Ballinalee has become the latest village join the growing number of areas across the county to outline their village improvement plans - through the Village Area Enhancement Scheme that is being run in conjunction with Longford Community Resources Ltd, in association with Keystone Landscape Architects.
The launch of the Ballinalee Area Enhancement Plan took place recently at Curracahill Community Centre amid a flurry of excitement after it emerged that much had been unearthed about the picturesque north Longford parish, and it environs, during research undertaken for the Plan’s development.
The fact that a clash between local rivals St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta and the Ballinalee side was scheduled for the same time as the launch failed to dampen the spirits of those in attendance who heard from local area representative, Michael Carrigy that, “Ballinalee could be the next Abbeyshrule”.
“This historic and long standing village has undergone considerable expansion in recent times with the addition to the central village area of five housing estates and the village has also seen a considerable rise in population especially among the younger demographic,” Cllr Carrigy added.
“Ballinalee is set in its own valley that comprises lush pasture land which is devoted to cattle, dairy and sheep farming; the area is also steeped in history as this was the birthplace of General Séan MacEoin, signified by Rose Cottage and the Forge.”
He went on to say, that as a result of investigations carried out to determine the works that needed to be implemented in the area under the Enhancement Plan, it was established that there were a number of historical sites that had “become neglected”.
“These need to be cleaned up, maintained and highlighted by information boards and signage and the River Camlin is an amenity that needs to be opened up and made more accessible to the public,” Cllr Carrigy further explained.
“The local halls – Thomas Ashe, Curracahill School Hall – need updating; their improvements will be endorsed within the village enhancement plan.”
There are also plans to develop and enhance not just the village centre but the abundance of available walkways, the Camlin Bridge and to up grade the nature trails along the way.
After the Battle of Ballinmuck in 1798 Lord Cornwallis and his mighty army decamped at Ballinalee and fifty rebels were hanged and buried in Bully’s Acre.
There were also four ‘big houses’ owned by the landed gentry at Kilshrewley, Lissard, Currygrane and Whitehall.
Owners included the Edgeworths, More O’Farrell and the Wilson and Wilson-Slator families.
“In order to ensure that the history of the Parish is not forgotten, it will be important to ensure that sites such as these are made accessible and their history revealed to all,” added Cllr Carrigy.
“This will give to the people of the Parish a sense of identity, a sense of place and pride in their native area.
“It is also envisaged that a monument will be erected at the bottle bank site and a map, outlining the location of all the historic and heritage areas in the Parish.”
In 1920, the North Longford’s Flying Column led by Ballinalee’s General Séan McEoin was established and the Clonfin Ambush which occurred along the Ballinalee to Granard Road has since been recorded as one of the most successful battles on the part of the Column.
Although a number of Auxilleries were killed in the battle, General McEoin has been credited with treating the injured “in a most humane way”.
“The history and heritage in this area is vast and some of it has never been told; now we need to find the balance and do just this,” Cllr Carrigy concluded.