Thursday, 15 August 2013

Ballyshannon a Market Town in Famine Times

 A directory of 1846 described the harbour at Ballyshannon where the sandbar was a hindrance for shipping and  the famous Assaroe waterfall  which was a very popular salmon leap. Ballyshannon was a prosperous market town at the outbreak of the Famine with the newly opened workhouse in 1843 serving a wide area  in Fermanagh, Leitrim and south Donegal..The directory also indicated ways in which the commercial life of the town could be improved including the provision of a canal to link with Lough Erne and a railway. A suggestion is made that the celebrated comic dramatist,George Farquhar was a native of Ballyshannon but Derry would also lay claim to this  dramatist whose work is still popular today. Further research required on his birthplace but you never know what a serious research might turn up.

A Market Town

 Ballyshannon as a market town held a weekly Friday market for grain and agricultural produce. Fairs were held on the second of each month with annual fairs on February 15th, September 18th, and December 18th. In 1841 the parish of Kilbarron had a population of 10,027;  the parish of Inismacsaint had a population of 14,693 inhabitants. and Ballyshannon town, which was partly in both parishes, had a population of 3,513 of these numbers.The Post Office in 1846 was located in the  Port where John  O’ Donnell was postmaster. 

The range of crafts and industries listed in Slater’s Directory, reveals a thriving commercial town prior to the Famine. It was to be another twenty one years before the Great Northern Railway opened in the town and brought with it mixed blessings. It did provide an opportunity to get goods transported to the markets including fish and agricultural produce. However imports of mass produced goods from the factories created by the  Industrial  Revolution  was to sound the death knell for a lot of small enterprises listed below which could not compete. 


