Ballinora Heritage

Upper Ballinora/Waterfall Heritage Trail 

A few thoughts before we begin our walk:

I have been asked several times, why heritage? What good is there in knowing all about the past. All I could do was quote Cicero “to die not knowing what happened before you were born, is to remain perpetually a child “I believe there is a connection between happiness and heritage. If you learn from the past, and appreciate where you are living now, where you have put down roots now, you create well-being within yourself. It doesn’t have to be where you were born.

If you reminisce with laudable pride, not egotistical pride, about your own life’s journey, you will buy into the concept that part of the past is always alive. You almost get in touch with unknown people who lived and died, and felt all the same emotions and feelings as yourself – be it going to Church, singing in the choir, tending your garden, playing for the local GAA team of your day, or any team of any sports code, or laughing with friends, or minding your cat or dog, or grandchildren.

When you stand at the front door of the church after mass, and gaze for a moment down towards the Mass Rock in the forest by the stream, or lean over the gate and gaze at the ruins of Ballymacadane Abbey out in the field over from Old Abbey bridge, your head would shake, and you would ask the question, WHY? Man’s inhumanity to man. Likewise, at the monument of Leo Murphy in Waterfall village, you could weep along with sighing, when you think of what the Black and Tans did to him. After they shot him, they tied him to the back of their lorry and dragged him along as they sped off to their Barracks in Ballincollig. The raw material of life is in our heritage. Living in the presence of tangible parts of our heritage, can enable us to overcome our mortal anxieties. Our heritage makes sense of our brief existence upon this earth.

Our heritage can make us acutely aware that “we belong – we know who we are “

1 – CHURCH

2 – SCOIL BHAILENORA, THE SCHOOL

3 – THE MASS ROCK

Leaving Ballinora Village behind, we proceed towards Waterfall, passing over the Curraheen river until we reach the top of the hill at the T junction. This is known as the hall hill.

4 – GAA HALL

Going left at the T junction the next stop is at the railway bridge with Waterfall station beyond the bridge on the left – now a private house.

5 – WATERFALL STATION

Continue to the T Junction and take a left at O Shea’s pub.

6 – Tobar an Iarla (Earls’ Well)

Continue your journey, passing Heatherfield on your right until you come to the entrance to the GAA pitch on the left.

7 – Ballinora GAA pitch Number 8 bridge and Chetwynd Viaduct

Retrace your steps to Waterfall village and after passing the pub on your left you come to the Leo Murphy Monument

7 – The Leo Murphy Monument

After the monument, heading west take the first left and proceed to Inniskenny Graveyard.

8 – Inniskenny Graveyard

Leaving the Graveyard, retrace your steps to the main road and take a left for Ballumacadane Abbey, we come across the most historic and visible part of our heritage. Although now a ruin out in a field all alone, with cows grazing around it, but what it still stands for says a lot about us as a people.

9 – BALLYMACADANE ABBEY

After the railway bridge take a right and walk to Jimmy the Tailor’s cross. Jimmy was a very popular tailor and tradition has it that he worked outside his front door whenever the weather allowed it. He was a very kind man and not a butterfly would pass up or down the road without he knowing it. At the cross you turn left and walk towards Corbally, taking the first left until you come to the famine graveyard on your right.

10 – CORBALLY FAMINE GRAVEYARD

Head back to Jimmy’s Cross and go down under the trees, towards a stream, a small bridge and a large Alder Grove covering the road on both sides. To the right Greybrook Tucking mill once stood.

11 – GREYBROOK LINEN MILL

Continue to the old hall hill and return to Ballinora Village

Lower Ballinora/Waterfall Heritage Trail

Walk towards Ballynora Cross, also known as Jerry Forde’s Cross, where you will see a standing stone on your left.

12 – STANDING STONES, FUALACHT FIA AND RING FORTS

Taking a right at Ballynora Cross, head down to the Grotto.

13 – THE GROTTO

14 – THE FORGE

Perrott’s Mill was located across the river from the grotto

15 – Perrott’s mill

Head west from the forge and you will come to the old shop on the left

16 – Shop in Curraheen

Head west and take the next left up a very sharp hill. It is known as at Bohithirin an Tseilpeal, in recognition of a small Catholic Church that was built on a ledge across the road from a gate half way up the hill. It is all overgrown now, but the whole area, all along the top of the hill, was known as ARD AINME – the high name God.

Continue your journey back to Ballinora Village.

Some thoughts as we finish our walk:

Do not ask, why bother with the past, or say I don’t care where I have put down roots. It is sad to die not knowing anything about what happened before you were born.

Take a sip from the glass of our heritage, and you will find you would like to take another. That feeling of “I belong ““I am attached “will arrive and you will be transformed, because part of the past is always alive. The unknown becomes real. You feel enriched. The very stars above in the night’s sky, the very ground you walk upon have been there for millions of years. People like us have gazed and walked the very same roads and fields and pathways in the past, and then were heard no more. And what is more, those same stars, that same ground will be there centuries to come, when nobody knows who we were.

Yet, in an extraordinary way, when we know all about where we are planted, we can grow and bloom, and fill that empty space that says “the heart is a lonely hunter “. A kind of lasting friendship can be created with our surroundings. You discover the awe and wonder of your existence upon this planet that keeps on revolving round and round in the big black emptiness of space.

No need to strive for status, significance or affirmation, because you now stand side by side with all those fellow human beings that have lived and loved in centuries gone by and centuries yet to come. You are filled with a new hope, you feel the eternal presence all around, in the hills and valleys, in the streams and rivers flowing. You have come to realise “you belong “, Name it and claim it. Take possession of your heritage. It is your right to own.

Michael O Connor.

Download/Print the Heritage Story & Walking Loops

Download/Print the Ballinora Heritage Trail