My grandmother, Margaret Jane Gilpin, was born on 28th February, 1899, at Drumergoole in the parish of Carrigallen, County Leitrim, Ireland, and was the youngest child of William Gilpin and Jane Boyd. Her birth place was an old thatched cottage situated near Drumergoole Lough.  The ruins of this cottage were still visible in April 1941, when as boys aged ten, my father, William, and his twin brother, John, were taken by their mother to Drumergoole to see it’s remains.  At the time, they were staying with their uncle, John Gilpin,  who lived at Kivvy Cottage near Carrigallen.  Grandmother had taken the boys and their two older sisters, Ruth and Lucy, down to County Leitrim for six weeks to escape the Blitz on Belfast by the German Luftwaffe in April and May of that year. Their father remained at home in Hillview Park near Glengormley.

The Gilpins of Drumergoole

Margaret Jane (left) & Olive Gilpin  wi Margaret Jane Gilpin

Drumergoole and Killegar formed the demesne of the modern Killegar Estate, the family home of the late John Godley, 3rd Lord Kilbracken.  In his booklet “The Story of Killegar”, first published in 1990, Lord Kilbracken describes these two townlands as being the ‘home farm’ of Killegar House, which was built by his great great grandfather, John Godley. He was a Dublin lawyer.  He built Killegar House, which took four years to complete in 1813. He was also responsible for the building of the church, school and school-teacher’s house at Killegar, together with the two gate-lodges and about a dozen other cottages in the demesne, including the cottage my grandmother was born and lived in during her formative years.  

Killegar House, 1992

John Godley lived to the age of 88 years, dying in 1863, and was buried in his own churchyard at its gates. In his time, before the successive Irish Land Acts came into force, the estate extended to some 2, 784 Irish acres and comprised the townlands of ‘Killegar, Drumergoul, Laghine, Aghavore, Taghamore, Tuam, Mullaghmore, Corrawallen, Lawchill, Dromnecross, Dromhabrie, Dromlyvan and Anagh’, as spelt in the original title deed.  John’s eldest son, John Robert Godley, had already predeceased his father, and his son, John Arthur Godley, was still a schoolboy. Thus before his death in 1863, John made provision that his youngest son, Archibald, would have a 20-year lease of the house and the home farm, paying the rent to his young nephew. This lease was to be extended to cover the rest of Archibald’s life, and then passed to his only child, known affectionately to Lord Kilbracken as ‘Cousin Anna’ and to her tenants as Miss. Godley.

Opposite: Killegar Church of Ireland c.1890

To the Gilpins, tenants of the Godleys for generations, Miss. Godley was the lady of the ‘Big House’, which in her time often received some of Ireland’s most celebrated musicians and singers, including Percy French.  Of Miss. Godley, the 3rd Lord Kilbracken could recall how as a young lad, ‘over the next 16 years (from his first visit to Killegar House with his father Hugh Godley in 1927), we spent holidays at Killegar more and more frequently. During this time, my venerable Cousin Anna (still remembered locally as ‘Miss. Godley’) was always in command, as now a non-paying tenant. My father was her guest in his own house.  Later in 1943, Hugh Godley, after he had retired, came to an agreement with his cousin under which she moved from the Big House to a smaller one nearby and he left England to live out his remaining years at Killegar House, where he died in 1950 and was buried at Killegar Churchyard.  Some 50 years earlier, Miss. Godley had taken a series of photographs, some of which are included in “The Story of Killegar” and are depict in the this page. She is said to have been a skilled amateur photographer with most of her surviving photographs taken in the 1890s.   In the picture below, to the left, his “Cousin Anna”, with her dogs.  On the right, who were the children playing by the stream?  

I have looked at this picture and wondered if this is Sarah & Emily Gilpin? Both would have been aged about 10 and 8 years, respectively, in 1892.  

