Aghagower Civil Parish and the Incidence of the Gahagan (Goaghan, Geoghegan, Goghan, Gaughan) Surname in Griffith's Valuation

Aghagower Civil Parish falls primarily in Murrisk Barony. Only a small northeast section is in Burrishoole Barony. The far south border of this Civil Parish borders County Galway. It is located only four miles from Westport, one of County Mayo's Premier Market Towns. Aghagower Civil Parish, which falls within Aughagower Roman Catholic Parish has 97 townlands, with 45 of them being in Burrishoole Barony and 52 in Murrisk Barony.

Fairs began being held early in the 19th Century in this Civil Parish, although I couldn't find any patent applications for markets or fairs in this Civil Parish. When the Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, Aghagower (Aughagower) had no documented markets for grain or cattle, but fairs were documented as being held on June 24, August 4, September 29 and October 30. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 47-50).

When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Aghagower Civil Parish in 1855, there were Roman Catholic Chapels in the Townlands of Aghagower and Derryherbert, and churches of undocumented affiliation in the Townlands of Knappaghmore, Srahatloe and Toberrooaun. Graveyards were present in the Townlands of Aghagower, Lankill and Toberooaun.

As far as education goes, there were Board of Education National Schoolhouses in the Townlands of Aghagower, Brackloon, Carrowkennedy, Derrycraff, Knappaghmanagh, Knockroosky, Lankill and Letterbrock. There were two schoolhouses in the Townlands of Ardogommon, Church Education Society Schoolhouses in the Townlands of Knappagh More and Toberooaun and an Irish Church Mission Society Schoolhouse in Srahatloe. When Samuel Lewis published "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland," in 1837, he described six schools at Ayle, Ardygommon, Cushinkeel, Aughagower, Triangle, Lanmore and a Hedge School as well at Carranmore. (Lewis, 1837;1984, p. 92-93). This is significantly different than the schools documented in the 1855 Griffith's Valuation. There were significant spelling variations as well: Ayle vs Aille; Ardygommon vs Ardogommon, Triangle wasn't even listed in Griffith's Valuation and neither was Carranmore unless it is the same as Carrowmore.

Economically speaking, the Townland of Aghagower appears to be the primary hub of economic activity with a "Fair Green," "Tolls and Customs of Fairs" and a Forge (in addition to the Church, Graveyard, School already mentioned). The Townland of Aille had a Miller's House and Tuck Mill; the Townlands of Cloonskill, Cordarragh North and Mace South each had a Forge; the Townlands of Aillbaun and Teevinish West each had Plantations; Cloonagh had a Bleach Mill, two Flour Mills and Stores; Brackloon had a Tuck Mill, Knappagh More had a Corn Mill; Srahatloe had a Dispensary, Toberooaun had a Constabulary Barrack and there were Herd's Houses in the Townlands of Aghagower, Ballygolman, Carrowkeel, Cloondacon, Cordarragh South, Derrinkee, Derrintin, Derrycraff, Drummindoo, Errif, Forkfield, Glenacally, Glendavock, Glennumera, Gorteen, Knappaghmore, Knockbrack, Lankill, Letterass, Mahanagh, Midgefield, Monamore, Mount Brown, Rockfield, Srahatloe, Srahlea, Tawnagh, Toberooaun and Tonranny. There was also a Shepherds House in Ballinvoy. The number of Herd's Houses and a Shepherd's House would seem to indicate significant pastoral land for grazing. Farmhouses were documented in Bofara and Drummindoo. The only other item of a Commercial nature was the Salmon Fishery in Killarly Harbour. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Aghagower).

The Marquis of Sligo was far and away the most prevalent Landlord in Aghagower Civil Parish being the Primary Landlord in 85 Townlands. The Earl of Lucan, Sir W.H. Roger Palmer Bt and a small assortment of others were also present. The Marquis of Sligo was the largest landowner in County Mayo according to a compilation on Mayo Estates from 1838-1876 presented in the book "A Various Country: Essays in Mayo History 1500-1900." The Marquis of Sligo held 130.7 (per 1000 statute acres) dropping only to 114.8 in 1876 after the turbulent famine years. The Earl of Lucan held 33.1 (per 1000 Statute Acres) in 1838. His property actually increased to 60.5 by 1876 (Gillespie; McCabe, 1987, p. 110-111).

There were lakes scattered throughout many Townlands in this Civil Parish. I only noted one specifically labeled "Bog" parcel in the Townland of Ardogommon. According to "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" there were "Large Tracts of Bog" in this Civil Parish. (Lewis, 1837; 1984, p. 92).

Aghagower, like many Civil Parishes in County Mayo, saw a significant population drop during and after the famine years. There were 12,235 in Aghagower in 1841, dropping to 6,511 in 1851. This number declined farther still; by the year 1911 there was only 3,595 people in Aghagower Civil Parish. (O'Hara, 1982, p.7).

The only Variation of the Surname Gahagan noted in Aghagower Civil Parish was George Geoghegan in the Townland of Knappaghmanagh.

There is one caveat to keep in mind when looking at these findings from the Griffith's Valuation: The Griffith's Valuation only includes the individuals (occupiers) who own, lease or rent a parcel. For instance it will list a householder but not the individuals who live with him. It was common in County Mayo for individuals to share parcels, particularly of land (The Rundale system of communal land sharing). Sometimes the whole town shared one parcel of land. Shared parcels may or may not be with related individuals. Just because an individual is a lone occupier of a parcel does not mean that he is living in (house) or tilling (garden) this parcel alone. He may have numerous family members living with him, but they will not be listed unless they actually lease or own the parcel. Occupiers who sublet their acreage of land or houses to others will be listed as landlords.

For helpful details on how to interpret the following records, please take a look at the page I created on "Deciphering Griffith's Valuation."

Townland Map Ref Number Occupier Landlord or his Rep Property Type Area in Acres, Roods and Perches - a-r-p Total Valuation in pounds, shillings and pence Shared with (other occupiers)
Knappaghmanagh 6d Geoghegan, John Sligo, Marquis of House and Land 48-3-20 2-0-0 4 others

(Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Aghagower).