Please note - this Aghowle is a townland near the villages of Ashford, Roundwood and Rathdrum, it is a different location to the civil parish of Aghowle in Co. Wicklow.
The townland of Aghowle lies about four miles west of the village of Ashford, on the slopes of Carrick Mountain in Co. Wicklow. This book tells the story of the families who farmed in this area and of the life they shared. It was a way of life that was to survive over centuries with extraordinary continuity right up to living memory - but then disappear in a generation.
Margaret Connolly grew up on a small farm in Aghowle where her ancestors had lived since the early 1800s. Following on from a neighbour’s remark quoted above, she set out in this book to ensure that the farming history and folklore of Aghowle and its people would not just fade away and be forgotten – she has truly achieved that aim.
This book uses historical documents and recorded memories to tell the history of the townland of Aghowle and surrounding areas over four centuries, beginning in the 17th century up to the early 1970s. Stories are told of local legends, traditions and lore; a near-subsistence lifestyle; good and bad landlords; famine, eviction and forced emigration; impacts of events in the wider world such as 1798, the Land League and two World Wars; economic ventures including a slate quarry, clog making and a tobacco plantation; star-crossed lovers and of course, how it came about that The Divil Ate The Tinker.
The ten houses in Aghowle that were still occupied in 1901 are presented in detail. The succession of families occupying each house over the years are traced back to their origins in the townland, their lives there - good times, hard times, happiness and tragedy - their departures and in many cases, what became of them and their worldwide descendants afterwards. The result is a rich tapestry that is alive with the personalities who once graced the area.
“This is a fascinating account of the history of this farming community. The accounts of the various families are so well researched from original sources that they paint a vivid and personal picture of the area and its people over the centuries".
Richard Nairn, ecologist and writer
“I liked this book a lot; gave me a much better idea of where I come from, what the times and conditions were like, and why my family emigrated. I just think of how much my father would have enjoyed this book, how many “blanks” it would have filled in for him.”
John Moran (Ohio, USA), great-great-grandson of Thomas Moran who migrated from Aghowle to Canada during the Great Famine
“Even as a small child Margaret Connolly had an empathy with her homeplace. She has placed the essence of Aghowle in the pages of this book and I feel the ghosts of the Aghowle people are nodding their heads in approval”.
Catherine Power (nee O’Brien), whose family farm was the last remaining traditional farm in the townland of Aghowle.
For those interested in Irish social history, this book is a marvellous treasure trove and illustrates how much history can be researched for just one small country area.
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