The parish of Killummod was surveyed and assessed by the Valuation Office in April 1839. At that time, only 6 townlands in the parish could boast a house valued at more than £5 for taxation purposes. All in all, there were only ten such houses, and the townland of Finnor had one of them. While many townlands in the locailty were congested prior to the Great Famine, Finnor was not. It was a grazing ranch, featuring a number of herds' houses and one substantial farmhouse known locally as "Finnor House". The Barrett family held the lease to the whole townland and acted as agents for their landlord Capt. Robert Caddell.
In or about 1775, herds from Mayo settled in the parish, and it was about that time that the Barretts came in to Finnor. Graziers were the only tenant farmers with capital in Ireland at that time and some graziers were “exceedingly rich men” [Strickland 1827]. The Barretts of this parish were extensive graziers.
In 1837, the townland of Finnor was colloquially known as "Fionnúr" [Gaelic: fair hill] as area was still primarily Irish-speaking. Finnor, located between Canbo and Corbally Loughs, has just one ring-fort, close to its northern border with Canbo. The Annals of Boyle tell us Canbo was the ancient seat of the O’Farrells. The land here was rich, so it was lost to the English long before Cromwell. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth awarded substantial land in the district to her Auditor General, John Crofton. Crofton, of Mote House, was recorded as owner of "West Fennor" (with its 91 profitable plantation acres) in 1641 [Down Survey]. The 1659 Census, shows only two English residents in Finnor (no Irish). It would seem that at some point in the 18th century this land returned to the hands of the Catholic O’Farrell family. By 1749, the townland (misspelled "Tanoor") was home to two Catholic families; a McDermott herdsman, and a cottier by the name of Egan [Elphin Census].
In the 19th Century, Finnor House became part of the Caddell Estate. Caddell of Harbourstown Co. Meath (whose mother was O’Farrell) owned 3,300 acres in Co. Roscommon. He owned 8 townlands in the Croghan area: Finnor, Ballinvilla, Canbo, Drumerr, Derraun, Drumlion, Carrowmore, Carrowreagh, and further afield in Meelick (Kilmore) and Castlereagh. It would seem that, under the new ownership of the absentee Caddells, much change came about in the parish. Finnor House has been associated with the Barrett family, for more than two centuries (c.1775 – 2002).
In 1839, Finnor House was occupied by John Barrett (1790-1844) and rated at £6 per annum. The 6-inch map dating back to that time shows a courtyard of three buildings with a one-storey family home in the centre (facing south) and a fine two-storey granary/ coach-house on the right (facing west). Following John’s death, a two-storey slated extension was added to the rear of the house (still extant). This made Finnor house a very unusual property in the parish (and still considered so in the 1960s). With, that, the rated value of the house increased.
At the time of Griffith's Valuation 1855, Richard O'Farrell Caddell (Harbourstown, Co. Meath) was leasing a house (with offices) valued at £8, at Finnor, Croghan, barony of Boyle, to Michael Barrett (1818-1887).
The 1901 Census of Ireland confirms Finnor House as being the only “1st class”, and slated house, in the townland. It had 8 rooms and as many windows. The farmstead had 11 out-offices (a stable, a coach-house, 2 cow-houses, a calf-house, a dairy, 2 piggeries, a barn, turf-house and shed). By 1911, the house had been demoted 2nd class and the coach-house was no longer in use.
FINNOR HOUSE OCCUPANTS
1. The original leaseholder of Finnor is believed to have been Matthew Barrett (1749-1815), a gentleman farmer and extensive grazier, who came in to the parish of Killummod circa 1780. His wife was Brigid Grelish and they had about 11 children. Their son, Patrick Barrett (c1790-c1830), held the lease to the full townland of Ballinvilla, nearby.
