Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Castlecomer House

THE WANDESFORDES WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 22,232 ACRES

This family was of great antiquity in Yorkshire.

JOHN DE WANDESFORDE, of Westwick, near Ripon, married, in 1368, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Henry de Musters, Knight, of Kirklington, Yorkshire, and widow of Alexander Mowbray.

He died in 1396, and was direct ancestor of

THOMAS WANDESFORDE, of Kirklington, in 1503, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Henry Pudsey.

He died in 1518, having had four sons and two daughters,
CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
William;
Michael;
John (Rev);
Ellen; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD, of Kirklington, espoused Anne, daughter of John Norton, and died in 1540, having had issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Christopher.
The elder son,

FRANCIS WANDESFORD, of Kirklington, married Anne, elder daughter and co-heir of John Fulthorpe, of Hipswell, and had by her (who wedded secondly, Christopher, younger son of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland),
CHRISTOPHER (Sir);
John;
Jane.
Mr Wandesford died in 1559, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD, Knight, of Kirklington, who received the honour of knighthood, 1586, and served as Sheriff of Yorkshire, 1578.

He espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Bowes, of Streatlam, and dying in 1590, was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR GEORGE WANDESFORD, Knight (1573-1612), of Kirklington, knighted by JAMES I, 1607, who wedded firstly, Catherine, daughter and co-heir of Ralph Hansby, of Beverley, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, his successor;
John;
Michael (Very Rev);
Anne.
Sir George espoused secondly, Mary, daughter of Robert Pamplin, and had a daughter, Margaret, and a son, WILLIAM WANDESFORDE, Citizen of London, to whom, and his heirs, his eldest brother, in 1637, gave £20 per annum, issuing out of the manor of Castlecomer, and payable upon Strongbow's tomb in Christ Church, Dublin.

Sir George was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1592-1640), being upon close habits of intimacy and friendship with Sir Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, accompanied that eminent and ill-fated nobleman into Ireland when he was constituted Chief Governor of that kingdom, was sworn of the Privy Council, and was appointed Master of the Rolls.

Mr Wandesford was one of the Lords Justices in 1636 and 1639; and was appointed, in 1640, Lord Deputy; but the fate of his friend Lord Strafford had so deep an effect upon him, that he died in that year.

He married, in 1614, Alice, daughter of Sir Hewet Osborne, of Kiveton, Yorkshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
CHRISTOPHER, successor to his brother;
John;
Catherine; Alice.
Mr Wandesford was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE WANDESFORD (1623-51), of Kirklington, who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1628-87), of Kirklington, who was created a baronet in 1662, designated  of Kirklington, Yorkshire.

He married, in 1651, Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Lowther Bt, of Lowther Hall, Westmorland, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
George;
Charles;
Mary; Eleanor; Catherine; Elizabeth; Alice; Frances; Christiana.
Sir Christopher, MP for Ripon, was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1656-1707), who was sworn of the Privy Council by WILLIAM III, and again, in 1702, by Queen ANNE, who elevated him to the peerage, in 1706, in the dignities of Baron Wandesforde and VISCOUNT CASTLECOMER.

He wedded, in 1683, Elizabeth, daughter of George Montagu, of Horton, Northamptonshire, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Viscount;
GEORGE, 4th Viscount;
John;
Richard;
Henrietta.
His lordship died in London, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Viscount (1684-1719), MP for Morpeth, 1710, and for Rippon, 1714.

In the latter year he was sworn of the Privy Council to GEORGE I, and the next year appointed Governor of County Kilkenny.

In 1717, he was constituted Secretary-at-War.

