The town of Ballinakill County Laois, Ireland

The name Ballinakill is derived from the Gaelic, Baile-na-coille, which means "the town of the wood." Like other nearby villages, such as Durrow, Ballinakill was once surrounded by extensive woodlands, and the name derives from this fact. Ballinakill is situated in the ancient parochial district of Disert-Gallen. A permit was granted to Sir Thomas Coatch, proprietor of the Manor of Gallen, in 1606, which gave him the right to establish a market and fair here. Five years later, in 1611, Sir Thomas Ridgeway, Earl of Londonderry, established an English colony, and the following year, James 1, officially incorporated the town by charter.

Ballinakill is a planned estate town laid out by Michael Trench who was an amateur architect. In 1831 the population was 4,014 and of these 2,087 lived in rural districts. In 1834 a breakdown of the religious denominations reveals 4,200 Roman Catholics, 228 Protestant churchmen and three Dissenters. At this time there were churches in Ballinakill and Knock, with attendances respectively of 3,000 and 717. The present population of the town is around 400 people. The town is centred on The Square, which boasts a fine Market House and 1798 monument. It is unique in ecclesiastical history in the fact that the two churches stand side by side in Church Street.

From Twin Trees Festival taken from South Laois Tourism (down)

The earliest documentary references to Ballinakill are in the late 16th century when the lands of "Ballenekyll" were granted to Alexander Cosby and his wife. In 1606 the right to hold a market and fair was granted to Sir Thomas Coatch, and in 1613 the town was incorporated by a charter of James I. The 17th-century street pattern survives in the long axis formed by Graveyard Street and Stanhope Street, with Chapel Lane and Castle Lane at right angles to the east. Ballinakill in the 18th century was one of the most important fair towns in County Laois and much of its present layout belongs to that period, including The Square, Church Street and Bride Street. Part of the fabric of the houses on the east side of Stanhope Street and The Square may be of 17th-century date.

From Excavations.ie

Stanhope Street ran from north to south and Graveyard Street continued it south. The graveyard referred to was a Quaker cemetery south of town. Margaret's mother lived at 28 Graveyard Street.

County Laois was called Queen's County by the English and is often found in old records.

The town of Ballinakill borders Kilkenny on its south about 1/2 mile away and where church records show that Margaret Phelan was born on June 5, 1813, to John Phelan and Sarah Loughnan.

Laois map

Two of her children were named Sarah and John and this record is the first match for Sarah, one of the few for John, and the only one for both that we have found.

The Primary Valuation, also known as Griffith's Valuation, was the first, full-scale valuation of property in Ireland and details of property with valuations were published between 1847 and 1864. There is a printed valuation book for each barony or poor law union in the country, showing the names of occupiers of land and buildings, the names of those from whom these were leased, and the amount and value of the property held.

Ordnance Survey of Ireland, 1824 - 1846

The English Parliament ordered Major Thomas Colby to Ireland in 1824 to undertake a survey of the country. His teams of surveyors would produce detailed maps on a six-inch = one-mile scale that would be used to determine land valuations for tax purposes. The maps were finally published in 1846. They cover almost the entire country and include details of the smallest civil division of the time: the townland.

Griffith's Valuation of County Laois in 1851/2, shows Sarah Phelan as the occupant of a house at 28 Grave-Yard Street, in the town of Balinakill, Laois. The next page shows the record for Sarah in Griffith's Valuation and the page after that has the map of the town of Ballinakill from the Ordnance Survey.

Griffith's Valuation record for Sarah Loughnan in Ballinakill

Griffith's Valuation record for Sarah Loughnan
Griffith's Valuation page for Sarah Loughnan in Ballinakill


Griffith's Valuation page for Sarah Loughnan
Griffith's Valuation Header for Sarah Phelan

Griffith's Valuation Record for Sarah Phelan



PDF of full page of Griffith's Valuation for Sarah

Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)


Closeup of Graveyard Street
Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)

Showing the old town, Square and Castle
Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)

Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)


Closeup of Graveyard Street
Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)

Showing the old town, Square and Castle
Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)

The whole area
Ballinakill in the newer Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI)