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The Foxes of Cormullagh

P. J. Fox

THE PRESENT FOX farm at Cormullagh was bought by my father’s father. At the auction my grandfather and another man bid for the farm. This other man said, when the farm was knocked down to my grandfather, that he would have pushed the bid higher but my grandfather would not get the farm in any case because he was a Catholic. My grandfather then went to the landlord’s bailiff, a man called Shillerton, and put £1 deposit on the farm. Shillerton said he would not do my grandfather any harm and he was able to buy the farm for £45. The previous owner of the farm was a Protestant named Robert Curran, who only owned the farm for a few years. Before that the farm was owned by Mc Quillans. The landlord was Lord Ranfurly.

Before my family moved to their present farm, they lived on a farm on the hill facing Dunamoney wood. My great-grandparents, who had married in 1835, lived there on 12 acres in the difficult years of the 1840s. My grandfather died suddenly of an asthma attack in 1850 and his widow, Mary Anne, was left to bring up five small children on her own. On one occasion she was evicted by the landlord, Lord Ranfurly. The eviction was carried out by 24 yeomen and a few policeman. The yeomen were stationed nearby at the McMullans’ farm. The reason for the eviction was the demand by the landlord for a year’s rent in advance, due to his having fallen on hard times while on foreign travels. My great-grandmother refused to pay as she said she was not going to pay rent twice. On the date when the payment was due my great-grandmother and her family watched the agent’s cottage from her house. The cottage was situated at the entrance to Dunamoney wood. She saw many tenants go to the cottage that day, whether they paid or not she could only guess. The following Saturday the eviction party arrived. They put my great-grandmother and her family on the side of the road. A pot of potatoes was boiling on the hearth for the dinner and it was also sat on the side of the road. The windows of the house were boarded up. The eviction party lined up in lines of four and marched downhill to the crossroads, up the hill and over the next hill and out of sight. After a while living on the side of the road, Mary Anne was given a chance to get her home back again. She was told if she changed her religion and went to the church on Sunday she could have her house back. She replied she would die on the side of the road first. Sometime later she and the neighbours pulled the boards off the windows and doors and she re-entered the house.

Our grandfather, Patrick (born 1844) married my grandmother, Mary, in 1884 and lived on the farm. Patrick ran an egg-exporting business. They had a family of six sons: P.J. (Carrickmore), Peter (Belfast), Tom (Dungannon), Francis and Edward who both died at an early age. John, their youngest son, took over the egg business.1 Patrick died in 1917 and Mary in 1941: John, our father, married Rose McDermott from Stradone in Cavan in 1948. They raised a family of twelve, eight girls and four boys. Mrs Rose Fox is still alive today and her youngest son, Aidan, is running the family farm.

Bishop Bloomer

Wolsley Knox

THE RECORDS OF Saint Patrick’s Church, Clonfeacle (Benburb village), indicate that the Bloomer family lived in the townland of Terryglasog, near Oona Bridge, from the early 1600s. Between 1829 and 1842 seven boys were born to Michael Bloomer and his wife Betty Ewing. Four of the boys emigrated to the United States. Two of those returned to their native area and one of them, Thomas, married Mary McFarland of Crew, near Moygashel. Thomas and Mary had one daughter, Elizabeth, and five sons, two of whom died in infancy. All were brought up on a farm in the townland of Mullaghbane. The three surviving boys, George, James and Thomas, were ordained ministers of the Church of Ireland. George became rector of Killylea, Co. Armagh; James became rector of Armagh City and Thomas, after four years in Carrickfergus, moved to England. Elizabeth married Hugh McAllister of Falkland, near Carland, and they too, had three sons in the Church of Ireland ministry. Thomas, in Some Notes on a Happy Life, records that he and his siblings attended a school run by the Presbyterians, more than a mile from their home. On roll there were about 30 children, ranging in age from 4 to 14. The school had one master who had received nine months’ training in 1844. He was a family friend and had given the two older boys a very good education. When Thomas was about nine, the teacher became unwell and spent most of the time in school half asleep. I leave to your imagination what 30 children got up to through each day. Eventually Thomas was removed from the school and sent to Belfast to reside with his two older brothers – at that time, qualified teachers – who took him in hand and prepared him for the scholarship entrance exam at the Royal School in Dungannon. Two scholarships were available and 21 boys sat for them. Thomas did not win. A week later, a letter arrived from R.F. Dill, Headmaster, saying that as Thomas had got so close to gaining a scholarship, the Governors had decided to award a third place. One of the older brothers had got a scholarship ten years earlier. On leaving R.S.D., where he played rugby and cricket, Thomas continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin: he was ordained on his birthday, 14th July 1918, and served as a curate in Carrickfergus.

