Survey of the Barony of Clanmorris, 1802

Source: M'Parlan, James. Statistical Survey of the County of Mayo. Dublin: Graisberry and Campbell, 1802. Extracts for the Barony of Clanmorris transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

Transcriber's notes:

  • The following sections pertain to the Barony of Clanmorris, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Transcriber's notes appear [within square brackets, in Times font].

Particular situation, connexion, and extent.
  Barony of Clanmorris,
  Is fourteen miles long from east to west, from north to south about seven; it is bounded by the barony of Carra on the north and west, by Costello on the east, and by Galway on the south.

Soil and Surface.
  The soil in general deep, rich, dark-brown, on a limestone bottom, and not chequered with moor or mountain, except very little on the north and east.
  The surface is very fine and champaign looking, in many places adorned by gentlemens' seats: Lieut. Colonel Browne's handsome seat of Brown-hall; Mr. Lynch's, of Moat; Mr. Lynch's, of Bulybeg; Mr. Kirkwoods, of Cottlestown; Colonel Browne's very fine old seat of Castlemagarret, &c. &c.

Agriculture.
  I am sorry to be able to state, of the county at large that agriculture is still in a very backward state, and in no very great progress of improvement, except by the Marquis of Sligo, Colonel Browne of Castlemagarret, and three or four more.
  From these sources, however, by degrees, it may be hoped improvement will extend itself to the ignorant and remote parts of this wild and extensive world.

Mode of Culture.
  All here is done with the plough, potatoe-tillage, as well as corn; with this difference, however, that they afterwards mince, dress, and finish with the loy, which, experience proves to the people, encreases the crops very much.
  The potatoes are planted by dibbling with the loy, sometimes with a sharp-pointed wood instrument; but this last practice is almost exploded. The common people plough four horses abreast; the leader holds his horses, and walks backward. In hurrying the horses, this leader generally strikes them in the face, by which confusion and delay are always produced, instead of expedition, until the horses get well trained to this aukwardness. Colonel Browne plants potatoes in the drill way, and every species of tillage and husbandry is now executed for him in the neatest and most improved manner.

Extent of it, and of each species of grain sowed,
  Is very considerably encreased within a few years. The export, which is great in oats, is to the Castlebar market: they also raise a quantity of flax; and the rents being high, from twenty-two to thirty-seven shillings per acre for new-let lands, they are obliged, in order to provide for the rent, to pare and burn where permitted, and, with only this manure, grow potatoes for the market. In the southern parts, some of the gentlemen grow wheat for home consumption, as well as for the market. Bere is also grown here, but not to a considerable extent.

Course of crops.
  1. Potatoes; generally 2. potatoes; 3. either bere or flax; 4. oats; sometimes 5, 6, 7. oats, according to the goodness of the soil, or permanence of the manures.
  Wheat, when not sowed in fallow, is shaken in after digging the potatoes; but neither the grain nor the flour is so good, as when the land has been fallowed.

Use of oxen——how harnessed.
  No oxen. Colonel Browne had used them, but now prefers horses and mules.

Nature and use of implements of husbandry.
  [No entry for Clanmorris. However, this section concludes with the following remarks:] The Marquis of Sligo, Colonel Browne of Castlemagarret, and a few others, have English ploughs, and other implements. And diffusing them, or an imitation and knowledge of their use through the county, would be of the highest and most important benefit.

Markets for Grain.
  Clare.

Use of green food in winter.
  No green food is used here, except at Castlemagarret. It is managed for Colonel Browne in the best and most economical manner.

Pasture——Nature of it.
  The pasture here is almost throughout sweet and rich, all fit for rearing; in many parts fit to fatten both sheep and neat cattle of considerable weight, but not so adapted for the weightiest cows and bullocks, as Roscommon, Meath, and Westmeath.

Breed of cattle, how far improved——How far capable of further improvement.
  The breed of this barony is very much improved. It is grown a system to take every pains in the improvement of sheep and neat cattle; and for many years back English breeds have been gradually coming into this barony. One gentleman sold from this barony, at the last fair of Ballinasloe, three hundred sheep in one lot, at fifty-four shillings each, and fat cows and bullocks rate proportionably high.

