Houses of Landed Society in Skehana District

June 12, 2018 | Author: Jimmy Laffey | Category: Documents



Skehana & District Heritage Group presents

History of houses and estates of the Landed Society in our locality. in conjunction with National Heritage Week 2016

Heritage Week 2016

Houses of the Landed Society In County Galway Windfield House – Blake, Lynch, Jameson

Skehana & District Heritage Group hosts

Pictorial Exhibition Display of over 300 houses of the Landed Society in Co. Galway. At Skehana Community Development Astro-Turf Pitch

Saturday Aug. 20th- 5pm-7pm Sunday Aug. 21st - 11am-4pm Free admission – everybody most welcome. Booklets available on history of local houses and families. For further information email: [email protected] Phone (086) 3082487, (085) 2187544

Skehana & District Heritage Group, Skehana, Menlough, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. August 2016. A Chara, Skehana & District Heritage Group is delighted once again to be associated with National Heritage Week in what is our fourth year of participation and all events have proven to be extremely successful. This year we have chosen a very different venture by holding a photographic exhibition of over 300 houses of the landed society in County Galway. This was inspired by images included in Patrick Melvin’s book Estates and Landed Society in Galway. We wish to acknowledge the wonderful cooperation and support we received from Patrick, his publisher Éamon de Burca and from Marie Boran at the Moore Institute at NUI Galway and her magnificent resource that is the Landed Estates website. To accompany our exhibition we have compiled this booklet that gives a brief history and some interesting facts on some of the house that are local to Skehana and its surrounding areas. We hope you will find it both enjoyable and informative. This exhibition was compiled and premiered by the Skehana & District Heritage Group as its contribution to the highly successful Farming & Country Life 1916 event held, in Athenry, in June 2016. It was a highly acclaimed exhibit and since then it has been on display at the Portumna Workhouse to coincide with their international ‘Big Houses’ conference held there recently. Teagasc and Galway County Council have nominated us as the holders and guardians of the exhibit and for this we are most grateful and we can assure them it is in safe hands. We will be encouraging other heritage and community groups to avail of perhaps exhibiting it at their own local events. Special thanks also to our group members who are always creative and diligent when it comes to undertakings like this and to Skehana Community Development which has been most accommodating in all of our requests associated with this event. Indeed this was a momentous year for us as we held a most appropriate and fitting series of events to commemorative the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in County Galway. Once again to our most industrious and supportive Heritage Officer, Marie Mannion, and her support team of Grainne Smyth and Marian Donohoe at the Galway County Heritage Office, we extend our sincere gratitude as they always give immense support to us, and to all heritage groups within the county, but especially again this year with the production of this booklet. Please feel free to contact us at any time and hopefully we may be of assistance to you regarding our local heritage, history or genealogy and visit our website Finally you are most welcome to this event and we hope you have an enjoyable and informative day. Le gach dea-mhéin,

Jimmy Laffey (PRO). (085) 2187544.

Houses and Estates of the Landed Society in Galway. Raising the subjects like ‘The Gentry’, ‘Big Houses and Estates’ and ‘Landlordism’ always generate a certain level of intrigue as well as often getting under the skin of Irish men and women as they always take us back to a period within the 800 year occupation of Ireland. However it is also important to remind ourselves that these are a part of our history that simply cannot be reversed or erased from written word or our memory – they, as part of our history, have in some way shaped what we are today. It is equally important to remember that these buildings were in many situations engineering and conceived by Irish people and were, in virtually all cases, constructed by Irish hands. All of these activities should always serve to remind us of the unequalled talent and skills of our ancestors and of their creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship. It is easy to confuse the buildings with the people who resided therein and the difficulty often lies in the fact that it is only the bricks and mortar that survives that serve as an oft times difficult reminder of those individuals and families and what and who they represented. Also important to note is that not all who were associated with the houses and estates of the 19th century were mirror images of each other – many were in fact most generous and helpful in difficult times for Irish people and the complete reverse of those we prefer to recall less kindly. Many of the buildings that we admire and revere today are from that very same era and again built by the same Irish craftsmen such as Aras an Uachtaran (a former Viceregal Lodge), Farmleigh House, Muckross House, Leinster House, the GPO in O’Connell Street, Ashford and Dromoland Castles to mention but a few. While the houses of Galway may not have the same significance in national or international terms as these they have, and will continue to serve, as an important reminder of the history of a proud nation – Ireland. - Jimmy Laffey (The following preface is reproduced with the kind permission of Patrick Melvin from his book ‘Estates and the Landed Society in Galway’ –pages 405410) The extensive selection of houses presented for Heritage Week 2016 shows that the majority of landlord, gentlemen's or estate houses in Galway were medium Clonbrock sized or relatively small. Obvious exceptions include larger mansions like Garbally, Woodlawn, Clonbrock, Dunsandle, Kilcornan, Kylemore, Mount Bellew, Moyne, Lough Cutra, Merlin Park, Moyode, Pallas and Ballynahinch. Medium sized houses are exemplified by Roxborough, Annagh, Ballyglunin and Masonbrook and these are more typical of Galway houses in general. The selection cannot be exhaustive however because the county had a very large number of houses the full range of which included a wide variety of smaller houses. Many of these were not occupied by substantial landowners or even branches of gentry families in the 19th century. But almost all were occupied at some previous time by members of the large network of continuously changing landowners in the county.

Some smaller houses present problems of origin and ownership for the historian because they had changing owners or occupiers. The changes and revolutions of history and landownership are illustrated in some instances by the construction of modern houses onto older structures as at Ballymore Castle, Castle Daly, Castle Taylor, Monivea Castle, Tulira and Clonbrock. Houses were generally built on the site of, or adjacent to older houses. The plain and unpretentious character and large number of estate houses in Galway is closely connected to the historical past of landowners in the county, which had a large element of old Catholic Irish and Norman landowners such as Kellys and Burkes and several transplanted families. Woodlawn These families mostly occupied modest houses which were in great contrast to large mansions like Garbally and Woodlawn which symbolised the security and confidence of the newer Protestant estate owners. The Burkes of Ower, reduced in fortune in the Cromwellian era, occupied a thatched house which dated from about 1658 and which was later extended. Other thatched residences included Carnacrow, Springfield and Woodquay Lodge. Many houses on smaller estates remained unchanged. Examples include Hillsbrook, Ballydugan and Turoe. Many of the houses illustrated underwent changes in ownership, including the estate or part of the estate, reflecting the change and continuity which characterised landownership in Galway and elsewhere. There are historical reasons for the difficulty in establishing the origin of certain smaller houses. One reason was the early investment in land by the wealthier Tribal families and their construction of country houses on their estates. These were sometimes abandoned for new larger houses and were later occupied by other families. Houses in general can be divided into main houses or family seats and houses built or occupied by younger sons. Some have social and family rather than architectural interest. The family was often more important and interesting than the house and estate and plain houses often produced people of distinction and achievement. For example it is difficult even to locate the Castle Ffrench ordinary residences of the distinguished Ouseley family. Houses around the Ballyforan locality on the Galway-Roscommon border illustrate how the smaller old Kelly landowners and others struggled to stay in landed property by means of incessant mortgaging, leasing and borrowing. It is difficult to establish the lineage of some of these smaller houses in cases where they dated from the land changes of the late 17th century. Castle Kelly, Kilyan, Castleffrench and Mount Bellew were the locally dominant mansion houses in the area. Many smaller houses never became the centres of large or successful estates and often had a succession of owners or occupiers. For example Mulpit in the Athenry area had French, Lopdell

and Turvin associations. Gortnamona was linked with the Archdeacons, Burkes, Fitzpatricks, Blakes and Cowans. Some smaller estates and houses fell to new owners because of debts incurred through litigation, land divisions and family disputes. The large property of the related Bodkins of Summerville, Bingarra and Castletown was not reflected in mansion building and was instead squandered in law cases. Castletown had been a rural retreat of the Echlins who were originally — like the Veseys and Maxwells — a clerical family (of Fifeshire origin) who acquired lands in several counties, including the Lally estate adjacent to Tuam. Declining family fortunes fuelled the struggle to maintain social position and gentility through income from land ownership, leasing or other interest. This social and economic background was reflected in the character, variety and survival of houses. Leet's Directory of Ireland, published in 1814, lists over 400 'gentlemen's seats' in Galway and ranges down from the larger mansions to include a bewildering variety of houses built or occupied by small landowners, thriving younger sons of gentry families, agents, Protestant clergymen and others perhaps over generously termed `gentlemen'. Ambrose Leet was a Post Office official in a pre-democratic age who simply wanted a useful directory including individuals of social or official standing. This inflated proliferation of house and extravagant mansion building reflected the unprecedented wartime boom which would end the following year with serious consequences for many over-borrowed landowners. New smaller houses were not so much the cause of financial problems as was the construction of large mansions like Merlin Park, Castlegrove and Moyne Park, which replaced older houses. Woodlawn's enlargement was facilitated by the fortunes from the Gascoigne marriages. Many of the so-called 'gentlemen's seats' in Leet's Directory were simply the substantial houses of gentry sons and large and prosperous stock Merlin Park farmers availing themselves of the county's thriving cattle and sheep trade. Some of these came from old families and had some degree of marriage and social mobility although mostly below the rank of magistrates. Many of this class of substantial leaseholder, like the larger proprietors, eventually vanished from the local scene. In the increasingly prosperous English countryside the fine nuances of social gradation were shown by the socially aspiring in the display of refined domestic furnishings. Several smaller houses in Leet's Directory and in Taylor and Skinner's Maps of the Roads of Ireland (1783) are difficult to locate or identify because of change of name or later demolition. Annaghmore was gone by 1814 and others like Gallagh, Knockbrack and Kylemore had not yet been built. Remnants or remaining buildings sometimes indicate the earlier presence of larger houses. Denis Kelly of Lisduff and Jamaica, according to his will in 1754, considered Lisduff to be a suitable residence for his daughter and her husband Lord Altamontlg. Houses reflected the wide Castle Ellen variety and differing fortunes of families. Apart from larger houses like Castle Ellen, Castle Lambert, Moyode and Dunsandle, the Athenry

district had smaller houses like Mulpit and Castle Turvin which was affected by failure of male heirs. Blakeland Lodge (Rockmore), on the Turvin estate, was — along with Rockfield — one of the houses occupied by the declining Kellys of Ashbrook. Rockmore was later leased by a brother of Violet Martin of Ross who had been a tea planter in Ceylon. Carraroe, another small rural villa or cottage and old Kelly residence, was leased from Lord Dunsandle by John Dennis, first master of the Galway Blazers. These unpretentious houses were a great contrast to mansions like Garbally, Dunsandle or Clonbrock, although the occupants of both were, generally, of the same class. The Blake-Forsters, a declining fragmented gentry family, occupied at various times several unpretentious houses such as Rathorpe, Fiddaun and Knockmoy Abbey. Galway houses overall represent an integral part of the property, family and pre-independence social structure of the county over several centuries and the movement and mobility of local and outside families both from and into the county and their involvement in landed property. This social world was in turn part of the wider property and governing structure in Ireland and England which was the home base of a powerful and wealthy imperial power. The survival and support of many houses and estates depended on rents and profits from the local agricultural economy and also frequently from income accruing from past or current careers or interests in Ireland and Garbally throughout the colonial and wider world. The historical concept of 'gentleman' has been overtaken by modern social thought and democracy and that distant social world is scarcely recognisable nowadays. Yet the largely vanished world of landed elites, aristocracy and leisured old rentier class dominated the social fabric and culture of Europe for many centuries. Literary and dramatic reconstructions of that world fascinate many, from the readers of Jane Austen to the viewers of modern TV series like Downton Abbey. 1

Mount Hazel



Burke Publisher.

