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Rathkeelan is a townland of 338 statute acres 1 rood and 18 perches to the immediate north and west of Crossmaglen, extending from several hundred yards north of the Culloville Road and straddling the Castleblaney and Carron Roads. It is bounded on the north by Creenkill, on the east by Carran and Urcher, on the south by Crossmaglen, and on the west by Creevekeeran and Loughross. The townland includes just short of 12 statute acres of the town of Crossmaglen. In the Tithe Applotment Books 1828 the area of the townland is given as 192 acres 1 rood and 13 perches (Plantation Irish measure).

Name of townland

Rath Caolain, "Keelan's fort" (1).

There are two townlands called 'Rathkeelan' in Ireland. The other one is in County Fermanagh.

Ordnanace Survey Name Books: Creggan Parish (2)

RATHKEELAN (OSNB ii11 44): It lies on the west of the town of Crossmaglen, part of which may be said to be In this townland. The road to Castleblaney runs straight thro' It E. and W. There are a good many scattered dwellings In this td., also an old fort. Soil light but well cultivated.
It contains 338..2..27 of which 15..2..24 Is uncultivated and Bog.

Griffiths Valuation (1864) records that the land was owned by John Clooney and Peter Murphy.

Census of Ireland 1901

The Census enumerated 99 persons in 19 households; a ratio of 5.2 people per household. The households occupied a total of 43 rooms, a ratio of 2.3 rooms per household and 2.3 people per room. Two people each occupied a single room dwelling, eleven had two rooms, five has 3 rooms and one had four rooms. Ten of the dwellings were thatched.

Native Irish Speakers

Of the 19 households enumerated in the Census, seven contained at least one native Irish speaker - 8 in all. 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 Francis Long and Mary Borden, both born in Co. Louth.

  • Francis Long, carpenter, 42
  • Sarah Hughes, seamstress, 70
  • Mary Borden, seamstress, 65
  • Thomas Traynor, farmer, 45
  • John McCabe, farmer, 62
  • Patrick McCabe, farmer, 55
  • Patrick Hanratty, farmer, 26
    and his sister Minnie, general servant, 21
* The average age of the group was 48; oldest 70, youngest 21
* Of the group, six could both read and write and two could neither read nor write.

Population Decline and Recovery

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 56 52 32 49 21 18 19 22 46 69 57
People 302 243 144 179 102 98 102 94 221 244 216
People per house 5.4 4.7 4.5 3.7 4.9 5.4 5.4 4.3 4.8 3.5 3.8

In the 70 years between 1841 and 1911 the number of households reduced by 61% and the population by 69% - reflecting the continuing effects of the Great Famine, emigration and lack of rural employment opportunities. Thereafter the population increased. However this increase can be accounted for in that part of Rathkeelan on which the town of Crossmaglen stands.

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.

I have excluded the names of those listed in the 1864 and subsequent Valuations within the town of Crossmaglen. These appear as part of the town itself.

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.

Census of Creggan Tithe Applotment Books Griffiths Valuation Census of Ireland First NI Revaluation Second Revaluation
1766 1828 1864 1901 1935 1957 1971
Households/Land Households Households Households Households Households
James Carroll Thomas Caffrey Catherine Hanratty Mary Bordan John Daly Reps. J. Daly Cecelia Curran
James Hanratty Edward Coleman James Hanratty jun. Thomas Conlon James Flynn James Flynn James Flynn
John Laverty Patt Conlon James Hanratty sen. Richard English James Hamilton (Felix) James Hanratty (John) Patrick Hanratty
Widow Lennon George Goodfellow Owen Hanratty Ann Hanratty James Hanratty (John) Sen. James Hanratty (John) Sen. James Hanratty (John) Sen.
James Marks Laughlin Grant Owen Hanratty jun. Felix Hanratty Patrick Hanratty (Hill) Janes Hanratty (Felix) John Hanratty (Roadhouse)
Thomas Marks Johnston Hamilton Patrick Hanratty James Hanratty Patrick Hanratty (James) John Hanratty (Roadhouse) Michael Hanratty
William Marks Bryan Hanratty Peter Hanratty John Hanratty Patrick Hanratty (John) Patrick J. Hanratty (James) Bridget Hearty
James McMahon Felix Hanratty Patrick Lavelle Patrick Hanratty Patrick Hearty Bridget Hearty John Hughes
John Hanratty Bridget Lennon John Hughes Bernard Hughes John Hughes Margaret A. Lennon
John Hanratty John Lennon Sarah Hughes Patrick Lavelle Margaret A. Lennon Peter McCabe
John Hanratty Peter Lennon Patrick Lavall Catherine Lennon Peter McCabe Mary McCreesh
Michael Hymna (?) Catherine McCabe Kate Lennon Peter McCabe Mary McCreesh James Murray
Bryan Lannen Patrick McCabe Francis Long Mary McCreesh James Murray James Robb
Frank Lannen James McConville Patrick McCabe James Murray James Robb Bridget Short
John Lannen Rose McGuirk John McCave James Robb Bridget Short Dorothy Short
Peter Lannen Michael Traynor James Murray James Robb Daniel Traynor Daniel Traynor
Widow Lannen Thomas Traynor Patrick Rush Patrick Rush James Traynor James Traynor
Thomas Lavill   Michael Traynor Thomas Short    
Patt Lennen Land Thomas Traynor Daniel Traynor Land Land
Patt Mackin Felix Hanratty James Traynor John Hanratty John Hanratty
Patt Mackin (Pensioner) Francis Hanratty Thomas Traynor P. Hanratty Joseph Kernan
John McCabe Cornelius Hughes   Patrick Hanratty (James) Patrick Hanratty (James)
James McCann Rev. Michael Lennan Land Patrick Kernan Patrick Kernan
John McCormick Thomas Morris Felix C. Coyne Thomas Luckie Patrick Martin
Patt McEvoy Peter Murphy Thomas Donnelly Patrick Martin Alice McArdle
John McGurk Terence Quinn James Kernaghan Bridget McAneaney Patrick McCardle
Widow McCurk William Stitt Bridget Luckie Patrick McCardle Patrick McConville
Thomas McNamee   Patrick Martin Patrick McConville Patrick Murphy
Patt McShane Michael McArdle Patrick Murphy Thomas J. Robb
Owen Meighan Francis McConville Patrick Savelle Patrick Savelle
Patt Murphy Anthony Morgan Thomas Short Thomas Short
Thomass Murphy Patrick Murphy Michael Traynor Michael Traynor
Patt Nugent Richard Palmer    
John O'Hanlon      
Denis O'Hare      
William Perry      
John Short      
Mrs N. Stevens      
William Stephens      
James Toner      
Henry Treanor      
Owen Treanor      
Thomas Treanor      

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.
[Back to Townlands of Creggan]

Last Updated on 10 October 2004
Email: pdevlinz@btinternet.com
© Patrick Devlin 2004