Chapter Eight: Philip Cox and Ellen Gilligan

Philip Cox  (1846-1919) and Ellen Gilligan (1848-1922)

 (Our maternal grandparents)

The name Cox is an English one, adapted by the English settlers as the anglicised form of the Irish name Mac an Choiligh or MacQuilly (in the same way that the English name Leonard was adapted as the anglicised form of the Irish Mac Giolla Fhinnéin). Peader Livingstone says that Cox was derived from a mistaken translation of MacCoiligh which means ‘cocks’ and so Cox.  Another form of the name is MacGilly or Magilly as an English language variation of MacQuilly.  Mac an Choiligh is a Roscommon family but grandfather’’s Fermanagh family is said to have been centred between Letterbreen and Boho. The townland of Culliagh, north of Letterbreen, is said to be so named from the number of MacChoiligh (or Cox) families who once inhabited that area. Gilligan is a Derry name — the family, according to MacLysaght, gave their name to Magilligan Strand in north Derry.

Our Cox Grandparents

As yet, we have no knowledge of Cox generations earlier than our grandfather and grandmother, and most of what we know of them comes from the 1901 census, their marriage certificate and their tombstone in Arney RC churchyard. Grandfather’s name was Philip, born in 1846 according to the census (according to the tombstone 1844) and died on 8th March 1919, the year our mother, Teresa, was married. He was a farmer at Derrychurra, just south of Arney village, on the Mullinavehy road. His grandson, Jackie Cox, still lives there. Philip’’s wife, our grandmother, was Ellen Gilligan from Corraglass, Letterbreen, two miles west of Arney village on the edge of the Sillees Wood about a half mile south-west of the ‘Five Points’ on the Enniskillen-Swanlinbar road. Ellen was born in 1848 according to the census (according to the tombstone, 1847) and died on 18 June 1922. They were married in Mullymesker (Arney) Chapel on 28 February 1870. Her father was James Gilligan and his, Patrick Cox.

The marriage register gives her place of residence as Derrycormick, a townland adjoining Corraglass, and his as Gortahurk where they started their married lives. From the Griffith Survey map the site of their house is difficult to make out but it appears to have been near the roadside on the north-west angle of the cross-roads known locally as ‘Archdale’s Cross’ (where the Five Points-Boho road intersects the Enniskillen-Sligo road), less than half a mile from Ellen’’s home. On their marriage certificate Philip’’s occupation is given as ‘farmer’ (although there was no farm attached to their dwelling) and  Ellen’s as ‘farmer’’s daughter.’   Later they had a holding in Drumrainey townland which was owned in turn by Pat Melanaphy, married to Annie, their second daughter. From Drumrainey they moved to Derrychurra where they lived out their lives together

The Coxes were musical people and apparently very sociable. Tessie’s brothers, notably Tommy and John, played the fiddle. They all loved the song and dance and the men had a fondness for ‘the cup that cheers’. They had neighbours in Arney similarly musical, the Clearys, Maguires, McHughs and others. It was therefore a lively, happy community. Tessie, our mother, loved a party, and would sing “The Rose of Tralee” or “Slievenamon”. Her brothers, appropriately, would raise the rafters with “Come Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl.”

Kinglass, the townland of my mother’s married home, was a dismal contrast. This was a staid Protestant community to whom laughter was suspect, the fiddle and the dance the way to hell, and the cup that cheers the devil’s butter-milk. They neither whistled nor sang though occasionally we would hear our next-door neighbour, Mrs Rooney softly singing ‘O What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as she went about her work around the farmyard. While in mother’’s eyes they were decent people and kindly neighbours, they were extremely dull company compared to the lively friends of her youth. Kinglass, to her, was a social desert. She pined for Arney and its merry dances. In later years life became brighter for her as we grew up and brought our friends home to liven up her household once more with song and story.

