• Old houses in the Sixtowns and  who lived in them.

Early  housing.

Prior to the start of the 19th century, the people in the Sixtowns followed the Rundale farming system in which they lived in clusters of houses( clachans), closely crowded together and they worked the land in common ownership within that area which pertained to their clachan.. As in the days of pastoral farming for centuries before that, there was a general consensus and agreement on who worked or grazed where.

This very modernised Clachan would represent something of the way  in which  clachans might have been laid out in the Sixtowns.


By the early 1820’s, as was the case in the rest of the country, the system of farming and where people lived, started to go through a huge change. The landlords all over the country began to set out the areas in their control, in a more organised way in order to maximise their rent revenue. In other words they began to break up the clachans and the old Rundale system of farming, granting individual tenancies to former residents of those clachans. In truth as the population exploded in the first half of the 19th century, the clachans became seriously congested and that system of living, was no longer  serving its tenants well and there were increasing rows and disputes over land. There were just too many people living in the clachans and the system which once worked so well, was breaking down under such pressure. The landlords brought in a new order or system called the “straight marches” format where residents of the broken up clachans were moved out to hitherto unoccupied patches with clear marches between them and their neighbours. This meant that families from clachans in the lower end of the Sixtowns were moved up to the top of Moyard, Tullybrick and Glenviggan which had been summer grazing areas with no permanent dwellings.

So, the habitation pattern changed from where people lived in clusters and closely together, to where the were widely scattered around the entire area of  Sixtowns.


          Post  Rundale housing.



Above we see how the homesteads are scattered out in the countryside and well spaced out, unlike the clachan landscape.


The only instance where common ownership of land still existed after the 1820’s, was on the mountain grazings where farmers divided the grazing land into  entitlement shares known as soums, which entitled each farmer in a townland to graze so many sheep on the mountain. Each soum usually entitled a farmer to graze six sheep on the land. This was, in fact, one of the last traces of the Rundale system to survive the landlord’s changes.

Old habits die hard and even though the clachans were broken up as the landlord moved families out to more remote places, there still remained the tendency to build houses in ( albeit smaller)  clustres in some parts. Examples of this would be The Hollow in Moyard where we had a small clachan of McNamees sharing that area and living closely together. The same would be of  the Barnett clustre in Moneyconey or the Mellon/Cleary clustre in Boley.


By 1856 the population of Sixtowns and indeed that of the whole country, had peaked. In that year, according to the Griffiths Valuation, there were at least 186 houses in the Sixtowns. Many farms had up to three or four houses on them which would suggest that the clachan/clustre tradition was still hanging on. Most of the extra houses in these cases would have ranged from being a kind of sod hut to a small two room building with a thatched roof. These houses would have been used for farm labourers or family members who did not marry and move away. Prior to 1856, there would have even been more houses as the population was bigger during that period 1830 onward. This is why it is not surprising to discover the stones from a former house, just about anywhere, even in       the most unexpected places.




Traditional design of houses in the Sixtowns.

In the early 1800’s, even after the end of the clachans, there were many one room stone or sod houses scattered around the Sixtowns. Some were built by propertyless, unmarried members of families while others were built to house hired farm hands. This is why we find the remains of small buildings here and there throughout the area which we can find no records for.

The traditional  house in most parts of the Sixtowns from 1830 onward, was the small cottage with its thatched roof and its whitewashed walls. Planks of bog pine would have been dug up from the bogs and used as lintels over doors and windows as well as roof beams. However, there were also a number of two storey houses. Most of the houses in the Sixtowns were built facing the south or south east so that the early sun would hit the front of the houses in the mornings. A lot of houses were built high up the valley sides. The reason for this was that manure was  more easily drawn down to the fields from the farmyard than it would be  to draw it up from the house, if it were at the bottom of the valley side. As time passed and the ground above the house became broken into fields, the farmstead ended up sited in the centre of the whole farm.

           Above we see a bog pine or fir lintel used in a window.

The tenents would have had to learn the skills of  stone masonry, in order to be able to build their houses. Indeed some of them became quite skilled at this work and would have been hired out to build for those who could not build their own. The ruins of houses around the Sixtowns reveal  some excellent examples  of good stone building. There were at least  eight two storey dwellings in Moyard which suggests that there were skilled builders in that townland. There were also at least three lime kilns there which would have been used to burn the limestone for building purposes. The stone used for building would have been locally quarried schist rock, a rather difficult and brittle stone to build with. Stones from the Moyola bed would also have been used and this required skill to incorporate with the broken schist stone. Roger Bradley built his own two storied house some time in the 1840’s and was experienced enough in 1853 to take on the building of St. Patrick’s chapel in Sixtowns along with partner James McNally (Glenviggan). Most of the two storey houses  in Moyard belonged to Bradleys. Ironically, it is said that many centuries back, the O’Brolchains (Bradleys) were clan stone masons.






