The man who made Jonesborough

When Moyra Castle was built in 1601, the townlands of Dromintee, Carrickbroad, Faughilotra, Faughiletra and Edenappa ( or Dromentey, Carrickbradagh, Oghillstraght, Foughilletra and Edenknappagh as they were called in a document of the time) were seized and the rental income from the land set aside for the upkeep and garrisoning of ‘Maighre’ castle. Eventually as military needs declined the lands were sold off and in 1706 they came into the hands of a Dublin barrister called Roth Jones. He renamed the very small village of Baile an Chlair in his own honour (although it may have been called Jonestown for the first few years) and began building the fine house which has been allowed to fall into a disgraceful state recently. The Jones landholdings chopped and changed over the years – they expanded into Dromintee townland and his descendants were still major landlords until the Wyndham Land Act of 1903 which got rid of the landlords (for very substantial payments which only ended a few years back).


In 1710 Jones applied to the Crown for a licence to hold a fair to compete with Forkhill which the Jacksons were getting a nice little turn out of – it was a licence to print money as his tenants could hardly go to another fair. It appears to have been a condition of the Jones licence that he should build or at least partly finance a new coach road through Edenappa to Faughart as the old road by the Gap of the North was plagued with highwaymen.


By 1837 as you can see from Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary below, the Jones’s were gone from the Big House, and in their place was Hamilton Skelton. But the Griffiths Valuation lists show they were still the biggest landowner around in the 1860s.


From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

“JONESBOROUGH, a parish, in the barony of UPPER ORIOR, county of ARMAGH, and province of ULSTER, 4 ½ miles (S. W.) from Newry, adjoining the post-town of Flurry-bridge, and containing 1598 inhabitants, of which number, 174 are in the village. According to the Ordnance survey it comprises 2185 ¾ statute acres, including about 700 acres of bog and mountain. Clay-slate and good granite for building are obtained here. The village, which comprises 35 houses, is situated in a mountain pass at the foot of two lofty hills close to the confines of Louth, and was burnt in 1798. Here is a good inn; and a dispensary has been established, which is supported in the usual way. It has much traffic with Newry and Dundalk; and cattle fairs are held on June 4th, Aug. 15th, Oct. 21st, and Dec. 3rd.

Near the village is Jonesborough House, the residence of Hamilton Skelton, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. Robert Henry. Here were formerly barracks for the accommodation of a troop of infantry, but the building has been converted into a private residence. The parish was formed out of that of Killevy, or Ballymore, in 1760, and endowed with the tithes and glebe, in 1789, by Primate Robinson. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Lord-Primate: the tithes amount to £155. There is a glebe-house, which was built by aid of a gift of £450 and a loan of £80, in 1816, from the late Board of First Fruits, and has a glebe of 6a. 3r. 11p. The church is a plain neat building, erected in 1772, consecrated in 1785, and repaired in 1812 by a gift of £400 from the same Board. In the R. C. divisions it forms part of the union or district of Faughart, and has a large handsome chapel in the village. About 100 children are educated in two private schools. A little south of the village stands an upright single stone, with an illegible inscription; and not far distant are the ruins of Moyrath castle, erected in the 17th century to defend the mountain pass.

The burning of the village in 1798 was done by ‘Seaver of the Bog’ and his Killeavy Yeomanry. Jonathan Seaver lived at Heath Hall, which is the castellated building in Ballymacdermot Townland not far from Killeavy football grounds.


Did you know …..?

that the former Parochial House up the fine avenue in the middle of Jonesborough village was the site of a barracks? it is clearly marked on the 1864 Griffiths Valuation map as ‘Old Barrack’. It may have been replaced by the building at Flurrybridge shown as ‘Constabulary Barrack’ (that house is still there). Anyone know the story? Could it have been military, from 1798?

