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Béal an Átha Móir
Main Street-High Street, Ballinamore
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°03′07″N 7°48′07″W / 54.052°N 7.802°W / 54.052; -7.802Coordinates: 54°03′07″N 7°48′07″W / 54.052°N 7.802°W / 54.052; -7.802
CountryRepublic of Ireland
CountyCounty Leitrim
74 m (243 ft)
 • Total914
Irish Grid ReferenceH131112

Ballinamore (historically Bellanamore, from Irish: Béal an Átha Móir, meaning "mouth of the big ford")[2] is a small town in County Leitrim, Ireland, 19 km (12 mi) from the border with County Fermanagh. It is located on the R202 regional road where it is joined by the R199 and R204. Béal an Átha Móir means "mouth of the big ford", and the town is so named because it was the main crossing point of the Yellow River, which flows past the town. This waterway become known as the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal, built to link the Rivers Erne and Shannon in the 1840s. It reopened as the Shannon–Erne Waterway in 1994.


The history of Ballinamore has enabled it to grow through the centuries as a town with a large variety of trades and tradesmen. The first mention was under the Plantation of Leitrim in 1621 when the Manor of Ballinamore was granted to Sir Fenton Parsons with 600 acres (2.4 km2) of arable land.[3] In 1256, the Battle of Magh Slecht, fought between the O'Rourkes and the O'Reillys, supposedly occurred near Ballinamore, leading to a division of Bréifne between the O'Rourkes of North Leitrim and the O'Reillys of East Bréifne (mainly modern-day County Cavan).

In the 18th century, dispossessed Catholics from County Down travelled to the west of Ireland looking for new places to live. They stopped in an area of land they found suitable notably for its location near the rivers Shannon and Erne. This was the origins of Ballinamore. These dispossessed Ulster people brought with them numerous skills such as blacksmiths, tinsmiths, skilled craftsmen and farmers.[citation needed]

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, two annual fairs were held at Ballinamore on- May 12, and November 12.[4][5] It is recorded, that in 1925, Ballinamore town comprised 163 houses, approximately 28 being licensed to sell alcohol.[6]

Back in the 18th century, there was a flourishing ironworks here.[3] Ballinamore Iron works was established sometime after 1693 and continued production until probably 1747 when the business was put up for sale, the assets including a furnace, forge, slitting mill, mine yards, coal yards, large quantities of pig iron, mine and coals.[7][a] The operation closed due to the exhaustion of forests locally.[8]


Ballinamore railway station opened on 24 October 1887, but finally closed on 1 April 1959.[9] It was part of the narrow gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway and was the hub of the line, with the locomotive depot and works. It was the point where the line from Dromod through Mohill and Ballinamore to Belturbet branched to Kiltubrid, Drumshanbo and Arigna.[10]

The Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal was opened in 1860 but was not a success and fell into disrepair. It was restored in 1994 as the Shannon-Erne Waterway and now brings more tourists into the town. Today, Ballinamore has daily Local-link bus services to Carrick on Shannon and Dromod railway station Monday to Saturday.

Notable features

  • The local Church of Ireland church is the oldest building in Ballinamore in the 1780s from the ruins of the local Roman Catholic Church (St Patrick's) demolished during the reformation and penal laws.
  • The Ballinamore Estate was granted to the Ormsby family in 1677.[11] Elizabethan settlers located at first in County Sligo, from where they spread into Counties Mayo, Roscommon and Galway. The Ballinamore branch were descended from the Ormsby of Comyn or Cummin in County Sligo.
  • A monument to the IRA Chief of Staff, TD, and local councillor John Joe McGirl is located on the bridge crossing the Shannon-Erne Waterway. The monument bears the phrase: "An Unbroken and Unbreakable Fenian".
  • Christy Moore released a song called The Ballad of Ballinamore in 1984, giving the writing credits to Fintan Vallely. Later compilations have referred to the song as simply Ballinamore. The song was a parody of an earlier Irish rebel song called The Man from the Daily Mail. It was written after an RTE investigation in the Ballinamore area for evidence of the abducted racehorse Shergar (believed to be abducted by the Provisional IRA) found several locals refusing to say anything other than "no comment".

See also

Notes and references


  1. ^ Iron works at Ballinamore, and Dromod, on Irish land confiscated during the plantations of Ireland, were established by english adventurers named Capt. William Slacke, John Skerret, and Joseph Hall.[8]

Primary sources

  1. ^ "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Ballinamore". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  2. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
  3. ^ a b Fr Dan Gallogly (1991). Sliabh an Iarainn Slopes, History of the Town and Parish of Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim.
  4. ^ Longman 1819, pp. 405.
  5. ^ Watsons 1830.
  6. ^ Irish Free State 1925, pp. 31.
  7. ^ Meehan 1926, pp. 413.
  8. ^ a b Kelly 1995, pp. 1-12.
  9. ^ "Ballinamore station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  10. ^ Baker, Michael HC (1999). Irish Narrow Gauge Railways. A View from the Past. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2680-7.
  11. ^ "Estate Record: Ormsby (Ballinamore)". Landed Estates Database. NUI Galway. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012.

Secondary sources

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