James and Elizabeth were born and married in the time
period between the decline of Daniel O’Connell and the emergence of the Irish
Republican brotherhood (1845 – 1866). The
O’Connell impetus started to ebb after the cancelled rally at Clontarf in
1843, and O’Connel died in 1847. The
1845 to 1847 time frame was a period of the great famine.
Between 1845 and 1866 times were uneasy but relatively
quite. A system of public education
slowly evolved and in 1850 a league was formed to defend the rights of farmers.
In 1866 the Fenians were making plans for a rising under the auspices of
a secret society, the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
The rising, another abortive attempt, occurred in 1867.
James Woods (1845 - c1912)
James was 21 years old when he married Elizabeth. His
occupation was listed as a ‘Herd’, meaning a herder or farm worker.
In modern terms he was a herdsman or veterinarian.
James married Elizabeth Cluskey in the Roman Catholic
Chapel of Drumconrath, Union of Ardee, on 5th May 1866. An extract
from the marriage register states the chapel as St Peter and Paul.
At the time of his wedding, James’s residence was listed
as the Townland of Clonburton. Clonburton is in Drumconrath parish in the Barony
of Slane. He lived with his parents when the census was taken on 2nd
April 1871. His father Richard was
listed as head of the family. In
the same reference Richard’s occupation is given as ‘caretaker and labourer’,
implying that neither of them owned the property.
James exact place of birth is presently unknown, although
there is some indication that his grandparents came from Wales.
James later moved to Rokeby Hall, Walsintown in the Clougherhead area
where he worked as a Herdsman for Mr H Coddington Esq, the owner of Rokeby Hall.
The wife of James and the mother of their thirteen
children, Elizabeth was born in 1847 according to her birth certificate.
She was the daughter of Thomas Cluskey and Margaret Halpeny of Mandistown.
At the time of her wedding, Elizabeth was ‘in service’ in Cortown,
which meant she was a domestic servant. Mandistown
is in Inismott parish, adjacent to Drumconrath Parish. Corton is in Drumconrath parish.
Elizabeth’s birth place is currently unknown. She had at least two sisters, deduced from her children’s baptismal records. She died around 1912 and is buried with James in the Louth village cemetery.
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