Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Crevenagh House



THE REV JAMES AUCHINLECK (1646-c1685), Rector of Cleenish, County Fermanagh, married Margaret Keith, and had issue (with others who died young),
JAMES, of whom presently;
Katherine; Margaret; Jean.
The Rev James Auchinleck was succeeded by his son,

JAMES AUCHINLECK (1675-1746), of Thomastown, County Fermanagh, who wedded, ca 1698, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel James Corry MP, of Castle Coole, and had, with other issue (who died young),
JAMES, his heir;
Rebecca; Margaret; Mary; Sarah; Elizabeth.
The elder son,

JAMES AUCHINLECK (1704-52), of Thomastown, married, in 1734, Susanna, daughter of John Corry, of Lisanock, and had issue,

ALEXANDER, of whom presently;
Anketell (Rev);
Elizabeth; Sarah.
Mr Auchinleck's eighth son,

THE REV ALEXANDER AUCHINLECK (1749-1833), of Castle Lodge, and Mullans, Fintona, County Tyrone, Rector of Rossory, wedded, in 1784, Jane, daughter of James Corry Eccles, of Shannock, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
James Eccles (Rev);
DANIEL ECCLES, of whom presently;
The youngest son,

(1797-1849), of Crevenagh, espoused, in 1833, Elizabeth Dorothea, daughter of the Rev Thomas Lindsay Stack JP, Rector of Badony, and had issue,
THOMAS his heir;
William Lowry, Brigadier-General;
Margaret; Anna.
The eldest son,

THOMAS AUCHINLECK JP DL (1837-93), of Crevenagh, and Shannock Green, County Fermanagh, Major, Royal Tyrone Fusiliers, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1872, married, in 1868, Jane, daughter of George Henry Loxdale, of Grassendale, Liverpool, and had issue,
Bessie Sarah; Norah Lilian Loxdale.
Major Auchinleck was succeeded by his son,

DANIEL GEORGE HAROLD AUCHINLECK (1877-1914), of Crevenagh, Captain, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who wedded, in 1902, Charlotte Madeleine, only daughter of Robert Scott, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and had issue, an only son, ROBERT PATRICK AUCHINLECK, who died in infancy, 1906.

Captain Auchinleck was killed in action during the 1st World War.


CREVENAGH was eventually to be inherited by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Reginald Auchinleck Darling JP (1897-1958), who fought in the 1st World War; was commissioned in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; fought in the 2nd World War, 1939-43, when he retired due to ill-health.

His eldest son,

Gerald Ralph Auchinleck Darling RD QC DL (1921-96), was educated at Harrow; was an officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve; fought in the Second World War; was Fleet Fighter Pilot and Test Pilot Eastern Fleet; Chief Test Pilot, British Pacific Fleet.

On the death of his father in 1958 he had inherited Crevenagh House, near Omagh, where, from his school days, he had spent many happy holidays with his extended family. 

He was proud of his descent from the Auchinleck family who had always lived there, and resolved to maintain it as a family home despite his ties to life in London (in his London office there was a Donegal landscape and a map showing the wartime achievements of Ulster).

In 1990 he became a Deputy Lieutenant of County Tyrone and, in 1993, High Sheriff. 

In his obsequies address, the Right Rev Brian Hannon, Bishop of Clogher, paid tribute to Gerald Darling's contribution to the work of Edenderry parish, where he had served as parish secretary.

The Bishop related how, before a major court appearance, Darling would ease the tension by thinking of his favourite spots on the river, the snipe bogs and the mountains of Tyrone.

Strangely, after a lifetime of trout-fishing, he caught his first salmon only in 1995.

One of his family remembers the fishing picnics in childhood - "as, unfortunately, a mizzly day is good for fishing, the picnics were often rather damp affairs".

But that was balanced by the warmth of bedtime stories in the family flat in the Middle Temple where it is said the family below, willy-nilly, added to the appreciative audience for Darling's dramatic readings of Winnie the Pooh. 

He would, friends say, have been equally at home as a farmer, taking great pride in his forestry and Belted Galloway cattle and never more at home than working in ragged jeans with his chainsaw.

A permanent record of Gerald Darling his distinction as a lawyer will be his contribution to that definitive work, Halsbury's Laws of England (Admiralty and Ship Collisions), the third edition of 1952. 

