Robert McKirgan of Portstewart
This document contains information found regarding Robert McKirgan of Portstewart. Robert, who married Sophia McGowan and their ‘known’ children, although there were most likely more children born before registration began. No church records have yet been found to confirm them.
Robert’s birth cannot be confirmed. Only two pieces of evidence are available at present, a merchant seaman record stating a date of birth as 12th August 1830 and his death certificate stating his age to be 76 years in 1897 making him circa 1821? I have evidence of a death age being noted wrongly before so either he was born in 1830 and the death age should be 66 or he has given a false date of birth in the Seaman record?
Robert and his family were well known fishermen and many accounts of their lives were found in the local papers. Along with birth, marriage and death evidence, and pictures taken of the area in the mid 1890’s, a picture of the life and times of Robert McKirgan can be painted. Maybe, just maybe his image has been captured?
Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1835-1857
The first record is in relation to a Robert McKirgan as a Merchant Seaman.
First name(s) Robert
Last name McKirgan
Birth year 1830
Birth date 12 Aug 1830
Birth place Portstewart
Birth county/country Londonderry
Archive The National Archives
Piece number 211
Date range 1845-1854
Record set Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1835-1857
Category Education & work
Subcategory Merchant navy & maritime
Collections from Great Britain, UK None
This document shows Robert McKirgan born at Portstewart in the County of Londonderry on the 12th day of August 1830? I am reading his height as 5ft 6”? First went to sea as an Able Seaman (A.S.) The document was issued at Coleraine on the 26th day of July 1850? Robert would have been about 20 years old if this date of birth is correct.
Robert lived a full life as a fisherman in Portstewart. The McKirgans of Counties Londonderry and Antrim were either fishermen or farmers and would not have had an easy life.
A document (of unknown origin?) sent to me by Tom McKirgan of Oregon tells a story of Robert. Although I have since found some of the details to be mistaken (Roberts fathers name and the date of death for Sophia), the story paints a picture of their life at the time.
Looking at the newspaper archives via www.findmypast.co.uk many articles naming McKirgans are found. some relating to Robert directly or possible family members. The finds have been narrowed to the nearest local paper, ‘Coleraine Chronicle’, although there are other papers such as ‘The Northern Wig’ which would recall some local news also. They will be shown by date throughout this document.
Coleraine Chronicle 18 December 1852
FOUR MEN SUPPOSED TO HAVE DROWNED
We learn just on the eve of going to press, that four fishermen, belonging to Portstewart, are supposed to have been drowned on Thursday night. – They had left the shore, it appears, about two o’clock in the afternoon, for the purpose of fishing, and have since not been heard of. It is said that they were all intoxicated. We have heard that the ill-fated boat was found yesterday morning at Innishowen, keel uppermost. The names of the parties, who, it is more than likely, have met with a watery grave, as the weather was very boisterous, are Samuel Turbitt, Robert Bacon, and John and Robert McKirgan. Turbitt was married and had a family. Several of the Portstewart men left yesterday afternoon for Innishowen, to find any traces, if possible, of the unfortunate men.
Robert and Sophia married on the 3rd September 1856 at Coleraine Registrar’s Office, County Londonderry. The document names Roberts father as William, occupation Fisherman. They reside in the Parish of Ballyaghran, Portstewart, County Londonderry. (The Parish of Ballywillan, alongside Ballyaghran, falls into County Antrim, and contains McKirgan families not discussed here). Witnesses include Robert McGowan (brother to Sophia?) and William McKirgan (a possible brother to Robert).
The Primary Valuation was the first full scale valuation of property in Ireland. It was overseen by Richard Griffith and published between 1847 and 1864. It is one of the most important surviving 19th century genealogical sources.
McKirgans found in the Griffiths Valuation in the Parish of Ballyaghran, printed in 1859.
Robert can be seen residing on the Coleraine Road, East Tullymurry in the Town of Portstewart.
