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Ballingarry is a Parish in the Barony of Slieveardagh, in the East of the County Tipperary. The Barony, Slieveardagh, "High fields among the hills," takes its name from the natural features of the district. Its appropriateness is indicated by the numerous place-names referring to hills, glens, slopes and heights.
Slieveardagh Parishes with the emphasis on Ballingarry (by kind permission of Richard Clutterbuck)
The following description of the castle, church and settlement at Ballingarry were prepared as part of Richard Clutterbuck's Masters of Literature thesis, entitled The Settlement and Architecture of Later Medieval Slieveardagh, County Tipperary, submitted to the Department of Archaeology, University College Dublin in 1998.
OS Sheet 55/2, 16
NGR S 298 486
SMR No Ti055-015
Location; Ballingarry is situated in the south centre of the study area in the hills overlooking a tributary of the upper reaches of the Kings river approximately 1.25 km from the modern village of Ballingarry. The site is at the cross roads between the Bohir Mor and the road running north along the Kings River valley. The land is mostly used for grazing today. The Civil Survey identified the land quality as suitable for dual purpose, with an emphasis on pasture (Simington, R. C. 1931 The Civil Survey AD 1654-56 Co. Tipperary Vol. I. Stationary Office: Dublin).
Ballingarry castle was sited on ground sloping gently to the west. The surrounding area appears as high ground between two small river valleys with a sharp drop to the immediate north. Ballingarry castle had a south-westerly aspect with a commanding position over the road.
History; Ballingarry was recorded as being in the possession of Nicholas Faninge of Ballingarry in 1641. Faninge was part of a powerful land holding family in the parish of Ballingarry from the medieval period to the seventeenth century. The building is recorded as being in good repair in 1654 with a thatch house and some cabins associated with it. The castle and settlement at the centre of the parish is not depicted on the Down Survey maps.
Description; Nothing remains of Ballingarry castle site except for a roughly rectangular pile of rubble consisting of fieldstones, measuring 24 metres by 21 metres. According to the local farmer the castle was destroyed to provide material for the Catholic Church in Ballingarry village in the nineteenth century. The site of the castle also has a lot of mortar but no cut stones. There is little or no evidence of a bawn, although the field in which the castle was sited is at a higher level to the adjacent field to the south and may have originally been an irregular enclosure.
Comment; The area of the rubble probably does not represent the original size of the castle. The castle was probably a tower house and residence of the Fanning's.
OS Sheet 52/2
NGR S 308 496
SMR No. Ti055-016
Ballingarry is situated in the centre of the study area in the hills overlooking the upper reaches of the Kings River. Ballingarry church site is in a grave yard adjacent to the main road running through Ballingarry; an Bohir Mor. The church was sited approximately 1.25km west from the modern village of Ballingarry and 148 metres south of Ballingarry castle site.
History; Ballingarry church, or De Garda to give it its Latin name, was valued at 10 marks in 1302/07 in the ecclesiastical taxation (Sweetman, H. S. (ed) 1886 Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland 1302-07. London, 285). In 1437 Ballingarry church was mentioned in a list of Procurations for the Diocese of Cashel and Emly when it was taxed for 24 shillings (Seymour, St. John D. 1908 A list of Procurations for the Diocese of the Cashel and Emly A. D. 1437, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 38, 328-333). The perpetual vicar of Ballingarry, Dermit Oconayn, was the subject of a Papal Mandate in 1478 when he was accused of celebrating mass under sentence of excommunication as well as leaving his parishioners to die without confession or communion and allowing the roof and walls of his church to fall into ruins (Jwemlow, J . (ed) 1955 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Register Relating to Great Britain and Ireland 1471-1484 xiii. London, 606; Hennessy, M. 1985 Parochial organisation in Medieval Tipperary, in W. Nolan (ed) Tipperary: History and Society. Dublin, 60-70).
By 1478 the Prior of St. Catherine the Virgin Waterford held the rectory of Ballingarry (Hennessey 1985, 69). When the Priory was dissolved in 1540-41 it possessed two thirds of the tithes worth £8 and one twelfth of the vicarage of Ballingarry and Famyn Wood (White, N. (ed) 1943 Extents of Irish Monastic Possessions 1540-41. London, 344). In 1607 Ballingarry vicarage was returned as void and destitute of incumbents (Russell, C. & Prendergast, J. (ed) 1874 Calendar of State Papers Ireland 1606-1608. London, 241) and in the 1615 Royal Visitation of Cashel and Emly Ballingarry church and chancel appeared to be standing but there was no service and the vicarage was vacant (Murphy, M. A. 1912. Royal visitation of Cashel and Emly, Archivium Hibernicum I, 290 & 302). In 1640 Ballingarry had two acres of arable and pasture glebe land on the east side of the church worth £5 and fenced with a ditch (Simington, R. C. 1931 The Civil Survey AD 1654-56 Co. Tipperary Vol. II. Stationary Office: Dublin. 399)
Description; There are no upstanding remains of the medieval Ballingarry church. A raised area in the grave yard may be the remains of a church ,however, it is impossible to date. A church depicted in the 25 O.S. map in the grave yard is probably an eighteenth or nineteenth century Protestant church which has subsequently been destroyed, its stones used to build the local co-op. The grave yard contains graves from the eighteenth century to the modern day. Ballingarry church appears to have been in a poor state in the late medieval period. The church is recorded as being in ruins in 1478. By the early seventeenth century Ballingarry church did not appear to have a resident priest though the church is recorded as upstanding.
