Sunday, 30 June 2013

Boojum!

Here is one very popular Mexican burrito takeaway bar in Botanic Avenue, Belfast, on a Sunday afternoon at two-thirty during June.

I was out for a stroll at the time. It started to rain shortly later.

Even the local rozzers arrived and joined the queue.

Castleboro House

THE BARONS CAREW WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WEXFORD, WITH 17,830 ACRES


This family is a junior branch of the noble English family of that name, which settled in County Waterford during the reign of CHARLES II.

ROBERT CAREW JP, a descendant of the great and ancient family of that name, married Anne, sister of Laurence Hyde.

In 1668, he acquired large estates in County Wexford; and then by purchases, in 1669 and 1680. Mr Carew was High Sheriff of County Wexford, 1686; and of County Waterford, 1703. His son,

ROBERT CAREW ESQ, of Ballynamona, County Waterford, married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of John Shapland Esq, of Wexford, and had issue, his younger son,

SHAPLAND CAREW ESQ, of Castleboro', barrister and MP for Waterford, who married and left issue, his eldest son,

ROBERT SHAPLAND CAREW ESQ, sometime MP for the County and city of Wexford, who married and dying in 1829, left issue,

ROBERT SHAPLAND CAREW ESQ, who, in 1838, was elevated to the peerage as BARON CAREW, KP, of Castleborough, County Wexford.
Lord Carew was educated at Eton and Oxford; MP for County Wexford, 1812-34; Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1831-56; Knight of St Patrick (KP), 1851.
Robert Shapland, 2nd Baron, KP, (1818-81);
Educated at Eton and Oxford; was MP  for County Waterford, 1840-47; High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1849; Colonel in the Wexford Militia; Custos Rotulorum of County Wexford, 1856-81; Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1856-81; Knight, Order of St. Patrick (KP).
Robert Shapland George Julian, 3rd Baron (1860-1923); DL, County Wexford. He died at 28 Belgrave Square, London.

William Francis [Conolly-Carew], 6th Baron, CBE (1905-94), was baptised with the name of William Francis Carew; educated at Wellington College, Berkshire; Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Bermuda, 1931-36.
In 1938, his name was legally changed to William Francis Conolly-Carew by deed poll; captain and brevet major, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; fought in the 2nd World War, where he was wounded; Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE),1966; Companion, Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (C.St.J.).
Patrick Thomas [Conolly-Carew], 7th Baron;
Educated at Harrow; commissioned in 1958, Royal Horse Guards; captain, Royal Horse Guards; an International Show Jumping Rider for Eire; chairman of the Fédération Equestré International 3-Day Event Committee, 1989-97. 
Seat ~ Donadea House, Naas, County Kildare.

ENTRANCE FRONT

CASTLEBORO, near Enniscorthy, County Wexford, was a very large, imposing, Classical mansion of about 1840, built for the 1st Baron Carew.

The main block was of three storeys, the top storey used as an attic; a central, three-sided bow with Corinthian columns at the angles supporting the entablature; two bays on either side of the centre and a pair of Corinthian pilasters at each end.


The grand centre of the building presented the appearance of a Venetian palace, about ninety feet in length and, at the front, extended a façade of elegant and elaborate workmanship.

A projection of a semi-hexagon figure occupied about one third of the garden front (above), while the mansion extended a similar distance on each side
A highly ornamental entablature ran along the entire building above the second story and was supported in the centre by four Corinthian columns with very rich capitals and by two pilasters of the same order on the right and left extremities.
A very rich and highly ornamental cut stone string course ran above the first storey with rosettes and scrolls.

The entrance front (below) displayed a lofty and magnificent portico supported by six columns of the Corinthian order.


The architect, Robertson, suffered from gout and, whilst the building was in progress, it was said he was pushed around sitting in a wheelbarrow with the plans in one hand and a bottle of fine wine in the other!

Castleboro was laid out with four stepped terraces, with a manicured grass bank on each side desending to an artificial lake.

In the centre of the third bank stood a magnificent fountain flanked by two smaller fountains with pools on the immediate upper terrace.

During the Irish Troubles of the 1920s, the Carews sold off the prize cattle heards and furniture and effects and lived full time in England.

The entrance front was of seven bays, with a deep, two-storey Corinthian portico.

The wings and pavilions, two-storey, were mainly neo-Classical; the garden front (below) being more plain.

A lengthy article in The People of 1923 entitled "Castleboro Burned: Lord Carew's Mansion In Flames: Now A Mass Of Debris" states:

'Castleboro, the ancestral home of the Right Hon. Lord Carew was burned to the ground on Monday night, and all that remains now of the palatial mansion are smoke begrimed roofless walls and a heap of debris.

The reason for the destruction of one of the finest residences in Leinster remains a mystery to all but those who were responsible for the destructive work which will only add more thousands to the bill that the Co Wexford will have to foot when the time of reckoning comes.

The work of destruction was perpetrated shortly after ten o'clock on Monday night. Between nine and ten the farm steward, Mr. Robert Richardson…was knocked up at his residence by armed men.

On answering the knock he was compelled to hand over the keys of a store in which some barrels of paraffin oil were stored.

These the armed men took possession of and rolled them from the farm yard to the main building and brought with them hay, which they also got in the farm yard.

Then it would appear that they soaked the hay in the paraffin and scattering it through the main building set it alight with the result that in a short time the whole place was ablaze…

Entrance to the house was gained through the French bay windows which would appear to have been broken by the butt end of rifles.

The noise of the breaking of the glass was plainly audible in the farm yard and tongues of flames leaping up to the sky after a short space of time conveyed the first intimation of what the advent of the armed men breaking in on their peaceable surroundings meant while they were left powerless to attempt to save their master's property…

It was impossible to do anything to extinguish the conflagration which had taken a complete hold of the building and which appeared to have been fired in several places. The fire raged furiously for some hours and completely destroyed the fine building'

'The building of the mansion cost, it is stated, £200,000 [£16 million in 2011], so that a claim which will undoubtedly be lodged is likely to run into a very big sum.

Castleboro was always famous for its gardens and through the liberality of the present Lord Carew visitors were allowed to stroll through the grounds, a privilege that was largely availed of in the summer months.

The scene of Monday night's fire was visited by large numbers of people on Tuesday and the terrible work was condemned on all sides.

The people of the district were always liberally treated by the Carew family and the wanton destruction of their beautiful home was learned with feelings of horror and dismay' (The People 10th February 1923).

Lord Carew did not live to see his claim for compensation satisfied and died on the 29th April 1923, less than three months following the destruction of his home.

Castleboro House survives as an impressive ruin in a somewhat bleak setting, the parkland to the north now used for grazing and the truncated terraces to the south – once second only to those at Powerscourt House, County Wicklow.

Other former seat ~ Woodstown, County Waterford;
Former town residence ~ 28 Belgrave Square, London.

Carew arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in July, 2011. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Castle Stewart Arms


The armorial bearings of the Earls Castle Stewart, as interpreted in an old peerage of 1885.

Middleton Park

THE BOYD-ROCHFORTS WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 16,397 ACRES

THE REV JAMES BOYD (1725-75), Rector of Erris, County Mayo, married, in 1752, Mary, widow of Arthur Vernon, and daughter of Abraham Martin, left issue, an only son,

ABRAHAM BOYD, barrister-at-law and King's Counsel, born in 1760; wedded, in 1786, Catherine Shuttleworth, widow of John Davies, and had issue, an only son,

GEORGE AUGUSTUS ROCHFORT-BOYD JP DL, of Middleton Park, County Westmeath; High Sheriff, 1843.
This gentleman inherited from his mother, the Countess of Belvedere, a great portion of the Rochfort estates situated in County Westmeath, and assumed the surname and arms of ROCHFORT by royal licence in 1867.
His eldest son,

MAJOR ROCHFORT HAMILTON BOYD-ROCHFORT JP (1844-91), of Middleton Park; High Sheriff, 1876; married Florence Louisa, daughter of Richard Hemming, in 1875. His children,

 Lineage of Rochfort

The ancient family of Rochfort, in old deed and writings styled De Hape forte, is stated to have been established in Ireland since the first invasion of the English.

