Sunday, 8 December 2019

Clarisford Palace

THE diocese of Killaloe was founded early in the 6th century.

In the 12th century it was incorporated with the ancient bishopric of Roscrea founded in 620.

In 1752, the See of Kilfenora, which had been established about the 12th century, was united to it; and although very small in extent and value, had continued separate until the Restoration, when it was first annexed to the archbishopric of Tuam.

That union continued 81 years, till 1741, when Ardagh being annexed to Tuam, this bishopric was given in commendam to the Lord Bishop of Clonfert.

THE diocese of Killaloe stretches about 100 miles in length, through the counties of Clare and Tipperary, into the King's County, and includes also a small part of the Queen's County, Galway, and Limerick.

It varies in breadth from 9 to 32 miles.

Kilfenora is confined to the baronies of Burren and Corcomroe, and extends only 23 miles by 11.

THE PALACE, Killaloe, County Clare, is a late 18th century block comprising three storeys over a basement.

The demesne is beside the River Shannon outside the town.

It was built between 1774-78 by the Right Rev Robert Fowler, Lord Bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora, 1771-79.


The palace has a five-bay front and a triple window above the porch; a Doric doorcase with pedimented porch on two columns.

There are steps with iron railings leading up to the hall door.

The side elevation comprises three bays.


The demesne includes a walled garden, outbuildings, and an entrance lodge.

It remained in use as an episcopal palace until 1977.

The last Bishop to reside at Clarisford was the Right Rev Edwin Owen, Lord Bishop of Killaloe and Clonfert, 1972-76.

Thereafter the see was united with the diocese of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe.

Clarisford Park is now privately owned.

First published in October, 2015.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Portaferry Hotel

THE PORTAFERRY HOTEL is a substantial, long, relatively plain, two-storey block located at the corner of the Strand and Castle Street in Portaferry, County Down.

The Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough are amongst the most picturesque parts of Northern Ireland.

This building, amalgamated and much altered, formerly comprised separate properties, one of which is probably pre-1834.

A large section to the south-east was the site of two smaller houses, which were demolished in 1991 when the hotel was extended.

To the rear there are large modern extensions.

The facade is rendered and painted.

The roof of the main section is mainly gabled, though is hipped on the corner.

The roof is covered in Bangor blue slates, with three plain, rendered chimney stacks to the southern elevation, with matching pots.

A Small cast-iron skylight is in the middle of the roof to the south elevation.

Two Buildings seen to the left now form the Hotel

This building was built in stages and represents the amalgamation of a number of properties and the demolition of others.

Eventually the remainder of the property on the south, or strand side incorporated the site now covered by the present hotel as well as land and buildings to the rear.

During the early 19th century, however, the lease was sub-divided, with the buildings to the rear becoming Maxwell's Distillery (later a corn mill and by 1860s, falling into dereliction) and a tan yard, run by William Warnock.

The rest of the section to the corner formed one large property, with a separate house next to it further along The Strand.

In 1835, the larger property to the corner was in the possession of Hugh Boden and included a two-storey dwelling house with extensive single storey outbuildings.

The dwelling further along The Strand (also two-storey) was the home of Eliza Lyttle.


In 1860, Edward Bryce had obtained a lease of the large corner property, as well as the house beyond; and for most of the next two decades ran a spirit grocer's on the corner, whilst sub-letting the two houses beyond.

In 1880, Mr Bryce sold the lease to Henry McGrath, an auctioneer and leading figure in Portaferry's social, cultural and political life.

The property remained in the McGrath family until 1933, when the lease was bought by William Lyons, who sold it three years later to a local businessman, William McMullan.

With many other business interests already, McMullan sub-let the spirit grocer's to a Mrs Corbett and her daughter, Miss Thompson, who decided to open a hotel on the site.

Thus, during the late 1930s, the spirit grocer's and the buildings to Castle Street were converted and a door opened from the hotel to the house on The Strand (likely Hugh Boden's residence in 1835).

In 1947, the lease was acquired by a Mrs Wolson, who had been in the hospitality trade for some time, and who extended the business, taking in the whole of the former house.

When Mrs Wolson retired she sold the hotel to Brian Waddell of Waddell Media in Holywood.

