Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Sligo.
ContentBALLYMOTE, a market and post-town in the parish of EMLYFAD, barony of CORRAN, county of SLIGO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 11 miles (S. by W.) from Sligo town, and 94.50 miles (W.N.W.) from Dublin; containing 875 inhabitants.
This place appears to have derived its origin from a castle built in 1300 by Richard de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, which after its seizure by the native Irish during the insurrection of 1641, was found to be of such strength as to offer a serious obstacle to the complete subjugation of Connaught; it was at length taken in 1652, by the united forces of Ireton and Sir C. Coote.
A small monastery for Franciscan friars of the third order was founded here by the sept of Mac Donogh, and at the suppression was granted to Sir H. Broncard, who assigned it to Sir W. Taaffe, Knt.: an inquisition of the 27th of Elizabeth records that it belonged to the castle, and had been totally destroyed by the insurgents. The town is situated at the junction of six roads, but has not one principal road passing through it: it consists of one main street, and contains 140 houses. The surrounding country is well cultivated, and its surface agreeably undulates; and there is a good view from an obelisk erected by Lady Arabella Denny on a small hill near the town.
In the immediate vicinity is Earl's Field, the property of Sir R. Gore Booth, Bart., to whom the town belongs; and in a delightful situation, within a quarter of a mile, is the glebe house which commands a fine prospect of the surrounding mountains and the distant hill of Knockaree. About 2 .50 miles from the town is Temple House, the handsome residence of Col. A. Perceval, beautifully situated on the banks of a lake of that name, and in a fine demesne containing some good old timber; on the edge of the lake are the ruins of the old house, which was built by the O'Hara family in 1303, and was afterwards given to the Knights Hospitallers.
The linen manufacture was formerly carried on here to a great extent, under the encouragement of the Rt. Hon. Thomas Fitzmorris, but is now nearly extinct. The market is held on Friday for provisions, and fairs are held on the last Monday in January, May 11th, first Monday (O.S.) in June, September 3rd, first Monday (O.S.) in November, and second Monday (O.S.) in December. Quarter sessions are held here in a sessions-house in January, April, July and October; and petty sessions on alternate Tuesdays. The bridewell is the only one in the county: it affords the requisite statute accommodation, and there are a day-room and airing-yard for prisoners of each sex. This is a chief constabulary of the police force.
The parish church is situated in the town; and there are a Roman Catholic chapel and a Meeting House for Wesleyan Methodists and a dispensary.
The remains of the ancient castle, built by Richard De Burgo, occupy an area of 150 square feet, with towers at the angles, and sufficiently denote its former strength. At the southern extremity of the main street are the ruins of the Franciscan friary; over the principal entrance is the figure of a pope carved in stone, but somewhat mutilated. A book, called the Book or Psalter of Ballymote, was written in Irish by the monks of this place, and is yet extant. There is a fort of rather unusual elevation about one mile from the town.