Lecarrow.


Bryan McHugh

 

The townland of Lecarrow consists of 401 acres and is situated one and a half miles south east of Newport town in the Parish of Burrishoole, Barony of Burrishoole in the County of Mayo.

 

 

The townland of Lecarrow was first recorded in 1612 and it's history parallels that of the rest of the Parish.

 

 

A Butler chronicle of the 18th. Century records a tradition that Theobald, son of Walter Butler seized the area in 1185. They were dispossessed by the De Burgos in 1272. The De Burgos held onto the area for 300 years but in 1612 King James I confirmed Butler now Duke of Ormond as owner. On 16th, June 1612 Lecarrow was included in the land owned by the Duke of Ormond and is recorded in " The Book of Survey and Distribution" of 1641.

 

 

In Petty's Map of 1683. Lecarrow was shown together with adjacent townlands of Caramore, Carragan and Killmore. The Butlers held onto Lecarrow until 1666 when they leased it to Thomas Meddlicott for 999 years. They in turn held it until 1785 when Lecarrow was sold as part of the Meddlicott Estate to Sir Neal O'Donnell for £33,598-19s-4d. He leased Lecarrow to John McLoughlin of Newfield who became involved in the 1798 rebellion and had to flee to France. Afterwards O'Donnell evicted all of his Catholic tenants between Rosow Bridge and Newport Town and Lecarrow was turned into a grazing farm with one Herd living in the townland and looking after his stock. When John O'Donovan visited the area in 1836 while making the Ordnance Survey Maps, he wrote that it was let at a yearly rent of 22 shillings per acre. It was charged cess for the County of 3/3 (3 shillings and 3 pence) per acre yearly.

 

 

In 1910 the Congested Districts Board purchased the O'Donnell Estate of 7,534 acres for the sum of £47,568 and Lecarrow was divided into Family Farms which were allocated it is believed, to descendants of those who were evicted by O'Donnell. It was divided into 10 Family Farms.

 

 

Social History

 

 

The people of the townland were farmers. They had mainly cottage farms where they grew vegetables, oats and had their own orchards. Their largest income was in their livestock, they had a few cattle and sheep. They used the cows' milk for butter and cheese.

 

 

Even though they had these things they were still very poor because they had to pay high rent to the Landlord who was Sir Richard O'Donnell from Newport House.

 

 

The Doctor was not needed much because the people were very hardy and they had their own traditional remedies.

 

 

Many different herbs and flowers were used including :

Comfrey : Juice from root for cuts.

Elderberry : Flower tea used for headaches, colds, flu, stomach upsets.

Nettle : Nettle tea for sore throats and bronchitis.

Oak : Leaves boiled and juice was used for liver complaints.

 

 

A great recording of all these remedies and cures that were used by the people of the townland was made in 1934 by a man named Frank Power or " An Paorach" as he was known locally, who was Principal in Cuilmore National School at that time.

 

 

The earliest list of names of householders in Lecarrow was "O'Donnells (The Landlord) Rent Rolls". In those Rent Rolls a list of householders in arrears with their rent in Lecarrow Log in March 1828 showed the names : Geraghty, Devers, Lynchichan, Gibbons, Dugan, Gettins, McManus, Campbell, Burke, Collins, McLoughlin, Doude, O'Toole, Broad, all in arrears.

 

 

Decrees would have been granted against all those in arrears and this gave the Landlord an excuse to evict them but he still did not collect his rent.

 

 

Another list of the Householders for the townland are the Tithes Records of 1832. The Tithes were taxes collected for the upkeep of the Church. All of the names in the arrears list in O'Donnells Rent Rolls also appear in the Tithes Records of the townland.

 

 

In those records, the townland of Lecarrow seems to have been divided into four areas, - Lecarrow Log, Lecarrow East, Knockananlamane and Lecarrow West.

In William Balds Map of 1817. Lecarrow Log and Knockananlamane are clearly shown marked in red. Some of the names of the areas of the townland shown in the Tithes Records are still household names in the townland.

 

 

Part of the land presently owned by the Sammon Family in the centre of the townland is known as "Log" and it compares accurately with the area marked "Log" in Balds map. Also the land presently owned by the Keane Family in the east of the townland is known as Knockananlamane and this also compares accurately with Balds Map.

 

 

In Lecarrow West in the Tithes Records the name Campbell is shown seven times. In the land owned by John McFadden in the West of the townland there is a spring well which is known as Campbell's Well.

 

 

In the townland of Knocknatinnywell, one mile north of Lecarrow there are ruins of a house known locally as "Doudes Old House". Local folklore has it that Doudes were evicted from their land in Lecarrow and took up residence there.

 

 

The Tithes Record shows that a Frank Doude lived in Lecarrow East in 1832, he is also mentioned in O'Donnells Rent Rolls list in 1828. There are 41 households named in the 1832 records, in the Census of 1841 there were 42 houses and 232 people.

 

 

In the Census of 1851 there were 23 houses and 119 people. Where exactly those people lived is not very clear.

 

 

William Bald's map shows clustered specks which one must assume are houses as they compare very accurately with local folklore and existing ruins. These clustered specks are shown in the area of Campbells Well and Lecarrow Log where ruins were visible but were removed in the 1960s in the process of reclamation. They are also shown on the north side of Crugan na Geann in the south of the townland where the ruins of houses are clearly to be seen.

 

 

In the revised list of Griffiths Valuations one can see how the possession of land was changed from neighbour to neighbour and father to son.

