Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Townland of Kinnakinelly.   


Kinnakinelly townland is situated north west of Garrafrauns with its boundary commencing approx. 250 yard west of Touhy’s corner, Cloonfane and extending on both sides of the main road to Dunmacreena bridge.  Cloonbrisk townland borders to the north.  The circuitous route of the DalginRiver forms approximately two thirds of the Kinnakinelly boundary and is the border with neighbouring Dunmacreena and Ballinvilla to the west and Connagher to the south.  Kinnakinelly is situated in the Civil Parish of Addergoole and in the Roman Catholic parish of Milltown.  The Kinnakinelly name is of Gaelic origin and has various interpretations and spellings, e.g. Kilmacnella, Kinmacnelly, Kinnakinelly, etc. or simply Kinnick.   Richard Griffith’s Valuation of the 1850’s, the 1901 and 1911 census returns use ‘Kinnakinelly’ which may be regarded as the official spelling of the townland.  It is suggested that the most likely origin of Kinnakinelly is ‘Cionn Mhic Cionnaola’, or “Cionn na gCoinéile”, the headland or raised area of McConnaola or Conneely.  This townland, like its neighbouring areas, is a patchwork of irregular shaped fields bounded mainly by stone walls. This area was traditionally used for mixed farming of sheep, cattle, pigs and tillage with some farmers travelling annually to Lincolnshire & Yorkshire for seasonal farm work. In the 1930’s, through the War years and after, egg sales made up a big portion of farm household income. The bog land on the northern & southern margins of the townland provided turf for generations of Kinnakinelly residents.


Kinnakinelly was mainly comprised of three clusters of houses, namely Ballybeag, Ballinultach and Ballynua, the latter more commonly referred to as High Street, with a small number of houses interspersed outside of those clusters.  It is said that in olden times Ballybeag was referred to as Póirse Cúig, possibly referring to five houses that were situated on a laneway off the road leading to Clonbrisk townland.  A little laneway adjacent to Michael Harte’s old house leads to Ballinultach with High Street situated on a side road near DunmacreenaBridge.   The Ballinultach families traced their ancestry to Ulster families who had been dispossessed from the Ulster lands, probably Fermanagh & Tyrone, in the late 18th century.   McManus, Mullarkey and Bones were the predominant Ballinultach family names.  Other families of Ulster origin settled in neighbouring Shanballymore, Cappagh & Carramanagh.   Kevin Kilgarriff (1921 – 2007), born at the White House, Garrafrauns, and grandson of Andy Mullarkey, Ballinultach, wrote, “they(the people of Ulster origin) seemed to stick together.   They used their own vocabulary such as “graft” for the new shoot of corn while the locals referred to is as “geamhar”.   They were familiar with Sliabh Dart which they referred to as “Slidach”.     They were referred to as na nUltaigh which was later anglicised as the “Nults”.   A section of the old cemetery in Dunmore was reserved for the burials of those families of Ulster stock and was named “Cnocán na nUltaigh”. 


Griffith’s Valuation, of the 1850’s, records that there were 693 acres and 2 perches in the townland of Kinnakinelly. Landlord Dudley Oliver controlled the eastern portion of Kinnakinelly from its boundary with Cloonfane to Póirse Mhurchú, near Gleann Mór and extending on both sides of the main road to its boundary with Cloonbrisk and Dunmacreena to the north and to the boundary with Conagher to the south. The Oliver portion was divided in to 37 plots which were leased to 12 tenants. There were 14 houses in this portion and were mainly situated in Ballinultach and Ballybeag.  .  One tenant had sublet three plots of land, approximately 7 acres, and a house and office to Luke McManus. 


The western end of the townland, from approx Gleann Mór to DunmacreenaBridge, including the cluster of houses, High Street, and extending on both sides of the road to the DalginRiver was controlled by landlord, Francis Fitzgerald and divided in to 39 individual plots.   24 tenants leased plots directly from Fitzgerald.   3 of those tenants had sub-let small portions to 3 additional persons.  This portion of Kinnakinelly contained 26 houses.


Dudley Oliver was also landlord of neighbouring Cloonbrisk. The Landed Estate online database maintained by the National University of Ireland, Galway, records that the “Oliver family’s main estates were in county Limerick but they also held land in Leitrim.  At the time of Griffith’s Valuation Dudley Oliver [of Cherrymount, county Wicklow], held most of two townlands in the parish of Addergoole, barony of Dunmore, county Galway from the See of Tuam. He was descended from the Most Reverend John Ryder, appointed Protestant Archbishop of Tuam in 1752”.  English born John Ryder, died in Nice, France in 1775 from the effects of a fall from his horse. A Dudley Oliver, Adrigoole (sic), Tuam, is mentioned in the Tithe Applotment Books of 1831.  Little is known of Francis Fitzgerald but such name is mentioned in the Tithe Applotment Books, 1827, in the parish of Rahoon, Galway and in Landed Estate Court files of the 1840’s and 1850’s with various Galway town addresses, such as Nun’s Island, Merchant’s Road, etc.


