Our marble quarry in Ballynahinch has been in the Joyce family for five generations. Any history of Connemara or indeed Connemara Marble must include the infamous Richard Martin MP. Richard Martin had a number of different nicknames, Humanity Dick was given from his concern for the welfare of animals, In fact it was Richard Martin who succeeded in getting the Act for the protection of animals through parliament, and from this the RSPCA was created. He also had the nickname ‘Hairtrigger Dick” because of his propensity for duels, in fact he fought over a hundred duels with sword and pistol.
Richard Martins Ballynahinch estate was around 200,000 acres making him one of the largest landowners in Ireland at the time. Both the Lissoughter quarry and the Ballynahinch quarry were on his estate and he was keen to take advantage of unique and rare resource. In 1817 he commissioned two tables, made from ‘Galway Black Marble’ and ‘Connemara Green Marble’ to be given to Ann O’Hara of Raheen on her marriage to James Bourke. It is thought these tables were made at Ballynahinch Castle and are one of the earliest examples of polished Connemara marble. They are on permanent display at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History.
In 1822 the Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo came to Connemara, he was tasked with the job of opening up Connemara by laying a new road from Galway to Clifden and
building a number of quays and piers. Nimmo made a pier of a part of the road at Cloonisle where it came close to the shore, believing that it might be needed sometime in the future. He wrote “especially for the shipment of the beautiful green marble from the twelve Pins Mountains. The Ballynahinch quarry had recently been opened. It was hoped that it would introduce new source of employment into Connemara.
Mr. Nimmo had also drawn plans for a quay at the town of Clifden and the laying of a road through central Connemara from Galway to Clifden which opened in the 1830’s. This opened the area of Connemara to industry and in 1822 the Streamstown quarry (which is around three miles north of Clifden village) was opened.