JAMES "PRIME-IRON" ROCHFORT, was a lieutenant-colonel in the army of Cromwell. He was the youngest son of James Rochfort Esq, of Agherry, County Wicklow.
The said James was 9th in descent from Sir William Rochford, Lord of the Manor of Kill at the commencement of the 14th century, was executed, under a court-martial, for killing in a duel Major Turner, in 1652.
By Thomasina his wife, daughter of Colonel Pigott, he left two sons and three daughters. The younger son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT ESQ, chosen Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, 1695, and constituted Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1707; married to Hannah, daughter of William Hancock Esq, of Twyford, County Westmeath, and dying in 1727, left two sons. The eldest son,

THE RT HON GEORGE ROCHFORT MP, Chief Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer, wedded, in 1704, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, and had issue,

ROBERT, created Baron Belfield, in 1737; Viscount Belfield, in 1751; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF BELVEDERE, in 1756.

His Lordship married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and died in 1772, leaving the eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl, married to, 1st, Dorothea, daughter of John Bloomfield Esq, of Redwood; and 2ndly, Jane, daughter ot the Rev James Mackay, but dying without issue in 1814, the titles became extinct.

His lordship's widow wedded secondly, in l8l5, Abraham Boyd Esq, Kings Counsel, and had by him an only son, the late George Augustus Rochfort-Boyd Esq, of Middleton Park, County Westmeath.


MIDDLETON PARK HOUSE, near Mullingar in County Westmeath, was built by George Boyd-Rochfort, descendant of the Earls of Belvedere, in 1850.

He commissioned George Papworth, Architect and President of the Royal Academy, to design and oversee the building of the House. Drawings of part of the interior were exhibited by Mr Papworth during the Royal Hibernian Annual Exhibition of 1850.

Only the very best craftsmen and materials were used in the building and it is a testimony to those craftsmen and materials that Middleton Park House has stood the test of time since then.

It is a fine example of late Georgian architecture favouring the classic Georgian style over the Gothic style evident in other houses of that era.
 

Acclaimed features of the House are its under-floor heating system, stone bifurcated staircase leading to the Gallery Landing and three-storey high atrium lantern located in the Main Hall.

Middleton Park House also boasts one of a few Richard Turner Conservatories to be found in Ireland.

The House and estate remained in the Boyd-Rochfort family until the early 1960s when it was sold.

Since then it has seen many owners, the most colourful of whom was Barney Curly who famously raffled the House in 1986.

In quite a state of disrepair when acquired by its current owners, it took a lot of time, effort and care to attention to bring it back to life, bringing in specialist professionals to ensure that the
original aesthetic and atmosphere remained.

Built between 1840 and 1850, it is unusual in that context, as the Irish famine not only reduced the peasant farmers of Ireland to penury and starvation; it also destroyed the economic basis of the large landed estates held by the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy, as rents could not be paid.

It replaced an older house on the site, which was demolished.

The name Middleton comes from a previous owner of the estate, Mr George Middleton Berry, who subsequently lived in Ballingal House.

Middleton Park House was designed by George Papworth to be a technical wonder of its age.

It had its own gas-house where coal was converted to gas to fuel the house boilers, and an extraordinary heating system buried in its walls, which circulated heated air.

It utilised the most modern materials of the time including cast iron beams for structural supports in the vaulted basement, instead of the usual timber.

Although built well into the Victorian era, it was created in a classical Georgian style, as opposed to the prevailing Victorian Gothic.

It has one of only six turner conservatories left in Ireland. Richard Turner also built Kew Gardens In London and the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

Its entrance hall and sweeping stone, cantilevered bifurcated staircase is regarded as one of the finest of its kind in Ireland, and was famously described as “suitable for Citizen Kane” in Burke's Country Houses.

Middleton Park House was built for George Boyd-Rochfort, whose wife was the eldest daughter of the last Earl of Belvedere. The Rochforts owned vast estates in excess of 25,000 acres.

GEORGE III stood as godfather to one of them, and they were high-ranking members of the peerage.

Mr Boyd was granted permission to change his name to Rochfort-Boyd in 1867 by a petition to the House of Lords.

Although the behaviour of George Boyd-Rochfort was questionable during the Irish famine, being cited by the House of Lords for his actions, the subsequent descendants are remembered today as good, progressive landlords.

The various land acts and subsequently the Irish land commission reduced the estates to a fraction (470 acres) of what they were.

A noted stud was established on the estate and it was the venue for point-to-points, and a starting or finishing point for the Westmeath Hunt.

The Westmeath Hunt Ball was also held at Middleton for many years, as well as hare coursing.

The estate was a large employer in the area. A great many valuable horses were bred here, including Airborne, Winner of the Derby in 1946.

One of the Rochforts (Sir Cecil) also became the royal horse trainer for both KING GEORGE VI and our current sovereign, ELIZABETH II.

Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort KCVO was a Captain in the Scots Guards; fought in the 1st World War, where he was wounded; was decorated with the Croix de Guerre; was invested as a Commander, Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1952.

He was a racehorse trainer before 1968; and appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in 1968.

Sir Cecil's elder brother was Captain George Arthur Boyd-Rochfort VC DL.

The Boyd-Rochforts sold the House in the late 1950s, when many of the contents were auctioned, including a Persian rug, now worth in the region of $15m.

A German family bought the estate, which was sold again in the 1960s to the O’Callaghans who, in turn, sold it to Barney Curley, who famously raffled Middleton Park in 1986.

Subsequent owners broke up the estate up into many smaller parcels. The stud farm ceased to operate around this time as well.

Many of the original fixtures and fittings in the house were sold or removed at this time.

The house, having lost its land, and now existing on only 26 acres, went through a series of owners.

It was, at this stage, in need of major restoration as the roof had deteriorated badly with serous water damage evident throughout the house. It also lacked modern wiring, plumbing and heating.

The sheer scale of the great mansion, at over 36,000 sq feet, made it impractical as a family home for anybody but the seriously rich.

The current owners purchased it in December 2004. They set about converting it into a Country House Hotel and planning permission was obtained for this.

The immediate requirement was to repair the roof and make it watertight.

Investigations revealed that the roof in the wing and most of the floors were completely beyond repair, as the roof trusses were rotten and some had been cut in a manner that left the roof liable to collapse.

The Turner conservatory had lost its original glass and the metal work was seriously corroded. The timber supporting beams in the spectacular entrance hall had also rotted and it was in danger of falling in.

These all had to be replaced also. A specialist iron working firm from Germany was brought in to repair the conservatory and some new castings to replace those corroded beyond use were sourced in the UK.

Specialist roofers from Austria replaced the wing roof structure. Blue Bangor slates were used. The external render on the house had failed and had to be removed and replaced using, as originally, lime plaster.

New Roman cement decorative reveals also had to be cast. The decorative plasterwork inside the house had to be extensively repaired. Extensive fire protection works were undertaken.

Three generations of old plumbing and electrics, often surface mounted, were removed and the house completely rewired and re-plumbed.

A new waste treatment plant was installed.

