Ardogommon lay close to the boundary of Oughaval and Aghagower parishes, possibly along the boundary itself. The townland itself is only a short distance from Aghagower, a place of great antiquity and historic significance that was the closest village to where the Reeds lived. The village is built around an old ruined abbey that dates to the seventh century AD, with a tall, round tower that now seems significantly off its axis - a kind of rustic equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The village breathes antiquity. There is even a large, rough basin-shaped indentation known as St. Patrick’s Vat or Tub, where St. Patrick is said to have baptized Aghagower’s first Christians. The dominant feature of the landscape is the pyramidal mountain known as Croagh Patrick, where St. Patrick is said to have climbed to the summit in the fifth century before a lengthy fast, culminating in his banning all snakes and demons from Ireland.
This was the area in which the Reeds raised their large family. Daughter Matilda was born in the spring of 1828, followed by nine more children over the next 20 years. Records show that four of their flock of ten children were baptized in the Church of Ireland’s Oughaval parish. Given their proximity to Aghagower, this again could indicate that the Ardogommon townland straddled the boundary between the two parishes of Oughaval and Aghagower. For the baptism of daughter Sidney in September, 1839, there is a margin note in the register saying “baptized at Ardygommon,” which suggests the church minister traveled to the home for the service. No record has yet been found for the baptism of the other children.
Nothing is known of the life of the Reed family during this period, except for the inferences that can be made for most such rural families of that time. Then, in the mid-1840s, came the great scourge which redefined Irish history, accelerated the Irish diaspora and spawned political consequences still felt today. The potato blight that destroyed the staple crop was particularly devastating because the agrarian nature of Irish life offered few alternatives for survival for much of the population. For families living off the land and dependent on what they could grow, there was little or no industry to fall back on. Much of the population had come to rely entirely on the potato. The Great Famine reduced the population of Ireland by between one fifth and one quarter: a million people died, and another million emigrated.