Monday, 30 May 2016

The Johnston Baronetcy

THE JOHNSTON BARONETCY, OF GILFORD, COUNTY DOWN, WAS CREATED IN 1772 FOR RICHARD JOHNSTON, POLITICIAN

SIR WILLIAM JOHNSTON, Knight, of Gilford, County Down, married Nichola, daughter of Sir Nicholas Acheson Bt (ancestor of Lord Gosford), by whom he had four sons and a daughter.
In 1700, he inherited the Gilford estates of his uncle, Sir John Magill Bt, the estate having been founded by Captain John Magill in the 1660s, when he was given leases for the creation of a small village beside an important ford in the River Bann.
This gentleman was invested as a knight in 1714; High Sheriff of County Down, 1717; High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1721.

He died in 1722 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD JOHNSTON (1710-58), High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1733, and of County Down, 1735, and of County Monaghan, 1738, who wedded, in 1737, Catherine, daughter of the Rev John Gill, and had issue,
Robert;
RICHARD, of whom we treat;
Nicolina; Catherine.
The younger son,

RICHARD JOHNSTON (1743-95), of Gilford, High Sheriff of County Down, 1765, and of County Armagh, 1771, MP for Blessington, 1783-95, espoused, in 1764, Anne, daughter of William Alexander, and had issue,
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Mary Anne, m J Henry Burges, of Woodpark, Co Armagh;
Catherine, m Joseph Mason Ormsby.
Mr Johnston was created a baronet in 1772.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR WILLIAM JOHNSTON (1765-1841), 2nd Baronet, High Sheriff of County Down, 1788.

Sir William died at 32 Bryonston Square, London, unmarried.

He was buried at St Marylebone Church, London.

On his death, the baronetcy became extinct.

GILFORD CASTLE, Gilford, County Down, is a two-storey, Scottish-Baronial country house of ca 1870.

The entrance front has tall bay windows with balustrades; while the north front has a projecting gable wing with a side turret.

A slimmer projecting gable with window projection is on the ground floor.

An open stone porch with ball finials with balcony is over the doorway.

The brick outbuildings on the east front form part of a courtyard behind which there is a stone-faced, three-storey tower and stone arch into a courtyard.

The main house has five bedrooms, two bathrooms and four reception rooms, a large hallway and two kitchens.

The north wing has a further five bedrooms, two bathrooms and two reception rooms; while a smaller wing has two bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms.

The house was built for Benjamin Dickson, a partner in the local linen thread company of Dunbar McMaster.

It replaced a much earlier castle built by a descendant of Gilford’s earliest proprietor.

However, the current house was seldom inhabited until the ancestors of the present owners acquired the property in the early 20th century.

"Gilford Castle" is first shown, captioned, on a map of 1901-2, situated at the heart of extensive, partially wooded grounds, captioned Gilford Castle Demesne.

Earlier maps show a much smaller building, "Gilford Castle", at the edge of the demesne where it adjoined the town at Castle Street.

The first castle at Gilford is thought to have been built by William Johnston, a captain in the Royal Irish Dragoons, who inherited part of the Gilford estates from the grandson of Captain John Magill, a soldier in Cromwell’s army who was the early proprietor of Gilford and from whom the name of the town derives.

The first castle was probably built in the early 1700s by Sir William.

After his death in 1722 the castle and estates passed to his son Richard, and his grandson, also Richard, but following the death of Richard Johnston’s son William in 1841, the baronetcy became extinct.

The original castle and demesne were sold by William’s younger sister Catherine to Benjamin Dickson, who built the present castle.

The old castle fell into decay and was demolished in the 1860s prior to the completion of the new building.

The old castle stood on the south side of the present Castle Street, close to the road and on the edge of the demesne.

The present Gilford Castle, in the Scottish-Baronial style, was begun in the mid-1860s and completed ca 1870.

The designer is said to have been William Spence, a Scottish architect from Glasgow who also designed a house, Elmfield, for Dickson’s brother James.

Benjamin and James Dickson were partners in the Dunbar McMaster linen thread company on which the growth and prosperity of Gilford town was largely founded.

The new castle was considerably more centrally placed within the demesne and surrounding countryside and afforded a grand drive entrance.

Benjamin Dickson, however, does not appear to have ever inhabited Gilford Castle.

The castle was vacant until 1887, when it became the home of Percy Jocelyn McMaster, the younger brother of Hugh Dunbar McMaster, proprietor of Gilford Mill, who was resident at nearby Dunbarton House.