In 1992 he was made an Honorary Bencher of the Northern Ireland Bar.
Born at Erganagh, Co Tyrone, 8th December, 1921; called to the Bar, Middle Temple 1950, Bencher 1972, Treasurer 1991; Barrister, Northern Ireland 1957, Honorary Bencher 1992; RD 1967; QC 1967; member, Panel of Lloyd's Arbitrators in Salvage Cases 1967-78, Appeal Arbitrator 1978-91; member, Panel of Wreck Commissioners 1967-96; QC, Hong Kong 1968; Judge, Admiralty Court of the Cinque Ports 1979-96; trustee, Royal Naval Museum 1985-90; Lloyd's Silver Medal 1991; married 1954 Susan Hobbs (one son, one daughter); died Londonderry 13 September 1996.
Photo Credit: Gordon Dunn

CREVENAGH HOUSE, near Omagh, County Tyrone, is a two-storey house built ca 1820 by Daniel Eccles Auchinleck, great-uncle of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck

It has a three-bay entrance front with Wyatt windows in both storeys and a projecting porch.

The side is also of three bays.

A lower, two-storey range was subsequently added by Auchinleck's son, Major Thomas Auchinleck, behind the original block and parallel with it.

Photo Credit: Stephen Paskin

The principal rooms in the main block have fine plasterwork ceilings; while the hall floor is of mosaic depicting the Seven Ages of Man.

There are doors made of mahogany from the Auchinleck family plantations in Demerara.

The surrounding parkland is of the same age as the house, graced by mature parkland trees and clumps of rhododendron.

Shelter woods of mature trees are maintained to the north, south and west.

The walled garden is part-cultivated, having three walled sides and one of water.

The farm buildings are listed and there is a gate lodge in good condition.

First published in November, 2010.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

House of Wellesley

The surname of this eminent family was originally COWLEY, or COLLEY, and it deduces, paternally, its descent from 

WALTER COWLEY, Solicitor-General for Ireland in 1537; who, on surrendering that office, in 1546, to John Bathe, was appointed, in 1548, Surveyor-General of that kingdom.

The elder son and heir of this learned person,

THE RT HON SIR HENRY COLLEY, of Castle Carbery, who was a captain in ELIZABETH I's army, a privy counsellor, and a personage of considerable influence, wedded Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, of Cussington, County Meath, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and had two sons,
George (Sir), of Edenderry;
HENRY, of whom hereafter.
Sir Henry Colley, of Castle Carbery, in the reign of ELIZABETH I, was Constable of Philipstown Fort, Seneschal of the King's County, and providore of the army.

He married, in 1561, Anne, second daughter of the Most Rev Adam Loftus, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, by whom he had two sons and three daughters, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR HENRY COLLEY, of Castle Carbery, who married Anne, daughter and heiress of Christopher Peyton, Auditor-General of Ireland; and dying in 1637, was succeeded by his eldest son,

DUDLEY COLLEY (c1621-74), of Castle Carbery, MP for Philipstown, 1661, who espoused firstly, Anne, daughter of Henry Warren, of Grangebegg, County Kildare, and had eight sons and seven daughters; of whom

ELIZABETH, the third but eldest surviving daughter, married Garrett Wellesley, of Dangan, County Meath.

Mr Wellesley was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM WELLESLEY, of Dangan, at whose decease, without an heir, the estates devolved upon his brother,

GARRETT WELLESLEY, who died without issue, in 1728, when all his estates devolved upon his cousin,

RICHARD COLLEY, on that gentleman's assumption of the surname and arms of WELLESLEY.

Mr Colley's younger son,

RICHARD COLLEY (c1690-1758), having succeeded, in 1728, to the estates of the Wellesley family, assumed the surname and arms of WELLESLEY.

This gentleman's descendant, Elizabeth Colley, married Garrett Wellesley, of Dangan, by whom she was mother of Garrett Wellesley, member in several parliaments for County Meath, who died in 1728, leaving all his estates to his cousin, Richard Colley, second son of Henry, above named, on condition of his taking the name and arms of WELLESLEY.

In 1713, Mr Colley had been appointed Second Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, and MP for Trim, 1729-46, until elevated to the peerage, in 1746, in the dignity of Baron Mornington.

His lordship wedded, in 1719, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Sale LL.D, registrar of the diocese of Dublin, and MP for Carysfort, by whom he had one surviving son and four daughters.

On his decease, in 1758, he was succeeded by his only son,

GARRETT, 2nd Baron (1735-81); who was further advanced, in 1760, to the dignities of Viscount Mornington and EARL OF MORNINGTON.

