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Irish: Baile Shéamais Dhuibh
County Cavan
Market Street,Ballyjamesduff - - 1752710.jpg
Market Street, Ballyjamesduff
Grid reference: N520906
Location: 53°51’51"N, 7°12’20"W
Population: 2,568  (2011)
Local Government

Ballyjamesduff is a small town in County Cavan, and a former market town, at a gathering of routes, on the R194 regional road (which here is Granard Road). The town is a mile or so from the main N3 road running from Dublin north-west to Donegal.

The little town centre of Ballyjamesduff is around the triangle of Market Street, Dublin Street and Anne Street.

The Cavan County Museum is found in the town.


The first known mention of Ballyjamesduff is found in The Registry of Deeds,[1] for Kings Inns, Henrietta Street, Dublin, Deed No.12-294-5122, drawn up on 12/5/1714.

John Wesley, the preacher, theologian and founder of the worldwide Methodist Church, preached in Ballyjamesduff and built a church here during the 18th century.

The town has largely stayed out of the history books. Its quietness was shaken though in August 2016 by a gruesome family murder-suicide which slew a whole family of five.[2][3]


  • Church of Ireland: Ballyjamesduff Church of Ireland[4]
  • Evangelical:
    • Christian Congregation in Ireland, Ballyjamesduff
    • Word of Life Church[5]
  • Roman Catholic: St Joeph's
Anne Street, Ballyjamesduff

About the town

  • The Tannery has been in Ballyjamesduff for 309 years. In 1983, it was destroyed in a fire, but was rebuilt near a local petrol pump station a year later. The ashes of the old tannery were ceremoniously converted into 2½ bricks, one of which was subsequently stolen. These bricks formed the cornerstone of the new building.
  • Cavan County Museum, located in the former Convent of St Clare, the Museum collects, conserves and displays the material heritage and culture of County Cavan, over its 6000-year history. In August 2014, Cavan County Museum opened Ireland's largest outdoor replica First World War trench. [6]
  • Pubs: Ballyjamesduff was once noted for having the largest pub to person ratio in Ireland. There was approximately 1 pub for every 34 persons in the town.
  • The Market House, built in 1815 to commemorate the military achievements at the Battle of Waterloo of the Duke of Wellington, was designed by Arthur McClean a Cavan-born architect who also designed the Anglican church in Virginia, County Cavan.
  • St Joseph's Town Hall was built in 1959 and was opened officially in 1968 by showband act Big Tom and The Mainliners.
  • Liffey Meats, a meat processing plant, which gained notoriety when it was revealed they processed equine and porcine meat in beefburgers.[7]

Popular culture

"The Frolics"

The Percy French Hotel and Paddy Reilly Bar

Ballyjamesduff annually holds "The Frolics", an eight-night showcase of music and comedy. The show was originally held in the nearby town Mountnugent where it was known as "The Mountnugent Frolics". The rights to the show were bought by the Ballyjamesduff Frolics Club in 1943, and the show was moved to Ballyjamesduff. In 1957, due to confusion, the event was renamed from "The Mountnugent Frolics" to "The Ballyjamesduff Frolics".

The show uses special sound recording equipment to measure crowd cheering levels during the entire run of the Frolics. The act that receives the highest cheer wins the "Silver Spuckle Award", an award named after Monsignor Sylvester Spuckle, who was a patron of the show, and a cash award of €1,000.

The Pork Festival

The Pork Festival was an annual town festival started in 1994.[8] It celebrates all things pig-like. This is largely due to a nearby pork-rendering factory regularly supplying a large amount of pork for use in the town festival. The festival is one which celebrates the commercial value of the pig to the town.

Highlights of the festival included:

  • Kosher Kraziness: A Kosher food eating contest.
  • The Pig Run: Similar to the Running of the Bulls, but with boars instead of bulls.
  • The Swine & Cheese party: A more cultural Pork and Cheese tasting party.
  • Grills Gone Wild: A pig and pig-farmer beauty pageant. It was largely a joke version of most beauty pageants.
  • The Olympigs: A day of track and field events for pig farmers. The main event of the Olympigs was the 10-legged race, where each contestant raced with a pig attached to each leg. This was often a source of controversy, with protests taking place each year from animal rights protesters. However, the festival committee always maintained that no pigs (apart from ones eaten) were harmed during the festival.
  • The Speaking in Pig Latin Debate Competition: A competition where people must speak as long as they can in Pig Latin. The current record is over 9 hours, held by a local teacher.
  • Pig Racing: Pigs are raced with knitted jockeys attached to their backs.

In song

Bronze figure of Percy French in the town square

Percy French, a poet and songwriter, lived in Ballyjamesduff.

The Percy French song "Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff", which was written about a man from the area who acted as Jarvy (coach driver) for French and decided to move away to Scotland. It is said that he drove his horse and cart to Carrick-on-Shannon, parked the horse and cart outside the railway station and took the train to Dublin. Legend has it that the horse ran all across Ireland looking for Paddy, until Paddy Reilly was said to have returned. Paddy Reilly is now supposedly buried in St Joseph's graveyard, in Ballyjamesduff.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ballyjamesduff)