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Ballycroy

Parish History

Ballycroy Parish History


Ballycroy parish has an area of approximately 30 000 acres. The parish of Ballycroy is situated between Mulranny to the south and Bangor Erris to the north, and is almost surrounded by the Nephin beg and Achill mountains. Its coastline is facing westward towards Blacksod Bay. It is officially in the Barony of Erris with which it has much historical association but much of its trading and social life has been southwards with the towns of Newport, Westport, Achill and Castlebar. It is really an entity in itself owing to its unique geographical position and its very own particular history. Ballycroy is quite an ancient parish. Legend has it that the earliest inhabitants were part of a Belgic tribe known, as Domnonii and who according to Bardic scholars were the builders of the royal mansion of Cruachán in Roscommon –Queen Maeve’s palace. One of its descendants was Ferdia, famous for his final and fatal combat with Cúchulainn at Ardee with the Norman Conquest Erris passed into the hands of De Burgo and Jordan De Exter and then to the Butler family of the Earl of Ormond. Ballycroy surnames today are quite noticeably Northern. After the rebellions in Ulster in the 17 Century many families had their lands confiscated and were expelled to Mayo. Roger O Donnell son of Colonel Manus O Donnell who died in the battle of Benburb in 1646 led these Ulstermen from Ulster to Ballycroy. The O Donnell Landlords of Ballycroy introduced a communal form of leasing of land for three years. Over the years this form of leasing changed as the O Donnell's sold or leased their property in Ballycroy so that by the 1850s the immediate leasers were George Glendenning the Marquis of Sligo, Reverend Archer Clive, George Clive, Alick Richey, Williams Wilkins, H.J Grant, Sir Roger Palmer and the Binghams. During the reign of king James Dermot Cormack bought a lot of land and took the Jacobite side of the war and had his land confiscated by William of Orange and granted to sir John Shaen of London whose son sir Arthur Shaen having no male heir divided the property between his daughters who married John Bingham and Henry Carter whose descendants to this day have substantial properties in the area.
Because of Government regulations regarding Parish boundaries and restrictions on Roman Catholic Priests during the penal times, the present parishes of Kiltane, Belmullet, Ballycroy and Kilcommon are regarded as Kilcommon Civil Parish. When circumstances permitted, these areas returned to their original status as parishes. For civil administration they still appear on all legal documents under the heading “The Kilcommon Parish”.

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