Sunday, 6 September 2015

Images of Famine Walk in Ballyshannon on Heritage Week 2015

Script and photographs courtesy of Discover Ballyshannon whose site can be viewed on line at  discoverballyshannon.ie also on their facebook site.

Meeting point at the "Famine Orphan Girls' Memorial" at  Ballyshannon Workhouse. The only one of its type in Ireland. Anthony Begley (red jacket) welcomes part of gathering on behalf of Ballyshannon Regeneration Group and Afri who jointly organised the event. Ballyshannon workhouse is the  only complete workhouse in County Donegal.









The walk route on Sunday went up the Main Street, as would have been the "final journey" route of the Famine victims. Initially by wheelbarrow and later by horse and cart the bodies were taken via Main Street to Bishop Street where the burial site was accessed via the Stone steps still visible there. Map drawn by Barry Sweeny of the Regeneration Group.



Historian, Anthony Begley gave a great insight into the history of the graveyard. Though there are very few records relating to the times, Anthony had some amazing stories of a few individuals buried here. 






Waylon Gary White Deer (in centre of photo) of the Choctaw Indian Tribe and member of AFRI (Action from Ireland) said a few words here in the Famine graveyard. We had a poignant moments silence and laid a floral tribute at the memorial in the Famine graveyard.  St. Anne's clock and tower in the background.



 Aine and Paul of the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group kept a close eye on things... and made sure everyone was well looked after.



Here you can see the memorial placed here in 1995... and you can get a glimpse of the fantastic view over the Erne Estuary behind. The memorial was erected by the Donegal Association in New York  in conjunction with County Donegal Historical Society.




A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com






Monday, 24 August 2015

Invitation to Famine walk in Ballyshannon Sunday 30th August


The Paupers' graveyard was located in the field behind the tower at St. Anne's church


Remembering our Famine dead in Ballyshannon


On Sunday 30th August at 2.15 p.m. a local history walk will make the journey from Ballyshannon Workhouse to the Pauper’s Graveyard in the town. This workhouse served large areas in County Fermanagh extending from Belleek to Churchill. It also served areas in Kinlough and Tullaghan in County Leitrim and areas in County Donegal extending to
Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Rossnowlagh, Cashelard and Clyhore. Guides for the walk will be Anthony Begley, local historian, and Waylon Gary White Deer and Máire Nic Fhearraigh of the Afri-Choctaw Landscape project. This Heritage week event has been organised by Ballyshannon Regeneration Group and all are welcome to meet at the Orphan Girls’ Memorial at the Workhouse.


A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away


"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

"10 Interesting things to see in Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way" Friday 7th August

Forthcoming Events about Ballyshannon please pass on

Well done to the 75 brave souls who ventured out in all weather on the historical walk on  Monday 3rd August 2015.  “Famous people in Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way” with Anthony Begley and Conor Carney. Hope to see you at the free indoor illustrated talk on 10 interesting things to see in Ballyshannon on Friday night in Dorrian's Hotel at 8 p.m. 
 
Friday 7th August: A local history talk for all the family. “Ten Interesting things to see in Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way”. An illustrated talk by Anthony Begley in Dorrian’s Imperial Hotel at 8 p.m. All welcome to this free event. The walk and talk are part of a week of events called “Discover Ballyshannon” organised by Erne Enterprise Arts, Culture and Tourism and Ballyshannon Regeneration Group. Check programme.
Short Film on Orphan Girls’ Memorial: Ballyshannon Orphan Girls memorial the only one of its type in Ireland is featured on Irish TV programme Donegal Matters Number 50. You can watch it on the internet. Go to Sky191, click on Ireland, click on Ulster, click on Donegal Number 50 to view.
Ballyshannon Musings: This is a local history blog on Ballyshannon and surrounding areas which is being viewed worldwide. There is a wide archive of stories to read. ballyshannonmusings.blogspot.com is being viewed by thousands of hits worldwide. 

A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Forthcoming events about Ballyshannon August 2015.



