Experience historic Ireland
with Glen Keen Farm
Glen Keen Farm
Glenkeen- Gleann Caoin (The gentle/mild glen)
The 1641 proprietor of Glankenie was Richard Mc Walter Mc Jordane. In Petty’s map of 1683 Glankenie becomes Glankeyne and in 1841 the village of Glankeen had a population of 51 males and 57 females.
The Great Hunger of the 1840s devastated the region and by 1851 the Glenkeen population had plummeted to 31 males and 34 females. A total of 108 had fallen to 65 and 22 homesteads became 12.
Landownership in early 19th century Ireland was the preserve of a small minority; the overall population in 1804 was slightly under 5.5 million of whom no more than 10,000 were landed proprietors. Confiscations through Plantations and later under Cromwell, Charles II, William III and the Penal Laws had by the late 1770s resulted in Protestants owning 95% of Ireland’s total acreage.
In early 19th century Ireland the letting of land in communal partnership was common. This joint tenancy was known as Rundale. Many landlords were absentees and allowed middlemen to run their estates. There was an over-dependence on the potato as a staple food and between 1816 and 1842 there were at least 14 partial or general failures of the potato crop.
Philip O’Malley and others had arrived in the Glenkeen area, having endured forced migration from the Killmilkin/Maam Valley area of north Connemara. Philip married Mary Burke who was probably from the Ugool area and in 1824 the cess/tax levy imposed on their Glenkeen tenancy by the Grand Jury of Mayo was a hefty £0-15-00.
Philip and Mary’s son William (1826 – 1889), who was married to Mary Kilcoyne (1830-1905), succeeded as tenant on the holding but sadly the family and others were evicted in 1846 or 1847. The family moved to Bouris which was not part of the Lord Sligo estate and was owned by Sir Roger Palmer. While William and family were tenants in Bouris after 1847, William had also become tenant of 58 acres in Old Head by 1867. The landlord there was Lord Sligo.
William and Mary’s daughter Mary married John Mc Namara of Crickeen and in 1909 their grand-daughter, Margaret Mc Namara, married Hugh O’Grady. The young couple settled in the O’Grady family home in Shraroosky. Hugh was a former herdsman on the Houston Farm; this huge area of the parish had in 1854 been leased by Lord Sligo to William Houston for 31 years.
In 1885 the Ashbourne Land Act prepared the way for tenant proprietorship. The Wyndham Act of 1903 led to the abolition of landlordism and the tenant farmers were becoming the owners of their holdings.
Hugh O’Grady and his wife Margaret (nee Mc Namara), who was grand-daughter of the evicted William O’Malley, acquired the present Glenkeen property and it is Margaret’s grand-daughter Catherine and her husband Jim who are the current owners of Glenkeen Farm.
11 - 12
Glimpes of Erin: Take a tour of Ireland in the 1930's by clicking here
Filmed on location in Westport County Mayo
Words by Brendan Graham - Melody by Rolf Løvland
I am an orphan girl,
In Westport I was found,
The workhouse is my world,
Since the praties took us down,
What time in life is left to me,
If I don’t leave Westport town,
But the crown is sending girls to sea,
For far Australia bound.
Sail, sail, sail me away,
Sail to Australia;
Sail, sail, sail me I pray,
Sail me away… to Australia.