A History of Kirk Maughold
J.W. and C. K. Radcliff
The Manx Museum and National Trust
Douglas, Isle of Man, 1979
p. 86 One of builders of Christ Church, Dhoon (consecrated 1855) was John Looney.
pp. 268-9 in the Farms and Families chapter
Looney Crowcreen (or Looney Yack)
In the form Lowny, this surname is found in Maughold Register from the beginning (1647), and there was a family of Looneys on the croft Bwaillee Losht, below Ballafayle Kerrush, in the seventeenth century. The fact that John Looney was “of Ramsey” in 1748 does not preclude the possibility of him being a Maughold man, although we must admit that we have not yet found his baptism in Maughold. His wife Margaret Kevin belonged to one of the Scottish families who came to Ramsey in the eighteenth century to engage in business, and even in her later years was a determined and masterful woman. On John’s death in 1770, she married William Creetch of Ballachrinck, whom she also survived. In 1791 she settled her goods on her youngest son Ewan and his wife Mary Taggart, who were to keep her “and live with their loving mother during her natural Life, and to content her with a Decent Living as becometh a loving mother in her old age”. This settlement was accepted as part of her will in 1798; and she had also inserted a clause that if Ewan and Mary disagreed with her, she could go anywhere else she pleased, taking her goods with her!
By her marriage to John Looney, she had nine sons and one daughter, and from six of these sons are descended all the Looneys of Maughold at the time of the 1841 Census, and subsequently. The Parish Register often refers to them as “Yack” (Jack) after their original ancestor. The eldest son William was described in his father’s will as a “poor pitiable object”, and it was the second son Daniel (1745-1826) who lived in Crowcreen after the parents’ deaths. The third son John (1748-1835) bought the intack Boshin and other land near what became the Hibernian., the inn first opened by his son John and his wife Rachel. The fourth son, Thomas, (c. 1750-1826), a shoemaker, bought part of Ballagilley. The sixth son Robert (Robin) (1751-1826) bought East Ballaterson (the White House) from an old established family of Callows, and after the White House was sold to Thomas Quayle and his son John, in 1832, Robin’s eldest son John and his family were farming from Croit ny kennipey (the present Sexton’s house). The eight son, Patrick (1764-1816), was a stonemason, a trade also followed by sons Patrick and Simeon. The youngest and favorite son Ewan (b. 1766), for a long time tenant of Ballaglass, was the father of Joseph later owner of Crowcreen and Magher e kew, of John who farmed the croft on the lowers Ballaskeig Beg; and of George who was farming 30 acres of Ballagilley in 1851.
Sad to say, there have been no Looneys farming Maughold since the War, although there are many descendants and relations of the family, bearing different surnames, resident in the parish.
Chapter 11 Inns and Hotels
The Brumish Veg., Hibernian, and Folieu Inns
…we do know that there were two innkeepers in Maughold in 1841, William Kissack of Ballagorry Beg, and Rachel Looney at the Hibernian. [Footnote: No doubt so-called after Rachel herself, who was nee’ Redhead and was of Irish extraction.]
The Hibernian was the first of several inns whose existence arose out of the improvement of the main road from Ramsey to Douglas and the consequence increase in traffic. Their principal purpose was to serve travelers rather than the local population, for indeed it would be difficult to say where the biggest concentration of people in Maughold lay. From time to time the number of travelers varied and so the fortunes of the inns was not constant. The available evidence suggests that innkeeping did not provide a particularly good living in Maughold in the nineteenth century….
[The 1851 Census]…indicates that there was no licensed house in the parish in 1851. Even the Hibernian, so popular in the 1830s, was in temporary abeyance.
The Hibernian was first mentioned in Pigot’s Directory of 1837. The licensee was the most famous of all the Maughold innkeepers, the redoubtable Rachel Looney. A description of her in 1834, when she was about 47, reads:
“She was an odd figure, dressed in a blue petticoat of some sort of cloth or flannel, surmounted by a man’s pilot jacket a good deal too long in the sleeves. To obviate the inconvenience this would have caused, the cuffs were turned back, displaying a large pair of muscular hands and wrists quite out of proportion to her size, as she was considerable below the middle height…When going into Ramsey she rode a large raw-boned carthorse on which what did for duty for a saddle was a sack thrown across the animal’s back from which straw might be seen sticking out. I then saw her come out exactly as before except that instead of a sunbonnet on her head she wore a man’s hat of rough beaver.”
(Quoted by Miss M. Douglas in the Manx Star, Jan 1974)
From this description, it is easy to believe that she had a man’s strength and a story which we have heard recently confirmed it. She employed some men to build an extension to the house, and when they ran short of stone, assured them that a supply would be ready on the following day. In order to obtain this, she is said to have spent the whole night carrying stones down off Barule in her brat (apron). But if she had the strength and resolution of a man, she was also an excellent caterer , as Miss Mona Douglas has written:
“But if costume was of the country style at the Hibernian, amenities were exceptionally good for that period. The inn had its own brewery and also a museum and an excellent library for residents.
Weddings were occasions of great gaiety in those days and often included a party of anything from 50 to 100 folks. The only honeymoon was usually the wedding day itself, on which the whole party went for a long drive after the wedding ceremony and then had dinner at an inn.
At the Hibernian, Rachel, as she was called generally, would be in her element providing for a weeding party arriving from Ramsey or Kirk Maughold or even from Laxey or Douglas.
She would sever a substantial meal, which often included such delicacies as fresh salmon, pigeon pies, lobster salad, roast duckings, lamb and beef, succulent vegetables grown by herself, puddings, light pastries, jellies and fresh fruit (all of these are from an actual menu).”
By 1841, on account of financial difficulties on the island, Rachel’s husband John Looney had emigrated to Australia, where she followed him in 1843….In the 1880s the house ceased to be licensed, but it is still a well-known private residence and landmark on the road, and has given its name to the crossroads when it stands and the little group of houses surrounding.
Transcribed by Teresa McVeigh
4 Mar 2018