Killeeshill in the 1830s
1. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Volume Twenty
Parishes of County Tyrone Two 1825, 1833-5, 1840, Mid and East Tyrone ed. A. Day and P. McWilliams, The Institute of Irish Studies in association with the Royal Irish Academy
“The Memoirs provide a uniquely detailed source for the history of the northern half of Ireland immediately before the Great Famine. They were written in the 1830s to accompany the 6 inch ordnance survey maps… they act as a nineteenth century Domesday book and are essential to the cultural heritage of (the) communities. The Memoirs document the landscape and situation, buildings and antiquities, land-holdings and population, employment and livelihood of the parishes.” (advertising material of the Ulster Historical Foundation)
Killeeshill (also spelt Killeshell, Killeshil, Killishal, Killishill) contains 9 598 acres, of which 7 200 (75%) are cultivated, 2 394 (24.9%) are bog and mountain ground, and 4 are water.
“This parish is hilly and lies at a great height above sea level…There are several patches of bog used for fuel as well as a great extent of mountain ground, the edges of which are used for fuel and thus gradually brought into cultivation…The mountainous portions of the parish abound with game, principally hares and red grouse which, however, are becoming more scarce as population and cultivation increase.”
There is no town or even village belonging to this parish and the inhabitants carry the produce of their farms to the neighbouring markets of Ballygawley and Dungannon.
The only gentlemen’s seats are those of Captain Crossley, agent to Colonel Verner M.P., in Aghnahoe townland and the Glebe House in Killeeshil townland. Near the former are some small but thriving plantations belonging to Colonel Verner.’
“The general appearance of this parish is that of a wild and open country with round bare hills having little or no wood, and the fields on them divided by low and broken hedgerows, whilst the valleys are generally patches of bog. This particularly applies to the centre, whilst the north is nearly all mountain heath and the south, which lies lower, is richer and better land.”
There are 10 in the “constabulary force. Illicit distillation is carried on to a considerable extent among the uncultivated hills and the spirit is constantly offered for sale in Dungannon and Ballygawley.”
Of the population of about 5 000, “one half are Roman Catholics and the other half comprises all the different sects of the reformed religions.”
The cottages, generally of stone, “are of poor and uncomfortable appearance when compared with those of parishes in the eastern part of the barony.”
“There are, every year, some families who emigrate to America and also some single men who go over to England and Scotland to assist in the harvest.”
“Potatoes, oats and flax are the common crop and a little barley and wheat is occasionally sown.”
Most farms are of only 6 to 8 acres, “though some of the better farmers hold from 20 to 30 acres.”
The several by-roads “are kept in tolerable repair, being principally formed of gravel with which the country abounds.”
Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone, A Topographical Dictionary of the Parishes, Villages and Towns of these Counties in the 1830s, by Samuel Lewis, Friar’s Bush Press, Belfast 2004
The Parish of Killeshill (also spelt Killishil, Killeshal) is in the barony of Dungannon.
“About half the land is arable, one fourth pasture, and the remainder bog and waste land; limestone is abundant and is burnt for manure. The soil is cold and thin but is well cultivated: the inhabitants combine weaving with their agricultural pursuits.”
“There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connexion with the Synod of Ulster and the Seceding Synod.”
The parochial school has about 140 children and there are 5 other public schools, with about 440 children.