Windfield House. Windfield House was situated in the townland of Windfield Demesne and this name dates at least from the construction of the house itself by the Blake family in c.1771. With the arrival of the landlordism era the area of ground, or demesne, attached to many of our ‘Big Houses’ often had that description attached either to the end of an existing townland name or perhaps given a complete new name. Other examples of this locally include Monivea Demesne, Ryehill Demesne, Abbert Demesne, Mountbellew Demesne and Tiaquin Demesne among many others. The demesne was, in virtually all situations, farmed by the landlords themselves where they would have their own staff or employees while other adjoining townlands, over which they may have held control, would normally be leased out to local tenant farmers. Though townlands have Gaelic origins and even pre-date the Norman invasion of 1169 many changes to those names and areas would have taken place as a result of those very same Norman invasions, Cromwellian plantations, Ordnance Survey mapping projects as well as other national initiatives to formalise these divisions. The names of many of our townlands as we know then today would have changed, perhaps even several times, since their initial naming. The earliest definitive name for what is today the townland of Windfield Demesne dates to 1640 when the area is recorded in The Down Survey and titled Turloghgarrandana.2 This translates as ‘the turlough in the copse’ where a turlough is a low-lying area on limestone which becomes flooded in wet weather through the welling up of groundwater from the rock while a copse is a dense wooded area of either low growing trees or bushes growing in very close proximity to each other. This definition comes from the area now known as Polliffrin, which translates as ‘hells hole’ and this is located in Windfield Demesne townland and is referenced and noted in the very first six inch ordnance survey maps of 1838. Local folklore has always held that is a bottomless mass of water hence leading to hell. Without doubt the most dominant feature of Windfield Demesne was the existence of an expansive landlord’s estate and its focal point being Windfield House. The entire demesne was enclosed by a combination of a double limestone stone wall, with lime, in the more easterly section and a moat or water boundary to the west. The estate house and adjoining yard would no doubt have been comparable to the finest specimens in this general area and apart from the main two-storey residence, with a basement, it was set in the centre of 2

Down Survey. Trinity College, Dublin, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016 .

a tree-lined main road entrance setting out from a gate lodge, that is still a residence to this day, a back entrance, walled fruit garden with pathways and walkways, high-walled deerpark and yard that would have outhouses for farm animals, coaches, workshops, a laundry, an aviary and numerous other facilities for the running and maintenance of such an enterprise. The townland is also home to An Curraghaun which is an extremely significant site locally, nationally and internationally. The Gaelic word ‘curragh’ translates as a ‘moor or a place of heather and heath’ and ‘curraghaun’ further translates as a ‘small moor’. There were at least three very distinct activities that can be confirmed as having taken place here. Firstly, and perhaps most significantly, it contains a children’s burial ground, or Cilleachan as it is known. These ‘Cillini’ were resting places for individuals considered unsuitable for burial within consecrated ground by the Roman Catholic Church and traditionally associated with the burial of infants primarily, though not exclusively, who had died before they were baptised. Secondly it is the site of the grave of James Francis Jameson of Windfield Demesne who died in 1896 and who was the son of Reverend John Jameson and great-grandson of John Jameson the founder of The Jameson Distillery in Bow Street in Dublin. James Francis Jameson’s burial place is marked by a limestone Celtic Cross gravestone, with inscriptions, and the grave surround is identified by limestone kerbing. These in turn are surrounded by a limestone wall with iron railings with wrought iron gate entrance. Thirdly this site was most likely the location of an ecclesiastical enclosure that would perhaps have been there before the children’s burial ground. The rectangular remains of three building remain, and there may be others, and they indicated a settlement of this nature given their size and the subsequent selection of this area of the purposes of burials. By 1641 the townland was owned by a Catholic landholder, Lord Clanmorris, immediately before the Cromwellian invasion of the late 1640s. Lord Clanmorris was a very considerable landowner in the general area as he also held control of Derryglassaun, Pollacrossaun, Gorteendrisagh, Gortnaglogh and Knockcorrandoo as well as Eskerroe in Killoscobe parish while it is also interesting to note that Lady Clanmorris was the owner of Clonkeenkerrill, then Clonkine, in Clonkeen parish. Windfield Demesne land was bestowed on the Protestant and most powerful Earl of Clanricard who also owned much of the land within the entire County of Galway. However the disintegration of the Clonricarde estate began with the sales and mortgages of the high-spending 4th earl and the large unsecured borrowings and unredeemed mortgages of the 5th earl. Ownership of Windfield was to pass to another prominent family, the Blakes, when they purchased this area in 1703 and under the will of John Blake 27 Feb 1786 the estate now passed to his cousin John Blake of The Heath in County Mayo who was a younger son of the Blakes of Renvyle.3 Initially the Blakes had their residence in Mullaghmore and actually built Windfield House, circa 1771, and established a walled and part moated demesne. Mixed marriages and the effects of the Penal 3

Landed Estates. Moore Institute, NUI Galway, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016.

Laws were factors peculiar to Galway families and particularly the Blakes. In 1823 Henry Blake, at that time residing in Edinburgh, brought an action for divorce against his wife on the grounds of adultery. The original family records of the Blakes of Windfield and Mullaghmore had been handed down in the senior line of that family and they almost became a victim of the domestic troubles at Windfield. After the estate was sold in 1824 Henry Blake put little value on his family records and in 1835 he sold these to his friend and neighbour Michael Browne of Moyne. Browne preserved the collection and presented them, in 1870, to Maurice Blake of Tower Hill in Mayo and these records are an invaluable source of information as they date back to their first grant of land in Galway in 1278.4 The Jamesons, who purchased the estate in 1824, were a Dublin family well known in the 19th century distilling and banking circles of that city. It was James Jameson bought the Windfield estate from the Blakes and he was succeeded by his eldest son the Reverend John Jameson in 1847 and the family continued to occupy Windfield until the early 20th century, although they also had a residence at Montrose in the Dublin suburbs and this house still stands on the grounds of the RTE studios. It is also worth noting that John Jameson’s brother, Andrew, was grandfather to Guiseppe Marconi who today remains an iconic figure in the world of communication as the inventor of the wireless. The Jamesons originally came from Alloa in Scotland and John, who founded the Dublin distillery in 1780, was originally a lawyer and he married Margaret Haig whose family were already in the whiskey business in Scotland and had extensive whiskey interests in Dublin. John Jameson and his wife Margaret acquired the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin in 1780, hence the whiskey brand Jameson 1780, and at that time it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the 19th century, a mere twenty years later, it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world, producing one million gallons of whiskey annually. Dublin at the time was the centre of world whiskey production and it was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum and internationally Jameson had, by 1805, become the world's number one whiskey. Historical events set the company back, for a time, as the temperance movement in Ireland had an enormous impact domestically but the two key events that affected Jameson were the Irish War of Independence and subsequent trade war with the British which denied Jameson the export markets of the Commonwealth, and shortly thereafter, the introduction of prohibition in the United States. In 1966 John Jameson joined forces with Cork Distillers and John Powers to form the Irish Distillers Group. The New Midleton Distillery built by Irish Distillers produces most of the Irish whiskey sold in Ireland. The new facility adjoins the old one, now a tourist attraction. The Jameson brand was acquired by French drinks conglomerate Pernod Ricard in 1988, when it bought Irish Distillers.5 James Frances Jameson’s wife, Helen Maud Jameson, who was also his first cousin, was the last of the Jamesons to reside in Windfield but she perished on the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company mail steamer, RMS Leinster, in the Irish Sea on October 10th, 1918 when it was sunk by a torpedo from German submarine UB-123 while bound for Holyhead. The estate was finally divided and given to local farmers and while Windfield House no longer stands many very important features and structures from this bygone era remain and hopefully will continue to be preserved. 4

Publisher. Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2016, from 5

Lakeview House. Lakeview House is situated in the townland of Carrownabo in the civil parish of Moylough and in the barony of Tiaquin. The Carr family built Lakeview House in 1800, which was to be their home until their estate was taken over by the Land Commission in the early 1920s. An offer from the Congested Districts Board was accepted on over 170 acres of the Carr estate in 1914. Lakeview is a title given to a broad area that includes all or part of townlands such as Carrownabo, Lakeview House Ballingatta, Carrowkeel, Gortaganny, Patch and Mullaghmore East. The name Lakeview comes from the nearby lake Loch Nalarsagh or Loch na Lascadh as it was originally known. The lake is situated in a marshy area that contains phosphorous and methane gas and local tradition holds that it goes on fire every seven years. The Carrs were originally involved in linen weaving but by the 19th century, following a worldwide decline in the linen business, they diversified to being large stock farmers, and initially held these lands from the Bellews of Mount Bellew. Carrs linen was in huge demand and was sold throughout the country and was used in all of the local churches. The industry created huge employment at its prime for local inhabitants. Michael Carr inherited the estate in 1820 and he married Mary Kilgannon. They had twelve children one of whom, Thomas Joseph, became Bishop of Galway in 1883 and in 1887 he became Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia. Another son, John Michael, married Sabina O’Connor of Pallas and they had two children and the youngest, Michael, was the last Carr resident of Lakeview. Lakeview House was occupied by Michael Carr at the time of Griffith's Valuation, c.1854, when the house was valued at £13. A house is shown though not labelled on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map (see below) but it is named as Lakeview House on the 25-inch edition of the 1890s. Lakeview is still extant and is the current residence of the Doyle family.6


Moylough Heritage & Resource Centre. (2016, July 18). [E-mail to the author].

