Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Jamaica Inn

How remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC's first episode of Jamaica Inn last night.

Within five or ten minutes, I found it difficult to pick up parts of the speech.

This necessitated turning on subtitles.

I wondered whether it was just me, or if I ought to consider a hearing test.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the BBC adaptation of Jamaica Inn suffered from “sound issues”, the corporation has admitted after hundreds of viewers complained they were unable to make out the mumbled dialogue.

The three-part Daphne du Maurier drama starring Jessica Brown Findlay began on BBC One last night.

When the Lord Hall of Birkenhead, CBE, was appointed as director-general of the BBC, he singled out poor sound quality as one area he was determined to tackle:
“I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at. Actors' muttering can be testing – you find you have missed a line. You have to remember that you have an audience."
Jamaica Inn drew an audience of 6.1 million, but the BBC’s online messageboard was filled with complaints from disgruntled viewers.

The negative reception from viewers will be a huge disappointment to the BBC, which had marked Jamaica Inn as one of 2014's flagship period dramas. 

Killeen Castle


This noble family was of Danish origin, but its settlement in Ireland is so remote that nothing certain can be ascertained as to the precise period.

So early as the 11th century, we find

JOHN PLUNKETT, of Beaulieu, County Meath, the constant residence of the elder branch of his descendants.

The successor at Beaulieu, at the beginning of the 13th century,

JOHN PLUNKETT, living at the time of HENRY III, had two sons,
John, ancestor of the Lords Louth;
RICHARD, of whom hereafter.
RICHARD PLUNKETT, of Rathregan, County Meath, who, with his son and heir, RICHARD PLUNKETT, by royal writs of parliamentary summons, was summoned to, and sat in, the parliaments and council of 1374.

The younger Richard Plunkett was father of

This gentleman, as a recompense for the services he had rendered in the wars of Ireland, and as an indemnity for the expenses he had incurred, had a grant of a sum of money from HENRY VI, in 1426; before which time he was sheriff of Meath; and in 1432, was deputy to Sir Thomas Stanley, knight, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
About 1426, this gentleman was created Baron Killeen.

Dying in 1445, his lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,


The titles became extinct on the death of the 12th Earl.

KILLEEN CASTLE, near Dunsany, County Meath, is said originally to have been a Norman fortification, built for the de Lacy magnates, and held from 1172 by the Cusack family, beginning with Geoffrey de Cusack.

The castle was then held from 1399 by successors by marriage (to Lady Joan de Cusack), the Plunketts.

Killeen Castle was originally built by Geoffrey de Cusack around 1181. The date is carved above the doorway.

The castle fell into disrepair in the late 17th century, was leased out, and was not restored until around 1779, when parts of the demesne were landscaped and some of the estate features were added.

Significant reworking was carried out from 1803-13 under the supervision of Francis Johnston, and in 1841, much of the castle was demolished and rebuilt (using much existing material) by the 9th Earl of Fingall, in the style of a small Windsor Castle.

The two towers added have the dates 1181 and 1841 inscribed, and at the time of completion, it was claimed that Killeen had 365 windows.

The 12th and last Earl sold Killeen Castle and Estate, in 1951, to Sir Victor Sassoon. Lord Fingall remained as manager of the stud farm established near the castle.

In 1953, Lord and Lady Fingall moved to a contemporary house built in the grounds, and most of the house contents were sold.

Sassoon died in 1961 and his heirs sold the estate on in 1963, to the French art dealer and racehorse owner, Daniel Wildenstein.

Lord Fingall moved from the estate to Corballis on the Dunsany estate, then The Commons. He died in 1984 and is buried at Dunsany Church.

In 1978, the castle and estate were sold to the advertiser Basil Brindley, who continued the stud farm operation.

In 1981, the castle was burnt out in an arson attack, being left abandoned for many years.

The lands and buildings were sold again in 1989, to Christopher Slattery.

In 1997, Snowbury Ltd purchased the castle and its grounds, with a vision to create the estate that exists today.

Fingall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.    First published in April, 2012.

