Ballinasloe Town and Parish 1585-1855

This article was written by Rev. Patrick K. Egan and was first published in the 'Galway Reader' in the 1950s. The 'Galway Reader' is available from Galway Public Library.

The town of Ballinasloe lies athwart the River Suck, which is the boundary of Counties Roscommon and Galway and the dividing line between the parishes of Creagh and Kilclooney, which form the joint parish of Ballinasloe.

The river ford always existed, but the town is of modern origin. Turlough O'Connor built the Castle of Dunlo in the twelfth century on the site of the present church of St. Michael and De Burgo built the Norman castle in the heart of the O'Kelly country in 1245. It still commands the river.

The Composition of Connaught in 1585 reveals the whole barony of Clonmacnoon and the parish of Creagh in the possession of a local magnate named Sean na Maighe O' Kelly, who lived at his castle of Creagh near the railway bridge on the Taughmaconnell road and Killeen near the present Perssepark House. The character of the area had, hitherto, remained Irish in spite of Norman attempts to establish claims there. The seventeenth century however brought a change and we must first view the families who established themselves here during this period.

De Burgo had maintained his castle at Ballinasloe as a strategic outpost on the main road to Leinster. Elizabeth now took it over and built the present bridge or at least the old portion of it. She granted it to Sir Nicholas Malby, Governor of Connaught and by the marriage of his daughter to Anthony Brabazon it passed to that family. They remained in the parish until recent times when their possessions passed by marriage to the O'Shaughnessy's of Birchgrove. We still have the name Beagha Brabazon in Creagh.

The Brabazons were descended from Sir William Brabazon, an Englishman who was appointed Vice-Treasurer and General Receiver of Ireland in 1534. He was Henry VIII's principal agent in the despoliation of the monasteries. Anthony Brabazon was a younger son of his and he married Malby's daughter in 1597. The eldest son was the ancestor of the Earls of Meath. The castle holding included one and a half quarters (180 acres) of land, which Anthony's son Malby Brabazon inherited from his father. He died in 1637 and was buried in Creagh. His son Anthony succeeded him. Lodge's Peerage has the following in reference to the latter:

"Upon the beginning of the commotions in 1641 he forsook his religion and became a Papist, his father and grandfather having been good Protestants; was chosen one of the committee, and a Captain for the regulation and better encouragement of the Connaught forces and was excepted from pardon by Cromwell's act of parliament, passed 12 August 1652."Strangely enough the memory of this is still preserved in the parish of Creagh where it is said that his conversion was due to the influence of his wife. She was Ellice Dillon of Killynyneen in County Westmeath. The family remained Catholic.

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