His rector, J.F. McNeice, then recommended him to go and do a year in England, where he served in the Diocese of Manchester whose Bishop was William Temple (later Archbishop of Canterbury). He served near Rochdale for a year and was then persuaded to go and work in Cheltenham. He took up the appointment on the last Sunday in July 1923, and worked all that day with the rector who told him that he would be in complete charge of the parish for the next four weeks as he and his family were going on holiday. After four and a half years in Cheltenham, Thomas Bloomer was appointed to the Parish of Lyncombe, near Bath, where he had four centres of worship and two full-time curates. He had very fond memories of Cheltenham where he spent seven years and where he met a Miss Marjorie Hutchinson whom he later married.

In 1935 he was offered, and accepted, the parish of Barking in East London; population 52,000 with five centres of worship. Rev. and Mrs Bloomer took up residence in a large Georgian vicarage with a stone slab roof, so strong that ‘Hitler’s fire bombs just bounced off into the garden below’. During most of the war, his wife and children were evacuated to a farm near Oxford and he was able to visit them only once a month for much of that time. As Rev. Bloomer knew something about animals, he started a ‘pig club’, collecting swill to feed the animals and fattened 28 pigs, selling half to the Ministry of Food and dividing the other half among the members of the club. They also had a small flock of hens. In 1944, Rev. Bloomer was appointed Chaplain to King George VI. In 1946, after being interviewed by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, he was appointed to the Bishopric of Carlisle. He was consecrated in York Minster on 18th October and his brother James, rector of Armagh, preached the sermon. There he remained for a little over 20 years. Thomas Bloomer was the most eminent of three remarkable boys from a small farm in Mullaghbane, who worshipped in the church of Saint Columba, Derrygortreavy, where their parents are buried in the adjoining cemetery. In his last broadcast sermon he said – ‘Where there is no faith there can be no sense of purpose, where faith fades, futility takes hold: this is God’s world. God has a purpose for it. Our lives can only find significance and harmony in him and his purpose. Man, modern man desperately needs a living faith in a living God’. In 1979, at the age of 85, he wrote, ‘I have seen the world and I know what the world is like - and I believe that Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world. The words I most like to carry with me now are the words of the following hymn my mother taught me in County Tyrone, in Ireland.’

Safe in the arms of Jesus
Safe on his gentle breast
There by his love o’ershaded
Sweetly my soul shall rest.


The author wishes to record his thanks to Mr Adrian McAllister for his help in preparing this article.


Eugene Dunphy

"I was born in Drumnastrade, Eglish, in the county of Tyrone. My father and mother's names were O Neill, their father and mother's names were O Neill, and my great-grandfather and grandmother's names were O Neill."

Arthur O Neill

ARTHUR O NEILL was born in the townland of Drumnastrade near Eglish in the year 1734. When only two years of age he accidentally suffered an injury to his right eye while, he remarked, ‘diverting myself with a penknife’.1 This accident, together with subsequent ‘cures’ administered to both his eyes by what he described as ‘quacking’ doctors, rendered him totally blind. As career prospects for blind children were extremely limited, Arthur’s parents sent their ten-year-old son to Owen Keenan in Augher, Co. Tyrone, to learn to play the harp.He displayed skill for the instrument partially because of a musical instinct but, mainly, because of his instinct for survival.

After five years of tuition, the young man (aged just 15) began a long life as a wandering bard. We read from his memoirs that he spent most of his adulthood travelling the island of Ireland where he was lauded and scorned, praised and ignored by both nobility and ‘the not so noble’ alike. Arthur O Neill cherished his lineage and heritage. Indeed, at an event held in honour of the old Irish clans in Killarney, he declared to his host Lord Kenmare and the assembled guests at the banquet table, ‘it’s no matter where an O Neill sits, and let it be at what[ever] part of the table I am, it should be considered the head of it’!2 O Neill was not an admirer of flamboyance, sycophancy or wealth but of the more important qualities of talent, learning and decency within people regardless of their status, religion or social ranking.