Forthcoming Events about Ballyshannon please pass on
Monday 3rd August 2015: A local history walk for all the family. Meet at Market Yard at 2.30 p.m. Guide Anthony Begley. “Famous people in Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way”. All welcome to free event.
Friday 7th August: A local history talk for all the family. “Ten Interesting things to see in Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way”. An illustrated talk by Anthony Begley in Dorrian’s Imperial Hotel at 8 p.m. All welcome to this free event. The walk and talk are part of a week of events called “Discover Ballyshannon” organised by Erne Enterprise Arts, Culture and Tourism and Ballyshannon Regeneration Group. Check programme.
Short Film on Orphan Girls’ Memorial: Ballyshannon Orphan Girls memorial the only one of its type in Ireland is featured on Irish TV programme Donegal Matters Number 50. You can watch it on the internet. Go to Sky191, click on Ireland, click on Ulster, click on Donegal Number 50 to view.
Ballyshannon Musings: This is a local history blog on Ballyshannon and surrounding areas which is being viewed worldwide. There is a wide archive of stories to read. ballyshannonmusings.blogspot.com is being viewed by thousands of hits worldwide. 

A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com


Friday, 3 July 2015

Ballyshannon Orphan Girls Memorial





On Sunday 5th July 2015 at 11 a.m. Irish T.V. features the Orphan Girls memorial in Ballyshannon. Tune in to Donegal County matters on SKY 191 to view. If visiting the area the memorial is well worth a visit and is open at all times beside Ballyshannon Workhouse in the town.







A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Friday, 22 May 2015

Views of St.Patrick's Well and Catsby Cave at Ballyshannon Co Donegal

Check out two of Ballyshannon's  ancient sites in beautiful and accessible locations close to town. Well worth a visit.


 Grotto at St. Patrick's Well













One of the stations that pilgrims prayed at



Tying rags  in an ancient custom
Catsby Cave at Ballyshannon

Listening to the history of the Abbey Well

Holy water font at St. Patrick's Well


Rag Tree at St. Patrick's Well Ballyshannon



Rag Tree with the Abbey bay in the background















The photographs above were taken by Pauline Kilfeather Coláiste Cholmcille on a tour I gave to students  from the local community school on 12th May 2015.

A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away
"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com





Monday, 11 May 2015

Lady Gregory in Ballyshannon tomorrow night - not to be missed

Poster Lady Gregory

Mother, socialite, folklorist, traveller, landlady, lover, writer, patron ,activist and Gaelic speaker, Lady Augusta Isabella Gregory is well known for her role as a founding member of the The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and as close friend of WB Yeats. Less public is her life as a London socialite, her interest in European architecture, the politics of her day and the fact that she spoke with a charming lisp…Tale of the Gael tells a carefully researched tale of a woman who influenced the social and literary currents of her time, and was equally influenced by them…
Often defined in terms of others, this well researched evening with Tale of the Gael presents Lady Gregory as herself. Their trademark blend of traditional music with classical overtones provide the perfect backdrop for a woman whose story is synonomous with Irish culture, but whose early experiences were colonially British and European.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Ballyshannon Area during the Emergency/ World War 11 (1939-1945)



The Donegal Corridor at Ballyshannon on the river Erne
Seventy years ago Éire or Ireland was neutral in the Second World War and the period was referred to as The Emergency; and yet people in the Ballyshannon area witnessed the sights, sounds, censorship and shortages of the war. Indeed many people who had emigrated to England, U.S.A. and Australia in the 1930s, and earlier, enlisted in the armies of their adopted countries and some died and were wounded in the main theatres of the war. Others who emigrated worked in industries and the caring professions who provided support to the war effort. Closer to home Northern Ireland was engaged in the war and a secret arrangement with the British government allowed planes to fly over Ballyshannon in an area known as the Donegal Corridor.  This enabled the allies to provide aerial support for their shipping fleets in the Atlantic and was also of great benefit as planes could fly along the Erne to Ballyshannon from places like Castle Archdale in Fermanagh, and also transatlantic flights had a much shorter journey than having to avoid Donegal’s airspace. A lucrative black market resulted in the smuggling of goods back and forth across the border from Belleek as shortages were a permanent feature of the war. As a result of censorship people in this area knew little about events concerning the war and rumours of pending invasion were rife. On the 14th July 1940 reports that an invasion force were marching along the Port in Ballyshannon proved false and the noise coming from the Bar was mistaken as the muffled sound of gunfire!

