Munterconnaught Parish, 1821 Census


This article by Declan Cooney NT on the 1821 census of the Parish of Munterconnaught first appeared in Breifne 1998 (Vol. 9 No. 35, pp 877-883). We would like to thank Declan and Cumann Seanchais Bhreifne for allowing us to re-publish this article here as it adds greatly to our understanding of this important and quite unique set of records.

1821 Census, of the Parish of Munterconnaught by Declan Cooney

The census of 1821 was taken under Act 55 George III, c. 120, by enumerators appointed by local magistrates acting under the direction of the Chief Secretary.[1] The records of this census survive only for four counties – Cavan, Fermanagh, Meath and Offaly (then referred to as King’s County). In Co. Cavan, the parishes covered are Annagelliff, Ballymachugh, Castlerahan, Castleterra, Crosserlough, Denn, Drumlumman, Drung and Larah, Kilbride, Kilmore, Killeshandra, Kinawley, Lavey, Lurgan, Mullagh and Munterconnaught. It is with the last-named parish that we are concerned here.[2]

The returns for the parish of Munterconnaught have thirteen townlands listed whereas both the ‘Catholic and Church of Ireland parishes contain fourteen townlands. The townland of Knockaraheen, on the county boundary with Meath, is not included as such in the census returns. However, it appears that the householders of Knockaraheen were included by the enumerator in the returns for the neighbouring townland of Lurganboy. This becomes clear when the surnames listed in the census returns for Lurganboy are compared with those listed for Lurganboy and Knockaraheen in the Tithe Applotment Books (1825).[3]

For the purposes of the census, the parish was divided into townlands which were numbered consecutively. The double page of the return was divided into seven columns. The first column shows the consecutive numbers arbitrarily given to each house, including uninhabited houses. The second column gives the number of storeys in each house. The third column gives the name of the householder and the names of any other occupants of the house, together with their relationship to the householder. The fourth column gives the age of each person listed. The fifth column gives the occupation, if any, of each person listed. The sixth column gives the number of acres held, where the householder is a fanner. The seventh column contains the enumerator’s own observations. At the end of the manuscript, which also includes the returns for the parish of Lurgan, are written the words ‘Finished by Wm. Walker, Cavan, 28th October 1821.’ We do not know, however, if William Walker was the enumerator or a copyist.

The returns for the parish or for individual townlands are not totalled. No information is given regarding religious affiliation. Townland names are rendered more or less phonetically and spelling is generally inconsistent, especially in relation to surnames (e.g. Flynn/Flinn/Flyn). It is noteworthy that the Irish prefixes 0 and Mac are generally dropped. Surnames such as O’Reilly, O’Neill, McGovern, are rendered as Reilly, Neill, Goveran. The handwriting is, for the most part, clear and legible.

Columns 1 and 2
The total number of inhabited houses was 416. There were also twenty uninhabited houses, one of which was described as ‘farmer’s waste’. Eleven houses are returned as two-storeyed. This was quite a high figure when one considers that of the 1,706 houses listed in the parish of Drumloman (Mullahoran/Ballymachugh) none had more than one storey.[4] The two-storeyed houses in Munterconnaught were occupied by Rev. Robert Sergeant, Church of Ireland curate, Eighter; Hugh Brady, farmer, Corronagh; Jaines Blakley, gentleman farmer and captain of yeomen, Crohan; Margaret Blealdey, farmer and flax spinner, Ryefield; Petter Flynn, farmer, Ryefield. Matthew Porter, farmer, Ryefield; John Porter, farmer and miller, Ryefield; Phillip Reilly, farmer, Beherna; William Porter, farmer, Ballydurrow and John Reilly, farmer, Island. There was also an uninhabited two-storeyed house in the townland of Knocktemple.

Column 3
This column includes the names of the householders and the other occupants of the house. The relationship to the householder was specified. The names of servants, visitors, lodgers and ‘inmates’ were given also. The total population of the parish of Munterconnaught was 2,499.[5]

Column 4
Even allowing for probable inaccuracies in the ages returned, the most striking feature of this column is the evidence it provides of the limited life expectancy during the early 19th century. Of a total poopulation of 2, 499, only 27, or just over 1% were over the age of 70. In the townland of Eighter, only five people out of 247 were over that age of 65.
The oldest person living in the area was Mary Reilly, said to be aged 90, a widow and spinner who lived in Corronagh. Few householders were unmarried and marriages took place at a comparatively early age. The number of widows was relatively high. Margaret Clinton, aged 25, a bonnet-maker who lived in Island townland, was a widow with two children aged seven and five.