Looking at the extensive stonework in this Barnett clachan, in Moneyconey, we can take it that these people were very skilful stone masons.

 Above we can see two fine examples of good stone masonry using stones which are not very well suited to this type of work. This schist stone is brittle, shapeless and difficult to work with when compared to granite or Donegal sandstone. 


In most houses there would have been a loft where the younger members of the family slept while there would have been a bed downstairs for the aged  in the living room in a space called an outshot or cultee, which was a tiny  bed sized extension of the room at the back but close to the fireside.


      Stairs like these would have been introduced after the start of the 20th century to give access to the loft and sleeping quarters in the houses. Notice the beams that make up the floor of the loft. They would have been an addition to the cottages of  that later era with well planed timber used to give a better finish.

The living room would have an open hearth and the top of the front door would be low to keep the heat in the house. The fire would be “raked” at bedtime with the cinders covered with hot ashes so that the fire could be rekindled in the morning again. There would have been a “dresser” with shelves for delph and cupboards in it to store food. Furniture would have been basic and the fire place would have had its crook and crane for cooking with. There was was a definite skill involved in using the crook and crane to bake or cook.

Here we have the typical hearth place with its crook and crane, mantle piece and fire grate. The dresser is to the side with basic furniture in the room.

                            Roddy`s  fireplace in Moneyconey has been restored beautifully.



There would have been a number of two storied houses built around the middle 1800`s and onward. Most farm dwellings had a byre and barn attached to them. For these buildings, there would have been  no foundations laid down . Instead a layer of larger stones  would have been laid down firstly which would have been wider than the intended wall and then the wall would have been built on top of that. This provided broad base to support the weight of the walls which lasted the test of time. The lime in the mortar helped the walls to breathe, i.e. when the rain hit the wall the lime drew it into the wall, and then when the weather cleared up the dry wind drew the moisture out of the wall again and so the wall was said to breathe. In the middle of the 20th century , some uninformed builders set about improving houses by plastering the outside of the walls, sealing them with a hard skin of cement plaster and in this way, stopped the walls breathing, leading to a lot of dampness inside those houses.


The dung heap or “doughil” would have been opposite the byre for convenience and the barn would have a door in both the back and the front for sifting corn after it was thrashed with a flail on the barn floor. There would have often been a pig “craw” (cno in Irish) which was a small house for the pig which was kept for killing and its bacon. Also, there would have been some sort of turf shed and a hen house.

Above is the ruin of a ‘pig cro’ (nearest building with tin roof) where pigs had shelter as well as  having  a penned in exercise space outside  to move about..


In front of the house would be a yard referred to as “the street” and the hens, ducks,geese and turkeys would have the run of it during daylight hours. Most houses would have a garden where there would be apple and plum trees as well as black and red currant bushes, gooseberry bushes and rhubarb plants. The produce of these would be used to make jam, pies and other foods in order to provide vitamin C in the diets of the owners.

Many houses would have a small field called a kale plett (plot) close to the dwelling house where they could  grow cabbage and turnips which could be used either domestically or as animal feed. The garden would be dug into lazy beds or wrigs as they were locally known. Many houses would have had a small orchard of some kind close to the dwelling, growing plums,apples, cherries, gooseberries, red and black currants etc. This gives an extra insight into their dietry traditions.



The turf shed was a very important part of the homestead. It was every householder’s imperative that it was full for the coming winter. Open ended, the sheds allowed the turf to be sheltered while at the same time they could keep drying out as time went on.The cart would usually be kept there for shelter as well.


                                  HOUSES IN MOYARD.





           Joe (Jack) Conway     Maggie Mellon was the last occupant

                                                           of the above house.

