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Come in to see the restoration for yourself.



Since 2001 the property has been slowly renovated. Galway based conservation architect Gerry Mc Manus has recently come on board to oversee the project.

Best conservation practice using traditional materials and workmanship are used to ensure the buildings’ future. The building is now open to the public certain times of the year and for anyone interested in knowing more about the use of traditional materials such as Lime mortar please feel free to call and arrange a demonstration.

Open Days  2pm-6pm

January 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30
February 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
March 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26
April 1-2, 15-16, 29-30
May 20-21, 28-29
June 3-4-5, 10-11-12, 17-18-19, 24-25-26
July 1-2-3, 8-9-10, 22-23-24, 29-30-31
August 5-6, 12-13, 18-26

Open every year for Heritage week

Report on Prison House


Prison Townland:

Prison House is situated in the townland of Prison North in the parish of Manulla and barony of Carra, Co. Mayo.  The townland of Prison North comprises 340 acres 3 roods and 26 perches.  Originally Prison North, West and East were not subdivided but went collectively under the name of Prison townland.  One of the earliest references to Prison townland dates from 1586.  Prison also appears variously as ‘Prizon’, ‘Prisone’ and ‘Preeson’.  The origin of the townland’s name is unknown.  The Ordnance Survey books of 1837 notes the name but does not provide a suggestion for its origin, although the books record two forts and a cave in the townland.[1]

The 1654 Down Survey and the Browne Rentals indicate that Prison was previously also known as Trineloghan/Trineleghane, and Triskine/Trilkine, names that appear to have no connection to its other alias.

The lands of Prison were successively in the possession of the Bourke family, later Viscounts of Mayo; the Browne family later Viscounts of Sligo; the Nolan family; and the Trench and Domville families.  Prison remained in the hands of the Domville’s until the 20th century.

Prison House:

Prison House is a simple three bay house, two stories high.  To put any definitive date on Prison House has proved to be impossible, but the research to date has been able to prove that a building has stood on the site for over 200 years.  As early as 1814, Prison house was already referred to as the ‘old house’ by the surveyor John Longfield, employed by the local landlord, Frederick Trench.

We have concluded that Prison House probably stands on the site of an older house, parts of which were incorporated into the structure of the house now standing.  Although the external features of the house indicate that the house was built in the early 19th Century, the unusual chimney-stacks suggest that this part of the house at least was probably built in the late 18th Century.  This opinion was confirmed by David Griffin, the director of the Irish Architectural Archives, on viewing the survey photographs of Prison House.

The Irish Architectural Archive (IAA) does not hold any photographic records of Prizon House.  David Griffin, the director of the IAA was shown photographs of the building but was unable to put a date other than possibly early 19th century on the house.  He did however comment on the unusual chimney-stacks, saying that they had only ever seen two other examples of this, one on an unspecified house in County Wexford, the other Luggala House in County Wicklow.  Luggala House was built by the La Touche family of banking fame, in the 1790s.  A late Victorian photograph does show the same type of chimney-stack but at some date these were replaced and no longer exist in Luggala House.  This is helpful to the extent that it dates at least part of the house to the late 18th century.

It is almost certain that Prison House was built in the second half of the 18th Century.  In 1764 the landlord Reverend Trench concluded a lease with the Ormsby family for three lives.  The lease makes no specific mention of an existing house, and does not require the Trench’s to provide stone or bricks as building materials, or the Ormsby’s to build a house as a condition of lease.  The size of Prison House, and the apple orchard and many other trees planted around it, indicates that a great deal of initial work was carried out when the house was first built.

Given the circumstantial evidence it is probable that Prison House was laid out by the Ormsby family, although there is a remote chance that the landlord Frederick Trench, a well known amateur architect, may have designed and built the original house.[2]   Possibly the only way to resolve this would be to take a set of measured drawings of the interior of Prison House, which was also previously suggested by O’Carroll Associates.  The layout of rooms and internal staircases may perhaps provide further clues to the exact age of the building, and to whether an architect was involved in its design.  Measured drawings could also be used to establish the relationship between the house which appears to predate the adjoining buildings to the rear, and could be compared with the measurements recorded in 1841.

No significant alterations appear to have been made to the house between the time of the landlord’s survey in 1814 and 1841, when a complete survey was recorded by a government evaluator, as recorded in the ‘House Books’ for Prison North.



