Unfamiliar Terminology Found in Irish Genealogy and Irish History Research Explained

In the process of doing my Irish Genealogical research I have encountered many unusual words, phrases, processes and functions that I was unfamiliar with. I will be adding them with a brief explanation in the section below:

Terminology Explained
Beetling Mills. A Beetling machine was used to emboss fabrics, so I am assuming a Beetling Mill is a component of the textile industry's processing of fabric. I need to do more research on this one.
Beyond the Pale. The District whose focal point was Dublin, under the total control of the King of England was referred to as "The Pale" The exact area that was included in "The pale" changed as the influence and control of the English waxed and waned over the years. Any areas beyond this sphere of influence were said to be "beyond the pale."
Bleach Green or Bleaching Ground. The bleaching or process of whitening and cleaning by washing and or exposure to chemical agents like chloride of lime. In a section on County Mayo in Samuel Lewis' Book, "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" he mentions that "The cloth is generally sold grey, and went elsewhere to be bleached, although there are two extensive bleach greens near Westport, and another at Turlough." (Lewis, 1837; 1984, p. 356).
Bogs. Bogs have been used as fuel in Ireland for centuries. There is two different types that differ based on how they were formed: Blanket Bogs and Raised Bogs. In reference to County Mayo, Blanket Bogs appear to be more prevalent in the western part of that county. They are associated with higher rainfall. They are flat and treeless with only a peat layer. Raised Bogs are smaller, with natural vegetation and elevated central parts. They are found more in the eastern half of County Mayo and are better for large-scale turf production.
Booleying or Transhumanance. The seasonal practice of herders and their families taking their livestock to higher pastures in the summer. They bolster their income by producing dairy products. This practice disappeared in all but the most rural areas in the early 18th century. I have heard this term used to refer to other occupations as well such as fishing and farming, where they travel to other places with the seasons.
Bride well. A bride well was a house of correction in England. My best guess is that this is a jail or place of detainment of some sort. Aside from the notations in Griffith's Valuation for Bride wells, I have seen it used in the following manner: " The Mayo prison, and even the bridewells were packed with lunatics." The following notation was made in reference to the Ballinrobe Bridewell: "The bridewell contains four cells, three day-rooms, and two airing-yards..." (Lewis, 1837;1984, p. 116).
Cairn. A Cairn is a cluster of stones used as a memorial of some sort, to mark something of significance.
Certificate of Freedom. You will likely encounter the phrase "Certificate of Freedom Issued" in your microfilm research. It had me puzzled for quite awhile until I saw a request for a certificate of freedom for Patrick McCormack in the Charlestown Parish records. Apparently his wife had died in America and he was requesting permission to remarry. His request was denied because he could not provide convincing proof of her death. Joe Corcoran, a very knowledgible Genealogist from England just informed me that Certificate of Freedom is often referred to as "Testimonium Status Liberi" for those of you that encounter it in the parish records!
Chancery. As you peruse the Griffith's Valuation you will frequently see the landlords name followed by "in chancery." Chancery refers to the functions of the court. The Court of Chancery is a division of the Irish High Court of Justice. It was used to settle disputes that couldn't be resolved by common law. Some of the records from this Court survived the Four Courts Fire and may contain valuable genealogical information. If "In Chancery" is noted, court documents were generated at some point.
Churching. This is the practice of women who have recently given birth presenting themselves to the Catholic Church to be blessed. The only caveat is that the child had to be legitimate and not baptized in a non Catholic Church.
Clachan. A Clachan is a cluster of farmhouses where land was shared in a communal fashion often with close family ties. This congregation of families was the focal point of the rundale system.
Conacre System. In this system a seasonal laborer made an annual agreement to occupy a fertilized parcel and grow potatoes for a year. The parcel was most likely rented from a middleman for the landlord and the laborer would pay as much as 5x the amount the middleman would have paid the landlord for it. This system was probably more prevalent in County Roscommon than County Mayo and was at the core of County Roscommon agrarian unrest of the mid 1840's.
Cottier. A Cottier was a cheap, reliable farm laborer who was given a small parcel of land to work and a small abode in which to live. (They usually produced potatoes) He was an unpaid laborer who worked a much as 2/3 of the year and paid his rent with his labor.
Crannogs. This was an Iron Age defensive structure created by forming an island in a lake. It is a circular shape, usually constructed of wood, sod and stones. The timber is pounded into the lakebed and large amounts of stones, peat, brush and gravel are layered to form the crannog on which the individual lived. (Crann is the Irish for tree).
Creanage Tolls. See Tolls of Crane below. A crane is a machine for weighing goods. It appears to be the weighing of goods brought to market so the goverment (like the Tolls and Fairs of Markets) could charge a fee. The Griffith's Valuation for Ballaghaderreen lists a "Creanage Tolls." Cranage is the "dues paid for use of a crane." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 594). Creanage appears to be an obsolete spelling or a typographical error.

