Friday, 13 October 2017

Derreen House

THE MARQUESSES OF LANSDOWNE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KERRY, WITH 94,983 ACRES

The Earls of Kerry trace their origin to a common ancestor in the direct line with the eminent houses of FitzGerald, Windsor, Carew, McKenzie, etc; namely, Walter FitzOtho, Castellan of Windsor in the 11th century; whose eldest son,

GERALD FITZWALTER, obtained a grant from HENRY I, of Moulsford, Berkshire.

This Gerald wedded Nest ferch Rhys, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, and had issue,
MAURICE, ancestor of the ducal house of LEINSTER;
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
David (Rt Rev), Bishop of St David's.
The second son,

WILLIAM FITZGERALD, Lord of Carew, called by Giraldus Cambrensis the eldest son; but the pedigree of the family of LEINSTER setting forth the contrary, his mother's inheritance, and assuming that surname, bespeak him a younger son, which is confirmed by the unerring testimony of the addition of chief, ermine, to his coat armour (a certain sign of cadence, to distinguish him and his posterity from the elder branch of the family.

This William was sent, in 1171, by Strongbow into Ireland with his son, Raymond, where, for a time, he assisted in the reduction of that kingdom; but returning to his native country, died in 1173, leaving issue by Catherine, daughter of Sir Adam de Kingsley, of Cheshire, seven sons and a daughter.

The eldest son,

RAYMOND FITZGERALD, surnamed, from his corpulence, Le Gros, having, as stated above, accompanied his father into Ireland, was a principal in the reduction of that kingdom.

He married Basilia, sister of Strongbow, and had, as a marriage portion with her, a large territorial grant and the constableship of Leinster.

After this, we find him aiding MacCarthy, King of Cork, against his rebellious son, and acquiring for his services a large tract of land in County Kerry, where he settled his eldest son,

MAURICE FITZRAYMOND, who espoused firstly, Johanna, daughter of Meiler Fitzhenry, founder of Great Connell Priory, County Kildare, and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, by whom he had a son,

THOMAS, who assumed the surname of FITZMAURICE, and became Baron Kerry.

This Thomas founded the Grey Franciscan abbey of Ardfert in 1253.

He married Grace, daughter of MacMurrough Kavanagh, son of the king of Leinster; and dying in 1280, was succeeded by his eldest son,

MAURICE FITZTHOMAS, 2nd Baron; who sat in the parliament held at Dublin in 1295, and attended a writ of summons of EDWARD I, 1297, with horse and arms, in an expedition against Scotland.

He wedded Mary, daughter and heir of Sir John McLeod, of Galway; and dying in 1303, was succeeded by his son,

NICHOLAS, 3rd Baron; whose son,

MAURICE, 4th Baron, having a dispute with Desmond Oge MacCarthy, killed him upon the bench before the judge of assize, at Tralee, in 1325, for which he was tried and attainted by the parliament of Dublin, but was not put to death.

His lands were, however, forfeited, but restored, after his death, to his brother and successor,

JOHN, 5th Baron; from whose time, we are obliged, by our limits, to pass over almost four centuries, and to come to

THOMAS, 21st Baron (1668-1741), who was created, in 1722, Viscount Clanmorris and EARL OF KERRY.

His lordship wedded, in 1692, Anne, only daughter of Sir William Petty, physician-general to the army in Ireland in 1652.

Sir William Petty was celebrated for his extraordinary talents, and surprising fortune.

In 1664, he undertook the survey of Ireland; and, in 1666, he had completed the measurement of 2,008,000 acres of forfeited land, for which, by contract, he was to receive one penny per acre, and did actually acquire an estate of £6,000 a year.

This eminent and distinguished person died of gangrene in his foot, in 1687.