Their are various McKirgan families in the surrounding area. Possible brothers, sisters, Uncles or Aunts of Robert? Roberts father William is not named in the area so could either have passed or be living in a different area. The map below shows the same area some 100 years later. Found using PRONI Historical Maps viewer. www.nidirect.gov.uk
OSNI Six inch to one-mile Irish grid 1952-1969
Coleraine Chronicle 17 November 1860
FATAL ACCIDENT – A respectable young man belonging to Portstewart, named William Logan, had been employed fishing at Tory Island during the summer, with Daniel and Samuel McKirgan, of Portstewart. They were crossing a few days ago from the island to the main land, in a curragh, and not understanding the management of the frail craft, it capsized. Samuel McKirgan swam the distance of about a mile, saving his life, but poor Logan sank to rise no more. He has left an infirm father and mother to deplore his untimely end.
Coleraine Chronicle 02 August 1862
MELANCHOLY AFFAIR – About half past 11 o’clock, on Monday morning, it was blowing hard, and a fishing boat, which was labouring on the sea opposite Gortnamullan, Innishowen, was capsized bodily by the fury of the waves. There were three men in the boat. One of them, Henry McKirgan, of Portstewart, was drowned. The other two, John McKirgan and Wm. Lewis, also of Portstewart, were saved through the heroic exertions of Geo. Doherty and John McKenna, and brought safely to land. The boat was dashed to pieces among the rocks. We trust that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or some kindred society, will confer a reward on these courageous men.
Coleraine Chronicle 13 December 1862
Robert McKirgan, Portstewart, was charged by Mr Daniel McCurdy, with stealing cabbages from a field belonging to him on the night of the 6th inst. Fined 5s and costs, and value of cabbage, or one week’s imprisonment with hard labour.
The Lawrence Collection consists of 40,000 glass plate negatives from 1870-1914. The images were produced commercially and capture scenes of that period throughout Ireland. The bulk of the outdoor images were taken by Robert French, the Lawrence's’ chief photographer.
The pictures produced here are simply screen shots. In order to see more detail when zoomed go to the following link, https://www.nli.ie/en/photographs-introduction.aspx and search the collection , the detail is amazing! Photographs can be purchased from the nli website.
In an attempt to narrow down the date of these pictures by Robert French of Portstewart, dated as taken somewhere between 1865-1914, a closer look at all the pictures and research of the style of dress worn, the pushbikes etc, I have concluded they were taken around the mid 1890’s. This would make Robert McKirgan’s children young adults and if so, many of the harbour pics could include our McKirgan fishermen? This zoomed in shot of one of the harbour pictures shows three fishermen, one older, two younger. Using our imaginations there is no reason why they could not be Robert Snr (aged about 64) and his sons, either Robert (27), James (25) or Andrew (23)?
It is most likely Robert and Sophia began having children soon after their marriage. Sadly no baptism records have been found to determine this but various references indicate further names. Civil registration began in 1864 allowing us to determine all children born to them after this date.
Charlotte McKirgan was born in Agherton, Portstewart on the sixth of October, 1866 to Robert McKirgan, fisherman and Sophia McKirgan nee McGowan.
Robert McKirgan was born in Agherton, Portstewart on the Twentieth of August 1868 to Robert McKirgan, Fisherman and Sophia McKirgan nee Magowan.
James McGowan McKirgan was born on the Twenty-second of September 1870 in Agherton, Portstewart to Robert McKirgan, Fisherman and Sophia McKirgan nee McGowan.
Andrew McKirgan was born on the Tenth of October 1872 in Agherton, Portstewart to Robert McKirgan, Fisherman and Sophia McKirgan nee McGowan. A baptism record is found for Andrew dated 17th January 1873 at Agherton Church of Ireland. Here Andrew is noted to have the middle name of ‘Clarke’.
