A History of Drumaroad

Local historian Patrick J Clarke considers Drumaroad townland

Drumaroad’s location
The name Drumaroad comes from the Irish derivation 'Droim an Róid', which means ridge of the road. Drumaroad is a small townland, which can be traced as far back as the fifteenth century. Drumaroad, before the Middle Ages was under the barony of Kinelarty, which was controlled by the mighty McCartan Clan. Up until the 1600s, the McCartans were still prominent, and in control of much of mid-Down.  The McCartan strongholds included Drumaroad, and also adjoining townlands such as Loughinisland, Drumnaquoile, Magheratimpany, Ardilea, and the neighbouring town of Ballynahinch.
The Barony of Kinelarty, anciently known as Kinelfagarty, derives its name from 'Cenel Faghartaigh' (the race of Faghertaigh), from whose grandson Artan, are descended the MacArtans (McCartan) who supplied chiefs to the territories of Kinelarty and Dufferin.
Sir Henry Sydney, in 1575, states: -
"From thence I came to Kinnaliartie or MacCartains Countrie, which I found all desolate and waste, full of thieves, outlawes, and all unreclaymed People; none of the old owners dare occupie the land, because it pleased her Majestie to bestow the Countrie upon Capten Nicholas Malbye."
The Barony of Kinelarty was also called McCartan country, due to the fact that the McCartans dominated it. In 1605 Phelim Mac Artan (McCartan) and his son Donal Orge relinquished one third of their lands called Killinartie (Kinelarty) to Edward Lord Cromwell.

Ownership of the property
Following the death of Lord Edward Cromwell in 1607, Mathew Forde, who owned an estate near Coolgreaney in Co. Wexford, purchased all of Cromwell's land (formerly McCartan territory) for the sum of eight thousand pounds. The earliest maps mentioning Drumaroad date back to 1655. Maps such as Sir William Petty's, were drawn between 1654 and 1656 to create baronial and parish maps of Kinelarty, under which Drumaroad was a townland.
Marshal Bagenal's account of the territory in 1586 states: -
Kinalewrtie, otherwise called McCartan's countrey is likewise woodland and boggy; it liethe betweeene Kilwaren and Lecahull. In tymes past some interest therein was geven to Sir. N. Malbie, but never by him quietlie enjoyed: nowe the Capten thereof is Acholie McCartan and doth yeld onlie to the Queen. He is able to make about 50 footemen and no horsemen."
In 1659, a total of 9 people lived in the townland of Drumaroad, of which 6 were Irish, and three were English & Scots. This is by far the earliest record of people living in Drumaroad.
It is also interesting to note that the name of Richard Savage is recorded beside Drumaroad. Drumaroad is listed in the County Down section of the Census of Ireland as Dromrod (Drumaroad).

The introduction of Poor Law Unions
Under Downpatrick Union, the townland of Drumaroad was listed under Seaforde electoral division, surrounding townlands such as Claragh, Drumnaquoile, and Dunturk were also listed. On the 31st July 1838, "An act for the more effectual Relief of the Poor Law in Ireland" was enacted, and with its enactment, Ireland was divided into Poor Law Unions. By 1847, there were 130 unions, and subsequently some of these unions were subdivided into two or more unions, so that by the time Richard Griffith finished his extensive survey known as Griffith's Valuation, in 1864, there were 163 unions.
In each Poor Law Union there was established a workhouse, with a market town as its centre, and the union itself included an area of about ten miles radius from the workhouse. The boundary of each union had no relation to that of the barony, county or civil parish included in the union. The purpose of the union was to collect rates from the inhabitants to provide for the poor and destitute living in that union. Griffith used the Poor Law Union as the geographical value of his valuation to replace the loss of the Irish census.

Registration of births and deaths
By 1864, when the civil registration of births, and deaths in Ireland was made compulsory for the country, the Poor Law Union was used as a Superintendent Registrar's District (SRD), and within each such District, a Dispensary District or Registrar's District was created (RD). On a quarterly basis, each District Registrar sent the certified record of births, and deaths to his Superintendent, who in turn sent these records to the Registrar General in Dublin.
The Registrar General then indexed these records for the entire country, and these indexes are available to the general public to search in Dublin. When a birth, death or marriage is found, by payment of a fee, one may order a copy of that certificate.
In the Census of Ireland for 1861, Drumaroad was listed as a townland comprising of just over 803 acres. In 1841 the population of Drumaroad was 512, and the number of inhabited buildings was 93. By 1851, after the potato famine the population had decreased by 111 to 401, and the number of inhabited buildings was 76. In 1861 the population in Drumaroad consisted of 151 males, and 167 females, totalling 318. The number of buildings inhabited in 1861 was 73. The Poor Law Valuation of Drumaroad in 1851 was £584 and 2 shillings.

The Griffiths Valuation
The Griffiths Valuation of 1863 gives for that time the most detailed breakdown of Occupiers living in the townland of Drumaroad. William B Forde was the Lessor of the majority of lands in Drumaroad, with the exception of some land in Drumaroad, which was sublet by Hugh Shaw, James Savage, John Hanvey, Eliza Keenan, Edward Smith, Francis Milligan, and Henry Maguire.
Drumaroad Church, and Drumaroad National School, is also listed in the Griffiths Valuation with a total annual valuation of rateable property of £15, and ten shillings. Hugh Shaw, William M'Comb, Edward Smith, Henry Maguire, James Savage are amongst the people listed with areas of land over 30 acres. Hugh Shaw is listed on the Griffiths Valuation of 1863,  as renting houses, corn mills, flax mills, kiln and land.
In 1886, George Henry Bassett makes reference in his book to a number of local prominent Farmers, and Landowners in Drumaroad. John Hanvey, S. M'Comb, J. Savage, P. Savage, and D. Shaw are listed in his book.