Brief History of Ballylanders
The Parochial House (Top) and The "Building" at the top of the Main Street
The old family of Landers or De Landres from Normandy, from whom the parish and village take the name, settled in the area in about 1200 AD. They were staunch Catholics. Philip de Londres was said to have established a castle in Glenahoglisha. This castle was built in what is today called the “Castle Field”. It is now owned by Ballylanders Soccer Club and it is known as Castle Park. The ruins of the castle were still there in Cromwell’s time, but soon after the stones were moved to Mitchelstown and used to build Kingston’s Castle. Centuries later when the monastery in Mount Mellary was being constructed some of these stones were used in its construction.
The lands around Ballylanders fell into the hands of the Kingstons and Olivers who were powerful landlords. The Kingstons were responsible for building the modern village of Ballylanders. George Kingston decided to build a castle in the village in the 19th century. Due to financial difficulties it was decided to turn it into a Protestant church instead. By the time it was completed most of the Protestant congregation had converted to the Catholic religion. As a result it was seldom used and quickly fell into disrepair. This church is today a ruin and a landmark which overlooks the village and is locally known as “The Building”. A small oratory was constructed adjacent to it which was used by the small Protestant congregation. It is still there to this day but it is converted into a dwelling house.
The oldest Catholic church in the village is in the local cemetery. It is now a ruin covered in Ivy. Beside it is a holy well dedicated to Our Lady who is associated with the “Pattern Day” (Pattern from Patron) in Ballylanders. The Pattern Day is a day of celebration in the parish. It is always held in the 15th of August, which is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
It is probable that in olden times there was also a church in the town land of Killeen (Little Church). There must also have been one in Glenahoglisha (Glen of the Church) . Nothing exists today of either of them. A thatched church did exist on the Bog Road in the early 1800’s, but it was very primitive, with mud floors and no seating.
In 1831 Fr John Browne P.P. built a new church in the centre of the village which was in use until 1965. As it was deteriorating at this stage, Fr O’Byrne had it demolished and replaced with a new one. It was the first round church in Ireland and it was opened in 1967.
Records show that education always played an important part of life in Ballylanders. Prior to 1848 four “Hedge Schools” existed in the parish. In 1849 the first Primary school was opened and in 1893 the present primary school was built. It has been renovated and extended on several occasions since then.