A Letter from America seeking information on the lost village of Cloughrea
Dear Editor, I am hoping your readers can help me locate information on the village and family of my great grandmother.
For 50 years my mother Gladys Edwards has been searching for the village where her grandmother, who raised her and her sister Mary after their mother died, was born and raised. Starting in 1970 she wrote by hand to all the parishes in Ireland, two trips to Ireland, and finally DNA in 2015, we have found Cloughrea, County Meath. Mary Matthews was born 5 December 1871 to James Matthews and Mary Halfpenny (Halpin) Matthews.
Cloughrea is now just a spot on Google Earth but was once a village of many families. In 1862 only 5 children were baptised in Cloughrea. By 1875, the number of baptisms had increased to 14 and decreased to only 4 by 1880. Some of the family names baptised in Cloughrea included: Matthews, Halfpenny/Halpenny/Halpin, Sullivan, McConnell, Ward, Carry, Farrell/Farrelly, Carolan, Sheenan, Morgan, Clarke, Lawlor, Markey, Hickey, Levins, Duffy, Malone, Byrne, and Geraghty.
Four children were born to James and Mary with one dying young. The other three children followed the rest of the youth of Ireland at the time and emigrated to America. Cloughrea is just one example of the many small villages in the area which have disappeared. Others included Meath Hill, Summer Hill, Barley Hill, Largy, Creggmore, and Ballyhoe.
My cousin and I are writing a book about the Matthews children’s history living in Cloughrea, why the three children emigrated, and their lives in America. Our biographies include stories my mother and her sister remember their grandmother telling of her life in Ireland. The stories included Mary Matthews’ mother collecting peat, plucking geese for their feathers, walking up “Mead” Hill, and most everyone in the village was a cousin. My mother to this day can hear her grandmother calling Meath Hill "Mead Hill". When we were in Meath in 1977 and 1995 my mother said it felt like she could hear her grandmother's brogue in all the warm people she talked with.
My mother is now 97 1/2 and would appreciate any and all information which you might be able to provide about the Matthews, Cloughrea, and those who lived in Cloughrea. If anyone is interested, I have a database of the baptisms in Cloughrea from 1861 to 1881 and would be happy to share.
Darlene K Edwards
Bellingham, WA 98225