Ballyconnell (Irish place name|Béal Átha Conaill|Entrance to the Ford of Conall) is a town in
County Cavan, Ireland. It is situated at the junction of four townlands Annagh, Cullyleenan, Doon and Derryginny in the parish of Tomregan, Barony of Tullyhaw. Its latitude is 54 07' 00 "and its longitude is -7 35' 00 ". The town has an altitude of 55 metres above sea level. The mean daily January temperature is 4.5 degrees Celsius and the mean daily July temperature is 15 degrees Celsius. The average annual rainfall is 1,000 mm. The average annual hours of sunshine are 1,250.
It lies astride the
Shannon-Erne Waterwaywhich was opened in 1993, formerly known as the Woodford Canal which was built in 1860. Prior to being canalised it was known as the River Grainne. The town sits at the foot of Slieve Rushenmountain and is a mile from the border between Northern Irelandand the Republic of Ireland. The population in 2002 was 572.
The earliest surviving mention of the name Ballyconnell is an entry in the
Annals of the Four Mastersfor the year 1323 A.D., which states "Rory Mac Mahon, son of the Lord of Oriel, Melaghlin O'Seagannain, and Mac Muldoon, were slain by Cathal O'Rourke at Bel-atha-Chonaill". Before being named Ballyconnell it was named "Áth na Mianna" which means Ford of the Miners. It was also named Gwyllymsbrook between 1660 and 1702 by its then owner Thomas Gwyllym. The name is an anglicization of "Bél Átha Conaill" which means "The entrance to Conall's Ford". The ford was a shallow crossing over the River Grainne and was the ancient border crossing for travellers going between Ulsterand Connacht. The ford was caused by silt and gravel washed down from the nearby Slieve Rushen mountain by a stream which flows into the Grainne about 20 yards upriver from Ballyconnell bridge on the western outskirts of the town.
Conall was the great
UlsterHero and Red Branchknight Conall Cernach, who was killed at Ballyconnell by the three Ruadhcoinsent by Queen Maeve of Connachtto avenge the slaying of her husband Ailill by Conall.
The area was settled at an early date as there is a double-court tomb in the town dating from c. 3000 B.C. The ford would have been a logical place to erect a settlement and it probably dates from the time of the court tomb. The earliest inhabitants were hunter-gatherers rather than farmers. They lived by fishing, hunting wild game and foraging for berries and nuts. This area would have been thickly wooded at the time, with no roadways. The easiest way to travel would have been by boat via the river and the numerous lakes and streams in the area.The only other
megalithin the parish was a wedge-tomb dating from 2000 B.C. on the side of Slieve Rushen mountain in Aughrim townland. However after remaining undisturbed for 4,000 years it was recently dug up by the Quinn Groupto enable them dig some sand from the mountain. It was deposited in the grounds of the group's hotel, The Slieve Russell to serve as a tourist attraction.
Buildings of note
* Ballyconnell Market House is a five bay, two storey building dating from about 1838 and was used by the Defence Forces as a border post during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It was also used by the Reserve Defence Force until 2005 when the building was sold to Cavan County Council. It is now unused and lying dormant.
*Ballyconnell railway station opened on
24 October 1887, but finally closed on 1 April 1959. [cite web | title=Ballyconnell station | work=Railscot - Irish Railways | url=http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf | accessdate=2007-09-10] It was part of the narrow gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway.
The industry in the area is mainly agricultural, but it also has a large cement factory (owned by billionaire businessman,
Sean Quinn), a plastics factory and an animal feeds plant.
List of towns in the Republic of Ireland
Market Houses in the Republic of Ireland
* [http://www.cavantourism.com/html/towns_villages/ballyconnell.asp Cavan Tourism]
* [http://www.johnthemap.co.uk/pages/cavan/ballyconnell.html A map of the town]
* [http://www.daisyhill.ie/Picture-index.htm An aerial photo of the town]
*St Peter's Church Templeport [http://www.stpeter.utvinternet.com/History/1778-Roads-Taylor.htm Map]
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