The house was let from Benjamin Dickson.

Nevertheless, McMaster’s tenancy was brief and by 1891 the house was again vacant.

A tenant named Purcell inhabited the castle for some time around 1896.

The 1901 census records the only occupant as being the gardener/caretaker, James Emerson, who occupied three rooms with his wife and six children, his 14-year-old daughter working as a seamstress.

In 1904 the house and demesne was purchased by Katherine Carleton for £15,000 (about £1.6 million today), the valuer noting that the cost of the building to Benjamin Dickson had been about £42,000 (c£4.5 million today) and that the price paid by Carleton was ‘the value of the land alone, the castle being given for nothing’.

In Katherine Carleton, the castle found a long-term resident for the first time since it had been built.

The 1911 census indicated that the 54-year-old spinster inhabited the castle with a female companion and two domestic servants, a cook and a parlourmaid.

In 1914, the house was purchased by James F Wright, whose descendants continue to live in the castle today.

In 1934 the accommodation comprised two reception rooms, a billiards room, library, study, two kitchens, two pantries, a scullery, larder and dairy.

On the first floor were six bedrooms, two dressing rooms, two bathrooms, a nursery, a sewing room and three maids’ rooms.

The second floor comprised two attic rooms.

During the 2nd World War most of Northern Ireland was a training ground for allied troops and there was a large concentration of army personnel based in Gilford, which with its woods, lakes and rivers and proximity to major transport routes was ideally suited to military training purposes.

The army made use of Nissen Huts erected for the purpose in Gilford Castle demesne, and in 1943 the demesne housed a squadron of US troops together with their medical detachment who built a temporary hospital to the rear of the castle.

Documents show that 35 acres of land were requisitioned by the War Department in October, 1940, and a further 1 rood and 15 perches in July, 1941.

The castle is currently a family home, and the owner, Christine Wright, is a well-known local artist, and Gilford Castle has been home to the Wright family since it was bought in 1914 by James F Wright, the grandfather of Christine's late husband, Michael.

Gilford Castle is not open to the public.

First published in January, 2011.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Glen Walk


By Jove it was busy at Mount Stewart estate, County Down, today. The overflow car-park in the large field was almost full.

Of course the popular Jazz in the Gardens event has been taking place this afternoon.

My purpose, however, was to explore the Glen in the demesne.

The glen is off the beaten track.

It begins at a junction on the Red Trail, where there's a small bridge.

One can follow the little river along a track till we reach the estate wall or boundary, where a stone arch passes over the river.

At this point the glen terminates.


There are oblong stepping-stones here, though the river is low at the moment and they are unnecessary.

Other features include a little hump-backed bridge and a more recent bridge in need of repair.


I will return to the Glen again in order to search for a former church or chapel, which was in another field beside the Glen.


On my way back I passed the former estate piggery.

Causeway Hotel: A Brief History


In November, 1836, Elizabeth Henry leased just over four acres of land in the townland of Ardihannon, County Antrim, from Sir Francis Workman-Macnaghten, 1st Baronet.

The Macnaghten Baronets, of Dundarave, were the major landowners in the area, owning 7,134 acres in 1876.

Miss Henry, formerly the proprietress of The Copeland Arms in Coleraine, proceeded building on the site; however, by 1841, her financial circumstances were such, that she was unable to complete the construction of her hotel on the Macnaghtens' land at The Giant's Causeway.

When she died, the Macnaghten mortgage debt was still outstanding.


In 1844, the Hotel was let to William McNaul, who pledged
BY diligence and attention to do all in my power to promote the comfort of my Guests, and they may depend on my always keeping a well stocked larder and being well supplied with the choicest Wines and Liquors.
Twenty years later, in 1863, a new lessee, William Coleman, ran the Hotel, the business at least servicing the interest on the debt for the Macnaghtens.

Mr Coleman was the proprietor of Coleman's Portrush Hotel.

