Ballygourney Parish – hiding in plain sight.

Churchtown South

The early 19th century Catholic church of St Colmcille at Churchtown South represents the civil parish of Ballintemple, also called Ballygorney.

In my last post I looked at the Imokilly section  of the 1615 Royal Visitation of the diocese of Cloyne as published in Archivium Hibernicum in 1913 by Michael A Murphy. Unfortunately, I REALLY wasn’t paying attention to what I was writing. I wondered about the identity of the parish of Ballygourney….and got it entirely wrong!  One thing I was certain of is that Ballygourney was NOT Dungourney parish for that is mentioned in the survey under the Castlelyons Deanery parishes. I speculated that the parish of Ballygourney was near Midleton or Lisgoold, but in fact it made no sense. It certainly wasn’t named in the Cromwellian regime’s Down Survey (1650s).

Fortunately one of my readers contacted me and suggested that Ballygourney must be the Civil Parish better known as Ballintemple, on the coast west of Ballycotton and south of Cloyne. But PROVING it was the issue. She based her opinion on the fact that the sequence of parishes started with Garryvoe, then came Bohillane and Kilmahon and next came Ballygourney.- each of these parishes is right next to each other going from Garryvoe in the east to Bohillane on the west, then south to Kilmahon and west again to Ballygourney. After Ballygourney comes Inch and so on. All I can say is ‘Well spotted, Maria!’ When I checked Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) it was right there in front of me:

CHURCHTOWN, or Ballintemple, in a parish in the barony of IMKILLY, county of Cork, province of Munster, 4 miles (S.E.) from Cloyne, containing 1756 inhabitants. This parish, also called Ballygourney, is situated on St George’s Channel…..

At the time that Samuel Lewis published his account, the parish was served by a small neat church in Ballycotton which was actually in Cloyne parish). The church in Ballycotton also served the parish of Kilmahon. In East Cork we call it the parish Churchtown South to distinguish it from Churchtown North, between Midleton and Castlemartyr. Today Ballintemple/Ballygourney/Churchtown South is part of the Catholic parish of Cloyne and comes under the Union of Cloyne in the Church of Ireland.

The moral of the tale is to consider carefully the sequence of places mentioned….and this may give you the correct location! It helps if you can use other evidence as well, of course!

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