Monday, 24 January 2022

Mountcollyer Street, Belfast

Historic Map of Mount Collyer ca 1830

Having been to see the Belfast film at Cineworld for the very first time at the weekend, my curiosity was aroused about that famous actor, Sir Kenneth Branagh.

I've known about him since his acting role in the "Billy Plays" produced by BBC Northern Ireland and set in the late 1970s.

Certainly he had a convincing Belfast accent in those dramas, though Sir Kenneth actually lost his local accent within a few years of moving to Reading, Berkshire, from his home town of Belfast about 1970.

Kenneth Branagh sounds, to all intents and purposes, English. I wonder how easily he can revert to a Belfast accent?

At any rate, I was curious to find his roots in Belfast; so, with the assistance of Google maps and "sat-nav," I found the location of the Branagh home fairly easily.

They lived at 96 Mountcollyer Street until young Kenneth was about ten, when, because of civil unrest and a degree of intimidation, I think, his father decided to begin a new life away from Northern Ireland.

Mountcollyer Street runs from 32 Crosscollyer Street to Parkside Gardens; and, in 1974, there were 170 houses; John Brannagh [sic] lived in number 49; Henry Brannagh in 83.

Mount Collyer House ca 1889 (NMNI/WA Green)

MOUNT COLLYER HOUSE appears to have been a Georgian dwelling of two storeys over a high basement, double-gabled.

Following several prominent clergymen including Dr William Hamilton Drummond, the textile manufacturer ANDREW MULHOLLAND, father of the first Baron Dunleath, resided at Mount Collyer till about 1846, when they moved to Springvale (Ballywalter Park) on the Ards Peninsula.

The Rev Dr James Saurin, Vicar of Belfast, died at Mount Collyer in 1772.

The Rowans seem to have been the last family to live there before the old house was demolished, and the grounds were developed for the Mountcollyer and Crosscollyer housing about 1882.

Mount Collyer features in DAB Dean's Plight of the Big House in Northern Ireland, as does Jennymount Castleton, the larger house to the north of Mount Collyer in the old map.

Mountcollyer Street, 2006, prior to Demolition (Chris Paton, Scotland)

Was Mountcollyer Street hit by a bomb during the Blitz? I believe so, in 1941.

The only photograph I've seen appears to be of a post-second world war terrace.

Mountcollyer Street faces Alexandra Park, so the terrace seemed only to have been built on one side.

The northern park side has always had railings as far as I know.

It's on a gentle slope, and was probably a pleasant part of town to live in, being so close to the park and playgrounds.

Local residents yesterday insisted that it's not in "Tiger's Bay" area.

Approximate Location of 96 Mountcollyer Street (Timothy Ferres, 2022)

I encountered three local residents, two of whom remembered the street before it was demolished.

They pointed out the approximate location of Number 96.

I hope and expect that new houses will be built on the present wasteland.

Ballyward Lodge


SIR WILLIAM LESLIE (c1400-67), 4th of Balquhain, having descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Rothes, was knighted at the coronation of JAMES I.

He married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser of Lovat, and had issue,
Alexander, ancestor of the Leslies of Balquhain;
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Sir William wedded secondly, Agnes, daughter of Alexander Irvine, of Drum, and by her was ancestor of the Leslie Baronets of Wardis; Leslie of New Leslie; Leslie of Kininvie; and Leslie, Viscount Balgownie.

He espoused thirdly, Euphemia, daughter of Sir William Lindsay, of Cairney, Fife, and by her was ancestor of Leslie of Pitcaple.

