Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Barmeath Castle


This very ancient family, of Norman descent, is supposed to have been founded in England by a marshal in the army of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

It was amongst the first Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland, and it always enjoyed distinction and opulence.

ROGER DE BELLEW came to Ireland with HENRY II in the 12th century.

From this gentleman, the common ancestor, descended

SIR JOHN BELLEW, knight, of Bellewstown, and the Roche, successor to his father in 1542, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir Oliver Plunkett, of Beaulieu, and left, with other issue, a son and successor,

SIR JOHN BELLEW, knight, of Bellewstown, who married the Hon Margaret Plunkett, daughter of Oliver, 1st Lord Louth.

His second son,

JOHN BELLEW, of Lisfranon and Grallanstown, married and had issue, the eldest son,

PATRICK BELLEW, of Lisfranon and Grallanstown, who married Mary, daughter of James Waring, of Waringstown, County Down, and had a son,

SIR JOHN BELLEW, of Lisfranon and Grallanstown, MP for Louth, 1639. His son,

PATRICK BELLEW, of Barmeath, or Bellew Mount, was created a baronet in 1688.

Sir Patrick wedded Miss Barnewall, sister of Sir Patrick Barnewall Bt, of Crickstown Castle, and had five sons and six daughters.

He died in 1716, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN BELLEW (c1660-1734), 2nd Baronet, of Barmeath, County Louth, and of Castle Bellew, County Galway.

This gentleman espoused firstly, in 1685, Mary, daughter of Edward Taylor, and eventually heiress of her brother, Nicholas Taylor, by whom he had three sons and an only daughter.

He married secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Curling, storekeeper of Londonderry during the memorable siege of that city, by whom he seven sons and three daughters.

Sir John was succeeded by his second and eldest surviving son,

SIR EDWARD BELLEW (c1695-1741), 3rd Baronet, who wedded Eleanor, eldest daughter and co-heir of Michael Moore, of Drogheda, by whom he left four sons and an only daughter.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN BELLEW (1728-50), 4th Baronet, at whose decease (of smallpox) unmarried, the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR PATRICK BELLEW (c1735-95), 5th Baronet, who espoused Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Matthew Hore, of Shandon, County Waterford, and had, with nine sons, two daughters.

His eldest son,

SIR EDWARD BELLEW (c1760-1827), 6th Baronet, married, in 1786, Mary Anne, daughter and sole heir of Richard Strange, of Rockwell Castle, County Kilkenny, by whom he had,
Richard Montesquieu.
His eldest son, 

THE RT HON SIR PATRICK BELLEW (1798-1866), 7th Baronet,
High Sheriff of Louth, 1831; MP for Louth, 1831-37; Lord-Lieutenant of Louth,1831-66; Privy Counsellor,1838; Commissioner of National Education [Ireland,1839-66.
Sir Patrick was elevated to the peerage in 1848, as BARON BELLEW, of Barmeath, County Louth. 

EDWARD JOSEPH, 2nd Baron, Sheriff of Louth, 1854; Major, the Louth Militia.

CHARLES BERTRAM, 3rd Baron, Captain, 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles; Sheriff of Louth, 1875; a Representative Peer for Ireland (Liberal Unionist), 1904-11.

served in the Afghan War, 1878-79; the Nile Expedition 1884-85; and the South African War 1900-01; took the additional name of Bryan by Royal Warrant 1880 under the will of his uncle, George Leopold Bryan, of Jenkinstown Park, co Kilkenny; Lord-Lieutenant of Louth, 1898-1911; High Sheriff of Louth 1902; a Representative Peer for Ireland, 1914-35. 
Served in World War I, 1914-18, as Capt, RAF; MBE, 1919; he and his wife adopted, in 1918, the Hon Barbara Mary Corisande (b 1917), who married, in 1936, (div. 1948) Major Cholmeley Dering Harrison, only son of Col Cholmeley Harrison CMG CBE, and has issue.
BRYAN BERTRAM, 6th Baron, MC (1890-1981). Served in World War I, 1914-18, as Lieutenant, South Irish Horse; MC, 1916.

