I have transcribed what my Aunt May Lally wrote about these families in various letters she wrote to me in the 1990s. I apologize but the thoughts jump around and while I tried to pull common people into one spot, it wasn’t all that possible. So you kind of have to read all of it, as Aunt May’s dialoge jumps and jumps.
(Version 1, from one letter):
The first McGing that came to Westport was from Ardara or Bohaun. He was Myles and started a little business buying cow hides and bringing them by the cartload to Athlone and often walked most of the way because he had the cart loaded and heaped. He changed the horses halfway between Westport and Athlone, put the load on the train there and came back to Westport with a load of shoes and leather and sold them in his shop in High Street. I think they called his son Leather James. It seems there was another James by the same surname.
A son of Myles bought a big house across the street and had a pub there. John McGing's is still there. Another son married the girl next door and he also had a pub. No pub there for a long time now. There's a Francis McGing there and she is old and blind and has no interest in family history, unmarried as well. The two houses are big three story houses. A lot of people go to John McGing's pub. It is so old and people are tired of the modern places.
As you probably know, our great grandfather was Pat McGing and his wife was Scahill from Knappogh near Westport. His son Michael took over the place in Ardara. His wife was Basquill from Sraheen. Another son Austin married an O'Malley woman from Isleandready and they had the gatheouse by the railway station. They had no land and his job was opening and closing the gates for the trains and taking change. He was James McGing.
Phillip married in Churchfield to Penelope Morrin. Philips sons were Pat, Michael, John, Martin, Phillip, James, Austin, Francis and Thomas, also Mary Brridgie, Jane and Penelope.
Michael in Ardara had a boy and a girl when he died young and his widow got married again to a Higgins man and had a family by him. They are still in Ardara but are no relation to us. Michael McGing's son went to the States. The daughter stayed home and her mother gave her 1/2 the land and the other half to her son by Higgins. The daughter married and had no family. The Forestry Department planted the land some years ago.
The man (Austin) in Islandeady has eleven sons. One stayed home, married and had no family. The other sons all went away to sea, and one of them became a diplomat or so my cousin told me.
James also had a lot of sons, but none of them married at home, so there were no McGings, only the ones in Churchfield and they were the last. All those sons, I wonder where their progeny are, if any?
Pat McGing of Ardara also had 3 daughters married locally. One to Michael (Mickey) Gavin on Tonlagee. Mary married John Sheridan in Aughoghaman. She had eleven children, but only 1 lived (Nora's father,John)This would be in the 1880's. Jane was married to another Sheridan and she also had a lot of boys and one girl who married a nice man we know, John McGuire known as Darkie McGuire. His son is married to a Gavin girl in Raith, and they have a big family, most of them married now.
Honor married Mickey Gavin of Tonglagee. They also had 5 or 6 sons. One stayed in Tongalee known as John Mickey as there are more Gavin there and he married a McGing woman. They were 2nd cousins. They had 5 sons and 5 or 6 girls.
You know a lot of second cousins married long ago. All over this area and every area as far as I know. They had no transport so they couldn't go very far.
Version 2 from a different letter:
We know our great grandfather was Pat McGing and he lived in the village of Ardara in the parish of Aughagower near Westport. I’ve heard that his father was James, but I’m not sure. Pat’s wife, our great grandmother, was Jane Scahill from Knappagh near Westport. Pat was born in or about 1810.
Pat McGing’s family were Mary, born 1836 in Ardara, James about 1837, Austin 1844, Philip my grandfather in 1846, Honor in 1854, Michael in 1856 and Jane in 1861.
He had two brothers, Philip and John.
Philip married a Derrig girl from that are and lived in Westport. They had a family of six children. They had the same names at Past’s family – Mary, James, Austin, Philip, Honor, Michael and Jane.
Now those were my grandfather’s cousins in Westport and he visited them from time to time especially in summer time or later. He went back to the sea for a holiday every year and he talked about them to my mother. By that time, they had a thriving business in Westport.
One cousin had a leather shop and sold everything and anything in leather goods. He was known as Leather James. (James Joseph McGing 18448 – 1933) I believe he started off buying loads of cow hides and brought huge cartloads to Mullingar and often walked most of the journey as the load was too big already and his weight just added too much. He got the train there for himself and the load of hides to Dublin where he sold them and came back with a load of shoes, leather, saddles harness etc and sold them in his shop in lower High street.
