The townland of Knockroe is about 2 Km south of Mayo Abbey and about 40 Km from Wilford. During the time of Arthur’s diaries the journey was easier when the Newport-Westport railway line was opened.
Home to six members of the Anderson extended family in 1887:
1) James Cowan b1856 in Co Mayo, exact place of birth not known, son of James Cowan (sometimes Cowans) and Jane (nee Anderson) who moved to Ireland with the Andersons in the 1850s.
James was a farmer, auctioneer and keen huntsman. Arthur’s diary 13 Jan 1914: “[Arthur’s son] John to hunt with S Mayo Hounds (his Uncle J Cowan Master pro tem)..”
James was one of six children. There are a few references in Arthur’s diaries to Mr Rutherford (though this should be Rotherford) and Mr Oliver, both James’ brother-in-laws.
In 1898 James married his cousin Mary Anderson about three weeks after their Aunt Margaret had died. All three had been living at Knockroe.
Both John Oram and Arthur Oram mention visiting Enfield, to the west of Dublin that would be a good place to hold livestock prior to shipment from Dublin. Arthur Oram’s entry for 4 Jan 1916 reads: “Left by first train for Dublin, met J Cowan at Claremorris, stopped at Enfield & walked out to his (J Cowan’s) grass fields and looked at cattle and sheep. Very good land apparently. Onto Dublin ….” In June 1881 John Oram mentions visiting Knockroe and Enfield during his journey to England via Dublin. The conjecture is that by 1881 James Cowan had an interest in fields at Enfield.
Arthur Oram accompanied James Cowan to a number of markets and shows. Looking at Arthur Oram’s notes on the prices James received for his stock, compared to the prices that Arthur got, and the trophies he won, James must have been a very successful farmer.
During the first three decades of the 20th century the Congested Districts Board, later the Irish Land Commission was trying to redistribute land. James Cowan was a ‘grazier’ who was still not cooperating in 1931 when questions were asked in the Irish Parliament about his holdings of over 800 acres.
After James came to an agreement the group living at Knockroe moved to “Mosney” south of Drogheda, Co Meath. See the page on Mosney.
2) Margaret Anderson b 1817 at Lounges Knowe in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland daughter of Matthew Anderson went to Co. Mayo in the 1850s with her father and brothers. Margaret died aged 78 yrs at Knockroe in 1897.
3) Margaret Anderson (nee Stokoe) was born in Northumberland, near to the farm where John Anderson was working for his uncle. Soon after their marriage they moved to Co Mayo. John had died at ‘Mayo Cottage’ in 1874.
John and Margaret Anderson were parents of six daughters; Catherine, the eldest married Arthur Oram. In his diaries Arthur Oram usually refers to his mother-in-law as Mrs A or Mrs Anderson. Three of her other daughters were also living at Knockroe in 1887 when Arthur Oram’s diaries start.
Margaret died at Knockroe in 1906.
4) Mary Anderson born 25 October 1858 or 1859 who married her cousin James Cowan in 1898.
5) Margaret “Maggie” Anderson born 13 February 1861
Maggie was a favourite aunt with a great sense of humour not only helping her family but their friends and neighbours too.
6) Ann “Annie” Anderson born 25 November 1862
The Oram family visits to Knockroe
Most of the Oram & Anderson oral history has come via James Oram b1890 and his elder brother Arthur b1885. They left us with the impression that Knockroe was a happy & important place during their young lives. James Cowan was able to show them more understanding than their father Arthur. John b1884 definitely preferred being at Knockroe rather than Wilford and later he lived with James & Mary at Mosney, Co Meath, inheriting the house on Mary Cowan nee Anderson’s death.
The Hunter connection
Maggie was great friends with Jo Weddell nee Hunter, living with her in Edinburgh. It is not known when Maggie started living in Edinburgh but from 1903 diarist Arthur Oram’s daughter Margaret “Gretta” lived with Jo and Maggie while she attended college in Edinburgh . Jo Weddell was the daughter of Tom Hunter, land agent of Newfield, near Wilford, and a friend of John Oram. Mr Hunter had been assassinated on 28 August 1869. Arthur’s diaries mentions many visits of Jo (Mrs Weddell) & her mother, Mrs Hunter. Mrs Helen Hunter died in Edinburgh on 17 November 1903. There are many photographs of Jo Weddell, Maggie Anderson and her sisters together later in their lives.
Marriage of cousins James Cowan and Mary Anderson
As mentioned above, in 1898 cousins James Cowan and Mary Anderson married about three weeks after their Aunt Margaret had died. It is now not known if the 40 year olds married because they loved each other or whether it was to consolidate property following their Aunt Margaret’s death. There was no offspring of the marriage.
Slide show of images of members of the Anderson family and James Cowan who lived at Knockroe: