Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Falgarragh Park Ballyshannon officially opened 1936 also the Falgarragh Horse Racing Course

Opening of Falgarragh Park (now St. Benildus Avenue) in 1936. Sean T. O'Kelly,  later President of Ireland , seen here on the right,  under the umbrella,  in the centre, officially opened the housing scheme. Cecil Stephens, Town Clerk, is the man  carrying a folder beside Sean T. Ó Kelly. Dean McGinley P.P Kilbarron is further back under the umbrella.

The second largest housing scheme in the Ulster counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan was opened at Falgarragh Park Ballyshannon by Sean T.O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government and Public Health  on Monday 9th March 1936. Mr. O’Kelly had played an important role in the 1916 Rising, twenty years before, and was later to become the second President of Ireland. On his visit he firstly inspected the new housing scheme at East Rock which had recently been built on the site of the Rock Barracks. Fr. Timoney blessed the houses and the Minister inspected and complimented the workmanship in their construction. He then visited the Mall Hosiery where the proprietor Mr. Swan presented him with a beautiful cardigan made in the factory. He also visited the Mall Quay and surrounding areas where he praised the new seating, shelter and dance platform recently completed as part of the Town Improvement Scheme. He also visited the Mall Laundry where he was welcomed by the proprietors Mr. & Mrs. M. Ward.

Official Opening of Falgarragh Park (now called St. Benildus Avenue)
At 12.30 Sean T.O’Kelly attended the official opening ceremony of the 80 houses at Falgarragh park which he described as “the most beautiful he had yet seen”. The Minister remarked on the numbers of houses that needed to be replaced all over Ireland to stop the spread of tuberculosis and infant mortality and welcomed this new housing development in Ballyshannon.  Present with the Minister were local clergy Dean McGinley, Fr. McMullin and Fr. McGroarty who blessed the houses. Also present were Cecil Stephens, Town Clerk, Mr. Lysaght Commissioner in charge of the Town commissioners, M.F. Irwin C.E. Clerk of Works, W.J. Doherty architect of the scheme, reps. of contractor Kilcawley, Maloney and Taylor Ballisadare Co. Sligo, Dr. Gordon, Major Myles T.D. and Brian Brady T.D. The tape of number 77 was then cut by the Minister who inspected the house.

(A fuller account of the Falgarragh Housing Scheme and the East Rock Housing Scheme are contained in the book “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History” available in local shops. see below for details.)

The following is an extract from the poem which has twelve verses and a number of verses are parodies of William Allingham’s “Adieu to Ballyshanny”. The poem was written by Dan McCauley who had fought in World War 1 and whose family, were one of a number of families, who left condemned houses in places like Bachelor’s Walk and the Back Street to live in the new houses which had all amenities.
Dan McCauley's World War One medals

 The Flight to Falgarragh

‘Twas in an old thatched cabin

With its walls as white as snow,

Where mother dear, (God rest her soul),

Some forty years ago-

Told me of some noble deeds,

How the great Red Hugh did turn

The Saxon from Tirconaill
On the Winding Banks of Erne.



I’ve trod the world ever since,

I’ve ploughed the seas afar,

I’ve seen Killarney’s lakes and fells,

And historic Castlebar.

From County Down to Cavan Town,

Through Fermanagh’s leafy fern,

Till I landed at Falgarragh

On the Winding Banks of Erne.


Our Twelve Commissioners are no more,

Their plans were out of date,

And a Gentleman from Kerry

Comes and strikes the old Town Rate,

He puts seats upon the Mall-

‘Tis true- and a dancing Board to learn

The “Waltzes from Vienna”

By the Winding Banks of Erne.


And now we have a Housing Scheme

To brighten up the town:

We’ll clear out all slum dwellings

And pull the old shacks down,

A brand new house they’re giving us,

              And its Finn Hill turf we’ll burn,

Away in grey Falgarragh

By the Winding Banks of Erne.




Ballyshannon Races –Old  Falgarragh Course 1929




Ballyshannon Races were held on Monday 5th August 1929 on the old Falgarragh horse racing course. This was in the days before the current houses were erected and races were frequently held on this site The five race card had a prize fund of £80- a sizeable sum eighty years ago. The racing programme was as follows:


1.        2 oclock. The Assaroe Plate. (Open Handicap.) Value £15. Distance, 11/4 miles. Entry Fee, 10s.

2.        2.30 oclock. The Farmers Plate. Value £10. distance, 1 Mile. Entry Fee, 7s 6d. (catch Weights).

3.        3 oclock The Traders Plate. Value £25. distance, 11/2 Miles. Entry Fee, £1.

4.        3.30 oclock. The Erne Plate. Value £15. distance, 11/2 Miles. Entry Fee, 10s.

5.        4 oclock. The Ballyshannon Plate. Value £15. distance, 1 Mile. Entry Fee, 10s.

The Farmers’ Plate was for horses the bona-fide property of Owners (Farmers within a 10-mile radius of Ballyshannon for three months prior to the date of the races.)
Forms and full particulars about all the races were available from the Secretary. Special Reduced Fares on the Great Northern and Donegal Railways and all buses.


Local History book available in Local Shops or for Postal Delivery. Ideal Christmas Gift.

"Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available to purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, O'Neills Bridge End, Clearys garage shop and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

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