The Donegal Corridor


The Fairy Bridges Bundoran  and Tullan strand scene of a tragic plane crash on 23rd January 1944
Tullan Strand in Bundoran was to be the scene of an incident on the 10th May 1943 when a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress landed on the beach having ran out of fuel. Nearby golfers at Bundoran golf club rushed to the scene and photographs were taken but these were later confiscated in line with censorship restrictions. The crew and plane were returned across the border. In instances like this neutrality was not strictly enforced in the Donegal Corridor. However the crew of a British Handley Page Halifax Bomber were not so fortunate, when their plane crashed into the cliffs at the same location  in Bundoran on Sunday 23rd January 1944.  The eight man Canadian crew were all killed and the spot is marked with a memorial today. On the 19th June 1944 fishermen in their boats witnessed an American B24 Liberator Bomber travelling upriver on the Erne towards the bridge at Ballyshannon in search of a landing place. Eventually the plane headed inland over St. Patrick’s Well and the sound of the plane scraping on stone ditches could be heard before it crashed in the Abbeylands. Two of the crew died and the rest were given excellent medical treatment in the Sheil Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Daly, Dr. Gordon and Sister Fidelma. Cashelard was the scene of the crash of a Sunderland Flying Boat on 12th August 1944 when two of the Canadian crew lost their lives. The remainder received medical treatment in the Sheil Hospital. A number of bodies were washed up along the shoreline as a result of shipping fatalities and a Chinese sailor called Chu Ning Lai was washed up at Creevy Pier and he was interred in the Paupers’ Graveyard at Ballyshannon. Radio Officer V.C. Coleman of HMS Patroclus was washed ashore at Rossnowlagh and is buried in St. Anne’s Churchyard. Older residents still remember these events which brought the reality of the war a bit closer to people in this area.
Preparing for Invasion and Air Attacks
Local discussion on what to do in the event of an air raid bombing attack, resulted in the identification of cellars which could be used as air raid shelters. Amongst the places considered were the underground caves in Munday’s field, the cellars under the old barracks at the bridge and the souterrains at Dungravenen on the Mall although the latter would have accommodated a small number of people. There were also cellars along Main Street and Castle Street. Locally a Parish Council, fire fighters, the Red Cross, the Local Defence Force (LDF) and the Local Security Force (LSF) were given roles in protecting the community and many volunteered to serve. Concerns that an attack on Finner Camp would result in the reservoir there being destroyed with the loss of water supply for Ballyshannon resulted in the following comment from Major Myles. “If the Camp was bombed they would want to be better shots than in some parts of the country. To hit the reservoir the bomb would have to be dropped at Tullaghan."
Cycling to Football Final in Glenties 1942
On Friday the first of May 1942 the government order restricting the use of motor vehicles, except in certain circumstances, came into effect. Ballyshannon returned to the sounds of life in the late 19th century however the jaunting cars were not too visible as yet. The bicycle now became a very important mode of transport with the young folk cycling to the dances in Bundoran, Belleek or Ballintra. Football and hurling teams cycled to their matches and a very well remembered match took place on Sunday 17th of May 1942. Gweedore and Ballyshannon met in the final which was played in Glenties before a large attendance. The Ballyshannon team had cycled to Glenties on Saturday evening, leaving the town with a band of enthusiastic supporters. The Ballyshannon team went into an early lead with a point from Mick Slevin and a goal by Jack Gallagher.  John McDermott added a further two points. The only score for Gweedore in the first half was a point by J. Gallagher scored from 70 yards.  Half-time saw the Ernesiders in front by 1-3 to 0-1.  Three further points were added to the Ballyshannon tally in the second-half with points by James Daly, John McDermott and M. Murray. Hugh Gallagher added a second point for the Gweedore men; but Ballyshannon were worthy winners, in a spirited and skilful match on a score line of 1-6 to 0-2. The Ballyshannon team were: Hugh Mc Guinness (goal-keeper), J. McGarrigle, Mick.Melly, Sean Slevin, Paddy O’ Neill, Dan Doherty, Seamus Slevin, James Daly, B. Gallagher, Mick Slevin (captain), S. Kane, Jack Gallagher, M.Murray, John McDermott , P.J. Goan. Shortly after the match the jubilant team began the 30 mile cycle back to Ballyshannon with the Democrat Cup. Their team spirit showed how to cope with life’s difficulties in a positive manner. 
Rationing and Recycling
Ration books became the order of the day with tea, sugar, bread, butter and flour in short supply. Going to the bog was now a top priority and local businesses such as Morgans who had been coal providers now provided peat. People pined for the days when salt and tallow candles had been manufactured locally and paraffin was also in short supply. Fortunately those in the urban areas in Bundoran and Ballyshannon had electricity supplied by Myles’ who also had timber yards and a hardware shop beside the Erne at Ballyshannon. A Bundoran chemist J. O’Reilly invented a successful coffee substitute made from dandelion and local smoking addicts used a plant called colt’s foot (pronounced “cowl’s fut” by local people) as a cigarette substitute, although the smell was quite foul. Anderson’s grocery shop on Main Street advised customers to bring jars for jam, bags for meal, paper for bread, jars for oil, bags for flour, baskets for everything. Old corsets could be handed in to the drapery shops and they were forwarded to a factory called Twilfit Regd. who cleaned them in an acid bath and new corsets were then made. Severe restrictions were imposed on the amount of material and pockets etc. in garments. In March 1944 a Ballyshannon tailor was summoned under the Emergency Power Order for producing a jacket with more than three pockets and producing trousers with a width of more than 20 inches at the end of each leg.  He got off with a caution. Cross border trafficking in household items like the white loaf and eggs was common. Compulsory tillage was introduced by the government, but not every one liked being compelled to put in crop. Indeed there were a few  instances in this locality of crops being sown but then neglected.
Local Men fought in World War 11
In the First World War a conservative estimate of 40 men, from the area around the town, died in the war whilst in the Second World War local fatalities are currently estimated at around 11 men but the number is probably higher. Allied planes stopped using the Donegal Corridor over Ballyshannon at midnight on the 3rd of June 1945 and the war was finally over. Many local men fought in the war and now that censorship was ending more details emerged about some of those who had served in the allied armies.
Gerard Darcy, R.A.F., East Port was a prisoner of war for 3 years in Italy, escaped and made his way over the Alps, travelling by night into Switzerland, where he was employed in a factory until repatriation.
Richard Davis, Corp., R.Inn. Fus. Sminver, captured in Greece, and imprisoned in same camp as Charlie McBride relieved by Allies and was on way home in June 1945.
Charlie McBride, formerly Tírconaill Street was in the Australian forces, wounded at Crete and taken prisoner by the Germans, one of the first batch to be repatriated to Australia.
Patrick J., Neil, Frank and William Doherty, four brothers originally from Erne Street, all served in the American army overseas.
Pte. Harry Hutton, born at Lisahully, was awarded the Military Medal.
Eddie and Michael McManus were in the American forces, sons of Michael McManus; Johnnie McManus,  born Erne Street, another son of Michael McManus, Glasgow, was at the battle of Dunkirk and one of the escort of Queen Wilhemina, made Tank Commander after D- Day and named his tank “Ballyshannon”, was decorated for bravery. Johnnie McManus was a well known boxer and spent some time as a prisoner of war in Germany. 
Robert Bradford Myles, Lieut., R. Inn. Fus. was awarded the Military Cross for his courage and leadership on May 15th 1944 on the Gustav line.
Thomas J. Myles, Serg., R.A.M.C., Legaltion, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal . On March 26th 1944 during n attack on enemy positions near Maungdaw-Buthidaung road, this N.C.O. was in command of attached section of Indian Field ambulance. During the attack he moved with the leading position and immediately went forward treating and evacuating each casualty as it occurred.
Fred Patchell, Lanc. Sergt., R.A.M.C. wounded in China; Henry Patchell, Staff Serg. R.A.S.C. wounded in Africa.
T.R. Stubbs Captain, Transport Corps, Danby wounded in the Middle East.