On acquiring the Causeway Hotel, he demonstrated his flair for the catering industry in his press advertisement:
W Coleman begs to inform his patrons that he has become Proprietor of the GIANT'S CAUSEWAY HOTEL, which he has completely refitted. The arrangements and rates are the same as those which have given so much satisfaction at his Portrush Establishment.
The GIANT'S CAUSEWAY HOTEL, being immediately above the Causeway itself, is admirably situated for Tourists having only a short time to spare, and also for those who wish to spend some time in the neighbourhood. The Hotel is commodious, and, in every respect, a First class Establishment.
Mr Coleman added, in small print presumably (!),
Tourists are particularly requested not to engage either Guides or Boatmen till arrival at Giant's Causeway Hotel.
HOTEL CHARGES:-
Sitting-room per day ~ from 2 shillings (/) to 3/-
Bed-room ~ from 1/6 to 2/-
Sitting-room fire per day ~ 6d
Breakfast ~ from 1/6 to 2/-
Hot Lunch ~ 1/6
Cold Lunch ~ 1/3
Dinner ~ from 1/8 to 3/-
Visitors' Servants per day ~ 4/-
HOTEL ARRANGEMENTS:-
VISITORS taken at the under-mentioned charges:-
Board, including Bed-room ~ 35/- each per week
Sitting-room ~ from 12/- to 21/- each per week
Attendance ~ 5/-  each per week
Visitors' Servants ~ 21/- each per week
 
A Two-horse van leaves daily, from The Portrush Hotel for The Giant's Causeway, from 1st June to 1st October, at 9.40am, on arrival of first train from Belfast, returning at 2pm, in time for the afternoon trains. Fare:- Return, 2/-; Single, 1/6.
£2 (40/-) in 1860 was worth about £200 today.

By 1884, the Causeway Hotel and its strategic importance had, not surprisingly, come to the notice of the entrepreneurial Traills of Ballylough House.

Sir Francis Workman-Macnaghten, 3rd Baronet, had a meeting with William Atcheson Traill and his brother, Anthony, the result being that the Giant's Causeway Tramway took over the Causeway Hotel.


William Winter was employed to manage it.

This was a mutually beneficial arrangement: Sir Francis acquired a good tenant (with an option to purchase the hotel) to pay off the old debt; whereas the Traills' tramway company got vertical integration in their business.

Their passengers would be directed to their hotel to avail of the conveniences (!) etc.

Advertisements proclaimed that “the Causeway Hotel is now worked in connection with the Tramway."

In 1910, the Kane family purchased the Causeway Hotel; and in 1963 the Hotel was sold to Frank Fleming.

The last private proprietors of the Hotel were the Armstrong family, who sold it to The National Trust in 2001.

If there are any inaccuracies in this article, please let me know.

First published in May, 2014.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

HMS Caroline Video

HMS Caroline, a decommissioned light cruiser moored in Alexandra Dock, Belfast, will open as a museum ship on the 1st June, 2016.

Caroline was built in 1914.

Here's a fascinating video taken about five years ago:-

Friday, 27 May 2016

Cairndhu House


CAIRNDHU HOUSE, near Larne, County Antrim, was built for Mr Stewart Clark JP DL MP post-1878.
Mr Clark was a wealthy Scottish textile industrialist. He married Annie (daughter of John Smiley and sister of Sir Hugh Houston Smiley Bt). Their daughter Edith married Sir Thomas Dixon in 1906. 
Cairndhu comprises two storeys and many gables; though it's style is slightly Oriental, given that it boasts ornate, openwork bargeboards and an elaborate wooden veranda and balcony running for most of the frontage.

It was later extended, 1897-8, to the designs of Samuel P Close.


A collection of small buildings were on the site, presumably a farm, which in 1857 was called Seaview, the property of Robert Agnew.

Mr Clark bought Seaview in 1878, and would appear to have rebuilt it rather than remodelled or extended it, as there is now no trace of any earlier buildings.

The architect of the initial phase of Clark's building may have been Close.

The house was extended by Mr Clark at various times, the last time reportedly being in 1906.


Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Cairndhu in 1918.

The Dixons added the servants' dining hall.

In 1947, the Dixons donated the house and 162 acres of land to the NI Hospitals Authority. 

*****

SIR THOMAS DIXON, 2nd Baronet, married Edith, youngest daughter of Mr Stewart Clark, of Dundas Castle, South Queensferry, Scotland, and Cairndhu, in 1906, at Dalmeny Church, South Queensferry.

Edith Clark was the sister of Sir John Stewart-Clark, 1st Baronet.

After their marriage, the Dixons lived for varying periods at Graymount House, Hillsborough Castle, Drumadarragh, Luttrelstown, and Lucan, before purchasing Lady Dixon’s childhood summer residence, Cairndhu.