James McGowan whose ship the Mayflower traded to St. John New Brunswick in Canada is listed as a timber merchant as is James Creden who was the builder of the workhouse and who had Creden's Quay named after him at the harbour. The first newspaper in County Donegal was the Ballyshannon Herald on the Mall in 1831 but by 1846 it had moved premises to Castle street with David Carter as editor. Listed amongst the physicians are Simon Sheil (senior) and his son by his first marriage John Barclay Sheil. His son by his second marriage Dr. Simon Sheil (junior) is remembered in the Sheil Hospital which he endowed. There were 25 licensed premises in the town along with Kelly's Brewery and Benison's Distillery. Lots of tailors and milliners to make and repair clothes which had to make do for a lot longer in those days.Candlemakers also provided light before the days of Miller's Gas works and  Myles' electricity.
Gentry and Clergy per Slater's Directory
Allingham Edwd. Esq. J.P. Stonewald ,Allingham John, Esq. Willybrook, Allingham Robert, Esq. Willybrook Atkinson Thomas John, Esq. J.P.Cavangarden. Bloomfield John, Esq. J.P. Castlecaldwell Brady Patrick, Esq. Rockfield Cassidy Rev . Charles, Melvin Cottage Conolly Colonel Edward Michael, M.P. The Cliff Conolly William Esq. J.P. Mount Prospect Cotton Francis R. Esq. Higginstown Cullen Curnes Cross, Esq. Loughmaron House Cummins Rev. John, P.P. Kilbarron Davis Matthew, Esq. J.P. Main St. Dixon John, Esq. Tawley Dunbar Rev. John, Bundoran Dundas Mr. John, Main St. Ellis Rev. – Cockstown Erskine Wm. Esq. Ballahaney Cottage Fawsset Mrs. – Rowantree Hill Folingsby Joseph, Esq. Main St. Forde Captain – Bundoran Forde Mr. Francis, Chapel St. Franklin Lieut. Robert, College Lane Hales Rev. Edward, Mount Prospect Hamilton Abraham, Esq. BrownHall Hamilton Alexr. Esq. Cockstown Hamilton  Andrew, Esq. Ballintra Hamilton John, Esq. Cockstown Hamilton William, Esq. Cockstown Harding Captain John, Mall Johnston Capt. Jas. Kinlough House Johnston James, Esq. J.P. Magheramena House Johnston Robert, Esq. LaputaJohnston Robt. Esq. Kinlough House
Allingham Robt. & John, Willybrook Chism Edward, Main st. Creden James, Port, and Enniskillen Green Andrew, Main St. Green John, Main St. McGowan James, Port
Milliners& Dressmakers
Gibson  Betsy, Main St. Gill Mary, College st. Gouldin  Elizabeth, Main st. Hicks Mary Ann, Rock Irvine Mary, Mall Keenan Elizabeth, Port Mc Bride Rachael, Main St. Mc Closkey Elizabeth, Port Murphy Catherine, Bachelor’s Walk
Music Teachers
Haggerty Lawrence, Chapel St. Kenny Elizabeth Johnston, Castle St.
Ballyshannon Herald (Friday) – Castle St – David Carter,  proprietor
Painters & Glaziers
Daly Edward, Main St. Heavy Joseph, Main St. Killen William, Main St.
Physicians& Surgeons
 Brien Edwd. Henry,  H.P. R.N. Castle St. Ivers Daniel, Castle St Kelly Edward, M.D. Main St. O’Donnell John, H. Port Shiel John Barclay, M.D. Bachelor’s Walk Shiel Simon, M.D. College Lane Thompson William, Castle St. Welsh John, M.D. Mall
Provision Merchants
Chism Edward, Main St. Green Andrew, Main St.
Public Houses
Bell William, Diamond Bidwell William, Diamond Corscaden James, Back St. Daly Francis, Bishop St. Donoghue Matthew, Main St. Edwards Robert, Bishop St. Gallaher Eliza, Port Gallaher Michael, Port Irwin Francis, Port Keenan James, Port Kelly James, Port Mc Cabe Charles, Port Mc Gowan Thomas, Market St. Mc Hughes Owen, Market St. McIntire James, Main St.
Mc Shea Daniel, Port McVitty William, Market St. Maguire Constantine, Port Maguire Philip, Port Mulhern Ann, Market St. O’Connor John, Port Sharkey Patrick, Main St. White Bryan, Diamond 
Rope& Twinemakers
 Anderson Finley, Port Joyce Michael, Main St. Mc Gloin James, Main st.
Saddlers Harness Makers
Dundas Hugh, Main St. Kirkpatrick John, Port
Salt Manufacturers
Green John, Port Teevan Andrew, Port
Straw Bonnet Makers
Mc Closkey Elizabeth Port Mc Gowan Bridget, Market St. White Bridget, Port Wilson Mary, Port
Surveyors- Land
Kelly John C. Mall Kelly Patrick, Bachelor’s Walk
Campbell James, Castle St. Flanaghan Terence, Port Flynn William, Port Hare John, Port Higgins Edward, Market St. Irvine Henry, Mall Keane Hugh, Mall Keenan Francis, Port Matherwell Robert, Port Wilson James, Main St.
Tallow Chandlers  and Soap Boilers
Anderson Lowry, Market St. Green Finlay (and tobacco and snuff manufacturer) Main St. Maguire Bryan, Diamond Thompson George, Market St.
Bonner John, Chapel St. Boyle John, Port Sharkey John, Main St.
Tea Dealers Wholesale
Green Andrew, Main St. Read Joseph, Main St. Stephens Hugh, Castle St.
Timber Merchants
Creden James (and slate, iron and coal), Port, and Enniskillen Green Andrew, Main St. Green John, Port McGowan Jas. (& slate & coal), Port
Wine& Spirit Merchants