 

 

In the census of 1901 there were only four households in the townland of Lecarrow as a result of eviction and the famine. Of the four households one was O'Donnells Herd - Patrick Casey. One was Patrick Keane - a Herd or Tenant of a Henry Rose. The remaining two were Owen Keane and Kate Geraghty and were tenants or squatters on the O'Donnell estate. When the Congested Districts Board purchased the townland in 1910 they built a road straight through the centre of the townland. They also built six new two storey houses and one bungalow. The material used in some of these houses i.e. windows and doors and some of the stone were taken from the old workhouse in Newport which was being demolished at the time. They also built one two storey outhouse with each house which could accommodate 8 cattle and a horse.

 

 

The Herd, Patrick Casey, was given a house and farm of land, the other three families were given a farm of land only as they were classed as having second class houses at the time and that Pat Casey had a third class house (mentioned in the 1901 census). The other 6 houses and farms were allocated to families of two neighbouring townlands.

 

 

Political History

 

 

Politically, Lecarrow did not have a lot of activity. Most of the people in the townland would have supported the Old IRA during and after 1916.

 

 

Michael Kilroy of Newport was a nephew of my great grandfather John Kilroy and was a frequent visitor to Lecarrow. He was in charge of the West Mayo Brigade of the Old IRA He and his comrades used my great grandfather's house in Lecarrow as one of many safe houses while on the run during 1916-1922.

 

 

He was elected to Dáil Éireann for the constituency of Mayo South in the election of 1923.

 

 

Historical Geography

 

 

The townland of Lecarrow geographically consists of a series of Drumlin hills running in a North-East South-West direction. Some of these hills rise to about 200 feet high. The northern side of those hills are very steep, with a rise of five feet in three in places, the soil is shallow and wet and at the base of all the hills on the northern side there is an abundance of cold clear spring water oozing from under the hills.

 

 

On the southern side the hills slope gradually down onto large flat areas. The southern side has pockets of deep rich fertile soil and the flat areas have dark, very deep, peat-type soil.

 

 

The townland has part of two lakes, one- Lough Arrow at the eastern end and Broad Lough at the western end. The townland has two streams as ninety percent of it's boundaries, one rises in the eastern end, flows through Lough Arrow, it turns west and then south through Broad Lough and west again towards the sea on the southern side.

 

 

There are two roads going through the townland, one at the very northern boundary and the other runs right through the townland near the top of the hills. There is an old road which crosses the townland towards the east end which was used to get from Newport to Westport in a very early period.

Folklore

 

 

Crugan na gCeann ( Hill of the Heads)

 

 

Cnochán na Geann is a round hill 100 feet high and is situated in the Southern corner of the townland. Legend has it that there was a fierce Battle fought here some centuries ago. There were two clans fighting at the Cnochán. The main weapons used by the armies were axes, swords and spears. One of the chieftains, named Leachtain, was injured during the battle when he was hit on the head by a stone that another man had thrown, so his clan retreated to the end of the Valley. Here the clan were surrounded and defeated. The Chieftain died and was buried there. A whitethorn bush and a few large stones mark the grave.

 

 

It is said that a man from a nearby village tried to cut the whitethorn bush with an axe but the axe bounced off the bush and cut his hand.

 

 

Evidence of this battle was found when Michael Keane of "Gortawalla", a nearby village, found a bronze age battle axe in a stream at the base of the Crugan na gCeann

 

 

The Cobbler's Wake

 

 

A story is told about a cobbler who lived about 160 years ago in a part of the townland called Lecarrow Log. It was said at that time it was a custom to give donations of money at a wake to the family of the deceased person. The cobbler decided to pretend he was dead and to have a wake. While he was lying motionless in the Cailleach (Bed in the Kitchen) and the house was full of people, a smart fellow found the Cobbler's toolbox under the bed and he picked up the Bradawl (sharp tool used for boring holes in leather), left the pointed end on the cobbler's heel and hit it with his fist and with pain and the fright the cobbler sat up and roared and he frightened everybody out of the house. A few days later he died of a blood-poisoned heel and there was a real wake. But only a few people turned up at it because they were afraid he might come to life again.

Forts

 

 

There are two Iron Age Forts in the townland of Lecarrow (map Attached). One of them is not visible from a distance as it is overgrown by scrub but part of the circular earthen bank is still intact, (circled in red on the map). It is fifty feet in diameter. The earthen bank is approximately four feet wide and four feet high. Parts of the bank are broken and are overrun by cattle and sheep.

 

 

The other fort is built on a hill near the west boundary. It is in excellent condition. The outer bank is six feet high, the trench inside that is fifteen feet wide and six feet deep. This trench was probably larger when it was in use. Inside the trench there is an oval shaped enclosure which has a flat surface. There is a large entrance facing north east on the edge of the fort.

 

 

Flora and Fauna

 

 

The townland has large areas of untouched habitation where wild herbs, plants and flowers grow in serenity. There is an abundance of wildlife in the townland. Wild duck, Woodcock, Snipe, Badgers and Foxes are all present. The Corncrake is gone, so is the Rabbit. There are two acres of natural hazel woodland in the western end of the townland. Red Deer wander into the townland from the next parish and can be seen grazing in the quiet areas in the early morning.

 

 

SOURCES

Manuscript Division, National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin

Valuation Office, Ely Place, Dublin

Mayo Library Service, Castlebar

Mayo Library Service, Westport

History of Burrishoole by P. Moran

Knox's History of Mayo

History of the Congested Districts Board by W.L.Micks

Vice-Chairman, Westport History Society, John Mayock

My Father - John McHugh

Return to Contents of Back the Road

1