Friday, 25 September 2020

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles, fascinates me.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, published in 1844-45, describes Lough Neagh in considerable detail thus:-

LOUGH NEAGH,  a great lake, an inland sea, is in the centre of the eastern half of the province of Ulster.

It is very nearly as large as Lake Geneva; and is second in size to no other lake in Europe, except Lake Ladoga in Russia, and Lake Vänern in Sweden.

It extends from north to south between County Antrim in the east, and counties Tyrone and Londonderry in the west; and its foot belongs to County Antrim, its head to County Armagh, and a tiny portion of its south-east corner to County Down.

Its length, from south to north, is fourteen miles; its length, in diagonal lines from south-east to north-west, and from south-west to north-east, is respectively fifteen and sixteen.

Its breadth, from east to west, but exclusive of a contracted portion at its northern extremity, is from six to eight and a half.

Its surface area is 151 square miles, or 96,640 acres.

The surface elevation of the lake above low-water sea-level [in 1845] is 48 feet.

The principal bays are Antrim Bay, Sandy Bay and Barton's Bay, and Washing Bay.

The islands are few, very small, and all situated near the shores; chiefly Ram's Island, crowned by a pillar tower, in Sandy Bay; Bird's Island, at the south-east corner; Coney Island in the south-west, near the influx of the river Blackwater; Skady Island, and The Three Islands, in the north.

The principal streams which flow into Lough Neagh are the river Maine, and the river Sixmilewater, into Antrim Bay; the Crumlin and the Glenavy rivulets, into Sandy Bay; the Upper Bann river into nearly the middle of the south; the river Blackwater into the south-west; the Ballinderry rivulet into the west; and the Moyola rivulet into the north-west.

The depth of Lough Neagh in nearly all its central and its southern parts varies from two to twenty-six feet.

SEVERAL good landing places and ports occur in each great sweep of shore, and are more or less used by numerous craft which navigate the lake.

The Lagan navigation or canal goes off from the south-east corner to carry vessels down to the sea at Belfast.

The river Upper Bann takes craft to the Newry Canal, along which they are conveyed past Newry to the sea at Carlingford Lough; and the river Blackwater communicates with both the short navigation by the Ulster Canal to Upper Lough Erne.

The waters of Lough Neagh usually attain a surface elevation in winter about seven feet higher than that of summer; and they, in consequence, effect widespread inundations every season, covering upwards of 50,000 acres of good land, and a vast aggregate of boglands and morasses.

About probably every fifteen years they achieve so great and expansive a flood as threatens to render a large portion of the peopled shores totally uninhabitable.

Very much of the land on the immediate shores is so low and constantly morassy, as to be unimprovable except by considerably draining the lake; and even if a considerable draining could be effected, the reclamation of land would perhaps be dearly purchased by the damaging or destruction of the navigation.

The shores all round, though occasionally a little bold, and somewhat curved and indented, never rise to nay considerable elevation, and are, for the most part, so flat and tame, as rarely to depart from almost a dead level.

FISH of various kinds, particularly perch, trout, bream, and the dollaghan [brown trout], are abundant.

Medicinal properties were at one time ascribed to the waters of the lake; but, if not quite imaginary, seem to have belonged to influx of some mineral springs from the neighbouring land, and of course to have been confined to special localities.

A petrifying power was long universally believed, and is still occasionally contended, to exist in the lake; but this power, so far as it is a reality, resides not in the water of the lake, but in the soil of some portions of the shores.

1st Earl of Enniskillen

By a deed of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, it appears that the COLES were of the rank of barons, and were residents in Hampshire during that monarch's reign.

The first of the family who settled in Ulster, however, was

SIR WILLIAM COLE, Knight, who fixed his abode, early in the reign of JAMES I, in County Fermanagh.

This gentleman became an undertaker in the plantation of Ulster, and had an assignment, in 1611, of 1,000 acres of escheated lands, in the county wherein he resided; to which, in 1612, were added 320 acres in the same county; eighty whereof were assigned for the town of Enniskillen; and that town was then incorporated by charter, consisting of a provost and twelve burgesses, Sir William being the first provost.

Sir William, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, raised a regiment, which he commanded against the rebels, in 1643, with important success.

