The castle of Ballymore was in the 13th century part of the Manor of the archbishops of Dublin and in 1244 Henry III confirmed the archbishop’s right to hold a fair there. This lasted for eight days commencing on the Eve of the Assumption of the Virgin, to whom the local church was dedicated. Being on the border of the Pale, Ballymore was constantly raided by the O’Tooles and the O’Byrnes.
It was in 1373 that the name Eustace first became associated with the place when Thomas Fitzoliver FitzEustace was appointed constable of the castle with a salary of £10. The conditions were that he should reside there and guard and keep the castle. There is now no trace of the castle though the site is believed to have been on Garrison Hill, close to the ruined mill on the Liffey.
Early in the 19th century this cloth mill was a thriving place, employing 700 people at peak periods. In 1524, Ballymore was raided and again in 1572 when the Irish burned all except Mr. Le Strange’s house and castle. Twenty years later the town was described as having a thatched castle.
In 1608 the Archbishop’s right to hold markets and fairs on the commons was revived. The burning of the protestant church and several of the houses in 1798 reduced the town.
The present St. John’s Church of Ireland was built close to the site of the old church in 1820, at the cost of £900. An ancient font and an early 16th century FitzEustace effigy, removed from Old Kilcullen, are preserved within and there are two unusual high crosses in the graveyard. One, about 6 foot high is damaged but the other which leans dangerously and is about 11 feet high, is intact.
Things To Do
There is plenty to see in Ballymore Eustace, notably Russborough House , a mid 18th century mansion which houses the famous Beit Art Collection.
Ballymore Eustace offers pleasant walking, fishing and watersports opportunities.
The Garden Lounge and Restaurant at the Ardenode Hotel is renowned for the quality of its cuisine, ranging from traditional Irish dishes to locally caught game and quality a lá carte menus.
Nestled in spectacular natural surroundings in nearby Blessington, there is no other Palladian house in Ireland to rival it aesthetically or architecturally. It was designed by the renowned German architect, Richard Castles . It has been perfectly preserved, with all original features still intact. It was built in 1741 by Joseph Lesson, first Earl of Milltown. It is lavishly decorated on the inside from floor to ceiling, and the gardens and grounds are modeled on the classical style.
In 1951, Russborough was purchased by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, and used to house their magnificent collection of paintings, including Dutch, Flemish and Spanish masterpieces. The house is open for public viewing.
With 2 award winning restaurants, The Ballymore Inn and the Thatch, Ballymore Eustace is the perfect village for a ‘food visit’. These restaurants are not only top class eateries but the décor is of an olde worlde style – open log fires, beamed ceilings and a friendly atmosphere. Booking in advance is advised for both these restaurants.
Handball, raquet ball, squash and angling.
The Community Centre in Ballymore Eustace is second to none. It is in fact classed as the second best Glass Alley in Ireland. Handball, raquet ball and squash are all played here and All Ireland Finals in these sports take place here from time to time. Open to the public but booking in advance is advised.
Ballymore Eustace is a very community orientated village, they have a very active musical and drama society.
Because of its location and the proximity to the River Liffey, angling is a very popular sport. A permit is required to fish on the River Liffey. These can be purchased in a tackle shop. For salmon and sea trout you require a state licence. The Blessington Lakes, serenely set in the foothills of the magnificent Wicklow Mountains, offers 5,000 acres of tranquil clean water. A fisherman’s dream, a boatman’s paradise, Blessington Lake is your Lake of Leisure. Yours to sail, to cruise, to fish, to tour, to cycle. Yours to explore and enjoy.
Experts say that Blessington Lake has developed into one of Ireland’s most prominent fisheries. More than 10,000 brown trout over 1lb weight are stocked here annually. Overwintering of these trout has led to fish of up to 9lb being caught in recent times. Pike of 20 to 30lbs and an abundance of perch and roach that roam the depths provide an anglers paradise.
Angling on the lake is by boat or from the shore with easy access at many well signed locations. Rules and regulations as laid down by the ESB are readily available locally. In addition to angling, visitors to Blessington Lake can sail, take a pleasure cruise on the ‘Water Bus’, windsurf, cruise and waterski on the nearby Golden Falls Lake.
The population of this town is in the region of 1500 people.