This is very complicated as the Lally's Boyles and Gibbons's were mixed up and married for generations and Dolans also came into it before and long before Paddy came here. However, I'll tell you how they were related to my mother.
Tommy's great grandmother was a sister to my mother’s great grandmother on Barr Na Hanna, so my mother and Tommy were third cousins. Those two sisters were Thorntons, and their parents and themselves were evicted in Gorteenmore down near the Church in 1833. The year Plunkett came. It was a lovely cozy village and he wanted it for sheep. So like many more, they had to take to the hills and start digging, mostly in the valleys and sheltered spots and erect little cabins for themselves and had to pay rent on that as well.
The Thorntons settled in Gortnalderg, one daughter Salog married Big Luke Gibbons (There was a Small Luke Gibbons near by). He was Tommy's great grandfather and the other one married Whalen in Barr Na Hanna. Whalen died young and left four children one son known as Sean (Small Sean). Tom Whalens grandfather. Small Sean was reared in Gortnalderg with the Thorntons. His mother later married Coyne. This is where we come into it. She had two daughters by Coyne. One married Pat Whalen (Stiophen) and they are my great grandparents. Don't get confused here. Coyne's daughter was no relation to Pat Whalen (Stiophen).
Uncle Stiophen tells me that he was one of the Gortmor Coynes (Nellogs). They are and were a fine respectable people.
Well, Saleog Thornton who married Luke Gibbons (Luke Mor) only had one daughter, Mary Gibbons, known as Nancy Mor. She married a neighbor, Tom Lally when she was a teenager. She was my husband's grandmother. Her father had died young and the story goes her grandparents who were still alive and well were afraid Saloeg, the girl’s mother, would marry again and they'd have none of their own to look after them in their old age so she did marry Tom Lally known as Thomas Nellie from next door. She had a large family, from 23 years down to one. He was involved in the Fenian movement and had to flee to America, leaving his wife and four children, returned after eight years and had four more.
In her youth, his wife, Nancy Mor visited Barr Na Hanna often. She was a first cousin to Pat Whalen's wife, my great grandmother and also a 1st cousin of Small Sean Whalen. She used to say in Irish "My heart rises when I go back to Barr Na Hanna" It sounds so much better in Irish. She loved to visit tem in Bar Na Hanna and if there were any relations place on the way, she would pass there and not stand on the floor as they used to say.
Tommie learned a lot from this grandmother, she was in her 80's when she died and he was in his 20's. His sister looked after her to the end and she also had a lot of stories. I heard a lot more about my people here than I ever heard in Churchfield.
Stiophan Whalen told me years ago that his grandfather was evicted on the times when he came to Gortmor. They were evicted in Headford when they came to Clonbur and then Killbride. They weren't evicted for non-payment of rent, but for writing songs and ballads about Landlords and their Agents and people singing them at fairs and patten days. They were gifted with music, song and dance and acting in my mother’s time. The old man in Drimcoggy taught Irish to the professors in the old Irish college here around the turn of the century and after, he was on stage at Feisanna, reciting some of his hilarious poems and had his huge audience in raptures. My grandfather in Gortmor didn't go into that, he really was a good businessman and they had a big retail shop there when my mother was young. Sadly, his death and Michael's death at a young age was the start of the downfall of that business.
It was his father a poet and shoemaker who started the shop there. He often went to Westport for leather and nails and those things, and before long he started bringing tea and sugar and small things and selling them and before long, he sold a lot of stuff. You know thatbefore he came there he was selling a pair of shoes in Dooros in Connemara where he saw the lovely Sarah O'Rourke and he went there again and asked her to marry him and she did. So our great grandmother on that side was an O'Rourke. A great Irish name.
Those people are not there any ore, they moved to Meath in the 1930's There was only one daughter. She married in Meath, but we have lost track of them. Strange to say, Dooros in Connemara was an English speaking village. There were pockets like that all over Connemara where English was the spoken language. She must have spoken English to them in Gortmor, to her family I mean, as there was English spoken in the house quite a lot in my mother’s time and that was rare at the time. John Burran's mother is from Dooros and John owns the place now. It is like a peninsula, going out into the bay in Lock Corrib. Kate my aunt remembers being there as a child. They went to mass in a boat. The church was on an island in Lock Corrib. Some of the O'Rourke’s are buried there. Mostly Dooros people. It seems they had boats before they had horses or carts.
[NOTE: Dooras in Cornamona- it’s a peninsula on Loch Corrib. The holy island with the church is Inchagoill - an island on Loch Corrib. There are people buried there.]