Comment; Ballingarry medieval church functioned as the parish church. The church appears to have been in ruins at the end of the fifteenth century but was reconstructed, possibly by the Fanning family whose Ballingarry tower house was nearby.
Ballingarry Medieval Settlement
NGR S 298486
SMR No. Ti055-014-16
Location; Ballingarry is situated in the south central portion of Slieveardagh, within the Slieveardagh hills. The site of the settlement overlooks the upper reaches of the Kings River Valley and lies approximately 1.25 km. west of the modern village of Ballingarry. The site of medieval settlement at Ballingarry is located in a sheltered position on a rise between the main road through the Slieveardagh hills called an Bothir Mór and a deep stream valley.
History; Ballingarry settlement was associated with the Fanning Family in the later medieval period. In 1512 Geoffry Fannyng was described as the Lord of Ballingarry (Curtis, E. 1932-1943 Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. IV, 71). Geoffry Fanning was probably the free holder called to the Liberty Court of Tipperary in 1508 as a juror (Curtis, E. 1932-1943 Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. IV, 329).
A church has been recorded at Ballingarry since 1302 (Sweetman, H. S. (ed) 1886 Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland 1302-07. London, 285). In 1478 the church was recorded to be in ruins and the parish priest was excommunicated (Jwemlow, J . (ed) 1955 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Register Relating to Great Britain and Ireland 1471-1484 xiii. London, 606; Hennessy, M. 1985 Parochial organisation in Medieval Tipperary, in W. Nolan (ed) Tipperary: History and Society. Dublin, 60-70). A church with its nave and chancel appear to have been standing in Ballingarry in 1615, but without services (Murphy, M. A. 1912. Royal visitation of Cashel and Emly, Archivium Hibernicum I, 290 & 302). The castle of Ballingarry was probably built by the Fannings. In 1654 Nicholas Faninge, an Irish Papist was recorded as the proprietor of Ballingarry and the settlement at the centre of the parish was described:
"Upon the sayd lands stands a good castle with a tatcht house & some cabbins and a mill standing upon a little brooke neare the castle."
(Simington, R. C. 1931 The Civil Survey AD 1654-56 Co. Tipperary Vol. I. Stationary Office: Dublin).
Unfortunately the Down Survey Parish map depicts no structures in the townland.
The Fannings were one of a few families to retain their land after the Cromwellian confiscation's. In the census of c. 1659 a Jeffry Fannying Esq. is returned as the principle land owner of Ballingarry townland (Pender, S. 1939 Census of Ireland c. 1659. Dublin. 295). In 1667 Jeffry Fanning paid taxes for three hearths, including an oven and a kiln (Laffan, T. 1911 Tipperary Families, Being the Hearth Money Records for 1665-7. Dublin.135).
Description; There are no upstanding architectural remains at Ballingarry. The physical remains consist of the rubble foundations of the castle or tower house and 148 metres away the church site, within a grave yard still in use today. Between the castle site and the church site are a number of earthworks, which probably represent the site of the thatched house described in the Civil Survey (Simington, R. C. 1931 The Civil Survey AD 1654-56 Co. Tipperary Vol. I. Stationary Office: Dublin.113). The deep stream located to the north of the settlement site provided the mill race for the mill described in the Civil Survey. The stream has slight evidence for a retaining stone wall on channel the stream and may also have had a holding pond. The actual site of the mill is not located.
The whole settlement was located besides the main road through the Slieveardagh hills from Kilkenny to Cashel, called an Bothir Mor. The settlement remains appear then to be mainly confined to between the road and the deep stream.
Comment; The size of the area occupied by Ballingarry settlement was small. The historical record and the remains on the ground show that the settlement was dominated by the Fanning tower house and other buildings owned by them. The settlement site had a church at least since the fourteenth century, probably since the initial Anglo-Norman invasion and possible as a pre-Norman church site. However, by the late fifteenth century the church was in ruins and the priest was abusing his powers.
The Fannings were associated with Ballingarry from the early sixteenth century, possibly when they built their tower house. The choice of site was influenced by the presence of the parish church. The settlement described in the Civil Survey appears to be a wealthy farmstead with services and functions for a grazier estate. Any nucleation at the centre of the parish was sponsored by the Fanning family, either for their own use, the functions of the estate or as houses for the workmen of the estate.