His lordship wedded, in 1715, Frances, daughter of Thomas, 1st Lord Pelham, and sister to Thomas, Duke of Newcastle, and had an only child,

CHRISTOPHER, 3rd Viscount (1717-36), who died in London of the smallpox, unmarried, and was succeeded by his uncle,

GEORGE, 4th Viscount (1687-51),
The 1st EARL OF WANDESFORD died in 1784, and his son having predeceased him, all his honours, including the baronetcy, became extinct, and his estates upon his only daughter,

THE LADY ANNE WANDESFORDE, who espoused, in 1769, John Butler, to whom the EARLDOM OF ORMONDE was restored by the House of Lords, 1791, as 17th Earl of Ormonde and 10th Earl of Ossory.

Her fourth, but second surviving son,

THE HON CHARLES HARWARD BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE (1780-1860), of Castlecomer and Kirklington, inherited his mother's estates, and assumed, in 1820, the additional surname of CLARKE after Butler; and, in 1830, the additional surnames of SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE after Butler-Clarke.

He espoused, in 1812, the Lady Sarah Butler, daughter of Henry Thomas, 2nd Earl of Carrick, and had issue,
John, dspvp;
HENRY BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE, died unmarried;
Walter, father of
CHARLES;
SARAH, of Castlecomer and Kirklington.
The Hon Charles Harward Butler C S Wandesforde was succeeded by his grandson,

CHARLES BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE, of Castlecomer and Kirklington, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1879, who died unmarried, 1881, and was succeeded by his aunt,

SARAH PRIOR-WANDESFORDE (1814-92), of Castlecomer, Kirklington, Hipswell, and Hudswell, Yorkshire, who married, in 1836, the Rev John Prior, of Mount Dillon, County Dublin, Rector of Kirklington, Yorkshire, son of the Rev Dr Thomas Prior, Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and had issue,
Charles Butler, father of RICHARD HENRY PRIOR-WANDESFORDE;
Henry Wallis;
Sarah Butler; Sophia Elizabeth.
Mrs Prior-Wandesforde succeeded to the Castlecomer and Kirklington estates on the death of her nephew, 1881, and in accordance with the provisions contained in her father's will, assumed, in 1882, for herself and her issue the additional surname and arms of WANDESFORDE.

She was succeeded by her grandson,

RICHARD HENRY PRIOR-WANDESFORDE JP DL (1870-), of Castlecomer and Kirklington Hall, Hipswell, and Hudswell, Yorkshire, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1894, who wedded, in 1896, Florence Jackson von Schwartz, daughter of the Rev Ferdinand Pryor, Rector of Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER BUTLER, b 1896;
Ferdinand Charles Richard, b 1897;
Richard Cambridge, b 1902;
Vera; Florence Doreen.
*****

During Lady Ormonde’s time on the estate, the coal mines were mainly run by master miners who leased the land and employed teams of about fifty men to operate them.

Her son, Charles Harward Butler-Clarke-Southwell-Wandesforde, took a great interest in the running of the estate and in the welfare of his tenants and attempted to reduce the role of "middle men" by reducing rents and providing assistance.

He even helped some of his tenants to emigrate.

He was succeeded by his daughter Sarah, who married John Prior.

She outlived all her children and was succeeded by her grandson Richard Henry who inherited the estates and assumed the Wandesforde name in 1892.

When Captain Richard Henry Prior-Wandesforde inherited the estate in the late 19th Century, the family owned thousands of acres of woodland in the area.

In previous years, the mines had been operated by master miners who leased the mines from the Wandesforde family, but ‘the Captain’ took personal control of the mines.

He introduced many improvements in the mine workings including overhead ropeways to transport the coal to the Deerpark railway depot.

He also established the Castlecomer Basket Factory, the Castlecomer Agricultural Bank and the Colliery Co-operative Society and built a number of housing schemes for the mine workers.

Captain Prior-Wandesforde took personal control of the coal mines and invested his own money in upgrading and modernising the mine workings.


CASTLECOMER HOUSE in County Kilkenny, the family seat, was originally built in 1638.

It was burned down during the battle of Castlecomer in 1798.

A larger house was built in its place, in 1802,  during the time of Lady Ormonde.