A specialist engineering firm designed the new heating system which includes underfloor heating in the basement to minimise the visual impact of radiators and some elements of the original system are used to duct hot air into the hall.

There are many legends about the house locally most notably that both Napoleon and Lawrence of Arabia were conceived here (clearly not true in the case of Napoleon, as the house was not built until 1840 and he had died in 1821!).

The link that Lawrence of Arabia has to the house is that his father was married to one of Mr Boyd-Rochfort’s daughters - Edith - but who also had five illegitimate sons by Miss Sarah Lawrence his children’s Governess.

One of these was T.E “Lawrence of Arabia”. It is not recorded where he was actually conceived, but he was born in Wales.

Many of the original drawings of the house were lost in the destruction of the RAI archive in 1916, but an extensive file is held by the Irish National Architectural archive in Merrion Square in Dublin, and some of the estate papers and deeds are held by the National Library of Ireland.

First published in July, 2011.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Caledon Arms

ARMORIAL BEARINGS OF THE EARLS OF CALEDON

These arms appear in an old peerage of 1885. 

I found the rather muscular mermaid - who seems to have a "six-pack" stomach -  somewhat amusing; and the elephant gazes across rampantly, as if looking into her mirror.

Architectural Detail

Detail of columns at main entrance to the Scottish Mutual building, 15-16 Donegall Square South, Belfast: Black polished granite and red Scottish sandstone.

Robert Hill Hanna VC

LIEUTENANT ROBERT HILL HANNA VC

Robert Hanna was born near Hanna's Close, Kilkeel, County Down, in 1886, and migrated to Canada in 1905.

He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the 1st World War, and by the summer of 1917 was a Company Sergeant-Major (CSM) serving with the 29th Infantry Battalion.

In 1917, CSM Hanna’s company was attempting to overpower a German strongpoint on Hill 70, near Lens in France.

In the course of three assaults on the enemy position, the company had suffered several casualties, including the loss of all of its officers.

While his company continued to take casualties from the heavy machine gun fire coming from the strongpoint, Hanna calmly collected a party of men and led them in a fourth attack, rushing through the dense barbed wire protecting the position.

When he arrived inside the strongpoint, CSM Hanna bayoneted three of the enemy and clubbed a fourth with his rifle, enabling the position and its machine gun to be captured.

For the bravery and leadership he demonstrated in this action, Robert Hanna received the Victoria Cross.

CITATION 
“For most conspicuous bravery in attack, when his company met with most severe enemy resistance and all the company officers became casualties. A strong point, heavily protected by wire and held by a machine gun, had beaten off three assaults of the company with heavy casualties.

This Warrant Officer under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, coolly collected a party of men, and leading them against this strong point, rushed through the wire and personally bayonetted three of the enemy and brained the fourth, capturing the position and silencing the machine gun.

This most courageous action, displayed courage and personal bravery of the highest order at this most critical moment of the attack, was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point, and but for his daring action and determined handling of a desperate situation the attack would not have succeeded.


CSM Hanna’s outstanding gallantry, personal courage and determined leading of his company is deserving of the highest possible reward.” 

He died in Mount Lehman, British Columbia on the 15th June, 1967.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Baron's Coronet

A baron's coronet is a silver-gilt circlet with six large silver balls (known as pearls) around it.

The coronet itself is chased as if in the form of jewels (like a royal crown), but is not actually jewelled.

It has a crimson cap (lined ermine) in real life and a purple one in heraldic representation.

There is a gold-threaded tassel on top.

The six pearls distinguish the coronet of a baron (the lowest degree) from the four other ranks of the Peerage.

Like all coronets, it is mostly worn at coronations, though a baron is entitled to bear his coronet of rank on his armorial bearings, above the shield.


A smaller version, shown above, as worn by baronesses at coronations, sits on top of the head, rather than around it. 

First published in May, 2010.

Kettyle v O'Doherty

I have complimented the quality of Kettyle bacon before, particularly its flavour and thickness.

Last week, I ambled into Sawers' delicatessen shop in College Street, Belfast, and purchased a pack of O'Doherty's Black Bacon. The packet contains six rashers and mine was "original oak smoked".

Both Kettyle and O'Doherty are prominent purveyors of bacon in County Fermanagh. Kettyle's are based in Lisnaskea and O'Doherty's have a shop in Enniskillen.

I grilled a rasher of O'Doherty's this morning. The rasher is noticably thinner in cut than Kettyle's. There is a fair amount of fat on both rashers, though more fat drips from the Kettyle bacon, as far as I recall.

I have to say - and this is a personal opinion - that I prefer the Kettyle bacon, because it is a lot thicker and has more flavour.

I paid £3.99 for O'Doherty's. The pack states "minimum 160 grams". I cannot remember the weight and price of Kettyle's, though they pack their products very well, with cardboard on the outside, I think.

Readers, if you've tried both of these brands, do let me know your feelings.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Royal Visit to Caledon

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall this morning visited Caledon Village and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh (the Earl of Caledon).

 TRH AND THE EARL AND COUNTESS OF CALEDON

Their Royal Highnesses later met representatives of the local community and Youth Action at St. James' Church of Ireland Parish Hall, the Square, Moy, and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone (Mr. Robert Scott OBE).

Ballyreagh Day

I have spent a wonderful day on the Ard Peninsula, specifically at the Maltings lay-by in the townland of Ballyreagh.

There were eleven of us. We managed to disassemble and remove a delapidated stone wall, or two-thirds of it, at least.

We had two trailers, which were used to take the stones from the lay-by to the yard at the Old Schoolhouse, about a mile along the peninsula.

One feature of this wall was a kind of "honesty" collection box, which was surprisingly well constructed and proved to be considerably stubborn to remove.

We packed up at about four-thirty.

The Osborne Baronets


THE OSBORNE BARONETCY, OF BALLENTAYLOR, COUNTY TIPPERARY, WAS CREATED IN 1629 FOR RICHARD OSBORNE, POLITICIAN


This family claims to be an elder branch of the house of Osborne, from which the Dukes of Leeds descended.

SIR RICHARD OSBORNE, 1st Baronet, during the Civil Wars, taking the side of the Usurper, was attacked in his castle of Knockmoan, by the Earl of Castlehaven, in 1645, and compelled to surrender at discretion.

He died in 1667 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD, 2nd Baronet, who died in 1685, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN, 3rd Baronet, who wedded, in 1699, Elizabeth, 4th daughter of Thomas Walsingham Esq, and granddaughter, maternally, of Theophilus, 2nd Earl of Suffolk; but dying without issue in 1713, the title devolved upon his kinsman,

SIR THOMAS (grandson of 1st Baronet, through his 2nd son, Nicholas Osborne Esq), 5th Baronet, who was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR NICHOLAS (1685-1719), 6th Baronet, who married Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev Dr Thomas Smith, Lord Bishop of Limerick.

Dying in 1718 without male issue, the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR JOHN, 7th Baronet, barrister and MP for County Waterford. His eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR WILLIAM (d 1783), 8th Baronet, privy counsellor and MP, whose eldest son,

SIR THOMAS (1757-1821), 9th Baronet.


AT THE TIME of Griffith's Valuation, Ralph B Osborne MP, held an estate in the parishes of Killaloon, Kilsheelan and Newchapel, barony of Iffa and Offa East and Aglishcloghane, barony of Lower Ormond; while Lady Osborne held land in the parish of Templenoe, barony of Clanwilliam, County Tipperary.

Hussey de Burgh records Catherine Isabella Osborne as the owner of over 12,000 acres in County Waterford in the 1870s; while the return of 1876 records her acreage as 5,832.

