BELLAGHY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
January, Tuesday 8th, 2013
Johnny Dooher, Ordinance Survey Memoirs
J.Dooher has carried out research on thr O.S. at Queenʼs University, Belfast-part of which
studies included the creation of curriculum material for schools. The schools pack was
published after 1991.
He is past chairman of Federation of Ulster Local Studies; is now editor of Due North.
The O.S. scheme began 1824. Information other than that used on maps was also
1800 Act of Union had abolished parliament-very little knowledge in London of fural
Information on extent of poverty/beggars was taken from travellers who published travel
“Travel Accounts as Source Material for Irish Historians”, C.J.Woods, pub.2010.
1843-W. Thackery:Irish Sketch Book-related much beggary.
O.S. memoirs published as accompanying material of maps-”backward/poor/uncivilised
This information was collected mostly form Ulster as O.S. confined mostly to Ulster, first
collected by Royal Engineers; then separate department set up to publish memoirs of
parish/county boundaries. Those of Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh most comprehensive.
No more research after 1839 as was very costly.
1839, scheme stopped. Government aware of danger of creating awareness to the people
of loss of tribes/land, etc.
Memoirs lay in Dublin Castle til 1950s.
QUB, 1980s, tried to publish as many volumes as possible; 1990s, scheme stopped as
was too costly.
Memoirs of Ballscullion were written by James Boyle-which gave structure of Ballyscullionnatural
features; modern & ancient topography; social economy; appendices-facts/
statistics such as dispensary, etc.
There were no townland/placeneame studies here-John Donovan mustnʼt have come this
Bellaghy town, memoirs gave details of occupations: 16 grocers; 6 grocer/publicans; 7
publicans; 1 draper;19 farmers; 26 labourers; 11 linen spinners; 11 weavers; 3 butchers; 4
blacksmiths; 4 policemen; 2 bakers; carpenters & tailors = 152.
Map of 1830s shows village & crossroads.
1841 Ballyscullion census-5,500-6,000 people in the parish.
Significance of the memoirs-indepth surveys of parishes which gave a comprehensive
picture of pre-famine Ulster-contemporary oral accounts & comments of writers.
However-who were the writers & whose views were recorded?
All memoirs were in favour of property owners; biases of religion/law & order; racial
stereotyping; demise of native Irish as aboriginals.
Writers were English army officers writing from the view point of what was the norm fir
them-their description of native Irish as people of poor/low morals; pigs lived with the
William Carlton gave a more balanced view- “Traits and Stories of Irish Peasantry”-as he
lived among them.
1841 census: recorded housing standards-class 1; 2; 3- 2/3 rooms, farmers thatched,
stone dwelling with very poor furnishing; 4- single room, thatched, stone or mud dwelling;-
Ballyscullion had 45% houses under class 3; 35% under class 4.
Same census recorded class 4 housing in Donegal as 47%; Derry as 40.5%; Down as
24%; Antrim as 33%.
Jonathon Burns, officially appointed as investigator of “Poor Inquiry”-published “Miseries
and Beauties of Ireland”. Most towns had “beggar day” or market day-Magherafelt on
Wednesdays; draperstown also had one. There was no official provision for the old/poor/
orphans-they all relied on charity.
J. Dooher then gave details of the myriad of schools in the Bellaghy the auspices of many
Punishment for crime: stealing bull-death; larceny, stealing of pig-transported for 7 years;
forged notes-transported for 14 years.
Report on irish Poor Law 1838, George Nicholls- Irish to blame for poverty as they have
1833-Irish Poor Inquiry; 1838-itʼs report published; labourers-lived in hovels and had only
one meal a day-they were in distress 30 weeks a year.
Devon Commission 1844-all classes poorer; linen trade failure; increase in population;
sub-division of farms.
BELLAGHY HISTORICAL SOCIETY