Some Local Soldiers who died in World War11
James Barron, Cashelard, U.S.A., wounded in France but drowned on the way back to U.S.A.
Patrick Darcy, R.Inn.Fus. West Port
Jack Fannon,  Pte., R.Inn.Fus., Ballinacarrick, died in Burma Road, China
Thomas Edward Lapsley,  Pte., R. Inns. Fus., Abbey View Tce.
P. Mc Gonigle, R.A.F., Mall
Willie McCafferty, West Port, died in India
Flight Sergeant Mulroney, R.A.F. killed in air raid, nephew of John James McGloin, Abbey
M. O’Reilly killed in action, son of Mrs. O’ Reilly, O.S., Main Street
A. Ramage, Lieut., Laputa
G.E, Roper, Capt., U.S.A. Paratroops
Eddie Taite Gnr. R.O.A., Erne Street, died in Holland. Eddie Taite had been an accomplished cornet player in Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band prior to the war.

Forgotten Memories
During the era of the earlier First World War 1914-1918, many local people enlisted in Finner Camp which was occupied by the British Army, at the time, and the sight of soldiers marching through Bundoran and Ballyshannon on their way to the Great Northern Railway station or to church was a regular sight for local people. The independence struggle from 1916-1921 resulted in those who fought in the First World War being largely forgotten except by their families. 

