Tuesday, 19 March 2019

1st Viscount Taaffe

THE TAAFFES OWNED 1,277 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY LOUTH


The members of this noble family resided, for a series of years, in the Austrian dominions, and filled the highest and most confidential employments, civil and military, under the imperial government, doubtless from having been, from theretofore, as Roman Catholics, debarred the prouder gratification of serving their own.

The Taaffes were of great antiquity in the counties of Louth and Sligo, and produced, in ancient times, many distinguished and eminent persons; among whom was Sir Richard Taaffe, who flourished during the reign of EDWARD I, and died in 1287.


Contemporary with Sir Richard was the Lord (Nicholas) Taaffe, who died in 1288, leaving two sons: John Taaffe, Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1306, and

RICHARD FITZ-NICHOLAS TAAFFE, whose eldest son,

RICHARD TAAFFE, was seated at Ballybraggan and Castle Lumpnagh.

This gentleman served the office of sheriff of County Louth in 1315, and to his custody was committed the person of Hugh de Lacy, the younger, Earl of Ulster, after his condemnation for high treason, in inciting the invasion of Ireland, by Edward Bruce, until the execution of that unfortunate nobleman at Drogheda.

From this Richard lineally descended

SIR WILLIAM TAAFFE, Knight, of Harleston, in Norfolk, who distinguished himself by his services to the Crown, during the Earl of Tyrone's rebellion, in 1597; and subsequently maintained his reputation against the Spanish force, which landed at Kinsale in 1601.

Sir William died in 1630, and was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN TAAFFE, Knight, who was advanced to the Irish peerage, in 1628, by the title of Baron Ballymote and VISCOUNT TAAFFE, of Corren, both in County Sligo.

His lordship married Anne, daughter of Theobald, 1st Viscount Dillon, by whom he had (with other issue),
THEOBALD, his heir;
Lucas, major-general in the army;
Francis, colonel in the army;
Edward;
Peter, in holy orders;
Jasper, slain in battle;
WILLIAM.
His lordship died in 1642, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THEOBALD, 2nd Viscount (c1603-77), who was advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF CARLINGFORD, in 1662.

This nobleman espoused zealously the royal cause during the civil wars, and had his estate sequestered by the Usurper.

After the Restoration, he obtained, however, a pension of £800 a year; and, upon being advanced in the peerage, received a grant of £4,000 a year, of the rents payable to the Crown, out of the retrenched lands of adventurers and soldiers, during such time as the same remained in the common stock of reprisals, and out of forfeited jointures, mortgages etc.

His lordship was succeeded at his decease by his eldest surviving son,

NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl and 3rd Viscount, who fell at the battle of the Boyne, in the command of a regiment of foot, under the banner of JAMES II; and, leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his brother,

FRANCIS, 3rd Earl (1639-1704), the celebrated Count Taaffe, of the Germanic Empire.

This nobleman, who was sent in his youth to the city of Olmuts, to prosecute his studies, became, first, one of the pages of honour to the Emperor Ferdinand; and, soon after, obtained a captain's commission from CHARLES V, Duke of Lorraine, in his own regiment.

He was, subsequently, chamberlain to the emperor, a marshal of the empire, and counsellor of the state and cabinet.

His lordship was so highly esteemed by most of the crowned heads of Europe that, when he succeeded to his hereditary honours, he was exempted from forfeiture, by a special clause in the English act of parliament, during the reign of WILLIAM AND MARY.

His lordship died in 1704, and leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his nephew,

THEOBALD, 4th Earl, son of Major the Hon John Taaffe, who fell before Londonderry, in the service of JAMES II, by the Lady Rose Lambart, daughter of Charles, 1st Earl of Cavan.

He married Amelia, youngest daughter of Luke, 3rd Earl of Fingal; but dying without issue, in 1738, the earldom expired, while the viscountcy and barony passed to his next heir male,

NICHOLAS, Count Taaffe (c1685-1769), of the Germanic Empire, as 6th Viscount.

This nobleman obtained the golden key, as chamberlain, from the Emperor CHARLES VI, as he did from His Imperial Majesty's successor, which mark of distinction both his sons enjoyed.

