Dr Lynch’s Business Acumen

Creation of Industry in Ballyvourney

An Dochtúir Dómhnall Ó Loingsigh also had a good understanding of business affairs. When he had won the minds of the people, he knew that the time had arrived to improve the lives of the people as well. He believed that it was not with words alone that people lived.

He remembered his mother giving an account of the poverty in Coolea during her youth, and he remembered the men of the neighbourhood working for Cormac Colthurst (local landlord). He knew that there was not much improvement in life since then and that economic aid in the parish was very weak.

At that time the people of Coolea and Ballyvourney had to bring everything they needed from Macroom, many miles from their homes and they often by foot. An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh opened a new general store in the middle of Ballyvourney on the site where the present co-op is situated. He made available every sort of seed, fertiliser and food for animals as well as anything a farmer or housewife needed, both cheaply and conveniently. It was said that he had five horses on the road drawing goods to the shop.

Click the link below to read an article about the closure of Ballyclough Co-Op in 1988 that mentions An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh –

Southern Star 10 Sept 1988 Closure of Ballyclough Co op

He then went on to found a bakery behind the shop and he advertised for bakers. Two Mullane brothers from Millstreet were employed immediately. Their descendants are still in the parish.

Shortly after that an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh started facilitating employment for the ladies. He trained young women from the area in lace knitting, knitting, crochet, sewing and quilt making. He founded a knitting factory for the women of Ballyvourney and he brought two demonstrators from Scotland in order to train the local women in how to use the knitting machines he had purchased.

Click the link below to read an article about the1906 Industrial Exhibition at the Oireachtas in Dublin where “all kinds of Hosiery and Knitted Goods come from Dr Lynch” amongst others –

Freemans Journal 08 August 1906 Oireachtas Industrial Exhibition Dr Lynch

It wasn’t long until he had twenty women employed in the factory, and it should be noted that this happened nearly 100 years ago, in a time before anything was known about Gaeltana Éireann, Údarás na Gaeltachta or any other authority. He went on to find markets for the products produced in the factory, and furthermore he organised cooking and dairying classes for the young women of the area years before the Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) were formed.

Ballyvourney Fair & The Breaking of the Boycott

An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh understood what a big disadvantage it was to the farmers of Ballyvourney and Coolea not to have their own fair. At that time the farmers had to drive their stock to Macroom Fair and often home the same road if they did not sell them. An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh founded Ballyvourney Fair in 1883-1884, but after establishing it something happened – the stockbuyers of Munster boycotted the fair because there was no train running to Ballyvourney.

But the doctor did not give in to this boycott, so he purchased whatever stock was for sale at the fair (cows, heifers, bullocks, pigs and sheep), he leased a cattle boat and he then transported most of the stock to England on this boat from Cork Harbour.

It is clear that he was widely known, and that he had personal relationships with a lot of people, not alone in Ireland but in England and in Europe as well. The Cattle Dealers were not too happy with this manoeuver and bit by bit they had to give in and they started to attend Ballyvourney Fair in the same way as they would attend any other fair. The fair succeeded very well in Ballyvourney for 80 years until Macroom Mart was founded in 1962.

An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh’s daughter Cathy said in 1970 that her father made great endeavours to bring the railway to Ballyvourney. He was in contact with the Irish Nationalist Delegate – Dr Charles Tanner M.P. for a number of years and Dr Tanner asked questions in Westminster in the years 1887 – 1889 but unfortunately this campaign did not succeed.

Through the creation and founding of the industry, fair, shop, bakery and knitting factory, an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh gave great encouragement to the people of the area, and the desire he had to work amongst these people could be seen clearly even after his death. This culture of setting up small, local industries can still be seen in action in Ballyvourney today.


Adapted from Éighse 2008 speech given by Dónal Ó hÉalaithe – Staraí áitiúl de chuid Acadamh Fódhla ó Chúil Aodha, translated into Béarla by James O’Leary, Coláiste an tEasbog Mac Aogháin, Máigh Chromtha.