Those local people who fought in the Second World War 1939-1945 were mostly living abroad when they enlisted, and there was no local discussion about their involvement, due to Ireland’s neutrality and censorship of the media. For different reasons those local people who fought in both World Wars were for the most part forgotten.
  
A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away
"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com


Monday, 16 March 2015

A Painting showing Ballyshannon from the 1930s


This painting of Ballyshannon shows the beauty of the old bridge, the eel weir, the barracks and features such as the town clock, St. Anne’s Church and St. Patrick’s Church. The Erne flowing through the centre of town and the Assaroe waterfall  are memories  still cherished by senior citizens. Recent developments like the Mall Park have brought the community back closer to the river and it would seem natural that the banks of the tailrace of the river from the hydro-electric station to the new footbridge should be developed as a walkway.
This painting of old Ballyshannon dating from the 1930s or 1940s is by Maud Allingham who was a niece of the poet William Allingham. She lived at the top of Main Street three houses up from the entrance avenue to St. Anne’s Church. I have used two of her paintings on the cover of my two Ballyshannon books as I believe that she captures the character and atmosphere of the oldest town in Ireland. She worked as an artist in painting on the porcelain ware at Belleek Pottery and is credited along with her sister for designing the shamrock which is a trademark for the Belleek Pottery. The painting is on the cover my current book "Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available in Novel Idea/ Ballyshannon Museum or the author anthonyrbegley@ hotmail.com
1.       The Bridge of 14 Arches
There has been a bridge over the Erne at Ballyshannon since the 17th century and in earliest times there was a tower and gate controlling all traffic crossing the river at this point. Before the bridge there was a ford or crossing point over the river upstream above the Market Yard. It has to be remembered that the Erne river at Ballyshannon was much wider until all changed in the 1940s with the demolishing of the 14 arch bridge and the waterfall and the creation of a new narrow waterway called the tailrace.
2.       The Old Barracks
This is the oldest building in town and was built in 1700. It is rare in Ulster as not many barracks of this era are still in use. Remembered still today by local people as the home of the Green Lady and the Goblin Child- two of Ballyshannon’s most famous ghosts.
3.       The Market Yard
This was the hub for farmers’ markets for hundreds of years. It was on this site that the |Gaelic chieftains the O’ Donnells built a castle in 1423. The castle is till remembered in the street name nearby called Castle street.  This castle was built to guard the ford on the river and made Ballyshannon a place of great importance as many attempts were made by invading armies to enter Ulster by this route. Overlooking the Market Yard today is Ballyshannon Museum housed in Slevin’s Department Store.
4.       The Town Clock
The clock was granted to the town by the Belfast Bank who occupied the building and the clock was set going in 1878. The building was allowed to encroach on the street in return for the bank providing the town with a clock. Ballyshannon is a town which had the sound of a waterfall and the peal of bells from St. Patrick’s Church, St. Anne’s Church, St. Joseph’s Church  and hopefully the town clock will resume its role in the near future.
5.       The Masonic Hall
The present Masonic Lodge was built on Church Avenue in 1905 and still stands today. This unique building was designed by Thomas Johnston a Donegal architect and built by Ballantine Ltd. Ballyshannon had the first Masonic Lodge in County Donegal way back in 1757. This unique building has a 34 foot frontage and originally had a ground floor recreation room with a kitchen attached. Upstairs were the lodge rooms. Major Myles was the leading member of the lodge at the time it was constructed.
6.       St. Anne’s Church
The church commands the most outstanding view of the town and is well worth a visit. This hill called Mullaghnashee is reputed to be the burial place of a legendary high king of Ireland called Hugh (Aodh). The graveyard is very well kept and has countless interesting gravestones including William Allingham the poet, Lieutenant McGovern the last man to die locally in a duel, Major Myles who provided the town with electricity, the Thornley family who were descendants of Bram Stoker author of Dracula etc, etc, The present church was built in 1841 and retained the tower of a church built in 1735
Inside the church are numerous plaques which give the history of local families. Also there are plaques naming members of the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian communities who fought in the First World War (1914-1918). The pews and galleries are most impressive.
7.       The Mall House
This impressive house was built by the Kelly family in the 19th century and they had a brewery in the grounds and were also extensive landowners and a number of the family were politicians and members of the Catholic clergy in Raphoe diocese. The house subsequently became the home of the Condon family in the early 20th century. Today the shell of the house on the Mall is a sad reflection of its former stature.
8.       Corry McGinty
This was one of a number of eel weirs on the Erne. There were three such eel weirs at Corlea which was upstream. The eels were later shipped from the Mall Quay and along with the salmon fishing added greatly to Ballyshannon’s prosperity. This eel weir was not used since the period of the First World War (1914-1918) although the eel weirs at Corlea continued for a further 30 years.
9.       St. Patrick’s Church
The first church on this site was built in 1795 as the parish church for Kilbarron. The present church was built just before the Great Famine in 1842 and its size and stature reflected the generosity and faith of the parishioners and those who subscribed from abroad. Possibly the biggest gathering at this church was in 1841 when the great temperance crusader Fr. Mathew preached here advising the people to abstain from alcohol. Today the church has been renovated and restored to a very high standard.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