He was in partnership with a boat builder from Bangor by the name of Palmer.

They sold to John Herlihy, former manager of the ill-fated Russell Court Hotel on the Lisburn Road, Belfast, who improved and extended the Portaferry Hotel to the greatest degree.

Adjoining houses, numbers eight and nine, were acquired and demolished, and the hotel was extended on to this site, extensively renovating the entire building in the process.

Mr Herlihy was in the right place at the right time, as the Northern Ireland Office used the premises extensively.

When John Herlihy retired in 2005, he sold the hotel to a hospitality group who also owned the Hillside Bar in Hillsborough.

Their intention was to turn the Portaferry Hotel into apartments, but were prevented when they went bankrupt in the recession of 2008.

Bill Wolsey bought out the group's assets from the Ulster Bank, and owner-managed it for several years before leasing it to an American couple.

After a year, they experienced financial difficulties and disappeared - probably to the United States.

Bill Wolsey's Beannchor Group then leased it out (2016) to the Arthurs family - local butchers and businessmen.

Since then the hotel has thrived under local ownership.

I am particularly grateful to Richard Graham, a former manager at the hotel, for additional information.

First published in June, 2014.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Montalto House

SIR JOHN RAWDON (1720-93), 4th Baronet, 1st Baron Rawdon and later 1st Earl of Moira, established the Montalto estate.

The market town of Ballynahinch in County Down, like Moira, was laid out by the Rawdon family in the first half of the 17th century.

The Montalto Estate is located on the edge of Ballynahinch.

East Entrance Front

MONTALTO HOUSE, described by Sir Charles Brett as "a mansion of the utmost interest and with features of considerable importance..." was constructed around the mid-1750s, when Lord Moira moved there and made it his home.

The name Montalto derives from the Italian for High Mountain, and in the original construction, Italian plasterers were employed.

From the grounds the Mourne Mountains can clearly be seen.

The house has had a history of alterations and extensions and it was during the 19th Century that a ballroom and service wing were added by the grandson of the original owner.

In 1953 the 6th Earl of Clanwilliam demolished the ballroom section to the south-west and the service wing to the rear.

In 1979 the 6th Earl sold the estate to a consortium of businessmen who used the house for conferences and the land for forestry and farming.

In January, 1985, an extensive fire resulted in the demolition of the north wing, the rear apartments and part of the rear of the south wing.

The damage caused - contained in the east wing and the rear apartments - was so severe that this part of the house had to be demolished.

The present owners appointed Hobart & Heron to restore the house as a private residence.

Major works were undertaken and this included the rebuilding of the east wing.

The house is now fully reinstated to its former Italianate glory with all details of both internal and external adornment.

Original plastered ceilings, the work of Robert West of Dublin, carried out in 1758, still remain to this day and have also been restored.

Of the original two-storey house, only the small sitting-room (called the Lady's sitting-room) remains largely unaltered; while the imposing long gallery could once have been the original entrance hall.

The sitting-room ceiling contains plasterwork of exceptional quality.

Amidst the fiddle-shaped arabesques there are birds modelled in high relief, a squirrel and bunches of grapes.

At one end of the room is a triple niche, the side arches framing plaster scallop-shells, the central one containing a curious stucco relief of a fox driving a cockerel harnessed into an oval curricle.

The 2nd Earl of Moira, afterwards 1st Marquess of Hastings, who distinguished himself as a soldier in the American War of Independence and was subsequently Governor-General of India, sold Montalto in 1802 to David Ker.

Ker enlarged the house by undertaking what must have been an exceedingly difficult operation: he excavated the rock under the two-storey house and round the foundations, thus forming a new, lower ground floor, the structure supported by many arches and pillars.

Consequently, the new ground floor was much higher than any basement would be and the operation made the mansion fully three-storey.

Close to the front of the mansion, and overlooking the ornamental lake, there is a substantial mound said to have been built with the spoil from the excavation of the under-storey of the house, which contains a peculiar grotto or bath-house.

The entrance front is of two bays on either side of a three-sided bow; the front also having end-bows.

There is a shallow Doric porch at the foot of the central bow, the original portico having been removed during the Irish famine because neighbouring paupers caused inconvenience to the Ker family by taking shelter under it.