Benison James & Co. (spirit, and distillers), Port Cockburn Walker, Main St. Kelly  Peter (& brewer & maltstr) Mall Stephens Hugh, Castle St.
Brown James, pawnbroker, Chapel St. Carolan John, hairdresser, Back St. Carter David, printer, bookseller andstationer, Castle street Craig Christopher, excise officer, Mall Gearon Edward, excise officer, Main St. Griffin Charles, supervisor of excise, Mall Johnston Frederick s. excise officer, Mall Kenny Robert, watch and clock maker,Castle St. McCullagh Henry, hairdresser, College St. Myles Robert, dyer, Port Sterrett Samuel, plumber, Main St. Stubbs Thomas T. bank accountant, Mall Sweeny Frances, stay maker, Main St. Walsh John, blacking manufacturer, Bishop st.
Places of Worship And their Ministers
Parish Church, Church lane –Rev. George Tredennick, rector; Rev. Henry C. Tuthill, curate. Roman Catholic Chapel, Chapel St. – Rev .John Cummins, parish priest: Rev. Daniel Coyle and Rev. John Mc Menamin, curates. Roman Catholic Chapel, Carrickboy – Rev. Bernard Kelly, parish priest: Rev. Edward Keon, curate. Presbyterian Chapel, Mall – Rev. Andrew Lowry, minister Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Mall, ministers various. Primitive Methodist Chapel, Main St.
Public Institutions 
Barrack, Barrack Hill – Thomas Weir, Barrack sergeant. Constabulary Station, Mall – Charles Haydon, sub-inspector; Charles Mc Cartney, head constable; Patrick Mc Glade, constable Custom House, Mall – Joseph Folingsby, Esq. collector, Patrick Heagney, comptroller; James E. Eccleston, locker, James Henry, tide master. Dispensary, Market St. – Simon Shiel, M.D. surgeon. Excise Office, Port – Charles Griffin, supervisor; Edward Gearom. Frederick Johnston & Christopher Craig, division officers. Revenue Police Station, Chapel St –James McFaddin, Stamp Office, Main St. John Scott, sub-distributer.
Union Workhouse, Carrickboy  Fras. Johnston,master, Mary Keenan, Matron; Edward Kelly, M.D. surgeon; Jas. Mc Gowan, jun. clerk to  guardians.
Coaches and Cars.
From Walker Cockburn’s Hotel.
 To Dublin, the Royal Mail, every day at  twelve;goes through Enniskillen,Lisnaskea, Cavan, Kells and Slane, to Drogheda, thence by Railway.
To Belfast, by the Dublin Mail, to Enniskillen, thence by the Belfast and Enniskillen Mail.
To Donegal, Mail Car, every day at ten minutes before one – also by the Mail to Londonderry.
To Enniskillen, Cars (from Bundoran) calls at Flanagan’s Hotel, Port, and at Constantine
Maguire’s, Port, every morning (Sunday excepted) at eight and nine during the bathing season –
also by the Mail to Dublin.
To Londonderry, the Royal Mail, every morning at ten;  goes through Donegal, Ballybofey,
Stranorlar, Raphoe and Johnstown.
To Sligo, the Royal  Mail (from Londonderry), every afternoon at twenty minutes past four;
goes through Bundoran.
To Dublin, Charles and Thomas Galagher, once a  fortnight.
To Londonderry, Finlay Anderson, Terence Gallagher and John Flanagan, every Monday.

50% Reduction on postage for orders for this book to all destinations. Genuine special offer. 

Ideal local gift for Christmas and all special occasions. 

Contact for further details and for orders of the book.

Signed hard back and soft back books available at special price for postal delivery or collection.


A New Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

A new book entitled: "Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene.

The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. 

The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Book Available from Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon.  Enquiries welcome for postal and other details. Also available at The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon, Ballyshannon and District Museum, Ballyshannon Tourist Office, The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

The blogs are original and are not taken from the book above.

Final Blogs 

10th August "There goes a poet if he only know it"
                    "Only you're an ass you'd let the poet pass"
17th August "Ballyshannon a Market Town in Famine Times."(names of merchants and craft workers etc.)

24th August The Gaelic Revival in Ballyshannon a Hundred Years Ago.

31st August A Unique Diary of Ballyshannon Life in the 19th Century

7th September Complete Guide to Ballyshannon Musings 2012-2013

Ballyshannon Musings:  Good to hear that people connected to the Ballyshannon area enjoyed the blog worldwide and the site received thousands of hits. The site is called Ballyshannon Musings and there are a number of back issues available on the internet. Copy this link and it can be googled at 

The blog archive of Ballyshannon Musings will still be available to read on the internet.

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