Foxford, County Mayo

While reading Irishcentral’s “Top 10 interesting facts about County Mayo,” I stopped in my tracks at #10:

The founder of the Argentine Navy was born in Mayo. William Brown was born in Foxford on June 22, 1777. His family emigrated to Philadelphia about 1786, when William was nine years old. His father died shortly after the family arrived, launching William into an early career at sea…

untitled (3)My husband Bill’s great-grandmother, Rose Mary “Rosie” Rowan (Americanized from “Ruane” or “Roane”) was born near Foxford, County Mayo. Her parents were Michael Rowan and Ann Gallagher, also likely born in the Foxford area. Had the Rowans and the Browns known each other? Possibly tipped their hats as they met on the street?

Years of family history research and much effort to put meat on the bones of their story have fired my imagination.

I pulled up my Rowan/Ruane/Roane timeline. The family emigrated to America in 1846 when Rosie was about four years old.

Rosie’s father, Michael, my husband’s 2X great-grandfather, was born about 1790. So the Brown family had left Foxford even before the birth of Michael Rowan/Ruane/Roane.

A Wikipedia story says William Brown visited his native Foxford with his daughter in 1847. The year after the Rowans departed.

I try to picture the little village of Foxford in the late 18th century. I wonder how many people lived there then? Bill and I drove to Foxford in 2010, when the population was about 1300. We visited the Foxford Woolen Mill, famous for producing woolen blankets. There’s apparently a statue of William Brown in Foxford as well as a museum. (Bill and I didn’t know to look for them.)

Admiral Brown is a national hero in Argentina where more than 1200 streets are named after him. In 1957, 100 years after Brown’s death, the Irish government issued a commemorative stamp in his honor.

Unfortunately any connection between the Rowans and the Browns seems to exist only in my morning reverie.

The Irishcentral article about County Mayo and accompanying photographs can be found at:




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