How Ballyhooley got its name
very loosely translated, is Irish Gaelic for
'party-town', or more formally as the "Ford of
the Apples", Beal Áth h’Úbhla.
So far, we've become aware of it as
a town in Ireland, a tune, two songs, a civil
engineering company, several Australian place names, a railway in QLD and
another Irish music group in Canada.
first came across it as the name of a song - Humours of the King
of Ballyhooley - by well-known Irish
singer, Andy Irvine. It covers the life
and loves of an illicit whiskey distiller.
when we were looking for a name for our band,
the name positively leapt off the page from
O'Neill's 1001 Gems - The Dance Music of
Ireland, where it appears as No 131....
can then track down the Irish town of Ballyhooly
(note, no penultimate letter "e", but more of
that later). Wikipedia tells us it's "a
small village in North Cork situated along the
N72 between Castletownroche and Fermoy.
Ballyhooly is home to several pubs, a church,
community centre and petrol station with
"Ballyhooly is a civil parish and a village, situated on the
river Blackwater, in north county Cork. There is also a
Catholic parish of Ballyhooly, which covers a much larger
area: the 2 civil parishes of Ballyhooly and Killathy and
parts of Kilcummer, Litter and Bridgetown."
don't have to travel far in Ireland of course
to be confronted with tune names. East
of Ballyhooly we find Fermoy (as in "The
Fermoy Lasses"). West we find Mallow (as
in the "Rakes of Mallow"). Not far north
we hit Mitchelstown (as in the Maids of
Mitchelstown), and to the south is Cork (as in
"Top of Cork Road"). And the town is built "on
Blackwater's Side", as the song goes. Yep, we're
definitely in safe
territory around here....
that missing penultimate letter "e".
Although the town is labelled Ballyhooly,
it's interesting to note that its golf
course is run by the Ballyhooley Golf
I've already mentioned
one song, the humorous King of
Ballyhooley. The second song is
somewhat darker. Titled "The Races of
Ballyhooly", it details an 1834 massacre of
townsfolk who resisted paying tithes to the
Anglican Church (as they were Catholics).
about the song can be found
stirring tune can be heard at:
seems like there are other songs. This one comes from
a site entitled "American Old Time Song Lyrics"
There's a dashing sort of boy, who is called his
His ructions and his elements they charm me;
He takes the chief command in a water-drinking band,
Called the Ballyhooly Blue Ribbon Army.
The ladies all declare he's the pride of every fair,
And he bears the patriotic name of Dooley;
When the Temperance Brigade go out upon parade,
Faith: there's not a sober man in Ballyhooly.
Willoo loo hoo! hoo!
We will all enlist, you know,
For their principle.- and elements they charm me.
Sure they don't cure what they ate.
If they drink their whiskey nate,
In the Ballyhooly Blue Ribbon Army.
When we're out upon patrol sad we're under his control.
We take, of course, a most extended radius;
Although It's very clear we drink only ginger beer,
We find the drinking sometimes rather tadius.
The police, one fine day; faith! they chanced to come
And they said we were behaving most unruly;
When the sergeant he did state, that we were not walking
Faith! we stretched him for a corpse in Ballyhooly.
Then before the magistrate every one of us did state.
That we had taken nothing that could injure:
And as it's very clear we drink only ginger beer,
There must have been some stingo in the singer.
Some of us did own we were drinking zosodone,
But the police were behaving most unruly;
It was of no avail, and within the county jail
Lies the Temperance Brigade of Ballyhooly.
Interestingly, the name shows up a number of times in
Australia, apart from us....
Port Douglas, QLD, we find an extra-cute steam train
with that name. It's a relic of the days before
You can see more at
There's also a civil engineering company, called
Ballyhooly Civil Pty Ltd.
"WE CAN'T MOVE HEAVEN, BUT WE
CAN MOVE EARTH".
I like it!
In NSW, we find the Bally Hooley Rd,
running east from Frogmore, north east of Boorowa. It
appears to be named for a mixed beef and sheep farm called
Ballyhooley, run by the Carey family.
In Victoria, there's a Bally Hooley in Gippsland, lying
between the Snowy and Buchan rivers.
And in Tasmania, we find the Ballyhooly Rd, running
northeast from Mangalore.
A Dog called Balleyhooly?
The National Library's Trove yields up a story printed in
the West Gippsland Gazette of June 16, 1903, titled:
Set on a rural property somewhere in Australia, it
mentions the dog by name five times.
(* The Westminster Budget was a
British national newspaper at the time.)
In New Zealand
Seems there is a Murray Grey beef cattle farm down near
Invercargill with the brand name Ballyhooley Beef.
Finally, we find another group of Irish musicians,
these ones in Canada.
Just when I thought I was getting to the end of known
Ballyhooleys, I thought to enter the name into the National
Library's Trove search box. And got 2952 hits!
This is going to take quite some time.....
On, to Ballyhooley
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