Derryveagh Evictions III: The Scattering

The 10th of April 1861 was the third day of the brutal evictions ordered by the cruel landlord John George Adair, on his estate at Derryveagh, Co Donegal. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon of that day, the work was done. The Deputy Sheriff, Crookshank, and his 200 men had changed the landscape and changed the lives of a group of unfortunate and powerless people who were already living in hardship. Liam Dolan in his ‘Land War and Evictions in Derryveagh’ states:

”By two, Wednesday afternoon, the terrible work had been accomplished and a deathly silence fell over the whole area”.

This third post in the series marking the 150th anniversary of the Derryveagh evictions looks at the fate of the dispossessed.

A Derryveagh Family- From an article by Paul J Mc Geady, Donegal Genealogy Resources.

The names of these people and the townlands where they lived, live on in lists. Unfortunately as there are differences in family names and numbers in particular townlands, it is hard to know which list is the definitive one. However, at the end of this post, I have included the names of the families and the townlands, according to one such list, from the Londonderry Standard.

So what became of these unfortunate families? Where did they end up?

Records from the Workhouse in Letterkenny list the people who went there and provide information on their occupations, their townland of origin and their date of entry. Many of these would have left the workhouse when their prospects changed – if work became available, to go to live with relatives, or perhaps to emigrate.

Others who had been offered temporary shelter, in Cloughaneely for example, may well have stayed in the area, as perhaps would those who found shelter with relatives and friends. May McClintock suggests in her publication that many may have indeed stayed in the general area, around Creeslough, Glendowan and Churchill.

A third tranche, mostly younger people, and many probably children of the people evicted, took advantage of the Donegal Relief  Committee Fund and availed of assisted passage to Australia. The Donegal Relief  Fund had been set up in Australia in 1858  for the assistance of people from Donegal who were in dire circumstances. The geography of the county in the bleak and cold north west with its barren, mountainous terrain, together with the decision by land owners to end the practice of allowing tenants to graze their sheep on the upper slopes in summer, gave rise to an annual famine lasting about three months. Following supplications from the local clergy in Donegal, the Donegal Relief Committee in Australia raised funds to help with immigration. The relief fund appears to have operated from 1858 when large numbers of people from Gweedore, Cloughaneely and Tory Island availed of the opportunity for a new life ‘down under’. Following the Derryveagh evictions, new pleas for help were made by the local clergy with the result that many young people had an opportunity to leave for a new life in Australia. And so in January 1862, 143 persons from Derryveagh joined 130 Gweedore people who departed Plymouth on a sea voyage of 3 months or more. That more family members  left Ireland is a certainty. England and Scotland were close to home and were accessible relatively cheaply. It is known that many went to Australia, some ended up in New Zealand and a number also went to America. The nature of the records at the time – where addresses recorded on ships lists often state the county of origin and not the townland, together with the preponderance of similar family and first names provide a challenge for researchers.

One researcher in particular stands out in the telling of the story and tracing of the families of Derryveagh. She is Lindel Buckley, a direct descendant of a family from Glendowan. Her great great grandmother who lived in Stramore, just to the south west of Altnadogue, and whose sister had married a Sweeney from Derryveagh, emigrated to New Zealand in the 1860s. Lindel has located and transcribed hundreds of  historical records from Donegal and of relevance to Donegal, and has made them available without charge on her website Donegal Genealogy Resources. Her extraordinary compilation has been and continues to be an inspiration to many. Through her work and her enthusiasm, she is one of the people who keep the Derryveagh story alive.

A new book, written by local school teacher Christy Gillespie and his pupils, documents the personal stories of the people who were evicted in Derryveagh and was launched last Saturday by the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Bruce Davis and the local historian May McClintock. Aptly named “A Deathly Silence” this new book will hopefully interest a new generation and give  new insights into the people who are the key figures in this story,the people of Derryveagh.



Hanna M’Award (Widow) and 7 children. – evicted and house levelled.

Joseph M’Cormack, wife and 5 children – restored to possession as caretaker.