JAMES BRYAN, 7th Baron (1920-2010), Captain, Irish Guards.

BRYAN EDWARD, 8th and present Baron (b 1943). Sometime major, Irish Guards.

BARMEATH CASTLE, near Dunleer, is one of County Louth's most outstanding country houses.

The Bellew family have lived here since the 12th century.

The Castle has manifested the changing fortunes of the family: The exuberantly crenellated façade of the 1830s and the designs of Thomas Smith contribute to its appeal and the survival of some of the earlier fabric contributes to its archaeological and historical merit.

Originally the site of a medieval castle of the Pale, it was enlarged in the mid-18th century into a Georgian residence. At this stage it was a plain three storey, seven bay, double gable-ended house.

In 1839 it was enlarged and castellated to the designs of either John B Keane or Thomas Smith.

What was formerly the entrance front, gained two corner round towers and became the garden front.

To one end of the side elevation, a new entrance was created with a romanesque arch and a square entrance tower, which acted as a porte-cochère.

On the other side, a long wing with turrets and castellation was added to create a courtyard.

The original Georgian façade is still very obvious, especially on the garden front (above).

The interior is intact Georgian with fine plasterwork and a staircase. One of the upstairs rooms features Masonic emblems and was built for the purpose of lodge meetings.

The ornamental river, designed by Thomas Wright, along with the outbuildings and paired gate lodges, add to the overall original site context.

First published in October, 2012.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Blue Tit Nest

I cleared out the blue tit nest-box today.

It's located on a wall at the north side of the house.

As can be seen, one chick didn't manage to fledge.

Drum Manor


DRUM MANOR, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, built in 1829, was originally called Oaklands.

It was remodelled and extended in 1869 to the designs of the archtiect William Hastings, and renamed Drum Manor.

The house of 1829 was built for Major William Stewart Richardson-Brady, DL, and comprised a triple-gabled east front, of which only the ground floor blind walling, rectangular bay windows and polygonal south-east bay remain.

The extensions of 1869 were built for Lord Stuart, and were described at the time as the "tower and main building" of which only the four-storey tower survives intact.

Of Hastings' original main building the remaining north front, including the main entrance porch, the south front, and probably also the porch on the east side may be identified.

In addition, the south terrace balustrading and steps, and the screen wall and gateway of 1876, may be attributed to Hastings.

Hastings' other works here included the two gate lodges, also of the 1870s.

The manor house was semi-derelict by 1970, with slated roofs, though the roofs were later removed, gables taken down, and the entire interior space, apart from the tower, cleared away to form an open garden within mainly ground floor perimeter walls. 

It owes its origins to the marriage in 1868 of Henry James Stuart-Richardson, Viscount Stuart (later 5th Earl Castle Stewart) to Augusta Liviscount Richardson-Brady, heiress to the Oaklands estate.

Lord Stuart's armorial bearings (top) adorn the manor house.

Augusta Richardson-Brady was Major Richardson-Brady's daughter.

Her second marriage was to Lord Stuart in 1866. 

She died in 1908 at Drum Manor, without male issue.

In 1865, her name was legally changed to Augusta Liviscount Richardson-Brady by Royal Licence; and, from 1867, her married name became Stuart-Richardson. 

As a result of her marriage, she became the Countess Castle Stewart in 1874.

Immediately upon marriage, Lord Stuart set about reconstructing Oaklands into the Tudor-Revival Drum Manor. 

This battlemented sandstone structure once had a tall tower to the east, near the entrance front which was dominated by a huge entrance portal; surmounted by a large tracery window which contained Victorian armorial stained-glass.

Lord Stuart was also responsible for setting out the formal gardens and demesne which survive to this day.

TODAY, Drum Manor Forest Park is one of Cookstown District's largest tourist attractions, though only the ground floor outer walls of the manor house survive.

