Where did the McCabe’s actually come from?

The district Dawsongrove is often mistaken for the estate known also known as Dawson Grove, the house of Lord Dartrey. I made exactly this mistake when first researching the McCabe family in presuming that they were workers on the estate. For example, Mary McCabe’s birth  is recorded as 11 Oct 1866 at Dawsongrove, Monaghan, Ireland at Familysearch.org.

But Dawsongrove was a District Electoral Division (DED) which covered a much larger area than just the estate. Civil registration of Irish births did not begin until 1864 and the information provided in early records varies.

Better clues come from

  • Sarah’s birth record also at Familysearch.org as 1 May 1876 at Maghernaharny, Monaghan, Ireland,
  • the entries in the Australian Deposit Books for James McCabe in 1881
  • and for the rest of the McCabe family in 1883 which also show Maghernaharny as their address.

Maghernaharny is one of the 62 townlands in the civil parish of Ioma Fhastraí (Ematris), barony of Dartraí (Dartree), county of Muineachán (Monaghan). Maghernaharny was also in the district electoral division (DED) of Dawsongrove, and the registrar’s district Dawson‐Grove, Cootehill.

Two of the few surviving records available for family history researchers are the Tithe Applotment Books and the Griffith’s Valuations.

McCabes Near Rockcorry & Maghernaharny

McCabes listed in the Griffiths Valuation in the region

McCabes listed in the Griffiths Valuation in the region

The Tithe Applotment Books were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (the main Protestant church and the church established by the State until its dis-establishment in 1871). The Griffith’s Valuations, the name widely given to the Primary Valuation of Ireland, a property tax survey carried out in the mid-nineteenth century under the supervision of Sir Richard Griffith.

The Tithe Applotments for Maharnaharn (as Mahgernaharny was then known) were completed in 1830 and there were no McCabes as tenants. The Griffith’s survey of Monaghan County was completed by 1 July 1861. There were 23 properties in Maghernaharny, Ematris Parish, one in the name of Frank McCabe, the only McCabe on the list. There is no other evidence that our McCabe’s lived on this property, and no indication of any relationship to Frank McCabe.

The farm was 13 acres3 roods and 4 perches in size with no buildings, attracting a rental of £9/0/0 per year. Griffith’s valuations were mapped and Frank McCabe’s property is number 14 on the map. On the next tab a Google map shows the same property today, and the boundaries anre still quite clear including the bog at the bottom of the lower field.

Griffiths Valuation
Frank McCabe Griffiths Valuation 1860
Google Map

Land Sale of 1876

By 1876 Francis McCabe had increased his tenancy to 20 acres 2 roods and 89 perches at an annual rental of £19/0/0 on a year-to-year tenancy. But on the 1st February that year all of the land holdings of Thomas Dawson, Frank McCabe’s landlord, were sold through the Landed Estates Court. The McCabe lot is number 18 on the map.

This sale may have been the change in circumstances which led John and Bridget to seek emigration for the children when they had previously chosen to stay for so many years.

In any case, Katherine McCabe was bundled off to America just three years later when she was only ten years old, followed by Mary, also to America and James to Australia,


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