It was a very large 18th and 19th century mansion consisting of a square, two-storey main block with fronts of five bays; a slightly lower three-storey wing of great length.

There was a battlemented parapet on the main wing and block; rectangular sash windows, mostly astragals; and an enclosed Gothic porch.

Most of the building was demolished in 1975 as it was no longer in use and had fallen into disrepair.

Nothing now remains of the house.


Castlecomer Discovery Park is situated on grounds that once formed part of the Wandesforde family estate.

The Visitor Centre is located in what was originally the farm yard and kitchen gardens of the estate.

The stables and many of the farm buildings have been restored and now house the craft units and the education facilities.

The original walled garden is now home to a small herd of Fallow and Sika Deer and a flock of Jacob Sheep.

First published in December, 2011.

The Dixon Baronets

THE DIXON BARONETCY, OF BALLYMENOCK, WAS CREATED IN 1903 FOR DANIEL DIXON, LORD MAYOR OF BELFAST

THOMAS DIXON (1770-1849), of Bonamargy, near Ballycastle, County Antrim, married, in 1804, Mary McNeill, and had an only son,

THOMAS DIXON (1805-68), of Larne, County Antrim, a timber merchant and ship-owner, who wedded, in 1834, Sarah, daughter of Daniel McCambridge, and had issue,
Francis McCambridge (c1836-66);
Thomas S;
DANIEL, of whom hereafter;
Alexander McCambridge;
Mary McNeill; Sarah.
Mr Dixon's third son,

THE RT HON DANIEL DIXON JP DL (1844-1907), Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1893, 1901-3, 1905-6, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1896, MP for Belfast North, 1905-7, Privy Counsellor, espoused firstly, in 1867, Eliza, daughter of James Agnew, and had issue,
THOMAS JAMES, his heir.
He married secondly, in 1870, Annie, daughter of James Shaw, and had issue,
Daniel;
Frank;
HERBERT, 1ST BARON GLENTORAN;
Percy;
Evelyn Annie; Kate; Edith Sarah; Louise; Beatrice.
Photo Credit: Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Mr Dixon was created a baronet in 1903, designated of Ballymenock, County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON  SIR THOMAS JAMES DIXON (1868-1950), 2nd Baronet, JP, of Graymount and Drumadarragh, who wedded, in 1906, Edith Stewart, daughter of Stewart Clark, though the marriage was without issue.

Sir Thomas, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1912, County Down, 1913, Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, 1924-50, Privy Counsellor, was succeeded by his brother,

THE RT HON SIR HERBERT DIXON, 3rd Baronet (1880-1950), OBE PC, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1916, who espoused, in 1905, Emily Ina Florence, daughter of John George Barry, 5th Baron Clanmorris, and had issue,
DANIEL STEWART THOMAS BINGHAM, his successor;
Daphne Maude; Anne Lavinia; Angela Ierne Evelyn; Patricia Clare.
Sir Herbert was elevated to the peerage, in 1939, in the dignity of BARON GLENTORAN, of Ballyalloly, County Down.

His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

DANIEL STEWART THOMAS BINGHAM (1912-95), 2nd Baron and 4th Baronet, KBE, who wedded, in 1933, the Lady Diana Mary Wellesley, daughter of Henry Arthur Mornington, 3rd Earl Cowley, and had issue,
THOMAS ROBIN VALERIAN, his successor;
Peter Herbert;
Clare Rosalind.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS ROBIN VALERIAN, 3rd Baron and 5th Baronet (1935-).

First published in August, 2010.

Monday, 20 September 2021

The Murlough Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

PROPERTY: Murlough Nature Reserve, near Dundrum, County Down

DATE: 1967

EXTENT: 430.27 acres

DONOR: The Marquess of Downshire

*****

PROPERTY: Murlough House and lands

DATE: 1975

EXTENT: 265.79 acres

DONOR: Royal Bank of Scotland & John Hawkins (Trustee, Downshire Estates)

First published in January, 2015.

