Just one little cottage for this week’s Thursday Doors, neglected but still standing. It’s on a laneway leading down to the river in Belturbet, County Cavan.
Although the red door caught my eye at first, I soon realized there was a lot more going on with this little building. There is a huge difference in size between the two front windows which is very unusual in a traditional Irish cottage. However, the larger window looks like it might have been extended at some point in time.
Those bars in the narrower window make me think it was used for storage.
There’s a pile of bricks and rocks behind those bars and what looks like a wooden shutter or piece of furniture on the inside of that window. Definitely well secured. I’ve looked on the historic maps of the town and there is what might be a shed on the one dated 1829-1841 on what is now called Castle Lane. It’s directly across from the Methodist Meeting House. At the end of that lane on the river bank is a quarry. Fast forward to the 1897-1913 map and the quarry has become the castle gardens. The Methodist Meeting House, a simple structure on the older map, has become a Methodist church and the cottage has been extended. Today, the church is a private residence but still retains its original outward appearance and is a lovely, well maintained old building that deserves a blogpost of its own.
I stopped for a chat with a couple of cows on my walk through the town. When I told them I was going to include some local history on my blog post this week they suggested I look up Cromwell. Clever cows, I took their advice and it made for some interesting reading. Belturbet was part of the Plantation of Ulster in the early seventeenth century, under the rule of King James 1. It was an organized colonization in which lands were given to people mostly from southern Scotland (Presbytarian) and northern England (Church of England). Ulster was the most resistant of Ireland’s provinces to English rule so it felt the full force of the Plantation. This eventually led to conflict between the native Irish (Catholic) and the colonists.
There were different groups involved in the Ulster plantation.
- Undertakers: their estates were usually 1,000 acres. Their annual rent rates were very low, about £5.33. All the undertakers’ estates were close to each other. For protection, undertakers promised to build a strong court or stone house, depending on the size of their holdings, with a strong court or bawn (stone wall) around it. They undertook to have only English or Scottish tenants all within three years.
- Servitors: they were called servitors as they had given service to the crown as officials or soldiers in the Nine Years’ War. These were the largest group of planters. They were allowed to have some Irish tenants if they maintained strict control over them. Servitors had to pay an annual rent of £8.
- Native Irish: This group of settlers were the native Irish themselves who had remained loyal during the Nine Years’ War. They were located near servitors who pledged to keep an eye on them.*
The land around Belturbet was given to undertaker Stephen Butler, an Englishman. Belturbet soon became a thriving commercial centre, its prosperity mainly due to its location on the River Erne. On the 24th Oct 1641 Myles O’Reilly seized Belturbet for the Irish Confederation. The town remained under native control throughout the Irish Confederate Wars until 1652. Owen Roe O’Neill used it as a base for his northern Army. In 1649 he held a provisional council of the Northern Irish there. Soon after his death a council of the nobility and officers of the Ulster Irish was held in Belturbet. In 1652 the town surrendered to Cromwell’s army. Belturbet then reverted to the sons of Sir Stephen Butler, who had died in 1639.**
Cromwell had been in Ireland a mere nine months but his brutality left a lasting impression on the native Irish and “The curse of Cromwell on you” became an Irish oath. If you’d like to know about his exploits in those nine months you can read about them here.
Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed the bit of history this week. If you’d like to see more Thursday Doors, carry on over to Norm’s blog.