Early 18th Century Introduction of Northern Weavers to Barony of West Carbery, Schull and Durrus, West Cork

Looking at some of the burial records for the Schull district many of the names which occur as weavers in Durrus recur.

In the 1830s the Reverend Caesar Otway travelling from Schull to Bantry remarked on the poor Protestants of Mizen relicts of a forgotten plantation policy.  Looking at the names quite a number probably originated from Co. Antrim, Armagh, Down, looking at the surname distribution in the 1901 census.

On the Mizen Peninsula one of the largest landowners were the Becher/Beecher family. Sometime after 1730 the Marmion family come down from Dundalk as Estate managers.  It is possible they introduced northerners as weavers and specialist in flax growing.

In Durrus the distribution of weaving families is confined to those  townlands which formed part of two separate Evanson Estates.  Crottees, Carrigboy, Clashadoo/Ahagona, Rossmore and Brahalish all likely to have had weaver colonies were once part of the McCarthy lands forfeit for Rebellion.  Around 1690 the Evansons acquired the lands due to financial distress c 1720 they sold to Bernards of Bandon who leased the lands back until c 1850.  ON the Mizen Peninsula the townlands of Ardgouna Dromreagh and Coolculaghta were acquired in fee simple from the Burlington Estate (Boyle) in the 1740s by the Evansons again the location of weaving activity.

The extant location of flax ponds, field names associated with flax adn leaching green suggest that flax/linen production adn weaving was far more widespread than believed up to now.  In the memoir of James Stanley Vickery of growing up in Molloch, Durrus in the early 1830 with his grandparents he refers to spinning wheels one large one small one for wool one for linen.

The trade was a big factor in supplementing the enormous population pre 1830. The collapse of the business triggered mass emigration to Canada and Rochester, New York pre famine.

The Evansons had a close association with Bandon and seem to hav often kept residences there and in Durrus.  The Bandon ‘Clothiers’ families such as the Treselian, Wheelers, Sullivans, Biggs seem  to be brought a business system from the West of England woolen trade.  They sourced wool from the 17th century from as far north as Roscommon, it arrived by pack horse in Bandon and was the sent out to as far as Dunmanway and possibly further.  There it was processed in the houses of weavers.  Post 1800 the Act of Union, industrialisation  in English and the later Cork banking collapses (Leslies/Roches) brought a dramatic end to the industry.  This is reflected in the surviving records of the Local Loan Funds for Schull and Durrus.




Weaving Background

Many of the same names common in Co. Armagh and Down. Some are probably of Scottish stock who moved to Ulster in the 17th century.  They in turn are significant descendant of the Northern Irish who migrated to Scotland pre 1,000 AD.  Often very small holdings as in Durrus. Some of the names appear as discharged soldiers late 18th early 19th century.

Allen, Antrim, Down, Bishop Downes has Thomas Allen in Kilmoe (Toormore/Goleen) in 1700.

Cole, also Creagh, Inane,  moved to Coolculaghta in Durrus as master weavers.

Croston, possibly from Croston, Lankashire also in Durrus.

Johnson, Antrim, Down

King, Antrim, Down.

Love, Antrim, Down.

Melvin, Antrim, Down.

Shannon, Antrim, Down.

Whitley, Antrim

Williamson, Antrim, Armagh,

Willis, Antrim, Armagh, Down.