In September 1992 Pope John Paul 11 beatified seventeen Irish martyrs, among them 'Blessed' Margaret Ball a native of Ballygall.
Born in Corballis, Co. Meath in 1515, Margaret married Bartholomew Ball, a maerchant and Mayor of the City of Dublin. They lived at Ballygall House, now Hillcrest Park. Ireland in the 1530's was under the rule of the English King, who declared himself head of the Church and State. Anyone who professed the Catholic Faith was dealt with severely. Monasteries which cared for the poor and sick were closed, ancient relics were destroyed and Catholic education was no longer allowed and the Mass had to be celebrated in secret.
Margaret Ball's faith meant so much to here that she actively defied the authorities. She helped to organise religious education and regularly his clergy at her home, which meant that the Mass was celebrated there almost every day. In carrying out these actions Margaret knew that there would be consequences if she were to be caught. Her home was often raided and after one of these raids Margaret and a Priest were marched through the streets of Dublin and imprisoned for a short while.
During this time Margaret's son Walter abandoned his faith, and gained a reputation as a bitter opponent of Catholicism. In 1580 Walter became Mayor of Dublin, putting him in a position to bring about the religious changes demanded by the British monarch. Walter knew that drastic action would be needed if the city were to be rid of Catholicism. To do this he would have to deal with his mother, and he ordered her to be arrested.
By this time Margaret was in her 60's and crippled with arthritis. She was tied to a wooden hurdle and dragged through the streets of Dublin, to Dublin Castle where she was imprisoned for the rest of her life. The conditions in the prison must have seemed unbarable to Margaret. She could have left the prison and returned home at any time if she renounced her Catholic faith and accepted the Queen of England as head of the Church. Margaret could never give up her faith, her belief in the message of the Gospel was so strong that she was willing to die for it.
In 1583 Margaret died in appaling conditions in the dungeons of Dublin Castle.
Margaret Ball, and all the Irish martyrs are examples of integrity and commitment, in love to Christ.
"God our creator, in the lives of the Irish martyrs you have given us a wonderful example of courage under persecution, of faithfulness to the Gospel, and of loyalty to the Church. Through their intercession may we be strengthened to act according to our own Catholic faith and to respect the beliefs of others"