He espoused, in 1759, Anne, daughter of Arthur, Viscount Dungannon, of Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down.

Lady Mornington subsequently enjoyed the multiplied glories and well-earned honours of her children.

They had issue,
RICHARD, 2nd Earl of Mornington and 1st Marquess Wellesley;
Arthur Gerald, died in childhood;
WILLIAM, Baron Maryborough;
and five other offspring.



The very eminent family of Wesley, or Wellesley, or, as it was formerly written, de Welesley, alias Welseley, was founded in Ireland by a gentleman of that name, of an ancient Anglo-Saxon family, who held the honourable station of standard-bearer to HENRY II; and having accompanied that monarch into Ireland in 1172, obtained for his military services large grants of land in the counties of Meath and Kildare, a considerable portion of which his descendants enjoyed.

From this successful soldier descended

WILLIAM DE WELLESLEY, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1368, who appears to have been summoned to parliament as a baron of the realm, by the title of Baron Noragh, in 1330, and had a grant by patent from EDWARD II of the custody of Kildare castle for life; but that monarch conferring subsequently the office upon John FitzThomas, Earl of Kildare, together with the county of Kildare, to hold to his male heirs forever, William de Wellesley was removed, and lost the fee of £20 a year annexed thereunto; in recompense whereof, however, EDWARD III granted him a commission, dated 1342.

His lordship was father of

SIR RICHARD DE WELLESLEY, who served the office of High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1415-16 and 1422.

This gentleman does not appear to have inherited the barony from his father, and for what reason that dignity ceased with the first possessor has not been ascertained.

Sir Richard wedded Johan, eldest daughter and eventually heiress of Sir Nicholas de Castlemartin, by which alliance he obtained the lordships of Dangan, Mornington, Clonabreany, and several other manors, and was succeeded by his son,

GERALD DE WELLESLEY, of Dangan, from whom lineally descended

WILLIAM WELLESLEY, of Dangan Castle, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of James Cusack, of Portrane, County Dublin; and was succeeded by his eldest son,


This gentleman espoused Anne, widow of Christopher Nugent (brother of 1st Earl of Westmeath); by whom he was father of Garrett Wellesley, who wedded, as stated above, Miss Colley. 

First published in March, 2012.

The Irvine Baronetcy

The family of IRVINE, which ranks amongst the oldest and most eminent in Scotland, acquired by marriage, at a remote period, the lands of Bonshaw, Dumfriesshire.

CHRISTOPHER IRVINE, Laird of Bonshaw, Dumfriesshire, commanded JAMES IV of Scotland's light horsemen at the battle of Flodden, and fell then, together with his son, Christopher, the father of Christopher, next Laird of Bonshaw, who held a command, and was slain at the battle of Solway Moss.

He lies buried in the village of Gretna, with a monument and epitaph.

From him descended the subsequent Lairds of Bonshaw, Stapleton, Robgill and Annan.

From the Lairds of Robgill and Annan sprang

CHRISTOPHER IRVINE, a barrister, who resided in Essex, until he removed to Ulster, upon a grant from JAMES I of a considerable landed property in County Fermanagh, and there erected CASTLE IRVINE.

During the civil wars, Mr Irvine was firm in his devotion to the royal cause, and suffered severely in consequence.

He wedded his cousin Blanch, daughter of Edward Irvine, Laird of Stapleton, by Mary Graham, his wife, of the family of Preston, and had, with several daughters, three sons, namely,
GERARD, his heir;
Christopher (1618-93), physician, of Edinburgh;
William, who fought at Worcester.
The eldest son,

SIR GERARD IRVINE, of Castle Irvine, and Lowtherstown, Lieutenant-Colonel to Sir Arthur Forbes, Earl of Granard, fought for CHARLES II at Worcester, and was some time after taken prisoner in Ireland, and would have been executed for his loyalty to Sir Charles Coote, 2nd Baronet and 1st Earl of Mountrath, then Governor of Derry, under Cromwell, had he not been rescued out of that city by his brother William.

In consideration of these sufferings in the royal cause, and for other eminent services to the house of Stuart, Colonel Irvine was created a baronet by CHARLES II in 1677, designated of Castle Irvine, County Fermanagh.

Sir Gerard married firstly Catherine, daughter of Captain Adam Cathcart, which lady died childless.