This house was once owned  by a man called “Fogey” Molloy whose brother was given the other half of the farm (better known in later years as  Kelly Molloy’s.) This place went to a man called Jack Cleary who originated from Cavanreagh. He passed it to his son Michael Cleary and he eventually passed it to his son John who left it to his sister Ann whose son Joe Conway was the last occupant of the house along with his cousin Maggie Mellon. (Above) Joe was born in Glenviggan but when his mother moved back to Moyard he moved back with her as well. She was married to Hugh (Mhici) Conway. Her maiden name was Anne (Mickey Jack) Cleary. These Cleary`s were the same Clearys as the ones above Bealnamala and those at Moneyconey mountain foot. (the dipping trough) Their people came originally from the clachans in Cavanreagh. Joe never married and had no close relatives.

These Clearys were the same Clearys as those who lived at the foot of Moneyconey mountain and the Clearys who lived where Dora Bradley now lives. They would have all come up from the clachans in Cavanreagh around 1820/30.

The house was a traditional two story with its byre and barn attached as well as a Pig “cro”  on to the end of the building. A well built stone turf shed is at the end of the yard. The steel roof has helped preserve this wonderful example of a farmstead in the upper Sixtowns area in the 19th /20th century.

The house and farm are now owned by Anthony Bradley (Broughderg)




This was the Molloy homestead in Moyard. Joe Conway’s (Jack) farm next to it was the other half of a bigger Molloy farm before it was split between two sons. The first recorded tenant on this farm was Peter Molloy. His son Johnnie Molloy and his daughtter Susie, lived there in the first half of the 1900’s and as they had no heir to the place,  they brought their nephew John Kelly (Brian) up from Glebe to live with them. This was a common practise in days gone by when an old couple had no young family to help them with the farm work or to look after them in their old age. It was a win win situation for all as the older ones got looked after in their old age and when they passed on, then the adopted person got the place.John Kelly got the place left to him and was afterwards known as Kelly Molloy by locals. He then left the farm to his two nephews, Paddy and Jim (Brian) Kelly. This was formerly a thatched one story house which was later elevated to a two story. The exterior walls were rendered with a dash made up of white pebble and broken coloured glass and was quite unusual. The byre and barn were detached from the main dwelling and were built at a later date. (There were nice plumb trees there too)  In the late 1950’s John Kelly died and he left the house and farm to his nephew Jim (Brian) Kelly from Glengamna and when he got married he lived there for a few years until he moved out and newly wed couple Hugh and Sadie McKenna lived there for a while. Next, the house was rented to Peter u McGuigan and his wife and kids. After they moved on the house became unoccupied and eventually direlect. Anthony Hegarty (Derrynoid) has built a fine house on the site.

This farm is now owned by Camillus Bradley who along with Anthony on the next farm, goes some way to nnj replenish  the dwindling Bradley name in Moyard.






                                                       Pat Paddy’s (Bradley) 

Below is how the house would have looked in its day.  The barn had its roof slated and the dwelling house was thatched. All the buildings were whitewashed. This farm was half of a larger farm which was split between two brothers Patrick and Roger. The fields were badly shared out at the time, in a random fashion and this led to unnecessary disputes among later generations regarding right of ways and so on. This was a common problem in places like the Sixtowns. At the time when the land was divided, it suited those parties involved to do it that way but it became a different story for the generations coming after. Farming did not seem to have been the priority for this family because the last generation of them moved away and most got involved in the bar trade. First Patrick bought what is now the Shepherd’s Rest Bar. The family owned this bar until 1930 when they sold it to Michael Doyle. After that sons Hughie and James owned bars in Belfast and Coleraine respectively. Daughter Catherine (Rodgers) owned a bar in John St. Omagh.



                                                              Pat Paddy’s (Bradley) in its prime.


Three members of the Bradley family who each had a bar. Theresa (top left) Rodgers of John St. Omagh.         

(Top right).   Hugh (Belfast)  

   (Bottom)  James (Coleraine)


This house belonged to the Bradley family (Pat Paddy) who also once owned the bar where the Shepherd’s Rest is. They kl   later owned bars in Belfast , Coleraine, Omagh and Monaghan town. An older member of the family, Michael  owned a public house at Straw before that.There are none of the family left in Moyard now. James Bradley had a bar in the Killowen area of Coleraine and members of his family still live in the town. Hugh had different bars in Belfast and members of his family also still live there. This farm was the other half of Hugh Bradley’s farm which he split between his two sons Hugh and Roger, around 1830. It is believed to have been the original house in which Hugh lived.

