B allinamuck’s place in history is assured because it was the site of the penultimate battle of the 1798 Rebellion, a revolution in broader terms that led to the Act of Union with Great Britain, during a turbulent period in Irish history.
Ballinamuck is a village that has a proud record in looking after its community. The 98 Hall is an important focal point in the village. This hall has been lovingly maintained by the community for over fifty years and now houses the Visitor Centre developed by the Enterprise Group for the bi-Centenary of the 1798 rebellion. At that time the Garden of Remembrance was also established.
The newly established village enhancement group has great ideas for further improvements to the village and surrounding parish.
Local Bogs, Rivers and Lakes
The bogs of Ballinamuck are a defining characteristic of the area and its people. Most families own a turf bank, and the cutting, drying and carrying of turf has long been a feature of their summer months.
Edenmore Bog, situated to the north-west of the village is one of a network of raised bogs that can be found through the midlands of Ireland. Raised bogs are highly acidic, waterlogged and nutrient deprived habitats which support a range of specialised plants and animals. This habitat has become very rare in Europe.
The centre of Edenmore bog is in relatively pristine condition and supports two rare mosses that are only found on high quality raised bogs. The edges of the bog support a range of woodland, grassland and wetland habitats, which add to the diversity of flora and fauna in the area.
A circular walk of about 4.5 kilometres around the bog has been developed by Ballinamuck community enterprise group. This provides a valuable amenity for local walkers and nature lovers.
Two other walks around the village have been developed by the enterprise group. The first is an eight kilometre walk where the walker can recreate the events of the battle of Ballinamuck from the first sighting of the French on the fateful morning of 8th September 1798 to the ultimate massacre on Shanmullagh Hill later that day.
The third walk is the 8 kilometre walk around Lough Salach Lake with its crannog in the centre. A crannog is a small manmade island that provided both a good defensive position and a ready access to a supply of fish for food.
In the Irish independent Weekend (30/05/09), Christopher Somerville described his experience of the Edenmore Bog Walk.
Reeks of cut turf five foot high and fifty long stood on the edge of the black cliffs of peat from which they’d been harvested. But the cut bog after all was only a fraction of the whole. The grass path led us on and on, through groves of black sally powdered with catkins, past birch stands hazed with green and osier clumps of pure sunlit scarlet.
Larks sang their tiny heads off overhead. In the very middle of Edenmore Bog, with iridescent pools glinting far and near, we stopped to listen. Bird song, wind in the grasses, buzz of a bee, rustle of willow fronds. That was it, a place of absolute peace and quiet, with its life in proper balance.
This then is the setting for Ballinamuck village, the area from Gaigue crossroads to the 98 Bar with the Black River running through it and surrounded by lakes and bogland of unspoilt, incomparable beauty.
Brochures for the Ballinamuck walks are available from the Longford Tourism Office.
Ballinamuck Community Enterprise Group is affiliated to the Community & Voluntary Forum as it strongly supports the voice of the local community in local decision making.
Ballinamuck is a small village, consisting of 12 townlands, in north West Longford on the borders of Leitrim and Cavan. The landscape with its gently rolling hills and valleys was formed by the retreating ice of the last glaciation. Bogland and forests mingle with pastures to carpet this region in hues of brown and green. There is evidence to suggest that a sizable population lived in Ballinamuck in pre-Christian times. Liosanna or forts are common in the area and stone and flint axe heads have been found in the vicinity.
The Black Fort of Ballinamuck is most likely to have been the dwelling place of the local chief whose warriors would have defended the ford mouth against the enemy. The black Fort also contains the Mass Rock where the people met in secret to practice their Catholic faith made illegal by the passing of the Penal Laws.
The ending of the 1798 rebellion at the Battle of Ballinamuck marked a watershed in Irish history. Here the combined French and Irish army were defeated by the English forces under the command of General Cornwallis.
The French contingent was led by General Humbert of St. Nabord, near Remiremont in the Vosges. After the Battle the people experienced a reign of terror as the Hessians (atroop of German mercenaries employed by the English) roamed the countryside pillaging, looting and raping.
Resistance to English Rule continued to be a feature of Ballinamuck’s history despite severe reprisals such as those inflicted by the landlord King Harman when in 1836 he razed the village and levelled the peasant’s cabins to the ground. It was because of such continuous insurrection that in 1846 an imposing cut stone RIC Barracks was erected in the village. It is now the 98 Memorial Hall, a community centre and Ballinamuck Visitor Centre.
The revolutionary nature of the people of North Longford made its contribution in the War Of Independence as many comprised the “Flying Columns” that were a major factor in forcing the offering of a treaty. This was acknowledged when Michael Collins himself selected Ballinamuck as one of the venues for a morale boosting visit by him at the height of the conflict.
The 1798 Memorial Hall incorporates the Ballinamuck visitor Centre which retraces the steps of the famous battle and deals with such exploits as the heroic stand of Gunner Magee and the atrocities of the Walking Gallows.
The Battle Trail
Once you’ve learned the details of the Battle in the Visitor Centre or from the panels outside , follow the signposts of the Battle Trail and tread the ground where the events unfolded . From the positions occupied by the various forces, you will see how the battle was won and lost and how the geomorphology of the area played such an important role in the outcome. Visit the graves of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom from the Croppies graves to their leader’s General Blake.
With Lough Salach, Fearglas Lake and Cloncoose Lakes within 2kms of the village and Lough Gowna and the river Shannon nearby, this area is a fisherman’s paradise. The lakes abound with pike, perch, bream, roach and rudd.