His lordship, as Count Taaffe, obtained great renown during the war with the Turks, in 1738, and achieved the victory of BELGRADE with high honour.

He married Mary Anne, daughter and heiress of Count Spendler, of Lintz, in Upper Austria, a lady of the bedchamber to Her Imperial and Hungarian Majesty, and had issue,
John, predeceased his father;
Francis, dsp.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1762-1830), 7th Viscount, who espoused, in 1787, the Countess Josephine Haugwitz, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his successor;
Louis;
Clementina.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

FRANCIS JOHN CHARLES JOSEPH RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1788-1849), 8th Viscount, who wedded, in 1811, the Countess Antonia Amade de Várkony, and had issue.

Successor to the claim

  • Richard Taaffe (1898–1967), entitled to petition for restoration of the viscountcy, but never did so.
Carlingford arms

Lord Taaffe was seated at Ellischau Castle, Bohemia.

Under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917, his name was removed from the roll of the Peers of Ireland by Order of the King in Council, 1919, for bearing arms against the United Kingdom in the 1st World War.

In 1919, he also lost his title as Count of the Holy Roman Empire, when the newly-established republic of Austria abolished the nobility and outlawed the use of noble titles.

Independent of the legal situation in the UK, the monarchy was abolished in Austria in 1918, and in 1919 the newly established republic of German Austria abolished all noble titles by law.

Heinrich, Count Taaffe, 12th Viscount Taaffe, thus lost both his titles and ended his life as plain Mr Taaffe.

He married, in 1897, in Vienna, Maria Magda Fuchs, and they had a son, Richard (1898–1967).

Upon the death of his first wife in 1918, he married, secondly, Aglaë Isescu,, in 1919, at Ellischau.

He died in Vienna in 1928, aged 56.

EDWARD CHARLES RICHARD TAAFFE (1898–1967) was an Austrian gemmologist who found the first cut and polished taaffeite in November 1945.

Mr Taaffe inherited neither the viscountcy nor the title of Count, as Austria had generally abolished titles of nobility in 1919.

With Richard Taaffe's death in 1967, no heirs to either title remained and both the Austrian and the UK titles became extinct.

Portions of the Taaffes'  County Sligo estate were offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1852.

In 1866-67, John Taaffe offered for sale his estate at Gleneask and lands at Drumraine, in the barony of Corran.

In 1880 John West Pollock offered over 500 acres of the Taaffe estate in the barony of Corran for sale in the Land Judges' Court.

The Gleneask estate derived from an 1808 lease between Henry King and John Taaffe; while the Drumraine lease dated from the same period from the Parke estate.

The Taaffe family are also recorded as the owners of 833 acres in County Galway in the 1870s.

The family also held extensive properties in counties Louth and Meath.

The Congested Districts Board acquired over 5,000 acres of the Taaffe estate in the early 20th century.


SMARMORE CASTLE, near Ardee, County Louth, is claimed to be one of the longest continuously inhabited castles in Ireland.

Records show that William Taaffe was seated here in 1320, after his family arrived in Ireland from Wales at the turn of the 12th century.

Successive generations of Taaffes continued to make Smarmore Castle their main residence in Ireland until the mid 1980s, when the property was sold.

The castle is divided into three distinct sections comprising an early 14th century castle-keep with extensions on either side built ca 1720 and 1760 respectively.

The castle is built of local stone and its walls are eight feet thick.


The 18th century courtyard behind the castle was formerly the stables for the estate.

First published in October, 2012.  Carlingford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

O'Hara of O'Harabrook

GEORGE TAIT, who married Catherine, only daughter and heiress of Cormac O'Hara, of Drummully, County Cavan, a descendant of the ancient family of O'HARA OF ANNAGHMORE, was father of

CHARLES O'HARA JP, of O'Harabrook, County Antrim, Colonel in General Bragg's Regiment, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1758, who married, in 1752, Helen, daughter of Alexander Duncan, of Lundie, Angus, and had a son,

HENRY O'HARA JP (1759-1823), of O'Harabrook, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1785, Lieutenant-Colonel, Antrim Militia, who wedded firstly, in 1782, Amy Lloyd, by whom he had a son, Richard, Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, who died in Jamaica, 1812, and two daughters, Katherine and Mary.