Demesne. These are the lands associated with an Irish Manor House. According to "Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape" Edited by F.H A. Aalen, Kevin Whelan and Mathew Stout,

"The demesne concept can be traced to the early medieval tenurial system, when a proportion of the manorial lands were set aside 'in demesne' to produce both goods and profits for the estate."

Demesnes survived until the estate system fell apart in the early 19th century. The Encumbered Estates Act of 1849 and subsequent land acts took a huge toll on demesnes as tenants began buying out their farms with funds provided by the government.

Drover. A Drover technically is a person who drove sheep or cattle to distant markets; also a dealer in cattle. I have seen it used in the following manner under the carrier (transport) section of directories: Sessions justices often used men licensed as badgers, drovers, kidders and higglers. In this situation it appears to be someone who transports something.
Drumlins. These were low-lying hills
Eel-Weir. These are occasionally noted on the Griffith's Valuation. An Eel Weir is a trap used to catch fish and eel. It is constructed by piling rocks in a row (in a river or waterway) on each side that narrow down into a funnel and subsequent trap (usually composed of wood). 21st century Ireland requires a fishing license to construct and utilize an eel weir.
Fair Green. Often seen noted in market towns to indicate land designated to be used for markets and fairs.
Gaol. This is a jail or jailer.
Garda. This is an Irish Policeman
Gig Mill. You will find this listed in the Griffith's Valuation from time to time. A Gig Mill is a machine with rotary cylinders and wire teeth that are used in the textile industry to teasel or raise the nap of woolen cloth.
Glebe. A portion of land assigned to a clergyman as part of his benefice. (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 1154).
Gombeen Men. Gombeen Men were lenders of money, and many were Irish and Catholic. They tended to charge exorbitant prices to laborers who could obtain credit by no other means. They appeared to be quite callous in their dealings to turn a profit. I saw the following uses of the term Gombeen men: "Gombeen men kept raising rents; and "they made their money in Ballinrobe as Merchants and Gombeen Men."
Haberdasher. A dealer or maker of hats and other small wares. I have also heard a haberdasher described as one who sells small articles for sewing, a dealer in notions.
Hearth Money Rolls. This was a tax imposed in 1663 on every hearth and fireplace, and was payable annually.
Hedge School. Catholic children were not allowed to obtain a formal education, so they often attended hedge schools, a school held by a hedge or in the open air as in the following example: There was a hedge school beneath some bushes in the corner of the field near Louisburgh in County Mayo. According to the History of Mayo by J.F. Quinn, Volume 3, Chapter 14, "Under the penal code churches and schools were levelled, the teachers and clergy either killed or banished. Still the inclination for learning was there, and thanks to the despised hedge schoolmaster the people carried on until the British established the National Schools, aimed at Extinguishing the national language."
Higgler. A Higgler is a dealer or carrier of items that he uses to haggle over or use as a bargaining chip in exchange for other commodities he seeks.
In Chancery. See Chancery.
Kidder or Kiddier. A Kidder is a person who purchases provisions from the individual that produces them, then turns around and takes them to market to sell.
Limekiln. You will see these listed on the Griffith's Valuation. The purpose of a limekiln was to reduce the limestone to a powdery material by burning it in the kiln. It was then used as a fertilizer or as building mortar. Other fertilizers replaced lime in the 19th century.
Lint Kilns. A Lint Kiln was used for the purpose of drying flax.
Lough. A lake or a Loch.
Perch. This was the smallest unit of measure utilized in the Griffith's Valuation to describe the size of a parcel. A perch was equivalent to about 30 square yards.