Her husband, Ralph B Osborne, owned 942 acres in County Tipperary; and her cousin, Sir Charles Stanley Osborne, 13th Baronet, of Beechwood Park, Nenagh, owned 940 acres in County Tipperary.

In the mid 19th century Sir William Toler Osborne succeeded his father, Sir Daniel T. Osborne, 11th Baronet, in 1853, grandson of Sir Henry Osborne, held land in the parishes of Ballygibbon, Ardcrony and Kilruane, baronies of Upper and Lower Ormond.

The 2nd and 7th Baronets both represented County Waterford in the Irish House of Commons;  the 8th Baronet represented Caryfort; while the 9th Baronet sat for Carysfort and Enniskillen.

Sir Peter George Osborne, 17th and present Baronet (b 1943) co-founded the wallpaper company, Osborne & Little.


The Rt Hon George Gideon Oliver Osborne MP (b 1971, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2010-) is heir apparent to the baronetcy.

 NEWTOWN ANNER HOUSE

NEWTOWN ANNER HOUSE (above), near Clonmel, County Tipperary, is a two-storey late-Georgian house with a nine-bay front, the three outer bays breaking forwards and elevated an extra storey above the centre block.

Newtown Anner was formerly a seat of the Osborne Baronets; as was Beechwood Park in County Tipperary.

The doorway has engaged columns and a large semi-circular fanlight over the door and side-lights; with a curved two-storey bow at the side.

The Osbornes purchased the Newtown Anner estate from Clonmel Corporation in 1774, though the present house dates from 1829.

Newtown Anner passed eventually to the 12th Duke of St Albans, grandson of Ralph and Catherine Bernal (nee Osborne). It was occupied by the Duchess of St Albans in 1906 and still in that family's possession in the early 1940s.

It is now thought to be the home of Nigel Cathcart.

First published in October, 2011.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Duchess of Cornwall in Broughshane

The Duchess of Cornwall, on the second engagement of the day, attended Broughshane Library, County Antrim, to celebrate National Bookstart Week.

Upon arrival, HRH was greeted by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr Richard Reade DL.

Moving inside the Library, HRH met a number of representative groups including:
Valerie Christie, Children’s Services Manager, Libraries NI;
Jenny Bristow, cookery writer;
Julie McMaster, Cookery Assistant;
Richard Topping, Principal, Broughshane Primary School.
Mrs Knox said a few words of thanks and invited a pupil, Laura Moore, to present gifts to HRH.

Prior to departure, Her Royal Highness signed the visitors’ book.


ON HIS second engagement of the day, The Prince of Wales attended a reception hosted by Larne Borough Council, to meet with members of the community who were affected by the recent severe weather.

On arrival at Larne Town Hall, HRH was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE; Chief Executive of Larne Borough Council; and Sammy Wilson, MP, MLA for East Antrim.

Prince Charles was presented to a number of groups representing the farming community who were affected by the severe weather as well as the many agencies which provided much needed support.

Prior to leaving, Mrs McGahey invited HRH to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit and sign the visitors' book.

Prince Charles in Ballymena

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are today paying a visit to County Antrim.

TRH this afternoon visited the Wright Group, Galgorm, Ballymena, and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim (Mrs. Joan Christie OBE).

His Royal Highness afterwards attended a Reception for members of the farming community at the Town Hall, Upper Cross Street, Larne, County Antrim.

The Prince of Wales, President, later visited The Prince's Trust Centre, 8 Weavers Court, Belfast, and was received by Sir Nigel Hamilton (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast).

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron, Book Trust, attended a children's healthy eating cookery class at Broughshane Library, Main Street, Broughshane, to mark National Bookstart Week, and was received by Mr. Richard Reade (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim).

Her Royal Highness afterwards officially opened the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Antrim Area Hospital, 45 Bush Road, Antrim.

Chief Secretary's Lodge


THE CHIEF SECRETARY'S LODGE, Phoenix Park, Dublin, was originally built by Sir John Blaquiere, 1st Baron de Blaquiere, Chief Secretary for Ireland, and became the Chief Secretary's official residence in the late 18th century.

The Chief Secretary, who performed a role similar to the Prime Minister, had his office within Dublin Castle.

The office was abrogated when Éire (as it was officially called) seceded from the United Kingdom in 1922.

It is now the official residence of the US Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland.

Colonel John Blaquiere came to Ireland as Chief Secretary to the Viceroy, Lord Harcourt, in 1772.

STANDARD OF THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND

Like Viceregal Lodge across the road (former residence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), the Chief Secretary's Lodge, or Deerfield as it is now called, is surrounded by its own sixty-acre park, with wonderful views of the Dublin mountains.

The Lodge, which cost £8,000 to build, comprises two storeys with two projecting bowed ends facing southwards. There are two principal reception rooms.

A commodious staircase hall is bedecked with American flags and presidential portraits.

The brilliant white porte-cochère admits visitors under a large bust of President Lincoln.

The architect of the Lodge, with its immaculate walled gardens, fruit trees and glass-houses, is unknown.

In 1784, the house was acquired by HM Government as an official residence for the Chief Secretary, the power behind the Lords Lieutenant, or Viceroys, of Ireland.

Illustrious occupants have included the Hon Sir Arthur Wellesley (1st Duke of Wellington), Lord Castlereagh, Sir Robert Peel and Lord Randolph Churchill.

Sir Winston Churchill, as a small boy, roamed the gardens and woods and took great delight in riding up and down the paths in his donkey and cart.

In 1927, the United States sent its first envoy, Fred Sterling, to the newly-formed Éire.

Mrs Sterling noticed the empty house whilst walking in Phoenix Park, told her husband she'd found the ideal residence for him, and Deerfield has remained a part of American soil ever since.

And long may the United States of America continue so to do. This glorious piece of the British Empire could not be in better hands.

First published in September, 2011.

Lisnavagh House

THE BARONS RATHDONNELL OWNED 4,960 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY CARLOW

JOHN McCLINTOCK (1770-1855), eldest son of John McClintock, MP for Enniskillen and Belturbet in the Irish parliament, was a magistrate for County Louth, and sometime Serjeant-at-Arms in the Irish House of Commons.
'Bumper Jack' McClintock MP commissioned the building of Drumcar House, near Dunleer, in 1777. His mother was Patience, daughter of William Foster, MP for County Louth and first cousin to John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel. His paternal grandfather was Alexander McClintock (d 1775).
Mr McClintock married firstly, Jane, only daughter of William Bunbury Esq, of Moyle. Jane was sister to Thomas Bunbury MP.

He wedded, secondly in 1805, Lady Elizabeth le Poer Trench, 3rd daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty. He died in 1855 at Drumcar, survived by his second wife. His eldest son,

JOHN, 1ST BARON RATHDONNELL (1798-1879); High Sheriff of Louth, 1840; MP for County Louth, 1857-59; Lord-Lieutenant of County Louth, from 1867-79.

In 1868, this gentleman was elevated to the peerage, as BARON RATHDONNELL, of Rathdonnell, County Donegal, with remainder to the male issue of his deceased younger brother, Captain William McClintock-Bunbury.

Lord Rathdonnell was married to Anne, sister of Sir John Henry Lefroy, and they lived between Drumcar, County Louth, and their London home at 80 Chester Square. The marriage was childless.

