My niece, Jeannie Marie, visited County Donegal recently with her brother, her brother’s wife, and a friend. County Donegal was the homeland of her grandparents. Jeannie produced this video which includes many of her photographs. Jeannie has a website in which her paintings and photographs are displayed. The website is: at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jeanne-allerton.html?tab=artwork. Prints, and other merchandise made from her images (including several of Ireland), can be purchased at this website.
Beautiful Fanad Head Lighthouse is situated on the northern coast of the Fanad Peninsula in County Donegal between Mulroy Bay and Lough Swilly. It was determined necessary following the wreck of the HMS Saldanha on the rocks in December 1811. The only survivor of that wreck was the ship’s parrot who was wearing a silver collar engraved with the Saldanha’s name.
The lighthouse was designed by civil engineer, Gearge Halpin and lit for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day in 1817. The light shone red to sea and white to Lough Swilly. The light could be seen for 14 miles out to sea.
Fanad Head Lighthouse became electric in 1975 and became fully automated in 1983. It is one of 70 lighthouses protecting ships on the coast of Ireland.
Thanks to George Bonsall for the photos.
In 1934, Reverend Walter Hegarty, C.C. wrote a series of articles in The Derry Journal about the history of Donaghmore Parish. They appeared in every Friday edition of the newspaper from January through July 1934 under the headings, “Rambles Round Donaghmore” and “Plantation of Finn Valley.” Copies of the articles recently came to my attention through my correspondence with Msgr. Francis Carbine of Philadelphia who obtained them from the Donegal Historical Society.
As you can imagine, these articles covered quite a bit of ground. Rev. Hegarty obtained his information from a large number of sources, and it includes some legend and folklore (not all of which is based on fact). I’ll try to summarize the material of the articles that pertains only to the Roman Catholic parish.
The Early Church -
When St. Patrick arrived at the Finn Valley in the 5th century he wished to locate his Domnach Mor (large church) “where sunlight first struck in the morning.” Building began on the right bank of the Finn in what is now Barryarrel Townland. Immediately there was trouble. Every night an animal with horns like a goat came out of the river and demolished the builders’ work. (The building material was likely wood or wattle.) Eventually, a second site was chosen on the left bank of the Finn at the present location of the Donaghmore Church of Ireland.
A legend speaks of the favourite dog of Finn McCool. The legend is a bit anachronistic in that Finn McCool, if he even existed, would have lived long before the time of Christianity in Ireland. Anyway, here it goes…
Finn had an old, almost blind, dog he named Bran who he loved dearly. Before Finn died, he gave Bran to his relative Oisin. When Oisin was hunting one day in “Carrick,” Bran, who was now almost completely blind, ran into a large rock and was killed instantly. Oisin also greatly loved the dog, and he engraved Bran’s image on a large rock. When Oisin died, he had given instructions that he wished to be buried at the spot where Bran died, and the rock placed over his grave.
Many years later, a grave was opened by the rector of Donaghmore and large bones were found in it. The inscription on the broad stone over the grave had the name Ossian (or Oscar). It was believed that Finn McCool and Oisin were baptised at Donaghmore (questionable fact). After opening the grave of “Oisin,” the church installed the stone bearing the likeness of Bran, next to the altar. When the church was later destroyed by marauders, another church was erected in its place, but the workmen decided to leave the stone outside the new church. This was not wise. The work done each day was undone each night (a recurring theme in these legends). Eventually the stone was inserted into the building and work continued. The stone remains to this day in the Donaghmore Church of Ireland. (The Ordinance Survey of 1836 mentions that the stone was broken when the Donaghmore Church was rebuilt in 1766 but the pieces were replaced in the wall.)
In his article, Father Hegarty claims that the present Donaghmore COI Church borders Carraic Colman which could be the Carrick told of in the story. This Carrick is a hill with a “giant’s grave” (large rock) in its centre which could be considered the traditional grave of Oisin.
After a number of years, the Donaghmore church lands became entrusted to two families with roots in Carrickabraghy, Inishowen. They were the Ua Gallein and the Ua Doireidh (Gallens and Deerys). The families were the eranaghs who managed the land and paid taxes to the diocese and ruling clan of the Finn Valley. Tradition holds that the Gallens occupied land on the left bank of the Finn until the reign of King James I when they were driven off the land by the plantation of English and Scottish Protestants on the church lands. The Gallens had to settle in the townland of Meenreagh.
The Deerys are documented in the Annals of the Four Masters for the year 1064 which states that Eochaidh Ua Doireigh was eranagh of Domnach Mor of Magh Ith (ancient name for that part of the Finn Valley). In 1206, Soerbhrethach Ua Doireidh was eranagh. It appears that the name changed through the years from Deery to Gerry to Garrey until the family is listed as Muintergarredie as eranaghs of Donaghmore Parish in the 1609 Inquisition of King James I. The Muintergallons were also listed as eranaghs.
Rectors and Curates -
In the early days of Donaghmore Parish, the work of rectors and curates were a bit different. The curates had to reside in the parish and look after it. The rectors were not required to live in the parish, and they could be religious students working toward ordination instead of ordained priests.