He wedded secondly, Mary, daughter of Major William Hamilton, Laird of Blair, by whom (who died at Castle Irvine, in 1685) he had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, b 1654, married though dsp before his father;
Charles, cornet of horse, died unmarried, 1684;
Mary, m John Crichton, of Crom, ancestor of the Earls of Erne.
Sir Gerard died in WILLIAM III's service, in the camp at Dundalk, and was buried in the chancel of the church of that town.

Following his decease, in 1689, the baronetcy expired.


The village of Irvinestown in County Fermanagh was founded during the Plantation in 1618 by Sir Gerard Lowther and named Lowtherstown. Ownership later passed to the Irvines and changed name accordingly.

The Irvines had an extensive estate at Castle Irvine, which they renamed Necarne, as well as further townlands at Killadeas, where a cadet branch of the family was established. Goblusk House was on the Killadeas property.

The following is an article about the 1st Baronet:-


Finding that the overtures made on his behalf to the Enniskillen men were rejected, Sir Gerard went to Dublin and was made Lieutenant-Colonel to the regiment of horse that the Earl of Granard was about to raise in the interest of JAMES II.

Being empowered to raise a troop in Fermanagh, he came down to the town of Cavan with such a number of pistols, carbines, swords, and other necessary equipments for the men whom he was about to enlist, that he alarmed the Protestant inhabitants.

The fact having become known, Daniel French and Henry Williams set out from Belturbet with sixty horse, captured the arms at Cavan, and sent Sir Gerard himself a prisoner to Lord Blayney. His lordship did not retain him, but sent him on as a prisoner to Enniskillen.

He told the Enniskilleners that he never meant to serve JAMES II, and that his journey to Dublin was only a scheme to obtain accoutrements for a troop which he wished to raise in the service of the Prince of Orange. If he spoke the truth about himself, he was a traitor great and mean as Lundy.

As the fortunes of JAMES II waned, he threw himself heartily into the winning side; and after the siege of Derry was raised, he collected a troop of horse, with which he joined General Schomberg and subsequently died, where so many brave men perished, in the camp at Dundalk.

First published in March, 2011

Monday, 3 August 2020

Lord Archbishop of Tuam

Sapphire, three persons erect, under as many canopies of stalls, their faces, arms, and legs, proper: The first represents an archbishop, habited in his pontificals, holding a crozier in his left hand; the second, the Virgin Mary, crowned, with our Saviour on her left arm; and the third, an Angel having his right arm elevated, and a lamb on his left arm, all topaz.
The last Anglican Archbishop of Tuam and Primate of Connaught was the Most Rev and Hon Dr Power le Poer Trench (1770-1839).

The archiepiscopal Palace, at Bishop Street, Tuam, County Galway, was built between 1716-41, by Archbishop Synge.

In 1837 the palace was described as being "large and handsomely built, though not possessing much architectural embellishment."

The old palace is now a supermarket and restaurant.

First published in August, 2014.

Malone House


The LEGGES claim to have been a patrician family of Ravenna, in Italy, and settled in England during the reign of HENRY II.

In 1676, WILLIAM LEGGE, an officer in the army, with recommendations from JAMES II, then Duke of York, served under the Duke of Schomberg in Flanders, and accompanied him to Ireland, 1690.

His son,

WILLIAM LEGGE, settled at Malone, County Antrim, and acquired lands from Arthur, 3rd Earl of Donegall, where he operated a farm and built houses.

Mr Legge died in 1723, and had, with other issue,

BENJAMIN LEGGE, who leased a plot of ground from the Earl of Donegall extending along the west side of North Street, Belfast, for 108 feet and bounded on the south side by Rosemary Lane.

Specifically mentioned are house, sugarhouses, warehouses and other dwellings.

Legg's Lane ran next to the sugar-house from Rosemary Lane.

Benjamin Legg died in 1760, and his obituary stated that it was chiefly owing to his skill and activity that the refining of sugar was brought to such perfection in Belfast.

Another son,

WILLIAM LEGG, who died in 1750, was father of

ALEXANDER LEGGE (1706-77), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1770, who had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir (d 1821);
Eleanor, m Hill Wallace; mother of WILLIAM;
Marcella, m Anthony Semple.
The son and heir,

WILLIAM LEGGE, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1780, died in 1821, and was succeeded by his nephew,

WILLIAM WALLACE LEGGE JP DL (1789-1868), of Malone House, Belfast (eldest son of Hill Wallace), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1823, who adopted the surname of LEGGE.

