Ballyhean Civil Parish and the Incidence of the Brennan Surname in Griffith's Valuation

Ballyhean Civil Parish falls within Carra Barony and is part of Castlebar (also known as Aglish, Ballyheane and Breaghwy) Roman Catholic Parish. Aglish Civil Parish and Breaghwy Civil Parish are also part of this Catholic Parish. When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted in Ballyhean Civil Parish (a.k.a. Ballyhane) in 1857, there was a Roman Catholic Chapel in the Townland of Cloonaghmore, a Chapel in Errew and a Church of undocumented religious affiliation in the Townland of Cunnaker. There were no Graveyards noted in the Valuation for this Civil Parish and there were 51 Townlands.

Sir Thomas Bourke applied for and obtained a patent for markets and fairs for Ballyhean (Ballyhane) as early as 1616. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 85). Castlebar, one of County Mayo's premier market towns in the 19th century was only 4 1/2 miles from Ballyhean Civil Parish. When the Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, Ballyhean is listed as having a fair on July 5. (McParlan, 1802; 2007, p. 49). Samuel Lewis, in "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" also mentions a fair date in August. (Lewis, 1837; 2005, Volume 1,p. 136-137). When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Ballyhean Civil Parish 20 years later, the Townland of Cloonaghmore is listed as having a "Fair Green" and a "Tolls and Customs of Fairs." This Civil Parish had relatively little to speak of from a commercial perspective. There was a Constabulary Barracks and a Pound in the Townland of Cornaveagh (which is immediately north of Cloonaghmore) and a Corn Mill, Tuck Mill and Pond in the Townland of Cunnaker. Herd's Houses were present in the Townlands of Aghadrinagh, Carrowclogher, Cloonconragh East, Cornamarrow, Derryool, Gortnasmuttaun, Killadeer, Knockanerrew, Lisnaponra South, Magheranagay and Park Boy. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Ballyhean). The large number of Herd's Houses would seem to indicate that there was a significant amount of pasture/grazing area in this Civil Parish.

As far as education goes, there was a National Schoolhouse in the Townland of Cloonaghmore and a Schoolhouse in the Townland of Errew. Samuel Lewis in his "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" mentions a school at Drumrathcahill in addition to two pay schools. (Lewis, 1837; 2005, Volume 1, p. 137).

There were numerous landlords represented in Ballyhean Civil Parish when the Grffith's Valuation was conducted in 1857 including the Earl of Lucan, The Lawlife Assurance Company, John C Larminie, Reverend H. N. Ormsby and Edward C. Burke to name a few. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Ballyhean).

Ballyhean Civil Parish saw a marked population decline during and after the peak famine period dropping from 4,032 in 1841 to 1,987 in 1851. By the year 1911, the population of Ballyhean Civil Parish was down to 1,253. (O'Hara, 1982, p. 7).

There were two individuals with the Brennan Surname documented in Ballyhean Civil Parish, Thomas Brennan in Choonshinnagh that is in the northwest quadrant of Ballyhean and Margaret Brennan in the Townland of Cool Lodge in the Southwest quadrant of this Civil Parish.

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)
Cloonshinagh 2b Brennan, Thomas Burke, Edward G Land and House 90-0-39 1-12-0 6 others
Cool Lodge 4b Brennan, Margaret Geraghty, James House   0-3-0 none

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