What's to be seen in an old Ballyshannon photograph?

 

What’s to be seen  in an Old Ballyshannon Photograph?





  7.       The Methodist Church designed by Thomas Elliott an Enniskillen architect in 1899. Today it is a veterinary surgeon premises. Ballyshannon had 6 churches at one time including another Methodist Church at the top of Main street, a Presbyterian Church on the Mall, St. Anne's Church of Ireland, St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Churches.

  8.       Part of the Kelly property and the building in the right hand corner of the photograph is part of the Ballyshannon Brewery  owned by the Kellys.  Edward Kelly of this family was a Home Rule M.P. in1918.The property was later purchased by the Condon family. The shell of the original house called Mall House is still visible today and is called Condons by most locals.Today most of  the site is occupied by the Nirvana restaurant and apartment complexes.

9. The laneway which leads to the Assaroe footbridge today. The ground on the left is occupied by Garda property today. The laneway in 1900 led down to the brewery and the Assaroe waterfall. Those were the days!
 
A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away
"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.
Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com











Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Ballyshannon Technical School One Hundred Years Ago


Ballyshannon Technical School 1914 was the  first in County Donegal. The school was in the three storey building in the centre foreground, between the Courthouse and the former Methodist Church,  St. Anne's  Church is on top of the hill.

                                                                                                                                                   
Technical/ Vocational education in County Donegal had its beginnings a century ago in Ballyshannon which linked with Letterkenny in providing the first two schools in the county. This article looks back to the early days in the first school on the Mall, Ballyshannon and the people who paved the way for others to follow. The great pioneer of technical education James O’ Neill was the first principal of both Ballyshannon and Letterkenny Technical schools at the same time in 1914. He resided in Ballyshannon and later became the first C.E.O. of Co. Donegal V.E.C. with its offices in Ballyshannon from 1930 to 1949. For almost 40 years the school was situated on the Mall overlooking the renowned Assaroe waterfall.  From 1914 until the era of the Second World War Ballyshannon Technical school provided the only available post-primary education in the community. The only alternative was for those with sufficient income or who won a scholarship to go off to boarding schools. The school was established in a most historic period coinciding with the First World War and the independence struggle. Its legacy to the local community still continues in 2015.

Technical Education from Pettigo to Bundoran 1902  
As early as 1902 James O’ Neill, a native of Larne Co. Antrim, had come to County Donegal as an itinerant woodwork teacher and devoted his life to the provision of technical education  for the people so that they could be self sufficient. Itinerant teachers travelled around the county spending upwards of a month in locally rented accommodation, to which they transported their equipment, enrolled classes and provided hands on service to isolated communities. James O’ Neill travelled extensively throughout the county including Buncrana, Letterkenny, Killybegs, Ardara and Ballyshannon. Local instructors such as Ellen Hannigan in Pettigo were employed to provide crochet classes for four hours a day. By 1914 there were sprigging classes in the courthouse in Pettigo with further classes in Lettercran in a room in Mr. Flood’s house. Meanwhile the Bundoran Co-operative Home Industry and the Bundoran Carrickmacross Lace and Crochet Group taught skills and enabled the students to sell their finished products. Ms. McKenna who was later to be employed in the first technical schools in Ballyshannon and Letterkenny conducted cookery classes in Ballintra. In Belleek a lace group was organised and conducted by Ms. Slevin which operated four hours a day and three days a week.

