Ballyhack and Arthurstown


Historical Facts and Figures – Ballyhack and Arthurstown

Ballyhack and Arthurstown are steeped in history. Below is a some interesting facts and figures about the two villages through the ages. We hope you enjoy them. If you any more you’d like to add, please email us on

  • Ballyhack has been represented in Irish as Baile Hac and Baile Each. The derivation is believed to be from the Irish word for stable, “Seasmhach”, and “Baile” meaning town, village, home or settlement. Thus Ballyhack would mean the place or town of the stable.
  • On the lands of Dunbrody, out-farms were located in the townland of Kilhile, Grange and Ramsgrange. Settlements at Ballyhack and Nook were commercial rather than agricultural granges. (14th century)
  • Ballyhack was developed as a grange on the Dunbrody estate to exploit the economic potential of the estuary. The castle was well placed to regulate the lucrative ferry crossing and fishing activities. The approach road by the water’s edge was built in the nineteenth century.
  • A survey from 1541 shows that nine fishermen lived in nine tenements owned by Dunbrody Abbey and, as well as rent, contributed a custom in fish valued at 13s 4d.
  • The castles at Ballyhack and Buttermilk were built by the monks as bases from which to exploit the economic opportunities of the Waterford estuary.
  • The fortified church of St Catherine’s, located at Nook near Buttermilk castle, and a chapel on the second floor of Ballyhack castle indicate a religious connection.
  • During the rebellion of 1641, Ballyhack castle was occupied by Confederate forces. After the bombarding by Parliamentarian ships, a raiding party was sent ashore to burn the village. The castle was occupied by the Cromwellians in 1650.
  • After the Confederate rebellion, an Act of Parliament decreed that that landowners who had fought as Confederates were to lose their estates abs receive lands in Connacht in exchange. Ballyhack was used as the disembarkation point for transplantees and the phrase ‘to go to Ballyhack’ assumed ominous connotations.
Principal names recorded in the census of 1659 for the Barony of Shelburne.
Old English Native Irish
Walsh 27 Murphy 33
Sutton 25 Doyle 19
Power 25 Kelly 16
Roche 18 McEdmund 14
Cullen 14 Brannagh 13
Keating 13 Whelan 12
Forrestal 12 O Boe 10
Kent 11 McShane 10
Devereux 11 Byrne 9
Browne 10 Bane 9
Colfer 9 Kavanagh 9
FitzJames 9 Bryan 8
Synnott 8 Loughlan 8
Chapman 8 McTeige 8
Furlong 8 Laoye 7
Redmond 7 McDonnagh 7
Barron 5 McRichard 7
    Ogan 7


  • Ballyhack castle was occupied as a residence of the Etchingham family in the late sixteenth century who were the owners of the Dunbrody estate.
  • Discovery of fine mid seventeenth-century decorated pottery of French, Portuguese, Dutch and English origins indicates that the Etchingham family had extensive continental trading connections.
  • John Etchingham died in Ballyhack castle in 1616. Following the death of John Etchinghams grandson in 1650, the estate was passed to his daughter Jane who had married Arthur Chichester, earl of Donegal.
  • From a 1684 description of Ballyhack by Robert Leigh:
    • About 2 miles from Dunbrody, to the seaward,upon the River of Waterford, there is a creek and an old key (quay) at the bottom of a steep rock, called Ballihack; it is  a sad place to look upon, and has not about half a dozen houses, and an old pile of a castle, besides a few cabins; but it is a place much frequented by passengers that ferry over there into Munster, to a place on that side called Passage, as also by seamen and the like, for ships often lie thereabouts in the river. There are considerable fairs kept at Ballihack (for black cattle and hogs), in the year, the one at Michaelmas, the other upon St James’ day in the summer; and out of the rock that hangs above the village and quay, is wrought a number of very good millstones, which with no small skill or less danger are rolled down a very high precipice to the key, and so carried by water as occasion requires.
  • During the first quarter of the 1800s, Arthur Chichester built the estate village of Arthurstown on the Dundrody estate which became a focal point for the surrounding areas.
  • The village had a hospital, a coast guard station,a police barracks and a courthouse.
  • The pier in Arthurstown was built in 1829. Tolls were levied on goods brought in via the pier particularly coal and culm (shale and limestone with some thin coal seams) imported from Wales.
  • The existing village of Ballyhack was also improved during this time.
  • Ballyhack was the centre of the salmon fishery; in 1853, then salmon weirs generated £250 for the estate.
  • Dundrody Park, surrounded by a wall demesne (a piece of land attached to a manor and retained by the owner for their own use), was completed by Arthur Chichester who became Lord Templemore in 1831.
  • There is a cemetery located on a height near the edge of the village, which is located on the site of the former Ballyhack Church (Saint James’s). The church was closed in the late 1800s, and demolished at some point before 1902. A point of interest in the graveyard includes a record of a Laurence Power, who supposedly died in 1836 at age 170.
  • Map of Ballyhack
    Map of Ballyhack from 1803 overlaid on a satellite image from Google Maps

    map of ballyhack from 1803


This is a work in progress and new information is being added all the time. Check back soon for more fun facts!