The right-hand side of the house is of ten bays, plus the end bow of the front.

The original ground floor is now the piano nobile.

In the ground floor of 1837 there is an imposing entrance hall with eight paired Doric columns, flanked by a library and dining-room.

A double staircase leads up to the piano nobile, where there is a long gallery running the entire width of the house, which could have been the original entrance hall.

Montalto was bought ca 1912 by the 5th Earl of Clanwilliam, whose bride refused to live at Gill Hall, the family seat a few miles to the west, on account of a regrettable infestation of ghosts.

The demesne is largely walled with 17th century origins.

It extends to roughly 470 acres today though in 1872 the estate comprised 20,544 acres.

As Lord Moira was a noted botanist, planter and improver, it is likely that Montalto once boasted many exotic specimens dating from his time.

In 1770, he expended £30,000 (£4.08 million in 2010) in planting over 100,000 timber trees between that date and his death in 1793.

There are good stands of mature trees on the undulating site.

The Battle of Ballynahinch in 1798 was fought within the demesne, which suffered damage in the conflict.

It is said that many thousands of forest trees were uprooted or broken in the ‘Big Wind’ of 1839.

There is no walled garden at Montalto, but there was a productive area enclosed by a beech hedge and an orchard.

Some of this still survives.

There is a lake with an artificial shape of a fish, which can be glimpsed across the lawns from the house.

A 1960s eye-catcher gate and clumps of flowering shrubs lie beyond.

An arboretum was added to the south-west of the house, beyond a hillock which contains the spoil from the basement of the house when it was dug out.

The arboretum is small but has a good representation of exotic trees from all over the temperate world. There was a summer house in this area.

The ‘Ladies Garden’ is on the north-east of the house.

Since the property had been acquired by Lord Clanwilliam in 1912, it became somewhat neglected in the second half of the 20th century.

It was sold in 1979 and became part of a business partnership which replanted the demesne in 1986-89.

The house has been in private hands since 1995.

Main Entrance

Other listed buildings on the property include the 1830s schoolhouse; the 1840s farm complex; the Spa Gate Lodge ca 1825, possibly Morrison; West Gate Lodge, pre-1834; and the Ballynahinch Gate Screen, 1870.

The Town Lodge is demolished and several grand designs exist for un-executed gate lodges and screens.


The mansion has been available as accommodation since March, 2010.

It has eight double bedrooms, a chef and concierge.



Circa 1840 one in every twenty acres in County Down belonged to the Ker family of Portavo, and they owned a further 6,000 acres in County Antrim.

The Kers were amongst Ireland's thirty wealthiest families.

David Stewart Ker continued from 1844 as an ideal and successful landlord, but the burning down of Portavo House in the same year led to his removal to his Montalto estate at Ballynahinch.

However, expenditure on relief work and the loss of rents during the Irish famine meant borrowing and sales of the library and 'Old Master' paintings.

David was returned as one of the Conservative MPs for County Down in the violent election of 1852, but at great financial cost to himself.

As a Liberal, he lost the 1857 election to the Conservative candidates.

His estate debts then exceeded a quarter of a million pounds, and his personal extravagance quickly disposed of the annual balance of about £6,500 available to him out of an estimated income of £31,600, once all outgoings had been paid.

He began selling off land in the Landed Estates Court in 1863.

By 1867 the estate debts had risen to £371,000 and David had taken to drink.

To add to his woes, his second wife and his 23-year old second son, Charley, ran off together in 1871 (Charlie committed suicide five years later).

In 1872, he was declared bankrupt, and management of the estates was placed in the hands of trustees, while he himself was pensioned off and his eldest son succeeded to the heavily encumbered estates.

Downpatrick had to be sold off in 1873 to one of the trustees, John Mulholland.

The surviving estates were in reality now run for the benefit of the creditors rather than the Kers (nevertheless, a modest replacement house was finally built at Portavo in 1885.)

In 1886, the current Ker incumbent of Montalto, the incorrigibly spendthrift Richard, ardent huntsman and womaniser, was receiving only £910 out of a gross income of £17,490.

In spite of the supreme efforts of his trustees and of his solicitor, William Wallace, he too ended up in the bankruptcy courts in 1898 at the age of forty-seven.