He espoused secondly, in 1792, Eleanor Dunn, and had issue,
CHARLES, of whom presently;
William, d unm 1827;
Henry Robert, d unm 1854;
JAMES DUNN, succeeded his brother;
Eleanor; Helen Elizabeth; Grace; Anne Martha; Louisa; Maria.
Mr O'Hara married thirdly, 1808, Sophia Thwaites, but had no issue by her.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

CHARLES O'HARA JP (1797-1873), of O'Harabrook, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1833, who married, in 1823, Margaret, eldest daughter of Arthur Innes, of Dromantine, County Down, and had issue,
Arthur (1828-66);
William (1830-59);
James (1835-70);
Anne; Ellen Sophia.
Mr O'Hara, leaving no surviving male issue, was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV JAMES DUNN O'HARA (1801-93), of the Castle, Portstewart, and O'Harabrook, County Antrim, Rector of Coleraine, who wedded, in 1842, Caroline Deffel, daughter of William Alves, of Enham Place, Hampshire, and had issue,
HENRY STEWART, his heir;
William James;
Sarah Caroline; Helen Sophia; Caroline Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

THE RT REV HENRY STEWART O'HARA (1843-1923), of the Palace, Waterford, late of O'Hara Brook, Lord Bishop of Cashel, Emly, Waterford, amd Lismore, espoused, in 1872, Hatton Thomasina, daughter of Thomas Scott DL, of Willsboro', County Londonderry.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Waringstown House

THE WARINGS OWNED 2,438 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

This branch of the ancient family of WARING of Lancashire, whose patriarch,

MILES DE GUARIN, came to England with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, was established in Ulster during the reign of Queen MARY, when its ancestor fled to that province to avoid the persecution of the Lollards.

In the reign of JAMES II, the Warings of Waringstown suffered outlawry, and their home was taken possession of by the Irish at the period of the Revolution, and most of their family records destroyed.

JOHN WARING settled within the civil parish of Toome, County Antrim, and married Mary, daughter of the Rev Thomas Pierse, Vicar of Derriaghy, in that county, by whom he had three sons and several daughters.
One of Mr Waring's sons, Thomas, carried on the family tradition of tanning, having settled in Belfast about 1640. Since he was English and not Presbyterian, he had no difficulty in dealing with the Cromwellian regime.

Having become one of its most prosperous citizens, Thomas Waring was appointed Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast, 1652-55. He lived in Waring Street.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM WARING (1619-1703), became possessed (by purchase from the soldiers of Lord Deputy Fleetwood's regiment of horse) in 1656, of the district of Clanconnell (of which the Waringstown estate formed a part), and shortly after built the present mansion and adjoining church.

He served as High Sheriff of County Down in 1659.

Mr Waring wedded firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Gardiner, of Londonderry, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Mary, m Richard Close of Drumbanagher.
He espoused secondly, Jane, daughter of John Close, and by her had issue, with six daughters, seven sons, of whom the eldest,
THOMAS, High Sheriff of Co Down, 1724.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING (1660-1739), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1690, MP for Hillsborough, 1703-15, married, in 1696, Grace, daughter of the Rev Samuel Holt, of County Meath, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Richard, died unmarried;
Holt, a major in the army;
Jane, m to Alexander Macnaghten;
Sarah; Frances; Alice.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING, of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1734, died unmarried, 1793, and was succeeded by his nephew (5th son of Major Holt Waring),

THE VERY REV HOLT WARING (1766-1830), of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore, who married, in 1793, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of the Rev Averell Daniel, Rector of Lifford, County Donegal, and had issue,
Eliza Jane;
Anne;
Louisa;
Frances Grace, m Henry Waring, of Waringstown;
Jane.
The Dean's cousin and son-in-law,

MAJOR HENRY WARING JP (1795-1866), of Waringstown, espoused, in 1824, Frances Grace, fourth daughter of the Very Rev Holt Waring, of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore; and had (with three other sons, who died in infancy),
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Holt;
Henry;
Mary Louisa; Elizabeth Mary; Frances Jane; Anne; Susan; Selina Grace.
Mr Waring was succeeded by his eldest son, 

COLONEL THOMAS WARING JP, (1828-98), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1868-9, MP for County Down, who married firstly, in 1858, Esther, third daughter of Ross Thompson Smyth, of Ardmore, County Londonderry. She dsp 1873.