Kilwaughter Castle

THE AGNEWS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ANTRIM, WITH
9,770 ACRES 


PATRICK AGNEW, of Kilwaughter Castle, said to be a kinsman of the Agnew Baronets, of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire, a collector of rents in County Antrim, married Janet Shaw, and had a son,

JOHN AGNEW, who wedded his cousin, Eleanor Shaw, and had a son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who married and purchased the remaining lands at Kilwaughter which, until 1660, were owned by the Agnews of Lochnaw:
Sir Patrick Agnew, 1st Baronet, 8th Hereditary Sheriff of Lochnaw, father of Colonel Alexander Agnew, of Whitehills, who, with Andrew his brother, afterwards 9th Sheriff, was frequently in Ulster.
Mr Agnew, High Sheriff of Antrim, 1669, was succeeded by his son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who married and had issue,
PATRICK, of whom we treat;
Margaret, m James Crawford;
Jean, m Robert Blair, of Blairmount;
Helen, m James Stewart.
Mr Agnew died in 1724, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who wedded Martha Houston (or Houseton), of Craig, County Antrim, and had issue,
WILLIAM, of whom we treat;
Frances;
John;
James (?);
Patrick (?);
Henry, m Grace Harries, and left issue;
Hugh (?).
The eldest son,

WILLIAM AGNEW, married his cousin, Margaret Stewart, of Killymoon Castle, Cookstown, County Tyrone, and had issue,
James, died unmarried;
William, died unmarried;
MARIA, of whom we treat;
Jane, m Henry Shaw, afterwards of Ballygally.
Mr Agnew's elder daughter,

MARIA AGNEW, wedded firstly, James Ross; and secondly, Valentine Jones, by whom she had issue (with a daughter, Margaret), a son,

EDWARD JONES-AGNEW (1767-1834), MP for Antrim County, 1792-96, who succeeded his grandfather and assumed the additional surname of AGNEW.

He married Eleanor Galbraith, and and issue,
William;
Maria, m T C Simon.
Edward Jones-Agnew was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM AGNEW (1824-91), who died unmarried, and was succeeded in the Kilwaughter estate by his niece,

AUGUSTA, COUNTESS BALZANI (1847-95), only child of T C Simon and Maria (Agnew) Simon.

The Countess died in 1895, leaving two daughters,
Gendoluni, Madame Valensin;
Nora.

KILWAUGHTER CASTLE lies about three miles in a westerly direction from Larne in County Antrim.

The original tower-house was four storeys high with turrets, built for the Agnew family, tax collectors for JAMES VI.

The present building incorporates a Scottish style plantation house of ca 1622, built by Patrick Agnew, whose sister-in-law lived at Ballygalley Castle, which is near by.


Between 1803-07 the present Georgian castle was built for Edward Jones Agnew by John Nash in his "romantic castle" style.

There is a wide, round tower at one corner; and a polygonal tower at another.


The castle incorporates the substantial remains of a 17th century tower house.

The exact date and origin of the tower house is uncertain, though when it first became exposed due to dereliction in the 1950s it was identified as being of T-plan, four storeys in height, in Scottish style.

There are corbelled bartizan turrets at the four main corners, originally with narrow slit windows which were later enlarged.

The process of remodelling begun by Nash continued for some years, until at least 1830, when the oriel window on the east front was added.

Entrance Porch, Shipley-Bringhurst-Hargraves Collection, University of Delaware, Newark, USA

The chief architect was recorded in 1840 as John Nash, but Millar and Nelson of Belfast were seemingly also employed as architects.

Old photographs show that the Nash remodelling originally had elaborate Gothic-style timber tracery in all main windows on the south and east fronts.

The single-storey block on the south front was inserted between the original 17th century castle and the square end tower at some stage between 1832 and 1857.

On Edward Jones Agnew's death in 1834, ownership passed to his granddaughter who married her music teacher, an Italian count called Balzani.