He wedded twice: Firstly, to Susannah, daughter and heiress of John Croft, of Lancaster, by whom he had two daughters; and secondly, to Catherine, daughter of Sir Laurence Parsons, of Birr, County Offaly, second baron of the Irish Exchequer, by whom he left, at his decease, in 1653,
MICHAEL, his successor;
John, of Newland; MP for Fermanagh; cr a baronet, 1660;
Mary; Margaret.
The elder son,

SIR MICHAEL COLE, Knight (1644-c1710), High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1670 and 1686, MP for Enniskillen, 1692-1710, wedded Alice, daughter of Chidley Coote; and secondly, in 1672, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Cole Bt, and had issue,

JOHN COLE (1680-1726), of Florence Court, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1724, MP for Enniskillen, 1703-26, who wedded Florence, daughter of Sir Bourchier Wrey Bt, of Trebitch, Cornwall, and had issue,
Henry (Rev);
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Letitia; Florence.
The younger son,

JOHN COLE (1709-67), of Florence Court, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1733, MP for Enniskillen, 1730-60, was elevated to the peerage, in 1760, in the dignity of Baron Mountflorence, of Florence Court, County Fermanagh.

1st Baron Mountflorence (Image: The National Trust)

His lordship espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh Willoughby Montgomery, of Carrow, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Arthur, m Letitia Hamilton;
Flora Caroline; Catherine.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM WILLOUGHBY, 2nd Baron (1748-1803), who was created, in 1776, Viscount Enniskillen; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1789, as EARL OF ENNISKILLEN.

1st Earl of Enniskillen (Image: The National Trust)

His lordship married, in 1763, Anne, daughter of Galbraith Lowry-Corry, of Ahenis, County Tyrone, and sister of Armar, 1st Earl of Belmore, and had issue,
JOHN WILLOUGHBY, his successor;
Galbraith Lowry (Sir), GCB, General in the army;
William Montgomery (Very Rev), Dean of Waterford;
Arthur Henry, MP for Enniskillen;
Henrietta Frances; Sarah; Elizabeth Anne; Florence.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN WILLOUGHBY, 2nd Earl (1768-1840), KP, who married, in 1805, the Lady Charlotte Paget, daughter of Henry, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, and had issue,
WILLIAM WILLOUGHBY, his successor;
Henry Arthur;
John Lowry;
Lowry Balfour;
Jane Anne Louisa Florence.
2nd Earl of Enniskillen KP (Image: The National Trust)

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM WILLOUGHBY, 3rd Earl (1807-86), Honorary Colonel, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Fellow of the Geological Society, who wedded firstly, in 1844, Jane, daughter of James Casamaijor, and had issue,
John Willoughby Michael, Viscount Cole (1844-50);
LOWRY EGERTON, of whom hereafter;
Arthur Edward Casamaijor;
Florence Mary; Alice Elizabeth; Charlotte June; Jane Evelyn.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

LOWRY EGERTON, 4th Earl (1845-1924), KP JP DL, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1870, Honorary Colonel, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who espoused, in 1869, Charlotte Narion, daughter of Douglas Baird, and had issue,
William Willoughby, died in infancy;
JOHN HENRY MICHAEL, his successor;
Galbraith Lowry Egerton, father of 6th Earl;
Reginald Berkeley;
Charlotte Jane Christian; Kathleen Mary; Marion; Florence Anne; Muriel Augusta Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

JOHN HENRY MICHAEL, 5th Earl (1876-1963), CMG, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Irish Horse, who married firstly, in 1907, Irene Frances, daughter of Alfred Miller Mundy, and had issue,
Michael Galbraith Lowry, Viscount Cole (1921-56);
Ann Florence Vernay; Frances Jane; Kathleen Irene.
His lordship died without surviving male issue, when the titles passed to his nephew,

DAVID LOWRY, 6th Earl (1918-89), MBE JP, Captain, Irish Guards, Captain, Ulster Defence Regiment, who wedded firstly, Sonia Mary, daughter of Major Thomas Syers, and had issue,
Linda Mar.
He espoused secondly, in 1955, Nancy Henderson, daughter of Dr John Alexander MacLennan.

His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

ANDREW JOHN GALBRAITH (1942-), 7th and present Earl, who married, in 1964, Sarah Frances Caroline, daughter of Major-General Keith Edwards, and has issue,
Amanda Mary;
Emma Frances;
Lucy Caroline.
7th Earl of Enniskillen

The heir presumptive is the present Earl's first cousin, Berkeley Arthur Cole (b 1949), eldest son of the Hon Arthur Gerald Cole (1920–2005), younger brother of the 6th Earl. 

