In the early 1860s the Irish economy was thriving and demand for granite for building works was high. This encouraged some of the stonemasons at Ballyknockan to open small quarries of their own. The boom continued until the late 1870s, when there was a crop failure in Ireland, which led to an economic recession. This caused a financial crisis which led to the failure of a number of the recently-opened Ballyknockan granite quarries. The records of the Valuation Office provide evidence from which I have discovered:-
All of the new quarry owners of the 1860s were ruined by the economic crisis of the late 1870s and early 1880s, except William Osborne, who took over the larger quarry of Reilly's after it had failed.
It took until the late 1880s before the Irish economy recovered and led to a resurgence in activity at Ballyknockan. In 1888 John Brien took over Freeman's quarry after it had lain unused for some years following James Freeman's death in 1879 and widow Freeman's eviction in 1883. John Brien owned this quarry until 1932, but in 1927 he was working in England, with part of the quarry being used as a spoil dump for the neighbouring quarry (of Peter Brien and later Patrick O'Brien, presumably his son) and James Freeman was working the remainder. In 1932 this quarry passed to Denis Cullen, then to Donal Cullen in 1936, then to Christopher McEvoy in 1940 and almost immediately to Mary McEvoy.
Mc Evoys quarry
McEvoys appear to have commenced quarrying in Ballyknockan in 1865, in a quarry which they had leased, but the Valuation Office records do not record informal sublettings or local arrangements for working quarries. McEvoys name first appeared in the Valuation Office records in 1884 when Daniel McEvoy was recorded at Ballyknockan, but this quarry had closed by 1888.
By the mid 1950s there were two McEvoy quarries at Ballyknockan. Donal J McEvoys quarry was leased to Sisks, the building contractor, and is now flooded; while W J & C McEvoys quarry lay just north east of the main group of quarries and this is the only granite quarry still working at Ballyknockan, trading as C McEvoy and Sons, as of 2012.
In 1906 John Doyle produced this advertisement, but his name never appeared in the valuation records. This John Doyle was a descendent of Michael Doyle who moved to Ballyknockan from Golden Hill in the 1820s. John Doyle's quarry was taken over by Fosters who were quarrying at Ballyknockan circa 1940s to 1960s. Fosters trained the last generation of stonemasons at Ballyknockan, of whom only Larry Foster, Christy McEvoy, and Andy Farrington still continue the stonemason's craft at Ballyknockan.