Opposite:  Miss Anna Godley


So, who were the Gilpins of Drumergoole? They are said to have descended from one of three brothers from the north of England, who were soldiers in the army of King William and fought at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. One brother is said to have returned to England and another settled in County Armagh.  Another brother is said to have been killed.  He might well be the brother believed to have settled near Cork. He and his family are said to have been slaughtered in an uprising. From the County Armagh ancestor then, the Gilpins of Killegar Estate are believed to trace their origin.  

One of the earliest recorded Gilpins in County Leitrim, William Gilpin of the parish of Carrigallen, appears in the Spinning Wheel Premium Entitlement List of 1796. By 1834, the Gilpins in County Leitrim emerge as one of the principal families and tenants in the townland of Laheen, which belonged to John Godley, Esq., of Killegar.  The following names appear in the townland of Laheen.

Tithe Applotment Book of the Parish of Carrigallen 1834

William Gilpin jun, 12 acres 3 roods 31 perches.

James Gilpin sen, 8 acres 3 roods 6 perches.

James Gilpin jun, 12 acres 3 roods 27 perches.

Thos Gilpin, jun, 9 acres.

William & Hugh Gilpin, 16 acres.

Thomas Gilpin sen, 1 acres & 2 roods.

William Gilpin sen, 32 acres & 2 roods.

George Gilpin, 2 roods.

Griffith’s Valuation of the Parish of Carrigallen 1856

William Gilpin (miller), James Gilpin for houses, out-buildings, land leased of John Godley, 64 acres 1 rood 4 perches.

William Gilpin (Geary) and Martin Gilpin for house, out-buildings and land of William Gilpin (miller) part of the above lease.

Thomas Gilpin, Hugh Gilpin and Mary Dowdall for house, out-buildings, land leased of John Godley, 58 acres 3 roods 37 perches.

Thomas Gilpin for land held of William Gilpin jun, part of the lease.

William Gilpin and Margaret Gilpin for house, out-buildings, land leased of John Godley, 55 acres and 35 perches.

William Gilpin jun, James Gilpin and Arthur Goodwin for land leased of John Godley, 27 acres 3 roods 12 perches.

Thomas Gilpin (shoemaker) for a house and land leased of John Godley, 3 roods & 2 perches.

Elles Gilpin, tenant of John Godley, for house, out-buildings, land of approx 17 acres.

Killegar Church of Ireland

Church Registers of Christenings, Marriages, Burials

Christenings 1878 to 1950

Sarah Anne Gilpin daughter of William (labourer) & Jane Gilpin, Drumhaldry, born August 2, 1882, baptised on October 26, 1882.  

John Thomas Gilpin son of William (labourer) & Jane Gilpin, Drumergoole, born March 19, 1890, baptised on April 28, 1890.

Mary Elizabeth Gilpin daughter of William (labourer) & Jane Gilpin, Drumergoole, born February 1, 1893, baptised on May 22, 1893.

Olive Gilpin daughter of William (labourer) & Jane Gilpin, Drumergoole, born September 18, 1895, baptised on November 13, 1895.

Esther Gilpin daughter of William (gardener) & Esther Gilpin, Killegar, born October 28, 1918, baptised on December 8, 1918.

John Robert Gilpin son of William (gardener) & Esther Gilpin, Killegar, born November 17, 1921, baptised on January 16, 1922.

Walter Victor Gilpin son of William (gardener) & Esther Gilpin, Killegar, born August (?) 1926, baptised on August 22, 1926.



I have abstracted the burials of other Gilpins in the district

Mary Ann Gilpin, Lower End, Laheen, on December 5, 1890, aged 69 years.

Elizabeth Gilpin, Laheen, May 8, 1904, aged 76 years.

William (otherwise known as Willoughley) Gilpin, Laheen, on February 16, 1908, 75 years.

William Gilpin, Killegar, on January 22, 1922, aged 4 years, 9 months.

Mrs. A. Gilpin, Laheen, on February 6, 1929, aged 48 years.

