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Baile Shéamais Dhuibh
Market Street, Ballyjamesduff.
Ballyjamesduff is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Cavan
Elevation 104 m (341 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 2,568
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference N520906

Ballyjamesduff (Irish: Baile Shéamais Dhuibh, meaning "Town of Black James") is a medium-sized town with a population of 2,240 in County Cavan in Ireland, located on the R194 regional road. Formerly a market town and winner of the 1966 and 1967 Irish Tidy Towns Competition.[2]


  • History 1
  • Demographics 2
  • Transport 3
  • Notable places in Ballyjamesduff 4
  • "The Frolics" 5
  • In song 6
  • The Pork Festival 7
  • People 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The first mention of Ballyjamesduff is found in The Registry of Deeds,[3] Kings Inns, Henrietta Street, Dublin, Deed No.12-294-5122, drawn up on 12/5/1714.


Between census years 2002 and 2006 the population of Ballyjamesduff rose by 59.9% (ref. data from Central Statistics Office). A major factor in the increase has been immigration from outside Ireland. The 2006 census results showed that more than 25% of people in the town were from overseas.[4]


Anne Street.

Bus Éireann Route 187 serves Ballyjamesduff from Monday to Saturday. It provides transport to the neighbouring towns and villages of Oldcastle, Mountnugent, Virginia and Kells. There are four journeys both to and from Ballyjamesduff each weekday. The first journey of the day departs the town (for Kells) at 07:30. Subject to road safety the bus will stop to pick up and set down passengers at any safe point along the route.[5]

Notable places in Ballyjamesduff

  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[2]
  • The Market House, built in 1815 to commemorate the military achievements at 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. McClean left Ireland around 1825 and settled in Brockville, Ontario, Canada where he built a number of Anglican churches.

"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". One year, Terry Waite famously made a cameo appearance.

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". This is an award named after Monsignor Sylvester Spuckle, who was a patron of the show. It is made of solid silver and is worth €4,000. A cash award of €1,000 is also given to the winner.

In 2000, a comedy routine featured one of the townsfolk dressed as Chairman Mao Zedong, with his eyes pinned with sellotape, working in a Chinese restaurant. His faux-Chinese voiced jokes about the local Town Diner restaurant led to the restaurant suing the organizers of the show for libel. The lawsuit was later settled out of court with the organisers being ordered to pay the restaurant a settlement.

In 2003, to celebrate the show's 60 years, the list of the highest cheered acts was revealed. The winners were "The Duodenums", a three-piece group playing a version of "Dueling Banjos" on their tracheas. This was a parody of a scene from the film National Lampoon's Animal House, where a character did the same with the William Tell Overture.

The 2007 Frolics was named the 'Non Stop Frolics' and ran from 16–25 November.

In song

Bronze figure of Percy French in the town square with words and music of "Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff".

It is famous for being in 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 emigrate 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 the town of Ballyjamesduff.

The Pork Festival

This 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 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. It took its name from the popular Girls Gone Wild series.
  • 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.


  • Percy French poet, songwriter and noted Board of Works Inspector of Drains with Cavan County Council.
  • John Wesley preacher, theologian and founder of the worldwide Methodist Church, preached in Ballyjamesduff and built a church here during the 18th century.
  • Pete Briquette of the Boomtown Rats came from Ballyjamesduff. His real name is Patrick Cusack.
  • Marcus Daly, known as "the Montana Copper King", was born in 1841 near Ballyjamesduff. He died in 1900 in New York.
  • Ronan Lee, former Member of Parliament for Indooroopilly electorate, Queensland, Australia came from Ballyjamesduff.
  • The singer Zach de la Rocha has a maternal grandfather who grew up in the town in the early 1900s.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links

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