The estate increased in size to nearly 500 acres when the adjoining properties of Droagh (formerly Sir Edward Coey’s estate) and Carnfunnock (William Chaine’s property) were purchased.

The Dixon family held many house and garden parties and entertained public dignitaries with grouse shooting in the Antrim Hills. 

More improvements were made to the house including the servants' dining hall.

The house was beautiful and Cairndhu had a large workforce, with 20 indoors staff, kitchen staff, ladies maids and upstairs staff .

Sir Thomas occupied his time with livestock farming, including a herd of dairy cows.

The farm office, stables and cattle byres were based at Hillhead Farm, now the clubhouse of Cairndhu Golf Club. 

Mr. Frank Brownlow was responsible for looking after the extensive herds of cattle and sheep at Carnfunnock, Cairndhu and hill land at Ballyboley.

He travelled to auctions all over Ireland to purchase cattle for Sir Thomas and managed the farm at Cairndhu. 

The land at Cairndhu was used for grazing cattle, mainly Shorthorns and Galloway cattle, which were bred for beef.

Two or three mornings per week they would inspect the cattle together and if Mr Brownlow pointed out to Sir Thomas that neighbouring farms were for sale, such as Droagh Farm, Sir Thomas would buy them and knock down hedges to have his fields extended for grazing. 

Sir Thomas often had his chauffeur, Sandy Moreland, drive him round the fields in his yellow and black Rolls-Royce to see his cattle, land stewards and head gardeners.

There were twenty-two gardeners and estate workers. 

In 1937, when Carnfunnock was merged with Cairndhu, Mr Brownlow was responsible for the management of the whole estate, which consisted of 500 acres.

In September, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Sir Thomas, as Mayor of Larne (1939-41), handed over his Larne residence for use as a War Hospital Supply Depot and organised the YMCA canteen at the harbour. 

Lady Dixon was president of the Ulster Fund and War Hospital Supply Depot for Serving Forces (Larne Depot) with donations requested in October 1939 to purchase necessary materials.

Sir Thomas provided his land, though he and Lady Dixon were able to live independently in Cairndhu without being affected.

The Carnfunnock walled garden grew cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables that were used in Cairndhu or taken to Lady Dixon’s friends and family. 

In 1940 Lady Dixon gave one of their three Rolls-Royces to be converted into an ambulance for first-aid parties to the Larne A.R.P. Ambulance Service.

In May, 1947, Sir Thomas celebrated his 79th birthday, and the occasion was marked by announcing a generous gift: After forty years at Cairndhu, the Dixons donated their 60-room family home, with 100 acres of the estate, to the Ministry of Health and Local Government for use as a convalescent home and hospital. 

At the time, Lady Dixon said that she was very sorry to be going away from the house that her father built: “It’s too big for us now, though. It was different in the days when we could entertain.”

Sir Thomas died on holiday at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on 10th May, 1950, aged 81.

His body was brought back on the Stranraer steam-boat en route to his last residence, Wilmont House in Dunmurry.

The funeral service was held at Belfast Cathedral before burial at Dundonald Cemetery.

His younger brother Herbert, who had already been elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Glentoran, succeeded him in the baronetcy.

At the time of Sir Thomas’s death, his effects were valued at over £389,000.


Cairndhu was officially opened as a convalescent hospital in 1950, but funding difficulties meant that, in 1986, it was closed down by the Department of Health and Social Services. 

In 1995, the Lord Rana purchased Cairndhu House and the surrounding gardens from the council.

Cairndhu was originally built as a summer residence in 1875 on a beautiful site overlooking the sea, which hitherto had a small amount of planting around a former smaller house called Sea View.

The trees, forming an effective shelter-belt, date from the late 19th century.

The site benefited initially from the shelter-belts of the adjoining property, Carncastle Lodge (now Carnfunnock Country Park).

These adjacent sites are now both administered by Larne Borough Council.

Gardens developed round the house with steeply terraced lawns. The grounds rise on a steep slope from sea level, east to west.

The productive gardens were to the west side of the house at the most elevated level.

Vestiges of these remain and some dilapidated glass-houses.

There are good specimens of mature trees, shrub planting and lawns. The northern end is now a golf course.

First published in August, 2010.