The agricultural part of the entire Ker estate was sold off in 1911 under the Wyndham Land Act and Montalto itself went to the Earl of Clanwilliam in 1912.

The house in the demesne at Portavo was to be the final Ulster home of the Kers.

However, by the 1970s the rejuvenated trust fund had been exhausted, and the overdraft had again risen to £80,000.

Home farm, demesne, house and its furnishings were sold off in 1980, and the resident Ker moved to Wiltshire, only to lose everything as a Lloyd's 'name' in 1992. 

First published in June, 2010. Hastings arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

1st Earl of Normanton

THE EARLS OF NORMANTON OWNED 7,625 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY TIPPERARY, 3,294 IN COUNTY KILKENNY, AND 1,003 IN COUNTY LIMERICK


CHARLES AGAR (1639-96), of York, Yorkshire, married Ellis, daughter of Peter Blancheville, of County Kilkenny, and settling at Gowran, in that county, died there, and was succeeded by his son,

JAMES AGAR (1672-1733), of Gowran Castle, MP for Gowran, 1713-15, who wedded firstly, in 1692, Susannah, daughter of John Alexander, but by that lady had no issue to survive youth.

He espoused secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Henry Wemyss, Knight, of Danesfort, County Kilkenny, and had by her (who died in 1771, aged 106),
HENRY, his heir;
James;
Ellis, created COUNTESS OF BRANDON;
Mary.
The elder son,

HENRY AGAR, MP for Gowran, 1727, married, in 1733, Anne, only daughter of the Most Rev Welbore Ellis, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
James, his heir, created VISCOUNT CLIFDEN;
Welbore Ellis;
CHARLES, of whom we treat;
Henry;
Diana.
The third son,

THE MOST REV AND RIGHT HON DR CHARLES AGAR (1736-1809), Lord Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland and Metropolitan, married, in 1776, Jane, daughter of William Benson, and had issue,
WELBORE ELLIS, his successor;
George Charles;
James (Rev);
Frances Anne.
Dr Agar was of Westminster School, and Christ Church, Oxford; he went as Chaplain with Hugh, 1st Duke, then Earl of Northumberland KG, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1763, and was promoted to the deanery of Kilmore, consecrated Lord Bishop of Cloyne, 1768, translated thence to the archbishopric of Cashel, 1771, and to the archbishopric of Dublin and primacy of Ireland, 1801.

His Grace was elevated to the peerage, in 1794, in the dignity of Baron Somerton; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1801, as Viscount Somerton.


He was further advanced to an earldom, in 1806, as EARL OF NORMANTON.

The 1st Earl was interred beside his Countess at Westminster Abbey.

The inscription on his great marble monument in the Abbey reads,

Sacred to the memory of Charles Agar, D.D. Earl of Normanton, and Archbishop of Dublin.

He was educated at Westminster School, and was a student of Christ-Church Oxford.

In 1768 he was consecrated Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland; and translated from thence to the Archbishopric of Cashel in 1779.

In 1795 he was created Baron Somerton of Somerton in the county of Kilkenny, and Viscount Somerton in 1800.

In the following year he became Archbishop of Dublin and in 1806 was created Earl of Normanton. 

He departed this life on the 14th of July 1809 aged 72 years and rests near this spot, in the same grave with his uncle the Right Honorable Welbore Ellis, Baron Mendip.

In the course of his episcopal labours not less than seventeen churches and twenty two glebe houses for the residence of his clergy were built under his direction and assistance; and he erected principally at his own expense the cathedral church of Cashel.

As a statesman and a prelate he was an able and zealous supporter of the religion which he professed and taught, and of the country at whose councils he assisted.

His care for the welfare of the church is testified by the numerous Acts of Parliament which he framed for its permanent regulation and support.

The perfect state in which his dioceses were left, and the veneration impressed by his talents and virtues on the hearts of those over whom he presided are far nobler monuments than any which can be erected to his memory.