The younger son by his first marriage,

WILLIAM LESLIE, of Kincraigie, married Mary, daughter of Francis Ross, of Auchlossan, Aberdeenshire, and had an only son,

WILLIAM LESLIE, of Kincraigie, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Strachan, of Balhousie, Forfar, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, of whom presently;
Patrick, of Loch Tulloch, Aberdeenshire;
James, dsp;
The eldest son,

ALEXANDER LESLIE, of Kincraigie, espoused Margaret, daughter of George Gordon, of Halhead, Aberdeenshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, of whom presently;
John, of Durno;
The elder son,

GEORGE LESLIE, of Kincraigie, married Mary, daughter of Patrick Leith, of Edingarrock, and had issue,
PATRICK (Sir), of whom presently;
Isabella; Margaret; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

SIR PATRICK LESLIE, Knight, of Kincraigie, Provost of Aberdeen, wedded Jane, daughter of John Leslie, 10th of Balquhain, and had issue,
George, of Kincraigie;
JOHN, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

JOHN LESLIE, of the city of Aberdeen, espoused Margery, daughter of William Strachan, of Tippartie, Banff, and had issue,
PATRICK, of whom presently;
William, settled & died in America;
Isabella; Margery.
The elder son,

PATRICK LESLIE, settling in Ulster, married Mary, daughter of John Forbes, of the city of Aberdeen, and had issue, a son,

JOHN LESLIE, of Kincraigy, County Donegal, and had issue (with a daughter, Margaret), a son,

CHARLES LESLIE, of Kincraigy, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of John Griffith, of Dublin, and had issue, a son,

THE VEN. DR CHARLES LESLIE, Archdeacon and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Raphoe, who espoused Elizabeth, daughter of James Grove, of Grove Hall, County Donegal, and had issue,
Charles, dsp;
John (Rev), of Kincraigy, died unmarried;
Robert Grove, died unmarried;
JANE, of whom presently.
The Archdeacon died in 1781, and was succeeded by his only daughter,

JANE LESLIE (c1764-1833), heiress in her issue to her brothers, who married, in 1795, William Beers, of Ballygorian and Ballyward, County Down, son of William Beers, and grandson of Philip Beers, by whom he had issue,
FRANCIS CHARLES, of whom presently;
William Philip, died in infancy;
William, JP, of Brook Cottage, Newcastle;
John, JP, of Leslie Hill, Co Donegal;
Philip Grove, died in New Zealand;
James Annesley (Rev), Rector of Drumballyroney;
The eldest son,

FRANCIS CHARLES BEERS (1796-1866), of Ballyward, County Down, and Kincraigy, County Donegal, assumed, in 1850, the surname and arms of LESLIE in lieu of his patronymic.

He wedded, in 1837, Hannah Theodosia, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Thompson, 27th Regiment, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Harriet Jane.
The only son,

JOHN LESLIE (1839-), of Ballyward Lodge, Lieutenant, 5th Fusiliers, Captain, Donegal Militia, espoused, in 1862, Harriet Anne, daughter of Sir David William Barclay Bt, and had issue,

MAY FLORENCE DE RUNE LESLIE, who married, in 1888, Colonel Frank Robert Lowth CB, Lincolnshire Regiment, and had issue,
Francis Robert Leslie, b 1889;
John Leslie, b 1890;
Norman Charles Leslie, b 1891;
William Barclay Leslie, b 1893;
Doris May Leslie.
Photo Credit: David Byers

BALLYWARD LODGE, near Castlewellan, County Down, has been described as a "gentleman's cottage" of ca 1800.

This house, situated picturesquely beside a lake, was originally the residence of William Beers.

Ballyward comprises two storeys, the upper storey being partly in the attic; dormer gables; projecting single-storey porch.

There is a large, elegant fan-lighted doorway.

Several upstairs windows are pointed, with Georgian-Gothic astragals.

The library has a low ceiling, with columns which formerly graced Downhill Castle; and a spacious bedroom landing.

The formal garden to the south of the house is equally impressive, with statuary and urns.


Ballyward estate was purchased in 1954 by WING-COMMANDER JOHN SYDNEY HIGGINSON CBE JP DL RAF (1910-2000), Honorary ADC to His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland, 1952, who farmed it himself until 1985.

At that time the grounds comprised 134 acres, of which 63 were agricultural land, 3 acres were garden, and 68 acres were woodland and wetland.

Many improvements to the house and grounds were initiated by Wing-Commander Higginson.

