Martha Ann Killough

These are recollections of Zora Cunningham after her first visit with Martha Ann's close family in No. Ireland in 1992.

Martha Ann Killough of Rasharkin, County Antrim, N. Ireland, was the last of her generation to die but is still alive in the minds and hearts of her family.  After her death in 1959, the home and forty seven acre farm that had been in the Killough family since 1792 was sold to a neighboring farmer, one of the Dysart family, who still farms it .  To get to it, one has to know where to leave a country road and wind up the hill through the fields, making five turns at hedgerow corners before reaching it.  What had been Carra-Big House, home of five generations of Killoughs, is still standing but nature has taken over now.  Bushes, vines and trees are growing up inside and over it.  Stinging nettles surround the lower window frames.  The upper floor is falling in.  Only the thick stone walls are strong enough to hold up indefinitely.  What used to be a neat hedge in front of the house is a row of closely knit trees.  One tree still shows the initials that were cut in it through the years by members of the family.  Joining the house on one side are remnants of the little building that held the buggy.  The barn joins the house on the other side.  That part has not been plastered over as the house has been at some time.  Itís not safe to go inside but one can see the fireplace with big swinging iron arms sticking out at the sides to hold the big kettles.  The steep little steps going up to a bedroom are mostly in place.  Sun light and rain filter down through the holes in the roof.

Have you ever heard that somewhere in Ireland there is or was a castle that belonged to the Killough family and that they had great wealth?  That is a myth that has been passed along through some Killough families here in the United States.  Some have tried to find it when they went to Ireland.  This false idea has come about because this home place has been in existence and known of for so long.  There is a deed  for the property described here that is dated Dec. 1, 1792 or 93, still in the familyís possession, made out to a James Killough.  He was called ďJamieĒ.  His descendants did not live in a castle or become wealthy but they had a big house at the top of a hill with farm land all around.

Out of Martha Annís seven siblings, her brothers John, James and Samuel, had immigrated to the United States in 1879, 1888 and 1894.  Her brother Johnís son, Walton Killough and his family of Baytown, Tex., visited her many times and stayed in close contact with the relatives there.  The nearest village, Rasharkin, is about 38 miles northwest of Belfast, in the northeast corner of N. Ireland.  The nearest large town is Balleymena.  Years ago, the area the Killough place was in was called Gortahar.   Waltonís daughter, Lois Linn Killough Buss (recently deceased), gave a slide show and talk on this family at the Texas Killough Reunion in 1993.  She was so impressed by our commitment to preserving family records that she gave originals or copies of all her old letters, diaries and important records of her family in Ireland to the historian for use by our reunion group.


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