Mr Legge wedded, in 1838, Eleanor Wilkie, third daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Forster, of Adderstone, Northumberland, and had issue,
Florence Wallace, m 1861, 6th Viscount Harberton.
Mrs Wallace wedded secondly, in 1874, the Hon Robert Jack Needham.

Mr William Wallace Legge died in 1868, and was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM WALLACE LEGGE (1841-68), of Malone House; on whose decease, the property was acquired by Lord Harberton through marriage.
Harberton Avenue, Drive and Park, Belfast, are all named after the 6th Viscount Harberton, who owned the land.
The Neo-Georgian Malone House today

MALONE HOUSE, Barnett's Demesne, Belfast, was built on the site of a very extensive 17th century fort which was called Castle Cam, or Freeston Castle, but there are no remains of the ancient fort now to be seen. 
One member of the Legg family, Benjamin Legg, was a prosperous merchant and sugar refiner during the 18th century in Belfast. His premises were at Legg's Lane, now Lombard Street; and the sugar-house was located at the corner of Rosemary Street and North Street.
The Georgian mansion-house was built in the 1820s for William Wallace Legge, a prosperous Belfast merchant, who had inherited the surrounding land in 1821.
A keen landscaper, Legge designed and planted most of the demesne, which remains relatively unchanged today. Legge's daughter Florence married, in 1861, the Hon James Spencer Pomeroy (1836-1912), son of the 5th Viscount Harberton, and had issue, Ernest Arthur George, 7th Viscount Harberton.

In the 1870s the Malone estate extended to a considerable 8,565 acres, when Mrs Legge was the owner.

The Legges have a plot at Drumbeg Church where the inscription reads:-

To the memory of Alexander Legge of Malone, Esq. son of William Legge, Esq., who departed this life on the fifth day of September 1777, aged 71 years and of Mary, his wife who departed this life, on the first day of March 1783, aged 63 years. Also of their son-in-law, Hill Wallace, Esq., Captain 14th Regiment of Foot who departed this life, on the 29th day of April 1794, aged 40 years. Also of Ellen Legge, wife of the above Hill Wallace, Esq. died in London aged 90 years and their daughter, Ellen Wallace died, and was interred, at Cheltenham on the 12th of April 1879 in her 91st year.

The last private owner to reside at Malone House was William Barnett, who presented it to the city of Belfast in 1946.

Following its presentation to the city, Malone House was leased to the National Trust in the early 1970s.

It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1976, though was rebuilt by Belfast City Council and was re-opened in June, 1983.


The building of the first Malone House has been described in the Plantation Commissioners' report of 1611. 

It tells of a strong fort built upon the plains of Malone with a sturdy palisade and a drawbridge called "Hilsborowe"; within it a fair, timber house walled with bricks and a slated tower.

Some other homes were built within it containing families of English and Irish settlers.

During the plantation of Ulster, the land now known as Barnett’s Demesne was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester who leased it to Sir Moses Hill.

He built a fort in the area where the present house is situated.

In the rebellion of 1641 the house was burnt.

Subsequently the Hill family acquired their own land in County Down (Hillsborough became their main seat) and they left Malone. 

Hill was granted 2,000 acres in County Antrim and 40,000 acres in County Down for his services to the Crown.

The next tenants were the Legge - or Legg - family.

Alexander Legge probably built the second Malone House, which was on the site of the old stables of the present house.

The house at this point was a large farm-house.

Thereafter the family became successful merchants.

They part-owned the old sugar house in Rosemary Lane, which was Belfast’s first factory.

Legg’s Lane, which later became Lombard Street, was named after them. 

Alexander Legg (1706-77) was a successful linen merchant:-


‘I Alexander Legg of Malone in the County of Antrim, Gent .... do make my last will and testament. I bequeath;’

‘To Gilbert Mathews his children my house and lands in Malone’.
‘To my nephew Robert Legg my farm in Kilwarlin, County Down’.
‘To John Rice of Malone £30 out of my personal estate’.
‘To my little cousin Alexander Legg my Bay Golding’.
‘To my natural daughter Esther Legg £10’.
‘To the poor of the parish of Belfast £3’.

Executors William Legg and Gilbert Mathews. I desire my executors to have me buried in a decent manner in the Church of Drumbo.

Witnessed by Matt McLorinan, Dan: Cunningham, Patrick McCormick, St. John Turnley.

Probate granted December 15, 1729, to Gilbert Mathews (William Legg renounced).