Martha McKirgan was born on the Sixth January 1875 in Agherton, Portstewart to Robert McKirgan, Fisherman and Sophia McGowan. A baptism record is found for Martha dated 5th September 1875 at Agherton Church of Ireland.
Coleraine Chronicle 29 July 1876
Head-Constable McKean, Acting-Constable Conway, and Sub-Constables Martin, Gordon, and Lecky, had each several people before the Bench upon charges of drunkenness.
Fines from 6d to £2 and costs were imposed.
ASSAULT AND OBSTRUCTING THE POLICE.
Sub-Constable Copeland was the complainant in a case in which Robert McKirgan and Henry Shaw were charged with being drunk and disorderly. McKirgan having aggravated his offence by obstructing and threatening the Constable.
Copeland, who is stationed at Portstewart, stated that when he first saw the defendants, they were drunk, and fighting. They did not get striking each other, because there was a third person between them. When they were separated, Shaw went one way and McKirgan another. After he had gone up the street a “bit,” McKirgan returned and said – “I will put my fists through your lights.”
Wm. Morrison was then examined. He said – Shaw and I were coming up the street, selling some fish. McKirgan came forward, and said he would give us fish some morning, meaning salmon. Shaw said he would have nothing to do with him, when McKirgan said he would throw him over the wall and into the sea. They then went in to fight each other. Some additional evidence have been given.
The Chairman, having consulted the Bench, said the defendants would each be fined 2s 6d and costs for assaulting each other; and McKirgan would be fined £1 and the costs for obstructing the police in the execution of their duty.
Sophia McKirgan was born on the Twenty-seventh of June 1877 at Agherton, Portstewart to Robert McKirgan, Fisherman and Sophia McKirgan nee Magowan. A baptism record is found dated 1st September 1879 for Sophia at Agherton Church of Ireland.
Catherine Ann McKergan was born on the Sixteenth of January 1880 at Agherton, Portstewart to Robert McKergan, Fisherman and Sophia McKergan nee Magowan. A baptism record is found for Catherine Anne dated 2nd May 1880 at Agherton Church of Ireland.
The birth certificates pictured here were located via www.irishgenealogy.ie and the baptism records via www.colerainefhs.org.uk
Coleraine Chronicle 26 October 1889
Sergeant Shier, Portstewart, summoned Robert and James McKirgan, jun., for disorderly conduct, and to show cause why they should not be bound over to keep the peace.
Mr. D. MacLaughlin appeared for the defendants.
The Sergeant deposed that on Saturday evening, the 12th inst., at about 9.50 o’clock, he observed James McKirgan running into his own house, and afterwards heard screams. Robert was then put out by James, but got in again. Witness afterwards observed the defendants fighting and heard loud cries of “Murder,” “Police.” Witness went over and cautioned the defendants, but notwithstanding this the fighting was renewed. The conduct of James was disgraceful, and several people were complaining about it.
Mr. MacLaughlin having addressed the Bench for the defence,
James McKirgan was bound over, himself in £10 and two sureties in £5 each, to be of good behaviour for twelve months, or, in default, one month’s imprisonment. The case against Robert was dismissed.
In this article it states the names of Robert and James McKirgan Junior. It is possible these are the children of James McKirgan who resided on the ‘Crescent’ as seen in the Griffiths Map previously.
Coleraine Chronicle 06 September 1890
….This annual regatta was held on Friday last, and the weather could not have been more favourable for the several contests, the sun shining beautifully warm all day, and a nice breeze, not too stormy, blowing regularly from the North……Five boats got away to a good start in the race, the course being twice from the harbour to Blackrock, and then a mile Westward to a boat anchored two miles distant from the shore. The course was sailed twice over, and concluded in the following order:-
1.Mr. McKirgan’s boat, Portstewart.
2.Mr. J. McKay’s boat, Portrush.
3.Mr. G. McMullan’s Ranger, Portballintrae.
