Our Heritage

About Ballynacally
ballynacally from the air

Ballynacally is a picturesque village situated approx. 10 miles south west of Ennis, on the coast road to Kilrush. Ballynacally is generally translated as Baile na Cailleadh, the nun's land, because it belonged to the nuns of Killone Convent. The area has been inhabited since the earliest times and there are quite a few forts in the immediate vicinity.

Those at Lisduff and Lisheen are the most prominent of the remaining ones but others can be found on the elevated ground overlooking the Fergus Estuary. In 1837 there was a small quay of rude construction here from which corn, butter, pork and other agricultural products were sent to Limerick in boats of 10 or 12 tons burden.

Limestone and sea-manure were also landed in Ballynacally for the supply of the neighborhood. In those days it had a daily penny post to Ennis and Kilrush, as well as a public dispensary. Faction fights were one of the principal sports during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.Scenes around ballynacally

Tradition tells of a man named O'Dell who was killed in a faction fight and buried in Kilchriest. Professor Thomas Rice Henn in his memoirs The Five Arches described Ballynacally as "a straggling village, with its one street and five public houses, crossing a bridge over a lesser stream." He also mentioned the school on the village green, later converted into a community centre, and the R.I.C. barracks, which was destroyed during the Troubles of the 1920's Ballynacally is home to many historical structures and monuments.

Both St Brendan and St Senan visited the area and founded churches on the islands. At that time the islands were thickly populated. The churches were later plundered by the Danes traveling up the Shannon on their way to Limerick. In Norman times there was a flourishing community of nuns at Kilchreest.

Norman castles were built in the area including castles at Dangan, Ballycorick and Cragbrien. During famine times the dominant landlords were the Balls of Fortfergus and the Henns of Paradise. The Balls setup a Soup School on the village green and this eventually became the local national school and is now part of the Community Centre. With regard to the local laScenes around ballynacallyndlords, the Balls are infamous for their eviction of two hundred families from the townland of Inisdia.

Ballycorick Church

Ballycorick church in BallynacallyIn 2001, the services of Mr. Tom McGahon, (Architect) were engaged to oversee the renovation of our church. Work began under the direction of Mr. Paddy Carmody, Building Contractor, Lissycasey, on Mon. 4th March 2002. 
Work to be done on the building included the replacement of the roof, dry lining of the interior of the church, reconstruction and extension of the sacristy, alteration to the existing heating and lighting system, restoration of the stained glass window in the sanctuary, provision of a new crying room in the front porch of the church and a new meeting room overhead the sacristy, utilising existing space. The restoration work took just seven months. 
The re dedication, of Christ the King Church, Ballycorick, by Bishop Willie Walsh, took place on Sunday October 20th at 3pm. It was an historic occasion. 
We now have a beautiful, warm, comfortable church, 
one of the most up to date in the diocese. Ballycorick church in Ballynacally

The church, still retains it’s original character. Being a listed Dúchas building, no changes have taken place to the exterior. It has a new roof while still retaining the old slates. The fine stained glass window, made in Munich in 1840, has been completely restored and still remains the focal point of the sanctuary. The sacristy has been extended and refurbished with a new meeting overhead it and a crying room has also been fitted at the end of the main aisle. A complete new heating and sound system has been fitted. The whole job cost €500,000.00

We have had wonderfully successful fundraising events like our two auctions, a fashion show, barbecues, hack on horseback, golf classic, race-nite, a table quiz and many more organised by groups in our parish like the GAA, the ICA, the local Hunt group, the local golfers and many other groups who formed for the sake of doing the fundraising.Ballycorick church in Ballynacally

All these events proved to be very rewarding maintenance costs, if we are to maintain the church in it’s present fine state. To meet these ongoing expenses and to provide for any other unforeseen expenditure we plan to have a once yearly event.

Our two auctions were the highlight of our fundraising events. Working with a core group of about twenty people, representing every organisation in the parish, meetings took place once a week for two months prior to auction day. There was tremendous co-operation, determination, excitement, hard work – willingly done, which made both auction days in 2001 and 2002 wonderful community occasions – days that will be remembered and talked about for many years. About fifty people would have been involved working on the actual days, but it was the participation of the entire parish in the preparation that made the events such successes.Ballycorick church in Ballynacally

Trailers of timber would have been our main auction item we had 113 at our second auction which realised a total of €18,000 We auctioned cars, a caravan, donkeys, sheep, farm produce –hay, silage etc. as well as furniture. 