He was succeeded in the barony, according to the special remainder, by his nephew,

THOMAS KANE [McCLINTOCK-BUNBURY], 2nd Baron (1848-1929),  who wedded, in 1874, Katharine Anne, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, County Carlow, by his wife Mary Margaret Conolly, 3rd daughter of Lt-Col Edward Michael Conolly, of Castletown, County Kildare.
Lieutenant, Scots Greys; Captain, Leicestershire Yeomanry; Honorary Colonel, 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, 1896-1929; Sheriff of County Carlow, 1876; Lord-Lieutenant of County Carlow; President, Royal Dublin Society 1918-29.
Lord Rathdonnell was succceeded by his son,

THOMAS LEOPOLD, 3rd Baron, MBE (1881-1937), who married, in 1912, Ethel Synge, 2nd daughter of Robert Wilson Jevers CMG. Sheriff of County Carlow, 1909. His son,

WILLIAM ROBERT, 4th Baron, MC (1914-59), who married and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS BENJAMIN, 5th and present Baron, born in 1938; married, in 1965, Jessica Harriet, only daughter of George Gilbert Butler, of Scatorish, Bennetsbridge, County Kilkenny.


LISNAVAGH HOUSE, near Rathvilly, County Carlow, is a large, rambling, granite ashlar Tudor-Revival mansion, built in 1847 for William McClintock-Bunbury MP, brother of the 1st Baron Rathdonnell.

It's on an irregular plan with porte-cochere, bay windows and gables; designed by Daniel Robertson; truncated and re-ordered about 1953; Stable building and walled garden to rear.


Lisnavagh House was substantially reduced in size about 1953 by the 4th Baron; that section of which contained the principal rooms being demolished; while the service wing was adapted to provide requisite accommodation.

The estate has been a family home for eleven generations and covers hundreds of acres.

The estate includes Lisnavagh House, several cottages, excellent grazing for cattle & tillage land for maize, barley and wheat.

Over 250 acres of mainly hardwood woodland sees Beech, Oak and Ash and other native woodland species thrive allowing a healthy biodiversity of flora and wildlife to exist in its surrounds.

This woodland is now managed and protected and naturally fallen timbers are recycled into the now highly sought after exclusive wooden Bunbury chopping Boards.

Lisnavagh Estate and House are available for private hire for exclusive weddings, yoga sleep retreats, annual community and social events. Also available to guests are short term rental of 4 self catering cottages on the grounds. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

1st Baron Newtownbutler

ARMS OF THE EARLS OF LANESBOROUGH


THIS IS A CONDENSED VERSION OF THE ARTICLE BY SYLVIA EARLEY ABOUT THE RT HON THEOPHILUS [BUTLER] (1669-1723), 1ST BARON NEWTOWN-BUTLER, ANCESTOR OF THE EARLS OF LANESBOROUGH

"To the north of the Old Library in Trinity College [Dublin] sits a bay of over 1,000 books and pamphlets donated to the library in the late 18th century.

The main contributor was a Dublin politician, Theophilus Butler.

He was born in 1669 in County Cavan. He had two brothers, James and Brinsley. On 27 September 1686 Theophilus and Brinsley entered Trinity College as undergraduates.

Later, in March 1718, both were awarded LLDs by the university.

Butler’s first year in Trinity coincided with the accession of the Catholic monarch, James II, who increased concessions to Catholics and Protestant dissenters.

After 1689, and with the outbreak of full-scale war, many Protestants, including Brinsley and Theophilus, chose to move to England for their own safety.

Jonathan Swift forged a friendship with both Brinsley and Theophilus during their time at Trinity. Swift attended Trinity as an MA candidate at the same time as the Butlers.

Theophilus’s future wife, Emily Stopford, was also known to Swift. In his later correspondence he refers to Theophilus as ‘Ophy’ and to Emily as ‘my mistress’, suggesting closeness between Swift and the Butler couple.

In the years following the Williamite victory, Protestant ascendancy reached its zenith in Ireland. Theophilus was now back in Dublin and he benefited from being a member of such a privileged group.

In 1703, he was elected MP for County Cavan, a position he held until 1713.

During this time it was common for prominent gentlemen to establish private book collections in their homes.

It appears that Butler became a serious book-collector in the early 1690s.

Many of his books are marked with either his bookplate or his stamp, something that many collectors did to signify that the owner considered himself to be a collector of books and not purely someone who bought books for pleasure.

This period also coincides with a series of trips made by Butler to London.  After a time spent living in England after 1689, Butler regularly returned.

In 1697, he was elected steward to London’s Musical Society. Butler surely used his time in London to further his book collection.

In 1715, George I was crowned ... was unwilling to return a Tory ministry that failed to acknowledge his legitimacy ... eleven new peerages were created in the House of Lords.

Butler was undoubtedly pro-Whig in his sympathies. Archbishop William King noted in a letter to the Lord Sunderland that Butler had opposed the Tory ministry ‘in every vote both in parliament and in council’.

Butler was rewarded for his political leanings and on 21 October 1715 was made Lord Newtown-Butler.

Butler’s political preferences may have led to a deterioration of relations between him and Jonathan Swift. Though Swift’s loyalties shifted according to who was in power, his support mainly lay with the Tories.

Brinsley, Theophilus’s brother, was notoriously pro-Tory, a fact that almost certainly resulted in Swift’s switch of affection from the older brother to the younger.

Indeed, in much of Swift’s correspondence he refers to Brinsley as ‘my Prince Butler’.

On 11th March, 1723, Theophilus Butler died in his house in St Stephen’s Green [Dublin].

His will achieved some notoriety through his request that £13 worth of bread per year be distributed to the poor of St Ann’s parish.

The shelves constructed to hold the loaves of bread can still be seen in the church today, along with a plaque explaining their origin.

He chose books that reflected his gentlemanly status, making purchases likely to increase in value, and marking many of them with his Butler coat-of-arms.

And he wanted it to be used after his death, only expressing concern in his will that, after studying them, persons should place ‘such books againe Regularly’.

Yet he also stipulates that the collection be kept within his family, ‘neither to be sold or lent to any P[er]son Whatsoever’.

It would appear, then, that the very basis of Butler’s (admittedly limited) fame entirely contradicts his own wishes."

15 Donegall Square South

A new £12m hotel opposite Belfast City Hall is to create up to 180 full and part time jobs. The former Scottish Mutual building was bought by the hotel group Tullymore House.

They also own the Galgorm Resort and Spa in County Antrim.
This building, at 15-16 Donegall Square South (corner of Bedford Street) was originally known as Scottish Temperance Buildings. It was built in 1904 by Henry Seaver, in dark red Ballochmyle sandstone, five storeys in height, with corbelled turrets at each corner. It also boasts black polished granite pilasters. The dormer windows and chimneys survive.
The listed Edwardian building, similar in age to City Hall, will house forty hotel rooms and ten serviced apartments, as well as two restaurants and bars.

It will be a stone's throw from its nearest rival, Ten Square Hotel, also at Donegall Square South.

It is estimated the new hotel will be completed by 2015.

The building was sold by the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama), with an asking price of £1.75m.

The new hotel's main entrance will be at Donegall Square South.

Colin Johnston, Project Manager, said:
"This truly magnificent, iconic city centre building has all the key ingredients - location, beauty, space and heritage - for a welcome and sympathetic restoration into a luxury, boutique hotel."

Springfield Castle

THE BARONS MUSKERRY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WEXFORD, WITH 9,412 ACRES

This family possessed large estates in Somerset as far back as the reign of HENRY II.

The third son of MOSES DEANE ESQ, of Deane's Fort, Somerset, settled in Ireland during the reign of JAMES I, and took up his abode at Dromore, County Cork, where he purchased considerable estates.

Mr Deane, who bequeathed large sums towards the erection of almshouses and other charitable purposes, was created a baronet in 1709.