The Cox farm in Derrychurra adjoins an extensive peat bog in Derryhowlaght West. Our family hearsay had it that the large Cox family made and sold turf in Enniskillen to supplement the farm income which rendered them well-off by local standards. There were nine Cox children of whom my mother, the youngest, was born in 1896 when her mother was 48.

The Cox family in order of birth were:

Mary Jane: married Johnny Corrigan, a farmer, from Sessiagh (the next townland). She died young, leaving seven children – Maggie (Donnelly), Minnie (Corrigan), Cissie (Hegarty), Agnes (O’Rourke), Patrick, Hugh, and Ellie (D’Arcy). Agnes emigrated to Philadephia to live with her uncle Tommy Cox. She settled in New York with her husband Frank O’Rourke, who, came from Kiltyclogher in Co Leitrim. She too died young leaving small children. Ellie D’Arcy was the mother of Father Brian D’Arcy, a gifted priest and media personality, currently Prior of the Passionist community at Crosgar in Co Down.

Annie: married Pat Melanaphy, a farmer from Drummuck in Killesher parish, three miles to the south on the Swanlinbar road. They had a large mountain farm on the lower slopes of Benaughlin. There were four children – Minnie (Lunney), John, Malachy, and Patrick (Packy).

Tommy: born 19 December 1875 in Gortahurk, retired from the RIC with the rank of Head Constable at the disbandment in 1922, and emigrated to Philedephia. Married Josie O’Donnell (?) from Moville, Donegal. They had no children.

Patrick: born 6 April 1878 in Gortahurk, like Thomas retired from the RIC at the disbandment in 1922 to take over the home farm in Arney now owned by his son Jackie.  Patrick married Mary Josephine (Molly) Magauran, Belfast, who also died young, leaving four children – Ellie (Dolan), Jackie, Patrick and Tommy. Patrick emigrated to the USA and Tommy to England.

Ellie: married James McManus, (Pat’s James) farmer of Derryhowlaght, Mackin, in Killesher parish. Ellie died young, leaving five children – Cissie (Murphy), Patrick, James (Jimmy), Margaret and Elizabeth (Lizzie). Patrick was a priest who died in Africa, drowned while bathing. Margaret and Elizabeth emigrated to Canada. Jimmy lives on the home farm.

James: farmed on land adjoining the home farm and married Ellen Cleary – ‘the girl next door’. They had one son, John, whose widow lives there now.

Margaret: married Richard Corrigan, teacher and farmer from Rossdoney in Cleenish parish. They lived at Drumbrochas, Mackin, in the next parish of Killesher. Richard was from a well-known Fermanagh family, the Corrigans of Rossdoney. He died in his early 60’s. They had eight children – May (McBride), Margaret (O’Houlihan), Annie, Nora (Masterson), Tessie (Norris), Sheila (O’Callaghan), Richard (died in infancy) and Patrick. Richard Corrigan’’s sister was the mother of Martin Quigley whose daughter Triona (Quigley) is married to Phelim James (Jim) Leonard, grandson of James and Teresa the parents of the Kinglass Leonards.

John: a teacher, married Alice McGowan, also a teacher. They lived in Belcoo and had no family.

Teresa: married James Leonard – parents of the Kinglass Leonards

At the Griffith survey date about 1856, there was a Patrick Cox tenant of a small farm in the townland of Moykeel, Letterbreen, along the southern border of the townland . He was not there at the resale of the lands to the tenants about 1905. The farm had apparently been incorporated into the farm of the Millar family who now own all, or almost all, of the townland of Moykeel. Our cousin, Maggie (Corrigan) O’’Houlihan told Sean Leonard that she heard that great-grandfather Patrick Cox was evicted and settled in a small house in Gortahurk  The time and dates would fit our great-grandfather but there is no solid evidence that this was he, or of his eviction. Under the ‘Ulster Custom’ a tenant in Fermanagh could not normally be evicted except for non-payment of rent. Further research is required.

The dates of Ellen Giligan’s birth and death may not be accurate. See variations on Cox family tombstone.