Markets or fairs for cattle.
  Bal, Kilmaine, Clare, Ballindangen, and some others of less note.

List of fairs, according to Stewart's almanack.
  May.——Clare.
  June.——Clare.

General prices.
  In the baronies of Tyrawley, Clanmorris, Kilmaine, and Carra, best store bullocks sold this year at 18l. per, and downwards to nine guineas; year-old calves from 3l. to 7l.; dry cows from four, to eight, and ten guineas; and fat and milch cows from 10l. to 15l.; sheep in general high, from 30s. to 3l. per.

Modes of feeding——How far housed in winter.
  Baronies of Carra, Clanmorris, and Kilmaine.
  In those baronies, the common mode of feeding is with grass in summer, and hay and straw in winter. The poor feed cattle, horses, hogs, and poultry with potatoes, on which they thrive remarkably well. Very few cattle, except those of the poor, are housed in those baronies. When the weather is very severe, or that the grass had dissolved, or been otherwise consumed, the unhoused cattle are fed hay and straw.

Mode of haymaking.
  Baronies of Clanmorris and Gallen.
  Here is a considerable improvement in hay-making, as formerly it lay in the swarths until dried by time; now it is immediately after the scythe shaken out, and made up first into lapcocks, then into larger, and at length, as the season favours, after a few days, into trampcocks.

Dairies, their produce.
  In the whole county there never was a dairy but two; one kept by the Hon. Denis Browne, near Westport, and the other had been kept by a Mr. Plunkett, near Balladerrin. ...

Prices of hides, tallow, wool, and quantities sold.
  Hides last season sold at about five shillings and five pence the stone; tallow from five to seven shillings per stone; wool at Ballinasloe fair from fifteen to seventeen shillings per stone. The quantity of hides and tallow was only produced by what was slaughtered for home consumption; the quantity of wool is not very considerable, as the grounds here are stocked with neat cattle as well as sheep.

Farms——Their size.
  The farms here descend in size from two hundred to an hundred acres, and many under that size.

Farm houses and offices.
  As I understand this enquiry not to mean the habitations of the poor, which are enquired after in another place, I therefore suppose it alludes to the habitations of an upper order of the inhabitants; and of such it may be reported, that their houses are neat and orderly, consisting of a ground floor, with a kind of attic story, chiefly for bed-rooms, and lighted from the gables, the side-walls not being high enough for that purpose.
  The offices, such as barn, cowhouse, and stable, are suitably large and convenient; all thatched with straw, and built of lime and stone.
  Barony of Clanmorris.——The upper farmers have here snug houses built of stone and clay, sometimes mortar, with one partition, and a chimney, and separate offices.

Mode of repairing them, whether by Landlord or Tenant.
  I shall here not only mention of the barony of Tyrawley, but of this county at large, and all the other counties I know any thing of in Ireland, that totally different from England, the houses are invariably repaired by the tenant, as it suits his wish or convenience, at his own expense, never by the landlord; and by an express clause in every determinable lease, the tenant is bound to keep his house in repair, and all the improvements of the farm.

Nature of tenures, general state of leases, or particular clauses therein.
  [No entry for the barony of Clanmorris.]

Taxes or cesses paid by tenants.
  [No entry for the barony of Clanmorris.]

Proportion of working horses or bullocks to the size of farms.
  Baronies of Clanmorris, Carra, and Kilmaine.
  In those baronies, the grounds being mostly in pasture, no proportion can be established; but the tillage farms have about one horse to every sixteen acres.

General size of fields or enclosures.
  Baronies of Carra, Kilmaine, and Clanmorris.
  Some of the farmers in Carra have fifty acres of wheat in one field; and in the baronies of Kilmaine and Clanmorris they descend from that size to twenty, ten, five, and sometimes even less; but some of the gentlemen and graziers have scopes of an hundred acres and more in the same fields.

Nature of fences.
  Dry walls, from five to six feet high, where stones are convenient; and quickset ditches, and little fences raised of sods, where stones are not to be found. The fences of the poor are very mean and bad.

