A Census of the Parishes of
Prior and Killemlagh,
D[e]cember 1834


Census for Prior | Keelimila

The census here edited, like that of the parish of Ferriter presented in no. 7 (1974) 37-70 "Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society", is one of a small number of such surveys made at the instigation of Daniel O'Connell and others in 1834-5 which have survived. It was carried out by the parish clerk, Paul Murphy (about whom nothing seems to be known), under the direction of the parish priest, Rev. Jeremiah O'Sullivan.

Father O'Sullivan is said to have been a native of Beare1 and of the family of O'Sullivan Beare,2 being for that reason known as An tAthair Diarmaid an Phrionsa.3 He was apparently something of a poet in the Irish language and was praised in verse by Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin.2 Precise information regarding his career is difficult to obtain, to some extent owing to the fact that at least four priests of the same name ministered in the diocese in the first half of the last century.4 He may have been ordained at Maynooth in 1815.5 We find him in Prior as early as 1825,6 though he may not have been made parish priest until 1834.7 According to the notes of the late Father James Hanley, he resigned as parish priest of Prior (and Killemlagh) in November 1840 and became chaplain to Daniel O'Connell.8 The year of his death has not been ascertained.9

The original of our census is now item 99.5 of the O'Connell papers acquired by University College, Dublin, in 1939-40.10 It does not appear to be mentioned in any newspaper-reports of meetings of the Anti-Tory Association and may not have been submitted to that body, as other returns were. This, together with Father O'Sullivan's being chaplain to the Liberator, would explain its occurrence in the latter's papers rather than with other surviving censuses among the (so-called) Catholic Association papers in Dublin Diocesan Archives.

Although the areas covered by the present census almost certainly correspond to the total area included in each of these two parishes by the Ordnance Survey and in official census-returns, detailed comparison is made difficult by the fact that the townland-divisions employed here are rather different. Townlands of the same (or similar) names as those of the Ordnance Survey may not always be of the same extent, while some denominations employed here do not occur in the Ordnance Survey, and vice versa. Some correspondences are suggested in footnotes below, though very tentatively in a few cases, and others could probably be worked out on the ground, using both the Ordnance Survey maps and the returns of the numbers of houses and families rather than of total population."

In the case of Prior, each townland-name here or a similar one also occurs in the Ordnance Survey, but the latter also recognises as townlands the following not occurring here: Ballard, Cloon, Emlaghlea, Emlaghnamuc, Mweelin, Muingydowda, Reennacoola, Reenroe. The situation is even more complicated in Killemlagh. Some areas treated here as townlands are part of larger townlands inthe Ordnance Survey, as indicated in footnotes below. As well as that, Curra and Knuckane do not appear in the Ordnance Survey, while Coomakeoge, Coomanaspig, Foilnageragh, Lomanagh and Rathkieran of the latter do not occur here.12

O'Connell's 1834-5 census was suggested by the work of the Commissioners of Public Instruction of 1834, and the returns of that body together with the present census and the official returns of 1821, 1831 and 1841 give the following series of figures for Prior and Killemlagh before the Famine:

  1821 1831 1834(1) 1834(2) 1841
Prior 2333 3176 3390 3385 3323
Killemlagh 2207 2548 2724 2566 2728

The 1834 commissioners carried out an original census of the parish of Prior (hence the close agreement of their figure with that of our census), whereas they arrived at their total for Killemlagh 'by computation'. Nevertheless, there is no obvious explanation for the discrepancies in the series of figures we have for the latter parish,especially as the numbers of houses or families returned show a continuous increase over the period 1821-41.13

Unlike Ferriter, these two parishes seem to have been unaffected by the activities of proselytising bodies, so that the numbers of Protestants returned remained insignificant.

In reproducing this census, the spelling and layout of the original has been followed as far as possible, omissions and alterations being indicated in footnotes.14 The paper is watermarked 1825; the first 2 leaves are larger than the others and were probably sewn in later (conjuncts are missing); 20 pp. blank at end. The opening page of the census of Prior and some other items (noted below) are in Father O'Sullivan's hand, while the main body of the document is in another hand, presumably that of Paul Murphy, the parish clerk.