The Bourke Family:

An early reference to Prison townland appears in an Elizabethan fiant of 1586.  This fiant records the pardon of ‘Walter Boorke m’Richard en yeren, of Prisone’[3].

Walter Bourke was the son of Richard Bourke or as he was more commonly known, ‘Richard-an-Iarainn’ (literally Richard of Iron) the second husband of the infamous Grace O’Malley, ‘Granuaile’ described in 1576 by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney, as ‘a most famous feminine sea captain. . .a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland[4].  Richard Bourke was descended from the sept of the Bourkes of Umhall and Carra, one of the senior Bourke branches.  The fact that Walter was recorded as ‘of Prisone’ would suggest that at this date he was the occupier of the townland, and that his residence was there.  However in two subsequent fiants of 1592 and 1598 he was described as ‘of Togher’ and ‘of Mohine’ respectively, so his stay in Prison may well have been brief.

In 1641 the proprietor of Trynylonghan comprising 171 acres, and Treelkin comprising 14 acres, was one David Bourke.  This David may have been the grandson of Richard-an Iarainn and son of the 1st Visount Mayo, Tibbott-ne-Long[5], the only child born to Granuaile and her second husband Richard.[6]   David Bourke inherited the castle and lands of Manulla and acquired further lands in Carra barony.  He married first Mary O’Donnell the sister of Red Hugh O’Donnell, and secondly a daughter of Richard Heword of Dublin.  David Bourke’s date of death is unknown and as he died without legitimate issue the lands reverted to Viscount Mayo.



Patrick Nolan:

While David Bourke was the owner of Prison townland in 1641, part of these lands recorded as ‘arable and pasture’ were subsequently confiscated and granted to a Patrick ‘Nowlan’.  On the 16th of September 1685 Trinelogan and Triskeen and various other townlands were sold by Patrick Nolan of ‘Balenderry’ County Galway to [Colnel] John Browne of Kinturk, County Mayo for £694[7].


Colonel John Browne:

This John Browne of Kinturk was more commonly known as Colonel John Browne.  A barrister by profession and a colonel in the army of King James II, John Browne had married Maud Bourke in 1669.  Maud was the daughter of the third Viscount Mayo, Theobald Bourke.   Following James II’s defeat Browne was heavily in debt.  He owed money to his wife’s family for lands purchased from the Estate of Viscount Mayo in the baronies of Carra, Murrisk and Burrishole.  He was eventually imprisoned for his debt and the lands sold.  Family fortunes improved in 1702 when John Browne’s daughter Mary married her cousin Theobald Bourke.  The Browne family were later made Viscounts Sligo, with a family seat at Westport House.

Rentals of Colonel Browne’s estate dating 1696 record that Randle McDonnell held a three year lease of the lands of ‘Preeson’ at a year’s rent of £35 for the first two years and £40 for the third year.

In 1704 when the estate was sold ‘Presson & Gallon farme’ was leased by Colonel Manus O’Donnell, although a note states that there was ‘no tenant at present’. It is not clear from this why a farm at Prison should be called Prison and Gallen or if it is in fact referring to two separate farms.  It would appear to be the latter as a further note stated that ‘Coll Manus O’Donnell is to pay out of Gallen farme for one year ending’.[8]


The Trench Family:

Prison townland and the neighbouring lands were bought by William Trench of County Laois in the first decade of the 18th Century. William’s grandfather, Frederick Trench, came to Ireland from England in 1631 and settled in Galway.  William Trench and his wife, Susanna Segar, heiress of Redcastle, Co. Laois, had nine children and the family established themselves at Ballinakill, Co.Laois. Their second son, Frederick Trench born 21st September 1715, inherited Prison townland and lands in Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Laois on the death of his elder brother.  Frederick Trench received a BA degree from Trinity College in 1737 and was ordained in 1740.  He married Mary Moore of Crymorgan, Co. Laois in 1745.  Their only child was Michael Frederick Trench, known as Frederick, a renowned amateur architect.  Michael Frederick married Anna Helena Stewart in 1775.  They had six surviving children including; Frederick William (1775-1859) MP and aide-de-camp to George IV; Stewart-Segar, Chancellor of Christ Church Cathedral and Sarah Helena.