In his late forties and into his fifties, O Neill competed at three harping competitions in Granard, Co. Longford and at another in Belfast in 1792. As a relatively young man, the already muchtravelled Arthur O Neill had been befriended by Michael and Elizabeth McDonnell of Cushendall, County Antrim. They had invited Arthur to reside with them and to teach the harp to their sons, Alexander, Randall and James. The friendship between the bard and James McDonnell (1763-1845) was to last a lifetime. James, then a doctor in Belfast, helped organise the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in July, 1792. At this gathering, which took place in the Assembly Rooms, Belfast, a nineteen-year-old church organist, Edward Bunting (1773-1843), was commissioned to musically notate the airs played by the eleven assembled harpers. The fusion of McDonnell’s foresight and Bunting’s musical talent ensured that the melodies, of what was an old and fading harping tradition, were preserved for future generations. At the 1792 competition, O Neill won second prize playing The Green Woods of Truagha and Mrs Crofton. Around half the airs played at the festival had been written by Turlough O Carolan (1670-1738). Although he preferred the ancient harp music to Carolan’s more modern compositions, O Neill respected Carolan for his creative skills and his significant contribution to the Irish bardic tradition. Indeed, Mrs Crofton was written by Carolan.

In 1808, at the request of the newly-established ‘Belfast Harp Society’, Arthur, then aged 74, settled in Belfast where he was appointed ‘Professor’ of the harp by the Society at a salary of thirty pounds a year. His mission was to teach the harp to young people, most of whom, like he, were blind. Content in the knowledge that they had secured the services of an experienced and knowledgeable bard, the Society prepared a statement for the press expressing their delight:

... that the person, whom they have been so fortunate as to procure for a master, is already far advanced in life [and is] the only person they know, now living in the kingdom capable of that office ...

Belfast’s Cromac Street was the location for much harp-related activity and the Belfast Harp Society had its headquarters at number 21. Arthur O Neill was housed just a few doors away. The engraver, Thomas Smyth, who also lived on this street, made an intricate engraving of O Neill which featured in various forms in Bunting’s publications. Another Cromac Street neighbour, Valentine Reanney, was related to Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire.

Edward Bunting commissioned his private secretary, Thomas Hughes, to write O Neill’s life story at the bard’s dictation. This memoir (most probably written in the year 1810) provides a vivid insight into, not only Arthur’s personality and his music, but the social and cultural climate of the Ireland of the 1700s. As he recounted his stories to Hughes, O Neill was ever-conscious that his dictations could later be read by people who might be offended by his lucid recollections. True to character, he admitted to ‘not caring a pin into whose hands these unconnected memoirs may fall’.4 Although the work of Bunting, McDonnell, et. al. in the Belfast Harp Society ensured that the Irish harping tradition was safely preserved for generations to come, it is unfortunate that the person of Arthur O Neill became collateral damage in their efforts.

The Bard of Tyrone had been initially welcomed to Belfast. However, after some four years he was left to fend for himself. Anonymous contributors to the Belfast Commercial Chronicle and The Belfast News Letter related how O Neill was being neglected by the Belfast Harp Society. ‘Augustus’ wrote of O Neill living in ‘abject poverty ... in a filthy lane off Mill Street’. Reacting to such letters and to public opinion, the Harp Society held benefit concerts for him. This controversy proved too much for the proud, ‘silent, uncomplaining O Neill’. In 1816, without pomp or ceremony, he returned to the county of his birth. He died at Crowhill, Maydown, near Benburb, on 29th October that year at the age of 82. He is buried in the churchyard in Eglish.

Bunting published three volumes of collected airs in 1796, 1809 and 1840, which owed much to Arthur O Neill’s knowledge of his instrument. Two years before the publication of the 1840 collection, some twenty-two years after Arthur’s death, Dr. McDonnell remembered the bard in a letter:

As to the character of O’Neill, I found him a
perfectly safe companion, a man of veracity
and integrity, not at all addicted to boasting
or pretending to anything extraordinary ...’
Belfast, Nov. 8th, 1838

As I conclude this piece, I’m gladdened to learn that efforts are now under way in Benburb to annually commemorate and celebrate Arthur O Neill’s life.

Eglish Old Cemetery

Brendan McAnallen

Eglish Old Cemetery

EGLISH CEMETERY IS situated on an unusual oval-shaped high mound surrounde by a strong stone retaining wall which is over four meters high at the back. Within the site stands the present St Patrick’s Church erected in 1834 and which, according to tradition, was the third church on the site. Almost in the centre of the cemetery there is an old wall on a patch of level ground which could be the remains of a previous church. Two other walls near the perimeter of the site are thought to be parts of an earlier retaining wall. The site is obviously ancient, probably pre-Christian, and is unusual, particularly in Ulster, in that it seems to have remained in Catholic hands over the centuries. Most ‘burying grounds’ (as the site is identified in early maps) came under the jurisdiction of the Church of Ireland at some time.

