Saturday, 13 February 2016

New DLs


Dr Angela Garvey, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint:

Dr Lucinda WATT


To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County Borough, her Commission bearing date the 8th day of February 2016.

OC Dinner

Last night I attended the Old Campbellians' annual dinner at the College.

Campbell College stands in about seventy acres, I imagine, off Belmont Road, Belfast.

My old pal Dangerfield (!) called me earlier in the day and offered to collect me.

A lively fire was blazing in the vestibule, where we met the President of the society, Bill McKelvey.

Having relieved myself of the overcoat, we made a beeline for the makeshift bar which was located in the central hall.

I rather enjoy these reunions, seeing old, familiar faces again.

I had a good chin-wag with Richard Sholdis, whose family once lived in the Mourne Mountains beside Spence's River.

I reminisced about my uncle's cottage, the well in the moor behind it, how we obtained water with a metal pail; and when the Sholdises arrived, how they let us use their outside tap for fresh water.

The good old days!

I was pally with his younger brother, David.

Eventually we all trooped in to the dining-hall, a large chamber with a lofty, vaulted ceiling.

Needless to say, the grub was good; the company, convivial.

Our guest speaker was Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE, QPM, Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1996 until its demise in 2001.

I met Sir Ronnie earlier in the evening and recounted an anecdote about Sir John Hermon, OBE, QPM, a predecessor of his in the RUC.

As a matter of fact, as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), Sir Ronnie is the most highly decorated person in Northern Ireland, with the exception of the Duke of Abercorn, KG.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Hamilton Tower

HAMILTON TOWER, built in 1906 by the architect Dr Robert Cochrane, served as the porter's gate lodge for The Queen's College, now The Queen's University of Belfast.

This building was designed in the Tudor-Revival style.

A single-storey lodge was beside the tower.

There was a fine carriage arch below the two-storey entrance tower.

The spandrel had elegant stone carving and there were armorial bearings above the arch-way.

Behind the tower was an octagonal, battlemented turret.

The elegant wrought-iron railings, which surrounded the Lanyon Building's campus, were probably removed during the 2nd World War and are notable for their absence.

Alas, the Hamilton Tower existed for a mere sixteen years, before it was swept away in 1922.

It was thus named after the Rt Hon and Rev Thomas Hamilton, the third President of Queen’s College and the first Vice-Chancellor of The Queen’s University of Belfast.

He was the longest serving President and Vice-Chancellor.

He was in office for almost thirty-five years, until his retirement in 1923.

Hamilton played a vital role in persuading Government and the local community to support generously the expansion of the College and later the University.

It was felt that Hamilton is not sufficiently acknowledged for the hugely significant contribution he made to Queen’s.

No portrait exists of him, only a photograph.

The Tower and gate lodge were criticised at the time on aesthetic grounds; and subsequently demolished in 1922, a year before Hamilton’s retirement.

First published in February, 2014.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Derrycarne House


This family derives from a common ancestor with the noble house of GORE, Earls of Arran, and the Earls of Ross, and Barons Annaly; though more immediately from the Gore Baronets of Magherabegg.

ARTHUR GORE, second son of Sir Paul Gore, settled at Newtowngore, County Mayo, and was created a baronet in 1662.

In 1666, he had a grant of the lands of Newtown, with the creation of the whole into the manor of Castle Gore.

Sir Arthur married Eleanor, daughter of Sir George St George Bt, of Carrick, County Leitrim, and had, with other issue,
Paul, ancestor of the EARLS OF ARRAN;
WILLIAM, of whom we treat;
George, ancestor of the BARONS ANNALY.
The third son,

WILLIAM GORE (1744-1815), of Woodford, MP for County Leitrim, married Frances Jane Gorges, only daughter and heir of Ralph Gore, of Barrow Mount, MP for County Kilkenny, and left a son,

WILLIAM GORE (1779-1860), of Porkington, Oswestry, Shropshire, and Woodford, MP for County Leitrim, married, in 1815, Mary Jane, daughter and heiress of Owen Ormsby, of Willowbrook, County Sligo, whose name he assumed.

Mr Ormsby-Gore was succeeded by his son,

JOHN RALPH ORMSBY-GORE (1816-76), who wedded, in 1844, Sarah, daughter of Sir John Tyssen Tyrrell Bt, of Boreham House, Essex.

Mr Ormsby-Gore was elevated to the peerage, in 1876, by the title of BARON HARLECH, of Harlech, in the County of Merioneth.

