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Ballymahon Market House, Main Street, Ballymahon, County Longford
13316010
Northeast façade.
Reg. No.13316010
Date1815 - 1830
Previous NameN/A
TownlandBALLYMAHON
CountyCounty Longford
Coordinates215579, 257185
Categories of Special InterestARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC SOCIAL
RatingRegional
Original Usemarket house
In Use Aslibrary/archive
 
Description
Detached three-bay two-storey former court house and market house, built between c. 1819 - 1826 and altered c. 1880, having pedimented breakfront to the centre of the main elevation (northeast) and single-bay two-storey return to rear (southwest). Flat-roofed addition to the northwest elevation of return with wrought-iron water tank over. Now in use as a library. Hipped slate roof with cast-iron rainwater goods and dressed limestone eaves course. Tooled limestone masonry walls to ground floor and rusticated coursed limestone walls to first floor. Carved limestone string courses, plinth course and dressed limestone block quoins. Carved limestone plaque with Shuldham family coat of arms to pediment. Elliptical-arched openings to ground floor having carved limestone voussoirs, archivolts and keystones with dressed limestone impost course. Timber battened doors with cast-iron strap hinges to central and southeast openings and replacement door to northwest opening. Elliptical-arched recessed panels to first floor with carved limestone voussoirs and surrounds having square-headed openings with replacement windows with limestone sills, those to the sides now blocked. Set back from the road to the centre of Ballymahon.

Appraisal

This building, by the architect Samuel Mullen, was designed to fulfill two specific roles, that of court house and market house. The market house was situated on the ground floor and the court house, including solicitor's and judge's rooms and courtroom, was located on the first floor. The form and design reflects this double function with carriage arches to the ground floor essential for the market house, which are reflected above in the recessed panels forming a coherent and unified decorative scheme. The breakfront and classical features lend an air of authority to the structure befitting its original purposes. The sculpted limestone plaque to the pediment, bearing the coat of arms of the Shuldham family, local landowners who erected the building, and the carved voussoirs and keystones adds artistic interest to the façade and were clearly carved by skilled craftsmen. The market house reflects the growing economic prosperity of Ballymahon in the early nineteenth century. Occupying a prominent site, set back from the street, this building is a notable and imposing feature on the main street of Ballymahon. Samuel Mullen also designed the Church of Ireland church (13316019) in Ballymahon. The original design among the Shuldham papers suggests that the roof was intended to support a central clocktower and a slated canopy ran around the building at first floor level. The interior of the courtroom was altered c. 1880. Slater's Directory (1846) indicates that the building was opened in 1826. The present market house replaced an earlier market house in Ballymahon, location unknown, which was described in 1819 as 'an indifferent old market house' (Shaw Mason).
 
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