O Neill’s own people

Interred within this historical mound are the remains of many of the descendants of the O Neills, as well as the descendants of their associated families, the O Donnellys, O Quinns, O Devlins and O Hagans, who are described in some English documents as the people of ‘O Neill’s Own Country’. The remains of others such as Mellan, Mellon, McCann, McCall, Hamill, Holland, Hughes, Kelly and many more who lie there could equally be described as O Neill’s people.

Arthur O Neill, the blind harper, is said to be buried in the cemetery although no stone bears his name. We may assume that he is buried in one of the many O Neill burial plots which occupy a central position in the cemetery. It was this O Neill who, in deference to his ancestry, on being invited by his host, Lord Kenmare, to occupy the place of honour at the head of the dinner table, turned down the invitation saying ‘Oh, my lord, it’s no matter where an O’Neill sits, and let it be at what part of the table I am, it should be considered the head of it.’ A proud man, he had an almost inordinate pride in his ancestry and boasted that both his parents were O Neill and that

their father and mother’s names were O’Neill, and my great-grandfather and grandmother’s names were O’Neill, and as far as I can learn their ancestors both male and female were all O’Neills; and at this day I have not a relation from the first to the last degree but all O’Neills. In consequence of which there is a family pride amongst the O’Neills both rich and poor of the County Tyrone, conceiving themselves descended from Hugh, Con and John O’Neill of the Tyrone family

He was quick, however, to explain that they ‘were in no manner allied to the O’Neills of Shane’s Castle’ in Co. Antrim.

Charlotte Milligan Fox, in the company of her sister Alice Milligan, visited Eglish cemetery about 1910 in search of Arthur O Neill‘s burial place. Disappointed with the result of their visit, she wrote that

Arthur O Neill’s last resting place is said to be in the churchyard of Eglish, which is between Armagh and Dungannon, in County Tyrone. Accompanied by the Rev. W. T. Latimer,5 a well-known Ulster historian and antiquarian, resident at Eglish, my sister visited this churchyard and a careful search was made for the harper’s grave. Mr. Latimer states that according to tradition it was somewhere about the middle of the churchyard, near to a broken grave-stone. Neither on the occasion of my sister’s visit nor at any time since has he been able to find the broken stone, and surmises that the fragments have been carried away, and with them the last landmark indicating the whereabouts of O Neill’s grave. That it had not been marked by a headstone, Mr. Latimer concludes from the following lines in a poem entitled ‘Exile Musings’ written by Patrick Mallon, a native of Eglish, in 1871.

Oft have I searched your graveyard,
To scan the tombstones old
Where Friar prayed and Fathers famed,
Lie in your sacred mould.
And Harper sweet whose magic notes
Throughout the land were known
Neglected sleeps in tranquil grave,
Without a cross, or stone.

The Bardic Tradition

Many other old names associated with the cemetery in Eglish have also come from the ancient bardic tradition. The annals are full of references relating to this noble art. Mael Ruanaigh Mac Cearbhaill, ‘the chief minstrel of Ireland and Scotland in his time’ was slain in 1328 (AFM). When Tadhg Óg hUiginn died in 1448 he was described as the ‘preceptor of the schools of Ireland and Scotland in poetry and erudition’ (AU) and on the occasion of his death in 1185 Mael Íosa Ó Dálaigh was described as ‘a man illustrious for his poetry’ (AFM). The Gaelic poetry of Giolla Mór Ó Caiside who died in 1143 is preserved to this day. According to Mac Lysaght,6 the O Donnellys and the Currans were also bardic families. Maurice O Dugan is regarded as the author of the words of the beautiful Irish air The Coolin. O Dugan ‘lived near Benburb in the county of Tyrone in the year 1641’.