Away back in 1833 Lord Plunkett came, one of the cruelest and most ruthless of the landlords. He came to Tourmakeady and very soon his reign of terror began on the poor people of the area. It is well known that he stood on the hill overlooking Gorteenmore and said this scenic little village would be ideal for a small sheep farm. In no time at all he evicted about a dozen families who had lived there in cozy cottages for many years. Those unfortunate people had to take to the roads and hills and face poverty and hardships and hunger. Eight families lived on the slopes of LoNa Saile mountain where they labored and dug this barren windswept hillside for many years and so totally different from the sheltered village of Gorteenmore.
However, a family of Thorntons settled in a hillside place known as Gornalderg and they also settled in and dug the hillside and solved their potatoes and kept digging and cultivating and after years had a tidy little home in a sheltered spot and able to pay the rent to their landlord. There were two daughters in the family and two sons. One daughter named Mary married a Whalen man from Barnahowna. The other was Salog Thornton, who married Luke Gibbons, otherwise known as Luke Mor here in Derryveeney. He was Thomas Lally’s (Aunt May’s husband) great grandfather.
Mary Thornton Whelan had a son Sean and two daughters when her husband died at a young age. Sean Whelan later known as Sean Beag was reared in Gortnalderg. He was Tom Whalen’s grandfather and Tom still lives in Bornahowna and has a family. Sean Beag’s two sisters married locally.
Some time after Whalen died, Mary married a man named Coyne. He was from Gortmor. She had two daughters with Coyne, and one married Pat Whelan known as Pat Stiophan. He was the son of Stiophjan Whelan and his wife who was Lydon from Killitiane, the Nuck a ghanha Lydons. She would be a great great aunt of Sean Mhic a very popular family even back then. She would be no relation to her husband as her father was Coyne. Lydon known as Mial Nora Mhor.
Mary Coyne and Pat Whelan (Stiophan) had a large family. There were at least 10 of them. The eldest girl Mary married John Donoghue of Gortmore. John was a young widower with two children, Michael and Mary. His first wife died in childbirth. Mary had a good life with John Donoghue. He had a thriving business his father had started from scratch in Gortmore selling a lot of groceries and flour and all kinds of animal feeding stuff and also carried on the shoemaking trade. He was a shoemaker by trade. Mary and John Donoghue had a large family. Unfortunately, Mary died of a hemorrhage after childbirth of a still born. John was gone to the graveyard burying the child when he came home his wife had died. She was only in her early thirties. He was devastated and so was his family.
My (May McGing Lally) mother Bridget was the eldest girl and only 11 when it happened. She told me about it when I was quite young. She was so lonely for a long time. Her (Bridget Donoghue) sister Kate lived here with us for a long time when she got old also remembered her mother and the sadness of her death.
John was next to Kate, then Martin, Paddy, a little girl Sarah died very young. Annie and Stiophen were the youngest, Stiophan only a year old. His grandparents in Bornahowna were still strong and not very old so they took Stiophan until he was 7 years of age. Then he came home to go to school. He got loads of love and affection from his grandparents. I know my mother also loved those grandparents and she often visited them growing up. They were the kindest of people and I could always see throughout my life that their descendants in Gortmor and indeed the other families, the Lydons, O’Neills, Mulroes their cousins were also very understanding people.
Michael Donoghue and Mary Donoghue were children of the first wife, Mary Ann Joyce. Michael grew up to be a very competent businessman and helped his father to run it. In those days there weren’t very many shops around or travelling shops either. So the business was thriving. They had customers all around and all the way into Thamhnalin and those Joyce country villages. They had to bring all this flour and animal feed for pigs and fowl and milk cows as well as large chests of tea and huge bags of sugar and other groceries from Westport mostly by horses and carts until about 1924 or so when Michael bought a lorry. It was only small in comparison to today’s trucks but it was great in those days.
As the younger boys Martin and John were growing up their father had them shoemaking in the loft or granary outside. He wanted to teach them the trade as shoemaking was lucrative in those days and in case they needed it during their lives. It turned out they did do it for some time during the depression in the early 30s in America. It seems that Paddy Donoghue also must have a good knowledge of leather and shoes as he was in charge of the shoe department in Sears in Chicago when he was quit young.