Rectors – One of the rectors of Donaghmore in the 14th century was Hugh O’Deery who later became curate of the parish as well. He was succeeded as rector by Neal MacMelamphy. At MacMelamphy’s death in 1422, he was succeeded by Thomas Carlin, then John MacDaly in 1442, then William Carlin in 1470, and Donal O’Merrigan in 1493, and then Maurice Carlin. Hugh Carlin followed Maurice as rector after that, and became Bishop of Clogher in 1535. During the reign of King Henry VIII, Hugh Carlin switched from Catholicism to the Church of England.
Curates – Previously mentioned Hugh O’Deery was both rector and curate at the beginning of the 15th century but was succeeded by the curate Angelicus Carlin. At Carlin’s death, Patrick O’Brain (O’Brian?) was appointed curate. O’Brain resigned in 1420 and Geoffrey O’Deery succeeded him. Meanwhile, Luke Carney applied as curate after Angelicus died, and he formed a separate line of curates. Following Luke Carney there were Henry Maireese, Clement O’Friel (1440), Donal Carlin, Arthur O‘Gallagher (1500s), and Neal O‘Gallagher.
Penal Times -
In addition to other restrictions, the Catholics of Donaghmore Parish had no place to worship during the time of the Catholic Penal Laws (c.1691-1778). Mass was celebrated secretly outdoors or at private homes. Priests had to disguise themselves and sneak into the parish and sneak out again quickly before being apprehended by priest-hunters who were rewarded for their captures.
There is one story about a plan to capture a priest by convincing a man in the parish to pretend to be sick and dying. A priest was called for. When a “beggar” visited the man at his house, he was greeted by soldiers when he departed. The “beggar” informed the soldiers that the man inside had just died. The soldiers went inside the home and found it was true. In the confusion the beggar-priest got away.
Supple Mathew Gallen was a scout for renegade priests during this period. He was an athletic youth born in Meenreagh Townland. Mathew would keep informed of the actions of the army and of priest hunters. When the soldiers or hunters started on their way, he would take shortcuts and give warnings to the congregations who were gathering. Sometimes he would disguise himself as a priest and let himself be seen by the attackers, then outrunning or outwitting them. During one close call, he got to the Mass rock just in time and shouted a warning and then threw himself down into a stone ditch to hide. He was found dead there. The location is supposed to be in the Minshe Finn in the Ballintra area. (I don’t know where this is.)
Many of the clerics who celebrated Mass in the parish were friars and not secular priests. One such cleric was the Black Friar, so named because of his black robes and the fact that he always rode a black horse. On alternate Sundays, he said Mass at Sessiaghoneill. It is believed that the Black Friar kept his horse with the Kyle family, kindly Protestants who ran a mill on the Mourne Beg River.
Mass was held at several Mass rocks and Mass houses in Donaghmore. There were two Mass houses along the Mourne Beg River near the Meenluskybane Burn. A priest was killed at one of those houses during Mass.
During the penal times in Castlefin, Mass was celebrated at a broad hill known as Cnocramar behind the town. There was a hedge there known as the Piper’s Bush and below it was a rock where a piper came with the congregation. If strangers were seen, the piper would play a tune and the young people would dance to throw off the soldiers. After the piper died, the sound of a pipe was still heard at the site. Later on, Mass was said under the arches of the Castlefin Bridge and in the backyard of Felix Quinn.
Among the secular priests to say Mass in Donaghmore during the penal times was Fr. Doherty who became the parish priest of Termonamongan (Co. Tyrone) in.1775.
Father Cornelius O’Mongan also celebrated Mass during the penal period. Fr. O’Mongan was born in 1650 and died in 1724. Father O’Mongan was once the Parish Priest of three parishes: Donaghmore, Urney, and Termonamongan. For more on Fr. O’Mongan, see: http://tomgallen.com/2013/08/father-cornelius-omongan/
A chalice used at Mass during the Penal times was found in Sessiaghoneill during work on the rail line. Workmen put up a cross at the place where it was found, and the line was diverted around the location. (No information on what happened to that chalice.)
On one Christmas, Friar Curnian celebrated Mass at the Mass rock at Crossroads. A messenger warned him that soldiers were coming. It was then that the Friar predicted that a chapel would be built there someday.
In October of 1759, Prime Minister Pitt addressed English Parliament and told them of the King’s command to end interference with Catholic worship. When restrictions eased, a Catholic chapel was planned for Donaghmore. Michael O’Flagherty was named Parish Priest (his brother Anthony was PP of Termonamongan). Fr. O’Flagherty built the chapel himself at Crossroads. It was a rectangular structure with a thatched roof. The chapel was begun in 1790 and completed in 1795. Fr. O’Flaherty died around 1799.
According to Fr. Hegarty, the Religious Census of 1766 indicated that there were 708 Protestant households and 685 Roman Catholic households in Donaghmore Parish. The parish had one secular priest (Fr. Doherty?) and one friar.
The 19th Century -
Father O’Flagherty was succeeded by Charles MacBride from County Tyrone. Father MacBride made improvements to the Crossroads chapel. An aisle was added to the centre of the building at right angles to the main aisle, and a slated roof replaced the thatch. Fr. MacBride lived in a house in Dromore Townland.
