I am posting a brief history of the parish here taken from their web page at
The parish of Killasser is situated about one mile north of Swinford.
The parish takes its name Killasser from Cill Lasrach – the church of Lasair. Lasair was an eight-century Irish saint who built a church in Knockmullin townland. The parish is rich in archaeological field monuments with Court Cairns in Cartronmacmanus, Coolagagh, Cregaun, a crannog in Lower Lough Callow, nearly 200 ring forts and several Fulachta Fiadh (Bronze Age cooking sites.).
The oldest church ruins in the parish are in the townland of Killshesnaun. It was built by Sheshnan O Ruane, who was a descendant of the local chieftains the O Ruanes. According to local folklore Sheshnan was a handsome young man who enjoyed a good time in his younger life. As he grew older he changed his ways and went to Rome to beg forgiveness from the Pope.
The Pope was impressed by this fine young man and invited him to take a seat and sit down. Sheshnan declined the offer until such time as he had confessed his sins. The Pope requested him to build a church in his own parish as an act of penance for his sins. This he did and he acted as its caretaker for the rest of his life.
The parish suffered a decline in population as a result of the famine and emigration over the years. In 1838 the total population was almost 7,000, while the present day population is only approximately 900.
The area is renowned for its fishing waters in particular the Callow lakes which yield excellent brown trout and the world renowned River Moy for salmon. The Killasser area also boasts two fine visitor centres Carraig Abhainn Open Farm and Hennigans Heritage Centre.
More history of Swinford Mayo Ireland:
The Famine and Swinford Workhouse
Swinford, Co. Mayo in the West of IrelandOverview
To See & Do
Where to Stay
Eat + Drink
The remains and site of the Swinford Union Workhouse should be of interest to visitors to the area. The front portion of the workhouse is now a hospital and is typical of all workhouses built at the time.
One of the best preserved mass Famine Graves can be seen at the back of Swinford Hospital, where 564 inmates were buried 'without coffin, without sermon, without anything which denotes respect for the dead', as Michael Davitt recalled in his book Defence of the Land League. The site of the Famine Grave is marked by a simple plaque bearing the inscription: Erected by the people of Swinford to the memory of 564 famine victims buried in this place. May they rest in peace.
The Poor Law Act of 1838 was an act 'for the more efficient relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland'. The principle of this act was that local property owners should alleviate local poverty. The country was divided into 130 Poor Law Unions, five of which were in Mayo. The Unions were funded by a system of levies known as rates. Under this system each property was given a rateable valuation. The valuations were determined in a scheme supervised by Sir Richard Griffith. The Griffith Valuations form the basis for the system of rates that exist up to the present.
Swinford Union was established on April 2nd, 1840. and had a Board of Guardians numbering 28 members. A six-acre site was obtained from Sir William Brabazon for the erection of a workhouse. The contract was signed on the October 16th, 1840 and the building was completed in February 1842. It had accommodation for 420 adults and 280 children. Collecting the rates proved to be difficult and this delayed's opening .It was officially opened on 26th March 1846 and the first inmates were admitted on 14th April 1846.
By the end of 1846 there was overcrowding in the workhouse with as many as 200 people per day seeking admission. The Board of Guardians responded by cancelling further admissions. Hundreds of men women and children roamed the streets begging for food, while others were forced to emigrate.
Influence on Michael DavittSwinford Workhouse was recalled by Michael Davitt in a speech before The Times- Parnell Commission in London in October 1889. He stated that as a child he travelled to the workhouse in Swinford with his family, but they were refused admission as his mother refused to accept some of the conditions imposed in those 'abodes of misery and degradation'.
He also remembered hearing from his mother how poor people from between Straide, his birthplace, and Swinford had died of starvation and had been buried in a mass grave. So vivid an impression did these events make on his mind that on a visit to Swinford some 25 years afterwards he went to the burial place without asking anyone for directions.
Conditions inside the workhouse were inhuman and degrading, discipline was strict and inmates were compelled to work without compensation. Death and fever were commonplace within the institution.
In 1847 Government policy began to change, the Soup Kitchen Act phased out institutional relief and the provision of Soup was introduced. Sir William Brabazon bought two houses for the establishment of soup kitchens. Relieving officers were appointed for the provision of aid to the able bodied. That same year fever sheds and temporary wards were erected giving accommodation for an extra 260 people. Plans were prepared by G. Wilkinson for a fever hospital.