In 1708 in order to preserve official copies (memorials) of land and commercial transactions the Registry of Deeds was established by Act of the Irish Parliament.  Registration of deeds was voluntary, so the majority of early records relate mainly to those properties that were likely to face a legal challenge.  A search of the early indexes for the townland of Prison and the other aliases (Trineloghan and Triskine/Trilkine) was unsuccessful.  The first reference relating to Prison townland in the Registry of Deeds was in the 1739-1810 townland index.  A memorial of a deed of lease dated 6th October 1764[9] records that part of Prison townland was held by the Reverend Frederick Trench of Ballynakill, Co. Laois.  The deed stated that part of the lands of Prizon and Drimloughra ‘lately held by Mr Garret Coghlan’ were to be let to Anthony Ormsby of Ballynamore, Co. Mayo, for the lives of Thomas his eldest son, Adam his second son and his third son, Christopher, for the sum of £164 sterling.  There was a clause of surrender at the end of every three years and ‘liberty to carry off sixteen acres of Corn Potatoes or Flax’.  There was no reference to any specific building in the lease, so that we know that Prison House was not yet built at this time.

The Ormsby family seat was at Ballinamore co. Mayo, and it is not known whether any of the family ever lived in Prison townland.  The Ormsby family had settled in Ireland in the late 16th century.  According to Burke’s Irish Family Records Anthony Ormsby was a High Sheriff and a Captain in Hingham Regiment of Horse.[10]  He married Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Lindsay of Co. Mayo and the couple had four children, one daughter Anne, and three sons, mentioned in the deed of 1764.

Prison House would appear to have been a possible target at the time of the 1798 Rebellion, unfortunately the List of Persons Who Suffered Losses in the ’98 Rebellion while it lists 650 claimants in County Mayo does not include any claimant from Prison townland.


The deeds ledger of the Trench estates, and the Longfield Maps – 1814:

A manuscript notebook from 1814 gives a complete list of the deeds ledger that contained a memorial of maps, deeds and documents relating to the Trench estates in Roscommon and Mayo.[11]  Among the deeds recorded was ‘Nolan’s deed or release of Smuttanagh, Prison, Drumloughra and …[illegible]’ from 1704 and ‘O’Donnell’s surrender of Prison’ dated 1724.  In 1814 these papers were held at Heywood, the family seat of the Trenchs in Co. Laois.  Unfortunately these papers appear to be no longer extant,[12] however the memorial does give invaluable information as to early 18th century leases.  The 1814 notebook records that in 1735 Prison townland was leased by an unnamed Coghlan, while another document from 1756 recorded that ‘Thady Coghlan’s lease’ had expired.[13]

The first definitive reference to a building occupying the site where Prison House now stands is in maps of Prison surveyed by John Longfield in 1814.  This was not the first time that the lands had been mapped, the 1814 deeds ledger of the Trench estate refers to maps of Prison townland surveyed in 1719, 1756 and 1785.  Unfortunately none of these maps appear to have survived.  One of the maps of 1814 however shows a building termed the ‘Old House’ which is clearly situated on the site where Prison House now stands.  Longfield drew a rectangular structure with an adjoining rear, an L-shaped structure.  Two buildings stood to the front left and right of the house.  A long avenue ran up to the house and this can be traced in the map accompanying the Land Registry documents seen clearly as a thin strip of land.  A garden stood to the left of the house and Longfield also marked a Haggard (an enclosed space near the farm-house), denoted by the words ‘Hgd’.

At the same time as the map was being surveyed a member of the Trench family, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick William Trench visited Prison and its neighbouring townlands.  In a bound volume he not only recorded his Grand Tour of Europe but also chronicled his tour of his father’s estate which fortunately concentrates on lands in the barony of Carra.  His visit may have been designed to coincide with Longfield’s survey.  In a letter surviving from this time William’s father wrote to his son: ‘I consider it as an Event truly fortunate that you became acquainted with Mr Longfield, a person of so much real knowledge and Exertion, and on whom you seem so justly to have placed so much reliance…’.[14]  F.W. Trench appears to have been keen to note improvements that could be made to the lands and frequently noted the rentals.