The farmstead is a typical one story house with its byre and barn attached. There is a row of outhouses for fowl and pigs as well as a stable for the horse on the extreme right. The dwelling house would have been thatched at an earlier period. Many owners changed from using thatch on their dwelling houses to corrugated iron which was easier to maintain. There were still quite a few thatched houses in the Sixtowns right up until the early 1970’s. The doughill (dunghill) would have been in front of the byre door. There used to be a row of plumb trees along the road and you know what they used to say about houses with plumb trees ………  The family line dies out on that farmstead.






                                                 Pat Roddy’s (Bradley) about 1950.

At some time between 1830 and 1845 Roger Bradley inherited half of his  (Hugh) father’s farm and he, being a stone mason set about building this house. The barn was added some years later. The house was a typical two storey house of its time in the Sixtowns. The barn was above the byre  with the turf shed on the near right.



ABOVE ;     Pat Bradley (son of Roger) with family.

(back row) Biddy, Peter Fox (nephew) Eileen Deeny, Pat, Sarah.

(Front)  Annie, Father Fox (nephew) John, Ellen O’Boyle.

This was a typical two story farmstead of the Sixtowns with its adjoining byre and barn above it. There was a door at the front and back of the barn so that the wind could be used to separate the chaff from the oats when it was being thrashed with a flail. The byre door was in the lower gable for handiness to the doughill. The thatched building at the right hand gable was once a dwelling which was not unusual in the mid 1800’s as families stuck close together. This building was always known as Manus’s place. (Manus Bradley) The turf shed occupies the extreme right hand side of the photo, an essential part of any homestead. This house was built at the end of the 1840’s and the barn was actually added some years later. The builder-owner, Roger Bradley was involved in the building of the St. Patrick’s Church, Sixtowns. Some chairs which were made by the carpenters at the church were still in the house 100 years later. Roger Bradley’s son Hugh is mentioned in the Emigration section of this site. Another daughter married James Bradley who ran a school in Derrynoid where Master Sean McGurk now lives. These Bradleys were the other half of the previously mentioned Pat Paddys family (i.e. Roger’s family). The farm was split between two brothers, Roger and Patrick. Roger built this house at some time in the 1840’s, as a two storey house which was not yet common in the upper Sixtowns glen. It is still occupied by Peggy, a member of the family.This is also the house where Hugh, father of Col. Ed Riley Bradley, of Kentucky Derby fame, was reared. Hugh was a brother of Pat who is in the old family photo above. Five generations of the Bradleys have lived in this house. Roger passed the farm to his son Patrick who then passed it on to his son Johnnie, hence the nickname  Johnnie Pat Roddy endured.



  The Jane Bradleys.

This is the (Jane) Bradley homestead which is the other half of the farm which Tomas Bradley split between his two sons.These Bradleys, the last generation to live in this house, were called the Janes, after their mother Jane who was widowed when the children were very young. There was a curious tradition in days goneby, of calling a family after their mother, in the case of her being widowed and the older nickname of the father’s lineage was dropped from use.


Joe (Jane) Bradley outside his house at some time in the 1980’s. Joe was the last of the name in this house.


        The  Jane family home.


This house was, like many in Moyard, a Bradley house. Best known as Joe Jane’s, it was the last thatched cottage in the Sixtowns and remained so until Joe’s passing. This cottage was the perfectly preserved model of what most houses in the upper end of the Sixtowns once looked like. It had the cultee (outshot) bed at the back of the living room, the hearth and crook with all its utensils and the low ceiling and doorway to keep the heat inside. Joe made the best bread in the parish on the griddle. He lived with his brother Tommy and he had another brother Paddy (Moneyconey) and three sisters, Annie Doyle, Maggie Connolly and Bridget McNamee (Pete).

This farm was part of the one next to it before it was split between to sons, Francis and Thomas Bradley. Out houses were built on to the right hand side of the house and were one story buildings. Other buildings were added later.

This farm was half of a larger farm which was split between John Bradley’s two sons, Thomas and Francis. Thomas would have built this house because the house on the other half would have been the family homestead.other house was the original homestead. Thomas’s son Patrick (Joe’s father) later inherited the farm and reared his family there. They are listed above. Thomas and his brother Joseph married two sisters, Jane and Sarah Lagan. Joseph and his family lived in Altayeskey. Patrick died trajically as a young man from Pleuresy leaving a widow and a young family.

Neither Joe or Tommy married. It is said that Joe was the best bread baker for miles around.







  Johnnie (Francis) Bradley’s.