Column 5
As one would expect in a rural parish with no village, agriculture was the main occupation. A total of 182 persons were returned as farmers; 457 persons as labourers. Some of the latter were farmers’ sons who worked on the family farm.
The importance of flax in the locality can be gauged from the fact that the largest single occupational group were the flax – spinners, of whom there were 631. All of these were women and some were as young as twelve years of age. In addition, there were sixteen weavers, seven tailors, flax dressers, hacklers, a seamstress, a .bonnet maker and a knitter. A total of 209 persons were returned as servants; these included house servants as well as outdoor servants and their employers were the strong farmers of the locality. Some of these servants were no more than twelve or thirteen years old.
As one would expect, various trades and crafts are returned, including seven blacksmiths and a journeyman smith. Some of these tradesmen combined their trades with farming; these included George Garaty, a blacksmith from Eighter and Stephen Lee, a wheelwright who also lived in Eighter. Other crafts returned included shoe – makers, broguemakers, carpenters, a land surveyor, a cooper and a number of apprentices. Surprisingly, no masons were returned. There were also some unusual occupations. Peter Waters of Beherna was described as a ‘labourer and rat catcher’; Michael Flinn, aged 54, of Corronagh was the ‘ferry man of Loughramor’ ; Michael Tuite of Eigther was a taylor and ladies habit maker’; John Smith of Ryefield was a ‘kiln man’ – a mill and kiln were owned by John Porter in the same townland.
The enumerator, in his observations on the townland of Knocktemple, refers to a catholic chapel and burial ground in this townland’. He also refers to the ‘ruins of an Old Church’. The Church of Ireland curate of Lurgan parish, Rev. Robert Sergeant (or Sargent) had 80 acres in the townland of Eigther. He employed a housekeeper, a kitchen maid and three servants. Rev. John Reilly, the parish priest, aged 50, also lived in Eighter, where he held 7 acres. It was noted that he also held 9 acres in Cornahilt in the parish and Barony of Casderahan. He employed a housekeeper and two servants. John Martin, aged 58, kept a school in Eighter with eleven boys and eight girls. Richard Traynor, aged 18, a schoolmaster living in Carrick, may have been attached to Martin’s school. John Condon kept a school in Knocktemple with sixteen boys and four girls. In Ryefield, John Condon aged 26 ‘has a school, 30 boys and 25 girls in this townland’.[6]

Column 6
Most of the farms were small and subdivision appears to have been a common practice. The enumerator does not give the sizes of some farms and no account is taken of areas of bog. Among the larger holdings were those of Rev. Robert Sergeant, Eighter (80 acres); James Blaldey, Crohan (150 acres); Mathew Porter, Ryefield, (80 acres); Phillip Reilly, Beherna (60 acres); William Porter, Ballydurrow (60 acres) and Hugh Brady, Corronagh (63 acres).

Column 7
The enumerator’s observations are few and largely uninformative. The references to clergy and schools are recorded here, as are references to people of some standing in the area e.g. James Blakley of Crohan is described as a ‘gentleman farmer and a captain of yeomen;’ Joseph Whitely of Eighter is described as ‘farmer and constable;’ Mathew 0’Reilly of Knocknagarton is described as a gentleman farmer,’ as is Phillip 0′ Reilly of Beherna. Unusual occupations are also recorded in this column, as are references to twins, or persons being widowed. Three townlands, Ballydurrow, Knocknaveigh and Crossafehin have no observations recorded. No mention is made of licensed premises and no publicans are recorded, compared with five publicans mentioned in the returns for the parish of Lavey.[7] The enumerator does not refer to any antiquities in the area.