Coleraine Chronicle 29 November 1890
Sergeant Shier charged Robert McKirgan and James McKirgan, Portstewart, father and son, with disorderly conduct on the 11th November.
Mr. D. MacLaughlin defended, and admitted the offence, stating that the father was the cause of the dispute, having been drunk when the son came home after a days fishing.
The sergeant, instating his charge, deposed that he attributed the whole affair to the father.
Robert McKirgan was fined 5s and costs, and James 2s 6d and costs.
Coleraine Chronicle 26 November 1892
McKirgan v. O’Kane
In this case Sophia McKirgan, of Portstewart, a widow, sued Francis O’Kane, of Coleraine, fish merchant, to recover compensation for work and labour done in the knitting of a salmon net, the property of the defendant.
Mr. R. O’Neil appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. D. MacLaughlin for the defendant.
The plaintiff stated that her son, James McKirgan, brought the twine for the making of the net, which was to be completed for the opening of the salmon season. Witness worked at it until she had knitted 300 yards, and then stopped, as she saw no prospect of retaining payment. The defendant came down to Portstewart, and told her to go on working and he would pay her when the net was completed. He gave her 2s 6d at the time. As it was not finished in time defendant sent for 300 yards of netting to Scotland, and this was attached to the piece which witness had knitted.
Andrew McKirgan and Sophia McKirgan, son and daughter of the plaintiff, were also examined in support of her evidence.
Francis O’Kane, the defendant, stated that he made an arrangement with James McKirgan, a son of the plaintiff, in January last to have a net made for the commencement of the salmon season. Witness purchased £5 worth of twine for the purpose, and gave it to McKirgan, who took it to Portstewart with him. The terms of the agreement were that McKirgan and his brothers were to use their boat in the fishing and witness was to receive a fourth share of all the fish taken, while he was to purchase the remainder of the “takings” at 1d per lb below the marker price. The net was to become witnesses property at the end of the season. Witness went to Portstewart on 27th May, and found that some of the twine had been used. About 285 yards of the net having been knitted. McKirgan came to him and told him that the net could not be completed in time and witness procured 290 yards of net from Scotland at a cost of £7. Witness had no dealings with the old woman (the plaintiff) on the subject. She sent him a message to the effect that she wanted £1 to pay her rent and he replied that he had nothing to do with the paying of her claim – that it was her son James she should apply to. The parties at that time lived together. It was not true that witness had told plaintiff at any time to go on with the net, and he would pay her.
In answer to Mr. O’Neill, defendant said the old woman had asked him if he wasn’t “going to stand” and he gave her 2s 6d to provide tea for herself.
Wm. Merritt, who was in the employment of the defendant, gave corroborative evidence, adding that he had asked for the return of the twine on several occasions, and could not get it.
His Honour said that the old woman had been engaged at a very hard and very tedious work, and she was entitled to be paid for her labour. He thought the defendant had means of recouping himself against James McKirgan , and he would give a decree for £4 5s.
The article above states Sophia is a widow but Robert has not passed at this stage so possibly a mere mistake. The named children leave me in no doubt that this is Sophia nee McGowan.
Robert Snr death 1897
Robert passes on the 4th December 1897 at his home in Agherton, Portstewart. It states he was 76 years old at time of death although we are not certain of this fact. He is noted as a fisherman. The certificate states Robert ‘probably passed due to heart disease’. The death certificate was incurred from ? Caldwell. Coroner for County Londonderry. An inquest was held on the 6th December 1897.
Using this information we can find details of the inquest using the newspaper archives.
