Ballina Streets before and after Independence by James Reddiough

 In History

The street names go back to the 1820’s and they are documented in Pigot’s Directory of 1829.  Most of the street names around the town centre and between the Centre and Belleek castle are there and this would have been the extent of the town.

The street names in 1829 that were included in the Directory were: Knox, Garden, Ardnaree, Castle, King, Bridge, Hill, Abbey, John and Mill.  Now the place called Arran Street must have been there and readers may like to know that the Post Office was located in Knox Street.

In 1857 according to Griffith’s Valuation there were the following streets in Ballina – most of them were named after members of the ruling family the Knox – Gores of Beleek manor and castle.  The names were as follows:  Arran Street, Arthur Street, Bridge Street, Brook Street, Castle Road, Charles Street, Cockle Street, Francis Street, Garden Street, Hill Street, John Street, King Street, Knox Street, Mill Street, New Garden Street, old Garden Street, Pound Street, Shamble Street and Victoria Place.

Onwards then to 1886 at a meeting of the town commissioners and the proposal by Mr. Arthur Muffeny to name the streets after the patriots who had dedicated their lives to independence for the country since 1782 – he suggested that Knox Street be named O’ Connell Street after the liberator Daniel O’ Connell; that Arran Street be re-named Grattan Street after Henry Grattan of the parliament in College Green of 1782.  Furthermore, Muffeny (who was a Parnellite and renamed Franklin Lane Land league Lane in 1882) proposed that Francis Street ne named Sexton Street and that Arthur Street be named after Tim Healy and finally that Gore Street be named after Charles Stewart Parnell the uncrowned King of Ireland and the Lost leader.

This to my knowledge is the earliest reference we have to the campaign to re name the streets of Ballina however a half a century later all of the streets in town with the exception of Bury Street (Bury was a Planter who leased land from the earl of Arran) street had been named in honour of Republicans who had given their lives for liberty between 1798 and 1923.  The earlier proposals had been driven by the members of the Irish parliamentary party but the later development was due to Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail during the 1920’s and 1930’s mainly.

At a meeting of the Urban District Council in March 1922 it was proposed that the Street names be re-named after men who had given their lives for freedom and hence the present nomenclature came into existence and we have the street names as we know them today.  This did however cause confusion and people continued to use the old names or indeed both names with the old name or the new name in brackets.  The names did not come into existence in 1922 because of the upheaval and violence of the Civil War and the proposals would be shelved for a further two years and indeed until a meeting of the UDC finally decided to adopt the names that had been suggested in March 1922.  Knox was named after Pearse; Bridge Street after Michael Tolan; King Street after The O’ Rahilly; Hill Street after James Connolly; Victoria Place after Robert Emmett; Arthur Street was Changed to Teeling Street; John Street was named after Roger Casement; Gore Street to Lord Edward Street; Arran to Tone and Francis Street to Kevin Barry Street; Brook Street to Humbert and Castle Street was named after Balla Fenian PW Nally; Charles Street to Walsh Street; in Ardnaree Church Road was changed to Plunkett Row while Shamble Street was re-named Barrett street and finally garden Street was changed to McDermott Street.  As the housing developments around the town came on stream then they were named after patriots of the republican cause too and these names included Healy, Morrison and Ferran and the most recent was in 2008 with the naming of James Road; in earlier times part of Emmett Terrace had been named James Street.  The one I left out earlier was Clare Street to be named after Tommy Howley and called Howley Terrace. In the decades that followed there was some confusion as to where a particular street was located and the signs needed to be put up requested Martin J. McGrath, it was Tom Ruane who proposed that the street be displayed in Irish and English in march 1922.  Martin McGrath made the request in August 1925.

As an epilogue it was remiss of me to forget a Bonniconlon man who fell in the republican cause and deserves to have a road named after him that is Lieut. Pat Mullen from Carralavin town land who was fatally wounded at Collooney in July 1922 and died a month later in the Mater and is interred in the republican plot in Kilgarvan some two miles from Bonniconlon Village.

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