William Gilpin, Laheen, on February 15, 1931, aged 83 years.

William Gilpin, Laheen, April 25, 1937, aged 27 years.

John Gilpin, Laheen, on February 8, 1942, aged 31 years.

John Gilpin, Tonaloy, on May 6, 1942, aged 73 years.

William Arthur Gilpin, Killegar, on June 20, 1960, aged 86 years.

 Thomas Gilpin of Laheen is known to have had at least eight children, whose names are listed in the last will and testament of Lucinda Gilpin, who died in New Zealand about 1924.  She was Thomas Gilpin’s youngest daughter, and brother of William Gilpin of Drumergoole. She and her sister, Harriot immigrated to New Zealand, where Lucinda married a man by the surname Baker.

A copy of Lucinda’s will was last in the possession of the late Florence (Flo) Honeyford.  Lucinda, who died leaving no children, left all her estate to her family living back in Ireland. In her will she names her siblings: Mrs. Harriot Foley, John Gilpin, James Gilpin, Mrs. Lettia Brown, William Gilpin (my great grandfather), Mrs. Mary Jane McMullan and Mrs. Sarah Naily. Lucinda Baker was the youngest sibling.  She then goes on to name her beneficiaries: to the family of Mrs. Mary Jane McMullan her sister, namely, Joseph McMullan, Fredrick McMullan, Mrs. Emily Duff and Mrs. Clementina McDonald, she left a certain unspecified sum of money. To her later brother William Gilpin’s family: Mrs. Sarah Gibson, Mrs. Emily Laing, William Gilpin, John Thomas Gilpin, Mrs. Olive Getgood and Mrs. Margaret Jane Milliken, also received an unspecified sum of money.  

Marriage Record at Killegar Church of Ireland

Solemnised on January 22, 1885.

Name:                                John Maguire                                 Letitia Gilpin

Occupation:                       Caretaker                                       Not given

Age:                                    Full age, bachelor                        Full age, spinster

Resides:                             Killegar                                          Killegar

Father:                              John James Maguire                     Thomas Gilpin

Father’s occupation:      Farmer                                             Shoemaker

Signed by:                        John Maguire & Letitia Gilpin

Witnessed by:                 John Jas Maguire and James Gilpin

Thomas Gilpin, shoemaker in Laheen was Margaret Jane Gilpin’s grandfather and he lived approximately at the point highlighted in the map opposite. His house is noted on the Griffith Tenement Map of 1856.

Of herself and her family, Esther writes, “I married a Co. Cavan man and we came over to England in 1946. We have two daughters Patricia and Eileen. Patricia is married and she has a boy and girl, Clark Duckett aged 20 years, he works for the Westminster Bank, and Jane Duckett aged 16 years, just left school. We all live in the same road, so I see them every day. Eileen my other daughter is at home with us, she was born Rheesus and semi-spastic. Reg my husband is retired now”. Esther died in 2004.

Death Certificate of Jane Gilpin of Kivvy

Name:                    Jane Gilpin

Death:                    March 15, 1937

Where:                   Kivvy, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim

Status:                   Widow of a Gardener

Age:                       78 years

Cause of Death:       Old Age, No medical attention

Informant:               John Gilpin, son, present at death ,Kivvy

Register’s District:   Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim

Sometime in 1887, William left Roscommon and moved his young family to Killegar Estate, where he found employment as a labourer and rented a small cottage in Drumergoole. The earliest recollections of Drumergoole come from aunt Lucy, who often refers to the time she and her older sister, our late aunt Ruth, were taken by their mother from Kivvy Cottage as young children to Killegar and on the way, she pointed out a trail, which lead off from a bridge within the plantation, to the cottage where she was born in 1899.

In 1941, grandmother took my father and uncle John to the ruins of this cottage, and both recollect being taken over a bridge, described by uncle John, as being made from a few planks that crossed a stream. The pathway leading to this bridge was accessed from a metal framed gate.  My father, uncle John and aunt Lucy all recall their mother walking them from Kivvy Cottage, along the Killeshandra road, only few miles or so, to this gate, which was used by tenants and locals alike, and was a short cut through the estate to Killegar House.  

