SHANBALLYMORE “Since the Dawn of Time”
Shanballymore – Sean Bhaile Mór ˜Big Old Town”
The early village of Shanballymore was probably located along the low road to the south of Templeroan graveyard, towards the Awbeg River, in a townland officially known as Oldtown. The village dates to the Later Medieval Period and was associated with Templeroan church. The present village was probably built in the 18th century with its two lines of houses facing onto a wide street. This was a hive of activity with shoemakers, tailors, bakers, harness makers, blacksmith and other enterprises. A number of bronze plaques in the village highlight some of these heritage sites.
Shanballymore (Templeroan) graveyard has been digitally surveyed and is viewable if you follow this link: Shanballymore (Templeroan) Historic Graves, click here
Samuel Lewis, writing in 1837, described the parish of Templeroan, also called Shanballymore containing 1,788 inhabitants. It is situated on the river Awbeg, by which it is bounded on the south west, and compromises 3,745 statue acres as apploted under the Tithe Act, and valued at £2,965 per annum. The land is of medium quality and chiefly under tillage, and the system of agriculture has of late years been much improved, the gentry having adopted the drill system, which example the small farmers are gradually imitating. On Graigue mountain are about 450 acres of reclaimed land, at present affording coarse pasturage; limestone abounds and is quarried both for building purposes; and at Graigue are some indications of coal. The river Awebeg, the scenery of which is very interesting, is at Ballynamona, crossed by a neat bridge. A large flour mill, the property of R. Welstead, Esq, is propelled by this river and is capable of producing annually, about 12,000 barrels of flour.
A cluster of interesting buildings is located at Ballinamona, a short distance west of the village. In the late 16th and early 17th century, a castle or tower house was built on the north bank of the Awbeg, west of Ballinamona. It is four storey’s high and was built as a defensive residence. It was defended by thick walls, narrow windows, machicolations and gun-loops (for shooting at the enemy. The Nagle’s, who built it, continued to reside there until the 19th century. The old main road passed adjacent to the tower house and is reputed to have been used by O’Sullivan Bear on his great march from Kinsale to Leitrim in 1602.
(This building is privately owned and access is not available)
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a new stretch of road (N73) way laid, to the east by-passing the tower house. On the road the river Awbeg is crossed by Ballinamona bridge, a fine three-arched stone structure. About the same time, an architecturally ornate constabulary barracks was built at this strategic point. In 1929, a co-operative creamery was built beside the barracks. This was part of the successful co-operative movement, which blossomed in late 19th century Ireland.
Groups of small farmers came together and pooled their resources to create a new enterprise – a creamery. It was democratically owned and controlled by the shareholder-farmers. For many decades, it was to here the local farmers brought their milk to make butter. However, it was more than just a creamery, it sold farming equipment and supplies and was a vibrant meeting place where news and views were shared. This hub of the community closed in 2003.
A grove of beech trees surround the medieval church and graveyard of Templeroan (Ruadhains Church), east of the village. The church was dedicated to Saint Ruadhain who, according to legend, sent two monks to establish a church wherever they heard a bell ringing. Coming over Shanadh Hill, they heard a bell and built their church there. A church may have stood there from Early Christian times but the present structure was Late Medieval. By 1615, it had fallen into ruins and only its south wall remains standing. The graveyard has many 18th and 19th century headstones. The parents of Nano Nagle, founder of the Presentation Sisters, were buried in Templeroan.
People have lived in this area for at least 4,000 years. Some of the earliest inhabitants were Bronze Age farmers. Their cooking places – Fulacht Fiadha – occur at Carrigleagh, Dannanstown and elsewhere in the parish. Cremated remains of four Bronze Age people were found in a cist grave – a small stone-lined pit – at Shanballymore Upper in 1977. There is another Bronze Age burial on top Dannanstown hill.
The significant number of ringforts (Early Christian farmsteads) in the area is evidence of the number of people living here between the sixth and tenth centuries. Ringforts occur in the townlands of Poulleagh, Shanballmore Upper, Clogher, Carrigaunroe and elsewhere.
The ruins of Dannanstown flour mill survive on the banks of the Awbeg, to the south of the village. Built in 1820, by Quaile, Welstead of Ballywalter House, it was powered by water diverted from the river. Welsteads sold the mill to Furlongs of Fermoy, who in turn sold it to H.H. Smyth. A surplus of British flour dumped on the Irish market in the late 19th century, caused the mills to close in 1900. In the 1950’s, Brigadier James Elliot and his wife, Elizabeth, established a fruit farm with an associated cannery at Dannanstown, which closed in 1965.
After the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, most of Ireland was owned by wealthy landlords. They had large estates which were dived into small holdings rented to farmers. The land-owning elite built substantial houses of which a number may be seen at Shanballymore, including Clogher House (for the Nagles), Oldtown House (Creagh family); Dannastown House and Ballywalter House (for the Welsteads), Shanballymore House (Roberts family).
A pond known as “The Fuarain”, formerly part of a commonage, is located on the bog road, east of Shanballymore. Fuarain is the Gaelic Irish word for spring or fountain. An idyllic wildlife sanctuary, it is a safe haven for many wild birds and animals. The bog road was probably built in the 19th century when the land was enclosed and the commonage discontinued. The road has a number of interestingly designed gate piers which are unique to the area.