Updated: May 29, 2020
Maio was always known as the farm address despite it not being a townland name.
In the civil survey of the Kells area in 1654 most townlands of Moynalty including Maio were owned by members of a family called Betagh and the name Moyo was used in the mid 17th century and pre-dates the Trohanny name.
On a 1830 O.S map there is evidence of a U shaped dwelling called 'Mayo House' and was about 2.5km North of this present farmstead. There was also 'Maio school' half km north of the cottage which was in use up until 1960
By the 1830's John Radcliff was the landlord of the Maio estate and the family living here in the early part of the 20th century were called Rountree.
The last permanent occupants before myself and my late husband bought the cottage were the McMahon family the first being a John McMahon.
When we bought the cottage in 2000 I had heard stories of 'The night of the big wind' and that there had been another cottage in the field above and behind us (which still is part of our farmstead) but it had been destroyed around the 1830s and the present one built!
There is no evidence apart from oral tradition and no one is entirely sure of dates but personally I believe it, partly from all the shaped stones we found in the back field while renovating but I also tend to think oral history in Ireland was just as important as the written one and I have heard the story told by various people through the years.
Maio was a originally a mixed farm with sheep, cattle and calves, plough horses a pony for a trap, pigs, chickens, turkeys and geese. From what I learnt from Patrick McMahon they also cropped wheat, oats, barley, hay, potatoes, root vegetables and even flax for the linen industry at one stage!
They cut and dried their own turf from their own piece of bog about a half mile down the bog road (or what we now call the rugeen). There was a traditional Irish farm kitchen with an ingle-nook fireplace with cast iron fittings, bellows and would smoke sides of bacon in the chimney!
Maio farmhouse (Trohanny cottage) 1950 and 2007
Thankfully myself and Joe discovered almost all of these pieces in the old sheds when we bought the property and were able to restore them and place them back to their original setting (see photo below).
There would also have been a settle-bed along one wall probably where our dresser is now and next to it a long case clock. There was no evidence of either by 2000 when we purchased the cottage but after pulling away many concrete blocks we had thankfully discovered the original fireplace was perfectly intact.
We were also delighted to find the main support oak beam and the all the original roof beams in the kitchen that still survive today even with the layers of tar and charcoal and probably tobacco from years and years of use.
What is now the end room in the cottage was once the dairy. It was used as separate room to churn butter aswell as house some livestock in the winter. It had an old lean-to shed off from it, for various bits and bobs and looking from the half door to the right were a long row of stone sheds for various uses.. a workshop, a cowshed and the furthest one which was originally a small stable has the most beautiful original stone cobbled floor. It is still in perfect condition today and still used as a tack room for my own horses just a little small for a stable by today's standards!
Up to the 1950s the cottage remained virtually unchanged since it had been built well over 100 years before. One of the few 'improvements' was a concrete floor over the original hard baked earthen floor in the cottage rooms, which ironically was one of the first things we got rid of and replaced with the old Liscannor stone that is on the floors today.
It wasn't until the mid 50's that electricity was introduced. Up until then the cottage had no electricity, no pumped water and no toilet facilities. Water was carried from the well half way down the field or if it was dry the well about three quarters of a mile away by the bridge.
The kitchen at Trohanny Cottage as it looks today, still with original ingle-nook cast iron fittings for fireplace and original beams
As was becoming the norm elsewhere and possibly because of a combination of high costs and the difficulty of getting a thatcher in the area, the original thatch was replaced with corrugated iron in around the late 50's early 60's.. Something that is still an issue for thatch owners like ourselves even today.
1845-47 were most likely the most terrible years for Ireland, during the genocide that was named the great famine. The population declined in Moynalty like the rest of Ireland but did not seem to directly affect the families around Trohanny which showed no change in population by 1851. Most of the population drop seemed to happen in the following 10 years more likely from emigration.
Being a self sufficient farmstead with varied produce seemed to be what kept the family living at Maio/Trohanny afloat even through the most difficult time in Irish history..
Makes me wonder if stepping back to those simpler days or even borrowing something from them might be the way forward. Particularly now that Ireland faces another huge challenge with the Covid19 pandemic.. Food for thought!
*Extracts taken from the book 'The McMahons of Trohanny' by Patrick and Eugene McMahon*