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


The 3rd Baron was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Leitrim, from 1904 until 1922.

DERRYCARNE HOUSE, near Dromod, County Leitrim, was built ca 1800 on a promontory in the River Shannon between Lough Boderg and Lough Bofin.

It was of two storeys with a three-bay, bow-ended, late-Georgian front with Wyatt windows and an enclosed Doric porch.

The house itself had thirty rooms: kitchen, bedrooms, sculleries, library and armoury room ( which later was turned into a hunting room ) and various other rooms.

It was built with three stories at the back with parapets around it, two towers and cellars, which were seven feet under the ground and were used for storing wine and growing mushrooms. 

It also had a two-bay castellated wing extending back at right-angles.

The gardens surrounding the house contained two acres of vegetables and flowers.

The house faced the River Shannon and was in an ideal position to control the river.

The 2nd Lord Harlech purchased Derrycarne in 1858.

Buying Derrycarne was very important to him at that time as he had ceased to be MP for Sligo and was looking for a new political base.

He was known to be a good landlord.

Lord Harlech and his family lived at Willowbrook, County Sligo, before he lived at Annaduff as he had been MP for Sligo from 1841-52.

The family kept their estates in County Leitrim until 1924.

Lord Harlech did not want to sell his lands but increasing pressure at that time from the tenants for land of their own and the fact that many other large estate houses had been burned down led him to believe that he should not keep the land any longer.

Derrycarne changed hands again several times before being acquired by the Irish Land Commission in 1952.

The house was demolished shortly afterwards.

First published in January, 2012.  Harlech arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

College Green House


COLLEGE GREEN HOUSE, located at the corner of Botanic Avenue and College Green, Belfast, was designed in 1870 by James McKinnon for the merchant, Archibald McCollum. 

The former coach-house to the rear of the house is now a well-established restaurant and bistro called Molly's Yard.

It is not clear whether McCollum ever lived here, but by 1880 the house had become a Church of Ireland Collegiate School (traces of the school name can still be seen over one of the corner windows). 

In 1890, the house was occupied as a private residence once more, by John MacCormac, physician to the Belfast Institution for Nervous Diseases, Paralysis and Epilepsy.

One year later it was acquired by John McConnell, managing director of Messrs Dunville & Co, whiskey distillers, who lived there until his death in 1928.

McConnell was a JP and a Freemason, and a friend of James Craig, first prime minister of Northern Ireland (whose father owned Dunville's).

He had a car that was kept in the former coach house, and employed a chauffeur to drive it. 

His five children were brought up at College Green House, and most of them developed liberal views that must have shocked their establishment father.

Notable amongst them was his youngest daughter Mabel, who became a suffragette and a committee member of the Gaelic League. 

For a while after she graduated from Queen's University she was a secretary to George Bernard Shaw and to George Moore, but then she met and eloped with Desmond FitzGerald, a young English poet of Irish extraction. 

Although he continued his literary interests, being an acquaintance of Ezra Pound and T S Eliot, FitzGerald became heavily involved with the Irish Volunteers in Kerry in 1913. 

It is recorded that Mabel and Desmond spent Christmas 1913 at College Green House, before having tea with James Connolly after a republican meeting. 

The couple also met with Roger Casement on this Belfast visit before going back to Kerry, where Desmond organised and drilled volunteers.

He went on to fight in the Easter Rising of 1916 and to become a Minister in the Irish Free State government that ensued.

Union Theological College

College Green House must therefore have hosted gatherings of very different political persuasions over the years, particularly as the first Northern Ireland Parliament met in the Union Theological College, which the house overlooks.

It is not unlikely that McConnell would have been visited by his old friend James Craig at the end of the day for tea or billiards. 

Mabel's fourth son, Garret, must have absorbed some of this political atmosphere as he went on to become a Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] aware of his Belfast roots as well as his Dublin ones. 

On McConnell's death, the house passed to new owners who, unfortunately, subdivided the house very crudely into flats in 1934.

The early occupants of the flats included spinsters, academics and at least one man of the cloth. 

In the 1950s, they acquired an artistic neighbour, a civil servant called Alfred Armentières Kitchener Arnold, who hosted many of the local artists of his day from visiting actors and dancers to artists like George McCann and Dan O'Neill, and writers like Louis MacNeice. 

Arnold was a keen amateur actor himself, and when he later retired to the island of Gozo near Malta he is reputed to have translated The Pirates of Penzance into Gozitan. 