Ballinrooaun House. A study of the records of the Down Survey and Civil Survey of the 1640’s shows Edmond O’Concannon, a catholic, as the ruling landowner of Ballinrooaun what was then known as Carrowcornovragh. The O’Concannons were Gaelic chiefs mainly in the Kilkerrin area of north east Galway. Edmond O’Concannon was dispossessed and relocated during the Cromwellian war when most of his lands were confiscated. However after that period the O’Concannons or Concannons would again be a prominent family in the locality when the lands of Carrownacregg were granted to Sisby O'Concannon by patent dated March 21st 1678.7 Waterloo House, in the Aghanahil townland, replaced Carrownacregg as the main family residence in the early 19th century and in 1824 Edmund Concannon, of Waterloo Lodge, is recorded as a resident proprietor in County Galway. Carrownacregg West, including a mansion 'out of repair', was sold to James Browne in 1851 and is the current property of the Hughes family. When the O’Concannons were displaced the lands of Carrowcornovragh were granted to Baron Trimlestown, of Trimlestown in the County of Meath, which is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1461 for Sir Robert Barnewall, brother of Nicholas Barnewall, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, and younger son of Sir Christopher Barnewall, Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland. The Barnewalls arrived in Meath from County Dublin around 1349 when Sir Wolfram Barnewall received the manor of Crickstown and lands at Kilbrew. However, it was not until the fifteenth century that the Barnewalls began to add to their landed wealth, mainly as a result of the marriages of the sons of Sir Christopher Barnewall. The most advantageous marriage was made by his second son, Robert, who married the heiress of Sir John Brune sometime before 1442. This brought Robert a share in the lordship of Athboy including the important manor of Tremblestown (or Trimleston). The Barnewalls were themselves a catholic family and were displaced in County Meath and were forced across the Shannon River as part of Cromwell’s ‘To hell or to Connaught’ plan. Naturally they were least pleased about their uprooting and were reluctant arrivals to these parts. The most emphatic proof of this, if it were needed, is an inscription on the tombstone of Mathyas Barnewall, the 12th Baron, and who was the first of that family to control the lands of Carrowcornovragh or Ballinrooaun. He is buried in Kilconnell Abbey beneath these words: “Here lyeth the body of Mathyas Barnewall the 12th Barron of Trimestowne whoe beinge transplanted into Conaght with others by orders of the usurper Cromwell dyed at Moinivae the 17 of September 1667 for whome this monument was made by his 7

Landed Estates. Moore Institute, NUI Galway, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016.

sonne Robert Barnewall the 13 lord of Trimestowne. Here lyeth alsoe his uncle Richard Barnewall, James Barnewall who died at Cregan the 2 of October 1672 and James Barnewall of Aughrim. God have mercy on their soules”. The Barnewall family actually resided in a Woodlawn House though not on the site of the present Woodlawn House as we know it while they also held dominion over the townlands of Gilkagh, Gorteendrishagh and Carrowferrikeen as well as some others on the Galway-Clare border. Again they married into well-established Galway tribes such as the Kirwans and Martins before the 15th Baron eventually returned to their original seat in Co. Meath in c.1740. Control of the townland now came under the Lynch family who were one of the Tribes of Galway and the last Lynch, Alexander, actually resided in Shannonbridge on the Roscommon bank of the Shannon River when the property again changed ownership in the early 1830s. At this time it was controlled by two men namely George Porter who owned about 494 acres and Thomas H. Thomson who owned the remaining 154 acres. The Porter portion of the townland was sold under The Encumbered Estates Courts on March 25th, 1852 and was purchased by John Cannon Evans whose family would remain until ownership of the lands was eventually granted to all tenant farmers in the early 1900s. John Cannon Evans would later acquire the Thomson portion of the townland also in 1864. John Cannon Evans was the eldest son of Samuel Evans and Esther Cannon and was born at Mount Evans near Woodlawn. He married Mary Anne Malley at Hollymount, Co. Mayo on May 15th 1827 and afterwards they resided at Cross House, near Menlough, in the parish of Killoscobe. They had no children and John Cannon Evans died on March 19th 1871 while Mary Anne died in 1895. The lands he held at Mount Evans were on lease from Lord Ashtown of Woodlawn Estate and the lands at Cross were leased from Lord Fitzgerald Vesey. Having purchased a portion of the Ballinrooaun townland in 1852 under the Encumbered Estates Court he continued to lease the major portion of the townland to his tenants but retained the original Porter farm (later Treacys, Murphys, Flynns) for his own use. The remaining part of Ballinrooaun he held on lease from Thomas H. Thompson (later Parkers) and he also farmed this portion. John Cannon Evans will of March 3rd 1871 (sixteen days before his death) directed that all stock, farm produce, farming implements and furniture be sold by public auction except for £200 worth to

be chosen by his wife. To his wife he willed the interest in the lease of Mount Evans and that portion of Ballinrooaun that he had purchased in 1852. He willed that portion of Ballinrooaun held on lease from Thomas H. Thompson to his nephew Wesley Albert Evans. However two days later he was to revoke this latter part of the will and instead left it to his wife’s nephew Thomas Noble Holton. He left part of the Cross farm to Robert John Parker of Ballymacward.8 Wesley Albert Evans was the nephew of John Cannon Evans and was born in 1848. He farmed his uncle’s land at Ballinrooaun and lived in Ballinrooaun House. It appears however that he ran up a considerable debt following which he requested assistance from his brother-in-law John Robert Parker and it was agreed that John Robert Parker would purchase the Thomas Noble Holton portion of Ballinrooaun and lease it back to Wesley. However Wesley was to emigrate and John could not recoup either the purchase cost of the land or the repayment of Wesley’s loans to the Bank of Ireland in Mountbellew and it was eventually sold to the Land Commission and further divided amongst the tenant farmers of Ballinrooaun and Ballaghnagrosheen. Wesley first married on July 4th 1878 and described himself as a gentleman farmer and gave his address as the Wicklow Hotel, Wicklow Street, Dublin. He would emigrate a few years later and marry again in 1885 and in 1902. Wesley died on April 6th 1909 in Chicago and is buried in Philadelphia. The fields of Ballinrooaun had seen numerous owners over the previous centuries but they were finally distributed to local tenants in the early 1900s and the final act was played out in 1917 with the eventual distribution of what was by now a Parker farm to those very same families along with some others. While Ballinrooaun never had a ‘Big House’ it did have a substantial residence in Ballinrooaun House and its associated large holding. It would be safe to say that it was always governed by absentee landlords who at most times would have leased the property onwards. Ballinrooaun House would however have been a hub for farming on a large scale with expansive fields and courtyard as well as dedicated outhouses for a variety of farming enterprises and indeed much of this has been retained and still in daily use.

Views of Ballinrooaun Ringfort


Parker, Herbert. "The Evans Family of Cross House." Letter to Jimmy Laffey. 02 Apr. 2014. MS. N.p.

Mountbellew House. The Bellew family of Williamstown, County Louth, were granted lands in the parish of Moylough, baronies of Tiaquin and Killian, under the Acts of Settlement, patents dated 26 Nov 1677 and 21 Mar 1678. They founded the town of Mountbellew and built a large house. The Bellews remained Catholic and although they owned a large amount of land they were not averse to engaging in business enterprises, such as flour milling. They intermarried with the Dillons, Nugents Mountbellew House and Grattans, assuming the additional surname of Grattan in 1859. In 1838 the head of the family, Michael Bellew, was created a Baronet. In the 1870s the Bellews owned over 10,000 acres in county Galway and almost 1,895 acres in Co. Roscommon (parish of Cloontuskert, barony of Ballintober South and Cloonfinlough, barony of Roscommon). In the 1880s Bateman notes that the family also held substantial property in Queen's County [Laois]. The Bellews retained these acreages in Galway and Roscommon until the early 20th century. By March 1916 the Bellews had accepted an offer from the Congested Districts' Board for over 1,000 acres of their estate. The estate was taken over by the Land Commission in 1937. The house was a three storey house built in the 18th century and in 1786 Wilson refers to it as the seat of Michael Bellew. Extensively renovated in the mid-19th century and valued at £80 at the time of Griffith's Valuation, it was demolished in the late 1930s. Another house, occupied by Peter Geraghty in the 1850s when it was valued at almost £9, was later recorded as Castle Bellew House on the 25-inch Ordnance Survey map of the 1890s. It is, however, no longer extant with some ruins remaining at the site. A third residence occupied by William Dillon in 1814, by P. Cruise in the 1830s and by John F. Browne at the time of Griffith's Valuation when it was valued over £5 and was part of a farm of over 250 acres. Peter Tyrell was leasing a mill at Greenville from the Bellew estate at the same time. Buildings, including the substantial stables, still exist at the site.9

Greenville 9

Landed Estates. Moore Institute, NUI Galway, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016 .

Carrownacregg House. Carrownacregg House was located in the townland of Carrownacregg West and the Down Survey indicates that prior to the Cromwellian upheaval of the 1650s this area, then called Carronocirgy, was ruled by Connor O’Kelly and by 1670 it was ruled by Patrick Bellew. These lands were later granted to Sisby O'Concannon, by patent, dated March 21st 1678 with the Concannons being former Gaelic Carrownacregg House chiefs in the Kilkerrin area. Waterloo would replace Carrownacregg as their main family residence in the early 19th century and in 1824 Edmund Concannon, of Waterloo Lodge, is recorded as a resident proprietor in county Galway. He married Jane, daughter of John Blake of Belmont and his wife Sarah Cuff, sister of Baron Tyrawley. Blake Foster records that they had six sons, the eldest, Henry, was a barrister and married Countess Maria Aurora Arabella de Luicia. The third son, Edmond, married Kate Parsons and they had a son, Edmond John. James Blake Concannon of Esker was the fourth son. Over 3000 acres owned by Edmond John Concannon and Edward Thomas Beytagh, were offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1851. Much of the land was in the baronies of Clare and Dunkellin, and some of it was on perpetual lease from the Clanricarde estate. At the time of Griffith's Valuation the Concannons held land in the parish of Killoscobe, some of which was leased from Walter Joyce of Corgary, and also in the parish of Grange, barony of Loughrea. Henry Concannon sold Carrownacregg West, including a mansion 'out of repair', to James Browne in 1851. James Browne, a brother of Edward Browne of Ardskea, owned 2 townlands in the parish of Killoscobe, at the time of Griffith's Valuation as in 1851 he also bought the townland of Killoscobe from George Ruttledge. James Browne owned 574 acres in the 1870s and his wife Julia owned 947 acres in county Galway. James's grandson Michael Browne died in 1909 and the land was purchased by the Land Commission. In a Browne genealogy in the James Hardiman Library, NUI, Galway, the ancestry of this branch of the Browne family is traced back to Dominick Browne of Barna, Mayor of Galway in 1575. In 1677 Edward and James Browne were granted Ardskea and other lands in the parish of Kilmoylan under the Acts of Settlement. Family members intermarried with the Brownes of Tuam, the Kirwans, O'Connors, O'Kellys and the Nolans. The Brownes were still resident on their Ardskea estate at the time of Griffith's Valuation but by 1890 James Browne had sold over 800 acres of his Ardskea estate in the Land Judges' Court. The petitioner was Emmanuel Churcher. This Browne family also owned estates in Cooloo in the parish of Moylough and also in barony of Ross. By the 1870s Cooloo was in the possession of Michael O'Kelly.