Thanks so much to Dr. Pádraig de Brún for allowing us to post his work on this site.

Census for Prior | Keelimila




1. Notes on the priests of the diocese compiled by the late Father J. Hanley, P.P. (Diocesan Archives, Killarney; communicated by Father K. O'Shea).

2. S. Fenton, It all happened (Dublin 1948) 42; idem (Séamus Dubh, J. Fenton), Amhráin Thomáis Ruaidh .i. The songs of Tomás Ruadh O'Sullivan ... (Dublin 1914 etc.) 12-13, 36-41.

3. Cf. An Lóchrann Bealtaine 1910, 3; Béaloideas 8 (1938) 172, 11 (1941) 153; University College, Dublin, Dept. of Irish Folklore, IFC MSS 146, pp. 24-8; 823, p. 543; 927, P. 62; 960, pp. 531-3; 962, p. 239; 1341, PP. 241-3; 1396, pp.89-90. (I owe most of these references to Mr Seán Ó Súilleabháin.)

4. The others were: (1) parish priest of Ardfert 1816-51 (P. de Brún, Fillócht Sheáin Uí Bhraonáin (Baile Átha Cliath 1972) 50 n. 154; cf. no. 7 (1974) 148-9 of this journal); (2) parish priest of Liselton etc. 1821 (Chute's Western Herald {Tra1ee}3 Dec. 1821; Limerick Chronicle 15 Dec. 1821; cf. M. Tierney, North Munster Antiq. Jn. 9 (1962-3) 64 and Murroe and Boher, the history of an Irish country parish (Dublin 1966) 58); (3) curate in Ballymacelligott in 1836 and subsequent years ([Irish] Catholic directory 1836 -). Mention might also be made of Rev. J. O'Sullivan of 'Nohaval and Kilcummen East', named in connection with the Catholic Rent in Freeman's Journal 3 March 1825.

5. Father Hanley's notes (see note 1) say that he was educated in Maynooth and ordained in 1817, but only one Jeremiah O'Sullivan is listed for the diocese in P. J. Hamell, Maynooth students and ordinations 1795-1895 index ii (Maynooth 1973) 37; he matriculated on 5 September 1811 and was ordained on 20 May 1815.

6. Account of Catholic Rent, Freeman's Journal 17 March 1825.

7. See note 1. In First report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, Ireland (London 1835) app. ii, 58, the name is mistakenly given as 'Rev. Terence O'Sullivan'.

8. See note 1. He is named as parish priest of Prior in the (Irish) Catholic directory for the years 1836-41, but is not mentioned thereafter.

9. He is said to have 'Died suddenly in Waterville' in Fr Edward, O.S.F., 'Succession of parish-priests and administrators in the parishes of the diocese of Kerry' (c. 1887), p. 173 (Diocesan Archives, Killarney).

10. Cf. Analacta Hibernica 15 (1944) 371. Permission to publish is gratefully acknowledged to the library authorities.

11. It should be noted that official census-returns distinguish between the numbers of families, however defined, and the numbers of houses in each area, whereas our census seems to deal only with households, indicating a difference between the number of families and the number of houses only in the case of Canuge (Houses 9 [3 families in one]), and possibly Emilaghpeasti (cf. note 14). The 1841 census is the first to give a breakdown of house-numbers by townlands. See note 13.

12. Of the Ordnance Survey townlands in Prior not occurring here only Ballard, with 12 houses, was inhabited in 1841. It seems to be included with Formoyle in the present census, as that townland had only 65 houses in 1841, whereas it is credited here with 80 [recte 78] (note 19). Most or all of the other additional townlands are probably included with Emlaghmore (cf. note 16). In Killemlagh, Rathkieran (not occurring here) contained 25 houses in 1841; Keel (6 houses) of the present survey (note 46) is part of the Ordnance Survey townland, and the the remainder may here be contained in Killabuonia (East and West), which had 64 houses at the time of our census, but only 45 in 1841. The remaining Ordnance Survey townlands were uninhabited in 1841. In any more detailed examination of the townland-divisions employed here, attention might also be given to the station-districts into which the two parishes are divided. These are:

Ballard and Tomathourig; Fermoyle and Trieneragh; Cools and Sussa; Killurley; Clahananoe; Kinard East and West; Coom and Libes; Ballinskelligs West, Boulikeel and Canuig; Dungeagan; Ballinskelligs East; Reen; Bolus and Kilrelig; Crough and Meeligoleen; Cloon and Reenroe; Duchalla, Allaghamore, Killoncaha and Aghort; Rathkieran and Faha; Killaboonia: Lehed, Ballinabloun, Moyrisk and Gleneragh; Ardcost Upper and Lower; Killoluig, Cappawee, Emlaghpesta, Aghadda and Ahaneboy; Dogmount, Pound and Kilkeveragh; Lative and Doora; Portmagee village; Portmagee townland and Reencaheragh; Emlaghmore and Emlaghtea; Emlaghnamuck and Emlaghdrinagh (I am grateful to Rev. Father D. Curtin, P.P., for this list). I wish to thank Breandán Ó Cíobháin for his assistance with this problem.

13. Figures under '1834(1)' are taken from First report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction, Ireland  (London 1835) 170c-171c. Those under '1834(2)' are derived from the present census; for adjustments made see note 14. The numbers of families and houses (cf. note 11) returned for Prior in 1821, 1831 and 1841 respectively are: 395 (373 houses), 538 (519) and 584 (598 with 22 uninhabited). Corresponding figures for Killemlagh are: 388 (356), 433 (427 with 2 uninhabited and I building) and 471 (484 with 17 uninhabited and 1 building).

14. Headings of pages and columns have been omitted; totals at the end of each page have likewise been ignored. The first page of the census proper contains a column for houses occupied by each family, but this ('1' in each case) is dis-continued thereafter. Columns for Protestants and Dissenters are not included here, households marked as protestant being so marked in footnotes instead. The summary totals for the townlands of each parish have also been omitted but are referred to where necessary. Errors of addition have been silently corrected in the cases of Ahert (females 68, total 139, in manuscript), East Killibony (females 50, total 94), Killiboney West (females 121, total 251, in summary; not totalled in text); Emilaghpeasti (houses 6). Grand totals for each parish have been adjusted according to these changes and to those referred to in notes 19, 35, 67, 73.

15.P. [5] of manuscript. The first two words (with the date '1835' cancelled) and the last eight of the title as given above seem to have been added later by Father O'Sullivan. At the top of the page are the words 'Parish of Prior Barony of / Iueragh & County, Kerry' and at the bottom, 'Population / Book / Paul Murphy /P Clerk'. P. [1] of the manuscript is also a title-page: 'Parish of Prior & Keelimilagh / Barony of Iuera / County of Kerry / Paul Murphy / P Clerk'. This is followed by three blank pages except for the words 'Population in 1831-3170 [a mistake for 3176] Male & Female' on p. [4]. Pp. [6-7], the opening pages of the census, bear similar headings to p. [5], in Father O'Sullivan's hand.

16. 'Imelaughdrenang' on p. [6], 'Imilaughmore' on p. [7], both in Father O'Sullivan's hand, and 'Emilaghmore' in totals; cf. note 12.

17. In correction (for 'Dannahy' ?).

17a. In summary totals only.

18. Possibly 'Cournane'.

19. Not totalled in text; summary totals (cf. note 14) give 257, 268, 525, and 80 houses. See note 12.

20. In correction (for 'Sughrue' ?).

21. 'Coom East & West' in summary.

22. See note 11; not referred to in summary.

23. Or 'Shau' / 'Shacs'.

24. Corrected from '1'.

25. Corrected from 1, 2, 3.

26. Sic.

27. 'River & Curragh' in summary; Curragh is Curraghnanav in Ordance Survey.

28. In correction (for 'Cromin'?)

29. Corrected from 1, 1, 2.

30. In correction.

31. Sic.

32. Sic.

33. Sic.

34-34. See note 35.

35. The total number of Catholics is given in the manuscript as 236 males and 229 females, making altogether 465. (The fourth column was evidently not totalled separately, so that the discrepancies marked by notes 31-2 were not adverted to.) It is clear from Father O'Sullivan's remarks (next item) that all ten Protestants in the parish belonged to the last three households. In the original these are placed in the separate column for Protestants (cf. note 14), but the first two of them also seem to be credited with one female Catholic each. Mistakes in addition further compounded by the apparent error marked in note 32 do not allow for certainty in this matter, however, as it seems possible from the figure of 70 females rather than 72 given as page-total (see note 14) for the last 28 households (from John Sullivan onwards) that these two were to be regarded as Protestants. Cf. also note 67.

36. In Father O'Sullivan's hand. so see also notes 35, 73, 83.

37. Allaghee More in Ordance Survey; see also note 44.

38. Sic; also spelt thus in totals. Cf. note 84.

39. Corrected from '3'.

40. In correction.

41. Corrected from 3, 4, 7.

42. Glanearagh and Moyrisk in Ordnance Survey.

43. In correction for 39, 3[6] and 7[5], due to the later addition of the last household, the number of houses being left uncorrected at 12.

44. Possibly Allaghee Beg in Ordnance Survey. Cf. note 37.

45. Ballynahow in Ordnance Survey.

46. Part of Rathkieran (see note 12) in Ordnance Survey.

47. for 'Leary' ?

48. Curragh and Knuckane do not appear in the Ordnance Survey.

49. See note 12.

50. Smudged (in correction for 'Lync[h]' ?).

51. First letter corrected from 'M'.

52. 521 males, 489 females (giving 1010) in text; 579 males, 438 females (making 1,017) at end of first page of summary totals.

53. These figures in correction.

54. See note 68.

55. In correction (for 'Faluey' ?).

56. See note 81.

57. 'Gortbeg' in totals; probably Gortreagh of Ordnance Survey.

58. Probably part of Emlaghpeasta in Ordance Survey.

59. See note 58.

60. In correction.

61. 'Killologue' in totals; see also note 84.

62. One female Protestant; see also Remarks and note 84.

63. In Kilkeavragh (see Remarks); cf. note 64.

64. '21' in text, presumably including the household of Rev. H. Mansell (note 63), though this appears to have been added in again in the summary total, giving altogether 22 houses.

65. Knockeenavadra in Ordnance Survey.

66. In Lateeve in Ordnance Survey.

67. One Catholic and one Protestant, apparently (cf. Remarks), though the total of male Catholics is given as 11 in the text (but as 12 in the summary, giving altogether 24 Catholics; not totalled in text); cf. a similar difficulty with Ballinskelligs, note 35 above.

68. I.e. Ferry of Portmagee (An Calaithe), in the townland of Doory in Ordnance Survey; cf. see Remarks below and also notes 54, 74.

69. Corrected from '2'.

70. Corrected from 'Breen'.

71. Coastguards inserted at this point in Father O'Sullivan's hand; cf. note 73.

72. Corrected from '3'.

73. This item is in Father O'Sullivan's hand; see note 71. The total of Catholics had originally been correctly calculated as 69 mles and 65 females, but 7 [recte 6] males and 9 females, being the number of Protestants in the townland (see Remarks), were mistakenly added in by Father O'Sullivan. The error has been repeated in the summary, where 15 Protestants are also enumerated. Cf. notes 36, 83.

74. see notes 68, 82.

75. See note 66.

76. Corrected from '2' and '8'.

77. Corrected from '3'.

78. Christian name and initial of surname in correction.

79. See note 66. the name 'Charles MCarthy', orignally at the head of the list, has been crossed out.

80. Corrected from '2'.

81. Part of Ardcost in Ordnance Survey.

82. Probably in Doora; cf. 'Waterview' in Ordnance Survey.

83. This item is in Father O'Sullivan's ahnd; cf. notes 36, 73.

84. A mistake for Killogue/ Keelologue.

85. Cf. note 68.

86. Totals as adjusted (see notes 14 etc.). figures in the manuscript are: Keelimilagh, 1309 males and 1163 females; Prior, 1702 males and 1689 females.