At some point, the Bishop replaced the curate Fr. O’Flagherty with Fr. MacGlade. The parishioners were displeased with this action and were starting a revolt of sorts. When their PP, Father MacBride, died in 1819, the bishop appointed William McClafferty as Parish Priest. The revolt came to a boil and the parishioners rejected the new priest, closing the chapel doors in his face. The new parish priest had to say Mass at a table outside the chapel. When the bishop heard of this, he recalled Fr. McClafferty and left the parish with no priests. After three years, the parishioners relented, and the bishop returned Fr. McClafferty to Donaghmore.
John MacLaughlin was ordained in 1821 and came to Donaghmore as curate. Two chapels (of ease) were built in Donaghmore in the 1820s. The chapel in Castlefin was built in 1822 and the chapel in Sessiaghoneill was built in 1828. (Today the Castlefin chapel is in Urney Parish.) The parish Priest appointed Fr. MacLaughlin as curate in charge of Castlefin. Fr. MacLaughlin leased the graveyard on land belonging to Mrs. Fox. MacLaughlin then turned his attention on procuring land for the chapel at Sessiaghoneill through either Mrs. Anderson or Mick McMennamin. The chapel was mostly completed before Fr. MacLaughlin was transferred and named the Parish Priest of Cappagh in 1828.
Fr. McClafferty was transferred to Moville in 1829. He was succeeded by Francis Quinn. In 1834, Fr. Quinn was swapped with Father Charles McCaffrey who was the Parish Priest of Omagh. In 1839, Fr. McCaffrey was appointed to Clonleigh and he was replaced by Father Neal O’Kane.
Father Neal O’Kane was born in 1791. He was a professor at the Derry Seminary and took part in the Derry Discussions of 1828 with Fr. Francis Quinn who was then a curate at Templemore. The Derry Discussions were held between six Catholic priests and six priests of the Church of Ireland who “discussed” the differences in their theology. The discussions were held in the Guildhall (then located at the diamond).
Diocesan musical chairs: When Fr. Quinn was assigned to Donaghmore as PP in 1829, Fr. O’Kane replaced him as curate in Derry. When John MacLaughlin left Cappagh in 1837, Fr. O’Kane became the Parish Priest there. In 1839, he came to Donaghmore as Parish Priest, replacing Fr. McCaffrey, who moved to Clonleigh.
Father O’Kane was the pastor of Donaghmore for only a year when he died under suspicious circumstances. He was quite stout but loved to ride his horse. On Passion Sunday in 1840, he rode home from Castlefin. A while later, some men found a horse grazing on the side of the road, and they discovered Fr. O’Kane covered in blood and lying in the grass. He was dazed and couldn’t speak. They brought him to the home of Widow Boyle and left him at the door. Mrs. Boyle’s servant girl identified him from the inscribed watch he received from participating in the Derry Discussions, and a doctor was sent for. Later that evening, he was brought to the home he shared with Hugh Gallagher. He died the next day.
Foul play was considered in his death. When he was in a dazed state, he was asked, “ Did any person do this to you?” He was unable to speak, but he shook his head (not stated whether this was yes or no, but I‘m assuming it was yes). After his death, the matter was argued by many who heard the story. It seems that Father O’Kane had taken part of a mixed marriage which offended a number of people of the Protestant community, some of whom were known to be dangerous. Many had no doubt that these men caused his death. However, nothing was ever proven, and the Derry newspapers reported that Fr. O’Kane died of a fall from his horse. His wake was at the Castlefin chapel, and he was buried in a plot that faces the gate.
The Boyles -
Father Edward Boyle was appointed Parish Priest after the death of Father O’Kane. He was the son of Edward Boyle of Daisy Hill and Catherine McMenamin of White Hill. Edward (Jr.) was born in 1790 and his brother John was born in 1798. Edward entered Maynooth at age 23 and was ordained in 1819. After ordination he went to Derry. He later became curate at Omagh. In 1825, he became the Parish Priest of Tamlacht Ard (Magilligan) and then Upper Badoney (Plumbridge) in 1833. In 1836, Edward’s father died at the age of 93 and left the farm at Daisy Hill to his sons who kept it running.
Edward’s brother John received his education from the Seminary of St. Columb in Derry. He was ordained in 1827 and served as curate at Moville, then Donagh, and then Malin. John was known as the “red-haired, weak-eyed defender of the faith” for combating “false religion” disseminated by tracks and “mutilated bibles.”
Edward Boyle returned to his home parish in Donaghmore as Parish Priest in 1840. His brother joined him as curate in 1842. After the famine, Edward was determined to build a decent church at Crossroads. He set about collecting money for the new building. The foundation stone was laid on May 12, 1872. The dedication of the church was held on April 25, 1875. For years, many recalled the huge amount of holy water that was used on that occasion.
John Boyle had ongoing health issues, and he died in 1882 after 40 years as curate. During those years, several curates passed through St. Patrick’s Church at Crossroads: James MacKenna, John MacGroaty, and Francis O’Neill (a cousin to the Boyles).
Edward Boyle died two years later on September 25, 1884 at the age of 94. The curate, John MacGroaty, was appointed Parish Priest. Father MacGroaty immediately started collecting for the spire and bell tower of the church. He died in 1893 before the tower was completed.
On August 2, 1896, the bishop came to St. Patrick’s Chapel to dedicate the new spire and bell tower. It was 140 feet high with a new bell that rang out for the first time that day.