The Northern Ireland Forest Service acquired the estate from the Close family in 1964, and opened it as a forest park in 1970.

The tower and the ground floor walls of the early Victorian manor-house remain intact. 

The balustrade terrace is worth visiting, as the pleasure-grounds and backdrop were specifically designed to provide an impressive vista from this single vantage point.

The pleasure grounds and ponds were developed during a major alteration of the house in the 1870s.

They contain a number of interesting tree species, and the layout of the plantings was carried out deliberately to create a special atmosphere.

Drum Manor Forest Park has many facilities available for educational visits including nature trails, guided tours, picnic areas, seasonal cafe, disabled access toilets and commercially managed forest. 

The forest plots were established from 1965 onwards and include both native and exotic tree species.

The demesne (then known as Oaklands) was established in the 18th century. 

The present house of 1829 exists as a shell. This serves the purpose of retaining the main building within the landscape but it is unfortunate that it no longer exists as usable. 

In an attempt to avoid incurring rates liability, the Forest Service demolished the mansion.

The manor house was partially demolished in 1975 and a ‘Japanese’ garden was created within the ruins.

A tower, from which there are fine views and additions of 1896, is notable.

There are many excellent ornamental attributes within the site and good planting.

There are mature stands of beech, including a beech shelter belt on the southern perimeter, with a walk inside and a now disused beech avenue leading from a former entrance on the northern side.

The terracing on the south (garden) front of the manor-house survives, complete with a little stone summer house.

This leads to lawns, with trees and shrubs and on to a series of large artificial ponds or lakes, the western of which is silted up.

There are pleasant walks round the lake via bridges. The walled garden is divided into two parts, formerly laid out in box edges beds in a geometric pattern.

These were grubbed out in favour of a 1970s layout and planting, which is maintained.

Part of the walled garden is designated as a butterfly garden. The Gardener’s House lies between the walled gardens and is in good repair. 

The stable yard, farm yard and haggard are now car parks.

There are two listed lodges of ca 1870, of which the Cookstown Gate has an impressive entrance archway.

Changes in road alignment have altered the shape of the demesne, which is now 227 acres. 

It was taken over for forestry in 1964 and designated a Forest Park in 1970; the site is a well maintained public amenity with good facilities. 

First published in March, 2011.   I am grateful to the Countess Castle Stewart for information.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Coolamber Manor


MAJOR ROBERT BLACKALL (d 1840) served in the Honourable East India Company. His only son,

COLONEL SAMUEL WENSLEY BLACKALL (1809-71), was educated in 1824 at Trinity College Dublin;  lieutenant, 1827-33, in the 85th Regiment; High Sheriff of County Longford,1833; major, the Royal Longford Militia; MP for Longford, 1847-5.
Colonel Blackall was Lieutenant-Governor of Dominica, 1851-57; High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1861; Governor of Sierra Leone, 1862-65; Governor of the West African Settlements, 1865-68; Governor of Queensland, 1868-71.
Adelaide was the daughter of Samuel Wensley Blackall and Catherine Bond, his wife. She married Captain the Hon Ernest Grey Lambton Cochrane, son of the 10th Earl of Dundonald, in 1864; though sadly she died a few weeks later.

COOLAMBER MANOR, near Lisryan, County Longford, is said to be the finest country house of its era and type in County Longford.

It is built in a late-Georgian/Regency classical idiom, and retains its early form, character and the majority of its early fabric despite the construction of a number of modern extensions to the rear.

The giant order pilasters between the bays of the two main façades, along with the very prominent eaves cornice and blocking course, lend this building a distinctive appearance that is reminiscent of a contemporary seaside villa.

The giant pilasters add interest to the main façade, creating a stepped profile that gives this façade a robust but surprising delicate architectural character.

The full-height three-bay bow to the east elevation is another interesting architectural element that helps to add further visual impact when approaching the building along the main avenue, and creates an imposing and handsome silhouette in the landscape.

