A few years have passed since I started a study
of the movements of people and families in Bawnboy. The Griffith
Valuation 1856 was the starting point and my enquiring mind led
me on. For years before that, I was embarrassed by the oft-repeated
question, "Are you writing a book?" I told the truth,
I wasn't. It must have been my questions here, there and everywhere
- questions about people, places and events that caused so many
to ask the same question. If I had been a native of the parish,
my parents, uncles and aunts, cousins and in-laws would have supplied
the information in the homely atmosphere which everyone enjoyed
in rural Ireland. A verse from one of my mother's recitations comes
"Around the fire one Winter's night,
The farmer's rosy children sat.
The faggots blazed with flickering light,
And jokes went round and harmless chat."
Griffith's Valuation pointed the way but Mrs. Mary
Anne Darcy and Helen McElroy filled in many a blank space. Indeed,
many others in the surrounding neighbourhood had to listen to my
probing questions. It might be at the chapel gate or outside the
shop, or in the céilidhing house but the help I received
was genuine. I appreciate the trouble some people went to in their
generous efforts to be helpful. The names of Packie McGeough, John
Edwards, Jim McGoldrick, James McGovern, Oliver Brady, Pee McGovern,
Caroline Howden and Fr. Mícheál Kelly come to mind,
as they dealt with matters outside their own family circles. A few
glimpses into parochial records, for which I thank the local clergy,
supplied information which I could not otherwise obtain.
Most of the families who dwelt in the village in
1856 can be placed where they lived, but a few whose houses disappeared
long ago present a problem that cannot now be solved. The story
of the business houses and their occupants can be traced fairly
accurately. People were inclined in the early days of our story
to stay and make the best of whatever business they undertook, but
many of their children migrated, or emigrated to the farthest corners
of the earth.
Bawnboy village, the story of which kept me busy
for a long time, situated on the main Enniskillen-Cavan road was
a hub of activity. It had a workhouse which needed large supplies
from various shops. There was a monthly fair, a weekly market, a
Petty Sessions court which met every fortnight and later on every
month, and a weekly meeting of the Bawnboy Union.
In modern times the scene has changed. The motorcar
and the large stores are a problem for the small shopkeeper and
only the enterprising can survive. Fairs and markets are a thing
of the past while the Workhouse has become derelict. The good news
is that the Union Buildings may soon be the subject of a feasibility
study by those in authority.
It was only when a movement in the parish decided
to build a new Community Centre, and after I had paid my first subscription
to the building fund, that I decided privately to widen the scope
of my book. I have called it by the name under which John Thomas
Fox of respected memory, wrote a news column for so many years in
the Anglo Celt, "Bawnboy and Templeport". It was then
that I decided to include the historic sites from Bellaheady to
Ballymagauran, as well as those in the parish centre. At the same
time, I decided to donate the proceeds of the book sales to the
building fund for a new Templeport Community Centre.
There are some stories in this book from outside
the parish, such as the fairy tales of Hugh Keany and Frank Maguire,
who were teachers in Corlough in the first half of this century.
The Irish Canadian Miracle Worker from Templeport was a native of
Drumbeagh now in Corlough. Frank Quinn, Garadice, RIP, wrote the
accounts of the assassinations of Bell-Booth and McLeod by two different
Dolans. His story has the ring of truth about it.
The article in this book on Ribbon Societies in
West Cavan, should once and for all place Pat Dolan, who shot Bell-Booth,
where he belongs - not in Arigna, not in mid-Cavan but in the townland
of Tirnawannagh where he lived, and Erraran which he often visited,
two adjoining townlands near Bawnboy.
I hope that this book will be read by parents and
that they will encourage their children to do likewise. Many of
our people do not know the plain facts of the life of Saint Mogue,
our patron saint and that is a pity. There may be parts of his story
which seem incredible but these wonders were probably added to the
facts in the passage of time, as people sought to show their own
saint in a more favourable light than the saint of the neighbouring
Templeport is a wonderful parish and it has a beautiful
name. Read this book, every chapter in it. And enjoy it!
Chris Maguire, Bawnboy, 1999.