Mode of hedgerows, and keeping hedges.
  Baronies of Murrisk, Carra, Clanmorris, &c. &c.
  Were I to write down all the baronies, the answers would be none, none, and so on. The poor of this county, none indeed but the gentry have got into the practice of hedging ditches with thorn, or any thing else; where they are put down they thrive prosperously, which is the case at all the gentlemens' seats.

Mode of draining.
  No baronial distinction is necessary on this subject, because throughout the whole county, in the very little draining that is practised, there is but one method pursued, that is, common open draining.
  Fortunate indeed would it be, if the principles and the practice of Mr. Elkington, in draining, were known and used in a country, which so much requires both; and it is equally strange, that in this county, where whole tracts, in many places almost the whole visible horizon is a quagmire scope of bog, that some person's wish of drying his property did not lead him, as it did Mr. Elkington, to the easy, plain principle, of cutting off the main spring, from which issued the inundation.
  In many parts of the county, where all the mischief does not proceed from the invisible course of subterraneous water, but from the imperviousness of some of the upper strata, which retain the water on the surface, which I am very sure is the case in many parts of the baronies of Gallen, Costello, Clanmorris, and Kilmaine, and in many other parts, but particularly in the barony of Gallen, I think it is necessary to recommend the use of hollow draining, which would answer two very material purposes; first, the removal of the surface water, and also the removal of a troublesome and injurious incumbrance of scattered stones, which here are a very great annoyance, and with which those drains could be filled, instead of collecting them, as is done, on the surface.
  However, it is pleasant to hear, that Mr. Elkington is engaged to be in this county early in the approaching summer, to drain different parts of the Marquis of Sligo's estates, when practice and example will diffuse more benefit, than writing pages upon pages of theory. ...

Nature of manure.
  Here composts are made at the doors, of peat, moss, lea soil, and dung; lime is or can be seldom added, from the scarcity of turf: those that are left to ferment in alternate strata, and then incorporated after a regular lapse of time, as if those people had been instructed in the theory of fermentation, and its resolvent and fertilizing effects on their little dunghills and potatoe gardens.
  Paring and burning is much practised here; but the lands are generally too much exhausted to recover from the repetition and ill choice of crops. Every where in this barony is plenty of lime and limestone-gravel.

Population.
  The best sources, from which a knowledge of the population, not only of individual counties, but of the kingdom at large, could be derived, was always supposed to be the reports of parish priests and hearth collectors, as they both are generally thought to keep lists of the number of families in their districts and parishes.
  However, on mature consideration, I am convinced that the report of neither one nor the other is to be depended on, as a criterion to judge by of the population of this kingdom. Not that I would mean to insinuate a disposition in either the priest, or the collector, to mistate facts in matters, which to them might be indifferent, but because the priest, for instance, will not encumber his list with the families of the widows, the beggars, the insolvents of any description; nor has the hearth collector any interest in being very minute in his returns; the smiths for instance, who pay for two hearths, it is said, are not noticed, nor many other families, by the priest or collector, although those families consume potatoes and milk, could fight for his Majesty, and have every just right to be marked in the population of this country.
  To the best source, therefore, left of information on that subject we must resort, and that I conceive to be Mem. Roy. Irish Acad. for 1789. According to the return made them by Mr. Bushe, the number of houses in the county of Mayo then were 27,970, and consequently the number of inhabitants, calculating on 5–8 to each family, makes 140,000 souls in the county of Mayo.

Number and size of villages and towns.
  The number of towns, large and small, are forty-six; ... By far the greatest number of those towns should, from their smallness and insignificance, be styled rather villages; and in fact, the only right they can claim to the name town, is merely being the place where fairs are held. The principal towns of size or consideration are Castlebar, which is one of the prettiest inland towns in the kingdom, though not a very commercial one; Westport, though built within thirty years, may be called a pretty, and not a small town, already of some consequence in trade, and improving every day; Ballina, Killala, Clare, Ballinrobe, and Newport, are the others. ...