Alexander Legg appears to have purchased the Mulligan farm in 1725 and the lease he purchased fallen in by 1735, when his nephew, Robert Legg took out a new one in his own name. Interestingly, one of his the lives named in his lease is Patrick Mullican.

Remnants of the 18th century building can still be seen to the north-west of Malone House. 

William Legg died childless in 1821 and left the house to William Wallace (Legge), his nephew.

In the late 1820s William Wallace Legge built a new house on the site of Moses Hill’s original 17th century fort.

He married late in life and his only son was a wild young man who squandered his money and was disinherited.

The late 18th century Legg map shows a 17th century edifice with the remains of Moyses Hill's Plantation fort above, described on the map as "a moat in the orchard".

Donegall Estate records tell the progress of the Legge lands during the late 18th century: 260 acres in 1775 became 400 acres by 1810.

Malone House in the 1950s

The third Malone House was built ca 1825.

Even before inheriting his uncle's property in 1821, William Wallace Legge, builder of the third house on the site, had been fascinated with buildings and landscape.

A sketchbook survives from 1816 in which he made a series of over seventy neat pencil drawings of topographical subjects in the Malone area and the Lagan valley, and also around the home of another uncle and aunt, Anthony and Marcella Semple at Malahide. 

At Malone he took the opportunity to turn paper ideas into reality.

His predecessors found it convenient to live close to the main coach road between Belfast and Dublin.

Their house was clearly visible at the end of a short drive.

Such simplicity, or rather, lack of subtlety, held little appeal for W W Legge.

He chose to build anew on the site of the old fort.

Nevertheless the public thoroughfare still seemed too close for proper privacy, and so, with an uncomplicated efficiency which might be expected of the son of an army officer who happened to be high sheriff for the county at the right moment, he moved the road away.

Though unimpressed with the remains of the fort, Legge recognised the advantages of the site.

His new entrance front was to face a wide prospect past the old house to the north-west, while the main rooms were to enjoy views across the Lagan valley.

The house which did finally emerge from its cloak of scaffolding provided a sharp contrast to the informality of its landscape setting.

Its main fa├žades are clear essays in classical symmetry.

The repetition of equal openings, the severely simple Tuscan portico, the dominating cornice and parapet, and the firmly regimented chimney stacks, all combine into a rather stark unity. 

Even the gentle bow on the south front, which might have provided an opportunity for a little light-hearted regency decoration, avoids any hint of frivolity.

External window shutters, though now comparatively rare, were briefly popular in late-Georgian Ulster.

Those at Malone, likely to be original for they appear in an Edwardian photograph, give the house a rather colonial flavour.

The present house has not been precisely dated, nor has the involvement of any architect been discovered, but such evidence as there is suggests that the building was erected in the late 1820s. 

As Trevor Carleton has shown (Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1976, 62-3), there is a map of 1825 with the outline of a house - a plain rectangle with a shallow bow on one long side - superimposed on the earthworks of the old fort. 

The outline is similar to, though significantly smaller than, the house as built.

Malone House thereby passed to William’s daughter, who had married Lord Harberton in 1861.

He was a renowned academic and she was an early feminist supporting votes for women, wearing bloomers (a kind of trouser suit for women)!

However, the Legge family did not live in the house after the death of William Wallace Legge in 1868. 

There followed a series of tenants, including Thomas Montgomery, of Ballydrain; Edmund Kertland, manager of John Shaw Brown & Co in Edenderry; and William Higgin who was proprietor of the Avoniel distillery.

In 1921 William Barnett, a very rich man with a keen interest in horse-racing (his horse Trigo won the Derby and the St Leger in 1929), bought Malone House.

He died in 1943 and left the house and grounds to the city of Belfast.

In 1940 the house had been taken over by the Ministry of Aircraft Production (Short Brothers and Harland had their drawing office there).

There were concrete air raid shelters built alongside the house, one of which still remains with its front removed.

After the war, the grounds were open to the public and the Barnett Demesne officially opened in 1951.

In 1970 the National Trust leased it for their headquarters and the Ulster Museum housed their costume collection there.

In 1976 a bomb destroyed the house and its contents.

The present house was built in 1982 and is a replica of the 1825 building. 

William Barnett, the last private owner, bequeathed Malone House and approximately 103 acres to the city of Belfast to be preserved as a public park for the recreation of the public.

The earlier house of ca 1665 was near the existing stable block.

The layout retains an early 19th century ‘landscape’ style, which was developed round the site of the present house.