This Bradley house and farm in Moyard was the other half of the farm belonging to Padraig Bradley, which was divided between his two sons, John and Thomas. John passed the farm onto his son Francis who likewise passed it to his son Johnnie. It was the same type of farmstead but it lost its thatched roof many years ago. There was a turf shed at the gate and it had a fine entrance to the yard with stone pillars. Johnnie eventually moved up to the Hollow where he had been left a farm. The house remained vacant until it was demolished recently to make way for a new build. A few years after Johnnie moved the farm was  sold to Joe (Jane Bradley) who left it to his nephew Paddy. So in a way the farm returned to the same family again even if the seller was also of the same connection.




This house once belonged to the  John Frank  Bradley family but was then bought by Tom McSorley  whose descendants still own it.

This house in Moyard was once the home of the John Franks (Bradley) and The Coiner who was said to have panned for gold in the glen nearby for gold, giving it the name Coiner’s Glen. These people eventually died out and the place changed hands a couple of times, a James McCullagh from Glenelly lived there for a short while until eventually Tom McSorley from Crockban bought it and the name still remains there today. Apparently there were old foundations unearthed in the field below the house which would have represented the remains of an old clachan there. The house is in remarkable condition for one that is unoccupied for more than 50 years. This is largely due to the replacement of the thatch with corrugated iron but also due to the good care which it got over the years. It has a byre and barn attached to it as well as a turf shed. One of the windows is remarkably old and has many panes of glass in its design, typical of windows in early thatched cottages throughout the Sixtowns.



Johnnie  Andy’s   (Kelly)


This was Johnnie Andy’s (Kelly) house just above the Shepherd’s Rest along the main road. Johnnie’s father Andy, came from Brackadys  ert to there and he must have married a Bradley woman because everyone on that side of the river in Moyard was of that name. The house got into bad shape in Johnnie’s time but this part of it miraculously survived a long time indeed. His brother emigrated to U.S.A. but returned many years later to find the place direlect. . There There is a new house built on the site and owned by Seamus Doyle and family. This small farmstead was part of a clachan sited close by and the Doyle farm incorporates a number of other small holdings which had farmsteads on the occupants were all Bradleys at a time and would have been moved out of the clachans to land with clearly designated marches. The fact that many of these small holdings were interwoven field about provides strong evidence of the land having been laid out in the Rundale fashion. There were once at least three houses on the site of the present day Shepherds Rest bar.


Local folklore has it that two Bradley brothers were once granted the townland of Moyard for their families, on condition that they would attend the local Church of Ireland. Obviously they got the townland but failed to keep up their side of the bargain. Moyard was once all Bradley and this part of the townland was evidently one of the early clachans of that family.


Ann Connolly’s house.


This house was built some time in the mid 1800’s and has remained in the hands of the Connolly family in Moyard ever since.It is said locally that the Connollys moved up to Moyard because their  cows were afflicted by disease on their previous farm at Cockhill in Cavanreagh.  Like the adjoining dwelling at Pat Roddy’s, this one was built onto the main family house. This practise is likely to have originated in the days of the clachans, where family members built their houses onto other family dwellings. It is quite prevalent in Moyard. Most of the out housing here seems to be modern so it is hard to tell what the previous buildings would have looked like. Inside the house is very typical of a traditional Sixtowns cottage but  there is a loft with stairs up to it, which was not so common with    those cottages. The corrugated roof has help preserve this building over the years along with good care by the owners. The house has been empty for about 70 years which makes its survival even more remarkable. The last occupant was Ann McEldowney (nee Connolly) and the house is locally known as Ann’s. Her husband James McEldowney was a bit of a poet and it was he who wrote the song “The Sixtowns Cow”  (See Culture section). James was originally from Slaughtneil.


                                                                                   Maggie (Pat John) McNamee’s


This is one of a number of  houses which would have been part of the clachan in the Hollow in Moyard and was the home of  (Pat John)  McNamee’s.

The McNamees would have originally moved up to the Hollow from Glengamna, some time in the early 1800’s, as the landlord was moving families out of the clachans to new territories. There would have been more houses here at a time and the layout of fields as well as old sites of houses suggests that there was indeed a clachan here in the Hollow.

. This typical old Sixtowns cottage has survived longer because the roof was changed to corrugated iron at some stage. John McNamee had three sons, Hughie (moved to Crockmoran), Peter (moved to upper Crockban) and Pat who stayed at home in the Hollow. Pat had two daughters Bridget and Maggie. Bridget was married to Kelly in Corrick and had two sons,Paddy and Dan. Maggie never married and was the last occupier of this house. Hughie multiplied in Crockmoran and the family line is still flourishing. This house passed on to Maggie’s nephew Paddy Kelly (Corrick) whose mother (Bridget) was brought up in this house.