The Music Room, Shipley-Bringhurst-Hargraves Collection, University of Delaware, Newark, USA

On the death of Count Ugo Balzani in 1916, the property passed to his daughters, Madame Valensin, of Florence, and her sister, Signorina Nora Balzani, of Rome.

At the outbreak of the 2nd World War in 1939, the sisters being resident in Italy, Kilwaughter Castle was declared "enemy holding" by the Custodian of Enemy Property and was transformed into an army camp.

Various British regiments were based there and finally it became an American Transit Camp.

It was occupied by military forces until 1945 and thereafter abandoned.

In 1951 it was bought by E H McConnell (Metals) Ltd of Belfast, who purchased it in order to recover lead, woodwork, slates and other fittings.

Subsequently it was left to decay.


At present the castle ruin is part of a farm.

The roof (part of which was originally sheathed with mere sand and tar) has collapsed, as have the floors.

Kilwaughter's parkland is early 19th century, possibly the work of the landscape gardener, John Sutherland; and provided a setting for the now-ruinous house.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1835 noted that the date "1566" was inscribed on a piece of iron on an oak door existing at that time; and it is known that the site had a Norman origin, because the remains of a motte exist nearby.

The 18th century house was set in a formal landscape, with a straight approach avenue aligned on the front door.

The parkland of ca 1810 has had its extensive shelter belts depleted and many parkland tress have been lost.

The artificial lake, created as a result of massive damming, is in danger of silting up.

The walled garden, in separate ownership from the greater part of the park, is partly cultivated.

There is an ice house near the lake.

The main entrance gates were designed by Nash ca 1807, but the lodge, ca 1835, is possibly by Millar and Nelson; a picturesque cottage with barge-boards and latticed windows.

First published in March, 2010.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Clonfert Palace

THE SEE of Clonfert was founded near the end of the 6th century.

It lies chiefly in County Galway; a small part of County Roscommon belongs to it; with a single parish, on the east of the River Shannon, in County Offaly.

The greatest length of this diocese is twenty-nine miles, and the greatest breadth twenty-five miles.


CLONFERT HOUSE, near Eyrecourt, County Galway, stands close to the small medieval cathedral.

It is a long, low, narrow building of two storeys with an attic of dormer gables.

Clonfert House was built ca 1635 and extended in the late 18th century.

The entrance front comprises eight bays.

There were Venetian windows set in arched openings; 17th century oak beams and joists; and the roof might also have dated from this time.

When the diocese of Cashel was united with those of Killaloe and Kilfenora in 1833, the episcopal palace and See lands were purchased by John Eyre Trench, a distant kinsman of the Earls of Clancarty.

Thereafter the Trenches of Clonfert owned 5,409 acres of land in the county.


In 1951, John Arthur Burdett Trench sold Clonfert House to Sir Oswald Mosley Bt, who proceeded to renovate Clonfert with his wife Diana, Lady Mosley, and their two sons.

The building was largely destroyed by an accidental fire in December, 1954, and has remained ruinous since then.


THE FIRST Church of Ireland prelate to reside at Clonfert House was probably the Rt Rev Robert Dawson, Lord Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, 1627-43.

Bishop Dawson, who succeeded to the prelacy in 1627, repaired (or rebuilt) and beautified Clonfert Palace.

A further twenty-two bishops followed, including the Right Rev Christopher Butson, in office from 1804-34, when the diocese merged with that of Killaloe and Kilfenora.

First published in September, 2015.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

The Cleggan Shoot

ALEX FLINT OF THE SHOOTING GAZETTE WROTE IN 2011 ABOUT A SHOOT AT CLEGGAN, LORD RATHCAVAN'S COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR BROUGHSHANE, COUNTY ANTRIM

"The main reason we go game shooting is because it is fun.

The thought of taking a day out to enjoy the countryside in the company of friends is reason enough for most of us to don our complicated tweeds, wrestle the shotgun from the cabinet and take on hours of driving to reach some far-flung corner of our islands.