It is also significant to note that during the Great Hunger, Carrownacregg House was used as a fever hospital. It had been idle for a few years prior to the famine. A petition was sent to Dublin to the Commissioners of Relief for financial assistance to open a relief hospital in the area and they were granted permission so they opened up Carrownacregg House. A doctor was appointed and a number of patients were taken in. It was written after by a Dr. Butler in his medical report on November 7th 1849 that 471 people had been treated, of which 141 had dies. It was reported as being one of the highest rates around the country as a fever hospital. The overcrowding was to great and the deaths so regular that a man was appointed to take away the corpse and bury them. The late Nicholas Hughes, who would later be born in that house, recalls hearing from older people that corpses were buried locally in sandpits and it was said you could hear crying at night coming from the sandpits, and this was called ‘clois na scread’. By 1850 upwards of 245 people had died there. It became the property of the Hughes family, who originated from Mount Mary, circa 1911 and that family remains in situ today.

The Skehana & District Heritage Group wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Mrs Evelyn Hughes and Nicholas Hughes (Junior) of Carrownacregg for their great assistance in providing materials for this article. We dedicate this article to the memory of the late Mrs Regina Long (nee Hughes) who was involved in most of the research and compilation of information contained in this article and much of which was printed in The Tuam Herald of July 27th, 1991. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

Waterloo House. Waterloo House is located in the townland of Aghanahil in the civil parish of Killoscobe. Originally called Ogheloghell the area was ruled by Catling O’Manning in 1641 but by 1670, after the Cromwellian conquest, it was controlled by Matthew Ffrench. The Gaelic for Aghnahil is Achadh Leamhchoille which translates as ‘the field of the elm wood’. Lands at Carrownacregg were granted to Sisby O'Concannon by patent dated 21 Mar Waterloo House 1678 and this became the main O’Concannon family residence but was replaced by Waterloo in the early 19th century. In 1824 Edmund Concannon, of Waterloo Lodge, is recorded as a resident proprietor in county Galway. He married Jane, daughter of John Blake of Belmont and his wife Sarah Cuff, sister of Baron Tyrawley. Blake Foster records that they had six sons, the eldest, Henry, was a barrister and married Countess Maria Aurora Arabella de Luicia. The third son, Edmond, married Kate Parsons and they had a son, Edmond John. James Blake Concannon of Esker was the fourth son. Over 3000 acres owned by Edmond John Concannon and Edward Thomas Beytagh, were offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1851. Today this Concannon line name continues to be associated with the legal profession in Tuam.10 At the time of Griffith's Valuation the Concannons held land in the parish of Killoscobe, barony of Tiaquin, some of which was leased from Walter Joyce of Corgary and also in the parish of Grange, barony of Loughrea. Henry Concannon sold Carrownacregg West, including a mansion 'out of repair', to James Browne in 1851. Three persons named Concannon with addresses at Tuam, Dunmore and Castleblakeney, owned small acreages in county Galway in the 1870s. The origin of the name Waterloo is derived from the Napoleonic campaigns at Waterloo, now in present day Belgium, and in which many members of Irish families fought for the Seventh Coalition under the command of the Irish-born Duke of Wellington who would later, for two terms, become British Prime Minister. The current occupiers of Waterloo House- the Killeen family – are recorded as being ‘sheep herds’ in the late 1800s. It is also noted that Blue Bangor slates from the outhouses were used in many of the local dwelling houses during the 20th century.


Landed Estates. Moore Institute, NUI Galway, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016.

Brierfield House. One of the most distinguished and widely used landmarks in this locality is ‘The Burned House’ located Brierfield House in the townland of Brierfield in Moylough civil parish. There are six other townlands with the prefix of Brierfield and these are in the Abbeyknockmoy civil parish. It has, however, a more official title and is recorded in the first Ordnance Survey mapping of 1838 as Brierfield House. This map shows that it was a considerably larger structure and an adjacent building, located on its eastern side, may also have been part of the residence or possibly was an outhouse. In addition there is another recorded structure, as can been seen in the map extract below, that is smaller in area and considerably closer to the road junction. The existing ruin would suggest that was a dormer type structure given the gable remains and the existence of an upper window opening. The existing gable is 24 feet in width and the foundation remains indicate a length of 49 feet. The adjacent building, on the map, appears to have similar dimensions. It is also worth noting that just to the north is evidence of the existence of an enclosure that in all probability was a ring fort though excavations and land clearance appear to have removed all remains. An interesting feature of the existing gable to the right-hand side of the fireplace is another opening with a flue leading to the main chimney flue. This is likely to have been an oven and is actually not a common feature. James Lynch is the recorded owner in 1641 but during the Cromwellian period he relocated to Gorteenlehard, near Cooloo, and Ballymageraghty as well as the south Roscommon areas of Granlahan and Ballymoe while Brierfield became the property of Robert Blake who had this time also had extensive lands between Lackagh and Cartymore. Much of the Blake properties would be sold under the Encumbered Estates Courts during 19th century and in Griffiths Valuation Brierfield was held ‘in fee’ by Thomas Davis with no valuation being applied to buildings which would suggest they were unoccupied or derelict. The Davis family had vast estates in the Kentstown area of Newbridge as well as Kilconnell. Thomas Henry Davies advertised three different parts of his estate for sale in the Landed Estates' Court in 1873 and 1877 including Kentstown and Brierfield. Brierfield was sold to Samuel Nulty and George H. Pentland in November 1877. The 1901 census shows that the Hoare family of Patrick and Catherine and their five children Mary, Edward, Bridget, Patrick and Honor were the only residents of the townland but by 1911 two more children Kate and Maggie were born.

Baking Oven Opening

Moyne Park House. Moyne Park House

Moyne Park House is situated in the townland of Moyne in the civil parish of Abbeyknockmoy. It translates as ‘a plain’ from the Gaelic word Maighin.

Early occupants, the Brownes of Moyne, were descended from the Brownes of Cloonkeely, near Tuam and of Newtown, Abbeyknockmoy. Nicholas Browne was granted over 3,000 acres in 1677 under the Acts of Settlement in counties Galway, Roscommon and Sligo. Most of the land was in county Galway and included Moyne, Newtown and Crumlin. Michael Joseph Browne, owner of Moyne in the early 19th century held a large estate at the time of Griffith's Valuation centred on the parish of Killererin in the barony of Tiaquin. His estate also included land in the parishes of Annaghdown and Killower, barony of Clare; Abbeyknockmoy and Monivea, barony of Tiaquin; Killeeneen in the barony of Dunkellin, Addergoole and Kilconla, barony of Dunmore and Dunmore, barony of Ballymoe. When his estate was offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates' Court in 1855 it amounted to 9,167 acres. It included 538 acres in the parish of Cloonfinlough, barony and county of Roscommon, leased to Margaret Fitzgibbon. In 1857 John Stratford Kirwan bought Moyne House and over a thousand acres of the Browne estate in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy.

Architectural description: The detached seven-bay two-storey over basement mansion dates to approx. 1820. An entrance gateway and sweeping avenue leads to the house situated on the opposite side of the road to the Dereen Inn licenced premises off the N63. The ashlar (highly skilled masonry style of finely cutting stone) limestone facade has a giant order Doric (ancient Greek architecture) front with pilasters, which is flanked by a series of windows and niches. The splayed side elevation has a pair Moyne Park Entrance of full height bays. The interior has rich decorative plasterwork and some original joinery and chimney pieces. Large range of three storey vaulted outbuildings which contains a chapel.

Built in the first half of the 19th century by Michael J. Browne who was forced to sell his estate in the mid-1850s when the house was described as ‘a magnificent pile of Grecian architecture of the Doric order’. John Stratford Kirwan bought the house and demesne in 1857 from Edward Browne who had only purchased it two years previously in 1855. Kirwan advertised it for sale again in 1865. It was eventually sold to the Waithmans who later purchased Merlin Park. 11 In 1912 the house became a hospice for infirm priests and in the 1930s was taken over by the Sacred Heart Missionaries as a seminary. Local priests Fr. Vincent and Fr. Michael Screene of Windfield Lower and Fr. Tom Jordan, Kilbeg were ordained at Moyne. It then operated as Roncali Nursing Home for a number of years and since then it has been the home of a number of people, including the Scottish singer and composer Donovan who resided there during the late 1960s and by the broadcaster and poet George MacBeth who, with his wife Penny, resided there from the late 1980s prior to his death. The house is today a private residence on 40 acres owned and occupied by entrepreneur, businessman and political activist Declan Ganley, his wife Delia and family.


Landed Estates. Moore Institute, NUI Galway, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016.