 Houses  in Cavanreagh.

The Bradley family who lived here were part of another family of Bradleys who lived nearby on top of Cavanreagh.  They are descended from Edward Bradley and the family got the nickname the Ned Bradleys, in order to distinguish them from the many other Bradley families. . These Bradleys, unlike the other Bradleys in Sixtowns who were Catholics, were members of the local St. Anne’s  Church of Ireland and it is believed that possibly Edward had changed religion at some time.

This was Alphie Bradley’s house in Cavanreagh. Alphie lived with his brother Tom and neither were married. Their brother Willie lived opposite the Altayeskey  school.

Here are some family photos kindly donated by his nephew.


      Mary (Ned) and Alphie  Bradley



Top Left:  James and Martha Bradley.

Top Right: Mary (Ne) Bradley and Alphie.

Also below them is Alphie and his father James.

Below that is Alphie and his sisters and the house as it used to be.



Eddie (Ned)  Bradley’s

Eddie Ned Tam Bradley was Mary Bradley’s father. The name as listed here gives a lineage going back three more generations, Eddie son of Ned, son of Tam Bradley. This house lies up on ‘the grazing’ near  Cavanreagh mountain close to Glashagh glen. Mary was a cousin of Tom and Alphie mentioned above and was a very popular character in the Sixtowns locality.



                                                               James  Cassidy’s


The house above was the home of the Cassidy family.  These Cassidys were reputed to have been the carpenters who worked at the building of the St Patrick’s Church in Sixtowns. Nicholas Cassidy was known to be poetic in keeping with the tradition of the Cassidys who were local bards in Ballinascreen. It was he who wrote the funny ditty in the snow along the roadside about the fate of Cleary’s bull who had eaten all his cabbage. (See Culture section) Nicholas passed the house and farm to his son James and it is still in the family name. James’s son Kevin owns the Hatfield Bar in Belfast. He went to Belfast to become a barman after he left Altayeskey School in the mid 1950’s.




This was lastly the home of the Gordon family. Johnny Gordon was a veteran of World War One. He and his wife Bridget lived here for some time. Their family consisted of John, Michael, Frank,Pat Katie and Margaret. Johnny (sen) was a very popular and witty character in the Sixtowns.


             The former scutch/corn mill  in Cavanreagh.


This was the old corn mill which was built by Robert Patterson in the mid 1800’s. It was bought by Barney Donnelly from Straw whose family had been running a mill there. It was then taken over by the Mc Kelvey  family.

Robert McKelvey then ran the mill for some time before it was taken over by John Craig. The McKelvey name is still written above the door as can be seen in this photograph.


Joe Duffy


Barney Donnelly from Strawmore, whose brothers also ran a mill there bought it then and it is still in the family. Joe Duffy from Goales worked in the mill after he left school.

” I left Goales school the day that the WW2 broke out and I went to work in Donnelly’s scutch mill. (By that time the mill had been adapted to scutch Flax because of the demand for linen during the war.) It was dusty and unhealthy in there. We depended on the water supply to keep the mill going and sometimes we just had to wait for it so we could carry on. John Anthony Donnelly and myself were there most of the time. The mill closed when the demand for  linen fell after the war was over, ” said Joe Duffy.


This house was associated with the corn mill in Cavanreagh. It is listed as the property of Mary Anne McKelvey in 1856. It is one of several houses belonging to this lady in the immediate area.







This house was part of a group of two which were the home of the Cleary (Lauri) and the Heron families. These Clearys were locally known as the Lauries after a predecessor called Laurie who passed the place onto Anne Heron who eventually left it to its last occupant John. Previous occupants of the Heron household were John Heron and then his family , Mickey, Frank and Katey, the last of the name to live there.


This is what remains of Daniel (John Shane) McNamee’s house. It was part of a small clachan which was common in that townland at a time.

 Tam’s  (Cleary)


Jamie Cleary (Tam).  Replaced with a new house by his grandson, Frankie McCullagh. All the Clearys in the Sixtowns can trace their roots back to Cavanreagh. This clan may have had some role in the Church of Scrine at Moneyconey before the Plantation. Some of the Cleary families were moved up to Moyard and Boley around 1832. This house was the home of Tom Cleary.  His son Jamie was the last occupant of this house. Another son, John Cleary , was a chemist and had a pharmacy in Cromac Street, Belfast. His two sisters Nellie and                worked in Belfast and lived in there. Annie married Francis McCullagh from Moneyconey.