Opposite: Map showing the townland of Drumergoole.


Born in Laheen about 1858, William was the son of Thomas Gilpin, shoemaker in Laheen in the parish of Carrigallen. William was an Orangeman and family tradition makes him a member of the Killashandra Orange Lodge. He was also a leader in the Boys Bridged CLB, Killeshandra Company No. 1414.

On 25th August, 1881, William married Jane Boyd of Killegar, and together they had a family of seven known children, Sarah (known as Annie), Emily, William, John Thomas, Mary Elizabeth, Olive and Margaret Jane Gilpin.

William and Jane Gilpin moved to the City of Armagh, where they lived at Linen Hall Street in 1882. Here, William joined the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Company and with his young family moved to Ballyshannon in County Donegal, where we find him employed a railway porter in 1884.  By 1887, he  was working as a railway porter at Roscommon Station, which was owned by the Midland Great Western Railway Company.

Using Griffith’s General Valuation of Co. Leitrim taken in 1856 and the subsequent revisions carried out from 1864 until the 1940s, the cottage can be positively located in Drumergoole.  Cousin David has extracted from the original surveyor’s books, now held in the National Archives of Ireland, key references to William Gilpin and other tenants who occupied the cottage until it fell into disuse. The first survey is available online and in 1856, the cottage is described as being a house with a small garden and rented by Rose Campbell from John Godley. The survey also included a map reference to the Ordnance Survey, which notes it was located at 3d in Drumergoole, which can be matched to the Ordnance Survey also online.   In 1886, Robert Nethercole was tenant and then, the following year, we find William Gilpin tenant from 1887 onwards. The name William Gilpin still appears in 1915, when the map reference changed to 3b, which points to 3b in the first survey disappearing from common use. William died in 1900, suggesting, it is more likely, William of 1915, refers to his son, who occupied the house with his mother and siblings in 1911.

In the Ordnance Survey map of 1909 (see above), the cottage appears as a single building, which has been circled in red. It lay near to Drumergoole Lough, which in winter flooded taking the water line up to the blue line and further. The revision book of 1940, notes the cottage was ‘in ruin’ a fact certainly borne out the following year in 1941, when uncle John recalls standing at the ruins, facing the pebble beach at Drumergoole Lough and its water line, which was within 20 to 30 feet of the cottage.  Today, the ruins have disappeared and the area obscured by a sprawling overgrowth of shrubby and bog land.   

Taken at Killegar Estate in the 1890s by Miss. Godley.  At the time this picture was taken, William Gilpin was one of the labourers on the estate.  It is possible he is the man standing next to the horse or on the cart.

Death Certificate of William Gilpin of Drumergoole

Name:                     William Gilpin

Death:                     January 2, 1900

Where:                    Drumergoole, Co. Leitrim

Status:                     Male, married, labourer

Age:                        2 years

Cause of Death:        Anthrax on back of neck, 12 days, no medical attendant

Informant:               John Maguire, brother-in-law, present at death Killegare

Register’s District:   Newtowngore, Co. Leitrim

According to the above certificate, William Gilpin died of ‘Anthrax on back of neck’, in other words of Anthrax poisoning, an old homeopathic remedy for treating all conditions of boils and boil-like eruptions.  The story goes; his eldest daughter Sarah, called Annie, applied a poultice to a boil on the back of his neck to try and cure it. This was a common remedy and widely used at that time. Whatever happened, it didn’t work, and as recorded, he died 12 days later. Although, his age is given as 42 years at the time of death, he was probably only 40, as his marriage states he was 21 years in 1881, making him about 40 years in 1900. My grandmother would barely have been a year old, when her father died. She apparently blamed her older sister of her father’s death, something that stuck with ‘Aunt Annie’ for the rest of her life.  


