Points of Interest in Ballaghaderreen

These points coincide with those marked on the Discover Ireland town walking map.

Charles Strickland- at the beginning of the 19th century Ballaghaderreen was redesigned by Charles Strickland, who was a land agent for Lord Dillon. Strickland helped out financially with the construction of the town’s cathedral. He was also responsible for the building of a market place called The Shambles, it had 16 lock-up stores and was sponsored by Lord Dillon. Strickland also succeeded in opening a railway line for the town.

Strickland Family Tomb
Strickland Family Tomb

Tower House- was the former rent collector’s office. William P. Partridge lived in the tower house. He played a part in the strike of 1913 and he fought in the 1916 rising. He was jailed for his part in the rising and died as result of a hunger strike in 1917. Partridge is buried in Kilcoman cemetery.

Hydro Power Station- The original power house and town supply of electric current was designed by Louis Lawless in 1906. The power house had two suction gas engines run on gas produced from Welsh Anthracite. In 1912 it was decided water power would be used to generate electric current to cope with the new demand for lighting.

A cutting was made on the river Lung. The first turbine was a belt driven Dynamo type and required a worker who had a phone nearby with a link to town to receive instructions. A new design of turbine was installed in 1925 which could be controlled from the power house. A cylinder diesel engine was installed in 1930 to increase output. It continued to operate well until 1933 when the ESB arrived. It later served as a science hall for St. Nathy’s and then as a museum. It is now vacant.

St. Mary’s Graveyard/Old Graveyard– Roman Catholic graveyard, c. 1820, it is no longer in use. The graveyard contains a variety of carved grave markers including decorative crosses. It was once an overgrown area but thanks to a FÁS scheme in 1988 it was transformed into a Garden of Remembrance. There is a small grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary, well known Irish TV personality Gay Byrne helped in getting the statue when there was an appeal made on his radio show. Three offers were received, the statue that now stands in the graveyard was donated by Mrs. Nora Hurley from Cork.

St. Mary’s Hall- now the youth centre situated on Chapel Lane opposite the Cathedral. This was built between the years of 1898-1902 when it was decided that Ballaghaderreen needed a leisure outlet. St. Mary’s Hall was also known as the Ariel Cinema. Films were shown six nights a week with a children’s matinee on Sunday afternoons. It also became known as the building in which Dr. Douglas Hyde spoke after he came from the U.S.A in 1906.

St. Brigid’s Hall- with its entrance through the Back Way, seemed a sort of satellite of St. Mary’s/ Ariel Cinema. It served many purposes; feis competitions and play rehearsals were held here, St. Vincent de Paul concerts. At one point it was also the base for the table tennis club and it was also used by the boxing club. It was also used to house the public library.

Mon Duff Building- Monica Duffy and Co. LTD was once a thriving department store in Ballaghaderreen and contributed to the growth of the town. It is now the home of the Border Midland and Western Regional Assembly. Thomas Dillon, a member of the famous Dillon political family set up a small grocery shop on the town’s main street in 1812. This shop would later become the famous Monica Duffy and Co. LTD. Thomas later handed over the shop to his widowed sister Monica Duff and she later passed it on to her daughter Anne Deane. Deane was a great business woman and developed the shop to the point where it was Ballaghaderreen’s biggest employer, as there was now many additions to what was once a small grocery shop. It now had a drapery department, an ironmongers, and a boot, shoe and leather warehouse. There was also a yard dealing with builder’s supplies, farm seeds and animal feeds. There was also the famous Mon Duff bakery, alcohol and tobacco was also sold. Monica Duffs was also the home to Ballaghaderreen’s first post office which also included a shipping office. As the years went on many of the departments had to close and in March 1986 Monica Duff and Co. LTD closed their doors for the final time.

The Creamery Co-Op- Ballaghaderreen Co-Op was set up in 1898. During the first two decades of the 20th century, the co-operative creamery was established in nearly every district in Ireland. The creameries were built by farmers themselves and by 1913 the numbers had strengthened to almost 1,000.

Mill Chimney- built c.1860, used for an old saw mill.

Old Military Barracks-The Old Military Barracks in Ballaghaderreen was constructed in 1798 by Lord De Freyne and Viscount Dillon. It was built to monitor the crossing of the Lung River. The building is said to have its very own ghost, a British Soldier, who hung himself here. According to locals the ghost haunts the corridors of the old building each year on the 3rd of November. In 1896, the barracks became home to the towns secondary school, St. Nathy’s College, named after the patron saint of the diocese.

Old gatekeepers Lodge- located beside the entrance to St. Nathy’s college. This is the former gatekeeper’s house. The gatekeeper would have controlled who went in and out of the barracks. It is now home to Meet You Here Coffee House and Art Gallery.