The ancestral seat was Florence Court, near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (now a property of The National Trust), though several generations of the family have had roots in Kenya, where the 7th Earl and his family live.

First published February, 2010.   Enniskillen arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Powerscourt House


THE surname of Wingfield is derived from the manor of Wingfield, Suffolk, where the progenitors of this family are stated to have been located before the Conquest; and the place of their abode was denominated Wingfield Castle.

It has been said that this manor gave both a name and seat to a large family in those parts, famous for their knighthood and ancient gentility, which brought forth an abundance of renowned knights, and among them two celebrated companions of the Order of the Garter under the reign of HENRY VIII.

SIR RICHARD WINGFIELD (1550-1634), lineally descended from the Wingfields of Letheringham, Suffolk, a person of high military reputation, began his career under his uncle, Sir William Fitzwilliam, Lord Deputy of Ireland, in the civil wars in Ireland.

He was afterwards engaged upon the Continent; and returning to Ireland, was appointed by ELIZABETH I, in 1600, Marshal of Ireland; and by JAMES I, for his subsequent achievements, twice joined in the government of Ireland.

At the same time he was called to His Majesty's privy council.

Sir Richard was elevated to the peerage, in 1618, in the dignity of VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT, but died without issue, in 1634, when the dignity expired; while the estates devolved upon his cousin,

SIR EDWARD WINGFIELD, a distinguished soldier under the Earl of Essex, and a person of great influence and power in Ireland.

Sir Edward married Anne, daughter of Edward, 3rd Baron Cromwelland had issue,
Sir Edward died in 1638, was succeeded by his second son,

RICHARD WINGFIELD, who wedded, in 1640, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Folliott, and had issue, an only child,

FOLLIOTT WINGFIELD (1642-1717), in whose favour the viscountcy of POWERSCOURT (second creation) was revived in 1665.

His lordship wedded the Lady Elizabeth Boyle, eldest daughter of his guardian, the Earl of Orrery; but dying without issue, the peerage again expired, while the estates passed to his cousin,

EDWARD WINGFIELD (1659-1727), barrister-at-law (son of Lewis Wingfield), MP for County Sligo, 1692-3, 1695-9, 1703-13, who espoused firstly, Eleanor, second daughter of Sir Arthur Gore, of Newton Gore, County Mayo; and secondly, Miss Lloyd, daughter of William, Lord Bishop of Killala; by the former of whom he had one son and two daughters, viz.
RICHARD, his heir;
Isabella; Sidney.
The only son,

THE RT HON RICHARD WINGFIELD (1697-1751), of Powerscourt, MP for Boyle, 1727-44, was elevated to peerage, in 1743, in the dignities of Baron Wingfield and VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT (third creation).

His lordship married firstly, in 1721, Anne, daughter of Christopher Usher, of Usher's Quay, Dublin, but by her had no issue.

He wedded secondly, Dorothy, daughter of Hercules Rowley, of Summerhill, County Meath, and had issue,
EDWARD, 2nd Viscount;
RICHARD, 3rd Viscount;
Frances; Isabella.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

EDWARD, 2nd Viscount (1729-64); at whose demise, unmarried, the honours devolved upon his only brother,

RICHARD, 3rd Viscount (1730-88), who espoused Amelia, daughter of John, Earl of Aldborough, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Martha; Emilia; Harriot.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 4th Viscount (1762-1809), who married firstly, in 1789, Catherine, second daughter of John, 1st Earl of Clanwilliam, by whom he had three sons,
RICHARD, his successor;
Edward, father of RICHARD.
He wedded secondly, in 1796, Isabella, second daughter of the Rt Hon William Brownlow, and had further issue,
Catherine; Emily.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 5th Viscount (1790-1823), who espoused, in 1813, Frances Theodosia, eldest daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Roden, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Catherine Anne.
His lordship married secondly, in 1822, Theodosia, daughter of the Hon Hugh Howard, and niece of the Earl of Wicklow, but had no further issue.