Coleraine Chronicle 11th December 1897
REMARKABLY SUDDEN DEATH AT PORTSTEWART
On Saturday evening last the inhabitants of Portstewart were startled by the news of the death of an aged inhabitant in the person of Robert McKergan, who has been for many years a well-known figure in the district. The suddenness of his demise occasioned the greatest surprise, as he had been seen on the street but a very few hours previous to the news of his death becoming circulated. He was aged about seventy-six years, and was a native of Portstewart, where he had resided during his entire life-time, following the avocation of a fisherman, a calling which his two surviving sons are also engaged in. The circumstances of his death will be noted in the evidence given at
which was held on Monday by Dr. W. H. Caldwell, J.P. (coroner), at the residence of the deceased.
The following were sworn as a jury – Messrs. William Martin (foreman), Hugh Caldwell, Jas. McIlreavy, William Cox, Hugh Simpson, George Kane, Matthew Brown, James Lyons, Matthew M’Kinney, Nicholas Cunningham, Jon. McCurdy, James M’Curdy, Saml. Cox, Thomas M’Quiston and John M’Ilreavy.
District-Inspector Loftus C L Totlenham, with Sergeant Gallagher, attended the inquest on behalf of the Crown.
Sophia McKergan, wife of the deceased, was examined and deposed that her late husband was 76 years of age. He had left the house on the previous Saturday about three o’clock, and was then in his usual health. He returned to the house at about six o’clock, and he had then some drink on him. He sat down in the kitchen and began taking off his clothes, and witness and her daughter helped him upstairs. About three quarters of an hour afterwards he called for some tea. Witness said she would not give him any, and he then said he would come down and make it himself. Witness daughter then made the tea and took it upstairs, the witness heard deceased say to her “God bless you”. Deceased got the tea with bread and butter, and the candle was left burning in the room. About ten minutes after that witness noticed that the candle was still burning, and went up with the intention of putting it out, and she then saw that her husband was dead. The bowl was lying on his arm, and some of the bread had been broken in the tea, and some of it was still in the bowl. Witness and her daughter had tea with bread and butter at the same time in the kitchen, and it was similar to that given to the deceased.
Martha McKirgan, daughter of the previous witness, corroborated her mothers evidence. Jennie Spence deposed to going to the house of the deceased on Saturday about seven o’clock. She heard the deceased ask for tea, which was afterwards taken to him by his daughter, who came down after leaving it with deceased. Mrs McKirgan went up about ten minutes after to put out the candle, and when she went up to the room she shouted that “he was gone”. She then ran down the stairs, saying she would go for Andy (her son).
Dr. Young who had been summoned to the house after the occurrence, was present at the inquest, but said he could give the jury no information, as McKirgan was dead upon arrival at the house.
Some of the jury mentioned that they were aware of the deceased having previously suffered from fainting fits.
After consultation, the jury returned a verdict that the death resulted from natural causes – probably heart disease.
1901 Census of Ireland
Residents of a house 167 in Mullaghacall North (Portstewart, Londonderry)
Looking at the information placed in the 1901 Census we find Sophia, a widow, aged 65, a midwife, residing with two possible grandchildren, John and James and a young housemaid boarder named Hessie McMichael. Using the House and Building return form below we can see they resided in a two room, 3rd class dwelling with one window. Most likely her sons, Robert and James live with their families either side of her in similar dwellings.
Robert Junior is seen living next to his mother Sophia with his wife and children in the 1901 census. Robert married Agnes Elliot on the 1st December 1891 at Agherton Parish Church.
James is also seen with his wife Lizzie and children. James married Elizabeth Wilson on the 13th January 1892 at Coleraine Parish Church.
Coleraine Chronicle 16 May 1903
The Conservators of Fisheries for Coleraine District were complainants in two cases against four Portstewart fishermen named James McKirgan, Robert McKirgan, Andrew McKirgan and a man called Hempill – (1) for that on the 10th April last, on the River Bann, they did use for the purpose of taking salmon, a net, without being duly licensed, and (2) for trespass on the said fishery.
Mr S McDermott appeared for complainants, and defendants were represented by Mr Robt. O’Neill (Messrs, Macaulay & O’Neill).