His lordship's eldest son,

WELBORE ELLIS, 2nd Earl (1778-1868), of Somerley House, who wedded, in 1816, the Lady Diana Herbert, daughter of George, 11th Earl of Pembroke, and had issue,
JAMES CHARLES HERBERT WELBORE ELLIS, his successor;
Herbert Welbore Ellis;
Charles Welbore Herbert;
Mary Jane Diana.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES CHARLES HERBERT WELBORE ELLIS, 3rd Earl (1818-96), JP DL, of Somerley, who espoused, in 1856, Caroline Susan Augusta, daughter of William, 6th Viscount Barrington, and had issue,
CHARLES GEORGE WELBORE ELLIS, styled Viscount Somerton (1856-94);
SIDNEY JAMES, of whom hereafter;
Henry Augustus Bernard;
Francis William Arthur;
Caroline Elizabeth; Mary Beatrice; Margaret Elizabeth Diana; Mary Adelaide.
His lordship was succeeded by his second son,

SIDNEY JAMES, 4th Earl (1865-1933), of Somerley, who married, in 1894, the Lady Amy Frederica Alice Byng, daughter of Henry, 4th Earl of Strafford, and had issue,
EDWARD JOHN SIDNEY CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, his successor;
Georgiana Mary Elizabeth; Alexandra Henrietta Alice; Caroline Amy Cora;
Mary Karen; Diana Julia; Amy Louise; Rosemary Beatrice.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD JOHN SIDNEY CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, 5th Earl (1910-67), of Somerley, who wedded firstly, in 1937, Barbara Mary, daughter of Sir Frederick William Francis George Frankland Bt; and secondly, in 1944, the Lady Fiona Pratt, daughter of John, 4th Marquess Camden, and had issue,
SHAUN JAMES CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, his successor;
Mark Sidney Andrew.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

SHAUN JAMES CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, 6th Earl (1945-2019), of Somerley, who espoused firstly, in 1970, Victoria Susan, daughter of J H C Beard, and had issue,
JAMES SHAUN CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, his successor;
Portia Caroline; Marisa Charlotte.
He married secondly, after 2000, Rosalind Bernice Nott.

His lordship was succeeded by his son,

JAMES SHAUN CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS (1982-), 7th Earl, of Somerley, who married, in 2012, the Lady Lucy Caroline Alexander, daughter of Shane, 2nd Earl Alexander of Tunis, and has issue,
ARTHUR ALEXANDER CHRISTIAN WELBORE ELLIS, styled Viscount Somerton;
Frederick Charles Edward;
Georgiana Rose.
Seat ~ Somerley House, near Ringwood, Hampshire; former London residence ~ 3, Seamore Place, Curzon Street.

Normanton arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

1st Earl of Albemarle

ARNOLD JOOST VAN KEPPEL (1670-1718), Lord of Voorst, was descended from a very ancient family of the nobles of Gelderland, a province of the Netherlands, being a younger son of Oswald van Keppel, by Anna Geertruid van Lintelo his wife.

His younger brother, Johan Rabo van Keppel (1675-1733), was Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the States General, Colonel of a foot regiment, Postmaster-General of the Province of Gelderland, Bailiff of Bois-le-Duc, and a noble of the Province of Overiffel.

1st Earl of Albemarle. Photo Credit: The National Trust

This Arnold van Keppel accompanied the Prince of Orange, 1688, and, on the establishment of his royal master upon the throne of England, was created, in 1696, Baron Ashford, of Ashford, Kent, and Viscount Bury, Lancashire.

His lordship was advanced to an earldom, in 1697, as EARL OF ALBEMARLE, a town and territory in the Dukedom of Normandy.
Aumale, formerly known as Albemarle, is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region in north-western France. The town's Latin name was Alba Marla.
The 1st Earl was subsequently honoured with the Order of the Garter.

"About this time" says Bishop Burnet, "the King set up a new favourite, Keppel, a gentleman of Guelders, who was raised from a page into the highest degree of favour that any person had ever attained about the King.

"He was now made Earl of Albemarle, and soon after Knight of the Garter, and, by a quick and unaccountable progress, he seemed to have engrossed the royal favour so entirely that he disposed of everything that was in the King's power".

"He was a cheerful young man, that had the art to please, but was so much given up to his own pleasure that he could scarce submit to the attendance and drudgery that was necessary to maintain his post."

"He had never yet distinguished himself in anything".

"He was not cold nor dry, as the Earl of Portland was thought to be, who seemed to have the art of creating many enemies to himself, and not one friend; but the Earl of Albemarle had all the arts of a court, was civil to all, and procured many favours."