The Adair Baronetcy

THE ADAIR BARONETCY, OF FLIXTON HALL, SUFFOLK, WAS CREATED IN 1838 FOR ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR
The family of ADAIR was settled in Scotland, and later in Ulster, for many generations, and, according to tradition, derived its descent from a junior branch of the noble house of FitzGerald, Earls of Desmond. 
NINIAN ADAIR, of Kinhilt, in Wigtownshire, lived in the early part of the 16th century, and was father of

WILLIAM ADAIR, of the same place, whose son,

NINIAN ADAIR, was father of

WILLIAM ADAIR, who acquired the estate of Ballymena, County Antrim. His son,

SIR ROBERT ADAIR, who received the honour of knighthood from CHARLES I, died in 1665.

He married Jean, daughter of Archibald Edmonstone, of Duntreath, in Stirlingshire, by whom he had a son,

WILLIAM ADAIR, who, by Anna Helena Scott, his wife (to whom he was married ca 1658), was father of

SIR ROBERT ADAIR, of Kinhilt and Ballymena, who raised a regiment of foot and a troop of horse for the service of WILLIAM III, and received the honour of knighthood from that monarch on the field after the battle of the Boyne.

Sir Robert died in 1745, having married four wives; by the first of whom, Penelope, daughter of Sir Robert Colville, Knight, he left a son,

WILLIAM ADAIR, captain of dragoons; who died in 1762, leaving by Catherine Smallman, his wife, a son and successor,

ROBERT ADAIR, who died in 1798, leaving by Anne his wife, daughter of Alexander McAuley, of the city of Dublin, barrister-at-law, a son,

WILLIAM ADAIR (1754-1844), of Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Colehayes Park, Devon, who wedded Camilla, daughter and heir Robert Shafto, of Benwell, Northumberland, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAFTO, his heir;
William Robert, died at Harrow School;
Alexander, of Hetherton Park;
Camilla.
Mr Adair was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR (1786-1869), of Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Ballymena, County Antrim, who wedded, in 1810, Elizabeth Maria, daughter of the Rev James Strode, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire.

Mr Adair was created a baronet in 1838.

By his wife he had issue,
ROBERT ALEXANDER SHAFTO, his successor;
Hugh Edward.
His elder son, 

SIR ROBERT ALEXANDER SHAFTO ADAIR (1811-86), 2nd Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, married Theodosia, daughter of General the Hon Robert Meade, second son of John, Earl of Clanwilliam; sometime MP for Cambridge.

In 1873, Sir Robert was elevated to the peerage, as BARON WAVENEY, of South Elmham, Suffolk.
In 1865, Adair began the construction in the demesne of Ballymena Castle, a substantial family residence in the Scottish baronial style. The castle was not completed until 1887, and was demolished in 1957 after having lain empty for some years and being vandalised; the site is now a car park. In 1870, Adair donated a People's Park to Ballymena, engaging fifty labourers to work for six months landscaping it.
The barony became extinct on his death in 1886, while he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother,

SIR HUGH EDWARD ADAIR JP DL (1815-1902), 3rd Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, who wedded, in 1856, Harriet Camilla, daughter of Alexander Adair, and had issue,
Hugh Alexander (1858-68);
FREDERICK EDWARD SHAFTO, his successor;
ROBERT SHAFTO, succeeded his brother;
Camilla Beatrix Mary.
Sir Hugh was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR FREDERICK EDWARD SHAFTO ADAIR JP (1860-1915), 4th Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, who died a bachelor, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

SIR ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR JP DL (1862-1949), 5th Baronet, who married, in 1890, Mary, daughter of Henry Anstey Bosanquet, and had issue,
Robert Desmond Shafto, died in infancy;
ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO, of whom hereafter;
Camilla Mary Shafto.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his only surviving son,

MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO ADAIR GCVO CB DSO MC JP DL (1897-1988), 6th and last Baronet, who espoused, in 1919, Enid Violet Ida, daughter of William Humble Dudley Ward, and had issue,
DESMOND ALLAN SHAFTO, predeceased his father;
Robert Dudley Shafto (1923-25);
Bridget Mary; Juliet Enid; Annabel Violet.
Sir Allan's only son,

Captain Desmond Allan Shafto Adair, born in 1920, died in 1943 at Italy, killed in action.

When the 6th Baronet died in 1988 the title became extinct.


THE CASTLE, Ballymena, County Antrim, was a large Scottish-Baronial Victorian house built in the 1870s for Sir Robert Adair, later 1st Baron Waveney.

It had a massive seven-storey tower at one end was built by Lanyon & Lynn of Belfast.