In his first mention of Prison townland he notes that the townland was ‘looking well’ and that it and the neighouring townlands were ‘very fine really!’  Some time later he records: ‘Began to survey at Prison – I walked round on the mearing – untied by the Herds House – His name John Mucalini – He has 4 Cows & Brood Mare & has sufficient land allotted to him to support his stock & his family.[15] There then follows notes on the value of the lands and then Trench continues with a visit to Prison Farm: ‘Went to old House, Garden & orchard beautiful situation fine Avenue – great quantitys of Crofton Apples & some Hedge Rows . . .’  It is interesting to note that in 1814 both Trench and Longfield refer to Prison house as ‘old’.

F. W. Trench had plans for improving the townland.   He believed that a road should be constructed leading from the Castlebar road to Prison townland but was conscious that this was not popular with the Ormsby family.  He remarked: ‘I understand Mr Ormsby has always been averse to this[the road] as disturbing the tranquility of his Pasture’.  Trench also commented ‘The true arrangement for Prison w[oul]d be to divide it into farms of 25 acres.  Build Houses for each in the most desirable situation making the Tenant advance 2/3 of the money. . . .The House & a Cottage or House ye most likely to let Hereafter may be built when Funds can be commanded, if Drumloughra is as I believe out of lease in 5 years there would be a considerable extent to be so disposed of, making Thady Coughlan’s Ruin the Site of some sort of Lodge for the Superintendant or owner.


This reference to ‘Thady Co[u]ghlan’s ruin’ again underlines the probable origins of Prison House as in the second half of the 18th Century.  We know that the Ormsby family picked up the lease for Prison townland in 1764.  Longfield’s 1814 survey makes it quite clear that Thady Coughlan’s ruin and Prison House were separate buildings/sites.  The Longfield map records another old house north of Prison House but situated in the same townland.  Unlike the ‘technical’ drawing of the out-buildings at Prison Farm, Longfield drew a sketch of a large building – apparently the farm-house which was occupied by Thady Coghlan until his lease expired in 1756, and in a ruinous state by 1814.

In 1814 F. W. Trench appears to have taken some notes as to the number of families in each townland in the barony of Carra.  For Prison townland he noted only ‘Family’s in Prison – James Moynahan ye Herd!’  Trench had earlier distinguished his visit to ‘the herd’s house’ and to the ‘old house (Prison House)’, so by implication Prison House must have been unoccupied at this date.

A later rental of 1833 indicates that James Monaghan, presumably the same man, was still resident in Prison townland.  His annual rent was £1 18s, a relatively low rent, which would indicate that he was not resident in Prison House as his rent would have been substantially higher.

The next substantial information on Prison dates from the mid 1820s.  On Monday the 14th November 1825 the Trench estate ‘upwards of 5000 English acres’, the property of Colonel Sir Frederick William Trench including Prison townland was to be auctioned in lots at the Commercial Buildings in Dame Street, Dublin at 12 noon by the vendor’s solicitors Messrs. Robert Hamilton & Co.  Lot No. 3 consisted of Prison townland and the following description was detailed in the auction prospectus:

‘. . .containing 453 acres 2 roods 23 perches situate in the Barony of CARRA, and County of Mayo, let to Thomas[sic] Ormsby, Esq. By Lease, dated in 1764, for 3 Lives, (only one of whom, viz. Christopher Ormsby , Esq. supposed to be now aged about 75 years, is in being), at £164 per Annum, and consists of Arable, Pasture, Meadow, and Bog is most commodiously circumstanced, having a south aspect, and being well sheltered.  The Meadow is of superior quality and the Feeding Land is supposed to be as good as any in the County of Mayo – There are on this Lot 12 good Houses, and the Farm is ornamented with Hedge-rows – The Turbary is both plenty and convenient – These Lands if now to be Let would produce a very large Annual Sum, the excellent quality of the ground being well known, and highly esteemed.’

Improvements must have been made to the townland, the sale notice writes of twelve good houses.  It does not however refer to any new buildings having been built or to any modernisation of Prison House.  The sale notice remarks solely on the Hedge-rows of the Farm and Trench was himself impressed by the hedging and planting of trees.  He made a small pencil sketch of a rectangular building and the various trees planted around, this presumably did not refer to Prison House, as the map outlines a rectangular structure without an adjoining rear and this could refer to the Herd’s house and his own tree planting.

