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Moybane townland comprises 340 statute acres 1 rood and 15 perches (including a small lake). It lies to the southeast of Crossmaglen, partly straddling the road that connects Crossmaglen to the N5 (Concession Road) beyond Sheelagh Chapel). In the Tithe Applotment Books of 1828 the area was recorded as 153 acres 3 roods and 30 perches (Plantation Irish measure). It is bounded on the north by Lisseraw, Crossmaglen and Sheiland, on the east by Drummuckavall, on the south by Rassen in County Louth and Clonalig and on the west by Cappagh. Until the 1830s there was a small Chapel in the townland, situated close to the crossroads.

Name of townland

Máigh Bhán, "The uncultivated plain" (1).

There are two townlands called 'Moybane' in Ireland; the other one is in County Fermanagh.

Ordnanace Survey Name Books: Creggan Parish (2)

MOYBANE (OSNB ii 41): There is a lake called Cappy Lough on the Western side of this townland, in which the borders of Cappy, Clonaligg and Mowbawn meet. There is a R.C. Chapel in the N. end of this Td. where four roads intersect each other. There is a large portion of bog and water belonging to there. The dwellings are very poor.
It contains 342..3..20 of which 88..24..14 is uncultivated and Bog, and 4..3..24 water.

Griffiths Valuation (1864) records Dominic Daly as owner of the townland with the exception of two houses.

Census of Ireland

The 1901 census enumerated 114 people in 26 households; a ratio of 4.4 persons per household. The households occupied a total of 69 rooms; a ratio of 2.7 rooms per household and 1.7 people per room. Of the 26 houses, 16 were thatched. Seven houses had 4 rooms, six had 3 rooms, nine had 2 rooms and four had one room.

In 1911 there were 111 people enumerated in 23 households; a ratio of 4.8 people per household. The total number of occupied rooms was 58; a ratio of 2.5 rooms per household and 1.9 people per room. Fifteen of the houses were thatched. There were no single room houses. Thirteen families occupied houses of 2 rooms, 8 families had 3 rooms and two has four rooms. Fifteen houses were thatched.

Native Irish Speakers

Of the 26 households enumerated in 1901, nine contained at least one native Irish speaker - a total of 13. Since theirs was the last generation to have been born into a predominently Irish speaking environment, their names, occupations and ages are recorded here. All were born in Co. Armagh with the exception of Margaret Rocks, born Co. Louth and Joseph O'Reilly, born Co. Fermanagh.

  • Patrick O'Brien, farmer, 59and his wife Ellen, 65
  • Margaret Rocks, retired farmer, 70
  • Joseph A. O'Reilly, farm labourer, 31
    and his wife Annie, 28
  • Bridget Grant, wife of Patrick, 55
  • Margaret Wade, domestic servant, 60
  • Owen McCoy, farmer, 60
  • Pat McCoy, farmer, 75
    and his brother Michael, farmer, 78
  • Mary Smith, farmer, widow, 72
    and her son John Smith, farmer, 40
  • Catherine McCoy, farmer, 79
* The average age of the Irish speakers was 59; oldest 79, youngest 31
*Of the group, five could neither read nor write and eight could both read and write.

Population Decline

The following table sets out the number of houses and population enumerated in the townland in each of the 11 Censuses held between 1841 and 1951.

  1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926 1937 1951
Houses 38 33 32 32 30 28 26 23 19 18 17
People 197 167 161 149 154 106 115 111 81 69 79
People per house 5.2 5.1 5.0 4.7 5.1 3.8 4.4 4.8 4.3 3.8 4.6

In the period of 110 years, the number of households more than halved (55%) while the population dropped by 60%. The largest drop (46%) was in the 50 years from 1841 to 1891, reflecting the effects of the Great Famine. After a brief rally between 1891 and 1911, the decline continued for the next 40 years.


One remarkable feature of the townland is the name 'McCave'. In 1828 eighteen of the twenty family names was 'McCave'. By 1864 this name had entirely disappeared. However, there were instead 14 families called 'McCoy'. It seems reasonable to assume that these are the same families as the McCaves, the name being changed for some unknown reason. There is no reference in either of Edward MacLysaght's two main reference works to such a name anywhere in Ireland, although it does appear frequently in the 1766 Creggan Census.

Family Connections

  • In 1875 my Grandfather, Owen Devlin, bought a field (1 acre 2 roods and 35 perches) from Michael O'Brien and built a house there in 1890 or 1891. He bought out the ground title in 1914. At the time he was married to Mary Rox whose father, Francis, had a farm in the townland. They had no children and after she died he married my grandmother, Annie McKenna from Drumboy, in 1897. They both died before I was a year old. I was a frequent visitor, until the late 1950s to my uncles and an aunt, and later cousins, who lived there. The property was inherited by Peter Devlin until bought, in 1961, by his brother Gerald. The house, now totally rebuilt, is occupied by a Gerald's granddaughter and her own family.

  • James Richardson was born in the townland of Monaguillagh about 1785. His son, James (born 1821), married a widow, Catherine McCoy (nee Kane) and went to live in Moybane, probably in the 1850s, where he is listed in Griffiths Valuation of 1864. His son, also James, (born 1860) married Kate McKenna from Drumboy in 1890 and in 1883 bought more land, on which the present house was built, at the Moybane Crossroads, from a cousin of Michael McCoy. Michael McCoy was married a sister of Kate Richardson, Mary McKenna. On James' death, in 1941 his son Eddie Richardson MP inherited the property. Eddie died in 1985 and his son James still owns the property.