2. John Barrett Esq. (1790-1844) inherited the lease to Finnor House (and the entire townland) from his father, Matthew. From 1835-37, John Barrett of Finnor was regularly listed among the cess-payers for ballot to the Grand Jury for the Barony of Frenchpark. In 1839, John Barrett Esq. “Farmer” of Finnor and Ballynaurreagh / Ballynamreagh (Barony of Boyle) was listed among applicants seeking to register to vote. [RJ: 8/6/1839]. This record declares him a “Freeholder” with “an annual value to be registered” of £10. Freeholders” were men who either owned their land outright or, as in John Barrett’s case, those who held it in a lease for the duration of their life (or the lives of other people named in the lease). In 1840, the only Barretts appearing on the Voters' Register, in North Co. Roscommon, were this John Barrett of Finnor (Croghan) and William Barrett of Eden (Loughlynn).
In 1842, John Barrett is recorded as leasing 181 acres of land in Finnor with an annual value of £127, which included 35 acres of 1st quality land [Tithe Applotment Records]. He also sub-let lands at Ballynaureagh, and sat on the Carrick-on-Shannon Board of Guardians around this time. In 1844, while his children were quite young, John Barrett died age 54. His wife was Mary Hanly (1791-1856). They had 12 children. Stiophán Bairéad (founding member of Conradh na Gaeilge, and close friend of Pádraig Pearse) was their grandson.
3. Rev. Fr. Matthew Jospeh Barrett , their eldest son, then
In 1844, Rev. Fr. Matt Barrett, then age 32, was appointed curate of Croghan and given special permission to live at home in Finnor, to look after his widowed mother. A two-story extension was built for him to the rear of Finnor House. He said mass in the upstairs of the granary attached to his home, for the locals of Finner. Mary (nee Hanly) Barrett died in 1856, age 65. However, by 1855, the lease to Finnor and Finnor House was in the name of her son Michael, then age 37.
4. Michael Barrett Esq. (1818-1887) at the time of Griffith's Primary Valuation [GV] was the named lessor of Finnor House and farm at 1a, as well as the "immediate lessor" of all the remaining farms in this townland. Michael Barrett, on behalf of his landlord, Captain Robert Caddell, was a land-agent for the townland of Finnor. He also acted as bailiff for other land owned by the Caddell family in the parish. He was a Member of the Grand Jury for the Barony of Boyle 1851-64 (at least) as were the Peytons and the McDermotts of Alderford. (Charles Peyton acted as best man, at Michael's wedding). Michael was also a member of Carrick on Shannon Board of Guardians [lists: 16 Feb,1871; 4 Mar 1880; 11 Jan 1883]. In Slater’s Directory in 1881 and 1894, he was listed under “gentry”. His wife was Cecilia Dillon (1827-1867) of Ballaghdreen, Co Roscommon. Cecilia was the grand-daughter of the infamous John Blake Dillon. Her father, James Dillon, was a large wholesaler in Ballaghdereen (see: Mary Duff’s of Ballaghdereen). They had 8 children. In January 1887, their son John’s marriage cert states that his father was a “farmer and shopkeeper”. Michael Barrett died at home, in Finnor House, on 16 April 1887, age 69.
4. Michael Barrett Jr. (1862-1901) Michael’s occupation was recorded as ‘gentleman farmer’ in the General Registry. He also acted as bailiff on behalf of their landlord, Sophia Jermingham. By 1901, his was the only Barrett family left in Finnor. Michael suffered from Tubercolosis (aka Phitithis) and died young, age 40, later that year. His wife was Mary Matilda O’Brien (1871-1941). They had two sons, Charles Dillon Barrett (1896-1970) of Finnor and Patrick James Barrett (1898-1985) of Lisnabol.
5. Charlie Barrett (1897-1970) took over the lease to Finnor House from his widowed mother in 1927. He was married to Mai Cryan (1892–1981). They had three children: Charles (1927-1997), Michael (1931-2002), and Nancy McLoughlin (1933-2012).
6. Michael Barrett (1929–1997) inherited the property in 1955. His brother Paddy Barrett (1931–2002) lived with him. Both were bachelors and the last of a long line Barretts to have resided at Finnor House.
While one might also see this townland spelled as "Finner" (e.g. newspaper archives, headstones) the correct and official form continues to be "Finnor".