, Palace of ... 
Erne Fishery, 
Extinct Species, ... 








Fairs formerly bdld, 

Farewell, the Shepherd's... 
,, the Emigrant's ... 

Ferns of the district, 

Fish, O'Donnell's traffic in 

"Fish Island,'* ... 

Fishing;, Abbot's right of ... 

Fomonans, ... 

Folliott, Baron, of Bally- 

Folly ot, Sir Henry 

I'oraminifera, ... 


Frost, great... 


Cteological Survey, 

Gillaroo Trout, 

Glacial Period, 

Gowna Lough, ..-. • 

*' Goblin Child of Bally- 


** Great Central Plain of 


*' Guild of Merchants," ... 
Gulf Stream, inflaence of ... 















Haly "Paddy," ... 
*' Hawk of Ballyehanrwn, 




Ice Age, 

Imports, ... ..._ 

Implements, Stone* "and 
Bronze ... 


Inquisition held at Bally- 

** InniskiUinerSi" 27th 

Inscriptions on Tombs, . . . 

Industries, local 

Jnishtemple, • 

Iron Works, • * 



10, 14 


James II., ... ' 5^ 

Jacobite attempt on Bally- 
shannon, .. ... 61 
Jennings family, 84 


Kilbarron Castle, ... 

„ Old Church, 
Kilcarbery „ 
Kildoney y, 

Sling's "Long Boats and 

Barges," the ... 




33, 114 



19, 117 


Linen Market, 
' ' Loyal Bally shannon 

Volunteers," ..: 


Mag Gceidne, 

Macha, ... ' 
Macwards, ... ... 


Market Prices, ... 
Mammalia, ... 

M*Govem, Lieut 

MetamorpJdc Rocks, 


Military force of Tirconnell, 
Military Depot, Bally- 
shannon ... ... 

MoUusca, ... 
Morgan, Lady 

Moy, The 

'* Monasiicon Hibemicam," 
Mulllnacross, . ,.. ... 





















Names (local), Explained, 133 
Ifemediana, 15 

O'Clery family. 

.. 83,50 

O'Donnellfl, the 


O'DonneV, Helen ... 


O'Neill. Shaoe ... 


O'Sgingin family, ... 

... oo 

Oughter Longh, ... 


Patrick, Saint 17, 112, 116, 117 

Partholan, ... 

Parliamentary pvivileges, . . . 

„ Kepresenta- 

tives, list of 

Patten, ".Torn" 

^^'cfvvcfy ••• ••• ••• 


Population,... ... 

Pnces of provisions, ' 
Producta (fossil) 














Batlin O'Beirtie (note). 
Hatha, ... 



Jteuigy ... ... ... 

Rivers flowing into Erne, .. 







Salmon, quantity of 
Siege of Ballyshannon, 
Shegns or Sheegys hxD, 
SheUey the Poet, ... 
Spenser's "View of 

Subterranean Chamber, 
Sydney, Sir Henry 


Tides at BaUyshannon, 



Tory Island, 

Trades formerly existing. 

Treasure, discoyery of 

"Union Hunt, Bally- 

Vestry Book, the oldest 

existing ... 

ViUanueva, JO. J, L. 



6, 16 





15, 21 





Waterfall, The 17 

Wardtowu, ... ... 18, 80 

Weirs attached to Assaroe 

Abbey, 24 

" Winding Banks of Erne, 

The*' 137 

Wollstonecraft, Mary ... 84 

Page 7, lioe 24, for " being " read " been." 



10, ,, 28, for" forget ** „ 
17, „ 25, for«Dibthorba"„ 

„ 30, for " Emana " „ 

„ for "Crimtham" „ 

„ 3, for "bom" 

„ for " lincben " 
36, „ 15, for "depositary" 
61, footnote, read *^ Bonaventara." 
69, read line 8 before line 7. 
79, Note, read "Natural History of Ireland. 




« forgot." 
« Dithorba." 
" Emania." 
« Crimthan." 
« borne." 
" depository."