He married thrice. By his first wife Mary, at his decease in 1710, he left a son and heir,

SIR ROBERT, 2nd Baronet, who wedded Anne, daughter and co-heir of William Boltridge Esq, one of CROMWELL'S officers; and dying in 1714, was succeeded by his son,

SIR MATTHEW, 3rd Baronet, MP for County Cork, who wedded Jane, only daughter of the Rev William Sharpe, son the the Archbishop of St Andrew's, the ill-fated primate of Scotland, and had issue,

SIR MATTHEW, 4th Baronet, MP for the city of Cork; at whose decease in 1746-7, without male issue, the title devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON SIR ROBERT, 5th Baronet, barrister, privy counsellor and MP; who married and left issue,

SIR ROBERT TILSON, 6th Baronet (1747-1818), MP for County Cork, who was raised to the peerage, in 1781, as BARON MUSKERRY.

In 1775, his lordship wedded Anne, daughter of John Fitzmaurice Esq, and sole heir of her grandfather, John Fitzmaurice Esq, of Springfield Castle, County Limerick (nephew of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kerry).

Lord Muskerry was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN THOMAS FITZMAURICE [DEANE] (1777-1824), 2nd Baron, CB, a major-general in the army; who married though dying without male issue, the honours devolved upon his only brother,

MATTHEW FITZMAURICE [DEANE-MORGAN] (1795-1868), 3rd Baron, married Elizabeth Geraldine, daughter of HK Grogan-Morgan, in 1847; educated at Eton.
As a result of this marital union, the Barons Muskerry became greater landowners in County Wexford, despite their seat being in County Limerick. 
In 1854, his name was legally changed to Deane-Morgan by Royal Licence.

Robert, 9th and present Baron, resides in South Africa.


ARDCANDRISK HOUSE, near Wexford, County Wexford (above), is a two-storey Regency villa of about 1833, comprising three polygons of differing sizes.

It has eaved roofs and Wyatt windows at one end.

It was built by the Grogan-Morgans, though was acquired by the Deanes, Lords Muskerry, though marriage.


SPRINGFIELD CASTLE, Drumcolliher, County Limerick, is the ancestral seat of the Barons Muskerry.

The Castle features a Neo-Gothic style main residential building, cornered by two towers, one of which is the large Norman keep built in the 15th Century; and the smaller tower, built later in the 18th Century, enclosing a large central courtyard.

A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice, bought Springfield.

His son John built a very large, three-storey, early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings

The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Tilson Deane, 1st Baron Muskerry, married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780.

The Lords Muskerry owned 3,161 acres in County Limerick during the Victorian era.


The castle was burnt in 1921 and rebuilt by "Bob" Muskerry, 5th Baron.

Robert, 9th Baron, lives and works in South Africa at present, but his sister Betty and her husband Jonathan run Springfield Castle.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Weekend Antics

Timothy Belmont has been lying doggo today, having spent the last twenty-four hours here and there in the city of Belfast.

We enjoyed a modest snifter, for instance, in the Piano Bar of the Europa Hotel.

Later, having attached the long-suffering nose-bags, we dined at an esteemed Asian establishment in the vicinity.

The sparring partner, Dangerfield, phoned while we were munching. I think I've alluded to Dangerfield, the old school chum, who happens to be Laird of Broughshane and Hereditary Grand Keeper of Cleggan.

The Duchess subsequently invited me to stay over at Calhame Manor, so we caught the last train to the nearest station, viz. Ballymoney, County Antrim.

Now I am back at Belmont GHQ, ready for a quiet evening with Miss Marple (whilst recording the two clashing programmes on BBC 1).

Belfast, 1836: II

BELFAST SIXTY YEARS AGO: RECOLLECTIONS OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN, BY THE REV NARCISSUS G BATT, RATHMULLAN, COUNTY DONEGAL

FROM ULSTER JOURNAL OF ARCHÆOLOGY, 2ND SERIES, VOL. II, NO. 2, JANUARY 1896

THE COTTON-SPINNING INDUSTRY did not flourish in Ireland, nor did calico-printing, which my father attempted at Hydepark (so called after my mother, Anne Hyde). The firm was Batt, Ewing & Co.

The Ewings, after leaving their house at Cotton-mount, resided in Donegall Street (where the premises of the Brookfield Linen Co. now stand).

Robert Ewing was married to a daughter of David Bigger, of the Trench, Molusk, who had, in conjunction with Moses and Aaron Staunton, started the Carnmoney Cotton Printing Works (now the Mossley Mills).

Robert Anderson, a poet who contributed many pieces to the Belfast News-Letter, was a designer in this firm, having been brought over from the North of England by them for this purpose.

Some specimens of these printed calicoes are still in the possession of one of the editors of this Journal, a grandson of David Bigger.

The old Belfast Bank was at the opposite corner of Donegall Street; where it now stands was the Assembly Rooms, where public balls were given and panoramas exhibited.

I saw one of the siege of Antwerp, at that time a recent exploit. The Northern Bank was facing Castle Place, where the Bank Buildings now stand.

I was fond of seeing the machinery in the great factories on the Falls Road, but have a clearer recollection of a quaint garden there, where there were little ponds and islands, figures of Dr. Syntax and other celebrities carved and painted, and a water-wheel, which, as it turned, made music on bells.

In those days watchmen cried the hours at night. Postage was heavy, and "franks" from members of Parliament were in great request.

Our letters were folded square and sealed, without envelopes, and often crossed, making them hard to read, space was so valuable. Small-pox was very common, and blind and marked people were met with everywhere.

I was not only vaccinated, but inoculated, by Moore, of Corn Market, who, I fear, broke the law to please my mother.

He was a most popular apothecary and practitioner, the husband of a Greek lady. Beside Dr MacDonnell, Dr Purdon and Dr Thompson were the chief physicians in Belfast.

Typhus fever was often prevalent. At Newtownards I ventured to take a house that had been used as a temporary fever hospital, and some of my friends were afraid to visit me, but this was later on.

I met Lord Dufferin there, fresh from college, and evidently full of talent. Andrew Nichol, who drew many of the views in the Dublin Penny Journal, taught me drawing.

He excelled in his water-colour drawings of the coast scenery of Ireland. Sir J. Emerson Tennent took him with him to Ceylon.

There was also a promising young artist named James Atkins, who died in Malta in 1835, where my aunt and other friends had sent him to study. He copied the large picture, "The Martyrdom of S. Stephen," now in the Queen's College.

I recollect an exhibition of his paintings for his mother's benefit. In religious matters we were all exceedingly "low church."

I was not confirmed till near my ordination by Bishop Mant, at his last ordination, at Hillsborough, in 1848. The great controversies of the day were between the "old light" and the "new light" Presbyterians.

Dr Cooke was the leader of the old lights, and I have often been taken to hear him preach, and can remember his favourite text, Col. i. 19.

I liked better to go to the Parish Church, St. Anne's, where a military band sometimes played, and the Sovereign sat in his stall.

I went to see a public disputation between Rev. John Scott Porter, a Unitarian, and Dean Bagot, afterwards Vicar of Newry.

It ended, as usual, in both parties thinking their champion victorious. Our own church was St. George's, which our family helped to build.

It was a very dull Georgian building, with a huge "three-decker " pulpit in the midst. The oak seats, however, were handsome in their way, and so was the beautiful Corinthian portico.

It was carved in Italy for Lord Bristol, the Volunteer Bishop of Derry, and, when his Palace at Ballyscullion was demolished, Dr. Alexander, Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore, purchased it for S. George's.

The Rev. R. W. Bland, late of Whiteabbey, was the incumbent; his curate, Rev. William Laurenson, an Oxford graduate, was a popular preacher, and, though he preached extempore, was never too long.

