Mayo, Tirawley, Crossmolina, Ballina, Ardnaree, Carrowkeel, Carrowkilleen and Mylow

We have new information on the family Moran in the areas mentioned above. Thanks to website visitor, Mary Moss, who lives in Southhampton, England. Mary was born in Crossmolina and is of the Loftus family of the Crossmolina area. The Loftus family is one of the allied families of the Moran clan. Mary was doing some genealogical research and came upon this Moran material which she forwarded to me. Mary's main source of information is the book, The History of Crossmolina, by Tony Donohoe, Dublin, De Burca, 2003. pp. 600+. The book is the result of thirty years research.

From Mr. Donohoe's book, we learn that Moylaw (many different spellings through the years) was a center of activity in the area before the growth of Crossmolina. It was a district that consisted of the quarters: Carrowkeel, Carrowkilleen. Gortduff, Freheen, Polahooy, Cloonoragh, and Tobbermore. Moylaw as a place name is first mentioned by Duald MacFhirbhisgh in his Genealogies, Tribes, And Customs Of Hy-Fiachrach in which he recounted the pedigree of early chiefs including the sons of Muirenn, daughter of Dubhthach, King of Hy-Many. One of these, Aongus Fionn Macamahalgaidh, he wrote, was the progenitor of the families Olbaibtheachain, OFlionn, and OMaoilfhiona (modern families of Gaughan, Flynn and Molina). The last two of which were said to be the Chiefs of Calraighe Maighe h-Eleag in 1005 AD. Maighe h-Eleag is the earliest known name for Moylaw.

One of the quarters of Moylaw listed is Gortduff. Gortduff is not on any existent map. The first time this townland was mentioned was in the Charter of Francis Jackson of Inniscoe when James I granted him full title to the sequestered lands he claimed in Mayo. The description is thus: part of Gortduff and Moylagh (Moylow/Moylaw) now called Cloonooragh; part of Gortduff and Moylagh now called Pulladoohy. It was not mentioned in any other survey until that of 1830.

In the reign of James I (1603-1625) the general area discussed (Moylow, Carrowkilleen, Carrowkeel) area was claimed by Oliver Bourke Fitz Edmond of Ropagh. The year 1636 saw the land pass to Oliver Fitz John. In 1667 much of the land was awarded to Francis Jackson, a Captain of Dragoons for Cromwell. He also bought from some of his soldiers, land awarded them in the area. His last male descendant, William Jackson, had a daughter, Madeline Jackson who married Mervyn Pratt in 1814. Thereafter the lands were in the hands of Mervyn Pratt. He held the office of High Sheriff of County Mayo in 1843.

The first mention of a Moran in the area is a James Moran who leased land in 1818 at Gortduff . With James Moran was a William, Thomas and Francis Moran.

In 1834 through 1850 Mervyn Pratt recorded rent from a John Moran. Also on the rent records were the families - Loftus, McHale, Merrick and Leonard all families that would be allied with the Morans through marriages. Morans are also seen in the the townlands of Bethny and Abbeytown, North of Crossmolina.

Carrowkilleen, a townland of 800 acres, appears to be where a large number of Moran families settled or spread out from. An area of Carrowkilleen was known as Morantown or Morans Town. In 1834-1838 there are the families of Michael, Anthony and John Moran living there. In 1841 there were 247 people living in Carrowkilleen in 48 homes. Among them were the families of Patrick Moran, Senior; Michael Moran; Anthony and Peter Moran as well as the O'Boyles, Caden, Flynn, Loftus, and Merrick families.

As you can see from the Bald Map made in 1807-17, most of the development west of Crossmolina was below the Bellacorick Road.


Carrowkeel is a townland of 285 acres. In 1830- 1838, John and Martin Moran are paying rent to Mervy Pratt. In 1849 they are joined, or grown from, the families of Michael Moran, Anthony and Patrick Moran.