He was succeeded by his only son,

RICHARD, 6th Viscount (1815-44), who married, in 1836, his cousin, the Lady Elizabeth Frances Charlotte Jocelyn, daughter of Robert, 3rd Earl of Roden, and had issue,
MERVYN EDWARD, his successor;
Maurice Richard;
another son.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

MERVYN EDWARD, 7th Viscount (1836-1904), KP, a Privy Counsellor, who wedded, in 1864, the Lady Julia Coke, daughter of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and had issue.
  • Mervyn Patrick Wingfield, 9th Viscount (1905–73);
  • Mervyn Niall Wingfield, 10th Viscount (1935-2015);
  • Mervyn Anthony Wingfield, 11th Viscount (b 1963)
The 8th Viscount was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Wicklow, from 1910 until 1922.

POWERSCOURT, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow, is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland.

Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans, who came to Ireland in the 12th century.

By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name.

The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare.

In 1603 Powerscourt Castle and lands were granted to a new English arrival in the area: Richard Wingfield.

Following a successful military career in Ireland, Flanders, France and Portugal, Wingfield was knighted and in 1600 was appointed as Marshal of Ireland.

His descendants were to remain at Powerscourt for over 350 years.

Powerscourt was much altered in the 18th century when famous German-born architect, Richard Castle, remodelled the castles and grounds.

The work was commissioned by Richard Wingfield (1697-1751) and involved the creation of a magnificent mansion around the shell of the earlier castle.

Entrance front

The central courtyard was converted into an entrance hall beneath the remarkably beautiful ballroom.

The north front was adapted to present a grand entrance in the Palladian manner, while the south and front faced the gardens and was initially only two storeys in height.
Powerscourt House was extensively altered during the 18th century by the German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741: On a commanding hilltop position, Cassells deviated slightly from his usual sombre style, to give the house something of a 'castle air'; a severe Palladian façade bookended by two circular domed towers. 
GEORGE IV was the guest of Richard Wingfield, 5th Viscount, in August 1821.

The 7th Viscount inherited the title and the Powerscourt estate, which comprised 49,000 acres of land, at the age of 8 in 1844.

When he reached the age of 21, he embarked on an extensive renovation of the house and created the new gardens.

Main attractions on the grounds include the Tower Valley (with stone tower), Japanese Gardens, winged horse statues, Lake, Dolphin Pond, Walled Gardens, Bamberg Gate and the Italian Garden.

The Pepper Pot Tower is said to be designed after a favoured three-inch pepper pot.

Of particular note is the pets' cemetery, whose tombstones have been described as "astonishingly personal".

Inspiration for the garden design followed visits by Powerscourt to ornamental gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna, and Schwetzingen Castle near Heidelberg.

The garden development took 20 years to complete in 1880.

In 1961, the estate was sold by the 9th Viscount, Mervyn Patrick Wingfield, to the Slazenger family, who still own it to this day (2010).

Tragically in the early hours of 4th November, 1974, a fire broke out on the top floor and by the morning the main part of the house was a roofless shell.

No one was injured, but all of the principal reception rooms and bedrooms were destroyed.

The Saloon

The walls of the main house, revealing stonework dating back to the 16th century, stood as a stark reminder of the fire for over twenty years.

Then in 1996 a process of regeneration began with the re-roofing of the house and the restoration of the windows as they were before the fire.

The entrance hall now features an exhibition describing the fascinating history of Powerscourt, while shops, a terrace café and other visitor facilities are also located in the house.

Wendy Anne Pauline Slazenger (daughter of the late Ralph Slazenger), married the 10th Viscount, Mervyn Niall Wingfield, in 1962. The marriage was dissolved in 1974 and Lord Powerscourt remarried.

Through her children, the Hon Mervyn Anthony Wingfield and the Hon Julia Wingfield, there remains a strong family connection between the two families and the Powerscourt Estate.

Only two rooms are open to the public as they once appeared while Powerscourt had residents, while the rest of ground floor and first floor are now retail units.

THE GARDENS at Powerscourt were laid out in two main periods.

When the house was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the surrounding grounds were laid out in a series of formal rides and parkland to the North, with carefully planned gardens and terraces to the South. 

The design reflected the desire to create a garden which was part of the wider landscape.

To the north formal tree plantations framed the vista from the house, while a walled garden, fish pond, cascades, grottoes and terraces lay to the south. 

Walks wound through the wooded grounds and a fine tree lined avenue was created.

A century later the 6th Viscount instructed his architect, Daniel Robertson, to draw up new schemes for the gardens. 

