BALLYMOTE, a market and post-town

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BALLYMOTE, a market and post-town, in the parish of EMLYFAD, barony of CORRAN, county of SLIGO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 11 miles (S. by W.) from Sligo, and 94 ½ miles (W. N. W.) from Dublin; containing 875 inhabitants. This place appears to have derived its origin from a castle built in 1300 by Richard de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, which, after its seizure by the native Irish during the insurrection of 1641, was found to be of such strength as to offer a serious obstacle to the complete subjugation of Connaught; it was at length taken, in 1652, by the united forces of Ireton and Sir Charles Coote. A small monastery for Franciscan friars of the third order was founded here by the sept of Mac Donogh, and at the suppression was granted to Sir H. Broncard, who assigned it to Sir William Taaffe, Knt.: an inquisition of the 27th of Elizabeth records that it belonged to the castle, and had been totally destroyed by the insurgents.

The town is situated at the junction of six roads, but has not one principal road passing through it: it consists of one main street, and contains 140 houses. The surrounding country is well cultivated, and its surface agreeably undulates; and there is a good view from an obelisk erected by Lady Arabella Denny on a small hill near the town. In the immediate vicinity is Earl's Field, the property of Sir R. Gore Booth, Bart., to whom the town belongs; and in a delightful situation, within a quarter of a mile, is the glebe-house, which commands a fine prospect of the surrounding mountains and the distant hill of Knocknaree. About 2 ½ miles from the town is Temple House, the handsome residence of Colonel A. Perceval, beautifully situated on the banks of a lake of that name, and in a fine demesne containing some good old timber; on the edge of the lake are the ruins of the old house, which was built by the O'Hara family in 1303, and was afterwards given to the Knights Hospitallers.

The linen manufacture was formerly carried on here to a great extent, under the encouragement of the Rt. Hon. Thos. Fitzmorris, but is now nearly extinct. The market is held on Friday for provisions; and fairs are held on the last Monday in January, May 11th, first Monday (O. S.) in June, Sept. 3rd, first Monday (O. S.) in November, and second Monday (O. S.) in December. Quarter sessions are held here in a sessions-house in January, April, July, and October; and petty sessions on alternate Tuesdays. The bridewell is the only one in the county: it affords the requisite statutable accommodation, and there are a day-room and airing-yard for prisoners of each sex. This is a chief station of the constabulary police.

The parish church is situated in the town; and there are a R. C. chapel, a meeting-house for Wesleyan Methodists, and a dispensary. The remains of the ancient castle, built by Richard de Burgo, occupy an area 150 feet square, with towers at the angles, and sufficiently denote its former strength. At the southern extremity of the main street are the ruins of the Franciscan friary; over the principal entrance is the figure of a pope carved in stone, but somewhat mutilated. A book, called the Book or Psalter of Ballymote, was written in Irish by the monks of this place, and is yet extant. There is a fort of rather unusual elevation about one mile from the town.—See EMLYFAD.

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