The chapel at Castlefin was renovated and dedicated on November 10, 1907.
Other Parish Priests -
Father Joseph McKeefry was PP until he died in 1920. James Morris succeeded him, and during his tenure, he obtained the parochial house as a residence for priests. Father Morris died in 1926. Father Patrick Devlin came to Donaghmore as Parish Priest in 1927.
The events in my novel Donegal Generations take place in Donaghmore Parish during the 1700s and 1800s. I am always interested in hearing about the parish. If you have any comments, please post them at this website (tomgallen.com) or at my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DonegalGenerations/ .
This is an oil painting of Donegal by my niece, Jeannie Marie Allerton. It is the view from her grandmother’s home on Slate Row near Carrigart (http://tomgallen.com/2016/01/the-4th-earl-of-leitrim-and-slate-row/ ) . The view is toward Mulroy Bay with the mountains of the Fanad Peninsula in the background. More of Jeannie Marie’s work can be seen at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jeanne-allerton.html?tab=artwork. Prints, and other merchandise made from her images (including several of Ireland), can be purchased at this website.
In the 1930s, the Irish Folklore Commission (Irish Free State) began a program to preserve the stories and oral traditions of the people of Ireland. It did so by collecting the reminiscences of the “old folks” by the students of its primary schools. The students wrote the recollections of parent, grandparents, and neighbours in their exercise books, under the supervision of their teacher. These handwritten reports are available at the website www.duchas.ie .
Donaghmore Parish in County Donegal is the parish of my Gallen and Gallagher ancestors. It is principal locale used in my novel, “Donegal Generations.” In my obsession with the history of the parish, I published several posts about Donaghmore here in my website at: tomgallen.com . I’ve already published some of the folklore reports written by students of Meenreagh, Tievebrack, and Lismulladuff Primary Schools. In this post, I am publishing a few of the stories collected at the Gleneely Primary School.
The Irish name of Gleneely is Gleann An Fhaoilidh. Gleneely Primary School is located up the road that runs from Crossroads to the Tyrone border at Carn Hill. The new school is about 300 yards down the road from the original Gleneely school, one of the first national schools in the area.
Gleneely School was built in 1847 in the middle of the Great Famine on land owned by Henry Bradley. It was part of the Irish National School System begun in 1831. Prior to Gleneely School, there was a hedge school nearby taught by Alexander Craig, a Roman Catholic. Gleneely School drew students from a large area of the surrounding town lands. The original school closed in 1958 and was replaced by the modern school shown in the photos. Note that, other than the photo of the old school ruins, the other photos are stills from a video camera and have poor resolution.
The teacher at that time (1938) of the folklore project was Padraig MacFhinn. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mrgr. Francis Carbine, of Philadelphia for making me aware of the Folklore Project and for publishing a number of the stories reported from the Gleneely School. Msgr. Carbine is a descendant of ancestors from the Gleneely area, principally Cornashesk Townland. One of his relatives, Sean O’Cearrabain, is the author of several contributions to the Gleneely School Collection. Here are some of the stories.
THE GREY STONE ON CORNASHEISK MOUNTAIN -
This huge boulder, shaped like a chair, is the property of Mrs. McMonagle of Corrasheisk, Killygordon. A giant, long since dead, is supposed to have used it as a seat long ago. As an explanation of how the stone got there it is said that two giants over in Lismulladuff Glen – about three miles away- were testing their strength to see which could throw the stone the greater distance. The giant who won the test threw his stone on top of Cornasheisk Mt. and decided henceforth he would live there. A little distance below the stone a huge tombstone marks the spot where the giant lies buried. The tombstone is cut out in the shape of the giants’s own body. Writing can be traced on the upper surface of the stone but it is so blurred that it is impossible to decipher it. Local tradition has it that a great treasure lies buried in this grave.
Reported by J. Reid Prine
THE FAIRY BUSH -
In the field the property of Mr. Frank Bradley, Gleneely, Killyordon, there is a holly bush which is supposed to belong to the little-folk. Different people have seen the fairies playing around it and at times have heard strange music coming from it. It is recorded that children returning home from school began to play around the bush. They hung up their bags and coats on the bush. When they returned to look for them, they found that they were gone. Mr. James Bradley once saw three while sheep grazing around the tree but while he was watching them they disappeared into the tree.
Reported by J. Reid Prine
PRIEST HUNTING -
In the town land of Dromore, Killygordon, there lived a Protestant family who had a servant boy who was a Catholic. Wishing to kill the local parish priest, they asked the boy to pretend that he was ill so that they could ask the priest to the house to attend him. When the priest arrived he asked to be shown to the sick man. When they entered the room the people of the house were astounded that the boy was REALLY dead. Before they could recover from their amazement, the priest was safely on his journey homeward.
Reported by J. Reid Prine
ST. BRIDGET’S WELL -
In the townland of Donaghmore, Liscooley, County Donegal, is a holy well called St. Bridget’s Well. It is situated in a field the property of a Protestant farmer called Taylor. This man does not encourage pilgrimages to the well so that no general assemblies take place. On several occasions he vainly attempted to close up the well but as water persisted springing up at the spot he was obliged to open up the well again or else suffer a large part of his well to be flooded. People here in the locality have great faith in the healing powers of this well and several cures have been wrought which support their claims.
