BALLINDANGAN “Echoes of the Past”
“Baile an Daingain“ ˜Town of the Stone Fort”
Ballindangan parish has many ancient sites, with some dating back thousands of years, and others of more recent vintage, such as 19th century thatched cottages and a Catholic church.
The Catholic parish church, built in 1856, was dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. According to Early Christian tradition, Catherine castigated the Roman Emperor Maximinus for his cruelty to Christians. When the Emperor tried to execute her on a wheel of knives, it broke, injuring some jeering onlookers. He then had her beheaded. Angels carried her body to Mount Sinai, where a monastery was founded in her name.
Ballindangan graveyard has been digitally surveyed and is viewable if you follow this link: Ballindangan Historic Graves, click here
Three Iron Age hill forts, from 2,000 years ago, at Castlegale (Kildorrery), Caherdrinny (Ballindangan) and Cairn Tigherna (Fermoy) are strategically placed in this part of the valley of the Blackwater River. These forts can each be seen one from the other and may have worked to control access and communication along the Blackwater valley.
Caherdrinny is the largest of those ancient sites. Situated at the western end of the Kilworth Mountains, south of Mitchelstown, Caherdrinny fort is defined by a single rampart of stone enclosing 13 hectares. A detailed survey of the hill, in 1997, revealed previously unrecorded entranceways and structures.
Little now survives of Caherdrinny Castle. A well-known landmark on top of the hill and visible for kilometers in all directions, it was probably built by the Roches in the 15th century. A section of the castle fell in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, much of the remainder collapsed in the 1990’s.
Killeenemer (pronounced locally as ˜kill-aim-aera) is an exquisite Early Christian church ruin, around which is an early ecclesiastical enclosure. Beside the church doorway, on the west wall, is an equal-armed cross in relief. Many of the stones on the church walls have horseshoe shaped masons marks, which may be unique. There are also many unusual cut stone fragments lying around. The Norman castle at Caherdrinny can be seen through its Romanesque (12th/ 13th century) chancel window.
In the field beside the church is an unusual three-cupped bullaun stone. This may have been used as a holy water font.
Excavations on two ringforts at Lisleagh, south of Ballindangan, during the 1990’s, provided an intriguing insight into the lives of people who lived there over 1,300 years ago. Unique amongst the finds was an artefact believed to be a charred oatmeal biscuit, the first of its kind ever found in Ireland. Other finds included evidence of iron smelting, decorative glass beads, spindle whirls used in spinning and stone tools. Timber houses on the site were probably destroyed by fire, perhaps as the result of raiding or conflicts between local clans.
Ballydeloughy means ˜The Townland of the Lough”. Its wetland is a wintering habitat for waterfowl including mallard, teal, shoveller duck, widgeon, coots, moorhens and swans. The Lough is rich in flora during the summer months. Under European Law, the wetland is an area of special scientific interest. It is forbidden to shoot ducks or other wild birds on The Lough.
A nearby ruined medieval church and graveyard can be reached via a public right of way across a field. This was the parish church of Ballydeloughy. A stone structure in an adjoining field is the remnant of Ballydeloughy Castle.
Apart from two windows and its east gable, little of interest now remains of the medieval church of Kilgullane. However, its graveyard contains the remains of victims of a major fire in 1816.
This occurred at the Chamberlain farm, which became the scene of the areas greatest single tragedy. Up to 50 wedding guests died when Chamberlains barn caught fire during a wedding celebration. Twenty died in the blaze and another 16 died afterwards from injuries. A contemporary newspaper noted that the bride was amongst the victims, as were ˜several beggars who usually attend country weddings. A headstone of two Nunan sisters who died in the fire is located at the south-east corner of the church.
A small headstone south of the ruined church states that Thomas Lyne of Clounkilly was 110 years old when he died in 1747. The graveyard has several other headstones from the 1730’s and 1740’s. This is unusual, as headstones only became a fashionable method of marking graves from the 1720’s, and most graveyards in North Cork rarely have headstones before the 1770’s.
Kilgullane is also the burial place of the Pigot family, among whom are the remains of Sir Richard Pigot, Lord Chief Baron of Ireland.
West of the church is an interesting Celtic cross marking the burial place of William Condon of Anglesboro, County Limerick. Emblems carved on it include a round tower, Irish wolfhound and a harp. Condon was a sterling nationalist, who was actively involved in the Land War of the 1880’s.