It seems Mrs. Laurenson, in the gallery, made a signal with her pocket-handkerchief when it was time to wind up the discourse.

As High Street was not always orderly in the evenings, the young ladies in our street went in a company to S. George's for mutual protection, and took notes of the sermons.

Rev. A. C. Macartney was Vicar of Belfast. To Rev. William Laurenson succeeded Rev. William Macllwaine.

I heard him preach his first sermon as curate; he has told me that he unintentionally offended some of us by referring to "bats" as creatures unfriendly to the light, not knowing that there were Batts in the congregation.

He was a learned man, and tried to make St. George's into a pro-cathedral, and did beautify it a good deal, brightening up the dull services; but the architecture of the church was too much against him.

There used to be a transparency in the East window of David playing the harp. The National Board of Education was a great subject of dispute among religious people; but my uncles were from the first in its favour, and put their village schools under the National system.

I must not conclude without a few words about the mail coaches, by which we used to get, by day or night, in about twelve hours from Belfast to Dublin or Derry.
In fine weather an outside seat on the top of the Royal Mail was an exceedingly agreeable mode of travelling; we saw the country to much more advantage than from the railway, and, instead of skirting the dismal suburbs of the towns on the way, we dashed straight up the best streets to the chief hotel, where horses were changed, and a little crowd always collected to admire.
The inside, however, was always stuffy, and often crowded; and the outside dangerous and uncomfortable in cold and wet weather.

Besides, it was necessary to bespeak a place beforehand. I have driven 10 miles to Dromore for three successive mornings before I could get a seat in the Dublin coach.

The red-coated coachmen and guards were fine manly fellows, and very friendly with the passengers, who, to be sure, always tipped them.

The caravans, machines, and long cars that started from public-houses in Cromac Street, or in Ann Street at "The Highlandman," to take us to Ballynahinch or Newtownards, were poor affairs.

The Derry coach started from the Donegall Arms, Castle Place (Robb's), and the Dublin coach from 10, Castle Street.

The Carrickfergus and Larne coaches stopped in Donegall Street and North Street.

NOTES: 1. Narcissus Batt was Founder of the Belfast Bank; 2. Narcissus and Thomas were members of the Corporation for preserving and improving the port and harbour of Belfast.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Belfast, 1836: I

BELFAST SIXTY YEARS AGO: RECOLLECTIONS OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN, BY THE REV NARCISSUS G BATT, RATHMULLAN, COUNTY DONEGAL

FROM ULSTER JOURNAL OF ARCHÆOLOGY, 2ND SERIES, VOL. II, NO. 2, JANUARY 1896


DONEGALL PLACE, now full of shops, was, half-a-century ago, a quiet street of private houses.

Some of them had gardens and trees in the rere, and there was quite a grove at the corner of the square where Robinson & Cleaver now have their establishment.

The residents were either merchants of the town, or country gentlemen who came to Belfast for society in winter, as fashionable people now go to London for the season.

At the beginning of this century the country had hardly settled after the Insurrection, and distant journeys were tedious and costly.

My father, Samuel Hyde Batt, has been a week in coming from England, and my Uncle William, when in Trinity College, used to ride to Dublin, with a groom behind carrying his luggage.

There was good local society, and people were hospitable.

My mother was often taken in a sedan chair to spend the evening at some neighbour's, and we gave parties in return; when, after dinner, I, as a child, was admitted to the drawing-room to be petted by the ladies, and allowed to stand by their whist-tables.

There were four members of our family domiciled in Donegall Place. My father, Samuel Hyde Batt, lived at No. 6 (now Cuming Bros.'), where I was born.

His brother, Narcissus,1 lived where the Royal Hotel is now till his new house at Purdysburn was finished. Thomas, afterwards of Rathmullan, lived at No. 4 (now Hogg's).

Thomas Greg Batt, son of Narcissus, was a director in the Belfast Bank. The Rev. William Batt lived near Fountain Street, where he died, long after the rest were gone.

Our house had belonged to my grandfather, Captain Batt, who came from County Wexford in 1760.
The other inhabitants were Hugh Montgomery, of Benvarden and Ballydrain (a director in the Northern Bank); James Orr, of the Northern Bank ; William Clark, J.P., father of the late director of the Belfast Bank; James Douglas, of Mount Ida; Sir Stephen May, Mrs. May, John and William Sinclaire, Henry J. Tomb; Captain Elsemere, R.N.; Henry William Shaw; James Crawford, wine merchant; John S. Ferguson and Thomas F. Ferguson, linen merchants; and Dr. John MacDonnell, one of the MacDonnells of the Glens of Antrim, whose bust is in the Museum.
He was a great friend of my mother's. His library, and the skeleton in it, inspired me with awe. The Nelson Club was next door to us before it removed to Donegall Square.

Thomas L. Stewart resided in the Castle," at the corner of Castle Place - a plain mansion with a walled garden in front, now removed.

Though our premises behind reached to Callender Street, there was not much playground for me, so I used to take the air in the dull walk round the Linen Hall, or in Maclean's fields, then rural enough.

The old paper-mill near the Gas Works in Cromac Street, with its dam and little waterfall, was a pleasant object for a walk, the Owen-na-varra, or Blackstaff, being then comparatively unpolluted.

On these walks I used often to see some young men who subsequently made a figure in the world, as Hugh M'Calmont Cairns, Geo. A. C. May, subsequently Chief-Justice, and Thomas O'Hagan, afterwards Lord Chancellor.

My generation of Belfast boys was not so distinguished, though Canon Tomb and Rev. Alexander Orr, both from our street, were respected clergymen. Some of my early companions were unfortunate: three boys, of good family, while yet young, destroyed themselves.

I was too delicate for school, and only attended the Academy in Donegall Street for a short time. It was a dingy edifice at the corner of Academy Street, but the masters were of the clever Bryce family.

One of my tutors was James Rea, a brother of the famous attorney, John Rea, a most amiable man, who died young. Our house was rather gloomy, but the front windows commanded a good view of whatever was going on.

An old negro organ-grinder, with his dancing dogs, interested me. Sometimes a party of Orangemen from Sandy Row encountered the Hercules Street butchers, and stones flew about. Dr. Tennent's mansion was the only large house in Hercules Street.

Lord Arthur Chichester and Emerson Tennent, son-in-law to Doctor Tennent, were once chaired through Donegall Place, and I was sorry that the handsome chairs, with their gilt canopies and rose-coloured silk hangings, were torn in pieces by the crowd after the procession.

Beards were uncommon 60 years ago, and the mob showed their disapproval of Lord Belfast's venturing to wear one, calling him "Beardie" when he was a candidate for Parliament in 1837.

The cholera cart in 1834 is a more dismal remembrance. It went through our street draped in black, with a bell to warn people to bring out their dead. There was a great panic, and people were afraid of being buried alive, as it was necessary to remove the infectious corpses speedily.

Still our servant's mother was duly "waked" when she died of cholera. My mother made the daughter change her dress when she came home, and the clothes were burnt.

The houses of decent working people in the middle of Belfast were by no means uncomfortable, though there were bad slums about Ann Street. The best houses, however, had cesspools, and sanitary arrangements were deficient.

Some of the little docks near the end of High Street were very foul, yet I liked to walk on the quays, which were not yet encumbered with sheds, but open to the breeze from the lough.

I saw a fine ship, the "Hindoo," launched near the present Harbour Office. The steamers "Chieftain" and "Eclipse" were comparatively small, but their smoke-stacks had iron ornaments, like crowns, on the top.