Wing-Commander Higginson, scion of HIGGINSON of Ballinderry and Carnalea, died in 2000, when the estate devolved upon his nephew,

ANDREW HIGGINSON OBE, who sold Ballyward in 2001 for £1.15 million.


THE ESTATE today is spread over 300 acres, consisting of mature woodland, surrounded by sloping hills.

There are also significant wetlands thus attracting a wide variety of game.

Ballyward has established itself as a shooting estate.

First published in November, 2013.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

The Bar Hall Acquisition


PROPERTY: Bar Hall Lands, near Portaferry, County Down

DATE: 1986-2003

EXTENT: 104.90 acres

DONOR: Mrs McClelland

First published in February, 2015.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Warrenpoint Park

WARRENPOINT, County Down, stands at the mouth of the river Newry into the head of Carlingford Lough, and on the road from Newry to Kilkeel.

It is three miles west of Rostrevor, seven miles south-south-east of Newry, and 44 miles south-south-west of Belfast.

Its location affords brilliant and noble scenery; and, in particular, commands a splendid prospect eastward of Rostrevor and the Mourne mountains.

The town comprises a square and several radiating streets, though appears from some vantage-points to extend simply along the edge of the water.

It has been almost entirely built since 1780, and has the remains of a large windmill which still stands close to the town centre.

A rabbit warren once existed on the shore and it would seem reasonable to assume that the town takes its name from that warren.

The nearest country seat is NARROW WATER CASTLE.

Image: WA Green/Ulster Museum

The municipal park at Warrenpoint, County Down, was awarded a heritage lottery grant of £932,000 in 2018.

It was one of fifteen historic parks and cemeteries across the United Kingdom to achieve the funding.

Opened in 1906, many of the park's original features are deteriorating and were in danger of being lost.

This project conserved the listed bandstand, restored the 1930s pavilion and regenerated the gardens, paths and walkways.

More recent additions such as the play park, tennis courts and events space were also refurbished and modernised.

This is a fine example of a typical Victorian public park, though laid out from 1900.

It retains many original features and plants, yet successfully incorporates later intrusions such as the Children’s Playground.

It lies in a mild spot close to the waters of Carlingford Lough but is sheltered by buildings.

Mature trees surround the park on the three sides and edge the formal central cross paths.

Solid wall-mounted iron railings enclose the whole.

On slightly rising ground to the north west, there are circulating paths, lawns, neat shrub borders and well dug beds of seasonal bedding plants.

The park was designed by Thomas Smith of the Daisy Hill Nursery, Newry.

The central bandstand of 1907 is elaborately decorated.

Wooden rose pergolas give vertical interest.

Tennis courts lie on flat ground at the south west end.

The toilet block, lodge and gardener’s bothy are early buildings.

First published in January, 2014.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Sir Norman Stronge Bt


I first had the great honour of meeting Sir Norman Stronge (1894-1981) after a concert in the late seventies, when I was still a teenager.

I was at the Northern Ireland Area British Legion Festival of Remembrance, taking place at the County Hall near Ballymena, County Antrim.

It was usually held at the Ulster Hall in Belfast but, due to "the Troubles", took place at the County Hall for a several years. 

Sir Norman was Area President of the Royal British Legion.

He was an old man by then, tall and distinguished with a good head of grey hair; upright with a benign smile; distinguished-looking and wearing a double-breasted chalk-stripe suit.

He always wore a neatly clipped moustache.

Sir Norman struck me as being a true gentleman from a previous era, seldom encountered today.

Sir Norman had had an illustrious life and career.

The baronetcy was first created in 1803, and Sir Norman was the 8th Baronet.

He served as Lord Lieutenant of County Armagh from 1939 till his death in 1981 under two successive monarchs, including GEORGE VI; and sat as a member of the NI House of Commons from 1938-69, including a spell as Speaker from 1945-69.