    Henry Hamilton’s


This is the former home of Henry Hamilton and a close look at the building reveals some excellent stone masonry work. There is little evidence left behind of what the outbuildings may have looked like,if they ever existed, but we can see that the dwelling house was a traditional one storey cottage of the 1800’s.


Hanna’s  (later McCreanors)

This house once belonged to a Joe Hanna and eventually passed to the McCreanor family who eventually passed it onto the Kelly family (Brian) from Glengamna.




                    HOUSES  IN  OWENREAGH



Felix O’Niell’s house which has since been demolished and is owned by the Sheerin family, Bancran. The house and farm was left to Felix by his mother. He never got married and so the farm went to his next of kin when he died. It would have been a fine two storey house in its time and would suggest a certain degree of prosperity on this farm. The windows are of the style fairly common in the late 1800 s early 1900 s. A barn and byre is attached to the right hand end of the dwelling as was common also then.



The last of the Mellon family who lived here was Maggie Mellon. She eventually moved up to live with her cousin Joe Conway in Moyard and the house was rented out for a good many years afterwards. Maggie was a very popular member of the Sixtowns community and was a great  “ceildiher” (kaylier) and could be seen riding her bicycle along the roads until she was well into her seventies. Her father Pat was also a well known character, well known for telling tall yarns. Maggie had one sister who got married and went to live in Dublin. They were related to the Mellons who at a time, lived in Boley.


                                                        Devlin’s of the Post Office.

This one storey cottage would have been thatched in earlier days and the building would have gone through a renovation scheme at some stage in the mid 1900 s.

This was the post office for the Sixtowns for generations and the house first belonged to the Convery family who eventually passed it on to a nephew, Frank Devlin whose family have lived there until the recent passing of the last post mistress to live there, Eileen Devlin. Her mother Mary, came from Glengamna.




Wee Geordie’s.


Geordie Barnett’s. Now renovated by the Dempsey family. Geordie inherited this place from his father, also George. The house used to be full of mineral samples and unique stones and artefacts from the Sperrin mountain area.

He spent a large part of his adult life combing the landscape far and wide, for samples of minerals, fauna and other artefacts which revealed so much about our history and heritage.. His knowledge of that area was highly valued among scholars from all over. He loved to see people calling at his humble house to share the crack as well as his poems and songs about the area and the people who lived there. These poems and songs are now a treasure and a unique chronicle of events of his time in Sixtowns. A Blue Plaque on the gable of his house pays tribute to this extraordinary local man.








This two storey house belonged to the Graham family. It would have been a prosperous looking place when in its prime. The house seems to have been detached from the farm buildings which was unusual at the end of the 1800’s. The house was sited a small distance from the main road and would have faced the morning sun. It looks to have been a fine establishment at one time. It is now owned by Brian O’Kane (Labby).



This house was once occupied by a Hicks Hutchinson but later people  by the name McCullagh lived there. Joseph and Bridget Conway moved there around the first decade of the 1900’s. It is believed that these Conways came from Glengamna. (Close to Nielly Kelly’s) The last resident of this house before it was renovated was Joe McConomy.



                    HOUSES  IN  TULLYBRICK.





Morris’s (McNamee)


This was the home of James (Morris) McNamee and his family. It was a small holding with its thatched roofed cottage and few outhouses. These McNamees would have moved up here around the early 1830’s, from the clachans of Glengamna as the landlord was setting aside new tracts of land for those who wished to take them. In the early 1950’s after the McNamees all died out here the house was rented to Francis Joseph Conway and his young family. It became derelict after they left in the mid 1950’s. It now belongs to Gerry McNamee of Labby who has carried out some repairs on it recently in the hope of preserving it. Too many of these fine examples of the typical dwelling of the Sixtowns are sadly facing the demolition squads on an ongoing basis. Once again the steel roof has helped preserve this building.




                                                                                                   Toal McKenna’s

This was once Edmund McKenna’s house on Stone Hill in Boley and as we can see, some restoration has been carried out. It would have been a small thatched cottage at first.. In 1856 a John McGillion is listed as the occupier. The house was passed to Edmund’s  son Toal McKenna and hence the nickname Toal stuck with that family. They are the same McKenna as the Billys in Altayeskey.  This place was owned by Paddy McKenna (Toal) up until recent times when it cganged hands to the McCracken family . It was recently sold to Lawrence Cleary.