Robertson was one of the leading proponents of Italianate garden design which was influenced by the terraces and formal features of Italian Renaissance villas and perfected in gardens in France and Germany.

Robertson designed the terrace nearest the house.

He is said to have suffered from gout and directed operations from a wheelbarrow, fortified by a bottle of sherry.

When the sherry was finished, work ceased for the day!

The death of the 6th Viscount in 1844 meant that alterations to the gardens ceased until his son resumed the work in the late 1850s. 

Using a combination of Robertson's designs and the plans of the other landscape experts, the terraces were completed, enormous numbers of trees were planted and the grounds adorned with an amazing collection of statuary, ironwork and other decorative items.

By the time of his death in 1904, the 7th Viscount had transformed the estate.

Further generations of the Wingfields maintained the grounds, adding the Japanese Gardens, Pepper Pot Tower and continuing to plant specimen trees. 

First published in November, 2011.   Powerscourt arms courtesy of European Heraldry. Select bibliography: The Powerscourt Website.

The Mulholland Baronets

THE HON HENRY GEORGE HILL MULHOLLAND (1888-1971), third son of Henry, 2nd Baron Dunleath, MP for County Down, 1921-9, Ards, 1929-45, Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons, married, in 1914, Sheelah, daughter of Sir Arthur Brooke Bt (and sister of Sir Basil Brooke Bt, later 1st Viscount Brookeborough, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland), and had issue,
MICHAEL HENRY, his successor;
Sylvia Patricia Norah, m T P Palmer.
He was appointed a Privy Counsellor of Northern Ireland in 1930.

In 1945, Speaker Mulholland was created a baronet, designated of Ballyscullion Park, County Londonderry.
The present Lord Dunleath tells me that, until he became Speaker, Sir Henry was based largely in England, living at Woodspean Grange, near Newbury, Berkshire. 
A room was kept for him at Ballywalter Park, where he could meet constituents when he was in Northern Ireland. 
There was, in fact, a small family enclave at that time around Newbury, as his sister, the Hon Eva Mulholland, who was married to John Saunderson [Castle Saunderson], lived near by at Honeybottom House, a beautiful property near the village of Bagnor and also close to Newbury. 
Their son, Squadron-Leader John Saunderson DSO DFC, lived there until his death ca 2006, after which the property was sold.
Sir Henry was succeeded by his son,

SIR MICHAEL HENRY MULHOLLAND, 2nd Baronet (1915-97), who wedded firstly, in 1942, Rosemary, daughter of Major David Alfred William Ker, though the marriage was without issue.

He wedded secondly, in 1949, Elizabeth, daughter of Laurence Hyde, and had an only child,
BRIAN HENRY, his successor.
In 1993, Sir Michael succeeded his cousin, Charles Edward Henry John, 4th Baron Dunleath, as 5th Baron Dunleath.

In 1993, the Mulholland baronetcy merged with the barony of Dunleath.
Sir Michael (5th Baron) lived at Storbrooke, Massey Avenue, Belfast, near the side gates of the Stormont Estate.

Storbrooke was the Belfast home of Sir Basil Brooke Bt, later 1st Viscount Brookeborough, from 1934-43.
It then became the home of Sir Harry Mulholland, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Parliament from 1943 until his death in 1971.

His son Sir Michael lived at Storbrooke till his death, in 1997.

Sir Michael could often be seen shopping with a wicker basket at Strandtown; he worshipped at St Mark's parish church, Dundela.

BRIAN HENRY, 6th Baron and 3rd Baronet (1950-), DL, of Ballywalter Park, County Down, married firstly, in 1976, Mary Joan, daughter of Major Robert John Fuller Whistler, and had issue,
Andrew Henry, born 1981;
William Alexander, born 1986;
Tara Miranda, born 1980.
He wedded secondly, Vibeke (Vibse) Lunn.

First published in May, 2010.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Rowallane House


Early in 1600 three brothers, claiming to be a branch of MURE, or MUIR, of Rowallan, Ayrshire, removed from Scotland to Ulster.

Two brothers settled in County Down, and one brother in County Tyrone.