Ballyshannon had two groups with Ms. Mulligan and Ms. Margaret McMenamin providing instruction in lace and crochet respectively. Classes sold their lace products on the open market but with the outbreak of World War 1 the value of the work dropped and earnings fell by 50%. Early technical education had its humble beginnings in hired accommodation with itinerant teachers and locally based skilled instructors providing a valuable service to people whose education had ended with primary school. The opening of schools in Ballyshannon and Letterkenny in 1914 was to provide the first permanently based technical schools in the county.

Ballyshannon Technical School 1914
In 1914 the two largest towns in the county were selected by County Donegal Joint Technical Instruction Committee to establish the first permanent technical schools. Locally much of the talk in 1914 would have been about men enlisting in the army at Finner Camp and going off to fight on the Western Front in France. The roadway outside the  technical school on the Mall  in Ballyshannon would have been busy with salmon fishermen coming and going, to the Assaroe waterfall and the Mall Quay nearby. James O’Neill was appointed Principal of both Ballyshannon and Letterkenny Technical schools which both opened in October 1914. Undaunted he took on the challenge and commuted between both locations by C.D.R. train. The logistics of running two schools so far apart required military precision and frequent reference to the railway timetables. Mr. O’ Neill was also required to conduct a short course of instruction in some other part of the county during the summer holidays. Generations of local people from the urban and rural areas around Ballyshannon were provided with educational opportunities to follow on from their primary education. 

In 1914 the search for a building to house the first technical school resulted in the selection of a three storey building on the Mall beside the Courthouse. The building had originally been a warehouse in close proximity to the harbour at the Mall Quay. The building was leased from the Sheil Trustees and was to be the home of the technical school until the present building was constructed on College Street in 1952. (Subsequently the building on the Mall was to be the home of the Catholic Club, the Boxing Club and the local library. The site is nowadays occupied by a private residence between the Tyrhugh Centre and the former Methodist Church). John McCaffrey, architect, who had previously been Principal of Armagh Technical School, planned the alterations to the building in 1914. On the ground floor were the Mechanical Drawing, Manual Instruction and Metalwork rooms; the first floor housed the Domestic Science room while the second floor had the Commercial Department and an Art room. There were a number of offices, stores and toilets. Ballyshannon Technical school had a most attractive location as it directly overlooked the Assaroe waterfall which was the most beautiful natural attraction in the town.

The Technical School on the Mall was to provide exceptionally high standards in draughtsmanship, carpentry, joinery and metalwork and many local offices and businesses were to benefit from the skills learned in the typing and commercial departments in the school. Brother Hugh Gallagher O.F.M. a native of Mullinaleck Co. Leitrim, recalled attending the Technical School on the Mall where he made a horse cart under the guidance of Louis Emerson, which he later drove home from the school. The school also provided skills for those who were forced to emigrate in search of employment and many emigrants and older members of the community acknowledge the educational opportunities they received and which equipped them to find employment. Many successful local businesses credit their origins to the Technical School.

Educational Opportunities in the era of the First World War
By November 1914 a total of 144 students were enrolled in Ballyshannon Technical School on the Mall which must be some kind of record as the proposal to open the school was taken in April of the same year. This enrolment also reflected the demand for further education in the community. Students were drawn from a wide catchment,  encompassing the areas in and around the town, extending to Bundoran and Kinlough areas and out to the Rossnowlagh and  Ballintra areas. Fermanagh students were also a significant feature in the school and the bicycle was widely used as a means of transport. It was to be a further 50 years and more before school transport enabled generations of students from the wider area to go on to second level education with progression to third level. In 1914 students had a choice of four main courses of study in the school namely; Commercial, Domestic, Farmers and Building Trades plus an Introductory Course. To encourage wider participation and to make education accessible to all, the school had enlightened scholarship schemes. The top 15 students who obtained highest marks for attendance and homework in the session 1914/1915 were given free education in the following year. As many families would have had economic difficulties, another enlightened grant was that given to students who had over 80% attendance as they had half their examination fees paid for Department and RSA examinations.James O'Neill, although not a native speaker,had a tremendous love of the Irish language and the Gaelic League, and ensured that staff and students throughout the county were given Irish courses to keep the language alive.

