The Townland of Drumadreen in the Parish of Bovevagh

The townland of Drumadreen is situated along the main road from Dungiven to Limavady, about four miles from the town of Dungiven  [see map of the locality]. Drumadreen was part of the civil parish of Bovevagh in the Barony of Keenaght. Later it was part of the District Electoral Division of Gelvin  in the Poor Law Union of Newtownlimavady. 

1831 Census Returns Excel PDF
1827 Tithe Applotment Book Excel PDF
1831 Townland Valuation House details Valuation map
1858 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation Printed pages Valuation map
1860 to 1915 Griffith's Revision Books Excel PDF
1901 Census Returns Excel PDF


The figures in the table below [compiled from the official census] show how the number of people and [inhabited houses] changed during the period 1831 to 1901. In 1841, 1851 and 1861 the adjoining townlands of Drumadreen, Mulkeeragh and Drumaduff were enumerated as one townland under the name  Drumadreen. I do not know why this happened during this period. I have, therefore, included the figures for the three townlands.

Townland 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Drumadreen 110 [19]       71 [12] 62 [10] 37 [8] 34 [7]
Mulkeeragh 148 [26]       87 [17] 82 [14] 68 [14] 70 [12]
Drumaduff 99 [19]       103 [18] 92 [18] 70 [13] 67 [14]
Total 357 [64] 341 [55]* 282 [47]* 282 [51]* 261 [47 236 [42] 175 [35] 171 [33]

The most striking feature in the table is the fact that in 1901 the numbers of people and houses in Drumadreen were a third of the numbers in 1831. By 1871 the population of Drumadreen had fallen by 37%.The decline probably began during the Famine decade of 1841/51 but, because of the grouping of Drumadreen with Mulkeeragh and Drumaduff at that time, we cannot assess the impact of the Famine years on Drumadreen.  The population declined a further 50% between 1871 and 1901, producing an overall decline of 69% between 1831 and 1901.

The table below shows the religious breakdown of the population in the townland in the early nineteenth century, calculated from the 1831 Census Returns.

Townland Inhabited Houses Uninhabited Houses No. of Families Total in Houses E.C. % R.C. % Presb. % Others %
Drumadreen 19 0 22 110 1 1% 21 19% 88 *0% 0  

The 1831 Census Returns also list the names of the 19 householders and the dominance of Scottish Planter surnames is clear. This, of course, explains the religious breakdown shown in the table above. This townland was originally part of the Haberdashers' Estate which was leased by Sir Robert McClelland of Kirkcudbright in Scotland. He was responsible for bringing over tenants from his estates there and these were followed in the later part of the century by more Scots who migrated to Ulster, particularly during the years after the Cromwellian and Williamite Wars. The Haberdashers' Estate later became part of the Waterford Estate.

The Tithe Applotment Book of 1827 gives the names of the main landholders in the townland.  Note that only 8 names are listed here. This is because only the names of the main landholders in the townland were recorded, hence the contrast with the 1831 Census Returns which list all 19 householders in the townland. You might want to compare the names and properties across the Tithe Applotment Book of 1827, the 1831 Census Returns and the 1858 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation and see how many you can match up.

The 1858 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation shows reasonable continuity in the names within the townland from the 1830s. Longs and Barnetts had gone but King, McClenaghan, Deale, and Hunter were still there. There were also a number of cottier families listed and it is the disappearance of these cottier families by 1901 that helps to explain the dramatic drop in population and houses in the townland during the latter years of the nineteenth century. The valuation of these cottier houses [mostly five shillings each] suggests that they were probably one-roomed dwellings, with thatched roofs. Most of the farmer's houses were valued between 1.50 and 2.50 and the 1831 Townland Valuation shows that only two houses in the townland were slated in the 1830s [R. Barnett and J. King]. The 1901 Census Returns show that five of the seven houses had slated roofs by the end of the nineteenth century. During the second half of the nineteenth century some landlords often helped farmers to slate their roofs.

The Griffith's Revision Books will show you the changes in each holding and help you to link the names and properties in the 1858 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation with those in the 1901 Census Returns and identify newcomers to the townland as well as the approximate dates when they arrived. The table below shows the number of people and houses in the townland in 1901 and the religious breakdown of the population at that time.

Townland Inhabited Houses Uninhabited Houses No. of Families Total in Houses E.C. % R.C. % Presb. % Others %
Drumadreen 7 0 7 34 6 18% 2 6% 26 76% 0  

As mentioned above the greatest contrast between 1901 and 1831 is the disappearance of the cottier families. The increase in the Church of Ireland population was due entirely to the arrival of the Williams family around 1885. The occupations given in the census indicate that this was a townland of family farms where much of the labour on the farms was supplied by members of the family. Even the blacksmith listed in the 1858 Griffith's Valuation had gone, probably around 1874.


The most numerous family name in 1901 was McClenaghan who appear to have been in the townland, or in nearby townlands, from the seventeenth century. McClenaghans are listed in the 1663 Hearth Returns for the adjoining townland of Mulkeeragh and in the 1740 and 1766 Religious Returns for Drumadreen.

The name Deale first appears in the townland in 1831 when an Elizabeth Deale is listed as the head of a household consisting of two females and one male. You can follow the Deale name through the Griffith's Valuation records  to the 1901 census when you will find a John Dale with his sons Samuel and John and his daughter Ellen living in a house near the fort or rath [1] in the townland. This family is the subject of a more detailed case study.

The other surnames in the 1901 Census - Scott, Adams and Williams first appear in the townland from the 1870s onwards. The name Scott first appears in the Griffith's Revision Books in 1874, Adams in 1879 and Williams in 1885. The arrival of the Adams family saw the disappearance of the Kings who had been in the townland from at least 1827. Why did this family leave? So far, I have no answer to that question.

The cottier surnames - Parks, Early, Boyd, McLoughlin and Daly that appear in the 1858 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation had all gone by 1901, victims of changing times. Only one of these cottier houses was still in use by the beginning of the twentieth century, that of McLaughlins. However even it was vacant in 1901, hence no entry in the Census Returns. The enumerator did not even record it as an occupied house. When tracing families in the past, cottier families [i.e. those without land] are often the most difficult to trace simply because their whereabouts at various points in time are not always known. Often the only way of finding out where such a family was living is to use the civil birth registers which should indicate where a child was born. However, be careful with the first child - it is often born in the house of the wife's mother.

If you go back even further to the 1830s you might ask the question what happened to the Barnetts or the Longs who had disappeared from the townland by the time of the 1858 Griffith's. There were Barnetts listed in the later 1858 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation in nearby townlands but I have no idea if they are related to the 1830s Barnetts in Drumadreen. The Long family is the subject of a more detailed study.

 [1] The following entry appears in the Ordnance Survey Memoir for Bovevagh [1834-35], p. 47 - There stands in the holding of John King, townland of Drumadreen, an ancient fort of large size and well enclosed, and planted by Lord Waterford's orders, and at his expense, in 1829. The trees consist of larch, spruce fir, alder, beech and ash. [Informant Hugh Quig].

Copyright 2013 W. Macafee.