Hugh Sweeney ( Widower) and 2 sons – evicted and house locked.

James Sweeney, wife and 8 children- evicted and house locked.

Owen Sweeney, wife, mother and 8 children – evicted and house locked.


James M’Monagle, wife and 6 children- readmitted as tenant until November.

John Brady, wife and 5 children- readmitted as weekly tenant.

Francis Bradley, wife and 5 children -readmitted as weekly tenant.

Patrick Bradley, wife and 4 children -evicted and house levelled.

John and Fanny Bradley, a brother and sister, both deaf and dumb – allowed to retain possession.

Roger O’Flanigan, wife, brother, mother and 4 children- evicted and house levelled.

James Gallagher, wife and 7 children – evicted and house levelled.


Daniel Friel, wife, mother, brother, and 1 child- evicted.

William M’Award, wife and 2 children- evicted and house levelled.

James Doherty, wife and 1 child- evicted and house levelled.

James Lawn, wife and 9 children – readmitted as tenant until November.


John Bradley, wife and 3 children – evicted and house levelled.

Michael Bradley, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled.

Catherine Conaghan (Widow), sister in law, brother in law, and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.


Edward Coyle,wife and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Knocker Friel, wife and 6 children – evicted and house levelled.

Knocker Kelly and two servants – evicted and house levelled.

William Armstrong (Widower), and 3 children-evicted and house levelled.

Rose Dermot, Orphan – evicted and house levelled.


Daniel M’Award, wife and 6 children- evicted and house levelled.

Charles Doohan, wife, son and  2 grandchildren – evicted and house levelled.

William Doohan, wife and 4 children- evicted and house levelled.

John Doohan, wife and 5 children -evicted and house levelled.

Connell Doohan, wife – retained as weekly tenants.

Patrick Curran, wife and 5 children – evicted and house levelled.


Owen M’Award, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled

Mary M’Award (Widow) and 3 children -evicted and house levelled.


Bryan Doherty (Widower), mother, sister and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Hugh Coll, wife and 4 children – evicted and house levelled.

Patrick Devenney, wife and 2 children -evicted and house levelled.

John Friel, wife and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.

Michael Friel and 1 child – evicted and house levelled.

Robert Burke, wife – evicted and house levelled.

Charles Callaghan- evicted and house levelled.

John Moore, wife and 2 children – evicted and house levelled.

Manus Rodden, brother and two sisters – orphans- evicted and house levelled.

Bernard Callaghan, mother and brother – evicted and house levelled.


Edward Sweeney and 3 children – evicted and house levelled.

Daniel Doherty, wife, father and 2 children -evicted and house levelled.

Bryan Doherty, wife and 4 children-evicted and house levelled.

– From the Londonderry Standard, Glenveagh, April 10th 1861.


Dolan, Liam. 1980. Land War and Eviction in Derryveagh, 1840- 65. Annaverna Press.

McClintock, May. After the Battering Ram- the trail of the dispossessed from Derryveagh, 1861- 1991. An Taisce Pamphlet

Vaughan, William Edward. 1983. Sin, Sheep and Scotsmen: John George Adair and the Derryveagh evictions 1861. Ulster Historical Foundation. Accessed at TARA: Trinity Access to Research Archive

Families evicted from Derryveagh

Donegal Relief Fund- Australia. Accessed at Donegal Genealogy Resources



Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Irish_American, Oral History, Social Justice

16 responses to “Derryveagh Evictions III: The Scattering

  1. Pingback: From the Fields of Athenry to Bondai Beach | A VOICE FOR THE 'SILVER IRISH'

  2. Thank you for your posts on this tragic story. My son-in-law’s paternal line emigrated in 1859 on board the Sapphire: the O’Briens and Duggans from Bedlam. Charles O’Brien marriaed Ann Duggan or Doogan) in Australia.

  3. Thank you for your comment! I had not, as a Donegal person, been aware of anyplace in Donegal named ‘Bedlam’. Having looked it up, I find that it is near one of my favourite places – Gortahork, where I sometimes stay when I return to Donegal for a visit .
    descendants of Australian emigrants are fortunate in being able to trace ancestors on ship’s list!.