School Life and the Commute to Letterkenny
In 1914 classes in Ballyshannon Technical school began at 3 p.m. for day students and night classes commenced at 7.30 p.m. Some staff including the Principal commuted between Ballyshannon and Letterkenny and taught classes in both schools. On the 12th April 1915 Ms. McKenna, the Domestic Economy instructor, had a predicament which she solved in a novel manner. She had missed a train at Letterkenny on her way to teach in Ballyshannon and was unable to arrive there before 8 o’clock. She wired instructions to one of the students to conduct classes until her arrival! Some staff who are still remembered from the school on the Mall include Mr. O’ Neill, the Principal, Ms. Hilda Boyle, Mr. T.W. Smyth, Ms. K. McKenna, Ms. O’ Doherty, Charlie Stuart and  Louis Emerson. Mr. Francis Doherty N.T. Creevy National School taught the Introductory Course in the evenings after completing his days work in the primary school. Michael Walsh was the secretary and Patrick Patton and his son were caretakers in succession in the school on the Mall. In subsequent periods Louis Emerson and Paddy Gallagher  who both  arrived in the county during the 1930’s were to continue the pioneering role of technical education in Ballyshannon.

Paddy Tunney, renowned author, ballad writer, historian and singer recalled in his book “The Stone Fiddle” attending the old Technical School on the Mall. After finishing primary school he and many others cycled in the Belleek road to Ballyshannon and the following are a few of his reminiscences of the school and one of his teachers, Ms. Hilda Boyle:

"When I finished school in Derryhallow, my course was set for Ballyshanny on the winding banks of Erne, where at the Vocational school; a wry old bachelor from Oughterdrum told me that headsheaf would be put on my learning. My abiding memory of the school on the Mall is the music of Casca Aodh Ruaidh that filled our ears as we listened to Ms. Hilda’s recitation of Herrick’s “Fair Daffodils” or struggled with her dissertation on self-balancing ledgers. In the school on the Mall overlooking famed Assaroe, we gathered to garner wisdom and learning.”

In the years prior to the border being established, Ballyshannon was the market town and educational centre for areas such as Belleek and Garrison in County Fermanagh. Concerns were expressed in the 1920s during the Boundary Commission review that the border would hamper the local economy by cutting off part of the town’s natural hinterland in County Fermanagh. 

Gaelic Football team in Ballyshannon Technical school 1936/1937
Front (l.tor.) P.McIntyre, J.Gallagher, H.Maguire, J.McGahern (captain), J.Feely, J.Gallinagh, S.Cleary, E.McIntyre
back (l.tor.) F.Grimes, S.Slevin, B.Loughlin, K. Connolly, L.Slevin, J.McGarrigle, W.O'Donnell

 Legacy of Vocational/ Technical Education in the Ballyshannon Area
At the very beginning of the 20th century teachers travelled out to local communities such as Bundoran, Belleek, Ballintra and Pettigo and provided educational training in technical skills for the people. By 1914 with the opening of the Technical School on the Mall in Ballyshannon, generations of local people were equipped for the world of work and for highly valued apprenticeships. Later in 1952 with the building of a new Technical/ Vocational school on College Street, a new era of educational opportunity gradually opened up, with technical and academic subjects to Leaving Certificate level, and with computerisation and commercial courses to equip students for a fast changing world. New opportunities also opened up for access to 3rd Level and all this was made possible by the pioneers who laid the foundations a century ago in the old school on the Mall. James O'Neill died on 12th July 1951 at his residence in College Street opposite the Vocational school. He is buried with his wife Ellen  in Abbey Assaroe in his adopted Ballyshannon.
 
Ballyshannon Vocational/Technical School has left a lasting legacy in the local community through its involvement with the establishment of Magh Ene College in Bundoran and with the amalgamation of the three post-primary schools in Ballyshannon to form Coláiste Cholmcille in 2000. The Technical School building in College Street Ballyshannon still provides for the changing needs of the local community and is now renamed The Adult Education and Training Centre. County Donegal V.E.C. has taken on a broader role and today is called Donegal Education and Training Board guided by current C.E.O Mr. Shaun Purcell. Today there are fifteen schools in the county with seven Adult Education and Training Centres, Gartan Outdoor Education Centre and many resources and facilities to meet the ever changing needs in the county. Errigal College is a continuation of Letterkenny Technical School founded alongside Ballyshannon in 1914 and   celebrates a century of continuous second level education in 2014/2015. The school will be marking its centenary with  a commemorative book and Ballyshannon Vocational/ Technical School published a book prior to the amalgamation of the three schools in Ballyshannon. Major changes and developments have occurred in the past one hundred years since the  foundations of technical education were laid in County Donegal, by that great educational pioneer, James O’Neill and his team  in Ballyshannon 1914. For further information on the history of the Ballyshannon area log on to ballyshannonmusing.blogspot.com

A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away
"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was recently performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.
Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com