Moyne Park House

Corrandoo House. Located in the townland of Corrandoo it was situated on elevated ground immediately opposite the entrance to what was the original Clancy in Knockcorrandoo and is now home to Patrick and Teresa Ward and family. The only remaining portion of the Corrandoo house is the wall of an outhouse. Corrandoo, an Corráin Dubh, translates as ‘the black hook’ and it is the most southerly townland of Moylough civil parish. This area was in O’Kelly country originally but by 1670 it was overseen by Patrick Ffrench and was part of vast areas of land and property in the locality owned by that family whose main residence was in Monivea Demesne. Corrandoo House

Corrandoo was indeed a significant enterprise as the Census 1901 states: Slate house, more than 10 rooms in the house, 11 windows at its front, 7 outhouses, 1 stable, 1 coach house, 2 cow houses, 1 calf house, 1 piggery, and 1 fowl house. It was occupied by the Reverend Mr Marsh in the 1770s and 1780s, by M. Dowdall in the 1830s and Thomas Kenny at the time of Griffith's Valuation when it was valued at £10. Records indicate that Richard MacHale of Corrandoo was employed as a foreman for Robert Ffrench (1716-1779), as he developed his flax business. The MacHale family later leased Corrandoo House and a number of other farms for three generations and independently purchased a number of other farms in the region, including Kilbeg, Anabeg, Carrowferrikeen and Derrydonnell Beg amongst others. As their prospects rose, the MacHales married into the Burke, O’Brien and Eyre families during the early 19th century, but this was the peak of their power, and they seem to disappear from the local Monivea records after 1869. Two descendants emigrated to Australia in 1850, where they became quite prominent pioneer farmers. The last family to live at Corrandoo House was the Crowe Family. Thomas Crowe, his wife Mary and son Nicky left the house in the 1940’s to re-locate to Stamullen, Co. Meath. The land was allocated by the Land Commission to local farmers and these fields are still known as Crowe’s fields locally. By local accounts, Thomas Crowe was a very pleasant man and good neighbour. He was of the Protestant religion while Mary, his wife, was a Catholic. They operated an efficient farm and kept orchards and had an apiary. Thomas was a keen bee keeper and won many prizes for his honey. The Bellew Medal for honey, which was won by him at the beginning of the Century, was presented to the Irish Beekeeper’s Association by his grandson Thomas Crowe in the 1990s.

Molly Clancy, born Apr. 23rd 1917, of Knockcorrandoo, recalls that it was “a great party house”. Molly also recalls that Crowe’s house was a very large house. Mrs Crowe was originally from Turloughmore (Coyne or Kyne) and she was educated at home by a Governess. The large house had a dining room, drawing room and a very large kitchen with a high wide fireplace where Mrs Crowe baked cakes of all types and cooked meals. They were big milk producers and supplied milk to locals Thomas, Mary & son Nicky Crowe (1940s) when necessary. They delighted in the farm, garden and in the countryside around them and took pride in everything they did. There was a terrace outside the house where fruit trees were grown and Mrs Crowe made jam. She took many of her homemade cakes and jams in her pony and trap to the annual Agricultural Show in Athenry. Her husband Thomas was a prize winner for honey on many occasions and was a keen bee keeper. 12 The dining table accommodated 21 people in what was a very large dining room and over 100 people would attend parties around Christmas. In Summer time, visitors arrived from all over and tents were erected in the front lawn. The dining room was used for dancing and Mrs Crowe would be dressed in her best frock for the occasion. Thomas Crowe thought a lot of the music was “noise” and he preferred to sit in the kitchen at the huge hearth where he rested his legs on the fireplace and read his books – sensible man!


"Molly Clancy's memories of Corrandoo." Personal interview with Marian Hardiman. Dec. 2014.

Monivea Castle. Monivea Castle dates back to the 16th Century when the Ffrench Family, who had arrived in Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invader, Strongbow, moved west and purchased the castle and estate from the O’Kelly clan. The village, as we know it today, was then developed and grew when many generations of the Ffrench family, together with workers hired from local villages, reclaimed land from local bog lands and developed local industry. In 1650 Oliver Cromwell terrorised Monivea Castle Ireland and confiscated the lands. However, following Cromwell’s departure, the family purchased the lands again, including lands in the townland of Corrandoo. In 1744, a descendant, Robert Ffrench, inherited the estate and made many improvements such as drainage, seeding and reclaiming lands from the bog. He set up a linen industry and the green in Monivea village was used for bleaching and drying the flax. He also built a charter school, now McGivern’s, and nurtured beech plantations throughout the estate. Robert Ffrench represented Galway in the English Parliament between 1768 and 1776. In its prime in 1876 the estate occupied 10,121 acres of land and by the late 19th Century another generation of the family reigned and another Robert Ffrench was now at Monivea Castle. He was a member of the British diplomatic service and served as Secretary to the British Embassy in St. Petersburg and Vienna. He travelled widely and led the life of a rich Diplomat. He married Sophia, only child of Alexander de Kindiakoff, a Russian noble of great wealth with seven estates on the Volga River and they had one child - Kathleen Ffrench. Robert died in Italy in 1896 and Kathleen decided to build a Monivea Castle Mausoleum in Monivea where he would be laid to rest. While the Mausoleum is immaculately preserved and maintained but the central tower of the main house and some of stables survive. In fact this was the original castle around which was built a more modern house. This painting by Wini Hardiman (formerly Coppinger of Corrandoo) shows the Castle in its glory days. Almost every family in the surrounding area would have had a family member employed – servants, housekeepers, maids, butlers, water carriers, stable workers, orchard and garden keepers, game keepers, cooks, laundry workers, carriage drivers etc. Men tipped their hats as the “Gentry” rode by in the carriages. The family kept many horses and were keen huntsmen and women.

Kathleen Ffrench’s Will read: "I give devise and bequeath to the Irish Nation the demesne of Monivea with the Castle including Kilbeg and Currendoo, the bogs, reclaimed lands and plantations, on condition that no parcel of these remains of my former estate shall ever be sold or the trees cut down unless they fall to pieces”. Monivea Mausoleum burial place of Robert Ffrench and his daughter Kathleen. Robert Ffrench died in Italy in 1896. His body was embalmed in Milan until the Mausoleum was completed in 1900 at a cost of £10,000. His beloved daughter Kathleen arrived in Monivea to oversee the building works – a project which employed many local people. Designed by Francis Persee, younger brother of Augusta Lady Kathleen Ffrench Gregory, the Mausoleum is a small castle built of Wicklow granite. The front bears the coat of arms and the motto of the Ffrench family “Malo Mori Quam Foedare” which translates as “Death before Dishonour”. The door opens in to a chapel with a marble floor. The mausoleum is reputed to contain seven types of marble, including Connemara marble. The chapel is lit by five beautiful stained glass windows made by a German company, Mayer of Munich. The window above the altar depicts Our Lord with two Angels. The side windows show the coats of arms of the Ffrench family and other relatives of the Ffrench’s. In the centre of the chapel floor before the altar is a beautiful sculpture of Robert Ffrench lying in state in his robes of the Order of Malta. It was Mausoleum carved by Francesco Jerace, a renowned Italian sculptor, in white Carrara marble, shipped to Ireland and brought to Monivea by horse and cart. A black marble column stands at each corner of the sculpture which supports the ceiling. Two lead coffins rest in the crypt of the mausoleum, reached by the winding stone staircase to the left of the altar. You may also climb upstairs from where there is a lovely view of the surrounding woodlands. Mass is said once a year in the Mausoleum.

Lady Rosamund Ffrench

Kathleen (1864 -1938) often visited Monivea from her travels abroad and once wrote that she loved Monivea so much that she “could quite easily settle here”. While Kathleen spent much of her life away, her cousin Rosamund stayed in the house and remained there until she died. A rift developed between the women in later years. Rosamund may have thought that Kathleen ignored Monivea and stopped financing the house and was leading the high life abroad. Communications at that time were difficult and letters took a long time to arrive. Following her father’s burial at Monivea, Kathleen returned to her vast Russian estates. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, all her lands were confiscated. Having lost all her Russian wealth she was imprisoned and released in 1919. She fled Russia via Finland. She settled in Harbin, Manchuria, China. She then crossed Outer Mongolia, the first non-Russian European woman to reach the new Republic of Tannu Tuva and on to Peking,

completing a round trip of over five thousand miles. She died in Harbin 1st January 1938. Her body was brought back to Monivea, a distance of four thousand miles. Kathleen left nothing in her Will to her cousin Rosamund but Rosamund inherited the estate following a legal problem - but had died 2 days previously so she never knew. As neither had an heir the Estate passed to Rosamund’s friend Cicily Godwin Austen and her chauffeur Henry Stainer, By the 1940’s most of the estate was disposed of by the Land Commission. Kathleen Ffrench willed that the house be used as a home for “indigent artists”. The terms of the Will were never honoured and the house was knocked down. The Book “An Irish Woman in Czarist Russia” by Jean Lombard gives a fascinating account of this remarkable and strong woman. The research began when bundles of letters were found in an attic by a relative of the Blake family (also of Monivea/Ryehill). They were written in Russian, English and French. A posting to Russia by the author Jean and her husband John helped to research the history of Kathleen Ffrench. The book was published and launched in 2010 Rosamund Ffrench died in 1938 was the last resident of Monivea Castle. She was laid to rest outside the Mausoleum.

Broomville Lodge. Broomville Lodge is in the townland of Cloonmweelaun and in the civil parish of Moylough. Cloonmweelaun translates as ‘Cluain Maoláin ‘, or ‘meadow on the bare hill’ and it incorporates areas better known as Ballymannion and Sunhill. Both of these latter area names, sadly, were ignored during the formalisation of townlands in the 1830s though they were widely used prior to that. Cloonmweelaun is home to two very significant structures namely a ‘fulacht fia’, dating from the Bronze Age c2000 BC, Broomville Lodge which was an ancient cooking operation and also a ‘court tomb’ which is a large megalithic monument again dating from c4000-1500 BC. This is a protected structure and very rare in this part one the country. In fact only seven are recorded south of an imaginary line from Galway City to Dublin. Lands in this locality were ruled by traditional Gaelic landowners either the O’Kellys or the O’Mainnins and many of these clans were dispossessed during the Cromwellian invasions. Later records of 1641 show the area to be known as Coylemoylan and its ruler being Laurence Bodkin, a Catholic, and later in 1670 it was part of the vast estate of the Protestant Earl of Clanricard. A Johnston family from Fermanagh purchased this land in Leitrim in the early 18th century and in the mid-19th century Robert St George Johnston, third son of Robert Johnston of Kinlough House, owned a townland in each of the civil parishes of Killoscobe and Moylough. Ballaghnagrosheen, in the parish of Killoscobe was bought in addition from the sale of the estate of George Ruttledge in 1851. Kinlough House was originally known as Oakfield House and was the seat of the Johnston family from the early eighteenth century. It was remodelled in the 1820s by Robert Johnston and renamed Kinlough House. At the time of Griffith's Valuation, Kinlough House was occupied by William Johnston and was valued at £45. In the 1901 census John Kelly and his Wife Maria resided in Broomville with their children Michael and May M. and servants Michael Dowd and Kate Forde. In the Tuam Herald of Feb. 15th 1908 St. George Robert Johnston is notes as selling his lands to the Estates Commissioners at Cloonmweelaun and Ballaghnagrosheen. The house and lands of Broomville Lodge are owned by the Keary family Derryglassaun.13 13

Skehana & District Heritage Group wishes to acknowledge the support and the documentation received from the extended Keary family of Derryglassaun and London to support the compilation of this article.

