Saturday 4 November 2017

‘Black Raven’ and the Mahon lineage

Our ‘proven’ Mahon lineage goes back as far as Patrick Mahon, who died in Malahide, Co. Dublin, on 6 December 1865, at the stated age of eighty-one years.[1] Our family home today is situated on the same site leased by Patrick in 1848.[2]

'Ownership' of the site has been traced from 1848 to the present day. The holding was passed from Patrick Mahon to his son, James, and from James Mahon to his son-in-law, Dad’s grandfather, Michael Byrne, and eventually to us. Also, James Mahon’s parents were explicitly named as Patrick and Jane Mahon, when James married Margaret McDonnell, on 27 May 1866.[3] There’s little doubt Patrick Mahon was my third great-grandfather.

I’ve often wondered if the house, officially named ‘Black Raven’ in the early twentieth century, was the exact same one where my family lived during the Great Famine.

Further information about Patrick's property is now available in the records of the Valuation Office, recently published online. The House Books contain a description of Patrick's home in 1846, at the outbreak of the Famine, and it was there I may have found the answer to this question.[4]

House Book, Patrick Mahon, Yellow Walls, Malahide, 1846

The ‘quality letter’ applied to Patrick’s dwelling  ‘3C+’ – describes the appearance and condition of the house in 1846 and confirms it was not the same house standing on the site today.

‘C+’ was the code used for buildings that were ‘old, but in repair’, at the time the survey was conducted. The designation ‘3’ signified Patrick lived in a ‘thatched house with stone walls with mud or puddle mortar; dry stone walls pointed or mud walls of the best kind’.  

Even before modern-day remodeling, our house had ‘stone walls with lime mortar, and a slated roof’. If the roof had been thatched back then, and only slated later, our home would still have achieved a ‘2’ designation. So, it's likely, Patrick’s house in 1846 was knocked down at some point and replaced with a new one. 

I still don’t know if Patrick Mahon built ‘Black Raven’, of if it was built by his son James. Probably, it’s more likely, James built the new house, soon after Patrick’s death, and around the time of his own marriage.

'Black Raven', as it appeared in the late 1960s, can be glimpsed in the little picture at the top of the page.

[1] Copy death register for Patrick Mahon, Balrothery, 1865, vol. 17, p. 289, General Register Office. 
[2] Patrick Mahon, Malahide, Griffith's Valuation, Ask about Ireland.
[3] Jacobus McMahon and Margarita McDonnell, in the marriage register of St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, 27 May 1866, Microfilm 09160/01, National Library.
[4] Patk Mahon, Valuation Office books 1824-1856, House Book, Yellow Walls, Malahide, 25 Jul 1846, National Archives.  

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. When we were in Prague recently, our tour guide pointed out the painted medallions on the houses. White Swan, Two Brothers, Pink Ostrich and the like were used instead of house numbers. Was that true for Black Raven as well?

  2. Yes Wendy, the houses in rural areas had names, not numbers. Still applies today. I believe the Post Office introduced it in the 1920s. My great grandfather named his house 'Black Raven', after his prize-winning greyhound. His daughter named her house Rose Cottage. Another house on the road was named Honeysuckle. We named our house The Bridges. What happens in rural USA?

    1. Oh I didn't know Rose Cottage was originally in your family!

    2. Claire, my great-grandfather was brought to 'Rose Cottage' in the 1860s by his aunt. He grew up there. The house stayed in the family until it was sold only last year.

  3. How interesting, I love those House Books. I found the description of the McGarr abode you so kindly visited for me. It's wonderful your house was in the same spot, if not the original.

  4. The Valuation Office records are great, Ellie. I'm only starting to study them for my Malahide family. Who knows what 'secrets' they hold! In Ireland, many people still live in the same spot their ancestors lived 250 years ago, or likely for much longer. It is wonderful, but it's taken for granted.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!