The Turnpike Road and Ballycar

A group of fifteen participated in a celebration of the Toll or Turnpike Road from Limerick to Ennis on Saturday 30th July. The road is included in Cartographer Hermann Moll’s map of 1728.   Its most prominent customer from 1815 was the Mail coach owned by William Bourne; Newmarket was reached by a detour through the Old Ballycar Road and Lisduff.  Quin was added in 1832 and in 1834 Crusheen and the road became the Galway Road, a Bianconi enterprise.  The Crabtree was a Bianconi Inn, its sign incorporating the Bianconi coat of arms and Italian flag colours Red Yellow and Black. Trading records show how Ballycar benefitted from its location on the on the communication network road and railway.  Mary Doyle pointed out the milestones reading 18 and 20 Irish miles.   Rabbits and their skins were sold by Mary’s great grandfather, the “Boer Mack” both at his house in Granaghan and in Limerick following the advent of the railway line.  Eels were exported and placed for sale at Billingsgate Market as happened downstream at O’Leary’s weir in Newmarket and at Carrigoran.  Eamonn de Valera used the road on the 23rd August 1923 to reach Ennis where he was eventually arrested by the Free State. The road known as Dev’s road is part of the subject road which is cut off since the nineteen sixties. Thanks to the Reynolds family who cleared the right of way, the group could walk there and admire the splendid view at the top.  The local inn keepers Joan and Frances Reynolds offered liquid and solid refreshment and space on their grounds for a chat. Thanks to Sheila McGrath for research and opening talk on the road, inn and schools,  to Brid Collins for pointing out the home of Dinny O’Rourke whose house produced the stone for the parish church, to Mary Doyle for sharing her local knowledge and to John Higgins for reeling the eelery back through the years with the enterprise of locals who kept inside the law and outside the Queen’s Pass. An té a bhíonn siúlach bíonn sé scéaltach.

The continuation of the route to Clarecastle by Ardsollus, Jasper’s Pound and Manus will be on Saturday, 20th August.