Local History by Seán Beattie


William Campbell’s Account Book, Carndoagh, 1916

As war raged in Europe and rebels took up arms at Easter 1916, farm life for William Campbell continued in a fairly prosperous manner. The newly established Department of Agriculture organised night classes to help farmers keep accounts and William Campbell was keen to attend the classes which were held in the newly built Colgan Hall in Carndonagh. William had a long attachment to the land and his sixty acres showed evidence of good husbandry. The family were mentioned in Maghtochair’s history of Inishowen (1867) and he was proud of the connection with the rescue of Bishop McColgan when the Redcoats were on his tail. The total income of the farm for 1916 was £839.13.9 while expenditure amounted to £497 leaving a net profit of £342. This was a good return as we know that 25 years earlier, a typical farm household earned a mere £40 per annum. On an economic front, farmers in Inishowen made a very good living during the war years and William Campbell was no exception. 

An examination of his January 1916 accounts shows expenditure of £25.19.7. Wages accounted for £1 during the month. A total of £12 was paid in wages over  the year. The six-month seasonal rate at the hiring fair was £6 but that included accommodation and board. No labour was employed in April, May or during August, September of October so workers were employed on a casual basis only. The heaviest expenditure was for animal feeds amounting to over £5. Cottoncake cost fifteen shillings per cwt. Most bread was home made and the family spent only three shillings in the month on shop bread, as it was called. There was no ESB bill but a total of 8 shillings and four pence was spend on parrafin oil for lamps for the month. 

Thanks to Paddy McClure for the original account book which was recovered in an old outhouse on the farm.


  1. I enjoyed reading William Campbell’s Account Book 1916. I am his granddaughter, was born and brought up on that farm. I would very much like to get in touch with Paddy Mc Clure to hear if he found any more treasures!
    Patricia Faulkner (nee Campbell)

    • Comment by post author

      Paddy would be delighted to speak to you. My account is only a short sample of what the book contains and it would be worthwhile seeing the original as it offers delightful clues about the lifestyle of the Campbells when the world was at war and Ireland was in rebellion. Sean

    • Comment by post author

      Paddy will let you see the book I believe as he is a passionate historian and very helpful with requests.
      His address is Gortnacool, Carndonagh, Co Donegal
      He may have further information but the book itself is a gem for any family member.

  2. Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Taking tthe time and actual effort to create a great article…
    buut what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get anything

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