Anglicanism and other reformed faiths arrived from the late 16th century onwards. There is no record of a Protestant Church prior to the construction and opening of St Catherine’s Anglican Church of Ireland in 1800. However, it is highly probable that a place of worship existed somewhere in or near Ballymahon prior to the 19th century.
Notable personages from Ballymahon must always include the playwright, novelist and poet, Oliver Goldsmith, who was born at Pallas, near the village of Abbeyshrule in 1728. He was a son of the Rev Charles Goldsmith, who was rector of St Munis’s Church of Ireland in Forgney, about five kilometers east of Ballymahon. He later was posted to Kilkenny West, Co Westmeath, situated between Ballymahon and Athlone. When he died in 1746, his widow Anne moved to Ballymahon where she resided until her death in 1756. During these last ten years of his mother’s life, Oliver would often visit and spend time with her there. He died in London in 1774 and is buried in the Temple Church, near Fleet Street. His best known works include “She Stoops to Conquer”, “The Vicar of Wakefield” and his famous poetry, especially “The Deserted Village”.
John Keegan Casey, better known as Leo was born near Rathconrath, Co Westmeath in 1846. His family moved to Ballymahon where he took up teaching at Gurteen National School for a while at an early age. He became involved with the Fenian uprising and was jailed in Dublin and his health, which was never robust, gave way and he died age 24 years in 1870. His best known poem is “The Rising of the Moon”.