The late Douglas Deane OBE recalled Sir Norman's passion for wildlife at Tynan Abbey:

He went to live and farm at Tynan Abbey in 1928 and always his interest was in wild things; often he told me about the wildfowl which visited the lake in winter; the groups of Bewick swans; the flocks of white-fronted geese... 

he showed me an incubating woodcock, hidden in a pool of brown leaves by the edge of the main drive at Tynan and told me that his gamekeeper had seen a woodcock carry one of its young, held between its legs, from an open patch in the woods in to cover; and many times had watched a woodcock feed its young in the same fashion as pigeons.

Every year Sir Norman would invite me to Tynan to see the azaleas in colour and the seas of bluebells in the woods and always there was talk of butterflies, painted ladies, peacock and the rest.

Mr Deane continued:

Sir Norman was the envy of his friends, being an excellent shot. He would often finish a day's shooting with close to 200 pigeons...his cousin, Sir Basil Brooke [1st Viscount Brookeborough], had the edge on him and always seemed to finish the day with more.

TYNAN ABBEY, County Armagh, was built in 1750 and enlarged in the Tudor-Gothic style around 1820-30.

It had an imposing two-storey entrance front, battlemented and pinnacled; a battlemented central tower and doorway too, with pointed Gothic windows.

Much has already been written about the Abbey by authors more knowledgeable than myself.

Originally, the estate extended to some 8,000 acres.

One quiet Wednesday evening at around nine o'clock, 21st January, 1981, Sir Norman - by now in his 87th year - and his son, James (48), were having a quiet drink in the library of Tynan Abbey following their dinner, when they heard a loud explosion in close proximity.

Unknown to them, a gang of heavily-armed men had been stalking out the Abbey and its grounds earlier and the explosion had been caused by a hand-grenade thrown at the heavy, wooden front door.

The Stronges would have had a reasonable idea, by this stage, that they were being attacked.

He kept a flare nearby, and opened the window to fire it in an attempt to alert others to the grave situation.

As it happened, a police patrol did notice the flare but, by that stage, it was too late.

The gang quickly located Sir Norman and his son in the library and opened fire on them, at point blank range, killing them instantaneously.

The gang then placed fire-bombs throughout Tynan Abbey and made their escape in a southerly direction into the relatively safe jurisdiction of the Irish Republic.

The great mansion, and its priceless contents, was utterly destroyed; indeed, its ruinous shell had to be demolished later because it was unsafe.

Although there ensued a ferocious gun-battle with the police, the gang fled.

I'd only wish to conclude by quoting from a small article by Turtle Bunbury:

We stopped first in the village of Tynan to view the High Cross, a replica of which now surmounts Bourke and Anne Cochrane's grave in New York.

We could just make out some images - perhaps Shadrach and his brothers hot-stepping it on fire-coals, maybe Adam and Eve contemplating a serpent. The Church where the Stronges are buried stands close by. 

The last baronet, Sir Norman Stronge, and his son, James, were murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1981. Sir Jack, who knew them both, says father and son were quietly watching TV when a hand grenade blew their front door of its hinges.

Sir Norman managed to let off a flare but the police got there too late. The two men were machine gunned to death and the house burned down. The perpetrators all met unhappy ends - either shot by their own comrades or captured and incarcerated.

My father and I attended their funeral at Tynan parish church.

I remember the Duke of Abercorn wearing a heavy, tweed, raglan overcoat.

Notwithstanding the passing of so many years, this vile act has continued to stick in my memory.

The mere thought of such a heinous atrocity still deeply saddens me to this very day.

First published in January, 2014.

Drumilly House


In very remote periods this family possessed considerable estates in Northamptonshire, whence the descendants of

JOHN COPE (c1355-c1415), of Adstock, Buckinghamshire, and Denshanger, Northamptonshire (the first upon record), extended themselves into Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire and County Armagh.

This John Cope, MP for Northamptonshire, 1397-1406, was a very eminent person in the reigns of RICHARD II and HENRY IV.

In the latter, he represented the county of Northamptonshire in parliament, and was twice High Sheriff.

He died about 1415, and from him lineally descended

ANTHONY COPE (c1548-1614), of Hanwell, Oxfordshire, who was created a baronet, in 1611, denominated of Hanwell.