COLONEL JOHN MUIR or MURE, of WILLIAM III's army, obtained a grant of lands in the Province, and was father of

HUGH MOORE (1696-1777), Captain, 9th Regiment of Dragoons, who married, in 1720, Elizabeth Clarke, of Clough House, County Down, and was father of

JOHN MOORE (1724-1800), of Clough House, land agent to the Annesley estate, who wedded Deborah, daughter of Robert Isaac, of Holywood, County Down, and Anne his wife, daughter of James Bailie, of Inishargie, in the same county, a descendant of John Knox.

Mr Moore was succeeded by his son,

HUGH MOORE (1762-1848), of Eglantine House and Mount Panther, both in County Down, Captain, 5th Dragoon Guards, Colonel, Eglantine Yeomanry (which he raised) in the Irish Rebellion.

Colonel Moore was Aide de Camp to General Needham during the Irish rebellion, and raised and commanded the Eglantine Yeomanry.

He married, in 1798, Priscilla Cecilia, daughter of Robert Armytage, of Kensington, London, and widow of Robert Shaw, of Terenure, County Dublin, and had issue,
JOHN ROBERT, his heir;
William Armytage (1806-83); father of HUGH ARMYTAGE;
Jane Deborah, died unmarried;
Priscilla Cecilia, m 3rd Earl Annesley;
Caroline Anne Elizabeth, m Rev J P Garrett;
Maria Clarissa, m W Humphrys.
Colonel Moore was succeeded by his eldest son, 

THE REV JOHN ROBERT MOORE (1801-88), of Rowallane, County Down, Vicar of Kilmood, 1830, who wedded, in 1850, Jane, daughter of R Morris, of Carmarthen, and widow of Henry Davidson; though dsp, and was succeeded by his nephew,

HUGH ARMYTAGE-MOORE JP (1873-1954), of Rowallane, County Down, who married, in 1910, Jane Christian, eldest daughter of Kenneth Mathieson, of 50 Prince's Gate, London;
2nd lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1891; Manager, Annesley Estate, 1909-17; Chairman, County Down section, Ulster Volunteer Force.

Charles James Eglantine Armytage-Moore (1880-1960), son of William Armytage-Moore and Hugh Armytage-Moore's cousin,
Founding partner of the London stockbrokers Buckmaster & Moore and owned an estate called Winterfold, a Queen Anne style residence with 219 acres near Cranleigh in Surrey, with a remarkable collection of furniture and art.

ROWALLANE HOUSE, near Saintfield, County Down, is a long, low, plain house of two storeys, with a higher block at one end.

It was built in 1861 by the Rev John Moore, who had purchased the property as a farm.  

In 1858 he had bought a townland called Creevyloughgare

After this initial acquisition, Mr Moore then acquired the neighbouring townland, Leggyowan, in the early 1870s and named it Rowallane, meaning Beautiful Cleanrig, after the ancestral home of his Scottish forebears.

He gradually enlarged the farmhouse, added the walled garden and stable block and planted The Pleasure Grounds.

The house has irregular fenestration, with a few first-floor windows having little, iron balconies.

The grounds contain various turrets; an obelisk made of spherical stones from the river bed; and other 20th century follies.

The house and grounds, comprising ca 220 acres, were walled-in and converted from farmland to the fifty acre layout as seen today.

The land has pockets of good acid soil and much rock near the surface, so planting is mitigated by these conditions.

The planting is informal, for the above reason, and it also reflects the style of the era.

Initially shelter trees were planted, and the Pleasure Grounds developed to the west of the house.

Entrance Front ca 1890

Ornamental plants were added, but the important plant collection that can be appreciated today occurred between 1903-55 by Hugh Armytage Moore ~ whose sister, incidentally, was the first wife of Percy French.

This has become one of the finest gardens in Northern Ireland and is appreciated for the impressive variety of plant material, which can be enjoyed at all times of the year.

The size is not intimidating ~ fifty acres; and the layout is varied by being in compartments, often using earlier stone-walled field boundaries.

There is the Spring Ground (above), Stream Ground, and the New Ground, to name some of the areas.

The Rock Garden Wood lies at the southern end of the garden and, as a large natural rock outcrop, provides an ideal spot to grow a wide range of alpines and unusual shrubs.

The walled garden, originally a conventional fruit, vegetable and flower garden, became a focus for the plant collection and, at the present time, is fully maintained and contains many interesting species, including the national collection of penstemons.

Rhododendrons are a speciality and they can be seen in many parts of the grounds.

Wild flowers are encouraged in the Pleasure Ground.