Along with this we has 19 stalls –cake sale, bric-a-brac, books, toys, etc.

The amount raised at our first auction was €47,000 and our second €41,000! financially, but also fantastic social events, where people gave generously and also enjoyed being part of a great community. The response to our weekly collection, as well as donations sent from parishioners who have moved on to new homes outside the area and abroad, has been tremendous. We completed payment for our splendid new church in June 2003, in record Time.

Blessed Well

Scenes around ballynacally sIt is the custom of the villagers, and the people of the surrounding areas to make an annual visit to a Blessed Well outside the village, which is dedicated to St. Martin, patron of Gaul in France. St. Martin’s Shrine and Holy Well can be reached by a path from the road in a matter of minutes. The clear spring well is overhung by a concrete alter, on top of which stands, in a niche, a beautiful statue if St. Martin. The well and shrine is located in just the sort of seclusion that had always in his lifetime an irresistible appeal for the Saint. The Shrine, hollowed in a rocky area on the brink of a gently flowing stream, is sheltered by stately cypress trees and flowering shrubs. On St. Martin’s Day 11th November, every year, it is an inspiring sight to see the constant stream of pilgrims make their way to the shrine, some old, many in the full flush of youth, but all with a deep faith in the ability of the Saint to cure their ills. 
They kneel on the concrete surface of the sanctuary and pray and light candles. Only the murmur of the waters and an occasional gust of wind through the trees disturbs the silence.

Before leaving, they drink the refreshing waters from the well, and in a little pool nearby into which there is a constant flow of water from the well, they bathe their eyes. It is widely believed that blindness, rheumatism and many minor ailments can be cured here, and at all times throughout the year people suffering from various complaints make novenas here in supplication to the Saint.
St. Martin was born in Italy in 316, reared in Milan and came to Gaul as a soldier. At the age of eighteen, he was baptised and having become a disciple of St. Hilary, he founded a monastery in Liguage, near Poitiers. Many years later, he was made Bishop of Tours, near which he founded the famous Abbey of Marmontiers or Martin’s Monastery. 
His fame was first brought to Ireland by his friend, St. Ninian, who knew and loved St. Martin and who founded a monastery like those in France at Whitburn , in Scotland in 397. The Monastery of Candida Casa had much to do with the spread of monasticism to Ireland. St. Martin lived ‘till he was nearly eighty years old. His death occurred in Candes, near Tours, on November 8th 397. His tomb is famous through many miracles and attracts large numbers of visitors


Clondegad Church: The church and parish may have been dedicated to a saint named Sgrevain. The old church was totally ruined and a Protestant church was built on the site in 1809. This is also a ruin today. There is a memorial to George Ross who died in 1700 but the oldest stone in Clondegad dates to 1686. Saint Sgrevain's Bed is situated in a cliff recess beside the stream, a short distance from the church. On the opposite side are two wells collectively called Tobar Sgrevain at which patterns were once held on September 10th each year. Lisheen, as the name suggests, contains a fort, and also contains a small cemetery called Cill Aodha.

Clondegad House: It is believed that this was the first rural residence in the west of Ireland to have its own hydroelectricity supply. Behind it is the river and the ruined Church of Ireland building. The present Clondegad House and the bridge at Clondegad were built by John Whitestone. He lived here until the end of the nineteenth century. Standish O'Grady lived here until 1916 when he sold out to the Lucey family.

Clondegad Bridge: This was the scene of a Terry Alt skirmish with the military in 1831. Sergeant James Robinson was killed and after a military enquiry Murty Donnelly was hanged "near the bridge of Ballycorick." Michael Kelly was executed in Ennis and several others were transported to Australia.

The Clondegad Falls: They form a magnificent cascade to the rear of the old Glebe House which is still inhabited.