Sir Anthony, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, MP for Banbury, married firstly, Frances, daughter of daughter of Sir Rowland Lytton, of Knebworth, Hertfordshire, and had issue,
William, (Sir), his heir;
Anthony, of Loughgall Manor;
RICHARD, of whom we treat;
Anne; Elizabeth; Mary.
The third son,

RICHARD COPE, espoused Anne, sister of Sir William Walter, and left at his decease a son and heir,

WALTER COPE, of Drumilly, County Armagh, who married Abigail, daughter of the Rt Rev Thomas Moigne, Lord Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh, and had issue,

WALTER COPE, of Drumilly, who married Jane, daughter of the Very Rev James Downham, Dean of Armagh, and was father of

WALTER COPE, of Drumilly, who wedded Sarah, daughter of Thomas Tippling; and dying in 1724, he left a son,

WALTER, of whom presently, and five daughters, all of whom died unmarried, except the youngest, Abigail, who espoused, in 1758, Archdeacon Meade, and had one daughter, SARAH ARABELLA ABIGAIL, of whom hereafter.

Mr Cope died in 1724, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RIGHT REV DR WALTER COPE (1712-87), of Drumilly, Lord Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, who married Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Acheson Bt, of Gosford, County Armagh; but dsp 1787, and was succeeded by his niece,

SARAH ARABELLA ABIGAIL MEADE, who assumed the surname of COPE.

She wedded Nicholas Archdale, of Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, and had issue (besides one daughter, ANNA, who succeeded her brother), three sons,
Walter, died unmarried;
Samuel Walter, died unmarried;
ARTHUR WALTER, of whom we treat.
The youngest son,

ARTHUR WALTER COPE (1787-1846), of Drumilly, espoused Caroline Lester, and had one daughter, Caroline Arabella Archdale (d 1906), who married Francis Wilson Heath, of New Grove, Lisburn.

Mr Cope was succeeded, under the will of his great-uncle, Bishop Cope, by his sister,

ANNA COPE (1791-1867), of Drumilly, who wedded, in 1814, Nathaniel Garland, of Michaelstowe (d 1845).

Mrs Garland, on succeeding to Drumilly, assumed the name of COPE, and by will devised her estates to her third daughter,

GEORGINA CATHERINE COPE, of Drumilly, who espoused, in 1848, JOHN ALEXANDER MAINLEY PINNIGER JP, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1868.

They assumed, in 1867, the name and arms of COPE.

Mr Cope died in 1892, aged 68, having had issue,
Edgar Broome (1849-91), died unmarried;
JOHN GARLAND, of whom presently;
Arthur Mainley;
George Cope;
Frederick Lorance; Amy; Anna Martha Georgina; Mary Constance.
Mrs Cope died in 1895, and was succeeded by her eldest surviving son,

JOHN GARLAND COPE JP DL (1850-1920), of Drumilly, who married firstly, in 1878, Theresa Charlotte, daughter of Ralph S Obré, of Clantylew, County Armagh, and had issue,
He wedded secondly, in 1900, Mary Edith, daughter of Colonel Lonsdale A Hale, Royal Engineers.

DRUMILLY HOUSE, Loughgall, County Armagh, remarked Mark Bence-Jones, was
"a plain, vaguely Georgian house with a remarkable two-storey elliptical structure of glass and art-nouveau ironwork projecting from its centre and constituting the entrance.
It was demolished in 1966.

THE VILLAGE of Loughgall developed slowly under the benign guidance of the Cope family, assuming a distinctly English appearance.

During the 18th and early part of the 19th century, a number of houses were built in the elegant Georgian style of architecture.

The two Cope families, of Loughgall Manor and Drumilly respectively, did not take a very active part in politics; however, as residential landlords, they pursued a policy of agricultural development on their own estates and greatly encouraged the improvement and fertility of their tenants' farms.

Drumilly, Main Entrance

Apple-growing over the past two centuries has become a major factor in the economic development of County Armagh, with Loughgall at the heart of this important industry.

To this day there is no public house in Loughgall.

The Copes, at some stage in the past, actively discouraged the sale and consumption of alcohol by buying several public houses in the village and closing them down.