A great deal has been written about Rowallane in horticultural journals.

Rowallane demesne was acquired by the National Trust in 1955 and, since then, the gardens have been improved and the plant collection added to.

The ground floor of Rowallane House is now open to visitors with a new café, shop, and exhibition on the ground floor.

The house has recently undergone internal alterations and visitors can now enjoy new enhanced facilities.
Alterations include: the formation of structural openings to the ground floor to provide a new café, shop and interpretation area; a new tea room, designed to bring the outdoors indoors, with the colour scheme depicting the four seasons; while customers can also enjoy a new outdoor patio area.
There is also a pottery.

First published in September, 2012.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Johnstown Castle


LORD MAURICE FITZGERALD (1852-1901), second son of Charles, 4th Duke of Leinster, of Carton House, County Kildare, married, in 1880, the Lady Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, daughter of the 7th Earl of Granard, and had issue,
GERALD HUGH, his heir;
Geraldine Mary; Kathleen; Marjorie.
Lord Maurice, Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1881-1901, was succeeded by his son and heir,

GERALD HUGH FITZGERALD (1886-1914), Captain, 4th Dragoon Guards (Royal Irish), who wedded, in 1914, Dorothy Violet, daughter of Spencer Calmeyer Charrington (of the famous brewing family), though the marriage was without issue.

Captain FitzGerald was killed in action during the 1st World war.

JOHNSTOWN CASTLE, near Wexford town, is a spacious, castellated mansion, built entirely of Carlow granite, and equal in beauty and magnificence to many of its ilk in the British Isles.

It occupies the site, and embodies one of the towers, of a very ancient structure.

Immediately adjoining it is a fine lake, formed at huge expense, decorated at its edges tastefully and closely overlooked at the margin by several turrets of carved stone.

The mansion has been home to two prominent County Wexford families.

The first owners were the Esmonde Baronets, a Norman family who settled in the county in the 1170s.

They constructed the tower houses at Johnstown and Rathlannon during the 15th or 16th century.

During the Cromwellian period of 1640s the estate was confiscated and changed hands several times before being acquired by John Grogan in 1692, whose descendants remained at Johnstown until 1945.

Following the death of Hamilton K Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow who married, as her second husband, the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Baronet, a descendant of the original owners.

The demesne subsequently passed to Grogan-Morgan's daughter Jane, Countess of Granard; thence to Lady Granard's daughter, Lady Maurice FitzGerald.

The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan, who was unjustly executed for treason after the 1798 Rebellion.

By 1863, Johnstown Castle estate was at its peak of development and comprised of a large demesne of over 1,000 acres.

The demesne occupies a hollow at the head of a fertile valley, a brief distance from the base of a picturesque mountain.

It was divided in two, with a deer park to the north, and the castle, pleasure grounds, home farm and two lakes (with a third lake under construction) to the south.

In 1945 Maurice Victor Lakin presented Johnstown Castle estate as a gift to the Irish state.

Today Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority, owns Johnstown Castle estate and has a research facility on site.

The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed in the old stable and farmyard buildings of the demesne.

Burke's guide describes Johnstown as being,
An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlemented and machiolated castle of silver-grey ashlar built about 1840 for H K Grogan-Morgan MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson, of Kilkenny.

The entrance front is dominated by a single tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
First published in November, 2011.

The O'Neill Baronetcy (1643)

This was a branch from the Milesian stock from which the present noble family of O'NEILL claims descent.

HUGH BOY O'NEILL, from whom the territories called the Claneboys, in counties Down and Antrim, received their name, grandson of HUGH MEYTH, King of Ulster, 1122, recovered those lands from the English (which had been wrested from his family at the invasion during the reign of HENRY II), and his descendants enjoyed them until the reign of JAMES I.

When a portion was conquered by force of arms from the O'Neills, more purchased by JAMES I by them, and some part left in their possession, which has descended to the O'Neills of Shane's Castle.

His Majesty, when he instituted the Order of Baronets, had chiefly in view the subduing of the clan O'Neill in Ulster, and the Ulster hand ~ the Red Hand of O'Neill ~ was given as a badge to the order.

BRIAN O'NEILL, in consideration of his gallant services at the battle of Edgehill, was created a baronet by CHARLES I in 1643, designated of Upper Claneboys.