Reported by J. Reid Prine
FAIRY TREE -
When a gang of workmen were engaged in constructing a new road in the town land of Mounthall, they encountered a hawthorn bush directly in their path. The foreman in charge gave orders to some of the men to have it removed. Several of them declined to perform this task declaring that the bush was a fairy-tree and they would be inviting disaster if they interfered with it. One of their number however by the name of Jim Gallen, declared that their fears were only rubbish and that he would prove it by removing the tree himself. He first began to remove the small boulders around the foot of the tree and was rather startled but not discouraged when several white mice emerged. He next proceeded to extract the bush roots and all. When he succeeded in uprooting it, a large bird of weird shape and without ant feathers flew out in his face and disappeared. Then the fears of men were realized. Jim Gallen’s cows suddenly refused to give and milk. This was very strange because they did not appear to be ailing. Things went to such a pitch that in despair Gallen went and planted the tree again near where he uprooted it. He was very relieved the next morning to find that his cows were overflowing with milk.
Reported by J. Reid Prine
HIDDEN TREASURE -
There is a treasure supposed to be hidden at the grey-stone. This stone is situated at the back side of Cornashesk Mountain. Giants long ago made this stone their stopping place. These giants were supposed to have plenty of gold, and to store it, they dug a great hole in the ground beside the grey stone. For fear of anyone getting their money, the giants rolled always this big stone on top of the treasure. When these giants died, it was supposed that the treasure was still there. Plenty of people would have tried to get it only for this heavy stone on top of it. The treasure is supposed to consist of gold and silver. The stone where the treasure is is about [?] miles from the county road. There lived certain people in our district called Connaghans. Once they were cutting turf in the bog of Onagradh. They found a bag of money. In this bag there were a large number of pounds. The “bank” where they got this was about one hundred yards from the road. The bag was in the middle of it and it was about eighty pounds, and it was supposed to be hidden by a man called Otchen. This man was known as a highway robber.
Reported by Gerard Doherty (age 14) , Rushey Hill
MY HOME DISTRICT -
Gleneely is the name of the district I’m living in. The town land of Gleneely is in the Parish of Donaghmore. There are about eleven families living in out district. The the eleven families there are about forty-seven people. The names most common in our district are the Rules and the McCormacks. There are two families of each. There are different types of houses in our district. There are thatched houses and slated houses also. Some of the houses are very small and some are large and there is only one two-story house in our district. There are only two people of over seventy years of age in our town land. They do not know Irish. They are not storytellers either for I never heard them tell a story. There was one old man of over seventy who could have told stories all day long. This old man is Johnny Browne who went away from the district and is still living at the Crossroads. The houses are more plentiful than they are now. Some of the families emigrated to other places. The Brownes were one of the families who went away. When they went away, the house they were living in was tumbled to the ground. Some other people went away to Scotland. There is only one or two persons who went away to America and came back home in a few years. There are many old houses to be seen where people lived. There are two large woods growing near our house. One of them is called Monellan Wood. Monellan Wood is larger than the the other and it contains 100 acres. All the trees in Monellan Wood are cut down, but the trees are growing in the other wood yet. There is a large castle in each of the woods. Our town land is not mentioned in any song or old saying. The River Finn is the nearest river to our house. The land is good and fertile. It is hilly land. Most of the land is cultivated.
Reported by Thomas Wilson (age 15) , Gleneely
VENGEANCE FROM HEAVEN -
Some time ago there lived a minister who was very fond of money. He a large congregation and he was asking them for money every Sunday but none of them wanted to pay anything. he tried all means but did not succeed. He gave money to a few of his old friends to encourage others to pay but that did not make them pay any better. He told them that something would happen to them. he said that they would have no luck whatever with their crops or cattle when they did not pay him. Finally he got tired asking them to pay. At long and at last he thought of a plan. The following Sunday he told them if they would not pay that week he would make God pour down vengeance on them. There happened to be a loft on the church and he paid a man to go up to the loft with an armful of “shows”. He told him when he would call to him to pour down vengeance he was to light the “shows” and throw them down through a hole in the roof. When the burning “shows” began to fall, the people rushed up and began to pay. They were throwing down pounds and ten shillings. The minister was enjoying himself for he was fooling them. He thought that he had not got enough and he called for more vengeance. The man in the loft called down,”my shows are finished.” Then they all rushed up and took their money back again and then the minister had to fly or they would have killed him. My uncle Jim Bradley of Corradoey told me this story.
By Jim Wilson (13) of Gleneely
BURIED BUTTER AS A HEALER -
When I was at home I remember going with another girl to a certain man. This girl’s brother had the “evil”. This man had butter that was found in the bog. He gave a piece of it to the girl to cure her brother and she brought it home and whatever way it was used it cured the brother of the “evil”.
