History of Ballinagar

Ballinagar is a small village in North Offaly situated between Tullamore and Daingean. It is close to the Grand Canal.

The Irish for Ballinagar is Béal Átha na gCarr and this translates as ‘the mouth of the ford of the cars’.

Apparently the local chieftain used to make his way to Killeigh, where there was a monastic settlement, by crossing a ford.

The village of Ballinagar grew near this ford.

St Joseph’s Church Ballinagar
Built 1837
Partially Destroyed by Fire
Thursday February 12th 2004

St. Joseph’s Church, Ballinagar
With shock and a feeling of disbelief, we learned of the partial destruction by fire, of St. Josephs Church, Ballinagar, on Thursday 12th February 2004.
The sadness is all the more poignant when we remember that the people of this area have worshiped on this site since before Penal Times.
The present church [the oldest in the parish] was built over and around the original thatched church, while people continued to go to Mass there. The year was 1837.
The church has a chalice dating from 1847 {year of the Famine} which fortunately was saved from the fire.
The Stations of the Cross blessed by Bishop Thomas Keogh in 1938, had been presented to Fr. Tom Burke, the Dominican preacher, by the Irish Community of New York, “in recognition of his able championing of their cause during a wave of calamitous teaching in America against the Irish Race”. The stations had frames of Austrian Oak, and the figures were in relief on a background of leaf gold. Their erection and the consecration of the ‘New Altar’, was the occasion of the first official visit to St. Joseph’s by Bishop Thomas Keogh. Sadly these Stations and the Altar have been destroyed in the fire.


Thanks to the efforts of many local people who came to the scene in large numbers, to the Fire Officers and to the Gardai, we were able to recover the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacred Vessels, including the chalice donated by the people of the parish in 1847. We also saved the Mass Vestments, Servers Gowns, the Figures from the Crib, and some Candlesticks.
In our prayers today, we remember in a special way the Community who worship each Sunday in St. Joseph’s, and whose ancestors have worshiped here since Penal Times.
Fr. John Stapleton, P.P. [Killeigh]
Mgr. Tom Coonan, V.G. [Geashill] Feb. 15 2004

*This article is used with the kind consent of Killeigh Parish (www.killeigh.com)