He wedded secondly, in 1874, Fanny, fourth daughter of Admiral John Jervis Tucker, of Trematon Castle, Cornwall, and had issue,
HOLT, his heir;
Ruric Henry, Lieutenant RN;
Esther Marian; Mary Theresa; Frances Joan Alice.
Colonel Waring espoused thirdly, in 1885, Geraldine, third daughter of Alexander Stewart, of Ballyedmond, Rostrevor, County Down.

The eldest son, 

HOLT WARING JP DL (1877-1918), married, in 1914, Margaret Alicia (1887–1968), youngest daughter of Joseph Charlton Parr, of Grappenhall Heyes, Warrington, Cheshire,  banker, industrialist, and landowner, though the marriage was without issue.

MARGARET ALICIA WARING CBE JP, widowed in 1918.

When her husband was killed in action at Kemmel Hill, France, she chose to remain at the Waring family's 17th century home, Waringstown House, and became active within the local community.
Mrs Waring took a keen interest in Orangeism, serving as deputy grand mistress of Ireland, county grand mistress of Down, and district mistress of Down lodge no. 4 in the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in 1929.
In 1929, she was elected to the Northern Ireland parliament as the official Unionist candidate for the single-seat constituency of Iveagh in County Down.

She was one of only two women standing for election and, as the only one to be elected, became the third female member of the Northern Ireland parliament (her two predecessors being Dehra Parker and Julia McMordie).

In 1933, she was appointed CBE for Political, Philanthropic, and Public Services.

Following her retirement from parliament, Mrs Waring continued to participate in public affairs.

From the mid-1930s, she was a member of the Northern Ireland war pensions committee, and in 1934 became a member of the Northern Ireland unemployment assistance board.

A longstanding enthusiast for cricket, in 1923 she was the first woman elected onto the committee of the Northern [Ireland] Cricket Union, and in 1954 became its president.

Failing health in later life having caused her to withdraw from wider public activities.

Mrs Waring died at Waringstown House, Waringstown, County Down, on the 9th May, 1968.

The Waringstown estate was inherited by her nephew, Michael Harnett, his wife Anne, and their children, Jane and William.


WARINGSTOWN HOUSE, Waringstown, County Down, is said to be one of the earliest surviving unfortified Ulster houses.

It was built by William Waring - who also erected the adjacent church -  in 1667.

The house seems to have been originally of two storeys with an attic; with pedimented, curvilinear gables along the front, still existent at the sides.

The front was swiftly raised to form three storeys, thus providing a late 17th or early 18th century appearance.

The centre block is of six bays, with a pedimented doorcase flanked by two narrow windows.

The two central bays are enclosed with rusticated quoins, as are the sides of the centre block and wings.

The front is elongated by two short sweeps, ending in piers with finials.

There are lofty, Tudor-Revival chimneys.

Waringstown House lay empty for a period, when Mrs D G Waring died in 1968.

The Waring family used to own a town house at 13 Victoria Square in London.


THE DEMESNE grounds here have their origin in the late 17th century and are surprisingly modest, considering the considerable architectural importance of this house, built on rising ground (apparently on the site of a rath) by William Waring (1619-1703), who founded the village, formerly Clanconnel.

In 1689, the extension was added to the south by the Duke of Schomberg, who occupied the house before the battle of the Boyne.

Pineapple-topped gate pillars are in the yard, possibly of early 18th century date.

The original house had a bawn, outside of which lay, as shown on a map of 1703, a series of regular enclosures, some of which were gardens and orchards.

These formal grounds, evidently expanded by William's son, Samuel Waring MP (1657-1739), contained some fine trees: In 1802, the Rev John Dubourdieu noted that there were then oaks of great size, a notable walnut in the ‘yard adjoining the house’ and ‘some of the largest beech in this county’.