The Airchinneach, or Erenagh, Families

The erenagh families held an important position in the Church perhaps from as early as St. Patrick’s time when newly converted kings and chiefs granted parts of their lands to the Church. These lands were administered by certain families on behalf of the ecclesiastical superior and were of the benefactor’s clan, and the position remained in the hands of his descendants. The head of the family was known as the airchinneach (erenagh), a word meaning ‘superior’, who subdivided the land among the members of his extended family and who farmed it in the normal way. The airchinneach, in turn, was obliged to pay a certain rent to the ecclesiastical superior, to give a certain amount for the upkeep and repair of the church and to provide clergy and hospitality for the ecclesiastical superior on his visitations. He may also have had a duty of organizing education.When the airchinneach died his successor was chosen by the Irish system of succession, not from among his sons but from his derbfine, a group of four generations stretching to, and including, his great-grandchildren. The O Cullens were hereditary erenaghs of Clonfeacle (Eglish included) and Kilmore from the earliest times till the Reformation of the 16th century.

Collapsing walls

When the present church was being built in 1834 a lot of earth was removed from the site and was probably placed on top of some existing graves so that the cemetery could continue to be used. Many of the gravestones are submerged which would indicate that some material was added. We do not know when the wall around the cemetery was built. Although mortar was used in its construction, it collapsed on a number of occasions. Several complaints were reported in the early part of the 20th century about water seeping from the graveyard into the old school and as a result a new school was built some distance from the cemetery.

Around 1915 a section of the back wall collapsed and was repaired by Henry Hughes, who had been awarded the contract to repair the damage. Later, another section of the rear wall collapsed into the field below. Apparently this happened in the late 1920s after a heavy rainstorm. My father told me a whole section of the graveyard (including stones, earth, coffins and headstones) was scattered across the adjacent field. He and several other parishioners were involved in the gruesome task of gathering the remains and reburying them behind the present vestry. The late Peter Donnelly of Terryglassog was also involved. Although only a young man at the time, he brought along his horse and slipe (a type of slide cart) to draw the remains from the field below, the slipe being more suitable for that kind of work than a wheeled cart. This section of wall was reconstructed using reinforced concrete which was then a recent innovation.

remember a portion of the cemetery wall that faces the main Dungannon road collapsing in the 1960s but there was no major problem and it was repaired in a few days. Joe McGeough told me about the problems of digging graves where some of the old coffins would be only a few feet below ground. On one occasion he counted 27 skulls being set aside during the digging of a grave. Apparently the skulls would be placed together on top of the coffin before the grave would be closed. Peter Donnelly also told the story that a man named McManus was coming home from Dungannon late at night and ‘worse of the wear’, i.e. more than a little inebriated, only to find the wall of the cemetery and the coffins, which were broken open, and corpses scattered widely. He said he thought he had witnessed the Resurrection on the Last Day.

Fights in graveyards

According to John Bell a fight broke out at a funeral between the McGillians and Mallons when many were intoxicated. The Bell of Colm Cille was taken from the McGillians and for a long time its whereabouts were unknown. John Bell, an antiquescollector from Dungannon noted that fights occurred:

in graveyards, over the coffin, where the parties got drunk were very common. Two parties met at a funeral at Termonmaguirk, the sister of the deceased said haughtily that her brother should never be buried without blood being spilled over him, as if there was some good luck or honour to be got by having a fray at his interment. Hostilities commenced by the lady striking one of the leading persons on the ear with a stone, when presently the din and confusion of war ended and soon the rank weeds of the cemetery were trodden down and smeared with blood. The injured heads of the combatants were afterwards tied up in handkerchiefs and as if pity and commiseration for the injury they had inflicted had instantly excited them to the most ardent love, they set to weeping and embracing each other mixing their tears with their own blood and the blood of their late opponents. McDonnell, O Neill and McRory when swearing to be faithful to one another each swore nine times and afterwards drew each other’s blood and drank of it.

Ground for burial in Eglish was always held very sacred and many disputes, even among members of the same family, about where their deceased relative should be buried took place. Joe McGeough told me he heard old people say that one time a fight broke out over a person being buried in the wrong plot. One individual was hit and left unconscious. A third party said that he thought the victim was dead, to which the attacker facetiously replied, ‘Well they can’t say he died without a priest’.

Site of Antiquity

This is a cemetery of great antiquity where many of the people whose names are recorded on the gravestones were born in the 1600s, some even born in the terrible years of the 1640s. A large number of the gravestones were erected during the worst days of the penal period.

The stonework is of a superior quality, but the graveyard is much older than the gravestones and may well have been a burial place even before the Christian era. The stones most likely came from Legane and Carrycastle quarries where an abundance of good quality sandstone lay.

