CAVANANORE HISTORY – FIRST ROUGH DRAFT
I first heard the name “CAVANANORE” in July of 2003 when Mim MOORHEAD (of Vancouver, BC, Canada) showed me an 1891 letter addressed to Andrew Coulter Bradford JACKSON from his mother Eliza JACKSON. He was the brother and she the mother of Sir Thomas JACKSON. In the letter, Eliza JACKSON mentions that since hedges had been cut down, contrary to the provisions of the lease, now the property was forfeit. What skulduggery was done by whom, I can’t tell at this late date. Suffice to say, it was one of many steps and political changes loosening the BRADFORD-OLIVER-JACKSON family hold on the land. That being said, the writing was probably on the wall for other reasons and the initial acquiring of the land may also have been rooted in injustice as well. Again, hard to say. It was not a land without conflict.
The origins of the name are lost in the fog of history (at least to me). The name itself, “Cavananore”, means the “Round Hill of Gold” or “Hollow of Gold” – depending upon whose etymology holds sway (and at this point, I also don’t have a clue about this!). All I know is that Cabhán an Óir is the Gaelic version of the name, and the computer translation sites can’t help me any more with that. As for other particulars, the entire townland is 299 acres, not that our ancestors owned or leased all of that. It is situated in Creggan Parish – a parish which includes much of Co. Armagh as well as Co. Louth. Cavananore is on the Co. Louth side of the border and would have been just north of the line where the English felt save hundreds of years ago, hence its location would be called “just beyond the pale”. It must have felt safe enough though as it was given to the COULTER family as a consequence of their service in the Battle of the Boyne (1690 – I have no particulars on this at this point).
As the crow flies, Cavananore is about 10 km to Dundalk, about 8 km to Carnbeg (home of the branch of the COULTER family that going by landholdings, is most likely also related).It is also about 4 ½ km to Liscalgot and then 5 km to Urker Lodge and a few more km to Freeduff. In time, I will prepare a map with links to a veritable Who’s Who of the family tree attached. It should prove enlightening. Most of the key names were all within walking distance of one another, let alone a short ride on horseback.
On Wednesday, March 30th 2005 I had the pleasure to meet Eugene Lynch and his son Ronan and his wife Maria, the current residents at Cavananore. Christine WRIGHT of Gilford Castle was kind enough to drive me up. The home of the Eugene family is just down the road from the original Cavananore dwelling that has housed in its time a succession of COULTERs and BRADFORDs and JACKSONs and OLIVERs. Eugene’s brother lives in the original house and runs the property as a working farm.
It is a wonderful story how the land transitioned from Sir Thomas JACKSON at the start of the Twentieth Century into the ownership by the LYNCH family some fifty years later. Patrick LYNCH, the great-grandfather of the current LYNCH family, arrived as a widower in his mid-sixties from Kildare where he had been a charge hand for the JACKSONs. It seems that Sir Thomas JACKSON bought the land at auction in 1900 after the death of his great uncle, Samuel BRADFORD. When the JACKSONs were away, LYNCH and his two daughters (in their early 20s) lived in the main house. His son, Patrick LYNCH jr. also had a house on the land with his wife and two children. It would take some more work on deeds to document the exact passing of the baton here, but in the mid-50s, relatives of the LYNCH family in the USA helped to bankroll the purchase with $2000. And so, history moves on.
The day that I visited was not the best weather-wise, but the charms of the place were evident. The house sits up on a slight rise of land, enough to look out on all sides over unending fields of meadows, hedges and rock wall portioned fields. Originally, there was an orchard of apple trees, a walled garden as well as a kitchen garden. Going from the list of furnishings up for auction on March 22, 1876 – after the death of Mary Jane OLIVER – it is clear that the house was more than comfortable and had the ability to host numbers of overnight guests in the style of a middle class or upper-middle class home.
So, whether Cavananore is called a “Hollow of Gold” or a “Hill of Gold”, it doesn’t matter. The gift of gold is in the hearts of those who live there now and the warmth of their welcome. May they all prosper!
Sharon Oddie BROWN. June 17, 2005