The Landed Estate Court files record that British army captain George Ellis acquired a substantial farm in Kinnakinelly in 1866.   George Ellis, son of Henry Ellis, and Georgina Anne Lewen (Lewin), daughter of Thomas Lewin, Kilmaine Parish, Co. Mayo, married at Monkstown, Co. Dublin, on 5 September 1851.  It is believed that Georgina A. Lewin was of to the Lewin family, late of Cloghans, Kilmaine, who resided at Castlegrove House, Kilconly, Tuam from 1888 until 1922.  As she was born before the commencement of civil registration of births in 1864 it is not possible to definitively show a connection.  Some time after 1866, George Ellis built a house in Kinnakinelly, the house now owned by Michael Ronayne, and moved there with his wife and three children, Oliver, Aylmer & Jane.  The relative affluence of the Ellis family, their grand house, with its winding avenue, contrasted sharply with the deprivation of many of their Kinnakinelly neighbours.  It is reputed that George Ellis had the first bicycle in the area.  The late Tom Kirrane, NT, Irishtown, mentioned in his “History of Kilvine Parish”, that a crowd assembled at DunmacreenaBridge on a Sunday in about 1880 to view an Ellis man displaying his bicycling skills. The 1901 census enumerates the Ellis family at Kinnakinelly as England born George Ellis, 64 years, Captain 52 Lt. Infantry retired, his Mayo born wife, Georgina A, 55 years, his Dublin born son, Oliver F. 31 years, his Mayo born son & daughter, Aylmer C., 28 years and Jane A., 24 years. The occupations of the sons and daughter are given as “Land & Dividends”. The 1911 census enumerates the Kinnakinelly Ellis family as Oliver, 40 years, Aylmer C., 37 years and Jane, 30 years.  Aylmer is described as a Justice of the Peace and Jane as a farmer.  Oliver’s occupation is not described. The census ages for the Ellis family appear to be at variance with their actual ages. The Ellis parents, George and Georgina are interred in the grounds of BallindineChurch and the grave inscription reads:  “We Loved him in life we will not forget him in death. Lord have mercy on the Soul of George Ellis, Captain 52 Regt., Kilmacnella, Co. Galway. Who died 30th May 1905. Aged 75 years. And on the soul of Georgina Anna Ellis, his beloved wife, who died 25th February 1911. Aged 69 years. Erected in loving memory by his sorrowing wife and family. AD 1905”.  The names of their sons and daughter are not inscribed in the family grave but presumably they are also interred there?


Kevin Kilgarriff,  who knew Aylmer Ellis, suggested that he was an eccentric loner and remembers him travelling to Garrafrauns in his high handlebar lady’s bicycle, to attend Mass in the Church sacristy and afterwards having a few whiskies alone in the White House dining room. Aylmer, who had attended KnockbegCollege, Carlow, taught Kevin the Greek alphabet and he used to visit Kevin while he was a student at St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam, in the 1930’s.  Aylmer Ellis was a Justice of the Peace and, like his brother, Oliver, was a member of Tuam Rural District Council in the first decade of the 20th century.  A Justice of the Peace had a minor judicial roll, similar to the modern day Peace Commissioner. Prison registers record that “Aylmer Ellis, 27 years, Kilmacnilla, Milltown, Co. Galway” was imprisoned in Galway prison for an assault offence at Galway in 1892.  The same registers record that “Oliver F. Ellis, also known as E.C. Ellis, 50 years, Kilmacnella, Dry Mills, Co. Galway”, was imprisoned at Galway Prison for a contempt of court offence at Galway in 1911.  Dry Mills was the original name for present day Irishtown.  The Tuam Registration District Death Register records that Aylmer Ellis, 85 years, died in 1940.   Such record suggests that Aylmer was born circa 1855, showing his 1901 and 1911 census ages are incorrect.  The death records for the other members of the Ellis family have not been found. 


