There is little documentation as to the effect the famine had on Castlelyons. How many people died or how many people emigrated in this area is not known. Did whole families die in their one roomed cabins or did they have the strength to reach Queenstown (Cobh) to risk a journey to Britain or America, was Castlelyons ‘lucky’ because although many depended on the land we also had some industry to support us?.
The following is the census of 1851 shortly after the Famine:
These figures bear an interesting comparison with the census of 1841. This census seems to indicate that during the famine the poorest of the population was almost obliterated while those in Second or Third Class houses were able to improve their circumstances a little.
In rural Castlelyons which included Bridesbridge in the 1851 census the number of Fourth Class houses decreased from 279 to 32 while the number of Third Class actually increased.
The statistics for Bridesbridge showed there were 220 people and that there were 47 inhabited houses of which 1 was First Class, 9 Second Class and 37 Third Class.
In the town of Castlelyons in 1851 the population was down from 775 to 479 and the number of inhabited houses was 90 of which there were 11 first class houses, 51 second class houses and 28 third class houses.
There were no fourth class houses.
Most of the houses now had a yard and small garden and 20 included offices.
There were 60 houses on the Main Street including:
• 3 Smithies
• 1 Tool House – for the customs and fairs
• A School House – which belonged to the Church of Ireland Society
• A Police Barracks
• A Post office
There were 18 houses in Church Lane and 16 in Rathcormac Lane.
The famine effected everyone but it was harsher on the poorer people. To understand the class differences at that time we must take a look at the housing system.
The census of 1841 divided houses into 4 categories:
• A First Class House – this was superior to the other 3 categories.
• A Second Class House – a good farmhouse or street house with 5 to 9 rooms and windows.
• A Third Class House – a mud walled cottage of between 2 and 4 rooms with windows.
• A Fourth Class House – a mud cabin of one room.
In rural Castlelyons, which included Bridesbrige with a population of 3,662 there were 564 inhabited houses:
• 9 First Class
• 208 Third Class
• 79 Second Class
• 279 Fourth Class or Mud – walled cabins
In the town of Castlelyons the population was 775 and the number of houses was 149.
Of these there were:
• 8 First Class
• 76 Third Class
• 53 Second Class
• 12 Fourth Class