Bawnboy and Templeport
History Heritage Folklore
by Chris Maguire


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 to mind:

"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 parish.

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.    


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Last update: 26 February, 2009 15:33