By Liam McMenamin from Mrs. Wilson (Gleneely)
THE FAIRY LIGHT -
This story was told to me by a man named Eddie Connaghan. He is about forty years of age and lived in the townland of Ownagadragh. He said that there used to be a light seen in the mountain of Ownagadragh. This was supposed to be fairies. It was seen for a long time but it was seen in the winter. This light is not seen now. By Sean O’Cearrabain (13) Cornashesk
The name Molly Maguire is usually associated with the secret society founded in the 19th century for the protection of Irish-Catholic miners in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. The name, however, belongs to a secret agrarian group that originated earlier in Ireland in the 18th century and carried into the 19th century. The Irish “Sons of Molly Maguire” acted typically as “ribbon men” and “white boys” protecting Irish-Catholic tenants and opposing landowners when they believed the tenants were being persecuted by unfair rents and practices. Their techniques were threats and violence against the landowners and land agents .
There are various opinions about the origin of the name. The most common is that Molly Maguire was an old woman who was evicted from her farm in County Antrim. Another is that she was a crazy woman in Fermanagh who imagined that she had an army at her command. Several of the letters threatening death to their enemies were signed by a Mary Anne Maguire.
The Mollies were often seen at night with blackened faces and wearing women’s clothing. They were sometimes confused with “mummers“, the roving rural entertainers who visited people’s homes singing or acting out plays and then asking for (or demanding) money.
County Donegal was one of the worst counties in Ireland for agrarian crime in the 1850s. From the book “Mevagh Down the Years,” author Leslie W. Lucas reported that the Mollies had a headquarters in Glenmenagh, near the Village of Glen (Mevagh Parish, County Donegal).
The principal offense that angered the Mollies was the change in land usage. There was a move by land grabbers after the famine to use land for livestock-grazing and enclosing the land in fences, thus preventing the small-scale leasing of land for crop growing that was the mainstay of the average rural farmer. The Mollies destroyed fences, and drove off or killed livestock. They were even known to plough pastures at night.
In America, the Molly Maguires came about because of abuses and safety violations in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. The fire in the Avondale Mine in Luzerne County took the lives of 110 miners in 1869. The result of this was an effort to unionize mine workers of whom many were rural Irish from County Donegal. The Workingmen’s Beneficial Association was founded to organize the workers. At the same time, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) was a strong force among Irish workers at the mines. The AOH was originally founded in the USA in the early 1800s to protect priests and Catholic churches from violence caused by the nativist movement, who were Americans rabidly opposed to Irish immigrants taking over “their” country. The Molly Maguires were members of a secret group of Irish workers working within the AOH, but not recognized as a part of the AOH organization.
Franklin Gowan was a rich company owner who wanted to prevent the union from reducing his profits. He hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to investigate the union and AOH and obtain whatever was needed to end their control. The Pinkertons hired James McParland, a native of County Antrim, to infiltrate the AOH (and Mollies) under the name of James McKenna. Through the years, James reported on Molly activities to his bosses. There were many violent acts through those years. Things got worse after a strike in 1875 when the company reduced miners’ pay by 20%. Ed Coyle, a union leader and head of the AOH, was murdered in March, 1875. After that, violence occurred on both sides by the Mollies and by vigilantes on the side of management.
Through information supplied by McParland and other witnesses, 10 men of the Molly Maguires were arrested for the murder of mine bosses. The prosecuting attorney was none other than Franklin Gowan, the president of the mining company. Ten men were convicted of murder and were hanged in 1877. Over the next two years, ten more were sentenced and hanged. As a result of the trials and executions, the existence of Molly Maguires of the Pennsylvania mine fields eventually disappeared.
In 1766, Irish Parliament ordered a Religious Census of Ireland taken by each Church of Ireland pastor to determine the number of Protestant versus Catholic families in their parishes. The reports were kept in the Public Records Office in Dublin.
During the Irish Civil War in 1922, many records held in the Public Records Office were destroyed by the fire at the Four Courts, including the original census records. Fortunately some handwritten transcripts of them survived. They had been written by an archivist, Tenison Groves, years before the fire. The transcripts for Donaghmore Parish are now saved in the National Archives in Dublin in documents M207 and M208.
As usual, there was a little confusion in the records when I searched these documents in 2001. It appeared that the good vicar did the Protestant families first and listed the names of 708 Protestant families. There were a few traditional Irish names among the Protestants like McLaughlin, Dougherty, Gallagher, McBride, and Bradley (but no Gallens). Then it appears as if he recounted and listed only 280 Protestant families. Where did the others go? Maybe he went beyond the parish boundary on his first count. Sorry, I don’t have the answer for the discrepancy. Then he listed the “Romans.” There were 514 Catholic families. The most common names in the parish were Gallagher (various spellings), Kelly, Boyle, Queen (Quinn), McMannemmy (McMenamin), and Dougherty. There were over 20 families in the parish with each of those names. Other prominent names are Gallen (14 names), McGoldrick (9), McCormack (11), O’Donnell (10), and McNulty (12).
The photos in this post are the transcripts of the census of Donaghmore Parish from the National Archives. Only the names of heads of households are shown. Because I was searching for my family name, the pages only show the Roman Catholic families. The names of Protestant families are not included. Sorry.
Click on the photo to enlarge it or double click for even better enhancement:
The 4th Earl’s predecessor, William Sydney Clements, the 3rd Earl of Leitrim, was a hated landlord in the 19th century. He owned land in four Irish counties and lived on his estate in Manorhamilton in County Leitrim. He also possessed an estate in Rawros, County Donegal on the outskirts of Carrigart. Leitrim’s lands in Donegal were located on Mulroy Bay and included a great portion of the Fanad Peninsula. He was famous for evicting tenants for the slightest offense. For this he was murdered in Donegal on the road between Carrigart and Milford in 1878. More can be found about the murder in http://tomgallen.com/2013/09/the-killing-of-lord-leitrim/ .
