The Town of Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, Ireland: Its Development and Characteristics

The Town of Ballyhaunis in County Mayo was a market town of some significance in the 19th century. It was located in Annagh Civil Parish, Costello Barony. The Town of Ballyhaunis was incorporated into the Towns of Abbeyquarter and Hazelhill. Two other Townlands in the neighboring Civil Parish of Bekan also had the Town of Ballyhaunis incorporated into their borders: Carrownluggaun and Pollnacroaghy.

As early as 1751, William Knox applied for a patent for a market and fairs in the Town of Ballyhaunis. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 85). When the Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, Ballyhaunis did not have a designated market for grain, but it did have a market or fair for cattle. Fairs were held on June 1, July 2, September 22 and October 29 in Ballyhaunis. (McParlan, 1802;2007, p. 37, 46, 47-50). When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Annagh Civil Parish in 1856, there were no designated "Fair Greens" or "Tolls and Customs of Fairs" in the Town of Ballyhaunis or in any of the 76 Townlands in that Civil Parish. According to Samuel Lewis in "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland," the fairs that were held were primarily for horses and cattle. (Lewis, 1837;2005, p. 137). Many Townlands in this Civil Parish had Herd's Houses documented in the Griffith's Valuation; this would seem to indicate that there was a reasonable land fit for grazing (pastureland).

According to J.F. Quinn in "History of Mayo," "With the Foundation of the Monastery... in the 14th Century Ballyhaunis grew into existence as a town." The Friars were given 150 acres of land from Barons MacCostello. The friars had to flee their church and monastery in the 1600's and much of it was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1780.

"At the end of the 19th century Viscount Dillon confiscated the lands, but granted the Friars a lease for ever of 12 acres at a nominal rent of one shilling per acre. keeping his own right as lord of the manor the rest of the fee, farm belonging of right to the Friars." (Quinn, 1996, p. 266).

When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Annagh Civil Parish, there was little in the way of commercial activity going on in the Townland of Abbeyquarter or the portion of the Town of Ballyhaunis within its borders. The Townland of Hazelhill had a Roman Catholic Chapel, a Forge and a Herd's House; a forge was listed in the Town of Ballyhaunis within its borders. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Annagh). These two Townlands and the Town of Ballyhaunis were located in the north-central section of Annagh Civil Parish, and on the border with Bekan Civil Parish. Samuel Lewis also mentions a Constabulary Police Baracks in Ballyhaunis in 1837 that I didn't see documented in 1856. (Lewis, 1837;2005, p. 137). The two Townlands in Bekan Civil parish that included portions of the Town of Ballyhaunis were Carrowluggaun and Pollnacroaghy. Carrowluggaun had the "Tolls and Customs" and a Constabulary Barracks, and Pollnacroaghy had the Grand Jury of County Mayo Petty Sessions House, Tolls of Crane and the Guardians of Claremorris Dispensary. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Bekan).

Viscount Dillon was the predominant Landlord in the Townland of Abbeyquarter and its portion of Ballyhaunis representing about 35 parcels. In the Townland of Hazelhill and its section of the Town of Ballyhaunis, Francis Richard O'Grady was the primary Landlord that was documented.

When Hussey De Burgh compiled his "The Landowners of Ireland 1878" Viscount Dillon (Theobald Dominick Geoffrey Dillon-Lee 14th Viscount) held the vast majority of his land in County Mayo with 83,749 acres. He also held acreage in Roscommon and Westmeath as well. (De Burgh, 1878;2007, p. 129). I didn't see Francis Richard O'Grady listed in this resource. Desmond McCabe compiled a table entitled the Mayo Estates 1838-1876 in the book "A Various Country- Essays in Mayo History 1500-1900." Viscount Dillon was listed in this resource as having the same area in 1838- 83.7 (per 1000 statute acres) as he did in 1876. (Gillespie; McCabe, 1987, p. 110). The vast majority of major landholders lost a significant amount of land during the turbulent famine years and beyond.

Bernard O'Hara presents a compilation of the "Manufacturing Industries" of County Mayo in the Book "Mayo Aspects of its Heritage". The Town of Ballyhaunis didn't have any industries noted in this compilation (which began in 1829) until 1919. In 1919 John Durkan and Sons Ltd established a wholesale bottling company in Ballyhaunis. The following are some of the other industries noted for Ballyhaunis: in 1920 P Boyle founded an Engineering company, in 1938 Michael A Keane and Sons Ltd founded a Kitchen Furniture company, in 1948 James Connell founded a Wood Furniture Company, in 1949 Tom Donnellan founded a Furniture and Coffin Company, in 1954 Austin Grogan and Sons Ltd founded a Concrete Products Company, in 1960 D. K Moran founded a Furniture Company, in 1963 Western Chickens Ltd founded a Poultry Processing Company, in 1967 Connacht Concrete Products Ltd was founded, in 1974 Halal Meat Packers Ltd founded a Meat Processing Plant, in 1976 Padraig Kelly founded a Furniture Store, in 1977 Murphy Bros formed a General Engineering Company, in 1979 M. Gallagher founded a Furniture Company and in 1981, Farah Manufacturing Co. Ltd founded a Slacks Company. (O'Hara, 1982, p.231-234). Interesting to see how many furniture stores were created over the years. The "Commissioners of Woods and Forests" were represented as Landlords in Kildarra, one of the Townlands in this (Annagh) Civil Parish. This is the first time I have seen that title designated in any of the Civil Parishes. Does that mean there was some regulation of the timber felling/processing/ utilization industry?

The Town of Ballyhaunis wasn't one of the eleven primary Market Towns of County Mayo in the mid 19th Century. It was important enough for its markets and fairs to be noted in the Statistical Survey of County Mayo in 1802. I didn't see it mentioned in either the Pigot's Commercial Directory of Ireland in 1824 or the Slater's National Commercial Directory of Ireland in 1846.

There is a wonderful Heritage Book that was published on "Brackloon- A Trip Down Memory Lane" that has a myriad of details on the Brackloon School District on the Ballyhaunis to Loughglynn Road. I think anyone who has ancestors from this area would enjoy reading this book! It is available through Mayo Books.