Mr McDermott said he appeared for the Conservators in both these cases, one of which was for trespass, and the other for fishing without a license. Both cases arose out of the same transaction, and he could ask their Worships to take both together.
Their Worships decided to do so.
John Patterson, in reply to Mr McDermott, stated that he was a water bailiff. He remembered Friday, 10th April last. On that date he was on duty along the River Bann in the townland of East Crossreagh. At about 11 o’clock at night his attention was attracted to a boat upon the Londonderry side of the river. Witness was on County Antrim side, and was in concealment with another bailiff named Jms. Dinsmore. There were four occupants in the boat, which was rowed right across the river. On reaching the shore on the Portstewart side one of the men came out of the boat into the strand, and the net was subsequently shot. They remained there until the net was brought ashore, and then they came down and asked the defendants for their licence. Defendants made no reply, and witness, along with Dinsmore, seized the net and took it from them. On examination they found eleven trout meshed in the net. Witness was able to identify the defendants, as he had often seen them previously.
Cross examined by Mr O’Neill – Witness was able to identify three of the defendants in court as the men who were in the boat on the night in question. The fourth man (Hemphill), who was summoned, he could not identify as being concerned in the matter.
To the Chairman – Witness had considerable difficulty in securing the names of the men, as they refused to give them.
(At this stage witness identified another man in court, also named Hemphill, as the fourth defendant).
The other summons was accordingly struck out.
Mr O’Neill said this was one of the most scandalous cases ever brought into that court. It would be proved by several respectable witnesses that none of the defendants had been engaged fishing that night.
Patterson, further cross-examined by Mr O’Neill, stated that he did not know the Christian names of the defendants, but he knew them by their appearance well enough. The boat that was used on the occasion belonged to a man named Doherty. Witness did not as to anyone a day or two after the occurrence that a man named M’Gowan was in the boat. There was bright moonlight that night.
James Dinsmore gave corroborative evidence. He was able to identify three of the defendants as being in the boat on the night in question.
By Mr O’Neill – Witness and Patterson were concealed about one hundred yards away from the spot where the defendants came on shore.
Mr R. Mackey, examined by Mr McDermott, deposed that none of the defendants held a licence for fishing.
Mr O’Neill – We admit that, and we also admit that we would have been trespassing if found at the place alleged.
Addressing the Bench, Mr O’Neill said he would not trouble their Worships with many remarks. The defendants lived in Portstewart, and they hoped to be able to produce clear evidence that on the night referred to they were not near the River Bann at all. Three of them were in their own houses, and another was in the house of a neighbour, on this particular night. Furthermore, Doherty was in court, and would be able to prove that his boat was not across the river, as alleged. It was of the same class as described by Patterson, and was used for lighting up the lamps on the river. He would tell them that it was moored on the other side of the river at nine o’clock, and was not touched again that night.
Daniel McGowen, examined by Mr O’Neill stated that he was a fisherman, and resided in Portstewart. He remembered Good Friday night well. Why he did so was on account of his hearing afterwards that Patterson was going to summon him for being mixed up in the poaching affair, and he was preparing to prove an alibi as far as he was concerned. Witness had it from a Coleraine man the following day, whom Patterson himself informed, that he (witness) was going to be summoned for poaching on the Bann. Witness was acquainted with Robert McKirgan, who lived convenient to him – just around the corner. On tis night of the alleged poaching witness went into McKirgan’s house about eight o’clock. Robert and James were in at the time. He did not see Robert Mckirgan, as he lived in another house at Burnside. He stopped in Mckirgans a good while. He remembered the clock striking, and Robert McKirgan made a remark that it was ten o’clock. Witness remained in the house about twenty minutes longer, and then went away. The house was situate fully two miles from where the alleged poaching took place, and Robert McKirgan was in it when the witness went away. While in defendants house they were all engaged “righting” the lines, but a conversation was carried on about the America Cup races, and Shamrock’s chances of winning were discussed.
