Holycross Ballycahill


History of Holycross Ballycahill

Holycross Ballycahill has a rich and a diverse history which stretches back through time. On this page there will be regular articles posted outlining the interesting path Holycross Ballycahill has taken through time.

Class of Housing in 1901: (by Alan Joyce)

In this section I analyse the classification of housing at a national, DED, and townland level. The number of rooms, the number of windows, and the materials from which the house was built allocated the assignment of houses to a particular class. Four categories were used. Fourth class housing consisted mainly of tiny mud huts. Third class houses had from one to four rooms and a few windows, and they were made of sturdier materials. Second class houses were good farmhouses, having five to nine rooms, and more windows. First class houses were generally “gentleman’s houses” (Bourke, 1991, p.486).

Table 5.6:Housing Classes in Ireland in 1901


    Number   Percent
1st Class    75,225      9
2nd Class 521,454     61
3rd Class   251,610     29
4th Class     9,873      1

Source: 1901 Census


Table 5.6 emphatically confirms that second class housing was the most common category. What it also illustrates was the almost total obliteration of fourth class houses with only one percent of all houses placed in this category. Under the Labourers Acts, Irish rural local authorities demolished many of the primitive one-roomed “cabins” in which agricultural labourers had traditionally lived and rehoused their occupants in solid, simple “cottages” located along the roadside.

Classification of Houses in the DEDs in 1901:

In this section I examine the class of houses within the DEDs and attempted to place them in the national context. Table 5.7 emphasises the dominance of second class housing in the DEDs in 1901, which was very similar to the national situation as well. In fact, excluding Ballycahill DED, all of the other DEDs had over seventy percent of their houses in the second class category. Because of the large number of houses in the second class grouping, there were a lower percentage of third class houses in the DEDs than the national figure in 1901.

Table 5.7: Housing Classes in the DEDs in 1901


       1st Class      2nd Class     3rd Class     4th Class
DEDs No. Percent No. Percent No. Percent No. Percent
Holycross 16    8 142   71 39    19   4 2
Ballycahill  9    6 92   66 34    24   5 4

Source: 1901 M.S.S. Census


Class of Housing in the Sample Townlands in 1901

In this section I investigated the class of housing in the sample townlands in 1901 and compared the outcome with their DEDs and the national situation. Table 5.8, gives an indication of how relatively affluent these townlands were in 1901.

What was also noticeable was the relative affluence of Holycross in comparison to the other townlands. Over thirty percent of the houses in Holycross belonged to the first class category (see Table, 5.8). The occupational structure of the townland might help us explain why Holycross had a higher standard of housing in comparison to the other townlands in the sample townlands in 1901. A clergyman belonging to the Church of Ireland owned one of the first class houses, while four more first class houses were owned by people involved in agriculture. In the townland of Ballycahill, the only first class house was owned by a farmer who was also a journalist. This double income coming into the house can probably best explain how he was able to afford such a comfortable house.

Table 5.8:Sample Townlands: Housing Class in 1901


           1st Class      2nd Class      3rd Class    4th Class
Townland Number Percent  Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Holycross      7    30     13   57     3   13     0     0
Cormackstown      0     0     28   76     9   24     0     0
Ballycahill      1    10      8   80     1   10     0     0
Ballinahow      3     9     26   79     4   12     0     0

Source: 1901 M.S.S. Census


The most common type of house was a second class house. Many of the houses within this category seemed to fit the Local Government Board directives. They stated that cottages were to be of stone with slated roofs. Thatched roofs might be sanctioned but corrugated iron was forbidden. The number of rooms in cottages must be sufficient to provide for due separation of the sexes and there must be a kitchen and two bedrooms to every house. The cottages were very modest but a clear advance on the average standard of labourers’ dwellings (Aalen, 1986, p.293). Some of the townlands showed interesting internal housing class contrasts even within their borders. Holycross for example had thirty percent of its houses in the first class category but had thirteen percent of its houses in the third class category. What was interesting to note were the occupations of the heads of the household of these latter houses. Not one of the heads of household described themselves as being involved in agriculture.

The townland of Ballycahill displayed very similar results to that of Drom with reference to its third class houses. A woman owned Ballycahill’s only third class house. Farmers and agricultural labourers owned the majority of second class houses in the townland of Ballycahill. As already stated in this chapter, the sole first class house was owned by a farmer who also worked as a journalist. Ballinahow had very similar results to that of Ballycahill with regard to class of housing (see Table, 5.8). Every head of the household in Ballinahow was involved in agriculture; therefore the only way to analyse whether any differences between people existed was through the size of farms, which is investigated in chapter six.

Cormackstown turned up some interesting results with housing characteristics in 1901. Cormackstown had no first class house, which was in complete contrast to Holycross, which had thirty percent of its houses in the first class category (see Table, 5.8). Seventy-five percent of all houses in Cormackstown were in the second class grouping. In 1901 some publicans had a second occupation such as carpentry, thus probably assisting them to achieve a comfortable standard of living. In Cormackstown, there were no houses in first and fourth-class housing grouping, which left twenty-four percent in the third class category. Most of the people who lived in third class houses were farmers and agricultural labourers.