Some of these were evidently lost in the "Big Wind" of January, 1839, when it was reported that ‘a row of noble beeches were prostrated’.

Although in the later 18th century the grounds were naturalised and extended with additional shelter belt plantations by Samuel Waring (1697-1793), much of original early 18th century planting survived into the 19th century.

In 1837, for example, Lewis remarked on the ‘ancient and flourishing forest trees’ that then existed at Waringstown, noting also that ‘the pleasure grounds, gardens and shrubberies are extensive and kept in the best order’.

The Ordnance Memoirs, also written in the 1830s, noted that the early Victorian gardens here included an ‘ornamental ground very tasteful’ and a flower garden ‘reckoned the best in the county’; this were located to the south of the house.

To the northwest lay the kitchen garden, which was 18th century in origin and enclosed with clipped beech hedges rather than walls. It was approached by a long path from the house court and contained kitchen stuff and orchards; this is no longer used as originally intended.

To the west of the house there is a Victorian rockery, made of massive flints from Magheralin, with a pond and rustic stone arch, built sometime after 1834 and before 1860.

In the 1980s, Alan Mitchell made a list of the present collection of flora, now in possession of the owner of the house.

The UAHS publication for the area (1968) noted that the grounds and planting here associated with the building, were not just ‘of equal value as a setting and an amenity’, but were also important to the village of Waringstown itself - a self-evident observation perhaps, but worth re-stating.

By and large, the layout of the demesne has changed little from 1834.

The southern end is taken up by the cricket ground, which includes a rath.

First published in March, 2013.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

English Lesson

Jeeves in the Offing was published by Sir P G Wodehouse in 1960.

In Chapter Eighteen Bertie Wooster is discussing his old prep schoolmaster, Aubrey Upjohn MA:-

“Audacity,” I said, throwing her the line.

“The audacity to dictate to me who I shall have in my house.”

It should have been “whom”,  but I let it go.

“You have the ...”

“Crust”.

“...the immortal rind,” she amended, and I have to admit it was stronger, “to tell me whom” - she got it right that time - “I may entertain at Brinkley Court, and who” - wrong again - “I may not.”

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Mount Trenchard House

THE SPRING-RICES, BARONS MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LIMERICK, WITH 6,445 ACRES

EDWARD RICE, of Dingle, County Kerry, during the reign of HENRY VIII, married Anne, daughter of John Wall, of County Limerick, and was father of

ROBERT RICE, of Dingle, who wedded Julia, daughter of Sir James Whyte, Knight, of Cashel, County Tipperary, and was father of

STEPHEN RICE, of Dingle, MP for Kerry, 1613, who made a deed of settlement of his estates, 1619, and died in 1623.

He espoused Helena, daughter of Thomas Trant, of Cahirtrant, County Kerry, and had two sons, JAMES, MP for Dingle, 1635, from whom descended the RT HON THOMAS SPRING-RICE MP, of Mount Trenchard, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon; and

DOMINICK RICE, MP for Dingle, 1635, who married Alice, daughter of James Hussey, Baron of Galtrim, from which marriage descended

THE RT HON SIR STEPHEN RICE (1637-1715), Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and a supporter of JAMES II, who wedded Mary, daughter of Thomas FitzGerald, of County Limerick, and had issue,
THOMAS;
EDWARD, of whom we treat.
Sir Stephen's elder son,

THOMAS RICE, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son,

STEPHEN EDWARD RICE, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Mary; Catherine Ann.
Mr Rice died in 1831, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS SPRING-RICE (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39, who wedded firstly, in 1811, the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick, and had issue,
STEPHEN EDMUND, his successor;
Charles William Thomas, father of SIR CECIL SPRING-RICE GCMG GCVO;
Edmund Henry;
Aubrey Richard;
William Cecil;
Mary Alicia Pery; Theodosia Alicia Ellen F Charlotte; Catherine Anne Lucy.
Mr Spring Rice was elevated to the peerage, in 1839, by the title of BARON MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON, of Brandon, County Kerry.