  • Mary McKenna, a sister of Annie Devlin and Kate Richardson, married Michael McCoy, enumerated in 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland. Michael died in 1914 and Mary in 1922. Their only daughter, Kathleen, accompanied by her cousins Eddie and Christina Devlin, emigrated to America two months after her mother died. Their house has long been demolished. In 1935 it was being rented by Patrick Donnelly. Ten acres of the land was purched by Peter Devlin in 1947 and is still in possession of his family.

  • The O'Reilly Family's grandfather (Joseph A.) who (according to the 1901 census was born in Co. Fermanagh, but by family tradition was born in Galway) lived in a house beside Mobane Crossroads (beside the site of the old chapel) at the beginning of the 20th century and are enumerated there in the 1901 Census before moving to Urker about a mile away soon afterwards.

Names of House and land Holders

All the Valuations since Griffiths identified those with houses in the townland and those who while living elsewhere leased or owned land there. The Census of Ireland enumerated only households in the townland. The following table uses this approach.

Although the data is not strictly comparable since the information was gathered for different purposes and used varying criteria, the details provide a comparison of the names of house and land holders who were listed in the Townland at the different periods. While we can not discern the direct lines of descent it is clear that many are from the same families.

Tithe Applotment Books Griffiths Valuation Census of Ireland Census of Ireland First NI Revaluation Second Revaluation
1828 1864 1901 1911 1935 1957 1970
Households/Land Households Households Households Households Households Households
Anthony McCave Terence Harvey Owen Devlin Owen Devlin Patrick Connor Patrick Boylan Gerald Devlin
Arthur McCave Ann Keeran Patrick Grant Patrick Grant Owen Devlin Peter Devlin Peter Hearty
Bryan McCave John Flood Peter Grant Rose Hanratty Patrick Donnelly Peter Hearty Patrick Loye
Catherine McCave John Grant Rose Hanratty Bernard Keenan Thomas Hanratty Owen Loye Owen Loye
Cornelius McCave Thomas Hamilton Patrick Hughes Thomas Loye Owen Loy Thomas Loye Thomas Loye
Felix McCave Catherine Kinlan Mary Loughran Ann Martin Patrick Loy Thomas Martin Thomas Martin
Felix McCave Jun. Owen Loy Thomas Loye Thomas Martin Thomas Loy T. Morgan Bridget McCoy
Hugh McCave Neill Mageeny Anne Martin Thomas Martin Susan Mageeny M. McCoy M. McCoy
John McCave William Makes Bernard McCoy Ann Murtagh Thomas Martin Mary McCoy Michael McCoy
John McCave Bryan McCoy Catherine McCoy Bernard McCoy Ann McCoy Michael McCoy Patrick McCoy
Laurance McCave Edward McCoy Mary McCoy Bernard McCoy Bernard McCoy Owen McEneaney Owen McEneaney
Matthew McCave John McCoy Michael McCoy Catherine McCoy James McCoy Mary McKeown Patrick O'Brien
Michael McCave laurence McCoy Owen McCoy M. McCoy Mary A. McCoy Patrick O'Brien Patrick O'Connor
Owen McCave Mary McCoy jun. Pat McCoy Patrick McCoy Patrick McCoy Sen Patrick O'Connor Terence O'Neill
Owen McCave Mary McCoy sen. Patrick McCoy Patrick McCoy John McKeon Edward Richardson Edward Richardson
Owen McCave Michael McCoy Patrick McCoy Patrick McCoy Michael O'Brien Catherine Sloan
Philip McCave Jun. Michael McCoy Patrick McCoy Philip McCoy James Richardson
Stephen McCave Michael McCoy jun. Owen McGeeney Owen McGeeney Michael Rock Land Land
Widow O'Brien Michael McCoy sen. Anne Murtagh Patrick O'Brien Catherine Sloan John Feenan John Feenan
Bryan Rocks Owen McCoy Patrick O'Brien Katie Richardson Bernard Hamill Bernard Hamill
Patrick McCoy Joseph O'Reilly Elizabeth Rocks Land Mary Keegan Margaret Kelly
Patrick McCoy James Richardson Patrick Rocks Patrick Carraher Margaret Kelly Owen McAnaney
Patrick McCoy Margaret Rocks Mary Smith Margaret Kelly Susan Mageeney Michael McCoy
Michael Murphy Patrick Rocks Mary Martin Owen McAnaney Michael McEnteggart (Michael)
Paul Murtagh Mary Smith Reps. Mary McCoy Michael McEnteggart (Michael) Mary McKeown
Michael O'Brien Margaret Wade Michael McEntaggart Ann McCoy Eugene McShane
James Richardson Mrs J. O'Hagan Patrick McCoy Sen Rev. Patrick Morgan
Francis Rock Edward Richardson (Hall) J.O'Hagan J.O'Hagan
Mary Rock Peter Smith Charles O'Neill
Ann Waters Catherine Sloan
Edward Keenan
Patrick Lennon
James McEntagart

1. Hugh Macauley, "Creggan", Journal of Creggan Local History Society, No.6 1992 p.38
2. G. Jarvis (up to 1835) as compiled by A.J. Hughes in Seanchas Ard Mhacha Vol 15 No 1 1992 pp 97 - 112.
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Last Updated on 10 October 2004
Email: pdevlinz@btinternet.com
© Patrick Devlin 2004