The plan of the house is quite unusual, with the stair hall to one side of the building (west), which is lit by an enormous round-headed window opening with tripartite timber sash windows.

The house also retains many notable features and materials that enhance the building, including timber sash windows and cut limestone steps with ornate cast-iron railings to the entrance.

Coolamber Manor was built to designs by the eminent architect John Hargrave, who worked extensively in County Longford during the 1820s.

The house was built for Colonel Samuel Wesley Blackall (1809-71), though may have replaced an earlier house associated with the Blackalls (Major Robert Blackall, 1764-1855, father of the above, lived in Longford in the late-18th century).

Cooamber later became the home of the Stanley family (Burroughs Stanley in 1894); and then the Wingfield family.

It was sold ca 1960 and was in use as a rehabilitation centre until recently.

Extending to 15,255 square feet, the manor house is a three-bay, two-storey over basement residence, built in the late Georgian/Regency period.

Adding to its distinctive appearance, the house retains many of its original features that include timber sash windows, cut limestone steps, and ornate cast-iron railings.

Accommodation comprises four reception rooms, a large commercial kitchen and bakery, two gyms, billiards-room, two shower rooms and fourteen bedrooms.

Accessed through an arch, the two cut stone courtyards have been well maintained over the years and are in excellent condition. These have been fully converted to include four training rooms, a number of two-bedroom apartments, laundry room, stables, tack room, and some lofted stores.

Adjoining these is the farmyard which features a number of slatted and loose-bedded sheds, silage slabs, a disused dairy, and hay sheds.

There are also two other bungalow residences on the property, both of which have their own access.

The present estate includes good stables and 157 acres.

It stands on its original splendour, to the front of Coolamber Wood, adorned by landscaped lawns and gardens, and a well kept farmyard.

First published in October, 2012.

Discover Northern Ireland

This invaluable guide-book encapsulates the very quintessence of Northern Ireland and our best places to visit.

It was first published in 1976 by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board; then revised in 1977.

A third edition was published in 1981.

Discover Northern Ireland  was written by Ernest Sandford. The media has described it thus:
A wonderful guidebook, an eminently readable guidebook ... it should be considered as a school textbook for local information ... in its detail and general comprehensiveness it is unique.
It's indispensable to me. I use it regularly.

This is the definitive guide to Northern Ireland.

First published in March, 2010.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Police Memorial Service

THE PRINCE OF WALES, Patron, is this afternoon attending the National Police Memorial Day Service in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

His Royal Highness was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE).

Belvoir House: 1914


These pictures were taken during a journey in 1914 by Grace de Pesters-MacColl, Raoul de Pester's grandmother.

Mr de Pesters has kindly provided me with the collection.

The top picture shows Belvoir House from the east elevation.

The retaining wall (which still exists) can clearly be seen, with sweeping parkland below.

The image below is an aspect of Belvoir from the north-east.

I HAVE WRITTEN at length about Belvoir House and estate, which was once home to aristocracy, gentry and business men.

In 1900, Walter Wilson leased Belvoir from Lord Deramore.


WALTER HENRY WILSON JP (1839-1904), of Maryville, and of Cranmore, Belfast, married Sarah Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heir of James Owen Wynne, of Hazelwood.

In 1900, Mr Wilson took a 20 year lease of Belvoir Park from Lord Deramore.

Mr Wilson, a shipbuilder, was partner in the Belfast shipyard, Harland and Wolff, with Lord Pirrie.

His first marital home was at 1 Botanic Avenue, Belfast. Mr Wilson subsequently rented Stranmillis House, prior to leasing Belvoir.

He subsequently purchased Cranmore House, adjacent to Maryville, his old family home.

His eldest son,  

ALEXANDER GEORGE WILSON JP, of Maryville and Cranmore, born in 1876, was a lieutenant in the Army Motor Reserve; educated at Cheam and Harrow. He succeeded his father in 1904.

The lease on Belvoir Park was terminated in 1918.

First published in October, 2012.