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Ballymaghan, County Down


Ir. Baile Ui Mhiacháin ‘O’Meehan’s town’


Ballymaghan lies south of Knocknagoney, one of the five church lands supporting the church of Holywood.  John O’Donovan translated this name as Baile Uí Mhocháin ‘O’Maghan’s town’, adjusted by Joyce (iii 104) to Baile Ui Miodchain ‘O’Meehan’s town’.  The earlier spellings show that Joyce was correct.  Thirteenth-century evidence for this townland (Balimithegan in the Pipe Rolls of King John c.1211, Balimichgan in the Calendar of Documents for Ireland 1221, Balimithegan again in the Great Rolls Pipe for c.1275) gives the vowel in the first syllable of the eponym as -i-.  The Irish origin is the surname Ó Miadhacháin, which has been anglicised Meegan, Meekin, and Meehan.  Ballymacmaine in NW Co. Down was a church townland in 1609 (CPR Jas I 395b), and appears to bear a mac version of the same surname, which one might expect to belong to the church tenants (PNI vi 224-5).  According to MacLysaght the name Mac Miadhacháin (now spelled Mac Miacháin) was ‘numerous in Cos Antrim and Down under eight different spellings’, including McMeghan, McMeekin, Meegan and Meehan (MacLysaght 1964, 148-9; 1982, 155b; 1985, 212-3).  However, neither surname can be certainly identified as church tenants.

There was formerly a church in Ballymaghan townland, called Ecclesia de Balymichgan in thePapal Taxation c.1306.  In the mid-19th century, Reeves said, ‘There are no remains of the church or churchyard now to be seen’, but these were ‘under the orchard which belongs to the Moat House’, plus a building in which were some tombstones re-used.  The church, called a grange (‘church farm’, grang’ de Ballimeaghan) in 1605, had three further townlands of church land (EA 12n, Inq. Ult. Dn $2 Jac I col. e.).  Although their names are not given, it seems likely that one was Ballymysert adjacent to the south, since it usually follows Ballymaghan in lists of the church lands of Bangor Abbey.


K. Muhr, 2009

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Baile Uí Mhocháin ""O''Maghan''s town""

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 29

Baile-Ui-Miodchain ""O''Meehan''s town""

1913Joyce iii 104

Baile Mitheagáin ""Mitheagán''s townland""

1991NIPNP posters Belfast
Balimithegan1211cPipe Roll John 56, 62
Balimichgan1221CDI $1015
Balimithegan1275cGreat Rolls Pipe xxxvi 54
Balymichgan, Ecclesia de1306cEccles. Tax. 12
Ballemachan1603CPR Jas I 38b
Ballemegh1604CPR Jas I 38a
Ballie O Meachan1615Terrier (Reeves) 51
Ballie O''Meachan1615Terrier (O'Laverty) 326
Ballimagan1617CPR Jas I 326a
Ballimeaghan1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx
Ballymeaghan alias Ballymegh1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxi
Ba: Meghan1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 39
Balle Meaghan1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 35, 38
Ballemeaghan or Ballemegh1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi
Ballemeghan1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi
Ballemeaghan1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Ballemeaghan al'' Ballemeaghe1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Ballemeaghan + Lissmore1661BSD 127
West Hollywood al Ballemeaghan1661BSD 125
Balleneaghan al Ballemeagh1662Inq. Ult. (Down) $23 Car. II
Ballymacan1663Sub. Roll Down 284
Ballimechan1693Chart of Belfast Lough 1693
Ballymeaghan1727Reg. Deeds abstracts i $387
Knockmaghan1745Map of Down (OSNB) No. 29
Ballymaghan1810Wm. Map (OSNB) No. 29
Ballymeckan1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 29
Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
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