His lordship married, in 1701, Geertruid Johanna Quirina, daughter of Adam van der Duyn, and had issue,
WILLIAM ANNE, his successor;
Sophia.
He was a member of the nobles in Holland, Deputy Forester, General of the Horse, in the service of the States-General, Governor of Bois-le-Duc etc.

WILLIAM III held his lordship in the highest esteem and bequeathed to him, in a codicil annexed to His Majesty's last will and testament, the Lordship of Bredevoort and 200,000 guilders, the only legacy His Majesty gave from the Prince of Nassau-Dietz, whom he had made his heir.

His lordship was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM ANNE, 2nd Earl (1702-54), KG, who wedded, in 1722, the Lady Anne Lennox, daughter of Charles, 1st Duke of Richmond, by whom he had fifteen children, eight sons and seven daughters; only six of whom survived their infancy, viz.
GEORGE, his successor;
Augustus, created 1st VISCOUNT KEPPEL;
William;
Frederick (Rt Rev Hon), Lord Bishop of Exeter;
Caroline; Elizabeth.
His lordship, who was a General in the army and had been British Ambassador at the Court of Versailles, was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 3rd Earl (1724-72), KG, a military man, who served as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cumberland at the battle of Fontenoy, 1745, and the next year, being with His Royal Highness at Culloden, was bearer of the dispatches announcing the victory to London.

He subsequently attained the rank of Lieutenant-General, and was commander-in-chief at the reduction of Havana, where he acquired an accession of reputation and increase of fortune.

The 3rd Earl espoused, in 1770, Anne, youngest daughter of Sir John Miller, 4th Baronet, of Chichester, West Sussex, by whom he had an only son,

WILLIAM CHARLES, 4th Earl (1772-1849), GCH,
William Charles Keppel, 4th Earl (1772–1849);
Augustus Frederick Keppel, 5th Earl (1794–1851);
George Thomas Keppel, 6th Earl (1799–1891);
William Coutts Keppel, 7th Earl (1832–94);
Arnold Allan Cecil Keppel, 8th Earl (1858–1942);
Walter Egerton George Lucian Keppel, 9th Earl (1882–1979);
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl (b 1965).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Augustus Sergei Darius Keppel, styled Viscount Bury (b 2003).
The Earls of Albemarle held over 2,500 acres in County Leitrim in 1876. The 6th Earl served as High Sheriff of Leitrim, 1838. 
The 4th Earl was married to the Hon Elizabeth Southwell, daughter of Baron de Clifford, a family who also held lands in Leitrim; and it was through this union that the Keppels acquired their Leitrim estates. 
The 4th Earl also had some land in County Limerick, which came into the family through the marriage of the 2nd Earl and the daughter of the 1st Duke of Richmond in 1723. 
The Lady Mairi Bury (née Vane-Tempest-Stewart), daughter of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry, married, in 1940, Derek Keppel, styled Viscount Bury, son of the 9th Earl of Albemarle.
Former seats ~ Elveden Hall, Suffolk; Quidenham Hall, Norfolk.

First published in November, 2017.

1st Baron Rathcavan

THE HON (ROBERT WILLIAM) HUGH O'NEILL (1883-1982) was the third son of the 2nd Baron O'Neill.

Having served in the Army as a major, O'Neill entered politics and became the Northern Ireland parliament's first Speaker.

He was appointed to the Privy Council of Northern Ireland and became Lord-Lieutenant for County Antrim, 1949-59.

Speaker O'Neill was created a baronet in 1929, designated of Cleggan, County Antrim.

Sir Hugh was elevated to the peerage, in 1953,  in the dignity of BARON RATHCAVAN, of The Braid, County Antrim, when the baronetcy merged with the barony.

His lordship married, in 1909, Sylvia Irene, daughter of Walter Albert Sandeman, and had issue,
PHELIM ROBERT HUGH, his successor;
Con Douglas Walter (Sir), GCMG, father of Onora, Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve;
Nial Arthur Ramleh.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

PHELIM ROBERT HUGH, 2nd Baron (1909-94), PC, MP for North Antrim, 1959-72, who wedded firstly, Clare Désirée, daughter of Detmar Jennings Blow, and had issue,
HUGH DETMAR TORRENS, his successor;
Mary Rose.
He married secondly, in 1953, Bridget Doreen, daughter of Major the Hon Richard Coke, and had further issue,
Rosetta Anne; Kathleen; Moira Louisa; Grania Elizabeth.
The 2nd Baron undertook a not dissimilar career pattern as his father, entering politics having served in the Army.

