Ballynacally is generally translated as Baile na Cailleadh, meaning "the nun's land", because it belonged to the nuns of Killone Convent Ballynacally. It is home to many historical structures and monuments. Both St.Brendan and St. Senan visited the area and founded churches on the islands. At that time the islands were heavily populated. The churches were later plundered by the Danes travelling up the River Shannon on their way to Limerick.
In Norman times there was a flourishing community of nuns at Kilchreest. Norman castles were built in the area including castles at Dangan, Ballycorick, and Cragbrien. During famine times the dominant landlords were the Balls of Fortfergus and the Henns of Paradise. The Balls set up a Soup School on the village green and this eventually became the local national school and is now part of the Community Centre. With regard to the local landlords, the Balls are infamous for their eviction of two hundred families from the townland of Inisdia.