The 3rd Earl was succeeded by his nephew Robert Clements, the 4th Earl of Leitrim. The 4th Earl reinstated some of the tenants that the 3rd Earl had evicted. He was popular and did much to improve the county and make it prosperous. The 4th Earl decided to live permanently at Manorvaughan, his estate in Rawros in County Donegal.
The 4th Earl of Leitrim wanted more privacy on his estate and didn‘t care to view the cabins of his tenants. He proposed to forest his land between the Carrigart Road and Mulroy Bay. Most of the cabins were in Carrick Townland. From the 1857 Griffith Valuation, these are the names of the families who lived in Lower Carrick in the area where he proposed his forest.
1. John Duffy, 2. Daniel Connor, 3. Daniel McMenamin, 4. Margery and Andrew Boyce, 5. Neal Connor, Patrick Woolhare, Daniel McGinley, 6. Edward McFadden, 7. Gerald Graham, 8. Patrick McMonigle, Denis Coll, Patrick Boyce, 9. Michael Duffy, Daniel Duffy, John Gallagher, 10. Charles McGinley, 11. James Coyle, 12. Patrick McBride, 13. Charles McBride, 14. Neal Dougherty, 15. James Connor Sr & Jr, 16. Michael and John Coll, 19. Fergal Coll, 20. Denis Duffy, 21. John Boyce and Anne McGinley, 22. Daniel McBride, 23. Bryan McBride and Hugh Boyce, 24. George Coyle.
The numbers refer to the lots shown in the map below from the Griffith Valuation.
In April 1881, instead of just evicting his tenants to plant his forest as his uncle would have done, he offered to move ten tenants from Lower Carrick to a hill in Upper Carrick. He built each family a house on their lot. The houses were built with a slate roof and were the first houses in the area with roofs of this kind. The other homes in the region used straw thatch for their roofs. The row of new houses became known as Slate Row.
In the Earl’s own words, “I wanted to shift some tenants off land in the sight of my house. And I happened to have 200 odd acres of land reclaimed. I thought that I would shift ten tenants up there and so clear the land in the sight of my house, and I did it at great sacrifice to myself in an actual and pecuniary point of view, but great advantage to myself in an artistic point of view, and great advantage to them, as they got their farms, not only cheap, but I am building them slated houses and offices at a cost of a couple of thousand pounds, and they don’t really pay as rent the money laid out on their buildings. I told them ‘you will have these lands at the original rent of your own farms, and at the end of five years you will have them at such and such a rent, and that will continue for my life’ but I would expect my successor to raise them for the proper value. I shall put this in writing.”
In addition to providing lots for his tenants, the Earl provided them a large area of the townland for community grazing for their livestock. This area became known as the “Park.”
One of the tenants moved to Upper Carrick was Edward McFadden and his family. He had farmed a narrow 4 acre field that ran from Mulroy Bay, across the old road to Milford and up the hill. His field was next to the abandoned Straham National School. The Straham School was closed by the 3rd Earl in 1868 when he built the Manorvaughn School in Rawros. I know of Edward because he was my wife’s great-grandfather. Edward moved to Slate Row with nine other neighbors. I’m not sure which of the other tenants from Carrick moved with him, but his neighbors on each side of his home on Slate Row were Gallaghers and McGinleys.
Today, many of the original slate row homes have been beautifully redecorated and provided with modern facilities. The McFadden home (no longer owned by the McFaddens) is one of them. However, some of the homes are in their original condition (and some have been abandoned).
In his short lifetime, the 4th Earl did much to help the people of Carrigart and he was much appreciated for it. In 1889, he donated land for the Mulroy National School in Devlinreagh where the children from Slate Row and vicinity could attend. He also began work on building a hotel and golf course in nearby Rosapenna. In 1892, he went to Sweden to obtain wood and technicians for building his Rosapenna Hotel. On his return to London, he became ill and died. He was only 45 years of age. His body was returned to Mulroy aboard his ship, the Rossgull. More than four thousand people followed his remains to Carrigart, and crowds of mourners gathered along the road. In the Mevagh R.C. Church, Rev. Gallagher said “ I am sure you feel with me the deepest sorrow over the sad event that has deprived this locality of its greatest benefactor… I hope.. you will all come and pay the last tribute of respect to his memory by attending the funeral.”
He was buried in the Carrigart (Church of Ireland) churchyard instead of in the family vault at St. Michan’s in Dublin. In 1895, a memorial to Lord Leitrim was unveiled in Carrigart. It was a Celtic cross of white Sicilian marble.
In rural Ireland of the past, families eagerly awaited the arrival of the “mummers” at their doors during Christmastime. The mummers were men who acted out a play which they performed in people’s homes. They dressed in homemade costumes as the characters they portrayed. In some cases, the faces of the performers were covered in straw masks; in others, only the character, Jack Straw, would have a straw mask. Costumes of straw have been used in Celtic ceremonies for centuries. Christmastime mummers should not be confused with the participants at parades on St. Stephen’s Day (Wren’s Day) or at other Celtic celebrations.
