The Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century the Clancarty family were at the top of the wheel in wealth and influence. Richard of Union fame became successively Commissioner for the affairs of India, Post master General, Master of the Mint and President of the Board of Trade, Ambassador of the Hague (1813-23) and a Plenepotentiary to the Congress of Vienna in 1814. The town of Ballinasloe was growing fast and improving. His estates were well managed and grants were given for improvements. The population was on the increase. Unfortunately the census of 1831 does not survive except in summary, but the baptismal register of St. Michael's goes back to 1820, while the register in St. John's also survives through the lucky fact htat it was not transferred to the public record office where many of the Protestant registers of Ireland were destroyed in the explosion of 1922.

In 1659Ballinasloe contained thirty six persons, while the two parishes might have a population of 200 or 300. Wakefield in his survey of 1812 gives a return from the parish priest of Ballinasloe who had been keeping a register since 1791. The Catholic births in that year were 95 but in 1810 they were 126. In 1791 the number of Catholic houses were 313 and in 1811 they were 401 and each house had an average of at least six persons, which would give the population figures as 1878 in 1791 and 2406 in 1811. Wakefield says that the Protestant population seemed to be stationery and it is probable that it was very small as they had only a small room for service which is stated in the life of Archbishop Trench to have been too small for him to preach in. The old Church in Creagh was in Protestant use at least up to 1780, but must have fallen into ruin. However a large edifice with a Doric portico and obelisk-like spire was built on Knock-a-doon, now Church-hill somewhere about the beginning of the nineteenth century, which in turn gave place to the present Gothic church of St. John, which was burned, rebuilt and enlarged towards the end of the century.

In 1824 the population was 2843. By 1831 the town contained 4615 inhabitants. There were 632 houses of which 265 were built in the preceeding ten years. Thus the population almost doubled itself in forty years. Brackernagh was built in the seventeen-nineties. It was a long line of thatched houses most of which have since been replaced.

The Ballinasloe Horticultural Society for the Province of Connaught was founded in 1833 under the patronage of Lord Clancarty and held three public shows of fruit, vegetables and flowers in the year. A market house was in existence before 1824 built by the earl and about 1846 the great agricultural hall now known as the town hall was also built by him.

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