The position of the house affords excellent views to and over the River Lagan valley.

The view back across to the house is depicted by Molloy in Proctor’s Belfast Scenery in Thirty Views, of 1832. 

There are good stands of mature trees set in parkland, which is maintained and replanted as an informal landscape.

The gate lodge was rebuilt in 1921 to the designs of Blackwood and Jury.

First published in January, 2011.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Great Northern Hotel, Rostrevor

Carlingford Lough lies between the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland, and the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, Republic of Ireland.

The famed Victorian novelist William Makepeace Thackeray wrote that
"were such a bay lying upon English shores, it would be a world's wonder; or if on either the Mediterranean or the Baltic, English travellers would flock to it."
Rostrevor, County Down, a small sea-port, and a most beautiful seaside resort, stands at the south base of the Mourne Mountains, on the north shore of the upper part of Carlingford Lough, and on the road from Newry to Kilkeel.

The village is delightfully situated on a gentle acclivity, which rises from a little cove of Carlingford Lough, and commands thrilling views of the woods, mountains and waters of the Lough's basin.

Rostrevor is doubtless one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in Northern Ireland.

The village - or rather in the first instance, the castle - is said to have acquired its name in honour of the marriage of the heiress of Sir Marmaduke Whitechurch to Marcus, 1st Viscount Dungannon, the lady's own name being Rose, and her husband's family name being Trevor; and the castle was, at one time, the seat of the Viscounts Dungannon.

The land was acquired from the Magenises of Iveagh by the Trevors in the early 17th century and was sold to the Rosses ca 1690.

In the 19th century, Rostrevor became a popular seaside resort.

Messrs Norton & Shaw, who operated a horse-and-carriage transport business from the nearby rail-head at Warrenpoint, commissioned a Newry architect, William James Watson, to design a new hotel on the site formerly occupied by the Old Quay Hotel.

The style was to be 'Domestic Gothic', with a 150 foot frontage to Carlingford Lough.

The centre block was to be one storey higher than the wings.

The foundation stone of the new hotel was laid on the 3rd April, 1875, and the building was completed by Alexander Wheelan of Newry almost exactly one year later, in April, 1876 .

Skating Rink Entrance

It opened to the public three months later.

Originally named The Mourne Hotel, it was acquired and re-named by the Great Northern Railway Company.

The Warrenpoint & Rostrevor Tramway company operated a three-foot gauge horsedrawn tramway service between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor from 1877-1915.

There was also a skating-rink attached to the hotel which had been built by the 3rd Earl of Kilmorey.

The rink had a capacity of 2,000.

Skating Rink

During Christmas, 1903, a catastrophic fire broke out at the rink and the adjoining public bar, causing both buildings to be burned down.

Richard Graham informs me about the hotel's more recent history as a UTA (Ulster Transport Authority) hotel in the 50s and 60s:-
"The Great Northern, along with several other former railway hotels (mostly Victorian), such as the Slieve Donard (Newcastle); the Northern Counties (Portrush); the Laharna (Larne); the City Hotel (Londonderry) and the Midland in Belfast were grouped under the new management of the UTA when the original railway companies ceased to exist. 
Although successful commercially (the hotels catered for the tourist market as it was then) UTA had no vested interest in running hotels and put little investment into modernising them for a more demanding market. 
Eventually all the above named six hotels were sold to the Hastings Hotel Group in 1971 for the total price of £440,000 (equivalent to £6.3 million in 2019)! 
Billy Hastings was the only bidder with the nerve and ability to raise the cash in what was now one of the most troubled areas in Western Europe. 
The City Hotel in Derry was the first to be destroyed in 1971, followed by what had now been renamed by Hastings as the Rostrevor Hotel in 1978. 
Hastings had no interest in rebuilding the fire bombed hotels, but held onto the Slieve Donard in Newcastle, even though it threatened to pull the whole group down in the mid 70s when the troubles were at their height. 
Hastings later sold off the Northern Counties in Portrush (to the Fawcett family) and the Laharna in Larne between 1975 and 1980, ending the historic connection between the Great Northern and the other famous properties that had their origins with the railway expansion of Ireland in the 1880s onward." 
Here is the ignominious end to a once great railway hotel.
(Image: Richard Graham)

The hotel was firebombed and destroyed during the Northern Ireland troubles in 1978.
First published in July, 2016.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Old Shane's Castle

Old Shane's Castle

SHANE'S CASTLE, the beautifully wooded demesne of the Lord O'Neill, not only indicates an ancient castle, though also the magnificent estate of the O'Neills which stands on the north shore of Lough Neagh, in County Antrim.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, dated 1846, provides us with a flavour of the demesne in the early Victorian era:-

THE DEMESNE of the 1st Earl O'Neill, in the parish of Drummaul, barony of Upper Toome, 2¼ miles west of Antrim, County Antrim.