Herdman of Sion House

Herdman of Sion House
The first of the family to arrive in Ulster, in 1688, was Captain Herdman, of Herdmanston, Ayrshire, who fought with WILLIAM III at the battle of the Boyne and settled at Glenavy, County Antrim.
The immediate antecedents of the three Herdman brothers had owned Millfield Tannery, Belfast, which the eldest brother, James, inherited from his father.  His brother John went into  partnership with the Mulhollands in 1833, after turning round their business into profit in the Winetavern Street Flax-spinning mill in Belfast.
The Herdman brothers (James, John and George), in partnership with Andrew and Sinclair Mulholland and Robert Lyons, decided to purchase an unfinished flax-spinning mill in County Tyrone, from the 2nd Marquess of Abercorn. However, they couldn’t get the land they needed on a long enough lease. Their choice fell on Sion (or Seein, meaning a Fairy Mound), near Strabane,  adjacent to the River Mourne.
JAMES HERDMAN (1809-1901), of Bath, Somerset, and of Strabane, County Tyrone, a grand-nephew of Sir James Emerson-Tennent Bt, married, in 1840, Elizabeth, daughter of William Suffern, of Belfast, and left issue,

EMERSON TENNENT HERDMAN JP DL (1842-1918), of Sion House; High Sheriff, 1890; married, in 1864, Frances Alice, daughter of Dr Francis John West, of Omagh, and left issue,
JOHN CLAUDIUS, of whom we treat;
Adelia Maud;
Elizabeth Alice;
Frances Evelyn;
Olive Mary (the Red House, Strabane), born 1871; wedded, in 1895, her first cousin, Sir Emerson Crawford Herdman KBE.
The eldest son,

CAPTAIN JOHN CLAUDIUS HERDMAN OBE DL (1876-1964), of Sion House, High Sheriff 1912; late 4th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; wedded, in 1901, Maud Harriet, MBE, JP, daughter of Major-General Alexander Clark-Kennedy, of Camus, Strabane, and had issue,
EMERSON TENNENT REX, OBE, High Sheriff of Tyrone, 1943; Director, Herdman's Ltd;
Captain Herdman's second son,

COMMANDER CLAUDIUS ALEXANDER HERDMAN DL RN, of Sion Mills, wedded Maud Harriet, daughter of Major-General Alexander Clark-Kennedy, and had issue,

CELIA MARY HERDMAN, born in 1943, who married Brigadier John Gordon Goddard de Poulton Ferguson, in 1968; and had issue,


SION HOUSE, Sion Mills, County Tyrone, is an Elizabethan-Revival mansion built in 1840, rebuilt in 1883 in half-timbered style, by Emerson T Herdman.

His brother-in-law, William Unsworth, of Petersfield, Hampshire, was the architect.

Sion House was sold in 1966.

The gate-house, also Elizabethan-Revival in character, is virtually a replica of Stokesay Castle's gate-house in Shropshire.

Monday, 21 April 2014

At Home

Unfortunately it's been hard to keep up to date with the usual postings since Good Friday. We have been staying at my aunt's holiday home in Portballintrae, County Antrim.

The only internet access we've been able to use has been that at the Bayview Hotel in the village.

We had a lovely time, dining at Tartine-Distiller's Arms, the Bayview Hotel and 55 Degrees North restaurant in Portrush.

Friends invited us for coffee and pavlova this morning at their holiday home in the village.

The Queen's Birthday

The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty


THE QUEEN is 88 today.

Her Majesty was born at 17 Bruton Street, London, on the 21st April, 1926, and ascended the throne, upon the demise of her father, GEORGE VI, 6th February, 1952.

The Queen usually spends her birthday privately, at Windsor Castle.

The occasion is marked publicly by a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, London, and 21 gun salutes in the other nations of the United Kingdom.

Three cheers for Her Majesty The Queen today.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

55 North Restaurant

We're awaiting our meal at a restaurant called 55 Degrees North, at Causeway Street, Portrush, County Antrim.

This modern restaurant overlooks the old Arcadia Ballroom and the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather has been lovely here since Good Friday. 

Last night we dined at the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae.

Some friends called with us unexpectedly at home his afternoon.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


We dined last night at the Distiller's Arms, also known as Tartine, in Bushmills, County Antrim.

I drove through the courtyard into the private car-park, though it was full; so I had to reverse the two- seater back to the street (parking sensors bleeped merrily).

The restaurant was busy and we were shown to our table. 

We had a bottle of Chilean house red wine. 

My aunt had a duck confit and I had the rump of venison with shredded red cabbage and potatoes.

We shared fruit cranachan pudding.

I'm fond of this restaurant. The staff are excellent and friendly. 

The menu is at the top.