Kate and Annie Donoghue were also in Chicago by then. Unfortunately, Paddy got sick and died in Chicago young. A few years later, 1928 I think, Michael got sick at home and died. I think he had cancer. He was only 34 or 35 years old. To add to this, the old man himself died 2 years later at the age of 70. He died of kidney trouble in a private hospital in Galway. Kate was home (from Chicago) and stayed with him. Afterwards, she went back to America and Stiophan came home from England. By that time there were other shops in the area and travelling shops as well.
Mary was running the shop now, but on a much smaller scale. She wasn’t a strong woman and she never married. She hadn’t gone to school much as she wasn’t in good health but was able to add up the large bills that came in from the wholesaler in Westport, JJ Malloy. If there was a mistake, she saw it right away and she had a great head for figures. Stiophan left it to her as he had a lot of work on the land. He cleared and drained all the land as there wasn’t much work done on it for many years previously. They had a nice life and my brother Phil spent at least 3 or 4 years with them and come over to Treen school when the rest of us went. When he left school, my brother John spent a few more years there. It was always pleasant there.
People came every day for bags of flour, tea, and sugar, sometimes by cart or donkey. A bread van came twice a week with bread and bracks also Cummins from Ballinrobe delivered all kinds of animal feed every Saturday night. By now it would be the late 1930s and WW2 had started. By 1940 – 41 rationing of sugar, flour and petrol and many more items was in effect and things got scarce. The delivery vans and lorries were at a standstill. All kinds of groceries were severely rationed and and so was flour and Indian mean or anything that came from foreign countries. People started to grow their own wheat as well as the usual crops and had to be self-supporting, the saying was “one more cow, one more sow and one more acre under the plow.” Now the small rural shops were in trouble and many closed. It was very hard on Mary as old people begged for tea and she just hadn’t got it. The ration was ½ oz tea per person per week and even that wasn’t there at times. The wholesalers sold some at the black market prices. Flour, sugar, tea and lots of things were available at black market prices. All this brought to an end the shop the Donoghues ran. It was the end of an era.
Stiophan Donoghue had met the lovely Nellie O’Neill and a wedding was in the air. We were all so happy for him, including my mother. She was very close to him and he was a wonderful brother, who came to our house often to help plow and sow and reap and mow. Those were the years of big tillage and hard work. My father and brothers always gave a helping hand to Stiophan but I think their contributions wouldn’t equal his. I must say that Mary, who was my mother’s step sister helped my mother a lot. There was nine of us.
After every birth, Mary came by every night and stayed up every night so my mother could rest and sleep. She was a single woman and a great step-sister.
My parents married early in 1920. Bridget Donoghue and Tom McGing. She died at the early age of 52 of a heart attack. My youngest sister (Nuala) was eleven years old and was devastated. We all were. John Donoghue died suddenly of a heart attach a few years after at 56 years. Annie Donoghue died of breast cancer, she was about 60 years. Kate, Martin, Mary and Stiophan lived to be old.
Three more of the Whalen sisters married local men.
- Brigit married Martin Lydon from Derassa at the other end of the parish near Killwalla. She had a large family.
- Katherine married Pat O’Neill of Treen about a mile from the Donoghues. She had six children.
- Ann married Martin Mulroe of Letterneen and she had 8 or more children.
- Nellie went to America and married a Heneghan man from this area in Chicago. She had 3 or 4 brothers in Chicago.
- Sally joined the nuns, but came home years later as she was physically and mentally ill and died at home.
We must remember that Pat Stiophan and his wife fortuned all these girls who married at home. They were a great couple. In hard times, these people had big numbers of sheep and cattle on the mountains and foothills. Not many years before when they settled there they had to dig all that land which was mostly heather clad and mountains. They labored and toiled and in a few years they had some fine fields, well fenced with stones they had taken from the dark earth with their bare hands and big strong spades known as the Broigin tatoe and pick ax. Their women folk played a big hand in all this and gathered the stones to build the walls and build their homes and stables. They had built up huge flocks of sheep and some cattle and reared big families that never saw a hungry day. They had the crops and livestock, eggs, ducks, hens and fish in the river and a never ending supply of the best black stove turf which they cut and saved every year.
They had a lot of wool to sell and keep for the making of flannel and blankets and their own everyday clothing. The girls I mentioned worked hard at the making of flannel which was sold in Clifden every year at a good price. They made their own fortunes or at least they helped. The annual crop of wool fetched a good price and their sheep produced the leanest and best mutton in western Europe at the time. They were such industrious people and as I have already stated kind and loving people. I could go on but that is enough on the Whalens and Donoghues.