Colmanstown Quaker Model Farm. The townland of Colmanstown is recorded as being named ‘Sheehane’ in the Down Survey of 1641 and owned by William O’Kelly, a Catholic. Following on from the Cromwellian conquest it is recorded as being owned by William Brabazon, a Protestant, in 1670 who also acquired nearby townlands of Clough and Ballyglass. The O'Reillys of Knock Abbey, county Louth were a branch of the O'Reilly family of East Brefny represented by the O'Reillys of Heath House, county Laois. They acquired this property in county Galway in the 19th century and by the 1870s owned 4,088 acres in county Galway and 473 acres in county Louth. In the 1850s Myles W. O'Reilly held this land, some of which he leased to the Quakers in 1849 to set up a model farm centred on Colmanstown. He also held land in the parish of Dunmore, barony of Ballymoe. In the 1870s he is recorded as owning 4088 acres in county Galway and 473 in county Louth. Colmanstown, originally a French property, was to become a Quaker settlement. Griffith's Valuation describes the buildings as a herd's and steward's house occupied by Edward Barrington and partners and then valued at £30. Buildings on both sides of the road mark the site of Colmanstown. Only the walls remain of some of these buildings, others, however, are still in use. A group of Quakers (Society of Friends) formed a relief Committee in 1846 to distribute aid to the suffering people during the Great Famine. In 1848 they leased 1000 acres of land which was completely walled with high double doors at front and back entrances, having three avenues with gate houses at each entrance. The house was a two storey structure over a basement and a ten roomed dwelling. The land was originally acquired on a 999 year lease from Myles W. O’Reilly. The intention was to establish the Model Farm as a teaching institute and the farm was to be self-sufficient. A proposal was put forward to the central relief committee (Dublin) that it should establish a model farm for the more effective teaching of methods of growing crops and to act as an example of how a well-run farm should operate. A suitable property was found at Colmanstown in east Galway and

they purchased the lease of 400 acres initially for sixteen shillings per acre. “It was”, said Superintendent Bewley, “a wilderness in which he sojourned initially in considerable discomfort since he had only two damp rooms in the only habitable house in the area, five miles from the post office and eight from shops”. Nevertheless the work went on at pace in the spring of 1849 and an extensive range of farm buildings was constructed. Before the farm could be fully operational a considerable amount of land reclamation was required and this involved the removal of ditches to create larger fields and the laying of land drains. Some 228 people were employed on the Colmanstown model farm and a variety of crops was grown including grain and green crops, while there was also a wide range of farm animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs. When the Central Relief Committee arrived to inspect in 1852 they found a flourishing farm operating in what, three years earlier, had been among the most desolate wastes in Ireland. The farm had a well-built stone wall along the road, a driveway to the residence and buildings. Facilities included stables for 18 horses, a piggery for 60 hogs, stalls and yards for 130 cattle and granaries for 500 barrels of oats. A stream which had been diverted to run along the farm buildings provided power for threshing and winnowing machines. About 240 acres had been drained and were under cultivation with 160 acres awaiting drainage. The CRC approved a further grant of £1000 to complete the drainage. A printed report dated 5th of 8th month 1852 from the farm superintendent was pasted into the committee minute book showing 413 acres under cultivation including oats, barley, turnips, mangolds, rape carrots, potatoes, silage and land devoted to grazing and fallow. It was considered worthwhile to continue the project, not least because of the conversion of a “worn out waste”, to productivity and the economic value of wages paid, with the subsequent decrease in pauperisation, of the rural labourers. The benefit afforded the Irish farmer by the instruction in modern methods was immeasurable. The “poor man’s farm” proved to be of great value to the small producer carrying on the work begun in the spade cultivation projects of 1848. Year after year until 1863 the work continued. Colmanstown never made a profit, but each year it turned out young farmers well trained in agricultural methods applicable to the particular Irish conditions. Local labour was employed and learned to make the best of small holdings. It would be impossible to estimate how many farmers remained in Ireland and resisted emigration because of the grounding they had received at Colmanstown. Most important, perhaps, was the farm’s contribution in helping to free the small farmer and labourer from the fatal dependence on the potato. When the famine struck again in 1862 the Friends debated the future of the farm. As the distress continued the CRC decided in mid-summer to disband the farm and use the funds for the relief of distress. The working capital and sale of stock realized £2,651

which was applied to the CRC’s distress fund. Colmanstown gave one last service to Ireland when the remainder of the money realised from its sale was given to the Hospital for Incurables, the only institution of its kind in Ireland and one which accepted patients of all faiths and positions in society.14 This project was continued long after the end of the famine though the Quakers only remained in Colmanstown until 1863. The project was unprofitable and the farm was eventually sold to J.H. Smith, from Co. Cavan, and his wife who operated the farm of 450 acres and employed many local people. Mar. Smith died in 1963 and the couple had no children. Cows, calves, pigs, fowl as well as 150 sheep were kept in the enterprise with crops of potatoes, barley and oats cultivated. Foul was also kept. The family kept 5 horses. A staff of five people worked on the farm, a housemaid was also employed. Families lived in the gatehouses and the including the Connolly, Doyle and Browne families. The farm was acquired in the 1960’s by the Irish Land Commission for division among local farmers. Many of the buildings erected by the Quakers have since been knocked down but some walls remain. The memory, however, will be long preserved in Colmanstown as Alfie Doyle, himself a Colmanstown institution, constructed a wonderful model of the Farm Yard (see below) and this is testament to his wonderful array of skills, attention to minute detail and his photographic memory as this is constructed, to scale, and is based on Alfie’s memories when much of his childhood was spent with his father who worked for the Smith family. It was conceived, sketched, planned, constructed and painted in three days - quite remarkable!

Quaker Farm model – side view (Alfie Doyle) 14

View from rear - bell tower at top

Hatton, H. E. (1993). The largest amount of good: Quaker relief in Ireland, 1654-1921. Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Abbert House. Robert Blakeney, a member of a family of Elizabethan settlers, was granted lands at Castle Blakeney, parish of Killosolan, by the Cromwellian Commissioners. This grant was confirmed by royal patent dated 27 Nov 1688, when Thomas Lovelace and Ralph Fenwick, the executors of the will of Major Robert Blakeney of Gallagh, were granted over 2,200 acres in the baronies of Tiaquin and Kilconnell, and in Abbert House counties Mayo and Kilkenny. Castle Blakeney was burnt in the 1720s and the Blakeneys went to live at Abbert, which they bought from the Ffrenchs and where they continued to reside until the beginning of the 20th century. Mr. Filgate of Ahascragh is recorded in the OS Name Books as their agent for the Ardrahan lands. Fee simple estates of John Henry Blakeney in the parish of Kilbride and at Caherateige, parish of Ardrahan, were advertised for sale in 1855. The Freeman's Journal reported that the lands at Caheratigue in Ardrahan parish were bought in trust by Vesey Daly for over £1500. In 1862, lands belonging to John Blakeney were sold in the Landed Estates Court. The purchasers included James Smyth of Masonbrook, Henry Rose of Ballyclough, Co. Limerick, and R.O. Armstrong. The Blakeneys owned an estate of 7,504 acres situated in the parishes of Ballymacward, Killosolan and Monivea, as well as lands in the parish of Ardrahan and in the parishes of Drumatemple, barony of Ballymoe, Kilglass, barony of Ballintober North, and Kilbride, barony of Ballintober South, Co. Roscommon. In 1885 Terence Lynam advertised for sale 172 acres at Corgowan in the parish of Kilbride, formerly part of the Blakeney estate. Over 1,500 acres of the Blakeney estate was vested in the Congested Districts' Board on 23 Nov 1911. In 1824 he is listed as a resident proprietor in county Galway.

Blakeney Tomb

In 1786, Wilson refers to Abbert as the seat of Mr. Blakeney. Occupied by David Watson Ruttledge in Griffith's Valuation its buildings were valued at £35. Slater refers to Abbert as the seat of John Blakeney in 1894. Many members of the Blakeney family are laid to rest in the Moor Cemetery which is located in the Demesne. A new house has been built at the site but the ruins of the original outbuildings still exist. It stood on the property now owned by the O’Neill family who themselves originated from Headford, in 1945, and were successors to the Noone family as occupants of Abbert. Richard O’Neill recalls a local story that, each morning, Mr. Blakeney would scatter a bucket of oats for the birds in the front lawn of Abbert House. It is said that on the morning of his burial in the Moor the gathering of birds was so dense that they ‘blacked out the sun in the sky’.

Belleville House. The Mahons bought the Belleville estate in the parish of Monivea, from the Brownes of Coolarne in the early 1780s. They intermarried with the Lamberts, Blakes of Glenlo Abbey and the Seymours. According to the Ordnance Survey Field Name Books, Major Mahon owned townlands in the parish of Athenry in the 1830s. In the Belleville House 1870s Henry Blake Mahon owned 1,786 acres in the county. His son General Sir Bryan Mahon had a distinguished military career in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century the General sold part of his estate to Colonel Dudley Thomas Persse and his wife Mary Creagh. It was later sold to the Daly family of Corofin. About 1,300 acres of Bryan T. Mahon's estate was vested in the Congested Districts' Board in March 1912. A daughter of Peter Lambert, in 1775, married Thomas Mahon who was the ancestor of the Mahons of Belleville. Mahon, like the Lamberts, bought other land from the Brownes which formed the basis of the estate of the Mahons of Belleville. The history of the Mahons of Belleville provides an interesting example of how a family without an original fixed estate succeeded in amassing wealth. The principal Mahon family in Galway was the Mahons of Castlegar near Ahascragh. Both families had a common origin and ancestry in Co. Clare and both illustrate the same interesting historical features. The Mahons were originally O'Briens and were driven into Galway from Clare during the late 16th century. The ancestors of the Castlegar branch became based in Loughrea and rose to fortune through the patronage of the Earls of Clanricarde. The ancestors of the Belleville branch resided in Gort and enjoyed the patronage and protection of the O'Shaughnessy chiefs of Gort and of their successors the Prendergasts of Lough Cutra. The Mahons leased land from the Prendergasts as well as the mansion of Rindifin where they resided at that time. They were prosperous by the time Thomas Mahon married Peter Lambert's daughter. Bryan Mahon, Thomas's father, is described in deeds as "possessed of a large fortune, stock, wool, leases, etc., to the value of over £40,000". Thomas Mahon bought the lands of Belleville from the Brownes of Kilskeagh in 1780. In not until 1808 that Thomas moved from Rindifin near Gort to this area. He, we are told, lived in Cossaun Castle until 1814 and then moved to Belleville, probably when the new house was built. The Mahons had something of a military tradition. Seven brothers are said to have fought at the Battle of Waterloo, and the last of the family, General Sir Bryan Mahon, was a distinguished soldier and later a member of the Irish Senate.