Our thanks to Ryan Morgan who dug this up:



“Jonesborough was originally part of Ballymore Parish. An order
in Council of March 11, 1760 established it as a parish, and Primate Robinson
endowed it with tithes and a glebe. It was enlarged by the addition of
6 townlands in Ballymascanlan on July 6, 1861, by another order in Council.
The church was originally built circa 1732 {Grand Jury Presentments), re-
built 1772 and consecrated in 1785. It was repaired in 1812 at a cost of
£370 — a gift from the Board of First Fruits. It was again repaired in 1863
and rebuilt at the expense of the late Lord Clermont, and opened for worship
on 30 Sep., 1866. Lord Clermont handsomely endowed the parish. The
church was not re-consecrated.

Mr. Kidd in his Survey contributed to Mason (in Shaw Maaon’t
Collection) writes : — ” The barracks where I at present reside by
permission of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant …. There
is an old Romish chapel unroofed belongmg to the parish . . . but the
priest assembles his flock in the open air, under the ruins of an old building
nearly opposite the barrack gate. . . . There are 7 Protestant families
and 27 respectable (sic) communicants at Christmas [1813].” The latter
were chiefly from neighbouring parishes. Before his institution in 1812,
he says, the church had become a ruin, ” but the Primate put it in order.”
The glebe house was built m 1815 at a cost of £563 Is. 6^., of which £450
was a gift from the Board of First Fruits. The silver chalice and paten
were presented by Captain Macartney Filgate.”


So Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary confirms there was a military barracks, but is not clear as to where it was. Keep digging.



My father told a story about landlord Jones although whether he is the original one or a descendant I don’t know. Near Dernaroy cross, between the houses of Sean Maginness and Jack (Corney) Murphy there is a loanan leading down into Faughilotra which is known as Morgan’s Pad. In my boyhoood there were still two families called Morgan on it, but once there were Morgans in every farm and house. There is a sharp bend on the lane and after that old walls on the left known as Rosie Morgan’s and that was the first of them. There was once a cobbler who lived there and when Jones was out hunting one day he was caught in a bad shower of rain and his party took shelter in the house. He examined a pair of boots the cobbler was making and asked if he could make another pair for him.

“I could”, says the cobbler, “I’m the best and fastest cobbler in the country.”

“How long will it take you to make me a pair?”

“How long will you be hunting?”

“At least a couple of hours.”

“That’ll do, they will be ready for you.”

“How much will the cost me?”

“Not one penny”, says the cobbler. “Just land – land on a long lease at a good rent. As much as I can run round in half an hour – and maybe I should have told you that I run even faster than I cobble.”

So the deal was done, the boots were ready on time and the cobbler Morgan went out onto the pad and started running towards Moyra castle, leaping ditches as he went. Then he turned left and ran along the stream that flows along the railway towards Brennan’s Corner and cut across Dernaroy we know not where, but Morgans definitely had land to the north (right) of Finnegans Road, which didn’t exist at the time. But he got down to the stream that separates Adavoyle from Dromintee townland and turned south for home with minutes to spare. He made it and that’s why we got so many Morgans on Morgan’s Pad.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2012: Patsy “Roger” Morgan confirms the general story but makes a couple of corrections. It wasn’t Jones who did the deal on the boots, it was his land agent, a man called Gilmore. And the cobbler’s house was not in Rosie Morgan’s which is not old enough, but a couple of fields to the south where visible ruins were recently cleared away.


The bridge on that stream below Jack (Corney) Murphy’s used to be known as Runcan’s Bridge. Any explanations appreciated.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2012: Patsy “Roger” Morgan put me right on that one too. About a hundred years ago the farm where Jack’s house stands was occupied by one Bernard Morgan, who lived for some time in Liverpool and specifically in the district of Runcorn. It seems he talked about Runcorn so much it became his nickname and eventually passed to the bridge.

The field across the road in front of Jack’s is Morgan’s too, and many years ago old Peter Nugent told me that a man was killed in that field during the faction fights after the fall of Parnell.