TownlandNo. of Inhabited housesTotal PopulationNames and Numbers of Families
EITOR (Eighter)40 (Also 1 forge, 1 school and 1 uninhabited house)247Reilly (3), Mulvany (2), Whitley (2), Sergeant, Brason, Trillford Ramsey, Wilson, Monohan, Conaty, Halfpinny, Ennis, Martin, McCormick, Galligan, Cullon, McDaniell, Garaty, McEntee, Lee, Gaffney, Hetherton, Lynch, Gray, Browne, Stronge (2), Tuite, Caffrey, Brannan, Donoho, Gaynor, Meath, Heary, Younge, Moore.
CORRUNNA (Corronagh)23 (No uninhabited houses)109Colgan (2), Conaty (2), Rielly (2), Mulvany (2), McGoveran (2), Keogan (2), Flinn, McClane, Henry, Kelly, Brady, Brogan, Fitzsimons, Caffry, Grifith, Clarkin, Lee.
KNOCKTEMPLE13 (1 uninhabited)74Lynch (3), Hetherton (2), Fleming, Tully, Glannon, Riely, McGoveran, Brady, McGuire, Condon.
KNOCKNAGARTON20 (No uninhabited houses)112Calwell (3), Growney (2), Gaharan, Tighe, McGovran, Gilsenan, Carrol, Mathews, O’Reilly, Nulty, Farrily, Gilsenan, Masterson, Skelly, Kelly, Kenedy, Smith. Ward, Lynch, Fitzsimons, Brady, Ford, Masterson, Kiernan, Glanan.
CROSSAFINE (Crossafehin)12 (No uninhabited houses)78Farrilly (5), Glannon (2), McNamee (2), Reilly (2), Fox.
CARRICK26 (No uninhabited houses)152Griffith (2), Mulvany (2), Connor (2), Dowd, Farrilly, Byrne, Caffry, Hughes, Lynch, Murray, Gibney, Plunket, McEnroe, Ivers, Neill, Smith, Gillick, Tuite, Meath, Traynor, Leddy, McCabe, Rielly.
RYEFIELD59 (2 uninhabited houses)339Riely (4), Porter (4), Carroll (3), Flynn (3), Farrelly (3), Lynch (3), Smith (3), Woods (2), Gillick (2), Tighe (2), Hamilton (2), Griffin, Bleakley, Henry, McCabe, Goveran, Condron, White, Healy, Growney, Berin (Byrne?), Blackstock, Glannon, Gray, Cahill, Brady, Moyna, Bryan, Middleton, Donelly, Murphy, Cormick, Gonnell (?), Casedy, Martin, Latham (?), Mulvany, Baugh, Connor.
BEHERNA50 (1 uninhabited houses, described as ‘farmer’s waste’)288Fitzsimons (5), Flynn (4), Reilly (4), Tormey (3), Skelly (3), Gillick (3), Writ (Wright) (2), Brissell (2), Galligan (2), Brady (2), Farrelly (2), Corrohan, Corrigan, Rowe (?), Caffrey, King, McGuire, Gaharan, Lynch, Tully, Keogan, Govran, Flanagan, Timon (?), Waters, Murphy, Smith, Growny, Mulony.
BALLADRO (Balydurrow)33 (No uninhabited houses)203Reilly (4), Smith (3), Farrelly (2), Murphy (2), tighe (2), Moyna (2), Rale Rahill, Cadden (2), Lynch (2), Porter, Flynn, Lee, Clark, Cogan (?), Tormy, Nailon, Brady, Markery, Toher, McDaniel, Duff.
ISLAND44 (No uninhabited houses)237McEnroe (8), Murphy (5), Kiernan (3), Smith (3), Fitzsimons (2), Stanley (2), Reilly (2), Tighe (2), Pursell (2), Corrigan, Lambert, Burne, Clerkan, McDaniell, Brussell, McGuire, Sheridan, Griffin, Caffry, Beggan, Flynn, Clinton, Foreside [Forsyth], McDermott.
LURGANBOY41 (No uninhabited houses)240Tuite (5), Caffrey (5), Lynch (3), McEnroe (2), Malone (3), Gillick (3), Smith (3), Gaghran (2), Rielly (2), Plunkett (2), McGuinis, Murray, Traynor, Cadden, Leddy, Brady, Sheridan, Kiernan, Henry (?), Kelly, Duffy.
KNOCKNAVEA (Knocknaveigh)22 (No uninhabited houses)157McEnroe (3), Fioresides (Forsyth) (2), Skeritt, McCan, Hall, Coote, Wray, Cavanah, Stephens, Grifin, Madden, Gaffney, Gilsenan, Brady, Brogan, McNamee, Smith, Waters, Mathews.
TOTAL FOR THE PARISH416 (20 uninhabited houses)2,499

The enumerator’s spelling of townland names has been retained. Where necessary, the modern spelling is given in square brackets. The figures given are the writer’s own computations. The enumerator’s spelling of surnames has been retained. In some cases, the modern version of the surname is given in square brackets. A question mark denotes a surname which is not clearly legible.


1 National Archives of Ireland, CEN 1821/13.

2 See also Seamus Lynch, “The Census of 1821”, in Munterconnaught: A History 1847 – 1997, pp. 123 – 124.

3 Ibid., pp. 127- 132.

4 John P. Wilson, ‘1821 Census, Parish of Drumloman’, Breifne xi, No. 6 (1963), pp. 238 – 247.

5 By 1841, the population had increased to 3,167. The 1851 census shows that following the famine, it had dropped to 2,206 – a decrease of over 30% in ten years.

6 The ‘chapel’ was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was built at right angles to the present St. Bartholomew’s Church, which was built in 1847. The present Church of Ireland in Knocktemple dates form 1832.

7 Rev. Terence P. Cunningham, “Notes on the 1821 Census of Lavey Parish”, Breifne, i, No. 3 (1960), pp. 192 – 208