Thomas Mahon of Rindifin had a son called Bryan who married Juliana Taylor of Castle Taylor and had a son also called Thomas. The latter, Thomas Mahon of Belleville, married Jane Blake of Glenloe Abbey 1822. Their son, Henry Blake Mahon of Belleville married Margaret Seymour of Ballymore Castle on 2nd of April 1802 with a dowry of £3,000. Their eldest son, General Sir Bryan Thomas Mahon (1862-1930), would be the last Mahon to reside in Belleville. In 1913 he sold part of Belleville estate to Mary Sadlier Perrse wife of Col Dudley Perrse - brother of Burton R.P. Perrse of Moyode. General Sir Bryan served as a Connaught Ranger in India, both as Captain and Major in the Egyptian army, Brig.-General in South Africa, and in India as Major General. He was appointed to command the 10th (Irish) division of the new armies in 1915 at Gallipoli. General Sir Bryan had been guilty of desertion in the face of the (Turkish) enemy in August 1915. On that occasion, in a fit of pique at not receiving an anticipated promotion, he abandoned his 10th division and took himself off to a distant island. There he nurtured and cultivated his wounded pride. It was reported that his actions contributed to the decimation of the 7th Dublin Fusiliers on the slopes of Kiretch Tepe Sert overlooking Suvla Bay. The battalion, which included the famous rugbyplaying “Pals” company, recruited at Lansdowne Road in 1914, should have been withdrawn from an indefensible position on the night of August 15th, 1915. But no one was prepared to give such an order in the absence of the divisional commander. The 7th Dublins did not have the option of taking umbrage at Turkish grenades. Mahon un-resigned within a week and his career – whatever about his reputation – did not suffer greatly. In May 1916, after accomplishing all that was possible in most difficult circumstances, Mahon was succeeded as British commander-in-chief by Sir George Milne. Once more Mahon went to Egypt, and there commanded for a month the Western Frontier. He then returned England, and towards the end 1916 was sent to Ireland as commander-in-chief. This appointment was made in the hope that Mahon's knowledge of his fellow countrymen and his long established popularity would help to relieve the situation in Ireland after the bitterness around the Easter Rebellion. The appointment was fully justified and a most prominent instance was his tactful action, in the many difficult situations of the Irish trouble, was his decision to withdraw the military from the streets of Dublin on the day appointed for the funeral of Thomas Ashe, who had died while on hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail. Mahon was not destined to hold it long, for when Lord French was appointed Viceroy of Ireland in May 1918; he requested that Sir Frederick Shaw should be appointed. Mahon therefore returned to England, and in the following October took over the duties of military commander at Lille. Here he remained in what proved to be his last active appointment, until March 1919.

Retiring in 1921, Mahon went to live in Ireland, and in the following year became a senator of the newly formed Irish Free State. He was appointed to Seanad Éireann by the President of the Executive Council, William T. Cosgrave, in 1922. This though did not prevent him suffering during the Irish Civil War as his County Kildare property was burned down by anti-Treaty forces in February 1923. He was elected to the Seanad in 1928, and served until his death in 1930. He was sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland in 1917, became colonel of his own regiment, and received the K.C.B in 1922. He was a grand officer of the legion of honour, and held the grand cross of the white eagle of Serbia. Mahon married in 1920 Amelia (died 1927), daughter of the Hon. Charles Frederick Crichton, and widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Milbanke, tenth baronet. He had no children. Mahon was essentially a Cavalry leader. He was fond of shooting, hunting, pig sticking and polo and was a fine steeplechase rider. In 1925 he took over the management of the Punchestown race meeting, and showed himself a very efficient administrator of turf affairs. He also became chairman of the committee for the control of mechanical betting in Ireland. He died in Dublin the 24th of September 1930, at Earlsfort Mansions, and is buried in Mullaboden cemetery. Mary Sadlier Perrse wife of Col Dudley Perrse, who purchased Belleville estate in 1913, had one daughter Rita who married Brig. General Cary Bernard and they had two children Melanie and Dudley. Dudley, also known as Burton, died in an accident in Ballydavid. In 1927 the family moved to Africa where Melanie met and married Guy Trundle from Kenya and later married Major James Hanberry whom she met in Cairo and later she became Mrs. Bowes-Daly of Dunsandle. When the Persses sold Belleville House it was bought by the Daly family from Corofin. Left: The last residents of Belleville House Rita Cary Bernard with her children Dudley and Melanie taken Feb. 2nd 1919.

The Skehana & District Heritage Group wishes to acknowledge the most generous assistance that it has received from Mrs. Mary Gilhooley, Belleville Demesne, and also for all of the documentation and pictures that she made available to us for the compilation of this article.

Vermount House. Vermount House was situated in the townland of Moneen in the civil parish of Vermount House Killoscobe. In 1667 Matthew French was granted over 4,000 acres in the barony of Tiaquin, including the commons of Menlough and nearly a thousand acres in the barony of Clanmorris, county Mayo. Gregory Anthony French of Moneen, later known as Vermount, sold a portion of his estate of 715 acres in the parish of Ballymacward, to James Blake of Waterdale in 1801. James died in 1821, leaving his estates to his nephew, another James Blake. This James Blake married his cousin Henrietta Blake of Kiltullagh and had an only child Elizabeth who married in 1854 her cousin Theobald Blake of Kiltullagh and Vermount. However when Theobald Blake died in 1902 without heirs, Vermount reverted to Elizabeth's first cousin Nicholas Blake of the U.S.A. The Blakes of Waterdale and Vermount were descended from James Blake, a younger son of another Patrick Blake of Kiltullagh. In 1780 Michael Blake of Kiltullagh married Anne, only child of Martin French of Frenchfort and thereafter Frenchfort was Blake property. At the time of Griffith's Valuation Theobald Michael Blake held townlands in the parishes of Ballymacward and Killoscobe, barony of Tiaquin and a townland in each of the parishes of Oranmore and St Nicholas, barony of Galway. In the early 1870s he owned over 5,000 acres in county Galway. The estate at Vermount was bought by the Land Commission in the early 20th century and the house was burned down in 1923. Members of the Blake family are buried in a burial house on the estate. Also known as Munine or Moneen, the house was described as 'in ruins' on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (1932), following it’s burning in 1923. Extensive outbuildings are still in use and part of the yard is now a residence. In 1786, Wilson refers to a house called "Munnine" as a seat of Mr. French.

Cross House. Cross House is located in the townland of Cross Oughter in the civil parish of Killoscobe. Early records show this townland, then called Crossoter, to be in the ownership of Thomas O’Manning in 1640 but by 1671 were the property of Matthew Ffrench who also owned ten additional adjoining townlands. The house itself was constructed in the shape of a cross and this is evident today from what remains of the structure. While there are claims that the shape was actually based on an historical ecclesiastical Cross House function, connected to the Cistercians, there does not appear to be any hard evidence or documentation to support this so perhaps it was given its shape rather from the name of the area. Cross house has always been closely associated with the Evans family who had a very substantial presence in the more general Ballymacward area. Much of the history relating to the Evans family has been compiled by Herbert Parker, Ballymacward, who is a direct descendant of the Evans family. Extracts from that detailed family history are included in the remainder of this article. The Evans family settled, in the 18th century, at Carrowmore, a townland near Woodlawn Station, which also became known as Mount Evans. The family bible of John Cannon Evans (1796-1871) in 1837 provides a wonderful and detailed history of the Evans family and its long history as well as some other early details along with the relationships to other branches of the family in nearby counties. John Cannon Evans great grandfather Samuel Evans was one of seven brothers. Their father was a nephew of and gunman to the then Lord Carbery but prior to this he amassed considerable wealth in Kilkenny West, County Westmeath, was foolish and extravagant and ran through property before seeing out his final days with Lord Carbery. His sons scattered to various locations but two, Frank and the above mentioned Samuel came to Woodlawn. Samuel Evans married a sister of Arthur Woods, of Keave, who at that time also came from Co. Westmeath with the Parkers. Samuel and Mary’s son John, when but a young man, took lands at Mount Evans from Lord Ashtown’s father and built Mount Evans House in the 1700s. John and Mary’s son Samuel married Esther Cannon and their son John Cannon Evans, who recorded the family history on his bible, was born in 1796. Mount Evans - Built in 1700s

He married Mary Anne Malley at Hollymount, Co. Mayo on May 15th 1827 and afterwards they resided at Cross House in the parish of Killoscobe. They had no children and John Cannon Evans died on March 19th 1871 while Mary Anne died in 1895. The lands he held at Mount Evans were on lease from Lord Ashtown of Woodlawn Estate and the lands at Cross were leased from Lord Fitzgerald Vesey. Having purchased a portion of the Ballinrooaun townland, from George Porter, in 1852 under the Encumbered Estates Court he continued to lease the major portion of the townland to his tenants but retained the original Porter farm for his own use. The remaining part of Ballinrooaun he held on lease from Thomas H. Thompson (later Parkers) and he also farmed this portion. John Cannon Evans will of March 3rd 1871 (sixteen days before his death) directed that all stock, farm produce, farming implements and furniture be sold by public auction except for £200 worth to be chosen by his wife. To his wife he willed the interest in the lease of Mount Evans and that portion of Ballinrooaun that he had purchased in 1852. He willed that portion of Ballinrooaun held on lease from Thomas H. Thompson to his nephew Wesley Albert Evans. However two days later he was to revoke this latter part of the will and instead left it to his wife’s nephew Thomas Noble Holton. He left part of the Cross farm to Robert John Parker, his nephew, of Ballymacward.15 John Cannon Evans, of Cross House, served on the Board of Guardians of Mountbellew Workhouse along with Michael Dillon Bellew, Charles Filgate, John F. Browne, Thomas O’Connor, William Cruice, John Cheevers and Col. Clarke. Lord Clonbrock was the John Cannon Evans of Cross House chairman. The Board acquired the site from Michael D. rd Bellew on May 23 , 1850. The workhouse was built in 1851. Two famine pots were found on the Cross estate. Wesley Albert Evans was the nephew of John Cannon Evans and was born in 1848. He farmed his uncle’s land at Ballinrooaun and lived in Ballinrooaun House. It appears however that he ran up a considerable debt following which he requested assistance from his brother-in-law John Robert Parker and it was agreed that John Robert Parker would purchase the Thomas Noble Holton portion of Ballinrooaun and lease it back to Wesley. However Wesley was to emigrate and John could not recoup either the purchase cost of the land or the repayment of Wesley’s loans to the Bank of Ireland in Mountbellew and it was eventually sold to the Land Commission and further divided amongst the tenant farmers of Ballinrooaun and Ballaghnagrosheen.