Dangan Castle

Dangan Castle: 

Dangan Castle ballynacallyIt takes its name from the word daingean meaning firm. A good description, as the castle is built on a solid rock and has withstood both man and time since it was built. On three sides the rock on which it was built is scarcely wider than the exterior walls of this roofless ruin but it can be entered from the eastern side through the fourth wall. This stronghold was owned by the MacMahons and was described in 1580 as the castle of Dangan-moy-builc. The Four Masters referred to this territory in 1575 as the territory of the Ui Builc or O'Bolgs. Folklore says the castle was bombed by a MacMahon wife who ran away with another man and that a large quantity of gold was buried there and is guarded by an evil spirit.

Kilchreest Church
Kilchreest: The Church of Christ in Kilchreest is a comparatively modern structure, as are most of those churches or parishes which are not dedicated to saints of national origin. The walls are still in very good preservation, but the building is perfectly plain, and merits no particular description. Many died of starvation, disease and fever during the famine years and a special corner of the oldKilchreest church Ballynacally graveyard here was originally a cholera pit.
Parish Magazines

This series of Parish Magazine are displayed with the kind permission of the author Eamon Murphy Ballynacally parish magazine

First Edition

Second Edition

Third Edition

Fourth Edition

Fifth Edition

Sixth Edition

Seventh Edition

Eighth Edition


Paradise House

Scenes around ballynacally paradise houseNow a ruin, one time seat of the Henn family landlords. Situated on the banks of the Fergus overlooking Deer Island and Coney Island. Tom Henn, Professor of English at Cambridge was a founder member of the Yeats Summer School in Sligo.

Members of the family still visit Paradise and surrounds and in recent years, Frank Henn and his wife Monica donated a tapestry of Paradise House to the local community created by members of the family circa 1900.
Tom Henn authored his autobiography called the ‘Five Arches’ named after the Five Arches of Ballycorick Bridge.

Click HERE for more info from Clare Library

Click HERE for Paradise walk page

Micheal O' Heithir

The father of this renowned sporting commentator and broadcaster was born in Paradise, Ballynacally. The local GAA Ballynacally's Michael O’ hEithir pitch is named in memory of the late Michael O’ hEithir. Relations of his still reside in Ballynacally running the local Undertakers business.

Our County Town Ennis

This Video was taken from an RTE Television documentary from 1968 on the history and development of the town of Ennis, presented by Patrick Gallagher

NOTE.... To watch, Press the red play button below and use the full screen toggle at the bottom right of the video, use escape on your keyboard when finished.......

The Galatea

The galatea in ballynacallyThe Galatea Yacht owned by Lt William Henn (RN) and his wife Susan Henn was built by John Beaver-Webb having been commissioned by Lt Henn as a challenger in the Americas Cup Atlantic Yacht race. The Yacht was beaten in the challenge in 1886 by the Yacht 'The Mayflower'. The Galatea was the first steel cutter to cross the Atlantic and was also famous for the fact that Lt Henns wife, Susan Henn was aboard the yacht during the race. She was the first lady to take part in the Americas Cup. The Galatea boat in Ballynacally




The Forge
Tom O'Sullivan in the Forge Ballynacally

Until recently we were fortunate to have one of the last remaining Forges in Ireland, which was still functioning in the old style. Many years ago the forge was a central meeting point in the community. This forge was originally the property of the local Ball landlord family. The forge was last operated by local villager Tom O’Sullivan RIP a third generation blacksmith who sadly was one of the last of his kind. Tom worked the Forge for 72 years from the age of 14 and enjoyed his long career immensely. Tom was a very professional man and had fantastic memories of times past which he happily relayed to all who were interested. Tom regularly featured on radio and many newspaper or magazine articles over the years. Tom still features in a prominent display featuring the life of the blacksmith which can be seen in the county museum. He was also recorded by Cuimhneamh an Chláir. The following video shows Tom chatting to Aidan Sweeney (photographer) and his nephew Michael Sullivan (videographer).

Video of Tom in the forge....click here




National Heritage Week

National Heritage Week

There’s lots of fun in store for you during National Heritage Week. Check out our video for a snapshot of what’s on offer! From medieval fairs, night time bat walks, classical music, poetry, theatre, traditional music, storytelling, historical re-enactments, local history walks and talks, maritime and coastal events, food fairs, traditional skills workshops and archaeological digs. There’s something for everyone and most events are free!   

Did you know where Ballynacally's first Post Office was? have a look by clicking here