Habitation, fuel, food, and cloathing of the lower rank——
Their general cost.
  Baronies of Carra and Clanmorris.
  Habitations here are all built of stone; those, who live under the immediate proprietors, are in general comfortably lodged, with chimneys, and mostly separate offices. Fuel, turf; food, potatoes, oaten bread, milk, butter, herrings; in festival times a piece of pork, or bad beef or mutton. Cloathing, frize of their own manufacture, and linens, flannels, and druggets. There is here, as all over the county, a great improvement in the neatness and dress of both sexes.

Price of labour and provisions.
  Here too I see, in looking over this head, as stated under the different baronies, in the notes I have taken in them, so near a resemblance and equality of price, as not to require a separate baronial distinction; for it may with every degree of correctness and truth be stated, that the general price of labour all through the county, with the subsequent exceptions [re: Killala and Castlebar], is eight pence per day without food, six pence per day and dinner; the cottiers have about six pence per day short and long, but have good bargains of house, land, and turbary. ...
  Provisions are now (December) a drug; potatoes fell at 1s. 6d. per hundred weight, and must be cheaper when the armies are reduced; good beef three pence, and mutton three pence halfpenny per pound, and a proportionate cheapness in all other sorts of provisions.

State of Tithe——its general Amount on each Article——what Articles are exempt, and what charged by Modus.
  Potatoes in this county are every where exempt.
  Corn of every kind pays every where a tenth part, in kind, in value, or composition.
  Hay is generally charged a tenth part, but in some places exempt, such as Clanmorris, Gallen, &c.
  Sheep in some places, such as the barony of Carra, pay by composition a tenth part in lambs and fleeces.
  Small dues, such as marriage-money, christening-money, couple money, widows, widowers, &c. are not the modus in this county, though in case of disagreement they are sometimes exacted. In case of disagreement, too, between the proctor and farmer, the tithe is drawn in kind; and in many parts an auction is advertised, to which the neighbours flock and cant each other.

Use of Beer and Spirits——whether either or which is encreasing.
  The dearness of provisions for the last three years, the suppression, or rather suspension of the distilleries, and the act against malting, have completely over-ruled the use both of beer and spirits throughout this county, in consequence of the dearness of price, to which those causes have raised them.
  In the barony of Tyrawley, and the interior of the county, the vigilance of the revenue-officers has kept down private distilleries, but in the remote and mountainous parts they went on in the worst of times, and are now working in full plight in the baronies of Clanmorris, Costello, and in many other places; so much so, that now once more, as they have plenty to eat, they are resolved to have plenty to drink.

State of roads, bridges, &c.
  The roads and bridges of this county are in so very good a state, that one can hardly complain of the few that are bad. ... The days being short when I passed here, and the road so basely bad and deep, across about twelve miles of a black mountain, night overtook me, the horse I rode got into the mud, and there he stuck! I could expect no great relief from the only inhabitants of this region, the grouse; fortunately, however, it was not far from the glen of Bohedoore, where a private still had been at work, and to this place a parcel of men were passing with some hobbies loaded with little sacks; but those hobbies had pieces of boards, about four times the breadth of the hoof, fastened to the feet to prevent their sinking. Almost instantly they picked up my horse, and with that charming suavity of kindness, which so conspicuously identifies the Connaught peasant, whipped those trappings off one of the hobbies, fastened them to my horse's feet, and conveyed me in safety upwards of a mile, where I landed on a somewhat passable road.

Of navigations and navigable rivers.
  [No entry for the barony of Clanmorris.]

Of Fisheries.
  Fresh-water fish of every kind, and the best qualities, abound in all the lakes and rivers of this county.
  In times of scarcity of provisions, if the children were instructed in fishing with fine hooks, lines, and proper baits, they could positively in summer time have abundance in fish alone, without meal or potatoes.

State of education, schools, and charitable institutions.
  Notwithstanding the backward situation of this county, it cannot, in point of education common to the poor of the kingdom, be said to be inferior to the other parts of it.
  In the Barony of Clanmorris:
  State of education here is very defective; no encouragement whatever. The common school-masters are much fewer than before the rebellion. No charitable institution.