In 1952, while engaged in turf cutting, the late Jim Mullin, High Street, unearthed a ‘bog body’ at his bog at the back of Ballinultach, adjacent to the Cloonfane boundary and the DalginRiver.  This bog body find was investigated by Dr. Costello, Tuam in the company of Gardai and was then apparently handed over to the NationalMuseum without a full archaeological investigation.  Mr. Ned Kelly, Keeper of Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, in delivering an address on bog bodies to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2012, specifically mentioned seven significant Irish bog body finds including ‘Kinnakinelly Man’ and the better known ‘Old Croghan Man’, found in Co. Offaly.  He said that scientific analysis suggested that those seven “adult male bog bodies were the remains of former kings…… who were  ritually killed as offerings to the Goddess of Sovereignty, Death & Fertility ……that such sacrificial killings were only undertaken when a king’s reign had proven unsuccessful because of defeat in war, or due to famine or pestilence”.   He suggested that those bodies were deposited close to the boundaries of their kingdoms to appease the Goddess and that the fragmented ‘Kinnakinelly Man’ was found “at a depth of 8’, associated with red deer bones and a stave near the boundary of the ancient kingdom of Conmaicne Cinéoil Dubáin”.  He stated that a number of conditions in peat bogs combine to preserve the interred body.  Radiocarbon dating has shown that ‘Kinnakinelly Man’ lived between the 2nd & 1st century BC. It appears that the unearthing of ‘Kinnakinelly Man’ is not widely known in the local area.  The National Museum of Ireland authorities continue to be interested in this find and have been seeking assistance in better identifying Jim Mullins’ bog.


The 1855 maps, which accompany Griffith’s Valuation, marks the site of a ‘Grave Yard’ on the farm of the late Jim McHugh, Ballinultach.  The OS maps of 2003 describe this site as ‘Church’ & ‘Children’s Burial Ground’.  There are stones, one with a cross and the etched wording “Lord have mercy on thee”, marking numerous graves adjacent to the foundation stones of a rectangular shaped building on a little green hill.  There are no visible markings which might show when any of the burials took place at this site.


The Kinnakinelly 1841 census enumerated 358 persons, 187 females & 171 males.  The 1851 census showed a major decline in the population to 268 persons, 136 females & 132 males. 


The 1901 census of Kinnakinelly again showed a further decline in the population, recording 26 households, having a total population of 161, 79 males & 82 females.   All were recorded as RC.   Twenty four persons, who were recorded as “head” of household, gave their occupation as “Farmer”, one was a “Shepherd” and one was an army “Captain – retired”.   Thirty nine persons were classed as “scholars”, i.e. school-going.  All were Galway born except for four persons who born in Co. Mayo, one born in Dublin and one born in England.  Seventy five per cent were recorded as being able to “read and write” and spoke “Irish & English”, even England born, George Ellis recorded that he spoke “Irish & English”.   Of the 26 inhabited houses – 25 thatched and 1 had a slate or iron or tiled roof (presumably slated).   The 1901 census classed dwellings as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th based on the quality of the walls, roof, no. of rooms and no. of windows in front of house.   Kinnakinelly has only one 1st class house (Ellis), seven 2nd quality houses and eighteen 3rd quality houses.


The 1911 census of Kinnakinelly records 24 households, having a total population of 129, 62 males and 67 females.   All were recorded as RC.   Twenty four persons were “farmers” and twenty nine persons were classed as “scholars”. The census returns record that 85% were able to “read & write” and 75% spoke “Irish & English”.   The majority were born in Co. Galway, with fifteen persons born in Co. Mayo and one in Co. Wicklow.  Of the 24 inhabited houses, 22 thatched and 2 had a slated, iron or tiled roofs.   It would appear that the Ellis house was slated while George Conway’s house had a sheet iron roof.  The 1911 census again classed dwellings as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th on the quality of walls, roof, no. of rooms and no. of windows in front of house.   Kinnakinelly had only one 1st class house (Ellis), sixteen 2nd class and seven 3rd class houses.


The Corrib drainage scheme of the 1950’s and better farming methods have improved the quality of much of the land.  There are two areas, of over 70 acres, of bog land on the northern & southern margins of the townland, some of which continues to be used for turf production with much now reclaimed and used for sheep and cattle grazing.  Farmers have moved away from traditional farming methods with some combining off farm employment with cattle and sheep rearing.


It would appear that most of the 358 residents of Kinnakinelly in 1841endured wretched living conditions. Using 1841 census records it is estimated that 60% of west of Ireland rural dwellers lived in “fourth” class housing, i.e. window-less single room cabins, often sharing accommodation with a cow or pig.  The majority existed on a deficient diet without access to proper medical care and for many the shame of Workhouse confinement loomed.  Six generations later the 58 persons who, as of June 2014, live in 17 homes and 2 holiday homes in Kinnakinelly enjoy first class residential accommodation with a high standard of living.



Tom Keane & Michael Kirrane.