Colonel James Grove White: Ballygrady or Fortwilliam

Sheet 16, 6 inch O.S. Sheet 164, 1 inch O.S.

Barony of Orrery and Kilmore. Parish of Kilbrin. It is situated 2 1/2 miles south of Liscarroll. Ballygrady is the Irish for "O’Grady’s townland.” Ballygrady North consists of 354a. 1r. 18p.; Ballygrady South of 298a. Or. 18p. statute.

In the Egmont MSS. (Hist. MSS. Pub. Com.) there is the following summary of a letter relating to Ballygrady: "Cnogher O’Callaghan to Philip Percivall. 1635 (-6), January 16. Beallabalagh. Asking him to have a special care of Sir James Craig’s business, and advising him to secure a lease of Ballingradie, Rathnegard and Ballibane for a park, as they will keep more deer, mares, and horses than any park in the country” (p. 83).

In 1837 Lewis writes: "Ballygrady, the neat cottage residence of J. Purcell, Esq., also that a school is supported by Major Freeman, who allows £20 per annum and a house and garden for the Master; in this and in two private schools about 70 children are educated” (under Kilbrin). I am informed that the cottage mentioned by Lewis has been demolished, and that Mr. Garrett Watson has built a new house there. It was erected in 1874.

The Mr. Garrett Watson, who occupies Fort William, writes: "My father became tenant of Fort William (Ballygrady) about 60 years ago. He became head landlord about 35 years ago, when he bought Lord Lisle’s title. The Purcell family are middlemen on the estate, so I occupy the curious position of head landlord and tenant - that is, the Purcells pay me the head rent for my portion of Ballygrady and Lakheel, and I pay them rent as tenant.

"A Protestant church was erected here about 100 years ago. Legend has it that an effort was made to build the church in Kilbrin Cemetery, but what was built each day would be found tumbled down next morning. The work of destruction was attributed to the "good people" (fairies), and so the site was changed.

"There is a fine coal deposit in Ballygrady. The company who worked Mr. Leader’s mine at Dromagh a few years ago, had entered into an agreement with me regarding the working of the coal beds here. The matter fell through owing to their failing to make Dromagh mine pay, and they were unable in consequence to start new works. Lumps of coal as large as a good-sized turnip can be dug up with a common spade."

The national schools built in 1834 (*error on the part of Grove White), which succeeded those mentioned in ‘Lewis’ are famous for the cultivation of the Irish language, Irish singing and dancing. The pupils have gained prizes in such large Feifeanna as Killarney, Mallow, Newcastle West, and Ballyvonare, &c., and their principal teacher, Mr. Patrick O’Herlihy, is a member of the Cork H. & A. Society. The field Book of 1840 gives: "Ballygrady North. This townland is of considerable extent, all arable; contains a Danish fort and a Trigonometrical station. Ballygrady south. This is a middle-sized townland, all arable; contains a Danish fort, a cluster of houses; nothing else remarkable. Ballygrady village. A village consisting of a few houses" (Ord. Sur. Off Dub.)

Mr. James Buckley and I visited this place on 1st August, 1907, and from information acquired on the spot it appears that John Purcell inhabited the cottage mentioned by Lewis and Mr. Garrett Watson. It was a large T-shaped thatched two-storied building. Mr. Dan Watson, father of present owner, came here about 1840. His son, Mr. Garrett Watson, informed me that he himself built the present house and extensive out-offices about 1882.

In the second field, north of Mr. Watson’s house, is an old burial place, unenclosed, called the “Keel”. There is quite a number of stones cropping up. Mr. Watson informed us that some of these stood 3 ½ feet in height within his memory. The existing remains of some old foundations can still be traced. This graveyard is marked by two whitethorn trees, which are said to possess the peculiar property of growing anew where the present stock has decayed. The old trees have been utilised for fuel, and although dry they never light up like ordinary wood, but smoulder gently away. A small stream flows south about 100 yards to the west of the trees. Between the stream and the trees can be seen the remains of an unfinished road. The site of the old "Keel” is not identified on the new Ord. Sheet. The farmers on the townlands of Ballygrady North and South in 1907 were Garrett Watson, John Coughlan, James Field, Cornelius Hannan, Mrs. Sheahan, Thomas Twomey (Guy).


Name of a small Protestant Church in townland of Lougheel.


Colonel James Grove White

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