Of absentee and resident proprietors.
Resident.
  Browne, Colonel, Castlemagarrett; occasionally with his regiment.
  Browne, Lieut. Colonel, Brown-hall, Ditto
  Lynch, Peter, Moat
  Lynch, Andrew Crane, Bullybegg
  Kirkwood, ——, Cottlestown
  Moore, Joseph, Ballintaffy
Non-resident.
  Bloss, Sir Robert
  Blake, Walter, Dunmacreeny
  Bell, Edmond, Streamstown
  Fitzmaurice, Mark
  Kirwan, Edmond, Dalgan
  O'Moore, Garrett, Cloghan-castle
  Trench, Thomas, Ballykin
  Trench, Frederick, Queen's county

Of circulation of money or paper.
  Among commercial and literate persons, money and paper are equally current; but the natives of the wild mountainy parts neither give nor take paper.

Of farming or agricultural societies.
  There is no such thing in this county, and those best acquainted with its economical and political constitution apprehend there is no prospect of any for some years to come.

Of Manufactures——Whether encreasing.
  None but the linen-yarn manufacture, which has encreased, and is encreasing.

Of encouragement to them, and the peculiar aptness of situation for their extension.
  The principal enouragement to the principal manufacture of the county has appeared to have been given by the late Earls of Altamont and Lucan, which not only has improved their own estates and neighbourhoods, but diffused the linen trade, and gave that branch a very active spring through the county. The migration too of the northern weavers, during the late troubles, into this county has very much promoted the linen manufacture.
  As to the peculiar aptness of situation for the extension of manufactures, it may be called peculiar, but very general with regard to its diffusion and frequency in different parts of it.

Of Mills of every kind.
  There are here two flour and many oat mills.

Plantations and planting.
  I never saw so much full-grown timber as on the demesne of Castlemagarret, that is, of artificial growth. Plantations are going on there too, as also at Browne-hall, Moat, and several other places. Planting is in this barony quite the rage and order of the day.

Of Nurseries within the County, and extent of sales.
  There are only three public ones in the county; two in the barony of Clanmorris, and one large very good one at Castlebar; ... The extent of sales indeed is very considerable, and must be where such a desire of improvement shews itself.

Price of timber, and state of it.
  Three colonels are the only three sellers of living trees in this county; but life indeed is nearly exhausted, before any are sold at Castlemagarret by Colonel Browne, who is a druidical amateur of the groves; and Lieut. Colonel Browne preserves life in his as long as he can at Browne-hall; ...

Quantity of bog and waste ground.
  Although the extent of the different baronies had been before described, together with their situation and connection, I shall here again mention their extent, in order that at one view the proportion of bog and waste ground may be seen, according to the best information I could collect from the most intelligent proprietors and residents in each barony.
  Barony of Clanmorris,
  Is fourteen miles by seven. Here is very little bog; it does not bear a proportion of one-tenth of the whole.

Possibility and means of improving it.
  Baronies of Kilmaine and Clanmorris,
  Are reclaimed by nature; the quantity of bog in those two baronies is little, if any thing more, than is necessary for fuel.

Obstacles to it, and best means of removing those obstacles.
  In my clear conviction, the obstacles are three in number——superfluous grazing, expatriation, and short leases.
  Superfluous grazing drives the natives away from the fertile fields into swamps and mountains, where they die of wet, cold, filth, and famine; while, living in a rich productive soil, in health and abundance of sound provisions, their families would soon encrease to myriads, that from necessity must encroach upon and gradually cover the mountains with culture, verdure, and population.
  In the first instance the peasant dies in the attempt, because he is ignorant of the method of improvement, and wanting in means to forward it.
  In the second instance, as I remember to have mentioned on a similar occasion, the peasant will attack the mountain, instructed in the method of doing so; and flushed with spirits and capital, he will live in health and affluence on the very mountain, where his ancestors perished for cold and hunger.
  I here again repeat it, that this superfluous grazing should not pamper individuals on the ruins of agriculture and population, on account of any view to the necessary supplies of the navy, because salt provisions are slow poison to the sailors, and vegetable food would conduce infiinitely more to their health and activity.
  Expatriation of the most useful part of the community must obviously enervate the sinews of industry, and weaken every effort towards the cultivation of mountains. This is too plain to attempt enforcing by any argument. I therefore anxiously hope, that some personage of ingenious talents, an ingenuous heart, and influence and consequence for such an undertaking, may devise and mature some means, by way of European committee or otherwise, to prevent a renovation of war——a renovation of scenes, at which in the abstract the human heart, the heart of the bravest man must shudder. ... Expatriation I hope, as there is an end of the war, we shall hear no more of. The inventive power of some glorious mortal will immortalize his name, by devising some means to prevent that for ever.
  Short leases are the third, the last, and not the least obstacle to the improvement of bogs and waste grounds; this too is of itself so obvious, that to say a word in confirmation of it must insult the meanest capacity.
  When I speak of electioneering views, I really do not allude particularly to the county of Mayo; but the general cry is, that the poor were much better off by their old leases of thirty-one years, than by one or two lives ever so good; for leases of this duration, if I have not been misinformed, are more frequent than those of three lives or a longer term. And until some change takes place in this respect, the poor will remain dispirited to improve on lands, that may so soon or so precariously revert to the proprietors. ...

