Ballincollig (Irish: Baile an Chollaigh) is a satellite town and largest town (not including Cork City) in County Cork, Ireland, approximately 9 km west of Cork city. It is located beside the River Lee on the R608 regional road. In 2011 the population of Ballincollig DED was 17,368. The nearest towns include: Ballinora, Ovens,Killumney, Inniscarra, Blarney (home of the Blarney Stone), and Tower. It is located beyond the Green Belt from the Cork city suburbs of Bishopstown and Wilton.
The Barrett family (after whom the barony which contains Ballincollig is named) built Ballincollig Castle during the reign of Edward III. The castle was taken from Andrew Barrett by rebels in 1641, but they were expelled by English Parliamentary forces under Murrough O’Brien, Earl Inchiquinn, in 1645. It was garrisoned forJames II in 1689, during the Williamite war in Ireland, then remained unoccupied after his defeat, and fell into decay.
The Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills were opened in 1794 by Charles Henry Leslie, a prominent Cork businessman. Eleven years later, the mills were bought by the British, who were preparing for war with Napoleon, and the barracks were built to protect the supply of gunpowder. It was one of the largest gunpowder mills in theBritish Isles. In 1837, the mill employed several hundred workers, and by 1880, Ballincollig was one of the largest industrial establishments in Cork, with the mill employing many men and boys from the area.
With the closure of the Gunpowder Mills in the early 1900s, Ballincollig became little more than a small village on the road from Cork city to the larger market town of Macroom. The 3rd Royal Munster Fusiliers (Reserve) Battalion were stationed there during the Great War. Other Regiments stationed in the Barracks before it was decommissioned were 1st Field Artillery Regiment and 8th Field Artillery Regiment (FCÁ). The recently decommissioned Murphy Barracks was a major source of employment. In the 1970s, Ballincollig developed as much more of a satellite town, with many housing developments constructed around the old village, and housing people who worked in Cork city or its suburbs. This expansion continued through the late 80s and 90s. Consequently, the town’s population has risen dramatically, particularly with the westward expansion of the town. Ballincollig has grown to be second largest town in County Cork after Cork City.
Two Catholic churches are located in the town. The modern ‘Church of Christ Our Light’ (designed by a local architectural firm) is located on the west side of the town, while the old ‘Church of St Mary and St John‘ is located near the centre of the town, on Station Road.
The Bible Baptist Church meets in the Westgate Foundation on the west end of town. The church is associated with the Cork Bible Institute and other Gospel ministries.
Other religious groups including Hindus, Sikhs, and Greek Orthodox also have services at various locations in Ballincollig.
The amenities located in Ballincollig include a library, a multiplex cinema, playgrounds, shopping centres and a large park.
The recreational park, Ballincollig Regional Park, includes the former gunpowder mill and measures approximately 135 acres, with 52 structures in varying stages of decay surviving from the gunpowder manufacturing process. The site is approximately 2.4 kilometres in length and the River Lee runs the northern length of the site. The site contains a system of canals used during the manufacturing process connecting all the process areas in a single flat system without locks. The canals are fed from the River Lee at the western end of the site. The park contains soccer pitches, a rugby pitch, walkways, a skateboard facility, and free-to-use outdoor fitness equipment – the latter installed on the park’s western end in November 2011. As a result of a 2012 development plan, which outlined the future of the Regional Park by the Recreation & Amenity section of the local authority, planning was approved for multi-use games areas and a children’s playground. This work started December 2014 and is planned to open by April 2015. An eighty plot allotment scheme was also identified within the development plan, and was opened in November 2013 at the Innishmore entrance to the Regional Park. A series of marked trails were laid-out in 2014, and consist of four looped walks, colour-coded according to length. The Military Trail begins at the Shopping Centre Square and continues to the Regional Park by a westerly route. Three other trails of varying lengths begin and end at the western end of the park – at Inniscarra Bridge.
Ballincollig is home to several crèches, four primary schools, and two secondary schools. The two secondary schools in Ballincollig are Coláiste Choilm and Ballincollig Community School. Ballincollig Community School is located in West Ballincollig and is next to the ‘Church of Christ Our Light’ and Scoil Barra (a primary school). Coláiste Choilm is located in East Ballincollig and is near a doctor’s practice and the main town of Ballincollig. Scoil Eoin and Scoil Mhuire (two primary schools) are located near St Mary’s and St John’s church. A new three-storey building was opened for Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin in 2012. This is one of two primary and secondary Gaelscoileanna (Irish-speaking schools) in the area, providing for a large number of pupils who learn through the Irish language in the area.
A children’s activity centre has been established with a synthetic skating rink, Supernova, which offers skating on a plastic surface. The Oriel Hotel and Leisure Centre offers facilities including a swimming pool, gym and related classes. There are also shops, a shopping centre, restaurants and takeaway establishments in the town.
Places of interest
The Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills along with its visitor centre / museum is to be found on the north side of the town. Some buildings in the Gunpowder Mills are now in disrepair but the area is still open to walkers.
The grave of Rory Gallagher is located at St Oliver’s Cemetery, on the Model Farm Road, just outside Ballincollig. His headstone is a replica of an award he received in 1972 for International Guitarist of The Year