BALLYMACELLIGOTT, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BALLYMACELLIGOTT, a parish, in the barony of TRUGHENACKMY, county of KERRY, and province of MUNSTER, 4 ¾ miles (S. E.) from Tralee; containing 3535 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the high roads leading from Tralee to Castle-Island and Killarney, comprises 11,552 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: about 2300 acres are bog and coarse mountain pasture, which, from the abundance of limestone and turf, might be easily reclaimed. The great limestone quarry of Ballymacelligott is situated on the estate of A. Blennerhassett, Esq., of Ballyseedy, and about half-way on the old road from Tralee to Castle-Island. A quarry was first opened here in 1811, for building the barracks at Tralee, but was afterwards discontinued; and near that spot is the present quarry, which was first opened to procure materials for enlarging Ballyseedy House, since which time it has been constantly worked and the stone used for the county gaol and the new court-house at Tralee, and latterly for the ship canal from Tralee to Blennerville, and affords constant employment to about 30 men. Stones of the largest size required for public works are detached with great facility by wedges, on account of the regularity of the strata, and the produce of the quarry being of very superior quality, is in general request for the ornamental parts of public buildings: the average quantity raised weekly is about 50 tons.

Several curious caverns are formed in the strata by a stream forcing its subterraneous course for nearly two miles, and, when explored by torch light, exhibit many beautiful and highly grotesque appearances; the entrance to the principal cavern is within the border of the adjoining parish of O'Brennan. The most remarkable of these caverns is one which in appearance resembles the interior of a cathedral, with a pulpit and kneeling figures formed by the stalactites; the discharge of a pistol produces a report like thunder. The principal seats are Spring Hill, that of Capt. Chute; Chute Hall; of R. Chute, Esq.; Arabella, of F. Peet, Esq. 5 Maug House, of W. Sealy, Esq.; Rathanay, of Mrs. Rowan; and Maglass, of W. Ledmond, Esq. In the northern part of the parish is a romantic glen, called Gloun-na-geentha, memorable as the scene of the discovery and death of the great Earl of Desmond by Kelly, an Irish soldier, in 1583; his head was sent to London, and ordered by Queen Elizabeth to be fixed on London bridge, and his body, after being concealed for some weeks, was interred at Ardnagrath, in a small chapel which still bears his name. This glen has lately been planted by Mr. Blennerhassett, and improvements have been made by Capt. Chute and Mr. Sealy, and orchard planting by J. O'Connell, Esq., for his tenantry at Maglass.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, to which the rectories of Nohoval-Kerry and a portion of the rectory of Currens have been episcopally united from a period prior to any existing record, forming the union of Ballymacelligott, in the patronage of the Crosbie family; the tithes of this parish amount to £336. 18. 5., and of the whole benefice to £463. 11. 4., including the rectorial tithes of that part of the parish of Currens which lies to the north of the river Maine (amounting to £58. 3. 1.), which is a portion of this union, but the ecclesiastical duties of the whole parish devolve on the incumbent of Currens, or union of Kiltalla. The church is a spacious and substantial building with an embattled tower crowned with pinnacles; it was erected on the site of the old parish church, by aid of a gift of £466 and a loan of £466 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1820. There is no glebe-house: the two glebes in the union comprise about 23 statute acres.

In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Nohoval-Kerry, Ballyseedy, and O'Brennan, and small parts of the parishes of Annagh and Ratass: the chapel here is a large slated building; and there is also one at Clohers adjoining the parish of O'Brennan, a thatched building. Near Arabella are two places of worship for Wesleyan Methodists, one of which is of the Primitive class. There is a school under the superintendence of the incumbent, and another under the direction of the parish priest is partly supported by subscription. In these schools about 90 children are instructed; and there are also three pay schools, in which are about 150 children. A shop is occasionally opened for the sale of blanketing and clothing at reduced prices to the poor. At Ballingrilough are the remains of an old castle which belonged to the Mac Elligotts; and there are several old forts in the parish, in some of which excavations have been discovered regularly walled and floored.

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