Friday, 14 February 2014

Ballyshannon Town Clock- A Landmark since 1878

The storm damage this week to the face of the town clock, pictured above, brings to mind the history of a building which has been a landmark for generations of people who have admired this picturesque building and its chimes. Paddy "Go Aisy" Slevin and his Model T Ford lorry were given the honour of opening the bridge at Ballyshannon, beside the town clock, in the 1940s during the Erne Hydro-Electric Scheme. 

The town clock has an interesting history and is probably the most distinctive and recognisable building in Ballyshannon, for the countless thousands who visit or who pass through the town. Perched at the top of a most impressive Scottish style baronial building built in 1878, the tall two-storey clock and bell tower with crow-stepped gables was built for the Belfast Bank who had commenced business in the town in 1869. It later was occupied by the Royal Bank. In the immediate vicinity was the Provincial Bank, the earliest bank in town in 1835, where the poet William Allingham, his father also called William and his brother Hugh, the historian, worked at various periods. Across the street was the National Bank which today is the Bank of Ireland, all three banks were signs of the commercial prosperity of the area. The history of the clock tower recalls an agreement reached between the Belfast Bank and the planning authorities of the day. In return for giving the bank permission to build the bank outwards towards the road, the bank agreed to provide the town with a clock. The date of the erection of the clock, 1878, can be seen in the stonework just below the recently damaged clock face.

The immediate area around the clock is one of the most historic in the town with the old customs house just across the street where the Saimer Shopping Centre is today. The site of the town clock was very close to where the "Speaker" Conolly (1662-1729) was born and where his family had a tavern in the 17th century. In sight of the clock tower is the Market Yard where the O’Donnell chieftains had their castle and where in later times the farmers’ markets were held. Across the street was the old military barracks built in 1700 and which stands today as the oldest building in town and the town clock also overlooks the bridge crossing the river Erne.
The building ceased operations as a bank when the Royal Bank amalgamated with the Provincial Bank next door and became the Allied Irish Bank around 1966. The Gallogley family who had been in business in the town for generations carried on their clock and jewellery business in the building until very recent times. 


A local gift for all special occasions available at The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon, Ballyshannon and District Museum, Local Hands and The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Signed hard back and soft back books available at special  price for postal delivery or collection. 
Book Available from Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon.  Enquiries welcome for postal and other details

No comments:

Post a Comment