Mummery probably arrived in Ireland from England where disguised actors performed at various times of the year such as at Christmastime, New Years, and pre-Lenten celebrations. The players were called mummers, or guisers (performers in disguise), or Christmas rhymers. The dialogue of the play was spoken in rhymes. The characters were usually heroes of old who battled until one was killed. Prince Patrick is one of the good heroes although Brian Boru could have substituted. The enemy hero could be Prince George or Oliver Cromwell representing England. A doctor would show up after the fight scene and bring the dead hero back to life. Money would be collected at the conclusion of the play.
Mummery at Christmastime was performed in Ireland in the early 19th century. It probably continued on and off in Ireland up to the beginning of World War I. From time to time, mummery would re-emerge as interested people resurrected the tradition. (Currently there are several mummer groups performing in Ireland such as the Aghyaran Mummers of County Tyrone.)
From the folklore stories collected by Irish Folklore Commission in the late 1930s (and published online at duchas.ie), comes the following description of this Irish Christmas tradition in Donegal. It was reported to the Commission by a student of the Meanreagh Primary School (Donaghmore Parish (Killygordon), County Donegal). The student’s name is Michael Browne from Tievecloghoge. Michael wrote the story from the reminiscences of Mr. Patrick Gallen (Dan) of Meenreagh Townland. The following is the description of the mummers as described by Michael Brown:
The mummers come around this district about two weeks before Christmas. They go to some house and dress themselves. They start out when it gets dark, and go round the houses until bedtime.
The following are the names of the mummers:
Father Christmas, Prince George, Prince Patrick, Doctor Browne, Big Head, Beljie-Bub, Jack-Straw, Devils-Dout, Master man of the play, and New-Year boy.
When Father Christmas comes into the house he says-
“Here comes I, old Father Christmas. When I come I bring good joy. It was acted on stages and acted on floors, but it never will be acted better than it will be acted inside your door.
Run, run gallant boys give us space to rhyme; we will show you some activity about the Christmas time, and if you don’t believe in what I say I’ll enter in Prince George and he will soon clear the way.”
Prince George comes in and says
“Here comes I Prince George from England. I have sprung with all my noble deeds and valleys to begin. I was seven long years in a prison cage and from that to a grievous home. England is right and Ireland is wrong and where is the man to dare me stand.”
Then Prince Patrick comes in and says
“Here comes I the daring man Prince Patrick with my armour shining bright. I am a noble champion that came out this night to fight. Ireland is right and England is wrong and I’m the man to dare you stand.”
Then the two start to fight with wooden swords until Prince Patrick falls on the floor, dead.
Then Father Christmas says
“Oh George, Oh George what have you done, you have killed and slain my only son.”
Prince George says
“He challenged me to fight and why should I deny it. I cut him in four quarters and there his body lies.”
Father Christmas says
“Oh doctor is there any doctor to be found, to cure this man that is lying bleeding on the ground.”
Doctor Browne comes in and says
“Here comes I wee doctor Browne the best wee doctor in the town. I can cure the plague within, the plague without, if there were nine devils in I could knock ten out.”
Then doctor Browne takes a bottle out of his pocket and cures Prince Patrick.
Then Prince Patrick jumps up and says
“Wonderful, wonderful, what have I seen. Twenty nine devils knocked into nineteen. Eighteen devils knocked into twenty four, and if you do not believe in what I say, I’ll enter in Big Head and he will soon clear the way.”
Big Head comes in and says
“Here comes I that has never come yet, Big head and little wit. Though my head is big my body is small. I will do my best to please you all. My head is made of iron and my body is made of steel and if you do not believe in what I say I’ll enter in Jack Straw and he will soon clear the way.”
Jack Straw comes in and says
“Here comes I Jack Straw, kick the devil through a riddle, through a rock, through a reel, through an old spinners wheel, through a bag of water, through a mill-hopper, and if you do not believe in what I say I’ll enter in Beljie-Bub and he will soon clear the way.”
Beljie-Bub comes in and says
“Here comes I Beljie-Bub, on my shoulder I carry my club and in my hand my dropping pan. I think myself a jolly old man, and if you do not believe in what I say I’ll enter in Devili-Dout and he will soon clear the way.”
Devils-Dout comes in and says
“Here comes I wee Devils-Dout, the best wee devil that ever went out. Money I want and money I crave if I do not get money I’ll sweep you all away to your grave. I’ll enter in Master man of the play and he will soon clear the way.”
When Devili-Dout comes in someone in the house puts money in the box which he has in his hand.
Then the Master man of the play comes in and says.
“Here comes I Master man of the play, pay me the money and let me away. All silver no brass, leather half-pennies won’t pass, and if you do not believe in what I say I’ll enter in the New-Year’s boy and he will soon clear the way.”
The New-Year’s boy comes in and says
“Here comes I the New-Year’s boy, when I come I bring good joy. I bring you joy and I bring you mirth, and I bring you all the best of health.”
When they have the rhymes finished they sing and dance, and the New-Year’s boy
plays a fiddle.
The video below is of a modern day performance of the Aghyaran Mummers at the Killeter Centre in County Tyrone: