History: Toughanane, Mayo By Tom McDonnell April 10, 2002

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives
Mayo Index


File contributed by: Adrian Willson molobolo@btinternet.com 
December 5, 2012, 6:32 am


I have been requested to record my earliest memories of the 
people and their way of life in Toocananagh in the 'nineties 
and the early years ofthe present century (20th). In those 
days the Townsland was divided into three villages: Balla Na 
Hora, Aughteen Sogarth and Bahaloohera, all very densely 
populated. In Balla Na Hora for instance, Patsy O'Hora had 
five sons and I believe three daughters. His nearest 
neighbour, Hubert O'Hora, had eleven in family; P. Flannery 
had eight; next came Martin O'Hora with six children and 
Bridget Cavanagh with three. Those five houses have now 
gone. Going north, we come to Paddy Berry. Ido not remember 
his parents but I knew Paddy Berry very well indeed. Their 
nearest neighbour was William Clarke with six children. The 
two houses have now disappeared. The Clarke family 
emigrated, but Paddy Berry's daughter married and lives 
locally. Next came the Byrne family. I only knew the two 
sons, Martin and Michael. Martin's descendants are still 
there. South of Balla Na Hora, there lived Patsy Dunleavy 
who had four children whom Iknew Pat, Michael, Nora and Ann. 
Pat built a house for himself, married, but died fairly 
young leaving a large family. As Iunderstand, Michael did 
not marry but the sister did. Next to Patsy Dunleavy lived 
Dennis Deacy with his mother. These were related to Tom J. 
Deacy who lived close by with six children, all of whom have 
either died or left the neighbourhood. Patrick Ulick 
Dunleavy had seven in family and as far as I can understand 
none of them are now living. All the houses, including the 
one built by Pat Dunleavy in my day, have gone. In Aughteen 
Sogarth lived Jack Coleman, Paddy Gallagher and Tom Deacy. 
They each had eight in family. The Gallagher house still 
exists but is unoccupied. The Coleman and Deacy houses have 
been replaced and are occupied by their descendants. Going 
towards Bohola, we come to John Deacy's, occupied by his son 
and daughter. Nearby live the descendants of D. Killgallon 
who had six in family. In Bahaloohera there were four houses 
occupied by McDonnells, Clarkes, Kellys and Hunters. There 
were eight in the McDonnell family, two in Clarkes, three in 
Kellys and four in Hunters. The houses of the McDonnells and 
Kellys have been replaced and their descendants still live 
there but the Clarkes and Hunters have gone. South of 
Bahaloohera lived Patch the fiddler (McNicholas) with two 
sons, Michael and James, both of whom emigrated to America. 
Then came Monaghans, of whom Miles, the eldest of the 
family, also went to America. Lower down lived Nancy O'Hare 
(another McNicholas) with one son, Tom. The last in this 
line of houses, Brogan's, had almost disappeared in my very 
young days. Going north, towards Bohola, were two more 
families: John and James Dunleavy. They were each blessed 
with nine children and are still well represented in the 
neighbourhood. Next to Dunleavys was John Clark, with two 
daughters. The family is still represented there.

It will be seen that vast numbers lived in Toocananagh and 
few were rich yet there was never a question of real 
poverty. Every house had cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, 
ducks and geese. Each grew vast quantities of potatoes, 
cabbage and swedes, oats and rye. The potatoes were 
generally lifted and put in clamps in the fields in which 
they grew and were left there until required. The clamps 
were protected from frost by covering them with straw or 
rushes and about six inches of soil. The corn was cut with 
scythes, tied into sheaves and put into stooks of about 
twelve sheaves. After a few dry days the stooks were doubled 
up and when properly dried they were taken into the haggard 
and stacked. These stacks were thrashed by flail as required 
during the winter months and after the corn was riddled and 
winnowed it was placed in sacks and taken to the mill at 
Ballyvary and ground for cattle food and oatmeal. The owner 
then had the offer of money for the corn or the oatmeal 
after payment for services. The women in the houses always 
made their own butter and had always eggs to sell. They 
carded and spun their own wool with which they made their 
own blankets, socks, stockings and so forth; each house had 
its own spinning-wheel.

On Sundays the young men wore white cord or moleskin 
bell-bottom trousers .
These were narrow at the knee and the calf of the leg was 
very prominent. The shirts were plain; no collars or ties 
were worn until after the Boer War, just a muffler and cap. 
As the men grew older, the dress changed: dark trousers worn 
with a frock coat. The coat had two metal buttons at the 
back and two rows of similar buttons in the front. They wore 
linen shirts with collars attached. The outfit was completed 
by the wearing of semi-tall hats. All the older women wore 
black dresses with bonnets and capes, the latter coming down 
to their waists. In later years as the fashions changed the 
young ladies changed from long dresses to the hobble skirts, 
and so on.


The children from Balla Na Hora went to Tooremeen school and 
the rest of the children to Carragowan school. In the 
summertime the boys and girls crossed the fields in their 
bare feet but in the winter they went round Bohola in some 
kind of footwear. During the winter months each boy took two 
sods ofturf each day for heating the school.


The young men generally gathered together on some little 
hill to play Hop, Skip and Jump on Sunday afternoons. Not 
having a 'shot' they made the best use of a round stone to 
do the 'putting'. During the winter months dances were held 
in local barns and the music was provided by accordion 
players and fiddlers; but by1908/9 all this died out. This 
was a great pity as the best step-dancers always gave an 
exhibition of their skill at these dances. It was not 
uncommon for the grownup young men to meet in P. Clarke's, 
W. Keary's or J. O'Connor's for the occasional drink. 
Generally they would be in small groups: four, five or six. 
They would order a quart or gallon of porter. The price was 
four pence per quart or fifteen pence per gallon.