The estate failed to find a buyer in 1825, and in 1833 Sir Frederick William Trench of Moyvannon Castle, Co. Roscommon, sold the estate to Sir Compton Domville of Santry House, Co. Dublin, his brother-in-law, for £60,000 less £18,000 that was loaned from Domville to Sir Frederick[16].  Frederick William’s sister Sarah Helena had married Sir Compton Pocklington Domville of Templeogue and Santry House, County Dublin in 1815.

With the sale of the lands at Prison the Ormsby’s lease came to an end.  An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper, the Mayo Constitution, published in Castlebar.  The advertisement reads as follows:



Near Balla

Containing about 210 acres, from the first of May next, to tenant from year to year for grazing only.

This land is of superior quality fit to fatten the best description of stock.

The herd on the premises will shew the lands.

Apply, if by letter, post paid to J. E. STRICKLAND, Esq. Loughlhlyn House, Frenchpark.

25th April, 1833[17]

Once again there is no reference to Prison House itself, suggesting that it was neither new nor modernised.   Presumably J. E. Strickland was the agent acting for the Trench family.  Prison townland was at this time leased by a Michael Barrett recorded in the Tithe Applotment Books, taken for the parish of Manulla in 1837.[18]  Barrett held the lands in Prison North of Sir Compton Domville, and the only additional observation recorded was that Barrett ‘has no lease’, i.e. he held the lands at the landlord’s will.  (A copy of the TAB for Prison North is enclosed with this report).

It was in this same year (1837) that the Ordnance Survey maps of Ireland were first published. The map of Prison townland shows the farm, an L-plan structure with two outbuildings.  A large grove of trees to the rear right of the building is shown and the long avenue of trees still stands as do the outbuildings (a copy of the 1837 map is enclosed with this report)[19].

Prison Farm continued to be occupied by the Barrett family into the 1840s.  The 1842 Tenement Act provided for a uniform valuation of all property in Ireland based on the productive capacity of land and the potential rent of buildings, for taxation purpose.  The Commissioner of Valuation, Richard Griffith, produced and published a nationwide survey between 1847 and 1864.  However prior to Griffith’s Valuation, the original valuation surveyors took two nationwide surveys in the 1840s which are recorded in a set of books known variously as the ‘field’, ‘house’, ‘mill’ and ‘tenure books’.

The house books for Manulla parish date from ca. 1841 and these record that Martin Barret was the lessor of Prison House.[20]  The house books noted the measurements and ‘quality’ of each building and outhouse in the townland surveyed.  The evaluator recorded the following dimensions of Prison house and its outbuildings.   The main body of the house measured 47 feet in length, 24 feet in breadth and stood 17.6 feet high.  It was given a rating of ‘1B’, the letter ‘B’ indicated that the building could not ‘be considered to be either new or old’, it was ‘slightly decayed but in good repair’.  There were a number of ‘offices’ or outbuildings that were considered ‘old’ specifically an office [outhouse] shed 1/2 open, a calf house and a cow house and barn.  The latter two were rated 2C- indicating that they were ‘Old and dilapidated, scarcely habitable’. The cow house and barn was large, thirty-six feet in length and was proabably one of the structures shown on the Longfield map.  The basement was used as an outbuilding possibly for storage.  The number ‘1’ signified that the building was slated built with stone, or brick and lime mortar.  All the other buildings with the exception of the car-house were thatched referred to by the numbers ‘2’ and ‘3’.  A photograph of the 1841 House Book for Prison House, is enclosed with this report.

At the time of Griffith’s Valuation taken in Manulla parish, between 1856 and 1857, Martin Barrett was still recorded as the lessor of the house, (enclosed with the report).  He leased 270 acres 3 roods and 9 perches.[21]  The house and outhouses were valued at £6 10 shillings.  A comparison of values on the same page shows that the house was by far the most valuable in the area and is a strong indication that Martin Barrett was most probably an important farmer in the area.  This is further borne out by the information recorded in the 1859 edition of ‘Will Administrations’, which states that Martin Barrett of ‘Prizon, Balla’ died the 2nd of November 1857.  His estate valued at under £3000, a large sum at that date, was granted to his wife Mary Barrett (formerly Dowd).

