User Home Page Book: Places & People Book: Slevins in Kylenagoona
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Slevin I was always intrigued by the name 'Slevin', where did it come from?
After much trawling through dusty, yellow leaved tomes I uncovered a few ancient relatives.It appears that the name Slevin is probably derived from the Irish word Sliabh meaning mountain, not a bad start.
· The first records of the name appear in a branch of the Cenel Eoghain (the clan name of Eoghan O'Neill, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages) and located in Tyrone (tir Eoghan = country of Owen).We are talking as far back as 500AD.
· The Sleibhin's were described as an old ecclesiastical family in Fermanagh, famous in the early mediaeval period as poets.Giolla Comhghaill O Sleibhin, Chief Bard of Ulster, no less, was associated with King Malachy in the northern resistance to Brian Boru;this would have been just after the end of the first millennium.
· More Slevin poets in Ulster are mentioned by the Four Masters around this same time, as well as one who was chief poet of Oriel in 1168.A noble and learned lot by the sounds of it but this may have been slightly watered down through the centuries.
· Present day North Tipperary was once part of the Butlers' Barony of Ormond.In 1514 in the Ormond Deeds;Terrelagh O'Slevin when charged with;acquisition of lands contrary to statute - was judged by the Liberty Court of Tipperary as "pure Irish of the Irish nation".Land was being returned to Irish people but their name had to be proven to be a truly Irish name.This is the oldest mention of a Slevin in my area of the country.
· Slevin appears in the very north of Co. Fermanagh in McLysaght's map, which shows the location of the Gaelic septs and the principal Hiberno-Norman families in the period after the Anglo-Norman invasion and before the upheavals of the seventeenth century.
· In the 1659 census, it would appear families of the name had become established in the midlands; Co. Westmeath, Co. Armagh, Co. Donegal and Co. Tyrone.
Slevin's of Kylenagoona/Tombricane, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary.
When asked to make a family tree in school I discovered that with 62 first cousins my tree would be difficult to draw.Getting to grips with the trunk of the tree was fine but wander out on to any of even the main branches and I stumbled.I dragged not so willing family members around lonely old graveyards to record headstone inscriptions.I wrote down any information I could get from my parents and close relatives.It was not until many years later when I got to grips with a good database that the tree finally started to blossomI now have a tree with a large well-developed crown that has been growing for hundreds of years and will for many more.
James Slevin + Margaret Butler
My great-great-grandfather James Slevin and his wife Margaret (Butler) were married in Borrisokane on 30th January 1823 and had their family in Killagoona and Tombricane between 1824 and 1843, just before the famine.This is probably the James Slevin mentioned in the Griffiths Primary Valuation List c1850 who had his land from Samuel Cooke. They had 11 children, 9 boys and 2 girls,
James Slevin + Elizabeth Flanagan
One of the boys was my great-grandfather James Slevin (c1840-1898).He married Elizabeth (c1840-1909) Flanagan (from Ballycapple) in Cloughjordan on 13th October 1868, they were both aged 27 when they married.They had 7 children, 6 boys and 1 girl, in Kilnagoona between 1869 and 1881.
Timothy Slevin + Annie Reddan
James and Elizabeth's son Timothy (1882-1953) was my grandfather and he married Annie Reddan (1885-1973).They had 11 children, 8 boys and 3 girls all reared in Kylenagoona.
Michael Slevin + Elizabeth Stanley
Timothy and Annie's son Michael (1927-1984) was my dad.All of these families were born in Kylenagoona.This means that the Slevins have been in Kylenagoona, Borrisokane, for at least 200 years.
My uncles Joe and Jimmy both carried down a 'word of mouth tale', about a Slevin man who came from Moneygall to Borrisokane and had three sons.This according to the story was the beginning of the Slevin's in North Tipperary.The following seem to give some substance to this tale:
1. Early records indicate the Slevin's of Borrisokane had three farms in the Kylenagoona/Tombricane area, could this have been the legacy of the 3 sons?
2. There were Slevin's in Gurtygarry/Blakefield, which is only 8 miles approximately from Moneygall!
3. My Grandfather and many more like him were buried in the Slevin's old family grave in Cullenwaine, Moneygall!
The headstone on the Slevin grave, in Cullenwaine, reads;"Erected by Darby in loving memory of his father Timothy Slevin late of 'Ballmohane' (this may read Borrisokane) who departed this life Feb 5 1825 aged 60 may he rest in peace".The Slevins have been in Kylenagoona, Borrisokane, for over 200 years can the story (of the one Slevin man and his three sons moving to Borrisokane) have been carried down over all that time and more?
The Slevin's have lived in Kylenagoona since at least the beginning of the nineteenth century.The Slevin name survived the great famine of the late 1840's.My great-great-grandfather James Slevin had 11 children just before the famine and my great-grandfather James Slevin had 7 children just after the famine.
Their survival is almost certainly due to the efforts of the main landlord in the locality:Thomas George Stoney JP of Kyle Park (Kylenagoona, Borrisokane), he had an estate of over 400 acres, Kyle park house and a corn mill.Stoney was a progressive agriculturalist and had already personally designed and built an agricultural school in Kyle.The design won a Silver Medal at the Exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society in Dublin in 1844.The agricultural side of the school ceased operations during the famine and was used after as a primary school, this is where my father went to school.This building is still standing today, although sadly not in use.
Stoney was one of several local landlords who set up schemes under the Drainage Act (1842).The drainage works at Kyle Park opened in June 1846.This area, like the rest of the country, was agrarian rather than industrial.Produce went to pay rent to the landlord and the staple diet of the people was mainly potatoes, that is until potato blight struck several years in a row.During the six-month period June to November 1846 Stoney provided a total of 10,000 man-days of employment by task work, at wages ranging from 9d to 11d per day.He reported the following to the County Surveyor:
"I have much gratification in stating that the entire body of labourers employed afforded me throughout the utmost satisfaction by the manner in which they performed the several works on which they were engaged;and frequently expressed to me their gratitude for having afforded them the means of supporting themselves in a season of very trying difficulty."
His expenditure on famine relief drainage works contributed to his bankruptcy in 1851.
What kind of people were the Slevins of Borrisokane?The greater majority were ordinary Irish catholic farmers or farm laborers.There was a priest, Fr Flan Slevin (1916-1960) and two RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) men;Michael Slevin (1870-1946) and Sergeant William Slevin (1825-1898).It was only discovered in recent times that one couple eloped, all the way to Killaloe, all of 20 miles, and then went on to have 15 children 5 of who were nuns.
Is there any resemblance between the current Slevins of Borrisokane and the Giolla Comhghaill O Sleibhin, Chief Bard of Ulster?Absolutely.The older Slevins were well known for their story telling.In the twentieth century if being a bard were still a viable profession, my father would have been one for sure.
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