Biography, Monaghan History, Poems

Irish Writers: the 1911 neighbours of Patrick Kavanagh

Irish Writers: the 1911 neighbours of Patrick Kavanagh

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

 

Introduction

This article recounts some of the boyhood neighbours of the Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh, as they appeared in the 1911 census. In the 1911 census the future poet, Patrick Kavanagh was recorded in the house of his father in the townland of Mucker, in the civil parish of Donaghmoyne (Roman Catholic parish of Inniskeen), Co. Monaghan. Patrick Kavanagh was then aged seven years, the only son of James (aged 56) and Bridget Kavanagh (aged 38). James and Bridget Kavanagh had six daughters: Anne (aged 13), Mary (aged 11), Bridget (aged 8), Lucy (aged 4), Teresa (aged 3) and Margaret (just recently born). They had seven children in total and no recorded deaths. Also in the Kavanagh house on census night was Patrick Callan (63, widower) a journeyman shoemaker born in County Monaghan.[1] In the 1901 census Bridget Kavanagh said she was born in County Louth. Also in the 1901 census a general labourer called Michael Callan lived in the Kavanagh house which was still in Mucker townland.[2]

Both parents of Patrick Kavanagh were born in Co. Monaghan. James Kavanagh recorded his occupation as a shoemaker. Interestingly with just sixteen acres of land, James Kavanagh didn’t consider himself a famer. In 1911 James Kavanagh could read and write while also been able to speak Irish and English. His wife Bridget Kavanagh (they were married about 1897) could read and write but it is unknown if she could speak both languages.[3] The Kavanagh house had four rooms and four windows at the front of the house.[4] Outside house number two the Kavanaghs had three outhouses; a cow house (built between 1901 and 1910), a fowl house and a piggery.[5]

Mucker neighbours in 1911

In 1911 there were 51 people recorded in the census as living or visiting the townland of Mucker. This was a substantial increase on the 29 people living there in 1901. In 1911 there were seven dwelling houses in the townland of which five of the houses were owner occupied. House number one was lived in by Thomas Lennon (aged 43, farmer, could speak Irish and English and read and write) and seven other members of the Lennon family. They were joined on census night by Edward Gilligan, nephew of Thomas Lennon, and by Mathew Rooney (servant).[6] There were eight outbuildings; a stable, a cow house, one calf house, two piggeries, one fowl house, one barn and one shed.[7] In 1901 Thomas had just four outbuildings; a stable, a cow house, a piggery and a barn.[8]

House number two in Mucker belonged to James Kavanagh. House number three was occupied by Alice Cassidy, renting from John Cassidy. Alice Cassidy was 95 years old and a widow. She spoke Irish and English but could only read.[9] Her house had just one room and no outbuildings.

House number four was occupied by John Cassidy (47, farmer) and his wife Margaret (45) and their four sons and two daughters. All the family were Roman Catholics born in County Monaghan.[10] The Cassidy house had three rooms and two windows at the front of the house.[11] There were six outbuildings; a stable, a cow house, two piggeries, one fowl house and one barn.[12]

House number five was occupied by Terence Lennon (48, farmer, couldn’t read) and his wife Rose (42) and their three sons and three daughters. Terence Lennon and his eldest son peter Lennon could both speak Irish and English. All the family were Roman Catholics born in County Monaghan.[13] The family house had two rooms and two windows at the front of the house. There were seven outbuildings; a stable, a cow house, two piggeries, one fowl house, one barn and one shed.[14] This was an increase from four outbuildings in 1901 with an extra piggery, fowl house and shed.[15]

House number six was occupied by Stephen Duffy (35, railway plate layer) and his wife Rose (30, couldn’t read) and their four sons and three daughters. All the family were Roman Catholics born in County Monaghan.[16] The house had three rooms and two windows at the front of the house and was rented from the Great Northern Railway Company.[17] There were two outbuildings; one piggery and one fowl house.[18]