The Cancelled volumes held at the Valuation Office can be used to trace the occupancy of the house from the time of Griffith’s Valuation. These manuscript volumes recorded the changes to the lessor, lessee, house and land from the time of the original survey to the present date. The earliest cancelled volume for the townland of Prison North dates from 1858 when Martin Barrett was recorded as the lessee of ‘land, house and an office’ from William Domville.  Between 1858 and 1861, Martin Barrett’s name was replaced as principal lessor, first by his wife Mary Barrett, and then by a ‘William McLoughlin’.   In 1861 William McLoughlin was replaced by a ‘Michael Barrett’.  After 1862, an undated note in pencil reads ‘Pat Moore (a labourer) lives in house merely for the purpose of keeping it aired’.  This would appear to indicate that by this time Prison house was unoccupied and that this Pat Moore acted as a temporary caretaker.   By the early 1880s, Prison house then passed to the Reverend John Barrett PP.  A colour copy of the Cancelled Books for Prison North, is enclosed with this report.

The Cancelled Volumes also indicate that between 1858 and 1861 Martin and subsequently Mary Barrett sublet a house to a Patrick McHugh.  The house had a low annual valuation of 5 shillings, which would tend to indicate a small building, probably a labourer’s cottage.  It is probable that this Patrick McHugh worked on Prison Farm.  The Cancelled Books indicate that by 1862, this house was recorded as ‘down’.

The only other person recorded in the Cancelled Books for the townland of Prison North was a John Barrett who rented 70 acres with an annual valuation of £46 10s.   After 1862 an undated note in pencil updated the lease to £56 5s 2d and recorded ‘Lease made about 30 years, all in grass’ [i.e. grazing].

By 1880/81 the Cancelled Books recorded the Reverend John Barrett as the lessor of Prison House, although the published statistics extracted from the 1881 census for the townland of Prison North recorded that only one house in the townland was occupied, by seven males and four females.[22]   It is probable that the Rev. Barrett sub-let the house to tenants, which unusually went unrecorded as occupants, in the Cancelled Books.

In 1893 the Ordnance Survey published new maps for County Mayo. At some date between the surveying of the townland in 1837 and the publication of new maps in 1893, Prison House was altered.  By 1893 the adjoining rear now stood to the centre of the main building and the large outhouses parallel and to the rear of the house were constructed.  It is probable that the alterations to the house were made prior to 1858.  The Cancelled Books do not indicate any alternations to the house or outhouses after 1858.  Although amendments and alterations sometimes went unnoticed, it is highly unlikely that the type of large-scale improvements indicated in the 1893 Ordnance Survey map, would not have resulted in a revision of the rates on Prison House.

The changes to Prison House most likely occurred between 1841, the time of the first survey recorded in the House-books, and 1858, the start of the first Cancelled Books for the townland of Prison North.  In the course of research we found a later (1901) lease for the house and lands at Prison North, which cited an earlier, 1853 lease between Sir Compton Domville and Martin Barrett.  The Tithe Applotment Books had indicated that as late as 1837 Martin Barrett had no lease, and would have rented the house and lands from year to year.   It seems very probable that the alterations to Prison House were made sometime after the lease was agreed in 1853, and November 1857 when Martin Barrett died.

On 13th September 1901 a lease was recorded between the Very Reverend John Canon Barret of St Mary’s, Headford, Tuam, Co. Galway; John McEllen of Balla, Co. Mayo, Merchant; and Sir Compton Meade Domville of Santry ‘ a person of unsound mind’.[23]  The Reverend Barrett appears to have sold the time that remained on the 1853 lease, to John McEllen, with the agreement of the trustees of Sir Compton Meade Domville.

In March 1901 the Census recorded that Thomas Connolly, married with four infant children occupied Prison House.  The information recorded in the census was as follows:

  • Thomas Connolly head of the      household, aged 34, a ‘heardsman’ [sic], born in county Mayo.
  • Ellen Connolly, his wife was aged      23, and gave no occupation.
  • Ellen Connolly aged 4 years
  • James Connolly aged 3 years
  • John Connolly aged 2 years
  • Mary Connolly aged 9 months
  • Michael McDonnell, aged 12 years,      a scholar, and brother-in-law to Thomas Connolly.

The Census enumerator rated Prison House as a first class house, i.e. stone-built with a slated roof, but erroneously recorded that there were 6 windows to the front of the house.  He also recorded that the Connolly family occupied 10 rooms, and there were seven outhouses to Prison House including four cow-houses, a dairy, a barn and a shed.  A copy of the 1901 Census return is enclosed with this report.