  4. roisin chism

    trying to trace my mother great uncle william doohan who left tory island in the 1880s and set off to austrailla.

  5. My ancesor’s name is Susan Fitzsimons and she emigrated from Gorey, Wexford, Donegal and was a passenger on the ship Tara which arrived in Brisbane in April 1890. I have been unable to find any information about her journey from Donegal to London to board the ship and have only found the ship’s list of passengers which include her. To be sure she is my ancestor I need access to other documents which she would have needed to travel. Was the DRF still operating in 1890?
    There were other passengers by the name of Fitzsimons on the Tara but of course I cannot assume they are related w/o information.
    Is there any advice you can give me about the DRF and/or emigration from Ireland to Australia.
    Thank you
    Maureen Stacey

    • Hi Maureen
      It is my understanding that the Donegal Relief Fund was a short term thing operating between 1858 – 1864. I do not have the knowledge to help you in your search but would refer you to the very excellent Donegal Genealogy Resources website at
      It is interesting that you quote Wexford, Donegal. Wexford and Donegal are in two very different locations – Wexford in the South East of Ireland and Donegal in the North West.
      I wish you luck with your search and would be delighted to hear if you make any progress.
      Kind regards


      • HI Angela, I hope you don’t mind butting in here.

        Maureen, I think you’re probably looking for Gorey, Wexford not Donegal (my own ancestors came to Qld from Gorey in the early 1880s).

        Unfortunately the Gorey RC parish registers aren’t on Familysearch but you could write to the Parish Priest (enclosing a donation) and providing him with Susan’s approx DOB and parents’ names which you would have fm her marriage/death certificate. Either of those should also confirm her place of birth. If you haven’t purchased one of these it would be best to do so as this will clear up any ambiguity re her place of origin.

        A look at the Qld BDM online & Trove shows that Sarah (later CUREL), Susan (later SUTTON) and (Mary) Elizabeth (later GREENWOOD) are all sisters. Parents are James Fitzimons and Mary Burn(s). Whether Mary is a relative is unclear. With this information you should be able to get good info from the parish priest assuming they were actually born in Gorey.

        Happy hunting. As Angela says it would be interesting to hear the outcome.

      • Pauleen – I am thrilled that my highly informed readers have the expertise to help out people like Maureen! THANK YOU !”

      • Hello Angela and Pauline
        Thanks to you both, you Angela for your wonderful blog which I found through entering anything I could on the Irish coming to Australia, and Pauline for the information you have given me.
        It would appear I have been “barking” up the wrong tree!!! Putting 1 and 1 together did not add up to 2 for me which means I have wasted countless hours researching the wrong people.
        I am waiting for the death certificate of my grandmother Susan Fitzsimons and what set me off on Donegal is that each search has brought up Gorey, Wexford, Donegal which made me think to search about Donegal. More fool me.
        I have done some interesting reading about Ireland and the Irish and you have now brought me to the point, Angela, where I think I am having to visit Ireland – something I have always wanted to do anyway. That is for the future.
        Many thanks, Maureen Stacey

      • Maureen
        I am thrilled that Pauleen saw your post and was able to be of help. Pauleen is one of the most best informed and most knowledgeable readers of my blog when it comes to Irish/Australian Family History.A wonderful lady! I wish you every success in your search and most of all, I wish that you and I might share a coffee when you arrive here – whenever that might be and so I look forward to meeting you ! Please do keep us updated on your searching..
        Kind regards


  6. You are very welcome Angela & Maureen. Hopefully this will all progress your research Maureen and the certificate should make things clearer. If you want to have a look at my blog (the Irish part focuses on Clare), it is at
    You’ll love Ireland if you visit and Angela’s posts are making it all too tempting, and having a coffee with Angela will be on my action plan too 🙂 Thanks for the kind comments Angela.

  7. Pingback: Remembering Derryveagh Evictions 10 April 1861 | A SILVER VOICE FROM IRELAND

  8. Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS at FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris

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