Story 4 – Garshooey townland

An ancestor of mine Anne Jackson (I think this is her married surname) lived in an area called Garshooey. This townland in Donegal, Ireland is just over one and half square kilometres in area. In the 1911 census there were only 64 people living there of which 23 were 16 and younger. Ten years earlier, out of the 86 inhabitants, 40 were 16 years or younger. Even in 2011, there are still only 66 inhabitants in 24 households.

So why were there so few people living in Garshooey townland? Looking at the historical maps of 1840s, there was a Presbyterian Meeting House and National School House west of the little town of Garshooey, a corn kiln to the north in Garshooey Upper and a flax mill to the south in Garshooey Lower.  There were lots of trees to climb, planted along the sides of the lanes in the townland. There was also a couple of mill ponds, maybe a chance for swimming or paddling on hot days. Through the centre of the townland was the main road between Londonderry (now called Derry) and Newtowncunningham.

By the 1850s, less flax and corn was being grown so there would be less cottage industry work for the women of the townland. There would also be less farm work for the men.
This may be a reason why the Jackson family resorted to theft during the 1840s, that finally resulted in transportation.

Story 2 – Notorious Jackson Gang

It is a cold, dark night in April 1846. Members of the Jackson family are inside the Monglass home occupied by Caldwell Motherwell.

“Da, hurry up,” whispers Rebecca. She listens intently for any sound coming from the bedrooms above.

“Don’t you be worrying, me girl,” William replies, “We still have plenty to get from here.”

“But, da, we all have a coat or cloak to wear. We don’t want to wake up Mr Motherwell with any sudden noise.”

Rebecca slowly edges to the doorway with her younger brother William, who was wearing a macintosh, and her friend Mary Jane Gallagher, who was wearing a cloak.

William the elder, Anne Jackson and Jane Steele, who were also members of the notorious Jackson gang, picked up the last of their stolen goods and followed the children out the doorway.

Quickly and silently they headed over the fields that should have been filled with potatoes, towards their home in Garshooey, about a mile away. But with the potato famine happening all over Ireland, there was little in the way of food to eat. Pawning the pieces of clothing meant food in their stomachs for another week or so.

Eight months later, Anne reports the thefts to the local sub-constable James Lowe. William, his son and daughter and Jane Steele are convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation. Thus begins a new life in Van Diemen’s Land for my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson.

Source:

Report of court trial at Lifford Quarter Sessions, Donegal,  1 January 1847. Found in the Court of Petty Sessions records for Newtowncunningham held at Donegal archives, Lifford.

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Two students replied to this story mentioning a bit of confusion with the two William – father and son. Also to maybe set the scene more with lots more description.

Readers: Where else could I improve this writing? As it is only going to be published on this blog, feel free to re-write whole paragraphs if you want.