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Ballyhea or Ballyhay (Irish: Baile Ui Shae, meaning “O’Shea’s Town”)  is a townland and parish in north County Cork in Ireland. It is situated on the main N20 Cork-Limerick road, 3.5  km south of the centre of Charleville. The townland has approximately 1,000 inhabitants and it lies 110  m above sea level.

Ballyhea covers a wide area and has five graveyards. These indicate the five parishes of Aglishdrinagh, Ardskeagh, Ballyhea (Ballyhay) Cooline, and Imprick which make up the area the Ballyhea means place of Aodb or Aedh. Aodb had his residence in the 900’s in the townland known as Lisballyhea. His clan was one of the earliest to settle in the area.

The ruins of the ancient church of Ballyhea are to be seen in the graveyard east of Pike Cross. The church, which dates to the 13th century, was built of sandstone brought from the Ballyhoura Mountains.

There is one Roman Catholic church, St. Marys, and a relatively modern cemetery, along with an older cemetery off the Limerick Road. There is also an older Catholic church in the graveyard in Ballyhea, built circa 1200 by the Norman family De Cogans. It ceased religious service circa 1800 and has fallen into ruin over the last 200 years.

Ballyhea has yet to be digitally surveyed on Historicgraves.com

Religion

There is one Catholic church, St. Mary’s, and a relatively modern cemetery, along with an older cemetery off the Limerick Road. There is also an older Catholic church in the graveyard in Ballyhea (Ballyhay), built circa 1200 by the Norman family, the De Cogans. It ceased religious service circa 1800 and has fallen into ruin since then.

Features

The main estate in the area was one of a group owned by the Geraldines. Known as Castle Dod(d), even today some people refer to the area as Castle Dodd, there is a ruined Norman castle in the area of Castleharrison, the family home of the Harrisons related to the O’Grady Family of Killballowen, Bruff. The old name for this estate was Castle Dodd it was leased to the Harrisons in 1750. The Castle was added to make up Castle Harrison Mansion. By the 1950s it was in disuse, the land having been acquired by the Land Commission. The “Great House” burnt down in 1957.

Sport

GAA

The GAA club in Ballyhea was formed in 1884. During its history the club has won County Championships in Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Juvenile Hurling. In recent years a Camogie Club has been set up and two County Titles have already been won by this fledgling club. All-Ireland Hurling medals have come to the parish at most grades with the two Senior medals, in 1986 Johnny O Callaghan and 1999 Neil Ronan.

The hurling team regraded to intermediate at the end of 2003. It took them until the 2015 season to return to senior.

Amenities

Ballyhea has a series of marked mountain walk ways at Ballinboola and is part of the Ballyhoura Trail. There is a large artificial lake (40 acres), created by the extraction of gravel, with a range of wildlife. This lake is privately owned.

It is on the main Limerick-Cork bus route with a stop near the parish church. The nearby town of Charleville has a station on Cork-Dublin railway line (aka the Great Southern Line). Ballyhea covers a large physical area with its population spread throughout. It borders Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Ardpatrick, Effin, Churchtown, Liscarroll and Buttevant.

There has been a pilot cycle/walk route created from Ballyhea National School to Charleville and if successful it is anticipated that this will lead to the establishment of a number of routes in the Ballyhea/Charleville area.

Commercial and industrial development

The greater Ballyhea area has a variety of businesses, the largest being Lidl Warehouse on the N20 at Pike Cross, and Charleville Foods (aka Galtee Meats and Horgans). There are a number of small and medium enterprises in the area involved mostly in construction or related industries.

Community Groups

Ballyhea Community Council

Like many of its contemporaries, Ballyhea Community Councils evolved in the 1970s from a Munitir Na Tare group. They have approximately eights meetings a year. The AGM normally takes place in October. Amongst many activities they are involved in they organise and run a Christmas meal for the elderly of the parish every year.

Ballyhea Childcare Ltd.

A group of concerned parents came together in September 2000 to address childcare needs within Ballyhea and its hinterland, and from this the Ballyhea Pre-school Group was formed. A Parent & Toddler Group was started within the first month of the group’s existence and has been running successfully since. In Summer 2002, it created a babysitters network, to whom they have provided training in first aid and child development.

Ballyhea Pre-school Group is addressing various needs within the community:

  • The playgroup provides childcare and time for parents to engage in part-time employment, education or training.
  • The playgroup aims to increase contact between parents and thus help alleviate the rural isolation experienced by many.
  • Provide a social outlet for small children before the national school years.

Ballyhea National School Parent Association

The association was set up in 2004 mostly by parents who had been involved with the establishment of Ballyhea Childcare Ltd. Its function has been to fundraise for the national school but in recent years it has expanded to incorporate information evenings for parents and to encourage healthier lifestyles by supporting the school’s health eating policy and organizing events to encouraging children to exercise more.