                                                                                           Johnny Molly’s  (McNamee)

This was Johnnie (Molly) McNamee’s house which was once the local shop where neighbours got their groceries. The last of the family to have lived there, Kathleen was 100 years old when she died. Her sister Lizzie McSorley (Moyard) was 99 when she died. These McNamees moved down to this site from the house below around the end of the 1800’s. The Kerr family have demolished the old house to make way for their new house.


This was the original home of Michael McNamee and his family. His son Johnnie (Molly) McNamee  decided to move down to the Sixtowns road site where he set up a small local shop. This was where the local people got their provisions and sold their eggs. It was also a place where people would meet and chat. The grocery and bread vans from the town spelt the end of little country shops like these.



Paddy Dan  Conway’s

This was Paddy (Dan Atty) Conway’s house, whose family originally came from Crockmoran. The previous family who lived there were Morans as were so many families in that townland that it was also known as Moranstown. It was a typical small cottage which survived for a long time because a steel roof was put on it later on. This house was the home of the McKenna family (Tullybrick glen) for a while until they left it in the mid 1950’s. It has been derelict since then.

Quinn’s  (Queen’s)

This was Shane McNamee’s house and would have come into existence at the start of the 1830’s when the McNamees moved up to this part from Glengamna. Mick Quinn from Bancran married Mary McNamee and moved up there where they reared their family. The farm passed to his son Brian Quinn (Gortnaskey) and the house has been derelect since the 1950’s.

Brian Quinn, son of Mick and Kate, worked for the Forestry Service before moving away from this house to Gortnaskea. The house is still remarkably well preserved after more than 50 years. The young Quinn brothers were very keen huntsmen and below we have a photo of two of them in a happy hunting mood.


                                      Daniel’s (McBride) farmstead at Crockban.

                The full nick name of the last male resident of this house was  Paddy Daniel Pat Biddy  (BELOW).  i.e. Paddy, son of Daniel, son of Pat , son of Biddy (Moran)  What a great way to follow your family tree if you have a string of names like that.



Paddy    Daniel  (McBride)         Crockbane.

The local nickname, Paddy Daniel Pat Biddy McBride, brings us back three generations of the family. Paddy was married to Mary Kelly of Glenviggan. They had no family. Their nephew Gene Kelly owns the place now. Unfortunately the house has been demolished some years ago. It was always a ceildhi house and the door was always open during the day and was such a neat little cottage which if it could have been preserved like that, would have been such a fine example of what most houses in the Sixtowns would have looked like in days gone bye. Sadly it is not possible to do that and we rely on old photographs to show us what they were like. Paddy was the only farmer in the upper Sixtowns to send milk to the creamery.



Damlec Campbell’s.

This was the home of Damlec Campbell and his family. The Campbells came up to this part in the 1830’s. The house was neatly thatched and it had a byre and barn attached to it as well as having several small outhouses around the yard. These Campbells would have moved up here from lower down the Moyola valley around the 1830’s and would have built this house and farmstead around that time.

Peter (John) McNamee. (formerly The Hollow) Peter was nt married.



      Photographed above (left to right)     Henry McNamee,  Daniel (The fiddler) McBride  and Michael James Campbell.

 Anybody know the youngsters at the back.


The building in the background was once a shop, off licence and bar belonging to Anne Moran who married Willie Campbell from the house in the photo above (Damlec).  Willie and Anne ran this business for  some years before selling the bar licence to the Bradleys who started a bar where the Shepherd’s Rest bar now stands. The shop closed as well. This place became known as Anne (Peter Redmund) Campbell’s for years after Johnnie Gillespie bought the house and farm. The farm is now owned by Gerard Kelly. Anne was the daughter of Peter Redmond Moran. One of the last occupants of this building was Daniel McBride from Altayeskey  who came home from Barrowinfurness to live there for a while. Daniel was a talented fiddler and played at many local functions and dances.


                                                   Glasgow’s/Toal McKenna`s.

This house would have had several tenents in  the 1900’s as it was one of only a few vacant dwellings available to people who were looking for a place for their family to live. In 1856 it was occupied by Michael McGillion. Michael Conway (senior) and his family lived there before moving to Curragh. The Glasgow family lived there afterwards for a spell. The last occupants were the McKenna (Toal) brothers, Jamie, Joe and Mickey.


Dan Mullan.