House number seven was occupied by Charles McElroy (43, farmer) and his wife Jane (34) and their three sons and one servant, Michael Mullholland (20, single). All were Roman Catholics and born in County Monaghan except Michael Mullholland who was born in County Armagh. Charles McElroy was the only person to speak both Irish and English.[19] The dwelling house had four windows in the front of the house and four rooms within. There were twelve outbuildings; two stables, a cow house, two calf houses, one dairy, three piggeries, one barn and two sheds.[20] In 1901 Judith McElroy operated the farm with six outbuildings; a stable, a cow house, piggery, fowl house, barn and workshop.[21]

The interesting element of life in Mucker townland between 1901 and 1911 was the increase in the number of outbuildings owned by some of the residents while the dwelling houses were often left untouched. This was the period when many tenant farmers were able to buy the land they worked and there was a strong impulse to make improvements to their newly acquired property. The increase in the number of piggeries in Mucker helped keep the name of the townland alive as Mucker or Mucair means place where pigs were feed.[22]

 

Poet_Patrick_Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh at Mucker in 1963 (N.L.I. photo)

 

Mucker in previous times

In 1576 Mucker passed from McMahon owners to Walter Devereaux, 1sr Earl of Essex. The barony of Farney was later divided between the heirs of the 3rd earl of Essex, namely; the Earl of Hertford and Sir Robert Shirley. Mucker appears to have been part of the Devereaux/Shirley estate from 1607 when it was known as Muckhoure. The Shirley estate of over 26,000 was one of the largest in County Monaghan and covered much of the barony of Farney. In 1692 the estate was divided between the heirs of the 2nd earl of Essex, namely the Shirley family and the 1st Viscount Weymouth, later Marquess of Bath.[23]

In the 1850s the townland of Mucker (101 acres 3 roots 15 perches and worth £89 10s) was owned by Joseph Plunkett and had thirteen tenants living in eleven houses (two of the tenants only held land in Mucker and lived elsewhere). Among the tenants were Thomas Lennon (29 acres), Peter Cassidy (33 acres), and John McElroy (5 acres); surnames which were still at Mucker in 1911. The other substantial landholder was the joint tenancy of Edward and Michael Feighan with 14 acres rented from Joseph Plunkett. The same Joseph Plunkett was the landlord of a number of other townlands in Donaghmoyne parish including Coolnagrattan (162 acres), Shacoduff (126 acres) and Oghill (91 acres).[24]

In 1841 there were 70 people living in Mucker townland in 12 houses and this had decreased to 33 by 1851 (in 8 houses) but by 1861 the population had increased to 47 people (23 male & 24 female) living in 11 houses. Even with this improvement the Poor Law Valuation decreased from £93 in 1851 to £89 in 1861.[25] In 1871 there were 11 dwelling houses in Mucker and this decreased to 8 houses in 1881 and 7 houses in 1891 with a total of 18 outbuildings. The population over that time was 36 in 1871 and 20 in 1881 with a slight increase to 22 people in 1891 (9 male and 13 female). The Poor Law Valuation had decreased slightly to £88 by 1891. Thus in the fifty years between 1841 and 1891 the population of Mucker had decreased and increased and decreased again to increase slightly but overall 50 people were lost and 5 houses had fallen into ruins as rural Ireland adjusted to the Great Famine, emigration and trying to find a living on small farms in the stoney grey soils of Monaghan that Patrick Kavanagh often wrote about in his poetry.

 

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[1] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103862/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[2] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001137381/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[3] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Monaghan/Kiltybegs/Mucker/799100/ [accessed 15 June 2015]

[4] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103856/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[5] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[6] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103860/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[7] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[8] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001137376/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[9] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103864/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[10] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103866/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[11] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103856/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[12] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[13] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103868/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[14] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[15] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001137376/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[16] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103870/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[17] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103856/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[18] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[19] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103872/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[20] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003103858/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[21] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001137376/ [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[22] https://www.logainm.ie/en/39566?s=Mucker [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[23] http://www.irishidentity.com/stories/shirley.htm [accessed on 22 December 2018]

[24] Griffith’s Valuation, Monaghan, Farney barony, Donaghmoyne parish, Mucker townland,

[25] http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/14545/page/376729 [accessed on 22 December 2018]

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