Seán 'ac Conaglaigh (c1855–19xx) of Carrowcannon, Falcarragh, Co Donegal

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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Seán 'ac Conaglaigh was born at Doire Fhrighill about 76 years earlier. He gave the anglicised form of his name as John Connolly. His parents were both from Machaire Rabhartaigh, where his father was a cottier and cooper. Seán's own occupation was as a cooper. In response to questions, he stated that the first forty years of his life were spent at Machaire Rabhartaigh, where he attended primary school. Irish was his mother language and he also spoke English. He could read and write English but not Irish.

Some stories from Seán 'ac Conaglaigh — including some of the Doegen pieces — were published by Éamonn Ó Tuathail, in "Trí Sgéalta o Chloich Cheann Fhaolaidh", Béaloideas 1:2 (1927) 158–66, and "Sgéal na dTrí Slat", Béaloideas 1:4 (1928) 345–8. In a biographical note with the former article (p 162) we learn that the storyteller was born in Doire Fhrighill, but the family moved to Machaire Rabhartaigh when he was very young. He spent some years in Scotland as a young man. He was aged 72 (in 1927?) and living in Baile Conaill. Some of Seán's Doegen pieces were also published by Séamus Ó Néill in An tUltach in 1933.

Seán is mentioned in the Scoil Mhachaire Rabhartaigh contribution to Bailiúchán na Scol (1937–38), at "Bhí ceoltóir iongantach maith i Machaire Rabhartaigh tá dhá fhichead bliadhain ó shoin darbh ainm Seán Ó Conog[h]laigh. Théigheadh sé go h-Albain gach bliadhain agus ní rabh aon duine anonn ná anall ar bhád[h] na h-Alban a bhuailfeadh amach é ag ceól, bhí sé comh binn sin. Bhí a lán amhrán aige." Séamus Mac Géidigh a bhailigh an seanchas sin ó Sheán Mac Fhlaithbheartaigh (83 bl), ó Mhachaire Rabhartaigh iad beirt.

Seán's father, James Connolly, also a cooper, died at Meenlaragh on 1891/04/12, married, aged 76; his death was registered by Seán, living at Meenlaragh. Seán was found at Meenlaragh in the 1901 census: John Connolly, 45, head of household, unmarried, a cooper; with his sister Mary, 52, unmarried, a domestic servant; and a visitor, Mary Duggan, 4, a scholar. All three spoke Irish and English. Mary Duggan appears to be the daughter of James Duggan, national teacher, living next door. In 1911, James Doogan (note change of spelling) is now a widower and has moved to Meenaclady with his children, including Mary. Despite this proof that Seán lived there, there is no mention of Connolly or any similar name in Valuation Lists for Mín Lárach or Machaire Rabhartaigh at any period. (James Duggan's house between 1899 and 1909 seems to have been situated about 150m west of the Meenlaragh crossroads, on the south side of the road.) Nor have I located Seán 'ac Conaglaigh or his sister in the 1911 census, even under such possible disguises as McGonigle or McGonagal.

Later, Seán and his sister Mary appear in Carrowcannon — for example, Seán (as John Connolly) is included in an electoral list of 1919/07/15; and Valuation Lists give him as residing at Carrowcannon lot 9a in 1922. Mary died at Carrowcannon on 1927/12/28, aged 80; her death was registered by Seán, also living at Carrowcannon. Lot 9a changes to the name of Mrs B McFadden in 1935, and the house is deleted in 1941. The location seems to have been on the Carrowcannon "back" road, opposite the entrance to the former Carrowcannon House. I have not found any registration of Seán's death.

In the Griffith Valuation, c1857, there were three McConagly occupiers in Derryreel, all in that part of the townland which is in Raymunterdoney civil parish: Teague McConagly, William McConagly and James Conagly. James occupied a house without land from Nogher McClafferty. The church records for the Catholic parish of Tullaghobegley East include the following baptism:
      1855/08/11: Ioannem, f Jacobi McCunogly & Margarito Harkin, Derryreel
which seems likely to have been the present speaker.

Recent references to Seán 'ac Conaglaigh include:
      Éamonn Ó Tuathail, "Trí Sgéalta o Chloich Cheann Fhaolaidh", Béaloideas 1:2 (1927) 158–66
      Éamonn Ó Tuathail, "Sgéal na dTrí Slat", Béaloideas 1:4 (1928) 345–8
      Séamus Ó Néill, "Na Gníomhannaí", An tUltach 10:7 (1933) 6
      Séamus Ó Néill, "Cailís Choluim Cille", An tUltach 10:11 (1933) 4
      Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices (2010) at pp 80–1, 170–3

Speaker's recordings Ulster Doegen index

Speculative family tree:

                Séamus 'ac Conaglaigh-------Maighread Harkin
                                        | Derryreel
                                      ? |
                    |                                      |
                  SEÁN                                   Mary
                  c1855–                                 c1848–1927
                  unmarried                              unmarried

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
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