Cullgeragaurn, Tawnaghbeg, Cloontia, County Mayo, Ireland

Cullgeragaurn, is a hamlet that used to consist of six or maybe seven houses that is part of the townland of Tawnaghbeg, which is, in turn, one of the four townlands making up the rural area of Cloontia in easternmost County Mayo.  The other three townlands were Dernabruck, Cloonmeen and Kilgarriff.  This hamlet is where my mother Theresa Finn was brought up on her parents small farm (see the blog page The Finns of County Mayo).

The initial research for the blog page was Griffiths Valuation of Tenements that took place across the whole of Ireland between 1847 and 1864.  The occupiers of the properties in Tawnaghbeg were listed under references ‘a’ to ‘p’ and the locations were marked on accompanying Ordnance Survey maps, with most being on the north of Sheet 64 and some on the very south of Sheet 52.  The hamlet of Tawnaghbeg, had most of the entries down to ‘h’ and including ‘p’, which left the letters ‘i’ to ‘o’ for the seven properties in the satellite hamlet of Cullgeragaurn.  The buildings were all valued in the range of 5 shillings to £1, which was at the lowest end of the spectrum.  The land for six of the properties was additionally valued between £1 and £3 5 shillings apart from one farm that had a value of £18, which was obviously considerably larger.

The land owner for the whole of Tawnaghbeg in Griffiths Valuation was Jane Elizabeth Pugh.  It appears that she inherited the land from her father Arthur Pugh.  In 1869 she married Jonathon Rashleigh of Menabilly in Cornwall, England, becoming his second wife and the land passed into that family.  It is not clear how the land then came into the ownership of the various Cloontia families.

Griffiths Valuation has the properties listed under the County of Mayo, Barony of Costello, Union of Swineford, Parish of Kilbeagh.  The four townlands making up Cloontia were all in the possession of the aforementioned Jane Elizabeth Pugh.  Tawnaghbeg, including Cullgeragaurn, is listed on Page 39.  Plot ‘i’ was the largest and shown in the possession of Catherine McDonnell.  Plot ‘j’ was in the name of Patrick Scanlan and the remaining five plots were occupied by Finns – plot ‘k’ Catherine, plot ‘l’ Michael, plot ‘m’ Matthew, plot ‘n’ Patrick and plot ‘o’ Patrick.  No separate identification was given for the two Patricks and it is likely that they were occupied by the same person.

I carried out some further research and found a 21 page paper written by Tom Finn (no relation), entitled “Cloontia – Its people and Its past”.  This is the link to this paper:

Tom was born on 28th April 1919 and the paper was written to coincide with his 80th birthday in 1999.  I visited Cloontia with my mother, making her first visit to Ireland for 28 years, and my wife Sue in December 1995, so my recollections will be similar to Tom’s, but nothing like as extensive as those detailed in his work.

His recollections about Cullgeragaurn were very interesting and can be summarised as follows:

  • The first house was married into by Tim McDonagh and his wife was a Scanlan, which accords with plot ‘j’ in Griffiths Valuation.  Their son Patrick took over the farm and he married Mary O’Connor and they had six children, the youngest of which was Tim McDonagh, the current occupier.  Young Tim married Elizabeth Tanzey.  We met them on our 1995 visit and their photo follows with two of their children.IMG_0339 copy  I have a second low quality photograph labelled Mary Ellen and this could be the said Mary O’Connor.  She is just visible in the doorway of the above photo.  Mary Ellen told us my Mum’s older sister, who we knew as Aunty Betty, was Bridget Agnes, known to them as Bea-Agnes.  These photos on the left show the lane leading to Tim McDonagh’s, with Ball’s Bridge on the right.
  • The second house was occupied by Mick (Matthew) Finn, who had two daughters, Mary Kate and Annie, who moved away after marrying a Gaffney.  Mary Kate took over the farm and married John Deignan from Rooskey.  Their two sons John and Michael still lived in the house in 1999.  I think this is plot ‘m’ in Griffiths Valuation, because the family have helpfully been identified as descended from Matthew.
  • The third house was in the possession of ‘Old Andy Finn’.  He had at least one son Jim, but Jim McDonagh took over the place.
  • My grandfather Tom Finn (no relation to the author of the paper) had the fourth property.  He married into it by meeting my grandmother Kate, also a Finn.  My mother said it was her mother’s father Luke who was the occupier and that accords with the author of the paper.  He noted that Kate married another Finn from besides Jerry Kane’s (Keane’s in his paper), and he identified him as Tom (Mick Jack) Finn.  I think he was referring to my great uncle identified as John (Mick Jack) Finn from Tawnaghbeg elsewhere in his paper.  This sequence of photos shows the state of my grandparents abandoned home in 1995.  Top right two photos show the fireplace and framework used to suspend pots over the peat fire.  Main photo is the roadway up between the barn on the left and the house.  Bottom left shows the alcove where my grandparents bed was located near the fire.  Second from left at the bottom shows where the cows walked up to be milked.  Bottom right is my Mum looking at the corrugated iron shed and the cattle barn in wonderment.  Second from right at the bottom is a more distant view of the farm showing the end wall still standing.
  • The fifth property was occupied by John (Paddy Bawn) Finn.  He had three children and his son Pake Finn took over the farm, married Nora Hunt and then died young after having two children.  Nora married a second time to Tom (Roddy) Finn, her next door neighbour.  They had two children Mary and Roger who built a new house next door.  Roger married Ann and they have three children.
  • The sixth property was occupied by the aforementioned Roddy Finn who first married a sister of the village school teacher, a McDonnell.  They had four children, two of whom, Roger and Michael lived at the farm during our visit in 1995.  They plied us with whisky early on in the day!  Photo follows below with my Mum at the last house in Cullgeragaurn.img_0337 copy

There is much more information covering the whole of Cloontia in Tom Finn’s paper and also more information about the village in Griffiths Valuation.  I have extracted the parts relevant to my family and our travels, but there is a wealth of information available from these resources for other researchers.  I still have further research in progress to try and take my Irish family connections back one generation further.