I must say I don’t know as much about the old Donoghues. My great grandfather came to Gortmor in around 1850. His family was in Kilbride for some years before and they were shoemakers and they had land there. He was selling a pair of shoes in Duras in Conomoma when he met the lovely Sara O’Rourke and they were married soon after. So Sara O’Rourke was Stiophan’s paternal grandmother. The O’Rourkes left Duras after many years and settled in Meath. I don’t know more about them. Stiophan told me many years ago that his grandfather Thomas O’Donoghu’s family was evicted six times. They lived in Headford area for some years but they were originally from Loughrea I Galway. They were never evicted for non-payment of rent. Thomas was a poet and he wrote all kinds of ballads and poems disgracing the landlord and their agents. These songs were sung at fairs and pattern days so he was an enemy of theirs and a Fenian in the bargain do he was banished from the places he lived sometimes before he had settled in. He came to Gortmor with very little money. Being generous, like all the Donoghues, he helped some very poor person who in turn promised faithfully to pray for him. He went to town and bought a piece of leather and started making shoes and selling them, before long he was buying more leather and started a small shop and it thrived for many years.
He and Sara O’Rourke had three sons and two daughters. One daughter married Whalen in Gortmor, one married near Cong to a Joyce man. Thomas, his eldest, son married a Mary Durkin in Drumcoggy in this area. She was an only daughter and had a good holding of land. Thomas had a fortune and was a shoemaker and carried on the trade in Drumcoggy all his life and his son Michael and his family until the 60s or around that time.
This Thomas was also a poet and so was his grandson Tommie Donoghue, who wrote poetry for the Tourmakeady Waterfall until he died a few years ago (in 1996). Thomas wrote articles for papers and magazines and translated and taught Irish to the professors at Colaste Chonnacht when it opened around 1898 or 1901. The Donoghues had a great love of the arts. They had music, dancing, acting, writing etc. Many years ago when I was only 10 or 12 years my mother talked about plays in Killitiane school by teenagers and that she was never so proud in her life as she was then to see her two brothers having the two main parts in the play.So if you see your kids some day in the future taking up acting or the arts in other forms, remember the Donoghues.
Thomas and his wife, Mary Durkin, after getting married, first went to see Marey’s only brother who was in the mental hospital in Ballinasloe and they went all the way on horseback. That must have been quite the journey in that day. They had a very pleasant visit and when he was leaving, Mary’s brother said to Thomas “Well now, that you have gone into my place and home, promise me that you will never have two tea pots”, meaning let ye not be fighting with the old couple. Thomas said “I promise you while I’m there and as long as I live there will never be two pots in the house. And sure enough, they got on quite well with the old couple and they themselves were a very happy couple. Mary and Thomas lived to be in their 80s.
Their son Michael married a local girl and they had a dozen children.
I’m not forgetting Nellie Donoghue. She was a lovely person, and very smart and articulate. She was great for Stiophan. I was often there when they were newly married and they were so happy. She always had welcome for us McGings.
From the first day to her last day even when she was in great pain she had that lovely warm smile and a genuine welcome for us. They were really heartbroken when they lost Sean and didn’t recover from eth shock for many years.
I forgot to mention that my grandfather John Donoghue had another brother Michael married back up the road in Killitiane. He was also a shoemaker and he and two of his sons worked at it in their home for many years. His son’s didn’t marry so there are no Donoghues there.
My grandfather (John Donoghue) in Gortmor was a more serious person or more businesslike. He tried to send some of his family to high school, but they wouldn’t go so he didn’t put pressure on them. His daughter Annie went for a few years and my mother Bridget had a very good education for that time. She had algebra, geometry, Shakespeare and lots more. They had a very good teacher in Killlitiane then and they also had night school which was L best standard today.
Salog Thornton Gibbons (Luke Mor’s wife) had only one daughter named Mary Gibbons when Luke died at the young age of 34 years. Mary grew up to be a big strong girl. She was born in 1850 and witnessed the evictions of 1860 here in Derryveeney with her mother Salog and as I have said, Salog was a victim of the Gorteenmore evictions in 1833 as was her sister in Bornahowna.
Mary Gibbons (my husband Tommy Lally’s grandmother) married Tom Lally her next door neighbor at the very young age of 16 or 17. She visited her cousins in Bornahowna very often and she loved to go there.
[All misspellings are my fault - John McGing]