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The Village of Cloonfane


The village of Cloonfane is situated to the Northwest of the Village of Garrafrauns. The name Cloonfane is of Gaelic origin and can have a number of interpretations. The most popular interpretation is Cluain Péin  ( Pine meadow) or Cluain Fiáin (wild meadow). The official interpretation is Cluain Féan (Meadow of the Wagons).  The village has an area of 492 acres, 2 roods and 4 perches. Neighbouring villages include Corohan, Garrafrauns, Quinaltagh, and Carranthomus, Kinmacnella and Cloonbrisk of Milltown parish. The Dalgin river separates it from the village of Conagher.

Local folklore suggests that the area was heavily wooded in earlier times. There is evidence of pine tree stumps in the cut-a way bogs which cover about 90 acres of the village.  Just north of the village we have a local townland called Laughill or Leath Choill meaning “half wood” and on the other side we have a area known locally as Ceapach Choillin  which means ( a tillage patch in the little wood).  In olden times the main road out of Garrafrauns through Cloonfane was known as the “Wood Road”.

Much of the land can be described as “marginal” and has been traditionally used for mixed farming.  The occupiers of the land holdings during the 1700’s and 1800’s were tenants of the local landlord. During the Penal times of the 1700’s many of the holdings were subdivided which ensured that the farms were smaller and their occupants were poorer. The landlords of the area were the Kirwans of Dalgin House. Richard Kirwan was mentioned in The Griffith Valuation as the landlord of the village which had an annual rateable valuation of £ 107.9.00.  Many of the Kirwan family are interred in the old graveyard in Addergoole.

In 1841 just prior to the Great Famine the population of the village was 360 persons in 65 houses.  However in the list of tenants from the Kirwan estate as surveyed by M. Gibbons in 1842 only 25 families were mentioned. This suggests that many of the householders were so poor, they didn’t pay any rent and probably worked on the landlord’s estate in lieu of rent. Typical work at the time may have included haymaking, harvesting of corn and maintaining roadways and drains.  Other families resided on land that was so poor no rent was payable.

 In 2009 local forestry contractor Paddy Hosty unearthed  the remains of a dwelling  in a raised area in the middle of the Cloonfane bog. Evidence of field boundaries and potato ridges were also uncovered. On wonders how any family could farm in such unhospitable surroundings? The village obviously suffered greatly from the effects of the Great Famine when the population dropped to 160 persons in 26 families. Local tradition tells us that due to severe food shortages 13 families migrated from the village and eventually settled in Roscommon where they named their new settlement Cloonfane.

The Griffith Valuation of 1855 tells that 22 families were tenants of Richard Kirwan. In 1861 the population continued to decrease to 150 with 23 families. By 1891 it had slumped to 130 persons in 21 families. The valuation was now £ 106.3.00

By the turn of the century the number of families remained in the low twenties but the population continued to decline. Emigration to the United States and England was the main contributing factor to this decline. By 1901 the population of the village was 112.

The 1901 census informs us that 22 families lived in Cloonfane.  All the houses were thatched with 11 houses classified as 2nd and 11 as class 3 houses. 83 out offices comprising of fowl houses, barns, cart house, piggeries and cow byres were listed. The largest family in the village was that of William Burke with 14 occupants living in a 3 roomed cottage.

Of the 25 families mentioned in 1841 the family names of Hosty, McWalter, Kerrigan, Touhy, Kenney, Doherty, Noone and  Nestor,

live on to this day.