The Earl of Kerry had issue,
WILLIAM;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Elizabeth Anne; Arabella; Charlotte.
His lordship's second son,

THE HON JOHN FITZMAURICE (1706-61), having inherited the Petty estates upon the demise of his maternal uncle, Henry Petty, Earl of Shelburne, in 1751 (when that earldom expired), assumed the surname and arms of PETTY, and was advanced to the peerage as Baron Dunkeron and Viscount FitzMaurice.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1753, to an earldom, as EARL OF SHELBURNE.

He married, in 1734, his first cousin Mary, daughter of the Hon William FitzMaurice, by whom he had issue, WILLIAM, his successor; and Thomas, who married Mary, Countess of Orkney, a peeress in her own right.

His lordship was created a peer of Great Britain, as Baron Wycombe; and dying in 1761, was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1737-1805), KG, a general in the army, and a distinguished statesman in the reign of GEORGE III.

In 1782, his lordship, after the death of the Marquess of Rockingham (under whom he filled the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), was nominated Prime Minister.

The 2nd Earl was advanced, in 1784, to the dignities of Earl of Wycombe, Viscount Calne and Calstone, and MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE.

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin is named after William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Lansdowne.

His lordship married firstly, in 1765, Sophia, daughter of John, Earl Granville, by whom he left one son, JOHN, his successor; and secondly, in 1779, Louisa, daughter of John, Earl of Upper Ossory, by whom he had another son, HENRY, 3rd Marquess; and a daughter, Louisa, who died young.

He was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN, 2nd Marquess (1765-1809), who espoused, in 1805, Lady Gifford, widow of Sir Duke Gifford, of Castle Jordan, in Ireland; but dying without issue, the honours devolved upon his half-brother,

LORD HENRY PETTY, who had already distinguished himself as an eloquent public speaker, and had attained considerable popularity by his enlightened views as a statesman.

His lordship succeeded also to the honours of the house of KERRY upon the demise of his cousin.



The heir apparent is the present holder's elder son, Simon Henry George Petty-Fitzmaurice, styled Earl of Kerry.

The 3rd Marquess declined a dukedom.


DERREEN HOUSE, near Lauragh, County Kerry, sits in a particularly beautiful site at the River Kenmare.

It was enlarged between 1863-66 by the 4th Marquess of Lansdowne, who built a new wing.

The house was further enlarged after 1870 by the 5th Marquess, who was subsequently Governor-General of Canada, Viceroy of India and HM Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


Derreen underwent further work following an attack of dry rot in 1925-6.

It comprises two storeys over a basement, with white rendered walls and dormer gables.


DERREEN GARDEN extends over the greater part of the peninsula on which it lies.

It covers an area of 60 acres and includes nearly eight miles of paths, which wind through mature and varied woodland.

In the moist and mild climate, tender and exotic plants flourish.

Many of the paths in the garden provide marvellous glimpses of the sea (Bay of Kilmakilloge) and the distant mountains (Caha Mountains, Macgillycuddy's Reeks).

Derreen garden is particularly noted for its rhododendrons and tree ferns.

Throughout the garden a rich patina of moss, lichens ferns and saxifrages gives a sub-tropical feel to the whole area.

As a foil to the luxuriant plantings, there are great natural outcrops of rocks.

The garden is open to the public every day from April to October.

Following the 2nd World War, Dereen passed to the 12th Lady Nairne, Viscountess Mersey, sister of the 7th Marquess of Lansdowne (who was killed in action in 1944).

It eventually passed to her son, the Hon David Bigham.

The seat of the Marquesses of Lansdowne is now Bowood House, Wiltshire.

Former town house ~ Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, London.

First published in July, 2013.   Lansdowne arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

2 comments :

Wee Gee said...

Some of your blog followers may be interested to know that Richard Mersey spent some time at Dereen and was a keen hillwalker. He wrote a guide book to the mountains in the area entitled "Hills of Cork and Kerry".

Anonymous said...

In fairly recent years it was rented in summer months to a Chinese family from the US - possibly Tang was their name. My sister in law went to cook for them every year.