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Hughes House

Ulster: Map location 12

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Hughes House

This is John Joseph Hughes’ boyhood home, moved from Dernaved townland in County Monaghan. Look at the jamb wall as you enter – this would have protected the hearth from draughts and offered the family some privacy. John left this house for America in 1817, where he eventually became Catholic Archbishop of New York and the builder of 5th Avenue’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.

John Joseph Hughes was born in 1797 on a small farm near the village of Augher in County Tyrone. A few years later the family moved to this house which was on a nearby farm in the townland of Dernaved, County Monaghan.

The Hughes family were small farmers, adding to their income by weaving linen cloth and growing flax which the women of the house spun into linen thread. They rented extra land at high prices during the Napoleonic Wars when linen was also at a high price. After the wars, linen prices fell but rents remained high. John Joseph's father and brother emigrated to America. In 1817, they sent back money for John Joseph to follow.

He had some education but had to take labouring jobs in America. Although he wanted to train as a Catholic priest, he was at first rejected. However, a nun saw talent within him and he eventually started his training in 1820. He was ordained in 1826 and rose to be a bishop by 1838.

John Joseph’s rise coincided with a great increase in Catholic Irish immigration to the USA, and he became known as someone who would fight for their rights.

Look at the jamb wall the single brick structure between the front door and the hearth of the kitchen. It is there to prevent draughts. The occupants have privacy and can see through the small opening in the wall. The house is typical of dwellings in South Ulster at that time.