Keane of Kilnamona

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Mathew Keane
ca 1760's - 1830's)

John (Jack) Keane
(ca 1790's - 1850's)


 According to the Clare Tithe Applotments of 1827 two Keane families* resided at Ballyasheea (now spelled Ballyashea), one headed by Mathew and the other  by Frank - very likely brothers, e.g. see Tithes Applotments below (also see Australian Branch).  Thus the first written reference to the Ballyashea Keane's of import to this website was to Mathew Keane who appears to have lived ca 1750's - 1830's (probably a realistic estimate).  This Mathew Keane was father to Jack Keane.

Jack lived in the latter years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, probably born in the 1780's.  He was married
ca 1813 and his first son, Matthew, was born in 1814 (verified by age given in Matthew's death certificate).  A second son was born in 1830 (see age of John (sen.) in 1901 census). This separation of 16 years is surprising. Jack's wife was Catherine Kelly - thus whether she was his only wife or that he remarried after the death of a first wife is not known (Catherine died ca 1879 but a death certificate is proving difficult to locate, it would appear that she was considerably younger than Jack). There was a third son Michael whose date of birth is uncertain, and there is no information on daughters, but assuming Catherine was Jack's only wife some may have been born between Matthew and John, and indeed we might speculate that Michael was older than John. 

Tithes Applotments
In the Tithe Applotments Survey Mathew Keane and Frank Keane (note: Cork printed in error for Clare) holdings were combined as one unit for the purposes of assessment (unusual but not unique occurrence in the lists). They were deemed to have 28 acres between them attracting Tithes of 1 0s 6p.1 An inference that can be drawn from the tithes survey is that Mathew and Frank Keane were in all likelihood brothers. 

 Regarding the sequencing of events from the Tithes Applotments records (1827), Mathew continued to be a named tenanted owner of the Ballyashea farm, which is a little puzzling since Jack had been married since 1813 - this may have been due to a failure to regularize matters.  Family lore has it that Jack in his time divided his Ballyashea farm between his three sons, Matthew, John and Michael.

Inference to be drawn from Ennis Cout case...
 Subsequent events
suggest Michael may have been born before John.  In an inter family court case reported in the 'Clare Chronicle' in August 1896 (see Chapel pew dispute here), it was stated that Michael purchased a pew in the Kilnamona chapel renovation project of the late 1840s. Normally, a chapel pew might be expected to have been purchased by the head of the household. So its surprising that Michael had done so - it is clear from the 1896 case that his older brother Matthew did not do so, probably because he could not afford it.  So the question arises: did Michael own his portion of the farm at the time of purchase in the 1840s and more importantly at what age was he to be able to come up with the price of 4.10s for the pew - hardly in his teens! 

Back to Matthew....
Jack's eldest son Matthew built a new house and married Mary Sexton from Ballinacally in 1847/8 (suggesting that that may have been the year when the farm was divided).  It should also be recalled that 1847 was the third and final year of the great famine in Ireland. The Griffith Valuations census of 1855 lists only two Keane families as tenanted to the Charles G O'Callaghan lands in Ballyasheea. These were  as follows:-Catherine Keane; land (39 acres, 3 roods and 0 perches) with rateable valuation of 20 (pounds sterling) and buildings 1-5-0 = 21-5s Matthew Keane; land (18 acres, 2 roods and 5 perches) with rateable valuation of 11-2s-0p, and buildings at 1-0s-0p = 12-2s-0p.

From the foregoing, we can conclude that Jack's wife Catherine was in possession of the home farm and that Jack had died probably sometime in the late 1840s/early 50s.  Also combining Catherine's and Matthew's holdings it seems Jack's farm amounted to some 58 acres. This compares very favourably with the Keane holding as reported in the Tithe Applotment Book which amounted to 26 acres.1,2 

While Matthew had married in c. 1848 (Kilnamona parish records only date from 1852) at the age of 33/4 years, and moved into a new house, Jack's widow, Catherine, with her two other sons stayed in the old homestead farming the remaining two third section of Jack's land.  Michael is thought to have emigrated to Australia (whereabouts unknown), and eventually John got his portion of the land in addition to his own. The timing of Michael's going may have something to do with John's marriage which took place in 1864 (also see supporting evidence from the Ennis court case here).

Catherine lived on until 1879 and in her turn retained title to the farm despite her son John (Fady) having married in 1864 (one suspects the title matter was left unattended to until her death, Land Registry Office, Dublin).  For more information on this line, see John (Fady). Also of note is that Frank Keane (or his descendants) no longer possessed a farm in Ballyashea in 1855 - perhaps he may have fallen into hard times or been evicted as others were in the 1840's (see Australian Branch or the O'Dea experience
for example).3

Famine Relief Works:
During the later phase of the great famine, Relief Works were put in place to assist the by then destitute Irish.
 Towards the end of 1846 there was a review made of the  number employed on the scheme.  With regard to Kilnamona, out of 275 heretofore in employment a list of 89 names was drawn up for removal from scheme due, it was deemed, they having (excess) stock and land. Thomas and Mathew Keane of Ballyashea were included in this list of omissions- Thomas was deemed to have 10 acres with 2 cows whereas Mathew (note one t) was said to have 15 acres but there was no record made regarding stock. As to who this Thomas was, is uncertain, perhaps a son of Frank's in lower Ballyashea. The Mathew (note one t) mentioned here seems to have been Jack's father and thus Matthew's (note two t's) grandfather - probably the land holding had never been properly transferred to Jack! The original list, the work of an official, lead to public controversy and a revised Relief Works list eligible for employment, including some with stock and land, was produced by a Committee. From Ballyashea were: Mat Keane (with 4 dependants, a holding of 12 acres  (but who admitted to one recorder, a certain Michael Lynch! (ML), as having 10 acres, 3 cows and 3 sheep), and the Widow Kean (family of 8 and a holding of 24 acres (ML 20 acres, 4 cows, 1 horse and 6 sheep).  It is to be regretted that the original list of 275 relief labourers are not available.

In the case of the Widow Keane, it is unlikely that she is Catherine due family size, so one wonders was she Patrick Keane's mother, Patrick who later endowed the Kilnamona Church with a stain glass window (see Australian Branch).

In determining the rate for the Tithes the quality of the land was assessed on a scale 1st (best) to 4th (poorest). Regarding the Keane land Mathew and Frank's holding was calculated accordingly on a quality rating as follows: 1st, 0; 2nd, 18; 3rd, 8; 4th,0 (total 26 acres). In relation to Kilnamona as a whole, land was assessed quality wise as follows:  1st (20%), 2nd (41%), 3rd (25%) and 4th (14%). The Keane holding can be seen to have been small and of 2nd and 3rd quality only. In calculating the Keane Tithes, Rectorial Tithe was deemed to be 12s 2p and Vicarial Tithe as 8s 4p totalling 1 0s 6p.

2A striking anomaly arises if we compare the total land area for Ballyashea as assessed for Tithes to that in the Griffiths Valuations, i.e.  ~218 acres (incl. Knockinanamagh sub-domain of Ballyashea) to 500 acres respectively. The difference in part it seems arises because the 1827 composition for Tithes used 'Irish Plantation Measure', probably that of the Irish acre which was greater than the statute acre by a ratio of 1.6 to 1 (the above figures would suggest however a ratio of 2.3 to 1).

3It has been suggested that another Keane family resided at Ballyashea. As no such land owner is recorded in the relevant 1855 census, this may refer to that of the widow Keane's recorded in nearby Knockatemple in 1827 Tithes. 

For direct line now go to
 the next generation Matthew

last updated April 2, 2014