One of the earliest records of families was the Hearth Rolls, dating back to 1664, when people were taxed for having a hearth in their homes and some houses had two hearths. Many of these family names survive to the present day and many others are recorded on the gravestones. Some families are also recorded in the Plantation records. From the gravestone inscriptions, it is possible to establish the early burial grounds of the principal families of the parish. These family burial grounds are now marked on the revised cemetery map. The plots have generally two, three or four stones on each, although the Kerr burial ground contains five or more stones. These gravestones are mostly of the 18th or 19th century and we may assume that the families buried their people in the same plots before the gravestones were erected.

In many of the ancient cemeteries of Ulster there was a tradition of bell-ringing during internment. This tradition was apparently associated with Eglish cemetery and was described by Mrs Sadlier in an historical novel in 1860.

World War I - Eglish Roll of Honour

Wolsley Knox

World War I Roll of Honour

Thomas J. Burton

THOMAS (TOMMY), at sixteen years of age, falsified his age and joined the Inniskilling Fusiliers. He married and fathered a son, David, who later went to live in Scotland. Thomas, a private, died 2nd July 1915 during an unsuccessful landing by the British/French Army at Gallipoli, Dardanelles. His mother was Mary Jane Donnelly. Thomas was only nine months old when his father, David, was killed on the farm while ploughing, when the horses came back on to him. His eldest brother, David, left home as a young man and did not keep in contact but some years after his mother died, he returned to Eglish in 1934 as a United States Army Major (retd.). Thomas, his three brothers and two sisters, all attended Derryfubble school. Eventually the farm at Curran was sold and the family moved to Belfast.

George Caddoo

Lance Corporal in the Ninth Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Aged 22, he died of wounds on 28th July 1918. George was the son of David and Rebecca Caddoo of Kilnacart, Greystone, the eldest of five children, all boys. Prior to enlisting he had been employed by Stevenson & Son of Moygashel, linen manufacturers. George was a member of Derrygortreavy Company, Dungannon Battalion, U.V.F. He was a member of Derrygortreavy Parish Church and Kilnacart L.O.L. 296. George was awarded the Military Medal for the single-handed capture of a German machine-gun, which he turned on the enemy, so enabling his section to advance with safety. His name is recorded on the family headstone: in recent years a wreath is laid to his memory in the church on Remembrance Sunday.

John and James Cumberland

Both were privates in the 9th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, and both were killed in action on 1st July 1916. John was 21 years old and James was 18 years. They were the sons of John and Mary Cumberland, Kilnacart, Derrygortreavy. John was the eldest of five children. The brothers had been members of the U.V.F. and were members of their local Kilnacart Orange Lodge 296. They are commemorated on the roll of honour in Eglish Presbyterian Church. Relatives still live in the area.

James Daly (alias Jack Hart)

Killed in action on 27th September 1917, James was born in February, 1888, the son of Michael and Ellen (née Casey) of Drumay, Derryfubble. His father was born 7th November 1865, the son of Denis and Catherine (née Cush). James emigrated to Australia and it had been intended that on arrival he would go to his sister, already in that country, married to a German. He never met up with his sister. His cousin, J. Shields of ‘Moy’, Western Road, Sydney, in a letter to the Australian Army Office in 1919 stated that James had enlisted in the 4th Light Horse but deserted. In December 1914 he enlisted in the 7th Battalion at Melbourne under the name Jack Hart. He indicated on the enlistment/attestation paper that his father was James Hart of Dungannon and that he had never previously served in any of His Majesty’s Armed Forces. James left Australia for Egypt in February 1915 and arrived in Gallipoli on 30th April 1915. He was evacuated to Alexandria for hospital treatment and on discharge was transferred to the 57th Battalion. Twice in early 1916 Private Daly was before his commanding officer on disciplinary charges (1) for failing to rise at Reveille (2) refusing to obey the order of an N.C.O. On the first occasion he received two days’ detention and seven days’ detention for the second offence. He arrived in France for service on the Western Front in June 1916, where he became a ‘bomber’ attached to the Battalion H.Q. Private Daly was one of three men killed by German artillery which landed in the shell-hole where they were taking cover after the attack on Polygon Wood. He was 29 years of age. Private James Daly’s name is on the Moy war memorial as ‘J. Hart’.

Patrick Hamill

Gunner Patrick Hamill, 2nd Battalion, Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds on 26th March 1915, aged 28 years. He was the eldest son of George and Rose Hamill of Roan, Eglish. His story and that of his family appears elsewhere in this book.