In 1911 the Connolly remained in Prison House, as follows:

  • Thomas Connolly, head of household      aged 48, occupation ‘Caretaker’.
  • Ellen Connolly, wife aged 34,      married for 16 years, and had given birth to nine children of whom eight      were still living.[24]
  • James Connolly, a scholar aged 14
  • John Connolly, a scholar aged 13
  • Patrick Joseph Connolly, a scholar      aged 7
  • Thomas Connolly aged 4
  • Michael Francis Connolly, aged 2
  • Mary Anne Connolly, a scholar aged      11
  • Elizabeth Connolly, a scholar aged      5.

A copy of the 1911 Census return is enclosed with this report.[25]

The Connolly family appear to have remained resident in Prison House even after John McEllin bought out the lease to Prison townland.  In 1920, the Congested Districts Board took over the House, offices and lands (19 acres 1 rood 12 perches).  Between 1920 and 1931 possession of Prison North passed to the Irish Land Commission.  The Connolly family remained resident in Prison House despite the change in land title.

In 1931 the house and lands were sold to Ellen Connolly, widow of Thomas Connolly.  The house remained in the Connolly family’s possession until 1999 when it was sold to the current owners.



Primary Sources:

National Archives

Bishop St

Dublin 8

Griffith’s Valuation: Manulla Parish Fiche 6.D.7

Tithe Applotment Books: Manulla Parish Film No. 74 21/28

House Books: Manulla Parish 5.4117

Index to Wills and Administrations 1858-1877

1901 & 1911 Census: Prison North 56/D.E.D. ‘7’

M. 5788 memorials of leases re: Browne estate 19th century

D. 12,111 memorial of indenture of lease 17th century

T. 10,286 Will of Thomas Ormsby 1835

National Library of Ireland

Kildare St

Dublin 2

Pos. 4123 Ordnance Survey Office – Name books Co. Mayo Killala to Turlough

Pos. 940 17th and 18th rentals of the Browne estate

Ms. 9393 Memoranda of papers re: Trench estate in Mayo and Roscommon made at Heywood, Leix, in 1814

Ms. 11, 347 Trench correspondence

Ms. 11, 348 Various documents re: Trench family of Heywood, Leix, including some letters 1720-1800

Ms. 11, 816 Rentals of the Trench/Domville estate mid-19th century

Ms. 11,831 Trench accounts with Taafe 1805-14

Ms. 11,368 Miscellaneous documents including rentals and sketch maps re: Trench estates in Queen’s Co., Mayo and Roscommon

Ms. 14,031 cuttings and notes compiled by R. D. Walshe re: Co. Mayo ‘C-Z’

16 M 3-6 Maps of lands let in Co. Mayo by various surveyors. 27 maps coloured and with various names of tenants

21 F 41 (1-22) Maps of lands in the barony of Carra by John Longfield

Mayo Constitution

Registry of Deeds

Henrietta St

Dublin 1

Townland Indexes: 1739-1810; 1811-1820; 1821-25; 1828-32; 1833-35; 1836-39; 1840-44; 1845-49; 1850-54; 1855-59; 1860-61; 1862-64

Lessor Index: ‘D’ 1880-89; 1890-99; 1900-04

Valuation Office

Irish Life Mall

Lower Abbey St

Dublin 1

Mayo Valuation Books (Prison North), 1858 – 1930

Trinity Map Library

Trinity College

Dublin 2

Ordnance Survey Maps of Prison North townland 1837 and 1893

Secondary Sources

Books of Survey and Distribution, Mayo 1636-1703 (Dublin, 1956)

Chambers, A., Granuaile: The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley (Dublin, 1998)

Chambers, A., Chieftain to Knight.  Tibbott-ne-Long Bourke, Viscount Mayo, 1545-1638 (Dublin, 1983)

Friel, P.,  Frederick Trench and Heywood, Queen’s County (Dublin , 2000)

Know, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the Sixteenth Century (Dublin, 1908)

List of Persons Who Suffered Losses in the ’98 Rebellion

Cathair na Mairt (Journal of the Westport Historical Society)

O’Donovan, John, ed., Letters relating to the County of Mayo, vols. I,II, (Dublin, 1862)

Ruane, P ‘Mayo Country Houses before 1840 Vernacular country houses in the classical tradition’ Vol I & II (unpublished, 1996)

The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns Volume 2 (Dublin, 1994)

[1] NLI Pos 4123 Ordnance Survey Office John O’Donovan name books for Co. Mayo, Killala to Turlough.  Unfortunately there is not at present an archaeological inventory for Mayo County.

[2] See also, Patricia Friel, Frederick Trench 1746-1836, Maynooth Studies in Irish Local History, 2000.

[3] The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns Vol 2 (Dublin,1994)

[4] Cited in Granuaile: The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers, (Dublin, 1998) p3

[5] Books of Survey and Distribution Co. Mayo

[6] Ibid

[7] National Archives of Ireland D. 12,111 Memorial of deed

[8] National Library of Ireland. Pos. 940

[9]Registry of Deeds. Book 238 page 239 No. 154263

[10] A copy of the Ormsby pedigree is enclosed with this report.

[11] National Library of Ireland, Ms. 9393

[12] They are not mentioned as among the Trench papers in the Hayes Guide, nor are they listed in the Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives which provides coverage of the U.K. and Scotland.  However, after the report was completed the researcher noted that the British Records Association has recently deposited schedules relating to Trench family deeds and lands, including at least one document relating to co. Mayo.

[13] NLI Ms. 9393

[14]National Library of Ireland. Ms. 11,348 – Michael Frederick Trench to William Frederick Trench, Heywood, December 27th 1814

[15] ‘John Mucalini’ is almost certainly a pun based on “mucal”, the Irish word for swine.  The pun was possibly coined as a local nick-name for the herder James Monyahan.

[16] See Patricia Friel’s Frederick Trench and Heywood, Queen’s County (Dublin, 2000)

[17] The Mayo Constitution, Thursday May 2nd 1833 page 3 column e

[18] The Composition Act of 1823 specified that tithes due to the Established Church, the Protestant Church of Ireland, which had hitherto been payable in kind, should now be paid in money.  As a result it was necessary to carry out a valuation of the entire country, civil parish by civil parish, to determine how much would be payable by each landholder.  This was done between 1823 and 1838, at which latter date the tithe system was abolished. The tithe applotment books for the parish of Manulla were assessed in 1837

[19] NLI Ordnance Survey map 1837, 79/12 microfiche no. 14

[20] National Archives

[21] Martin Barrett was granted a lease by Compton Domville dated 19th November 1853.  Reference was made to this lease in a later lease of 1901.  A search was made for the 1853 lease in the Registry of Deeds but no record was found.

[22] Full government censuses were taken of the entire island of Ireland after 1821.  The census returns recorded between 1821 and 1851 were almost entirely destroyed in the fire in the Public Records Office in 1922, while the census returns between 1861 and 1891 were pulped during WWI by order of the government.  However, the government extracted and published statistical information in the aftermath of each census.

[23] Book 1901-86-32

[24] Ellen Connolly, aged 4 years at the time of the 1901 Census appears to have died as a young child.

[25] National Archives 1901 & 1911 Census 56/D.E.D ‘7’

  1. David Roberts permalink

    Hi, I’m interested in your project as I am researching the trenches in Mayo during this period. Maybe you have other information regarding the extents of their lands and if they had a home house at any point in Mayo?

    Looks like a great restoration project, I teach design in ITSligo but am from Partry. One of the trenches John G Trench (b.about 1780)was paying tithes for a house in Balla in 1824. Perhaps that was the house?

    Best regards


    • Hi, sorry for the delay. I’ll have a look at a report I had done on the house. I’m in the middle of study for exams at the minute so after that I’ll send you any thing I have or indeed meet up.
      Regards tom

    • Hi David, this is an extract from a report carried out by Eneclann a research company based out of Trinity College-In 1764 the landlord Reverend Trench concluded a lease with the Ormsby family for three lives. The lease makes no specific mention of an existing house, and does not require the Trench’s to provide stone or bricks as building materials, or the Ormsby’s to build a house as a condition of lease. The size of Prison House, and the apple orchard and many other trees planted around it, indicates that a great deal of initial work was carried out when the house was first built.

      Given the circumstantial evidence it is probable that Prison House was laid out by the Ormsby family, although there is a remote chance that the landlord Frederick Trench, a well known amateur architect, may have designed and built the original house.[2]. I would imagine its highly likely this is the same house you refer to. Im sorry for the long delay but your more than welcome to see the house any time. I can also send you a copy of the full report. Regards

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