Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 15 May 2014
“Historical Walking Tour of Ballinlough”
Next Sunday, 18 May, I conduct a walking tour of Ballinlough (2pm meeting outside Beaumont National Schools). With 360 acres, Ballinlough is the second largest of the seven townlands forming the Mahon Peninsula. If you think of its geographic location on a limestone ridge over-looking the river and harbour and the name Baile an Locha – settlement of the lake – that is where the name could come from, a settlement overlooking the nearby Douglas estuary. There is alot of early history in Ballinlough from the standing stone in Ardmahon Estate to the Knight’s Templar church and graveyard site to the former big houses of the area, the last remnants of the market gardens. Then there is the sporting heritage such as Flower Lodge and Cork Constitution.
Walking through Ballinlough, people talk about their affinity for the place’s tranquillity and its green areas. They speak about how Ballinlough sits on a suburban ridge overlooking the river and harbour area and faces further afield to the architectural beauty of Cork’s Montenotte and St Lukes. Ballinlough also has the view of County Cork’s southern ridges and troughs. Perhaps it was the view and good land that led the area’s first recorded resident Patrick Meade to settle in the area. In records from 1641, Ballinlough was written as Ballynloghy and Patrick, a Catholic, had 144 acres of profitable land. The Meades were originally from the west coast of England. On arrival in Cork, they built themselves into the fabric of the key merchant families of the city along with families such as the Roches, Goulds, Coppingers, Sarsfields, Galways and Tirrys. The history books note that the Meade family had a castellated mansion near the present day Clover Hill House.
During the Cromwellian wars, Patrick Meade was dispossessed of his property. William Tucker had the caretaker’s lease on the property through Oliver Cromwell. Subsequently, the 144 acres were given to Alexander Pigott. The Pigotts came from Chetwynd in Shropshire and initially came to Ballyginnane beyond present day Togher. In time, they re-named this area Chetwynd. Colonel William Piggott was in Oliver Cromwell’s army and was rewarded further with land across Cork’s southern hinterland. Indeed in the early 1660s, the population of Ballinlough was recorded in a census as having 30 souls (more on the tour).
In 1792, when Beamish & Crawford was first established, William Beamish resided at Beaumont House, which was then a magnificent period residence situated on Beaumont Hill. During their tenure at Beaumont House the philanthropic spirit of the Beamish family was well known. The name Beaumont is the French derivative of Beamish meaning a beautiful view from the mountain or a beautiful view. Ballinlough House, one of several large mansions in the area, was built c.1860 by George Gregg. The house had 21½ acres of parkland and the adjoining crossroads were named after the family. In time 15 acres of the land were sold off to create Silverdale. In 1850 Griffith’s Valuation of property in Ballinlough, 49 individual land holdings are listed. The surnames included McGrath, Dennis, Hare, Pigott, Angleton, Barrett, Barry, Callaghan, Coughlan, Delany, Donovan, Hayes, Keeffe, Keohane, Lavallin, Love, Lyons, O’Mahony, Meade, Noonan, Reid, Regan, Riordan, Silke and Smith. Quarrying, lime-burning, brick-making, and market gardening were the most frequent occupations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1901 census Ballinlough townland had 17 market gardeners.
In the 1930s Ballinlough, at the western end of the Blackrock Parish, had grown in population to the point where could no longer be sustained by St Michael’s Church in Blackrock. Bishop Cohalan in addressing this situation decided a second church was needed in this part of Ballinlough. The result was the building of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough which was built in the townland of Knockrea and was opened and blessed in September 1938. In 1958, it was accorded parochial status.
Up to 1966, the parish was in the jurisdiction of Cork County Council but from the extension of the county borough of Cork in that year, it has been in the jurisdiction of Cork City Council. Over the 20th century the area of Ballinlough parish experienced a transition from largely rural settlement with open fields to suburban sprawl, from solitary housing to extensive parks and estates. Southview, Lee’s Terrace, Cogan’s cottages and lower Ballinlough village were the earlier examples of terrace houses. In the 1920’s Haig Gardens, Bryan’s Terrace and Douglas terrace were provided for the families of ex-servicemen who had fought on the British side in World War I. Bradley Brothers Builders built Carrigeen and Pic-du-Jer in the 1930s. These were followed by the parks of Browningstown, Belmont, Sundrive, Somerton and Hettyfield. The 1950s coincided with the construction of Beechwood, Ardfallen, Glencoo, Seamus Quirke and Our Lady of Lourdes Parks. Ardmahon, Lakelawn and South Lodge were constructed in the 1960s and Shrewsbury and Carrigmore in the 1970s. To give an idea of the growth that occurred: In 1911, there were 10 houses in Browningstown, in 2013 there are 515 houses – that is enormous growth for the area, which also makes it a great area to try and research and understand.
More on the walking tour… (also check out my book, Journey’s of Faith, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, Celebrating 75 Years, available in the Church office)
741a. Aerial view from roof of Our Lady of Lourdes Church roof of bell tower and Ballinlough Road (picture: Kieran McCarthy)