In their place they established a coffee-house and reading-room.


The last generation of both the Loughgall Manor and Drumilly families had daughters only.

Of the Manor House family, a Miss Cope married a clergyman, the Rev Canon Sowter; while Ralph Cope, of Drumilly, had two daughters, one of whom, Diana, married Robin Cowdy of the local Greenhall linen bleaching family at Summer Island.

Both the Manor House and Drumilly estates were purchased by the Northern Ireland Ministry of Agriculture and now play a prominent part in testing and development in the horticultural field.

Both estates remain intact and have not been developed for housing or industry; they form part of Loughgall Country Park.

With considerable areas of mature woodland interspersed with orchards and cultivated fields, this area must surely be one of the most pleasant stretches of countryside in County Armagh.

Former London residence ~ 28 Burton Court, Chelsea.

First published in January, 2014.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Castle Morres House


MAJOR HERVEY RANDALL SAVILLE PRATT DL (1782-1859), third son of the Rev Joseph Pratt, of CABRA CASTLE, County Cavan, by the Hon Sarah de Montmorency his wife, daughter of Harvey, 1st Viscount Mountmorres, of Castle Morres, County Kilkenny, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1836, wedded, in 1811, Rose Lloyd, daughter of the Rt Rev John Kearney, Lord Bishop of Ossory, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Hervey Mervyn;
Anne Sarah; Letitia; Elizabeth; Sarah; Fanny.
Mr Pratt, who, upon the death of his father, succeeded his mother in the Kilkenny estates, which she and her sister, the Marchioness of Antrim, had jointly inherited as co-heirs of their brother Hervey Redmond, 2nd Viscount Mountmorres.

He assumed, in 1831, the surname and arms of DE MONTMORENCY.

Mr de Montmorency was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN PRATT DE MONTMORENCY (1815-68), of Castle Morres, who married, in 1838, Henrietta O'Grady, daughter of Standish, 1st Viscount Guillamore, and had issue,
HERVEY JOHN, his heir;
WALLER, successor to his brother;
Mervyn Standish, barrister;
Raymond Oliver;
Katherine Maria; Rose Emily.
Mr de Montmorency was succeeded by his eldest son,

HERVEY JOHN DE MONTMORENCY JP (1840-73), of Castle Morres, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1872, late 2nd Dragoon Guards, who espoused, in 1867, Grace, daughter of Sir Thomas Fraser Grove Bt, of Ferne, Wiltshire, leaving issue, a daughter, Henrietta Kathleen.

He was succeeded by his brother,

THE VEN WALLER DE MONTMORENCY JP (1841-1924), of Castle Morres, Archdeacon of Ossory, who wedded, in 1872, Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev James Thomas O'Brien, Lord Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin, and had issue,
JOHN PRATT, his heir;
Geoffey FitzHervey, b 1876.
The Archdeacon was succeeded by his elder son,

CAPTAIN JOHN PRATT DE MONTMORENCY CMG DL RN (1873-1960), High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1921, who espoused firstly, in 1908, Margaret Elinor, eldest daughter of Colonel Samuel Pym; and secondly, in 1934, Norah, daughter of Colonel Mervyn de Montmorency, by whom he had issue,
Jane Avril, b 1936;
Sarah Anne, 1943-97.

CASTLE MORRES, Kilmaganny, County Kilkenny, was a splendid mid-18th century mansion by Francis Binden.

It comprised three storeys over a basement, with a nine-bay front.

There were single wings on either side of the centre block.

There was a three-bay central break-front with quoins and a rusticated ground floor.

The roof parapet had balustrades.

A balustraded perron and double stairway led to the doorway, which had Ionic columns and pediment.

There was a magnificent black marble chimney-piece in the hall, resplendent with a military trophy under a scroll pediment; and an eagle spreading its wings above.

Captain John Pratt de Montmorency sold Castle Morres to the Irish Land Commission in 1926.

In the 1930s its roof was removed; and the once great mansion house suffered its ultimate fate in 1978 when it was demolished.

First published in March, 2016.