BALLAGH, or BAL, a market-town and parish, in the barony of CLANMORRIS, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 6 miles (S. E. by E.) from Castlebar; containing 1586 inhabitants, of which number, 343 are in the town. This town is situated on the road from Castlebar to Claremorris, and is intersected by a small river, which has its source in the vicinity: it consists of one long street containing 75 houses, all of modern erection, and has a cheerful and pleasing appearance.
The market is on Tuesday; and fairs are held on June 11th, Aug. 12th, Sept. 26th, and Oct. 15th, which are among the largest in the county for cattle and sheep; there are two smaller fairs on the 1st of May and 7th of October. A penny post has been established between this town and Ballyglass. Here is a constabulary police station; and petty sessions for the district are held every Tuesday in the court-house, a neat building of modern erection. The lands are partly under tillage and partly in pasture, and for fertility are thought equal, if not superior, to any in the county. Limestone abounds in the parish, and is quarried for building and agricultural purposes. Athevalla, the seat of the Rev. Sir F.
Lynch Blosse, Bart., is a handsome mansion nearly adjoining the town; and Ballagh Lodge, the seat of H.
Waldron, Esq., and Logatiorn, of W. M. Fitzmorris, Esq. are also in the parish. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, with the rectories and vicarages of Rosslee and Minola episcopally united, forming the union of Ballagh, in the patronage of the Bishop: the rectory constitutes the corps of the prebend of Ballagh in the cathedral church of St. Mary, Tuam: the tithes amount to £175, and the prebend is returned as of the value of £190 per annum; and the tithes of the whole, both rectorial and vicarial, amount to £395, which is received by the prebendary, who is also rector of the union. There is neither church, glebe-house, nor glebe.
Divine service is occasionally performed in the courthouse.
In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Drum, Rosslee, and Minola, and containing two chapels, one in the town, a good slated building, and the other at Balcarra. A school-room has been erected, at an expense of £200, in which about 200 boys and 100 girls are instructed; and there are two hedge schools in the parish, in which are about 68 boys and 22 girls.
St. Mochuo, or Cronan, who died in 637, founded a monastery here, of which he became the first abbot.
This place is at present distinguished for the remains of an ancient round tower, which, though the upper partis wanting, is still about 50 feet high. Near it are the ruins of a small church, of the same kind of stone, and apparently of similar workmanship, in one of the walls of which is a monumental inscription of great antiquity.
There are two small chapels, built on arches over the river that runs through the town, and great numbers of people resort thither annually to perform special devotions.
A well, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, with a small chapel attached, is attended by great numbers of the peasantry at patrons held on the 15th of August and 8th of September. About two miles from the town is Castle Derowil, and about three miles distant is Brieze Castle, both square buildings of the ordinary character.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.