Bekan Civil Parish and the Incidence of the Brennan Surname in Griffith's Valuation, County Mayo, Ireland

Bekan Civil Parish falls within Costello Barony and is part of Bekan (or Becan) Roman Catholic Parish. When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for this Civil Parish in 1856, there was one documented Roman Catholic Chapel in the Townland of Bekan and the only Graveyard was there as well. Catholic Church records that are available for this parish cover the years 1832-1910 on microfilm number 1279209. There were 63 Townlands in Bekan Civil Parish when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted. There was one additional listing in the valuation, "Islands in Mannin Lake" that had only one occupant that I did not include on this list. The Town of Ballyhaunis, a significant market town in County Mayo was incorporated in two Townlands in Bekan Civil Parish, Carrowluggaun and Pollnacroaghy. Ballyhaunis sits on the border between Bekan Civil Parish and Annagh Civil Parish. Two Townlands in Annagh Civil Parish also have the Town of Ballyhaunis incorporated into their borders: Abbeyquarter and Hazelhill. I have created a more detailed page on Ballyhaunis in my County Mayo Market Towns section.

William Knox obtained a patent for markets and fairs for Ballyhaunis as early as 1751. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 85). When the Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, Ballyhavnefs (sic) was noted as having a market for cattle, but not for grain and Fairs were held on July 2, September 22 and October 29. (McParlan, 1802; 2007. p. 37,45-46, 47-50). The Town of Ballyhaunis incorporated into the Townland of Carrowluggaun had the Tolls and Customs of Fairs and a Constabulary Barrack. The Town of Ballyhaunis incorporated into the Townland of Pollnacroaghy had the Tolls of Crane, the Grand Jury of County Mayo Petty Sessions House and the Guardians of Claremorris Union Dispensary. Other commercial activity seemed to be fairly evenly distributed through Bekan Civil Parish when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted. There was a Pound in the Townland of Brackloon West and Tooraree, Brickeens had a Corn Mill, Kilns and a Tuck Mill, Carrowreagh had Corn and Tuck Mills and a Kiln, the Townlands of Cuiltycreaghan, Cullentragh, Devlis and Killknock had Corn Mills and Lissaniska had a Corn Mill and a Kiln. Herd's Houses were present in the Townlands of Bohogerawer, Bracklagh, Brackloon West and Island, not all that many for a Civil Parish this size. There was however, a significant number of Townlands with designated "Bog" parcels including Bekan, Brickeens, Greenwood, Keebagh, Larganboy East, Larganboy West, Lissaniska and Lurgan and their were numerous lakes throughout Bekan Civil Parish. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Bekan).

As far as education goes, there was a National Schoolhouse in the Townland of Bekan, Brackloon North and Larganboy East. Samuel Lewis in his 1837 "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" describes a school at Brackloon and 5 private schools as well. (Lewis, 1837; 1984, p. 190).

Viscount Dillon was far and away the predominant landlord in Bekan Civil Parish when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted in 1856, distantly followed by Phillip Taaffe, Austin F. Crean, George Knox and a smattering of others. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Bekan). Lord Dillon was listed as a non-resident landlord for Costello Barony in the Statistical Survey of County Mayo in 1802. (McParlan, 1802, 2007, p. 106).

The population of Bekan Civil Parish saw a decline during and after the peak famine years like many other parishes in County Mayo. In 1841 there were 5,589 people living in Bekan Civil Parish, dropping to 4,724 in 1851. By the year 1911 the population of the area was down to 3,834. (O'Hara, 1982, p. 7).

There were Brennans present in seven different Townlands in this Civil Parish when the Griffith's Valuation took place. Two Brennans were present down near the southern tip of the Civil Parish, James Brennan in Brickeens and James Brennan in Tawnagh that shares a border with Brickeens to the south. Northeast of these two Townlands in the town of Belesker was another James Brennan (who is also a landlord for another tenant in this town). The Townlands of Bohogerower (John Brennan), Bracklaghboy (John Brennan) and Tooraree (Patrick Brennan) were all right next to each other in the central part of Bekan Civil Parish. In the Townland of Tooraree there is a Michael Brennan who is a landlord of an unoccupied parcel that is right next to that held by Patrick Brennan. Finally, Edmond Brennan and Francis Brennan were present in the Townland of Devlis that is just southeast of Tooraree.

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)
Belesker 6a Brennan, James O'Farrell, Edward M Land, House and Offices 36-1-17 18-5-0 (total for this and his other parcel none
Belesker 7a Brennan, James same Land and one Cottage 6-1-16 same as above none
Belesker 7b Darcy, Mary Brennan, James House   0-14-0 (total for this and next parcel) none
Belesker 8 Darcy, Mary Brennan, James Land 2-2-16 same none
Bohogerawer 9 Brennan, John Taaffe, Phillip Land 16-1-22 4-13-0 none
Bracklaghboy 11a Brennan, John Taaffe, Phillip Land and House 3-2-33 1-5-0 none
Brickeens 2a Brennan, James Cream, Austin F Land and House 23-1-27 4-2-0 none
Devlis 11 Brennan, Edmond Jordan, James Land and House 5-2-30 2-18-0 none
Devlis 15a Brennan, Francis same Land and House 6-1-11 2-0-0 (total for this and the next parcel) none
Devlis 16 Brennan, Francis same Land 1-2-33 same none
Tawnagh 7 Brennan, James Browne, Reps. James Land 30-2-31 1-7-0 3 others
Tooraree 29a Brennan, Patrick Taaffe, Phillip Land and House 13-1-12 2-10-0 1 other

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