Parish History


Shanballymore (old Town) is situated on the North bank of the Awbeg River – Spenser’s ‘Mulla Fair’ – astride the road from Mallow to Mitchelstown. It is also traversed by the ‘Bianconi Road’ .This is the old road which crosses Wallstown Hill over the river and Clogher Hill, the cobbled surface of which can still be seen in a few places. The modern ‘New Line’ was built as a public work around the hills during the famines in the last century

Shanballymore has three names as the heading show. The earliest appears in the Crichad on Chaoille (c.1100) and the Papal Taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1291; Sonnach Gobunn, the second name, Templeroan makes its appearance as an alternative name about 1400 and remains as the name of the Civil (legal) or Church of Ireland parish. This latter name is important, as census figures and other official information for the parish will be found under this title. The youngest name is Shanballymore, the name of the Roman Catholic parish

That it has a history worth telling is evident from the fact that , within its 3,866 acres, it contained four tower houses or castles, via Balllinamona, Sonnach (or Shannagh, Castleruan and Dannanstown, and three churches, Kilelly, kilclagmusey & Templeroan,. Each will be discussed in its place. There is also a reference to a Shanballymore Castle, but that would appear to be in error for Castleruahn.

The vicinity of Shanballymore was part of the Tuath of Ui Bece Abha Uachtarach with Castletownroche and Wallstown parishes, as shown in the ‘Crichid an Chaoilli’, a description of the area no known as the Barony of Fermoy. The text appears in ‘The Book of Lismore (more correctly the book of Mac carthaigh Riabhach) which was found in the early eighteen-hundreds, hidden in the walls of Lismore Castle. The Crichad portion of the text is almost unique, offering a description of Irish land holding c1100, the limits of the estates and the major families of the area, it was edited and translated on three occasions, first in Patrick, Cardinals Moran’s editing of Mervyn Archdall’s Monasticon Hibernicus 1873 second by JG O’Keeffe in the scholarly periodical ‘Eriu’ in 1928 and third Patrick Power’s publication of 1932. This latter is most useful to the local historian, since it has an introduction which places the work in its context, a transcript & photographic reproduction of the text – for the scholar in medieval Irish – a translation and extensive notes on places and place names.

Power was an ideal person for the job, since he combined a number of disciplines. He was professor of archaeology in UCC the author of a History of the Diocese of Waterford, a major work on the place names of the diocese and translated the lives of Declan & Mochuda.

The parish is represented in the crichad by the ‘bailies’ of Sonnach Gobann and cluain Lochluinn and the main family were the Hi Gobunn. This is possibly the family who gave their to Ballygowan in Killavullen Parish. Sonnach remains in the townland of Shannagh.

The Parish was valued in the papal Taxation of Pope Nicholas in 1291 at 5 marks (2 old pounds 13 shillings and 4 pence) and taxed at a tithe or tenth. It is not mentioned in the pipe Roll of Cloyne (c1370). It appears from other documents of the period and later, to have been united with Wallstown & Ballygrigan parishes rather than Doneraile

In 1821 the population of the Parish was 1,413 people, 668 males and 745 females divided into 253 families and living in 236 houses. 413 were unemployed. In 1831 1,788 and in 1941 1802 people 564 males and 590 females, in these years the village population rose from 199 in 1821 to 415 in 80 houses in 1831 and in 1841 471 people in 89 houses

A Patent exists for a Fair but it is not now held. In 1821 there were 164 boys and 54 girls in school in the parish. In 1826 there were 2 schools in Shanballymore and Ballyhourode, where Matthew Reardon taught 32 boys and 18 girls, all Roman Catholics in a wretched hovel which beggars description and the other in Shanballymore where James Riall was Master to either 122 or 100 pupils in a sonte and mud thatched house. The primary valuation of 1851 listed Patrick O’Keefe as the National Teacher in shanballymore


(The town of the bog) Here is a remains of a Nagle Castle – one of the many in Shanballymore, Annikisha and Killavullen. Those still showing above ground are Monanimy, Carrigacunna and Ballinamona. Annakisha has disappeared completely. The Nagles were a Norman family of considerable strength almost from their arrival in Ireland, Sir Richard Nagle of Clogher was Solicitor General for Ireland under James II and was one of the most influential member of the patriot Parliament of 1689. Better known today as Nano, foundress of the presentation Convent Order, from whom many people of Shanballymore have received their education in nearby Doneraile. One part of the castle no longer to be seen is a ‘sheela-na-gig’ which was found built into the wall and later destroyed.

Sheelas were usually relief’s carved in stone and set into castle and Church walls possible to ward off evil. They take the form of rather grotesque Females and appear to have originated as church ornaments. Legend has it that Garret Nagle of Ballinamona was in London cutting a figure of the coronation of King George IV and his workmen found the Sheela in the castle. Being considerably upset by the lewd figure, they broke it, They also broke the ‘luck’ as shortly after Nagle had to sell the castle and lands to cover debts.

Grove White had a note from Walter Jones of Doneraile to the effect that Garrett Nagle of Ballinamona having been implicated in the pretender’s rebellion of 1745 had to leave for France with all his possessions during the voyage he lost all his books, jewels and manuscripts amongst which the later were some unpublished works of the poet Spencer, which he inherited through a great grandmother.

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