Rumours abound of other flamboyant visitors like the architect Henry Lynch Robinson and Erroll Flynn the film star.

The playwright Stewart Parker lived in one of the flats briefly about 1970.

Latterly the house was entirely occupied by young artists, among them Susan Philipsz who organised an exhibition in 1998 called Rev Todd's Full House, which assembled the work of some fifty artists who had lived or stayed in the house up to that time. 

The building was used as a location in the film Divorcing Jack during that period. 

Unfortunately the flats did not meet current fire regulations and the house was closed shortly after that.

Hearth negotiated a long lease on the property in 2000, and then sought finance to restore the building to its former glory. 

College Green House was unlisted because of the extent of its alterations, but it was listed in 2002 which made an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund possible. 

During the interim, Hearth put in caretakers drawn from the pool of artists interested in the building and provided studio space for artists such as Rita Duffy and Martin Wedge.

Work started as soon as planning permission was granted in 2004. 

In addition to upgrading the services to the building the main work involved was the reinstatement of the elevation to College Green which had been disfigured in the conversion to flats, with steel picture windows replacing the original round headed windows and stone dormers. 

Restoration involved considerable repairs to brickwork and stonework as the 1930s windows were in different positions from the originals and many chimneys lacked their stone cappings. 

Metal finials and the cresting at the top of the roof were reinstated, along with the unusual barley-sugar railings, pillars and gates. 

The 1930s entrance to the flats from College Green was retained, but the old front door in Botanic Avenue which had become a window has been reinstated as a doorway. 

A three-storey bay added at the rear of the house was removed to restore the cubical design of the building, and that permitted restoration of the arch linking it to the former coach house. 

Internally, plasterwork was restored using moulds taken from no.2 College Green which had been part of the same development.

The staircase dado was restored using painted and grained Lincrusta, while the flat entrance doors were grained.

Following extensive structural repairs to the outbuildings they have now opened as Molly's Yard.

The house of the former whiskey magnate is now linked to one of the few sources of real ale in Belfast.

And as for its Headless Dog brew? 

If you look carefully at the base of the coach-house, you will see the silhouette of a headless dog, a symbol of the group of artists who were here in the 1990s: history tends to be circular, but the history of this house is more spherical than most. 

First published in August, 2011.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Orlock Hedging

Orlock Point lies between Groomsport and Donaghadee in County Down. It is almost opposite Portavo reservoir and estate.

The Copeland Islands are directly opposite.

Pheasants proliferate here, clucking and wandering about the fields.

One dominant feature of the landscape at Orlock is an ugly, man-made structure, a concrete water-tower, on the top of a hill.

There were a dozen of us again today, at a field near the Point.

At one side of this field there's an old stone-wall with hawthorn trees growing alongside it.

This wall has a herringbone pattern.

Our task today was to clear the ivy and debris from the wall, which has a two-foot ditch.

The photo is self-explanatory, as to my lunch; in fact the mug was purchased at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, thirty-five years ago.

Our truck got stuck in the mud, so we all had to get behind it and do our duty.

Synnot of Ballymoyer


TOBIAS SYNNOT, of County Londonderry, was brought up a Protestant, and was in Londonderry during its celebrated siege.
The family is said to have come originally from Flanders, where the name "Sigenod" meant "Victory-bold". Translations and modifications over time saw the name become "Synad". Various explanations of when and how the family travelled to Ireland have been documented, however all revolve around the Norman Invasion of Ireland.
It is believed that a Richard de Synad was one of the Flemish that crossed to Ireland with Strongbow in the invasion force. After various campaigns from Waterford to Wexford and on to Dublin, he returned to the Wexford region to settle down. He later built a castle at Ballybrennan, close to the present village of Killinick, on the main Wexford-Rosslare road.
This was the family's chief castle, which remained until dispossessed in the Cromwellian confiscations. The castle is long gone, but part of its walls is incorporated into the present large dwelling house at the site.
This Tobias's eldest son,

THOMAS SYNNOT, town major of the city of Dublin and Captain in Lucas's Regiment of Foot, 1711, left a son and heir,

RICHARD SYNNOT, of Drumcondra, registrar of the diocese of Armagh, who married, in 1694, Jane, daughter of Edward Bloxham, of Dublin, and had (with a daughter) a son,

MARK SYNNOT (1696-1754), of Drumcondra.