Joshua Holland

Joshua was born at Greystone, within a mile of the Cumberland brothers (see above) and was killed in action on the same day, 1st July 1916. Aged 22, he was a private in the 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskillings. Prior to enlisting he had worked for Mr & Mrs J.S. Irwin on their farm at Carrowbeg, Benburb. Relatives still live in the area. His name is on the Roll of Honour in Brantry Parish Church.

Edwin J. Irwin

Edwin was the second of three sons of Andrew and Lucy Irwin of Stilloga, Eglish. He was killed in France on 11th April 1917, aged 25, while serving with the Australian Imperial Force. His father had died and following his death the family had dispersed, the mother and girls moving to Chichester Road, Belfast. Aubrey went to Canada, Edwin to Australia, Johnny retained the farm and milling business. Kenneth Irwin, Edwin’s grand-nephew, has an autograph-book and within its pages is a Christmas card from 1916 and a pressed leaf on which is written, ‘Keep the home fires burning, Till the Boys come home. Cheer up, Ned.’ The autograph book also contains a letter from Edwin’s best friend to his mother, written on 23rd April 1917, giving a firsthand account of what led up to ‘Ned’s’ death. The autograph-book, which was kept by Edwin’s sister, Florrie, contains the following, written by Ned on 25th December 1911.

More precious far than gold refined
Is friendship knit with heart and mind.
Gold may go its fickle way,
But friendship, tried, will ever stay.

These sentiments were obvious in the letter written by his friend to Ned’s mother.

France, April 23rd [1917]

Dear Mrs. Irwin,

I wrote to you a short note last week, telling you of dear old Ned’s death. I hope you got it alright and are getting over your great loss. He was the best ‘Cobber’ I ever had, and was my bedmate every night for over 12 months. I felt his death as though he were my brother. I suppose he told you that we expected to have a hop over at Fritz, well it was in this ‘hop over’ that he fell.

It was at daybreak on the 11th April that it took place and I will never forget it. The ground was white with snow and of course it wasn’t cold, ‘not half’; we were almost freezing when the word came to line the bank, and in a few minutes over the top we went and a lovely sight it was, especially when the flares went up and lit the surroundings, for it wasn’t yet daylight. Four lines of men stretching as far as the eyes could see and marching coolly towards the German lines almost 1000 yards ahead, as if they were only on parade, instead of going to their deaths perhaps.

The tanks so much talked of, that they were going to do wonders, proved themselves a failure, as they were too slow and we were ahead of them. Our hearts fell a bit when we discovered this, for we thought the barb wire entanglements would not be cut as the artillery was not firing, as the tanks were expected to do the work.

Fritz could now see us coming and opened fire with machine guns, rifles, bullets were whizzing everywhere and men were commencing to drop, but still on we marched and at last came to the wire, which to our great relief was fairly well knocked about and was easily got over, but so well did Fritz have his guns trained on it that by the sparks, the sparks that flew from the bullets striking it, made it seem impossible to get any further. Men were falling fast, but there was no time to think and in a few seconds we were through it and into the trenches and then we got to work with our rifles and in this excitement I forgot all about my own safety and was firing away at the Huns, running back into their second line. It was just here where I happened to see Ned and I hailed him and asked how he was. ‘Good old Bill, good luck’ he said and then I went ahead, for we had to take the second line of trenches.

Things were getting pretty warm and Fritz was resisting stubbornly, and he held us back with his bombs for a while, and we had to bomb him out. I again found Ned by my side as I was throwing bombs, he was in the act of firing his rifle, when I heard him call out ‘Bill’ and I turned and saw him fall. I ran to his side and raised him but one look at his wound I knew it was fatal. Hard luck but he died doing his duty as many of my mates did that morning. I took his pocket watch and wallet off him and am sending them to you as he desired.

[the letter continues with further details of the battle and comments about what ‘Ned and I’ had planned to do should they ever get leave. It finishes:]

Well, I think this is all I can say just now, but will drop you a line occasionally. Hoping this finds you and all dear Ned’s sisters and brothers as well as can be expected.
I remain Ned’s dear Cobber

W. Irvine 4222

Heads of Households in Eglish: 1664-1911

Rose Mary Logue

The following table lists the Heads of Households recorded in the parish of Eglish, Co. Tyrone, from 1664 to 1911, analysed by townland. The sources used were:

  • Hearth Money Rolls 1664-1666
  • Records of the Powerscourt Estate 1770
  • Title Applotments Survey 1833
  • Griffith’s Valuations 1860
  • Census 1901 and 19115

Hearth Money Rolls

IN THE 1660s the government placed a tax on hearths (fireplaces and chimneys) as a means of raising revenue. The tax to be levied was two shillings per hearth. Surveys were, accordingly, carried out to determine the number of hearths in each household and they give a valuable record of families at the time. Some townlands in the parish have no records under this heading and it can only be assumed that in these areas there were no houses with fireplaces and chimneys.

