Sunday 14 April 2013

Chicago Cullentragh Coonogue Cnocrua

As discussed before we live in a remote part of the country - I assert that you can't get further from a bus-stop (20km) and still be in Leinster, the most populous of the four provinces of Ireland. Nowadays, Chicago is the only one of the four places named in the title which has any shops and we don't need WolframAlpha to check to see which has most people.  The others are the three townlands of which the Scullogh Gap is comprised, one in Co Wexford (Cullentragh) and two in Co Carlow (Knockroe and Coonogue). The Gap is a low valley in the Blackstairs "Mountains" that is the only way you can travel by ass-and-cart or car between CW and WX without making a detour of at least 20km either north to the Bunclody-Carrickduff border crossing or south via Ballywilliam-Drummin.  Knockroe forms the the northern, South-facing, salubrious, high land-value side of the valley and Cullentragh and Coonogue form the southern side.

In 1835, it was a rather different story.
When Chicago was incorporated in 1833 it had a population of just 350 souls.  It grew rapidly, however, and according to the US Census was home to 4470 people in 1840.  We're a little data-constrained on the Irish side of the pond because the first census wasn't gathered until 1841.  Then we had The Famine in 1845/6/7 and another census in 1851, so we'll have to extrapolate and guesstimate a bit to reveal the population of the valley in, say, 1835.  The population of the Co. Carlow parish of Kiltennell, which included Knockroe, Coonogue and 17 other townlands lost a third of its people (3,544 to 2,454) during the sear and sorry 1840s.  You can still see the ridges of the lazy-bed potato fields 1000ft up above the valley.

Location 1835 1841  1851
Knockroe  350?  356  241
118 121
140 140 130

From the data in the table above, we can show that in 1833 and possibly as late as 1836, there were more people living in and off the Scullogh Gap than in the city of Chicago.

Not a lot of people know that.

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