My his first wife he had issue,
STEPHEN EDMOND, his successor;
Charles William Thomas;
Edmond Henry Francis Louis;
Aubrey Richard;
William Cecil;
Theodosia Alicia Ellen F Charlotte; Mary Alicia Pery; Catherine Anne Lucy.
His lordship's eldest son,

THE HON STEPHEN EDMOND SPRING-RICE (1814-65), of Mount Trenchard, espoused, in 1839, Ellen Mary, daughter of William Frere, and had issue,
THOMAS, 2nd Baron;
FRANCIS, 4th Baron;
Aileen; Lucy; Theodosia; Mary; Alice; Frederica; Catherine Ellen; Amy.
The Hon Stephen Edmond Spring-Rice predeceased his father, and was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1849-1926), of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1875, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Most Rev and Rt Hon Samuel Butcher, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
Stephen Edmond (1877-1900);
THOMAS AUBREY, 3rd Baron;
Mary Ellen (1880-1924), of Mount Trenchard.
***** 
Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron (1849–1926);
Thomas Aubrey Spring Rice, 3rd Baron (1883–1934);
Francis Spring Rice, 4th Baron (1852–1937);
Charles Spring Rice, 5th Baron (1887–1946);
Gerald Spring Rice, 6th Baron (1926–2013);
Charles James Spring Rice, 7th Baron (b 1953).
The heir presumptive is the present holder's uncle, the Hon Michael Spring Rice (b 1935).
The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son, Jonathan Spring Rice (b 1964).
The heir presumptive's heir apparent's heir apparent is his son, Jamie Alexander Spring Rice (b 2003).

MOUNT TRENCHARD HOUSE, near Foynes, County Limerick, is a late-Georgian house of three storeys over a basement, with two curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the River Shannon estuary.


There is a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front, too.

One side of the house has a two-storey Victorian wing, which is almost as high as the main block; while the other side has a one bay, three storey addition and a lower two-storey wing.


Mount Trenchard was occupied by the Irish Army in 1944.

When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.

Lady Holland lived there for several years.

In 1954, the Sisters of Mercy acquired the estate and ran it as a private school for girls.

They extended the complex to include inter alia a large 1960s dormitory block, classrooms and a church.

Mount Trenchard House became the preserve of the nuns and continued in use as a dwelling.

Subsequent owners acquired the estate in 1996 and began restoring Mount Trenchard House for use as a centre for holistic medicine.

One aspect of the conservation plan was to restore the historic approach to the house which was originally from the south side (in the second half of the 19th century the house had been re-oriented to the north).

This involved changes to the present grounds and paths and woodlands, on the recommendation of the architects leading the project, the owners appointed me to advise them on the forestry and arboriculture aspects of the woodland, heritage, veteran/ancient and champion trees on the estate.

Mount Trenchard is currently used by an agency of the Irish government as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers.

First published in January, 2013.

Wilmont House

THE BRISTOWS OWNED 124 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM


WILMONT HOUSE, Dunmurry, is located on Upper Malone Road in south Belfast.

It is a plain two-storey Victorian house, built in 1859, with a three-bay front and a balustraded porch.

There is a lower wing, ending with the wing as high as the main block.

The adjoining front has a central curved bow and one bay on either side; and camber-headed windows in the upper storey of the main block.

The roof is eaved on a bracket cornice.

There is a good article here about Wilmont's history.

The estate was formed in the mid-18th century by William Stewart, a member of a family which had come from Scotland, over a century before, to neighbouring Ballydrain.

The Stewarts were prominent farmers.
It is recorded that carrots, on a field scale, were grown at Wilmont in the early 1800s - a novel crop in those days - and that one of the early threshing machines was erected on the Wilmont Farm in 1811. There was a bleach-green on the property until 1815.
Bleach-greens, common features of the Lagan Valley during the 18th and 19th centuries, consisted of grass areas where long strips of brown linen were pegged out to bleach in natural light.

The original house, which stood on the site of the present-day barbecue area, dated back to 1740 and was replaced by the present red-bricked house in 1859.


