To visit the village of Ballyhooly, cross the bridge and turn left at the T junction.
Ballyhooly (from the Irish ‘Baile Átha hÚlla’, meaning ‘the Settlement of the Ford of the Apples’), as it stands now, was built by the Earl of Listowel in the year 1830. Its population has fluctuated greatly over the years. Reaching a high of 533 in 1837, post-famine numbers took a drastic nose-dive. The population still hasn’t recovered to pre-famine levels, although it is certainly growing. As of 2011, it had reached 412, a more than two-fold increase since the early 1900s.
The highlight of Ballyhooly, historically-speaking, is its Castle. Dominating the southern end of the town in its picturesque setting overlooking the Blackwater, all that remains of this 15th-century Tudor castle (other than a turret and a short section of wall) is its tower house, renovated in 1863 by the Countess of Listowel. A fishing lodge was adjoined to the castle in the 1920s.
The castle was originally a stronghold of the Roches, but passed to Richard Aldworth (an English MP) during the plantation of Munster. It saw significant action during the Irish Confederate Wars (also called the Eleven Years’ War), fought between Catholics and Protestants over governance.
In the 19th century, agriculture was the main source of employment, although some small industries were in existence. Significant among these was the large mill at nearby Millvale. Owned by the Aldworths, this mill had one of the largest mill wheels in Ireland. It produced flour and carded wool, and the wheel continued to operate into the early 1940s when it was replaced by a diesel engine.
In the village centre, on the corner where the road takes a sharp left to Mallow, sits Ballyhooly House (also known as ‘The Mansion’). This was built in 1871 by the Dowager Countess of Listowel. The beautiful, ivy-covered house is a private residence and is not open to the public.
Directly opposite Ballyhooly House is the village’s Catholic church. It was completed in 1870. Its architect was Mr GC Ashlin, a man of some renown who was associated with the design of a number of religious institutions throughout the country.
Ballyhooly’s Protestant church can be found adjacent to the entry onto the castle grounds. It was erected in 1888 and was designed by Mr WH Hill of Cork. Much of its stonework came from the former Bridgetown church.
– Information from ‘The Ford of the Apples’ (Fermoy, 1988), edited by Christy Roche