The original castle, built by the Adairs, was burnt in 1720.

The Adair estate at Ballymena was sold to the tenants in 1904 and the castle fell into disuse.


The castle was still standing in 1953, but badly damaged by arson in 1955 and condemned as unsafe the following year.

When the local council demolished it in 1957, Sir Allan Adair bought Holy Hill House, near Strabane, County Tyrone, and installed ten stained glass windows from the castle there, where they remain today.

First published in October, 2010.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Killeen Castle

THE EARLS OF FINGALL WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 9,589 ACRES

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

So early as the 11th century, we find

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

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

JOHN PLUNKETT, living at the time of HENRY III, had two sons,
John, ancestor of the BARONS LOUTH;
RICHARD, of whom hereafter.
RICHARD PLUNKETT, of Rathregan, County Meath, who, with his son and heir, RICHARD PLUNKETT, by royal writs of parliamentary summons, was summoned to, and sat in, the parliaments and council of 1374; the one as a baron, and the other "de consilio regis".

To the same parliament and council was also summoned as a baron "Waltero de Cusake Militi", Lord of Killeen, whose heir general afterwards, as wife of Christopher Plunkett, was previously thought to have first brought the dignity of a parliamentary barony into this branch of the Plunkett family, but how erroneously may best be seen by reference to the writs of summons during the reign of EDWARD III, before alluded to.

The younger Richard Plunkett was father of

SIR CHRISTOPHER PLUNKETT, Knight.

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

Sir Christopher was created, ca 1426, BARON KILLEEN.

He married, in 1403, Joan, only daughter and heir of Sir Lucas Cusack, Knight, Lord of Killeen, Dunsany, and Gerardstown, County Meath, and became, in her right, proprietor of the Barony of Killeen.

He was succeeded by his son and heir,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Baron (who, in an act of parliament during the reign of HENRY VI was called "Christofre Plunkett le puisne Seigneur de Killeen").

This feudal Lord wedded twice: firstly, to Genet, daughter of Bellew, of Bellewstown; by whom he had two sons.

He espoused secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Wells, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had a daughter and two sons.

Sir Christopher died in 1462, and was succeeded by his elder son,

CHRISTOPHER PLUNKETT, 3rd Baron (1440-c1469); who had summons to parliament in 1463.

His lordship died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

EDMOND, 4th Baron (c1450-1510), who had a son and heir,

JOHN, 5th Baron, who was sworn of the privy council of HENRY VIII, and was found by inquisition to have had four sons,
Patrick, dsp;
CHRISTOPHER, heir to his brother;
Henry;
James.
The eldest son,

PATRICK, 6th Baron (1521-c1526), was succeeded by his brother,

CHRISTOPHER, 7th Baron, who succeeded to the titles and estates.

His lordship was an active and gallant nobleman, who discharged many high functions and commissions under the royal authority.

He sat in the parliament of 1509, and having married the granddaughter of the 8th Baron Slane, left issue, three daughters, his co-heirs,
Maude, m 3rd Baron Louth;
Catherine, m David Sutton;
Margaret, m Nicholas Aylmer.
He died about 1567, and was succeeded by his brother,

JAMES, 8th Baron (c1542-95), whose inheritance of the ancient family dignity was not opposed or questioned by the daughters, co-heirs of his deceased brother, and he took his place in the House of Lords in 1585.

In 1589, he enfeoffed trustees in his family estates, and was succeeded at his decease by his son and heir,

CHRISTOPHER, 9th Baron (1564-1613), who, when aged 31, sat in the parliament of 1613; and dying soon afterwards, was succeeded by his eldest son,

LUKE, 10th Baron, styled Lucas More.

This nobleman had a large grant of territory in 1613, and was created EARL OF FINGALL in 1628, JAMES I precluding the honour by a most flattering letter beginning thus:-
That having received good testimonies of the virtuous and many good parts of his right trusty and well-beloved subject, the lord Baron Killeen, being one of the ancient nobility of Ireland, His Majesty was pleased ...
The titles became extinct on the death of the 12th Earl.


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

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

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

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


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

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

The 12th and last Earl sold Killeen Castle and Estate, in 1951, to Sir Victor Sassoon.

Lord Fingall remained as manager of the stud farm established near the castle.

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

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

Lord Fingall moved from the estate to Corballis on the Dunsany estate, then The Commons.

He died in 1984 and is buried at Dunsany Church.

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

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

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

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

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