Records of the Powerscourt Estate

The tenants’ names given are taken from advertisements which appeared in the Belfast Newsletter in 1770 and 1771. The advertisements listed lands in the County of Tyrone, being Part of the Estate of the Right Hon. Viscount Powerscourt. Leases on the holdings were due to terminate in November 1770 and 1771 and applications were invited for new tenants. The advertisements stated:

There is Limestone and Limestone Gravel,
contiguous to most of the Lands. Proposals in
Writing will be received by Lord Powerscourt,
directed to his House In William Street, Dublin; or
by his Agent Francis Houston, Esq: at Tully-dowey
near Armagh, any Time before the 1st of September
next, at which Time the Tenants will be declared.
The Proposals will be kept secret if required. No
Preferences will be given, nor a second Proposal
received from the same Person.’

Title Applotment Survey 1833

Tithe Applotment books were compiled between 1823 and 1837 to determine the amount occupiers of agricultural holdings would be obliged to pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland, which was until 1871 the established (state) church in Ireland. Tithes were payable regardless of the religious persuasion of the occupier: the only areas excluded were church lands, glebes and urban areas. A manuscript book was established in almost every civil parish in Ireland, giving the names of occupiers, the amount of land held and the sum to be paid in tithes. Tithe Applotments for Eglish were recorded in 1833.

Griffith’s Valuations 1860

In 1825 Richard Griffith (b. Dublin 1784) was appointed head of the Boundary Department of Ireland. The government’s aim in appointing him as surveyor was to achieve a uniform system of land measurement and valuation, thus eliminating inequities in the application of tithes and the county tax (the cess). His survey work, done over a period of forty years, comprised in excess of 3,000 maps and 2,300 registers. Valuations were carried out between 1848 and 1864. Each record listed the name of the head of the household, the name of the landowner, the acreage of the holding, its value and the amount of tax assessed. The associated Ordnance Survey Memoirs, ritten between 1846 and 1864, provide a valuable esource for those wishing to know about Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century and they reflect conditions after the Great Famine. Valuations in the civil parish of Clonfeacle, of which Eglish was part, were conducted in 1860.

Census 1901 and 1911

It is said that the first census was conducted in the 7th Century in Dál Riada (the ancient kingdom located in present-day Scotland and North Antrim). The first English census was taken in 1086 for tax purposes when the Domesday Book was compiled. A census of the Irish population was taken every 10 years from 1821 to 1911 but many of the records were destroyed. Later census returns of the nineteenth century were deliberately destroyed (some to produce wood pulp during World War I). The 1841 and 1851, records were kept in the Public Records Office until their destruction in the burning of the Four Courts in Dublin in 1922. Some returns still exist from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 but none for County Tyrone. Original manuscript returns in Tyrone now exist only for 1901 and 1911. Under law, census returns are not normally opened to the public until 100 years have elapsed, but because of the dearth of earlier data, the Irish Government made returns for 1901 and 1911 available early. Returns for 1926 (the next census) are not due to be made available until 2026.

Returns for 1901 and 1911 censuses are arranged by townland. A number of forms had to be completed. Form A was completed by the head of each household on the night of Sunday, 31st March in the case of the 1901 census and Sunday, 2nd April in the case of the 1911 census, and gave details of the names, relationships, religion, age, occupation, marital status, place of birth and knowledge of the Irish language of each member of the family. It also required details of disability: the categories suggested were ‘Deaf and Dumb’, ‘Dumb only’, ‘Blind’, ‘Imbecile’, ‘Idiot’ or ‘Lunatic’. The 1911 census additionally asked, in the case of married women, for the number of completed years in the marriage, the total children born alive and the number still living. Forms N, B1 and B2 were filled in by the enumerator (generally a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary) and summarised the returns for each townland. The information on the following table is taken from Form B1, which gives details of each dwelling house including its construction, roofing and number of rooms, the number of families and persons in each household and the name of the landlord.

Further information can be found in The Book of Eglish