Ballyvourney Beginnings

Among the two thousand men who remained in Ireland following The Flight of the Wild Geese“∗ were four Lynch brothers – Michael, Dan, Jeremiah and Con. They settled for some time in Bantry, Co. Cork eventually making their way to Ballyvourney, Co. Cork. They settled in the townlands of Togher, Lyre, Coomaguire, Ullanes and what is known now as The Flatts. (It is believed that all Lynches except the Lynch family in Ullanes West are descendants of these brothers. It is important to note there are no records at present to prove or disprove such a claim.)

There were no Lynches listed in the census taken in 1659 for that area. The Lynch brother who settled in The Flatts lived where one turns off the N22 (the Macroom-Killarney Road) for “St Gobnaits Graveyard”.

The Flatts extends eastwards along the Sullane river and across the road from what is now the Abbey Hotel. Colthurst was the landlord at that time, so they would have been his tenants and were given some acres of land which they paid Colthurst rent for it. They would have grown their own potatoes, which was the staple diet, probably had a cow, pig and also hens, and of course there was no machinery at that time so all the work was done manually or with a horse if one were available. The pigs were killed and preserved in salt, and were shared amongst the neighbours who in turn shared their meat and milk etc.

This Lynch family had a “Shebeen” (a pub without a licence) – these were common at that time and the drink was homemade. They had placed  a bottle on the top of the chimney to indicate to those passing the road that there was drink available.

St Gobnaits Graveyard

They were also caretakers of “St Gobnait’s Graveyard” and it was they who found “St Gobnait’s” Bulla (bowl) while opening graves in the early 18th century.


This bulla (or bowl) is made of iron, it was round and smooth and traditionally it was believed to have healing powers.

IMG_3896St Gobnaits Bulla

St Gobnait is said to have used it to keep marauders from her church and convents, by throwing it in their direction and it is supposed to have returned back to her hands. After it was found by the Lynches it was put into the western gable end of the old church ruin where it remains to this day.

Directly underneath this there is a square surrounded by a stone ditch and on this ditch there are many headstones. This is where the Lynches burial ground was located, from the time they came to Ballyvourney in the 17th to early 18th century.

3 headstones in Dr Lynch plotDr Lynch Gravestone Inscription

The descendants of Dan Lynch (who went to Kerry) and his brother John (went to Bantry), are buried in Ballyvourney. The descendants of Michael who went to live in Rathmore are buried in Millstreet.

Back in the square facing the western gable end of the church there is an old headstone on top of which are some symbols of a religious nature e.g. “We will rise again”. Under these symbols is the name Michael Lynch born 1735, who was a son to the Lynch brother who settled in The Flatts.

Michael married Ellen, she was born c.1740 – died 22nd November 1799 and they lived in his father’s “Shebeen” at the Flatts, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork. They had three sons and possibly many more other children but we do not have any records of these at present. The three sons were Dan (born 1774), Michael (born 1775) and John (born 1776).

These three brothers left Ballyvourney between 1810 – 1815 approx. Michael married and settled in Rathduane, Millstreet; John married and settled in Bantry and Dan married Johanna Healy (born 1780 – died 8th August 1870) from Derrymaclavoide, Clonkeen, Killarney, Co. Kerry. When Dan and Johanna left Ballyvourney her father gave them half of his farm and they settled in the east side of Derrymaclavoide and later moved to the west side. This was a common occurrence at that time if a family were having bad luck or were not happy.

In Griffith’s Survey of Valuations 1853, for the townland of Derrymaclavoide, Denis Healy and Denis Healy Junior were farming 443 acres with Johanna Lynch and her son Con farming 529 acres. This was mostly mountain and was divided several times to give a living to their descendants. As these families lived so close in time each Lynch family had their own name e.g. The Counts, the Colonels, The Dicks and The Willies.


Courtesy of research gathered by Mgt. Curtis (nee Lynch).
It should be noted that as of yet, no connection can be made between the above-described Lynches and the Togher Lynches (from which An Dochtúir Dómhnall Ó Loingsigh originated).
∗ “The Flight of the Wild Geese” was the departure of an Irish Jacobite army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, from Ireland to France, as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691, following the end of the Williamite War in Ireland.