It extends two miles along the foot or north end of Lough Neagh, and two miles northward from lough Neagh to Randalstown; and it is bisected from north to south by the River Maine.

It is freely accessible to strangers; and, in its great extent of both old and young plantations, its views of the great monarch-lake of the three kingdoms, its rich and well-kept gardens, its noble esplanade and fine conservatory, the ruins of its picturesque castellated mansion, and its profuse historical associations with the name of O'Neill.

It presents an absolute museum of interest to at once the artist, the antiquary, and the lover of rural scenery.

The princely pile of Shane's Castle, which had been for centuries the residence of the noble house of O'Neill, rose proudly from the shore of Lough Neagh, and was in fine keeping with the demesne as one of the most magnificent in the kingdom, but was burnt in 1816 by an accidental fire.

A very large party were on a visit to Lord O'Neill at the time when the fire broke out; but all their exertions and all those of the stated guests and of the neighbouring tenantry were unavailing to arrest the progress of the flames.

A superb addition to the original building was in course of erection; and this, as well as the inhabited building, was irretrievably destroyed.

Old Shane's Castle: The Battery, Vaulted Terrace and Conservatory

A large fortified esplanade, furnished with cannon, and a grand conservatory of rare and foreign plants, alone escaped without injury.

An extensive library and many valuable paintings were wholly consumed.

"From the ruins which remain," remarked a writer at the time, "it is evident that the castle was a fine, spacious building. The vaults, which are still entire, and extend to the very edge of the lake, merit the particular notice of the curious traveller, both from their spaciousness and rather extraordinary construction."

"Several towers and turrets are still standing ... a number of cannons are still mounted on the fort, which is boldly situated."

"Some of the buildings which formed a part of the out-offices have been fitted up by the noble proprietor as a temporary residence."

"We have heard with pleasure that it is his lordship's intention to erect a castle, if not the ruins of the old one, on some spot in the immediate vicinity."

The original 17th century castle took its name from Shane McBrian O'Neill, who was permitted to retain 120,000 acres of his lands following the Plantation of Ulster.

In 1607, JAMES I granted the original castle at Edenduffcarrick to Shane, whose family had possessed it at various times previously.

The Castle is believed to be named after that gentleman.

The most ancient section of the present ruins was built at the time of the Plantation of Ulster and, alas, that part was mostly destroyed after the catastrophic fire of 1816.

The estate had decreased in extent, however, to 64,163 acres by about 1870, making Lord O'Neill the largest landowner in County Antrim at that time.

This ancient building grew into a magnificent castellated mansion comprising three storeys over a basement, with a battlemented parapet, curved bows and projecting end bays.

Its main elevation was at right-angles to the lough shore.

A village existed on the lough shore adjacent to the castle; it was removed, however, shortly before 1780.

A taste of the splendour and opulence at Shane's Castle was provided by the Rev Daniel Beaufort, who was a house guest in 1787:-
"Drawing-room adorned with magnificent mirrors, off breakfast-room is rotunda coffee-room, where in recesses are great quantities of china, a cistern with a cock and water, a boiler with another, all apparently for making breakfast; a letter box and round table with four sets of pen and ink let in for everybody to write." 
"Conservatory joins house, fine apartment along lough, at end alcove for meals, from it a way to h & c bathing apartments with painted windows." 
"On other side of house, pretty and large theatre and magnificent ballroom 60 x 30, all of wood and canvass painted, and so sent ready-made from London."
Charles, 1st (and last) Earl O'Neill, succeeded his father, the 1st Viscount O'Neill, in 1798, and about a decade later consulted the pre-eminent architect, John Nash, regarding further expansion of Shane's Castle in the Gothic castellated style.

The main purpose, however, was to give the building a southern aspect.

The terrace and conservatory had been completed by 1816, when the main block of the house was completely gutted by fire (caused by a jackdaw's nest catching light in an unused chimney).

Following the fire, the 1st Earl was so dispirited that he abandoned his plans for the castle and built a small residence adjoining the stables.

First published in July, 2018.