Habits of industry, or want of it among the people.
  In some parts of the county there may be some little appearance of laziness and want of industry. Let advantage be pointed out, and ignorance removed, they will prove a strong, active, industrious people. Those symptoms of laziness are generally proportionate to the badness of the soil, the smallness of encouragement to reclaim, and want of manufactories.
  Example more than precept, encouragement to reclaim, chiefly by long leases, and a livelier stir in manufactures, would soon give a spring to the latent energy and spirit of those people.

The use of the English language——whether general, or how far encreasing.
  The use of the English language through this county is rather general, though still in a defective state. Most of the old people speak a little but bad English; the children, being most commonly sent to school, speak in general some English.

Account of towers, castles, monasteries, ancient buildings, or places remarkable for any historical event.
  Castlerea, [parish of Killala]——The ruins of a strong castle, razed to the ground, are here visible on the banks of Rathfran river, near two miles from the sea.
    All those castles, of whose founders no tradition remains, are adopted, and some say very justly, by the Burke and Barret families.
  Deel Castle, [parish of Crossmolina]——Originally built by the Burke family, stands roofed and entire, within four miles of Ballina, on Colonel Cuffe's demesne of Deel-castle; it is about twenty feet square, and very strong. The castle itself, and the views from it over the Deel river, Lough-con lake, and the distant mountain of Nephin and some others, are no small ornament to the handsome seat of Colonel Cuffe.
  Breize Castle,*——About three miles from Baal [Balla], one of those square ruins. [*situated 13km. NNW of Claremorris, and within the Barony of Clanmorris.]
  Castlemagarret,——Within a mile of Ballindangen, also a square ruin.
  Castle of Marneen,——Within two miles of Clare, a ruin in the square form of the others.
  Ballynasmall.——Here was a friary for Carmelites, founded in the thirteenth century. This abbey and possessions were granted to Sir John King.
  Mayo.——This humble village* gives name to the county, and has its situation on a river, which falls into Lough Carra. Here was an abbey of regular canons. Here I found no village, but very considerable ruins, nor is there a river. Mayo nunnery was likewise here. [*situated 13km. northwest of Claremorris, and within the Barony of Clanmorris.]

Whether the County has been actually surveyed——when and whether the Survey is published.
  There has been no survey of this county since the general survey of Sir William Petty. The grand jury have a survey of it in contemplation.

Weights and measures liquid and dry; in what instances are weights assigned for Measures, and vice versa.
  All over the county every thing solid is sold by weight, except in two or three baronies, where certain baskets and measures are substituted to measure potatoes; but even in those few places the measures are supposed to contain a certain number of stones.
  Liquid measures all by pint, quart, gallon, &c.

The weight or measure, by which grain, flour, potatoes, butter, &c. are sold.
  All by weight; no measure, except as just mentioned, and the weight is avoirdupois, sixteen ounces to the pound, and fourteen pounds to the stone.

Return to Claremorris and the parish of Kilcolman index page.
Return to Ireland - Local history notes index page.

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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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