In the years after the famine the numbers of inmates dropped and the workhouses became more 'the refuge of the sick, aged, infirm, illegitimate children and their mothers than the able bodied poor'. The famine showed the folly of over dependence on the potato and ushered in an era of high emigration.
In 1926 the remaining inmates were transferred to Castlebar where Sr. M. Berchmans took charge of them in The County Home. The fever hospital remained in use, dreaded by patients, visitors and staff. In the mid 1930's some of the workhouse and infirmary buildings were demolished. What remains today is what was the fever hospital (originally the administration building of the Union.) This part of the building has retained it's original features to the present day and is located on the Dublin road, exiting out of Swinford.
By Brian Hoban http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/towns-villages/swinford/history/famine-and-swinford-workhouse.html
some pictures of the Swinford Ireland area for your viewing pleasure.
John Tunney and Mary McNulty had the following children:
Bridget born 11/25/1862 ( maybe 11/11/1862)
Mary born 11/20/1863
Honor born 1866
Michael born 1/13/1868
John born 12/22/1876
Thomas born 11/16/1870
Katherine (Kate) born 1/5/1879
Margaret born 9/20/1874
Patrick born 2/26/1865
Joseph born 11/24/1869
Catherine 10/8/1872-(died in infancy)
James born 2/23/1881 (died in infancy)
John Tunney was a hard working, proud farmer with 30 acres of stripe farm land. In Ireland in those days the English still controlled the country and would not allow an Irishman to own a 30 acre block of land. Instead the land was parceled out into 1 acre stripes of a larger tract of land as depicted in the picture below:
John built most of he whitewashed stone home, barns and outbuildings himself. While he had a large family he was also a man who insisted his children receive a good education and so he hired in help when needed rather than keeping the children back from school as most families did. The family farm and homestead is still occupied by the Tunney family. It is about three miles from the town of Swinford in County Mayo on the river Moy. The house had two large bedrooms, one for the girls and one fro the boys and a "tent room" that John and Mary slept in. A tent room was a small room added to the house large enough for a bed, the entrance of which was covered by draperies rather than a door.
While John worked the fields and tended the cattle, Mary remained at home, cooking and cleaning, scrubbing the flagstone floors by hand, churning butter to use and sell, feeding the pigs, spinning flax grown on the farm into linen and making clothing for the children and linens for the bed and table hand sewn. There was no sewing machine then to ease the load. Sheep were raised for wool, which Mary spun into yarn and wove into clothing, and blankets.
The Tunneys were devout Catholics and Mary made a special trip each year, walking 12 miles to visit the shrine of Knock on the feast of the Assumption each August 15th. Mary would stay at the shrine all night praying. In her later years she told her Granddaughter of one time that she visited the shrine, and spent the night praying and was blessed to see a blind man receive his sight .
The history of the shrine of Knock:
On the wet Thursday evening of the 21st August, 1879, at about 8 o'clock, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared in a blaze of Heavenly light at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Behind them and a little to the left of St. John was a plain altar. On the altar was a cross and a lamb with adoring angels. The Apparition was seen by fifteen people whose ages ranged from six years to seventy-five and included men, women and children.
The witnesses described the Blessed Virgin Mary as being clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. Over the forehead where the crown fitted the brow, she wore a beautiful full-bloom golden rose. She was in an attitude of prayer with her eyes and hands raised towards Heaven. St. Joseph stood on Our Lady's right. He was turned towards her in an attitude of respect. His robes were also white. St. John was on Our Lady's left. He was dressed in white vestments and resembled a bishop, with a small mitre. He appeared to be preaching and he held an open book in his left hand.
The witnesses watched the Apparition in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary. Although they themselves were saturated not a single drop of rain fell on the gable or vision. http://www.knock-shrine.ie/history
In the evening, after the days work was done and school was ended the Tunneys would gather together for supper and then John would take the children to dancing school. The older children took dance lessons and the younger ones waited quietly, entertaining themselves in another room while John visited with the old folks.
John enjoyed fishing and taught his children to fish the Moy river for salmon. This was against the law set own by the British, but the farm followed the bank of the Moy for some distance and the fish were there for the catching.
I hope you have enjoyed the first installment of the Tunney clan of Corning NY. Tomorrow we will take a look at the children of John and Mary Tunney.