Parker, Herbert. "The Evans Family of Cross House." Letter to Jimmy Laffey. 02 Apr. 2014. MS. N.p.

Wesley first married on July 4th 1878 and described himself as a gentleman farmer and gave his address as the Wicklow Hotel, Wicklow Street, Dublin. He would emigrate a few years later and marry again in 1885 and in 1902. Wesley died on April 6th 1909 in Chicago and is buried in Philadelphia. The Evans family ran the ‘Railway Hotel’ at Mount Evans near Woodlawn Station. John Robert Parker came to work there prior to 1860 and there he met his future wife Susanna Evans. After the death of William Evans in 1865 the Parkers lived at Mount Evans for a brief time before it was taken over by George Walker from Clooncannon, Ballygar. They were married on May 19th 1860, in Kilconnell, by Revd. H.V. Daly, Dean of Clonfert and Rector of Gort. They later moved to reside in Church Grove, Ballymacward. John Robert Parker did not expect the main inheritance but he inherited the Woods lands at Keave when the family died out. He also served as Clerk of the Petty Sessions Court in Gurteen and likewise his son William Parker. John Robert Parker and Suzanna Evans eldest son, Matthew Herbert married Margaret Walshe in 1917 but she died five months later and he remarried Juliana, daughter of Benjamin Marsh of Ballyscarvan, Moate, Co. Westmeath in 1925. Their son John married Bridget Forde and the Herbert family line continued in the Ballymacward area with their children Siobhan and William and Herbert. Much of the information in this article was extracted from a detailed family history made available by Herbert Parker and his wife Noreen (formerly Noreen Coppinger from Corrandoo) to Jimmy Laffey in April 2014. The Skehana & District Heritage Group wishes to acknowledge Herbert’s contribution, not just in compiling his own family history, but also for recording and making available a much broader and enlightening history of our locality.

Ordnance Survey Map of 1838 showing Cross House and Brick Kilns in Knockavilla

Ryehill House The medieval forerunner of Ryehill House was the tower house or castle in the townland of Cashlaundarragh, which adjoins Ryehill Demesne to the west. Nowadays, this former fortified gentleman’s residence is generally referred to as Ryehill Castle, because of its location within the bounds of the Reddington/Roche estate of Ryehill. The original name for the castle was ‘Garrandaragh’, as it appears in an Elizabethan survey of Connacht carried out in 1574. At the time, it was in the possession of Ulick Derry Lynch, a wealthy Galway merchant who served a sub-sheriff of County Galway in 1584 and mayor of Galway town in 1591. It was, however, originally an O’Kelly castle that had been built on lands captured from the Ó Mainnín Cashlaundarragh or Mannion clan about the middle of the fourteenth century, in what was then the parish of Abbert, later to be known as Monivea. An undated Chancery Pleadings bill recalls a controversy that arose between Melaghlin mac an Abba O’Kelly (sl.1581) and his kinsman Shane and the aforementioned Ulick Lynch over the ‘right title’ and profits of the ‘estate of Granadarogh’, undoubtedly referring to the lands attaching to the castle that would later form the nucleus of the Ryehill estate. 16 In the late 18th century the Ryehill estate belonged to a branch of the Redington family of Kilcornan. It was owned by the descendants of Michael Redington, a younger son of Thomas Redington (died 1780) and his wife Margaret Lynch. There was a long legal dispute over ownership of the estate with the Kilcornan branch of the family. Thomas Redington, son of Michael, died in 1828 without a male heir and his estate passed to his daughter Eleanor, who had married Stephen Roche of Granagh Castle, county Kilkenny in 1832.

Ryehill House

Over 800 acres of the Ryehill estate, in which Mrs Eleanor Redington had a life interest, were advertised for sale by James Balfe or his assignee Patrick Dignan in 1860. Stephen Roche was the grandson of Stephen Roche and his wife Sarah daughter and co heir of John O'Brien of Moyvanine and Clounties [Cloonty, parishes of Kilmoylan and Shanagolden], Co. Limerick and it was from the O'Briens that the Roches obtained their Limerick estate. In the 1870s the Redington Roches owned 3,217 acres in county Galway, 88 acres in county Mayo, 1,166 acres in county Limerick and an estate in county Kilkenny. About 4,000 acres of their county Galway estate was vested in the Congested Districts' Board in 1911.17 In the 1911 census Patrick and Lizzie Cooke and family were occupants of the house as stewards and domestic servants. The house, built the early 1800s, is no longer extant as it was unroofed in the 1950s, and the Killarney family are its current owners. 16

Mannion, Dr. Joseph P. (2016, July 27). Ryehill House & Estate [E-mail interview with Jimmy Laffey]. Landed Estates Database . (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2016, from http://www.landedestates


Newtown House. Newtown House, which stands in the townland of Newtown, dates back to the 1730s, when it was built by the Browne family. The Brownes of Moyne were descended from the Brownes of Cloonkeely, near Tuam and of Newtown in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy. Nicholas Browne was granted over 3,000 acres in 1677 under the Acts of Settlement in counties Galway, Roscommon and Sligo. Most of the land was in county Galway and included Moyne, Newtown and Crumlin, all in the Newtown House & marriage of Ida Kelly barony of Tiaquin. In the early 19th century Cloonkeely or Cloonkeelwy in the townland of Ballyboy, parish of Kilbennan, belonged to John Browne Lynch, a member of the Lynch of Lowberry family, who had married a Browne of Cloonkeely. In 1802 Mark Browne of the Newtown branch of the family sold his property to John Kelly of Green Castle, Jamaica, as he had no heir. Previously he had acquired the Rockfield or Rockville estate from the Burkes but it was soon taken over by the Court of Chancery. A family with county Roscommon origins, members of 18th century generations of the Kellys served in the Austrian Army and were prominent landowners in Jamaica. When, in 1802, John Kelly bought the Newtown estate from the Brownes of Moyne three generations of the Kelly family would reside there in the 19th century. In the mid-19th century the estate amounted to nine townlands in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy. Kelly had two plantations in Jamaica. One was Crescent Park, St Anne, where he had 101 slaves; the other was Green Castle, at StThomas-in-the-East, where 215 people were in forced servitude. Green Castle today is a hotel on a 1,600-acre estate. In total, James Kelly received £6,141 6s 3d in compensation for the loss of these 316 pieces of 'property'. By a conservative estimate, based on historical standards of living, that's worth almost a million euros in today's money. Charles Kelly, a county court judge and vice-president of the RDS, is recorded as the owner of over 2,000 acres in county Galway in the 1870s. In June 1885 a Charles Kelly was advertising the sale of over 1,000 acres in the parish of Kilkerrin and lands in Leitrim and in Roscommon. It is not entirely clear, however, if this is Charles Kelly of Newtown. The lands in the parish of Kilkerrin were leased to William Parke Cullen. Matilda, Countess de la Boisserie (1865-1956), Charles Kelly’s daughter, wrote memoirs of her childhood at Newtown. The extracts deal with her life and visits to Ireland, and are translated from the French by her grandson Jacques Dumont de Montroy. It deals with her growing up in Dublin and Newtown, as well as social visits to the landed families in County Galway. Her father Charles Kelly died in 1905. Newtown changed hands again in 1930 when it was purchased by Major Carr, of Carr's water biscuits fame. It remained in his family until 1967 when it was sold to Lord Wrottesely. The house was then

owned by a German film producer and later a Dutch psychiatrist until it was sold to the present owners in 1997, who undertook its renovation with the support of the Irish Georgian Society. Today the property is approached via a sweeping, established tree-lined avenue adding to the privacy of the estate. Coming into view, the residence has an imposing façade and is surrounded by lawns to the front and east. Behind the solid-wood front door is a magnificent hallway that leads to superbly proportioned reception rooms. The drawing room is an enticing masterpiece, from its cornice work to the beautiful oak floorboards. Your eye is drawn to the original fireplace and the detailed architrave above each door. The main staircase in the hall leads to two fine bedrooms, both with en suite bathrooms and walk - in dressing rooms. Scenic views over the surrounding countryside can be seen from each window. Further bedrooms and bathrooms are accessed via the back staircase. There is also a self-contained apartment on the ground floor. The house boasts refurbished original sash windows throughout and, because of the south facing aspect, natural light radiates through each room. Through the huge ornate arch to the rear of the house is the original courtyard that has been reslated and re-mortared in keeping with the period and three quaint cottages are contained within the courtyard along with six stables, a tack room and a sand arena. The house had a succession of owners afterwards, including Major Frederick Carr of the Carr's Water Biscuit family. In 1967 it was sold to Lord Richard Wrottesley, who was killed three years later in a car crash on his way home from Dublin airport having reportedly made a bet that he could complete the journey in less than two hours. Wrottesley left a wife and one child: a two-year-old son, Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdon Wrottesley, who grew up to be a fund manager, British peer and skeleton racer, and competed for Ireland at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Later, Newtown House was owned by a German film producer and then by a Dutch psychiatrist. The owners, who had been in place for 17 years, completely restored it between 1997 and 2001 under the guidance of the Irish Georgian Society.

Ordnance Survey Map - 1838

This booklet was compiled and produced by members of the Skehana & District Heritage Group and we wish to acknowledge all of the contributions and assistance that we have received. We also acknowledge the generous support of Galway County Council for the printing and provision of materials associated with its publication. August 2016

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