Bad weather, however, tends to take the wind out of your sails.

Or sometimes firmly put the wind in your sails and the rain down your back.

When you find any game shooting which puts a smile on your face in spite of the conditions, you know you must have found something of a gem.

I was reliably informed that the week before my visit last October the guns had been taking on the impressive partridges of the Cleggan Shoot in their shirt sleeves.

This was cold comfort for the guns on this occasion, who found themselves bracing against the wind, and squinting through the rain in pursuit of their quarry.

In spite of this, you would be hard pressed to see a downcast face all day.

The Cleggan Shoot lies in the North Antrim hills above the Glens of Antrim, facing the Mull of Kintyre.

Partridge game shooting was started there in 2000, adding to the established pheasant game shooting.

The estate provides five partridge drives and nine main pheasant drives, with a further 10 drives used for smaller driven days and walked-up game shooting.

The attitude and atmosphere of the Cleggan Shoot is set by Lord Rathcavan, the estate owner, and shoot manager Joe Taylor.

Both men have a clear love of game shooting and of the countryside, and they have built up a team of like-minded people who give the game shooting its unique, welcoming feel.

Joe explains,
They’re a great bunch of lads, you won’t ever hear a cross word said between them. I think in 10 years I’ve only had two people leave - and you were probably better off without them. I think that says it all.
This is backed up by Adam Lucas, one of Cleggan’s dedicated pickers-up who has been with the estate for six years:
The game shooting is what brings you back, watching the game shooting and taking part by working the dogs. 
The teamwork here is great, it’s good fun and there’s never a bad word said. At lunchtime we get well fed and watered - it’s just an excellent day.
The guns on the day were more than happy to buy into the party spirit, it being a rare chance for a group of friends from all over Europe to get together.

One of the guns, Haiko Visser, explained to me what made the journey from Switzerland to Northern Ireland to shoot worth it:
“We came for the first time in 2009, and I’ve already booked up for next year. It’s a wonderful day out. For me it’s not just the game shooting which makes the day, it’s the whole weekend with the boys. 
We’re spread all over Europe, making it difficult to get together regularly. Game shooting is the perfect excuse and you certainly don’t get moaned at by your wife in the same way for going out to the pub.

“I live 20 miles south of Zurich, it’s a lovely part of the world - absolutely magnificent. Switzerland is a very outdoorsy sort of lifestyle. We’re all closeted up inside most of our lives when you think about it, so any chance to get outside - even on a day like this when it’s pouring with rain - is lovely. 
You’re outside with the amazing landscape all around you, the air is fresh and you’re not surrounded by people and being pushed off the pavement.

There is a balance to game shooting - why you do it, where you shoot, the quality of the game shooting and the people you do it with. I think this place has got the balance absolutely right.”
Each of the guns is put under the care of a specific picker-up who will watch and advise throughout the day.

This is particularly important due to the terrain of the estate, which once used to hold large numbers of grouse, and presents the partridges in a similar manner.

As such safety is paramount, which is reinforced in the briefing at the beginning of the day.

The nature of the terrain, being high on various hillsides and in deep valleys, offers a real variety of shooting.

Guns move onto the pegs quietly and are live immediately. 

The early birds do indeed burst off the hills like grouse, and the guns have to be ready to shoot them as such.

A long blast of a horn indicates the beaters are about to break the skyline, at which point the style of shooting changes and the drives become the more usual style of partridge shooting most guns will be used to.

In spite of the heavy rain the birds were extremely strong, flying hard and fast in consistent numbers interspersed with large coveys.

The birds are bought in as chicks from the first week of April, and sometimes even the last week of March, so by October they are already six months old.

This extra time obviously gives them time to adjust to the conditions on a Northern Ireland hillside, as it is most unusual to see birds flying so well in such tough conditions.