The Cathedral-after Catholics attained religious emancipation in Ireland in 1829, many stone churches were built across the country including the one in Ballaghaderreen. The Gothic style Cathedral was commissioned in 1855 and in 1912 the tower was added. The Cathedral was commissioned by Rev. Dr. Lyster, Bishop of Achonry who got his inspiration for the tower from a church he visited in Paris. He wanted an exact replica of the tower in the Paris church for the town of Ballaghaderreen, his dream came true with the erection of a 110ft spire with a triple clock face containing the same number of bells as the church in Paris. Visitors can see the amazing timbered ceiling of the nave, paintings of the Annunciation on the chancel roof and the beautiful stain-glassed windows that line the walls of the cathedral.

Cast-iron post box– erected c.1905 with E R insignia and crown motif. Replacement door with Saorstat Eireann emblem added in 1920s. Mounted in stone wall. Particularly appealing is the addition of the subsequent Irish Free State emblem, stamping the new ruling order of the country on this important piece of infrastructure. (from buildingsofireland.ie)

Cast Iron Post box c. 1905
Cast Iron Post box c. 1905

St. Mary’s Convent– The convent was built in 1876 for the arrival of the Sisters of Charity to Ballaghaderreen in 1877. An industrial school was set up and 75 homeless children were placed in their care. The Sisters of Charity were responsible for many other services in the town; they set up a shirt and collar making industry, laundry service and they prepared harps and shamrock for export for St. Patrick’s Day. When the Sisters of Charity left, they were replaced by the Sisters of Mercy in 1971, the orphanage was also closed that year.

Station House- the Sligo and Ballaghaderreen Junction Railway opened on the 2nd Nov 1874. There was a daily 3 train service each way on the new line. There were two stops on the branch line- Edmonstown and Island Rd. The increase in road transport at the end of the Second World War created an economic problem for the railway system. Ballaghaderreen/Kilfree line was to close. On the 2nd February 1963 the last train travelled from Ballaghaderreen to Kilfree Junction. The ticket office still stands, it is a good example of Victorian architecture in cut-stone.

Station House Ballaghaderreen
Station House Ballaghaderreen

The Fire Station, Ballaghaderreen- by Cornelius Moynihan, Echoes of Ballaghaderreen, 1996

The first Fire Brigade was set up in Ballaghaderreen in 1942 by Cathal O’Connor. He brought a portable trailer pump from Ballaghaderreen town. Mr. Tom Collins was the County engineer at that time and he was responsible for placing this portable trailer pump in Ballaghaderreen.

A County Council lorry was used to tow the trailer pump to the scene of the fire. Mr. Frank Gallagher was the driver of the Council lorry. He lived in Abbey View. Mr. John Tansey from Pound St. was the first officer in charge of the fire brigade. He enlisted the help of the Local Civil Defence. This situation lasted for six months.

In 1943 Mr. Tom Regan, Pound Street took over from John Tansey and became the appointed Station Officer, a position he held for the next seventeen years until he retired in 1960. One year before Tom Regan retired the first real fire appliance arrived in Ballaghaderreen. It was a landrover with a forty gallon water tank, reel hose and a rear-mounted pump.

After Tom Regan’s retirement in 1960, Mr. Martin McDonnell became Station Officer. He served in this position until he retired in 1978. Martin McDonnell was the person to see and take part in most of the major fires in Ballaghaderreen during his tenure in charge. He also saw the greatest changes from a very reliable trailer pump to a landrover to a Godess Fire Appliance; to a Ford Carmichael which was the first really modern Fire Appliance in Ballaghaderreen.

By 1978 more changes came about in the fire service in Ballaghaderreen. Fergus Frain was appointed Station Officer. Training now was being pushed in the fire service and the wearing of breathing apparatus. This first three fire men in Ballaghaderreen who were trained in breathing apparatus in Wexford were Fergus Frain, Tommy Kelly and Gerry Waldron.

At this point in time, all the older firemen had been replaced on their retirement and Ballaghaderreen had the youngest fire brigade in the county. If Martin McDonnell had charge over most of the major fires in Ballaghaderreen, Fergus Frain had to deal with the biggest industrial fire in the history of the State at United Meat Packers, Magheraboy, Ballaghaderreen, in January 1991. This fire burned for eight days before it was put out completely.

On the 18th of March 1993, Roscommon County Council supplied a brand new Mercedes Class B Fire Appliance. This Appliance has modern crash rescue equipment, generator, an in built foam tank and delivery system with 400 gallon water tank, complete with external lighting system (hydraulically controlled) for night use. It has A.B.S. braking and anti-skid differential and this makes it one of the safest fire appliances in County Roscommon