From the family, and the fact that one Moran family member was still livng there as late as 2005, we know our family center is Carrowkeel. Carrowkeel is located, ecclesiasticaly, in the parish of Crossmolina, diocese of Killala, union of Ballina; and civily in the barony of Tirawley in County Mayo, a part of the ancient province of Connacht. In the Census of 1851 there were 165 people living in the 285 acre area known as Carrowkeel. Carrowkeel means "narrow quarter."

Although Carrowkeel is called a townland there is no village there, only houses and farms that support about fifteen families. To differentiate this Carrowkeel from the others in Mayo, it is called Mylow Carrowkeel That's how it was written on my Grandfather's birth notice in the records. Carrowkeel is located off the main road going west out of Crossmolina about three miles where a road leads north. The area of that turn is today called Mylow. In earlier days, it was called Moylaw. Before it was given a highway number, the road west out of Crossmolina was called the Bellacorrick road. Locally it was called the Deel Bridge road.




In a document dated 1657, the townland is shown as Carrowkeele, als Carrowkeele Moyla (see Appendix VI Maps, Carrowkeel, Down Survey). That document showed the entire townland to be owned by one of the Bourkes. Carrowkeel is about a quarter mile up (north east) that dirt road from the Mylow junction. Just a little further, at a point where the dirt road makes a right hand turn to the east, is where the traditional Moran homestead is located. Of course that depends who you are talking to, because at least one other Moran family is also from there.

For maps showing Carrowkeel and surrounding townlands use this link

For another, closer view showing Carrowkeel Townland boundaries, use this link

For a map of Crossmolina and surrounding area use this link > Use your back arrow to get back to this page after you have seen the maps.

Two of the more prominent geographical features of the area are Lough Conn and Mount Nephin.



A rainbow over Lough Conn








Mighty Mount Nephin with Lough Conn in the foreground





The Union was a originally a grouping of local parishes for special taxation reasons. The parish serves as both the next civil level and is the lowest ecclesiastical unit of a diocese. The parish of Crossmolina, which is in the Diocese of Killala, is based in the townland of Crossmolina.


Crossmolina is the closest large townland to Carrowkeel. The name Crossmolina comes from a family, the O'Maoilyhiona, also seen as O Maolfhion, which was anglicized to O'Molina. This family had a castle by the junction (cros) of the road that goes east (to County Sligo) and west to the Barony of Erris in County Mayo and a road which runs south to Castlebar. The actual origin of Crossmolina is Cros Ui Maolfhiona. In 1839, Crossmolina had 11,479 inhabitants, of whom only about 2,000 lived in town. Crossmolina is 6.5 miles west of the townland of Ballina.

Crossmolina, Carrowkilleen and Carrowkeel are all in the Parish of Crossmolina.

Knockfree, which is on the eastern side of the River Deel, is in the adjoining Parish of Kilbelfed. This is where Bridget Agnes Moran was born.


Ballina is situated along the River Moy. In 1798, the town was taken over by the French under General Humbert. The town, in 1839, had a population of 5,510 inhabitants. Today, Ballina is larger than Crossmolina. Ballina gets its name from the Irish for "ford of the river mouth." The town was originally called Beleek, or the "Ford of the Flags" when it was founded in 1729. The President of Ireland in 1995 - 96, Mary Robinson, is from Ballina.


Ardnaree, across the river Moy on the east bank, was once the Moran family stronghold. Today it is considered a suburb of Ballina. In 1839, the population of Ardnaree was 2,482.


The next civil unit above the townland is the barony. Carrowkeel, Crossmolina and Ballina are all in the Barony of Tirawley. Tirawley is one of nine baronies in County Mayo.

Connect here to see the map showing parishes, dioceces, baronies in County Mayo.


The name `Mayo' comes from ancient Gaelic for plain (magh) of the yew tree (eo). The name was not in use before the reign of Edward III of England (1327 - 1377). It is the third largest county in Ireland. It is a rural county with a population of only 110,713 (1991). Castlebar is the county administrative center. Only two other towns in County Mayo are considered urban centers, Ballina and Westport.

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