Born in County Cavan about 1856, Jane Boyd was the only child of Thomas Boyd, a labourer who came to live on the Killegar Estate. He is mentioned in Griffith’s Valuation of 1856.  

Jane’s own mother was also a Gilpin of Armagh. My grandmother, as child was taken to Armagh Cathedral burial ground where some of her father and mother’s family are buried.

Jane appears to have had a cousin called Margaret (Maggie) her bride’s maid in 1881. After her husband’s death in 1900, she was left to bring up Olive and my grandmother. They all attended the little school house located near the Church.

Picture: Sarah Gilpin (Annie) and her mother Jane Gilpin.

Marriage Record at Killegar Church of Ireland

Solemnised on August 25, 1881.

Name:                         William Gilpin                           Jane Boyd

Occupation:                 Labourer                                    Not given

Age:  2                       21 years, bachelor                        25 years, spinster

Resides:                      Laheen, Killegar                         Killegar

Father:                       Thomas Gilpin                            Thomas Boyd

Father’s occupation:     Shoemaker                                  Labourer

Signed by:                  William Gilpin & Jane Boyd

Witnessed by:             Alfred Gilpin & Maggie Boyd

The household of Jane Gilpin is missing from the 1901 Census of Ireland.  There is also no record of the Godley family of Killegar. Yet, we know the Gilpins continued to live in the townland of Drumergoole after the death of William Gilpin. Only three families appear in the townland of Drumergoole, the households of Robert Bowes, farmer; Robert Morrow, farmer labourer; and Patrick Tuite, gamekeeper.  However, the Gilpins do appear in the 1911 Census of Ireland, when their religion is given as Church of Ireland. In this Census, we also learn the cottage had no out buildings such as shed, stable or barns, but it did have fowl or chicken house.

1911 – Census of Ireland

House address: Drumergoole, Carrigallen.

Name Relation Condition Age Education Occupation Born

Gilpin, Jane, Head, widow, 50, R/W, Co. Cavan

Gilpin, William, Son, Single, 24, R/W, Agricultural Lab.  Co. Roscommon

Gilpin, Olive, Daughter, Single, 15, R/W, Scholar, Co. Leitrim

Gilpin, Maggie J.,  Daughter, Single, 12, R/W, Scholar, Co. Leitrim

Sometime after World War I, Jane Gilpin moved to Kivvy Cross, also known as the Arva/Killeshandra Cross, with her son, John Gilpin, and granddaughter, Esther Gilpin.  In 1926, after the death of his wife, Esther White, William Gilpin moved north to live near his sister, Annie Gibson, in County Down, and young Esther, then aged eight years, went to live with her grandmother at Kivvy Cottage. The cottage, now demolished, was located next to the old Presbyterian Church, which is still in occasional use.  Esther’s uncle John had by then, his own shop on the main street in Carrigallen, where he had a thriving business, as a saddle maker. His shop was demolished in the 1970s and is now a car park.

On April 27 1984, in reply to my letter, Esther, now Esther Tubman, wrote in her letter, “the Gilpins all came from Killegar. They lived and worked on Lord Kilbracken’s estate. My granny reared me up from when I was eight years old, as my mother died then two weeks after Victor was born. I used to hear her (granny) tell all the old stories that her husband my granddad died with a boil on the back of his neck turn septic, he died fairly young. She had to struggle to bring up the family. She said all the family were born in different counties, as my granddad worked on the Railway. My Dad was born in Co. Roscommon. My granny’s dad was brought home dead in a cart from Killeshandra, got drunk. She was an only child.  They were all buried (Killegar) there too”.  Esther with the help of her Uncle John, would nurse her grandmother until the end and was present when she died died 1937, at the age of 78 years.  Jane was buried near the wicket gate at Killegar Church next to a large tree.  There is no headstone to mark the plot in which her body was interred on March 17, 1937, between two trees near the gate entrance.