This house was designed by Thomas Jackson (1807-90), one of Belfast`s most notable Victorian architects.

Wilmont House is typical of Jackson's domestic designs, sensibly and comfortably planned, undemonstrative in an age when many buildings were excessively ornate, and providing a composition entirely suiting the situation.

One unusual feature of the house is the false window which has been painted on the brickwork above the porch to balance the facade composition.

In the 19th century, Wilmont was inhabited by the Bristow family, influential bankers who were descendants of the Rev William Bristow, Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast in the latter years of the 18th century.

The initials of James Bristow, the first of the family to take up residence, are inscribed on the side of the house.


The Bristows sold Wilmont to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade, JP, DL (1837-1913) in 1879.

His son, George Reade, subsequently sold the house to Sir Thomas Dixon Bt.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Wilmont demesne in 1919.

Wilmont was one of three homes belonging to the Dixons, the others being Drumadarragh and Cairndhu, both in County Antrim.

The Dixons were a highly respected and illustrious couple.

Sir Thomas, 2nd Baronet, born in Groomsport, County Down in 1868, was the eldest son of Sir Daniel Dixon, Bt.


Both Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon had distinguished public careers: From 1939-41 they served as first Mayor and Mayoress of Larne, and were great benefactors to the Borough.

In 1935, they donated Dixon Park to Larne Borough Council as a gift, together with £500 for the provision of music in the park.

Cairndhu was donated to the Hospitals Authority, for use as a convalescent home.

In 1957, Lady Dixon presented the Mayoress's chain of office to Larne Borough Council; and in 1964, robes, to be worn by Aldermen, Councillors and Mace Bearer.

In the early 1960s, Lady Dixon donated £10,000 towards the cost of converting and renovating the former technical college into Council Offices.

They are now known as Sir Thomas Dixon Buildings.

Sir Thomas died at Harrowgate in 1950. Lady Dixon, who was appointed DBE after the 1st World War in recognition of her service to HM Forces, died in 1964. 

A year before her death, in 1963, Wilmont demesne was officially handed over to Belfast Corporation.

The house, according to her wishes, was shortly afterwards opened as a home for the elderly; while the grounds, at her behest, were opened to the public.

The present park, named after its benefactors, consists of 134 acres and has been the venue for the City of Belfast International Rose Trials since 1964.

Over the years, it has become one of the most popular parkland areas in the city of Belfast.

Many distinguished visitors have stayed at Wilmont House in the past: Captain Scott, the famous Antarctic explorer, was a guest, during his visit to Belfast in 1904.

In 1934, the house became the temporary residence of His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland when Government House, Hillsborough, was damaged by fire on 7th August of that year.

The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Ulster, was a guest in 1935, during Sir Thomas's period as Lord-Lieutenant. 

During World war II, the house served as the Northern Ireland headquarters of the United States Army.

The property, as already mentioned, was given to Belfast Corporation by Lady Dixon in 1963.

ALAS, the future of Wilmont House is uncertain at the time of this article (February, 2015).

***** 

The 134 acres formed part of a demesne founded in the 18th century for a house of 1740, which is now gone.

The grounds retain many features from the gardens for this house and many subsequent developments added by Belfast City Council.

There are fine mature trees in undulating woodland and parkland, with the River Lagan adding interest.

A large part of the park contains the International Rose Trial grounds, set up in 1964 and remodelled from the late 1980s. 

Judging takes place over a long period but the highlight is Rose Week, which has been marked every year in July since 1975.

Camellia trials have taken place since 1981. 

A Japanese Garden was added in 1991.

The walled gardens have been redesigned from their traditional layout and contain interesting plant material.

There are also remains from former times: for example, an ice house; gate lodge; stable block; and a yew walk.

The recreational facilities take the form of picnic benches, children’s playground, lawns, good planting, band concerts, café and shop. 

This is not a park designated for organised sports, though part of the original holding is now a private golf course.

First published August, 2010.

Friday, 15 March 2019

New DL

Mrs Alison Millar, Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint

Mr David Cunningham
Maghera
County Londonderry

To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County his Commission bearing date the 11th day of March 2019


Lord Lieutenant of the County