Both Joe Taylor and head-keeper Steven Baird have been working on the shoot for over 10 years, and deserve great credit for creating what is a very impressive shoot.

The main property on the 1,000 acres of the Cleggan Shoot, once a part of the vast O’Neill Estate, is an old shooting lodge.

It was built in 1822 on the edge of what were then very extensive grouse moors.

A love of shooting has been a feature of Lord Rathcavan’s family for several generations, as he explained:
I always shot as a boy - though I wasn’t much good at it. My grandfather was a tremendous shooting man all his life. He was the youngest son, and so bought Cleggan from his father in 1927. 
It remained part of the O’Neill estate in spite of the Land Act of the 1870s because shooting properties were exempt. All the shooting rights still belong to my cousin, who is the present Lord O’Neill.
A real highlight of the day, and one of the key criteria for judging any shoot, is the food on offer.

Lord Rathcavan was the proprietor of the Brasserie St Quentin on Knightsbridge, whose sign now hangs in the guns’ lunch room.

His son, the Hon Francois O’Neill, now owns and runs [ran] the award-winning Brompton Bar and Grill from the same site, so clearly a passion for food runs in the blood:-
“Shooting is about a lot more than just the shooting,” Lord Rathcavan explains. “The problem with being out here in Northern Ireland is we can’t hope to compete with the biggest shoots in England and Scotland, particularly the west country partridge shoots. As such we have to offer something different. 
One of the ways we do that is the cultivation of the special atmosphere we have here, a big part of which is our lunches.

“I buy the beef un-butchered from the local meat factory, making sure it’s all hung for 28 days. It’s so much better to see beef on the bone. I get the rib and stick it in the Aga at nine in the morning.
 
After an hour or so I cut the skirt off, which then goes in the beater’s oven with the two big hunks of shoulder they have cooked in their oven in their shoot room.

“I take the meat out of the oven at 12 and let it rest on top for about an hour, which is the most important part.
 
Isabel is our lunch steward, the most wonderful girl who does all the other bits of cooking. The guns get a good wine, and the meal ends with a cheese board.

“So many people come back here just because of our lunches - it’s all part of the camaraderie of the day.
 
You can always judge how good a day people are having at lunchtime as it’s their first opportunity to mull over the shooting. I think it’s all part of the experience."

Good though the food is, the quality of shooting on offer is not to be underestimated.

Thanks to the varied terrain there is a wide range of sport on offer, from driven partridge and pheasant days to smaller boundary days and walked-up woodcock shooting.

My old school pal Gavin Whittley pictured on the right in 2011


Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Read more at http://www.shootinggazette.co.uk/shootfeatures/527725/Game_shooting_at_the_Cleggan_shoot_County_Antrim.html#ljeDFR5RVMM2cQho.99
Unusually, the partridge shooting is charged on a fixed rate at £6,000 for a day on the basis of 300 birds.

Though most guns will be used to being charged on a per-bird basis, the flat fee actually works out as extremely good value, coming in at about £20 per bird.

Considering the quality of sport on offer, even in the rain, this seems like a bargain to me".

First published in July, 2011. 

Friday, 17 September 2021

The Mount Stewart Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

PROPERTY: Mount Stewart Gardens, County Down

DATE: 1955

EXTENT: 77.38 acres

DONOR: Derek, Viscount Bury

*****

PROPERTY: Temple of the Winds, Mount Stewart Estate

DATE: 1963

EXTENT: 3.61 acres

DONOR: Mairi, Viscountess Bury (the Lady Mairi Bury)

*****

PROPERTY: Mount Stewart House

DATE: 1976

EXTENT: 13.03 acres

DONOR: The Lady Mairi Bury

*****

PROPERTY: Mount Stewart Land and Buildings

DATE: 1987-2009

EXTENT: 6.43 acres

DONOR: The Lady Mairi Bury

*****

PROPERTY: Mount Stewart Lands

DATE: 2015

EXTENT: 900 acres.

First published in January, 2015.