He was, it is thought, a founder member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Lord Rathcavan lived at Lizard Manor, Aghadowey, County Londonderry, and Killala Lodge, County Mayo, Ireland, which was described thus in 1996:
The seven-bedroom Georgian house on five and a half acres is owned by Bridget Lady Rathcavan, widow of the well known Northern Ireland politician, Sir Phelim O'Neill.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

HUGH DETMAR TORRENS, 3rd Baron (1939-), of Cleggan Lodge, who married, in 1983, Sylvie Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Georges Wichard, and had issue, an only child,

FRANÇOIS HUGH NIAL (b 1984), his successor.

Lord Rathcavan (known as Hugh O'Neill in those days) was the proprietor of the Brompton Bar & Grill.


CLEGGAN LODGE, near Broughshane, County Antrim, has been owned at various times by the O'Neills and the O'Haras.

It is two-storey, with a front of two bows linked by a wooden first-floor balcony.

There are double gables. The roof formerly thatched and windows at one time latticed.

There is an octagonal drawing-room and dining-room; and an imposing double staircase.

There are modern additions to the rear.

Formerly a shooting lodge for Shane’s Castle, the site is known to have been in existence in 1777.

An entry for 1835 records that it was ‘… surrounded by extensive plantations chiefly consisting of fir and larch and extends over about 200 acres.’

Fraser described it in 1838 as, ‘… the beautiful hunting seat of Earl O’Neill’s.’

Extensive landscaping and tree planting were carried out, presumably as shelter and cover.

Cleggan Lodge was built by the 1st Earl O’Neill in 1822 in order to keep one of his mistresses, and as a shooting lodge on the edge of his extensive grouse moors in north Antrim. 

He died without a male heir and, after Gladstone’s Irish Land Acts, the great estates diminished.

In 1927, Sir Hugh O’Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan, bought the Cleggan Estate.

It was renovated in the 1920s in a fine elevated site with views of Slemish.

ha-ha separates the house from parkland.

There are good mature trees in the parkland and in woodland.

A considerable area was once ornamentally planted.

A lake is drained at present.

A pond, Fisher’s Pond, was added sometime before 1857 and a rockery made in the glen by the present owner's grandfather post-1927.

These features are partially maintained in that paths are kept clear.

A cultivated and productive garden is kept at the house in immaculate order, including herbaceous borders, a hot house and frames.

This present garden is post-1927.

One of the two gate lodges survives.

Cleggan estate extends to about 1,000 acres and is renowned for the Cleggan Shoot.

First published in June, 2010.  Rathcavan arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Annaghmore House

THE O'HARAS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY SLIGO, WITH 21,070 ACRES

CORMAC O'HARA (c1546-1612), of Collooney, County Sligo, married Una, daughter of _____ Gallagher, of County Galway, and had issue,
TEIGE, of whom hereafter;
Cormac, of Mollane;
Catherine; Annabella.
Mr O'Hara was succeeded by his eldest son,

TEIGE 'BOY' O'HARA (c1576-c1636), of Leiny, County Sligo, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1608, who wedded Sheela, daughter of _____ O'Rourke.

Mr O'Hara had issue, two sons, of whom the elder, Teige, of Collooney, born in 1612, died unmarried in 1634.

The younger son,

KEAN O'HARA (c1606-75), of Collooney and Annaghmore, County Sligo, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1665, succeeding his brother Teige in the family possessions, espoused firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir Adam Loftus, Knight, and widow of Richard, son and heir of Sir Lawrence Parsons, Knight, of Birr, and had issue,
ADAM, of Annaghmore;
CHARLES, died unmarried.
Mr O'Hara wedded secondly Rose, widow of William Crofton, daughter and heir of John Newman, of Dublin, by whom he had a son,

KEAN O'HARA, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1703, who succeeded to the family estates on the death of his two elder brothers without male issue.