Sir Brian married Jane Finch, of the family of the 1st Earl of Nottingham, and dying in 1670, was succeeded by his son, 

SIR BRIAN O'NEILL, 2nd Baronet, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench in Ireland during the reign of JAMES II, 
who married Mary, sister of Christopher, 10th Baron Dunsany, and dying in 1694, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HENRY O'NEILL, 3rd Baronet (c1674-1759), who married firstly, Mary, daughter of Mark Bagot, of Mount Arran, County Carlow, and had an only son,

RANDAL, his successor.
He wedded secondly, Rose, daughter of Captain James Brabazon (son of Sir Anthony Brabazon, and nephew of William, 1st Earl of Meath), and had further issue,
Sir Henry was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL O'NEILL, 4th Baronet, of Upper Claneboys, County Down, who married Mrs Margaret Tompkins, by whom he had a son, William, and a daughter, Rachel; and thus terminates any recorded account of the family.

The baronetcy was presumed to be extinct; but a person emerged calling himself 

who lived a very poor man on the estate of the Viscount Netterville at Dowth, near Drogheda, from whom he rented a small farm at a quarter of its value; but, even unable to pay that, he was dispossessed. This unfortunate descendant of royalty had the patent of baronetcy in his possession, but whether he was in the line of descent does not appear. 

Baronetcies have been frequently assumed in Ireland by parties who had no claim whatsoever, but being collateral relations of a deceased and extinct baronet, may have discovered the patent among his papers.

One of the sons of Sir Francis was employed at a small inn near Duleek, in the capacity of "boots and ostler" -  sic transit gloria mundi. 

AS TO aristocratic kinsmen abandoning such claimants, again we may cite Burke's account of the support, moral and financial, given to the above mentioned Sir Francis O'Neill by his distant Protestant kinsman John, 1st Viscount O'Neill:
In that humble cottage the aged and poverty stricken baronet was visited in May, 1798 by John, the first Viscount O'Neill, and his two sons, Charles and John, the late Earl and the last Viscount ... for John, the first Lord O'Neill, princely in mind and he was exalted in station, never turned his face from a poor relation.

BACKWESTON HOUSE was once the residence of Sir Brian O'Neill, 1st Baronet.

He was a descendant of the Chiefs of Claneboy, and proved himself a gallant soldier, first in Holland and afterwards on the royalist side in the Civil War in England.

In relating the vicissitudes of the O'Neill family, Sir Bernard Burke has told how Sir Brian, with a few others, tried to rally the royal troops at the rout of Newburn, and how on the hard fought field of Edgehill he rallied the dragoons with undaunted courage, and finally saved CHARLES I from being taken prisoner.

Honours came to Sir Brian, but without corresponding wealth, and after the Restoration, he appears to have tried to add to his slender income by sending wool to France, a trade for which, on account of his constant loyalty and good service he was given a licence by the King.

Sir Brian, who was twice married, first to Jane Finch and secondly to Sarah Savage, whose mother was a daughter of Hugh, first Viscount Montgomery, of the Great Ards, died about 1670, and was succeeded by his son, who bore the same name.

Sir Brian O'Neill, the 2nd baronet, has been already mentioned in the history of Stillorgan in connection with his marriage to the widow of James Wolverston, who was a sister of Christopher Plunkett, 10th Lord Dunsany.

He was educated as a lawyer at Gray's Inn, which he entered in 1664, and, as stated in the history of Stillorgan, was appointed by JAMES II, in 1687, as one of the justices of the King's Bench in Ireland.

By his first marriage, Sir Henry O'Neill, 3rd Baronet, was father of Sir Randal, 4th Baronet, surveyor of customs at Rush, County Dublin, and died having had a son and a daughter, who both died unmarried. 

Sir Henry O'Neill, by his second marriage, left Sir Francis O'Neill, of Kellystown, in the county of Meath, 6th Baronet, who married Miss Fleming, of County Louth.
  • Sir Bryan O'Neill, 1st Baronet (d 1670);
  • Sir Bryan O'Neill, 2nd Baronet (d 1694);
  • Sir Henry O'Neill, 3rd Baronet (c1674-1759);
  • Sir Randall O'Neill, 4th Baronet (d 1779);
  • Sir William O'Neill, 5th Baronet (c1754-84);
  • Sir Francis O'Neill, 6th Baronet (c1730-99).
First published in April, 2011.