Mr Synnot wedded firstly, Euphemia, daughter of Mr Rivers; and secondly, in 1769, Anne, daughter of Walter Nugent, of Carpenterstown, County Westmeath, by whom he had issue,
Mark, of Drumcondra;
WALTER (Sir), of whom presently;
Mary, W Smyth, of Drumcree.
His younger son, 

SIR WALTER SYNNOT (1742-1821), of Ballymoyer, Sir Walter built Ballymoyer House in County Armagh.
By the time of his death, he and his son Marcus had made considerable improvements to the estate and many of the beautiful trees, buildings and structural improvements date from this time. The demesne was noted as being very ornate. He was knighted by Lord Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, high sheriff of Armagh, 1783.
He married, in 1770, Jane, daughter of John Seton, of New York,  and by her had issue, 
MARCUShis heir;
Sir Walter espoused secondly, in 1804, Ann Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Robert Martin, and had by her a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of the Rev Fitzgibbon Stewart, and a son,
Richard Walter.
The son and heir,

MARCUS SYNNOT JP (1771-1855), of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh in 1830, who married, in 1814, Jane, daughter of Thomas Gilson, of Wood Lodge, Lincolnshire, and by her had issue,
MARCUShis heir;
MARK SETON, of Ballymoyer, heir to his brother;
Parker George;
William Forbes;
Mary Marcia; Maria Eliza; Agnes Jane;
Barbara Cecilia; Juliana Hewitt.
Mr Synnot died in 1855, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

MARCUS SYNNOT JP DL (1813-74), of Ballymoyer House; High Sheriff, 1853, who wedded, in 1844, Ann, eldest daughter of William Parker, of Hanthorpe House, Lincolnshire.

Mr Synnot died without issue in 1874, when the estates devolved upon his brother,

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP DL, of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff in 1876. His heir, also

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1820-90), of Ballymoyer, County Armagh, Captain, Armagh Light Infantry, who married, in 1843, Anne Jane, second daughter and co-heir of Mark Synnot, of Monasterboice House, King's County (Offaly), and Grove House, Clapham, Surrey; and by her had issue,
MARK SETON, late of Ballymoyer;
MARY SUSANNAof Ballymoyer;
Rosalie Jane; Eva Charlotte;
Charlotte Augusta; Ada Maria;
Annette Beatrice.
Mr Synnot died in 1890, when he was succeeded by his only son, 

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1847-1901), of Ballymoyer, a captain in the Armagh Light Infantry.

Mr Synnot died unmarried in 1901, whereby the estate devolved upon his eldest sister,

MARY SUSANNA SYNNOT (1844-1913), of Ballymoyer, who married, in 1868, Major-General Arthur FitzRoy Hart CB CMG, who subsequently assumed the name and arms of SYNNOT; and left issue,
ARTHUR HENRY SETON, of whom presently;
RONALD VICTOR OKES, of whom hereafter;
Beatrice May;
Horatia Annette Blanche.
The elder son,

BRIGADIER ARTHUR HENRY SETON HART-SYNNOT CMG DSO, married a nurse, Violet Drower, while convalescing from his wounds, though died without issue in 1942.


THE REV WILLIAM HART, of the parish of Netherbury, Dorset, born in 1668-9,

possessed land in the county of Dorset, namely Corfe, in the parish of West Milton, Pomice, Hurlands, Colmer's Estate, Camesworth, Greening's Orchard, and Furzelease House, in Netherbury.
He was buried in 1746 at Netherbury, leaving by Ann, his wife, with other issue who died young, a son,

WILLIAM HART (1707-71), of Netherbury, who wedded, in 1731, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Henville, of Hincknowle, Netherbury; and by her had issue, with two daughters, Betty and Ann, who both died unmarried, an only surviving son,

GEORGE HART (1744-1824), of Netherbury, who possessed lands in Dorset, viz. Corfe, Cape Leazne [sic], and Pomice.

His elder son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WILLIAM HART (1764-1818), of Netherbury, had issue, his third son,

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HENRY GEORGE HART (1808-78), whose fourth son was



The tenanted land of BALLYMOYER estate was transferred to the occupiers under the Irish land acts of 1902 and 1909.

Subsequently Brigadier Hart-Synnot and his brother, Ronald Victor Okes Hart-Synnot, sold the farm land of the demesne and, in 1938, gave the avenue and glen to the National Trust, and had the house pulled down owing to damage suffered from requisitioning.

The estate is now open to the public.

First published in February, 2012.