He married Eleanor, daughter of Theobald Mathew, and sister of George Mathew, of Thomastown, County Tipperary.

Mr Kean O'Hara made a settlement to himself, for life, with remainder to his son and sons in tail male of the said estates.

By his said wife he had issue,
CHARLES, of whom presently;
Kean, of Kinsally, Co Dublin;
Adam.
The eldest son,

CHARLES O'HARA (1715-76), of Annaghmore, MP for Ballynakill, 1761-8, Armagh Borough, 1769-76, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1740, wedded, ca 1740, the Lady Mary Carmichael, eldest daughter of James, 2nd Earl of Hyndford, and sister of the Most Rev Dr William Carmichael, Lord Archbishop of Dublin.

By his wife he had issue two sons, the younger of whom, Captain William O'Hara RN, died unmarried.

The elder son,

CHARLES O'HARA (1746-1822), of Nymphsfield and Annaghmore, MP for Dungannon, 1776-83, County Sligo, 1783-1800, and one of the Governors of that county, wedded Margaret, daughter and heir of Dr John Cookson, of Yorkshire, and had issue,
CHARLES KING O'HARA;
Mary;
JANE FRANCES, of whom presently;
Charlotte.
The only son,

CHARLES KING O'HARA, of Annaghmore, born in 1785, who, by his will, devised his estates to his nephew, Charles Cooper, on condition that he should take the surname and quarter the arms of O'HARA.

Mr Charles O'Hara's second daughter,

MISS JANE FRANCES O'HARA, espoused, in 1810, Arthur Brooke Cooper, of Cooper's Hill, County Sligo, son of Arthur Cooper, of Cooper's Hill, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Guy Carleton, of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, and grandson, by Jane Cunningham his wife, of William Cooper, of Cooper's Hill, who was descendant of the same family as Cooper of Markree.

Mrs Cooper died in 1874, aged 94, leaving issue, two sons and four daughters,
Arthur Brooke, dvp;
CHARLES WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Margaret Sarah; Mary Jane Caroline; Jane Henrietta; Charlotte Anne.
Mr Cooper died in 1854.

The second son,

CHARLES WILLIAM O'HARA JP DL (1817-98), of Annaghmore and Cooper's Hill, MP for Sligo County, 1859-65, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1849, married, in 1858, Annie Charlotte, eldest daughter of Richard Shuttleworth Streatfeild, of The Rocks, Uckfield, Sussex, and had issue,
CHARLES KEAN, his heir;
Arthur Cooper, of Cooper's Hill;
Richard Edward;
William Henry;
Henry Streatfeild;
Alexander Perceval;
FREDERICK WILLIAM;
Errill Robert;
Charlotte Jane; Mary; Annie Frances; Emily Margaret; Jane Marian; Kathleen.
Mr O'Hara, whose patronymic was COOPER, assumed by royal licence, in 1860, the surname of O'HARA, in compliance with the testamentary injunction of his uncle, Charles King O'Hara, of Annaghmore.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES KEAN O'HARA OBE (1860-1947), of Annaghmore, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1886, Major, 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment.

Major O'Hara was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Sligo, from 1902 until 1922.

He was succeeded by his younger brother, Frederick William O’Hara (1875-1949), who in turn was succeeded by his son Donal Frederick O'Hara (1904-77).

Donal Frederick O'Hara passed on the estate to his eldest son, Dermot Charles O'Hara.

Durcan and Nicola O'Hara now live at Annaghmore.


Annaghmore House, Collooney, County Sligo (listed on Airbnb) has been the principal seat of the O'Haras since medieval times.

An earlier house on the site had been demolished by 1684.


Its successor was replaced by the present house of ca 1820, known in the 18th and early 19th centuries as Nymphsfield.

Annaghmore comprises a two-storey, three-bay centre, and an Ionic portico with single-storey, two-bay wings.

It was considerably enlarged about 1860-70 by Charles William O'Hara in the same late-Georgian style.


The wings were raised by a storey and extended to the rear, thus giving the mansion a side elevation as high as the front, and as long or longer.

Annaghmore remains the home of the O'Hara family today.

The former schoolhouse has been restored by the Irish Georgian Society and is available for rental.

First published in December, 2017.