I once left at night for Dublin by steamer, and in the morning found the vessel stuck in the mud where the Queen's Island is now.

Before the present improvements in the Port of Belfast, the navigable channel wound like a serpent through the muddy estuary of the Lagan, still crossed in my time by the Long Bridge.

It was our custom to spend a month or two in summer at the seaside. Holywood was then the popular resort. The old baths were where the stream falls into the sea near the old Parish Church.

The bathing-box was on piles a long way out, and another wooden pier led to the little channel where boats were moored. Beyond Holywood all was rural and woodland. The Carrickfergus side was agreeable too, but not so near Belfast.

I remember being shown the "suicide's grave" in the salt marsh at Ringan's Point, beside what is now the entrance to Fortwilliam Park, on the shore side of the road; and a public-house (Peggy Barclay's) by the wayside rejoiced in the sign of the "Mill for grinding old people young."

The picture represented men and women hobbling on crutches into the hopper of the mill and dancing out merrily below. I must have been greatly struck with this painting, as I remember it so well, and I sometimes wish now I could find out that mill.
There are still a few of the older-fashioned style of buildings remaining in Belfast, though mostly disguised with stucco - even in High Street some old shops remain by the side of the lofty modern erections, and some of them bear the old names, like that of Patterson, recently removed from the corner of Bridge Street, the evidence of a long-established business.
The oldest houses are those at the corner of Skipper Street, and those next Forster Green's. The latter was where the Biggers had long resided, and next to them lived a family called Quinn, where, in earlier times, Lord Castlereagh lodged.

NOTES: 1. Narcissus Batt was Founder of the Belfast Bank; 2. Narcissus and Thomas were members of the Corporation for preserving and improving the port and harbour of Belfast.

First published in November, 2011.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Curry Baron

Good Gracious! I hear you exclaim. Belmont always performs splendidly when he's had a modest refresher.

Well, dear readers, this just happens to be the time and place.

I called in on the Lord Empey, OBE, this afternoon, in order to express my opinion on Prince William's birthday, celebrated throughout the realm with the hoisting of the national flag, with the exception of government buildings in Northern Ireland, as presently constituted.

I am glad to report that his lordship was not unsympathetic to my pronouncement.


I HAVE enjoyed an early repast of lamb Rogan Josh with pilau rice; accompanied by Peshwari naan bread.

Readers, disregard the instructions that the bread should be sprinkled with water. Instead, spread it liberally with butter, then honey; encase in tin foil; and cook in the oven at, say, 180c, for ten minutes.

It emerges hot, soft and moist (!).

Voila!

Goldfinch

A juvenile goldfinch munching contentedly at the nyjer seeds yesterday.

Belvedere House

THE EARLS OF BELVEDERE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 9,059 ACRES

The ancient and noble family of Rochfort, in old deed and writings styled De Rupe Forti, is stated to have been established in Ireland since the first invasion of the English.

JAMES "PRIME-IRON ROCHFORT,
Lieutenant-Colonel in the army of Cromwell, youngest son of James Rochfort Esq, of Agherry, County Wicklow (9th in descent from Sir William Rochford, Lord of the Manor of Kill, at the commencement of the 14th century), was executed, under a court-martial, for killing, in a duel, Major Turner, in 1652.
By Thomasina his wife, daughter of Colonel Pigott, he left two sons and three daughters. The younger son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT ESQ, chosen Speaker of the Irish house of commons, 1695, and constituted Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1707; married Hannah, daughter of William Hancock Esq, of Twyford, County Westmeath, and dying in 1727, left two sons. The eldest son,

THE RT HON GEORGE ROCHFORT MP,
Chief Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer, wedded, in 1704, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, and had issue,

ROBERT, created Baron Bellfield, in 1737; Viscount Bellfield, in 1751; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF BELVEDERE, in 1756.

His Lordship married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and died in 1772, leaving the eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl, married to, 1st, Dorothea, daughter of John Bloomfield Esq, of Redwood; and 2ndly, Jane, daughter ot the Rev James Mackay, but dying without issue in 1814, the titles became extinct.


BELVEDERE HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, is an exquisite villa of about 1740, by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell.

It was built for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose seat was Gaulston, about five miles away.

The house comprises two storeys over a basement; a long frontage; and curved end bows.

The front has a three-bay recessed centre between projecting end bays.

Belvedere itself has only a few rooms, though they are well-proportioned, with rococo ceilings on the ground floor of exceptional quality, including cherubim gazing down from the clouds.

Belvedere House passed, by inheritance, to the Marlay family; thence to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury DSO JP DL, leader of the 1921 Mount Everest expedition.

In the period following the 2nd world war, Colonel Howard-Bury restored the house and gardens.

He never married and, on his death in 1963, the estate was inherited by Rex Beaumont, who had been Howard-Bury's friend and companion for 30 years.

Mr Beaumont sold the estate to Westmeath County Council in 1982.

Following a multi-million pound restoration the house and gardens have been opened to visitors. Belvedere also hosts weekend music festivals and intimate garden theatre performances.

Belvedere arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Secret Rooms

For the benefit of those readers who haven't been keeping up with my activities, I was in the metropolis last week, doing this and that.

Whilst biding my time in Belfast City Airport, a book by Catherine Bailey, entitled The Secret Rooms, caught my eye.

It is described as non-fiction.

The narrative is described thus:-
A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death. At 6am in 1940, John, 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain's wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants' quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.

For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants - even the King's doctor - pleaded with him to come out, but he refused. After his death, his son and heir, Charles, 10th Duke, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years. What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?
WH Smith were flogging it for its cover price, viz. £9.99. I chose to purchase it from Amazon, at £6.89.

Today, whilst at Holywood Exchange retail park, I spotted an amusing little mug, with, rather appropriately (!), a crown thereon, in their Sale at £1.50 (originally £3).

Cognizant that I have a bottle of white Pinot Grigio plonk in the cellar (!), I whacked the stuff into the freezer, where it will remain for a minimal period, awaiting due consumption (not the whole bottle!).

3 St James's Square

THE MARQUESSES OF DONEGALL WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ANTRIM

3 St James's Square, London, was, from 1762-99, the town-house of the 1st Marquess of Donegall, who bought it from Henry, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, in 1770 for £12,000 (£1.6m in today's money).

The town-house was perhaps altered during Lord Donegall's ownership, but there is no documentary evidence of this. It was vacant in 1772.

If an alteration was made in that year it may have been carried out by 'Capability' Brown, who was at that time building Lord Donegall's country seat in Staffordshire, Fisherwick Park.

Lord Donegall enjoyed an annual income from his 250,000 acre estates of £48,000 in 1797 (£4.5m today).


ST JAMES'S SQUARE IN 1753

Following the 1st Marquess's decease in 1799, the house descended to his younger son, Lord Spencer Chichester, who evidently determined to dispose of it.

In 1800, the house was surveyed by John Soane on behalf of Philip, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, for whose father he had worked at Wimpole in 1791–3.

A plan was made and Soane reported that the premises were extensive and substantial, with 'very large and low' back rooms.

He suggested that the 'common staircase', being 'steep and confined', should be altered; and that, as there was room for further building, dressing-rooms should be added to the library and to the chamber over it.

Soane thought the house was worth £11,500 as it stood, though a purchaser might have to go to £12,500; and that needful repairs and additions would cost a further £3,500.

From 1801, Lord Hardwicke appeared as the ratepayer for Number 3, but his purchase of the house was delayed, perhaps by his appointment, in March 1801, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

The purchase was, in the end, made for only £10,500.

The present building is a 1930s office-block.

First published in March, 2010.