Plantation. A Plantation was a government plan for large-scale of colonization. James Cuffe was a significant participant in the Cromwellian redistribution of land in Connaught Province to foreigners. He helped himself as well. The Cromwellian planters were strategically placed throughout Mayo, placed to form colonies to keep the Irish down so to speak. In the long run they were unsuccessful. James the 1st was the first ruler to realize that a successful plantation depended on getting enough settlers to replace the existing. He was able to convince many Scots and northern Irish to emigrate there, this in addition to the fact that the Scots Presbyterians were facing poverty and persecution at home gave them incentive to move. According to "An Atlas of Irish History" by Ruth Dudley Edwards, "the number of planters were much fewer than had been planned for, and they showed an early tendency to intermarriage with the Irish." She goes on further to state "at the end of the tudor monarchy, in 1603, despite the tudor confiscations and plantations, 90% of Irish land was still in Catholic hands, by 1641, mainly due to the success of the Ulster Plantations this proportion had been reduced to 29%, a figure that was further reduced by the Cromwellian transplantation."
Poteen. Illicitly distilled whiskey
Pound. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pound as a "place of confinement." (Oxford, 1971, p. 2260). I have seen pounds referred to as places to detain straying cattle and dogs. I suppose it could be a place of human confinement as well, although the term Bridewell I believe usually refers to a jail with individual cells. Pounds are noted in many different Townlands scattered throughout the Griffith's Valuation.
Praties. Potatoes
Ring forts. Ring forts were found primarily in County Mayo (especially along the Eastern shores of Clew Bay between Westport and Newport). They were the living structures of the Irish Farmers from 400 B.C. up until the 16th century (the Iron Age People). Ring forts are often mentioned when ruins are described. A ring fort was a circular structure that was surrounded by a dug out section where the soil was used to create earthen berms. They are also referred to a raths or cashels.
Rood. This term was used in the Griffith's Valuation to describe the amount of land held by each occupier. (A-R-P) Acres, Roods and Perches were units of measure commonly used in Ireland in the 19th century to describe the amount of property held. A rood was equivalent to about one-quarter of an acre or 1210 square yards. a perch was about 30 square yards.
Rundale System. This is a land-holding system commonly practiced in the less fallow, poorer quality soils in the West of Ireland before the famine. When you look at the Griffith's Valuation for County Mayo that was conducted between 1855 and 1857 (post famine for the most part) you will still see examples of whole Townlands that are shared in this rundale system. I have created a specific page on the Rundale System of Land Holding in County Mayo in the County Mayo Research Aids section if you would like more detail.
Scalp or Scalpeens. A living structure (hut) created by a hole dug several feet deep in the earth and covered with branches, turf and any other readily available materials. These makeshift residences or burrows were commonly used by the destitute during the famine years.
Shambles. Shambles were often mentioned in the Griffith's Valuation. It appears to be a covered stall, counter to display goods for sale, (particularly meat), count money from the transaction in a market. The structure itself seems to be a simple, portable structure.
Soothouses. Soothouses were stone huts that had roofs composed of timber and sod. This roofing material was burned in a slow, calculated fashion each winter and the resulting ash was used as a fertilizer.
Souperism. This was a term used to refer to Protestant Clergyman in Ireland who tried to convert Catholics to Protestants by giving them "Soup" (or other charity). This technique became much more effective during the famine years. Edward Nangle who founded the missionary settlement on Achill Island, County Mayo was frequently accused of "Souperism." He would provide food to the children who attended his schools and those who converted from Catholicism to becoming Protestants. Once the famine ended, many who had made this change, switched back to Catholicism. (Ghiobuin, 2001, p. 17-18, 65).
Souterrains. These came into favor after construction of Ring Forts fell out of vogue. A Souterrain is an underground cave-like dwelling built inside a trench that is open above until it is filled in after the structure is completed. It is composed of dry stonewalls and the thinking is that it was built to serve as a domain and not for storage. The word souterrain comes from the French sous (under) and terrain, which means ground.
Spalpeen. This is a general term used to refer to a laborer, harvester or other workman. In the Connacht region of Ireland, especially County Mayo, Spalpeens were quite common. Many Spalpeens would travel Britain for the seasonal work of harvesting. I have seen them referred to as "wandering reapers." (Macraild, 1999. p. 22).
Shrule. A Shrule is a stream.