Mr O’Neill – Which is going to win this time?
Mr Ferris – Better ask Patterson that. (Laughter)
Witness (to the Chairman) – James McKirgan went out of the house before ten o’clock.
Cross examined by Mr McDermott – McKirgan’s house was about a mile and a half from the place described by Patterson, if the journey were taken across the hills. It would take three quarters of an hour to access.
Samuel Cox, examined by Mr O'Neill, stated that he fished along with James McKirgan. He was out with him on the morning of the Friday on which the alleged poaching took place, and they got back about two o’clock in the afternoon. They were preparing the lines for trawling the next day. Witness came back again to McKirgan’s house at about eleven o’clock that night for some bait, as his own had run done. He remained until twelve o’clock, and James McKirgan was not out of his house all that time. He remembered this night well, because the next day there was a great deal of talk in Portstewart about fishermen being caught poaching.
Cross-examined by Mr McDermott – Who told you that some of the men had been caught poaching? – I might say that the whole of Portstewart was talking about it the next day. There was an outcry through the whole town. (Laughter)
Give me the name of one single person who told you about it? – I could mention Daniel McGowan.
What did he say? – He said he thought he was going to be summoned along with the McKirgan’s for poaching in the Bann.
Did he say who had told him? – No, he did not.
You say you stopped with McKirgan until about eight o’clock? – Yes.
What were you doing up to that time? – We were preparing for the fishing the next day, and I went home to bait my line.
You say you came back about eleven o’clock? – Yes; I found that my bait had run short, and I came down to McKirgan’s for some.
Could you not have obtained some from McKirgan the next morning, when you were going out with him?
Mr O’Neill – Mr McDermott evidently does not know much about fishing, or he would not talk like that. (Laughter)
Mr McDermott – Did McKirgan get you the bait? – He did.
And did you go out the following morning? – No; the next day was coarse, and we did not get out.
Mr McDermott – I see. (Laughter)
James Hempill, examined by Mr O’Neill stated that Samuel Hempill was his son, and resided at Burnside. He knew the defendant Andrew McKirgan, who lived convenient. On Good Friday night Andrew was in witnesses house, and stayed till half past nine o’clock or thereabouts. They were engaged with one of the boats during the time.
By Mr McDermott – He knew the place where it was alleged the defendants were found fishing. Witnesses' house was about a mile and a half from there. He lived in the townland of East Tullaghmurray.
McGowan, re-called by Mr O’Neill, stated that when he left McKirgan’s house on Good Friday night Robert had taken off his boots, and he could not possibly have been at the River Bann that night.
Mr O’Neill was proceeding to call further evidence when the Chairman said that the majority of the Bench were in favour of dismissing the summons.
Mr O’Neill – Thank you your Worships. I will now ask you to allow 20s costs, as the defendants have been put to considerable trouble and expense being brought here.
This request was refused, and the Chairman intimated that the decision to dismiss the summons was unanimous.
1911 Census of Ireland
Sophia is next seen in the 1911 Census of Ireland residing on the Coleraine Road. Portstewart. A couple of workmen are present in her home on census day and thus recorded.
Sophia McKirgan death 1917.
Sophia passes on the Eighth of February 1917 in Portstewart. She is noted as a fisherman’s widow. Cause of death simply ‘senile decay’. Her son Andrew, residing in Tullaghmurry was present at death.
Sophia’s age, like Roberts is under question? She was noted as of ‘Full Age’ (over 21) on her marriage certificate in 1856 -
1901 Census – 65 – Circa 1836
1911 Census – 74 – Circa 1837
Death Certificate – 93 – Circa 1824.
As you can clearly see it was a tough life for the McKirgan family but I am sure they had many a good time and a laugh as well as the falling out, that wouldn't be newspaper news would it ;) I have no doubt I will add bits and poeces of information to this story as time goes by. I hope you enjoyed reading about Robert and his family.