Stirabout. Stirabout is a type of porridge that originated in Ireland. It is a concoction made up of varied ingredients such as oatmeal (or other grains like Barley or cornmeal) and buttermilk or water. Stirabout is often mentioned when describing the ultra-thinned down version of soup handed out at Workhouses and by proselytizers trying to convert Catholics during the famine.

"The Proselytizers started bailing soup and stirabout under the noses of the starving people, and offered them the food if they changed their religion." (Quinn, 1996, Vol 4, Chapter 9, p. 247).

Steerage. The Steerage section of a ship was where the steering apparatus was located. Many Irish immigrants traveled in the Steerage section because it provided the cheapest fare for passage. In the 20th century the steerage section of travel was eliminated and 3rd class travel became the bargain fare.

Threshing Mill. Westport, County Mayo, had a Threshing Mill in the late 1770's. Kudos to Phil, from Belmullet, County Mayo who enlightenend me on the use of a Threshing Machine. It is a piece of farming machinery that separates the Cereal grain from the Straw.

Once the straw is separated from the grain it can be used for other purposes like animal bedding. Apparently a series of aughers, conveyor belts and sifters are employed to separate the grains, remove dust and other debree so the grain is readied for transport to market.

Tolls of Crane. This was listed on the Griffith's Valuation for the Town of Castlebar in the Townland of Knockcroghan and in the Townland of Pollnacroaghy in Bekan Civil Parish, County Mayo. I have frequently seen a notation for a Tolls for Fairs and Markets and a fair green in the Griffith's Valuation, but The Tolls of Crane and Creanage Tolls is less common. A crane is a machine for weighing goods. It appears to be the weighing of goods brought to market so the goverment (like the Tolls and Fairs of Markets) could charge a fee. The Griffith's Valuation for Ballaghaderreen lists a "Creanage Tolls." Cranage is the "dues paid for use of a crane." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 594). Creanage appears to be an obsolete spelling or a typographical error.
Tuck Mill or Tucking Mill. A Tuck Mill is a water mill; the machinery involved in woolen manufacture. The wool is milled in a Tuck Mill or other machine. You will find these periodically mentioned in the Griffith's Valuation. There was a Tuck Mill in Roosky, Knock Civil Parish, County Mayo. The Oxford english dictionary refers to a "tucking mill...fuller's stocks or beaters for milling cloth." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 3428).
Turbary. I often find notations of the presence of a Turbary in the Griffith's Valuation such as the one in the Townland of Curraboy, Robeen Civil Parish, County Mayo. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a Turbary is "Land or piece of land where turf or peat may be dug for fuel...a peat bog or peat moss." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 3433). Interesting that there weren't any notations in this Civil Parish for "Bog Parcels."