Monday, 18 April 2016

Harristown House

THE FAMILY OF LA TOUCHE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILDARE, WITH 11,282 ACRES

The family of La Touche was established in Ireland by

DAVID DIGUES DE LA TOUCHE (1671-1745), a Huguenot, who settled in that kingdom after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, having served first as volunteer, and afterwards as lieutenant and captain in Princess Anne's infantry regiment.

Mr La Touche was the fourth son of a noble Protestant family of the Blésois, which possessed considerable estates between Blois and Orléans, and in other parts of France.

He first fled to Holland, where a branch of his family had for some time been established, and shortly afterwards embarking with the Prince of Orange, served the Irish campaign under him.

At the conclusion of the war, Mr La Touche, like many of his countrymen, settled in Dublin.

He married twice: By his second wife he had no sons; by by the first, who he wedded in 1690, Judith, daughter of Noé Biard, and Judith Chevalier his wife, he had issue,
DAVID;
Peter;
Jane; Judith.
Mr La Touche was succeeded in the bank which he had established in Dublin by his son,

DAVID DIGUES LA TOUCHE (1703-85), who had been educated in Holland with his relation, Digues de la Motte, at Rotterdam.

He espoused, in 1724-5, Mary Anne, daughter of Gabriel Canasille, and had issue,
Gabriel David, dsp;
DAVID, of Marlay;
James;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Peter, of Bellevue;
Gabriel;
Matthew;
Mary Anne; Martha; Elizabeth; Judith.
Mr La Touche's second surviving son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE, of Harristown, MP for County Kildare, married, in 1765, Gertrude FitzGerald, daughter of Robert Uniacke, of County Cork, who took the name and arms of FITZGERALD, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
John, MP for Co Leitrim;
Gertrude; Marianne.
The elder son,

ROBERT LA TOUCHE (1773-1844), of Harristown, MP for County Kildare, wedded, in 1810, the Lady Emily Le Poer Trench, youngest daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty, and by her had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Robert;
William;
Anne; Gertrude; Emily.
Mr La Touche was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE JP DL (1814-1904), of Harristown, who married, in 1843, Maria, only child of Ross Lambart Price, of Cornwall, by his wife, Catherine, Dowager Countess of Desart, and had issue,
ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR;
Emily Maria; Rose Lucy.
His eldest son,

ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR LA TOUCHE JP (1846-1921), wedded, in 1870, The Lady Annette
Louise, second daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Clonmell.

He died without issue, and was succeeded by his sister,

EMILY MARIA LA TOUCHE (1846-68), who espoused, in 1865, Lieutenant-General the Hon Bernard Matthew Ward, son of 3rd Viscount Bangor.



HARRISTOWN HOUSE, near Brannockstown, County Kildare, was purchased by the La Touche family in 1768 and a spacious Georgian mansion was erected by Whitmore Davis in a dominant position overlooking the River Liffey.

The old house of three stories was destroyed in 1891 and a smaller two storey house sits well in its place.

The diocesan architect, James Franklin Fuller, oversaw the restoration of the house at the same time that he rebuilt the small parish church at the entrance to the estate.

The omission of the third storey allows for an unusual amount of light into the house through a cleverly constructed lantern light; thus the move from the airy and bright downstairs rooms is complemented by a rush of light from the upstairs hallway.

Another interesting feature is the tunnel that runs underground for some eighty yards from the stable yard into the basement.

Carnalway church is adjacent to the front entrance of the estate and Fuller rebuilt it in the Hiberno- Romanesque style similar to that of his masterpiece at Millicent.

The church also has stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper.

The La Touches were bankers, weavers and politicians. The partners of La Touche Bank were the original stockholders of the Bank of Ireland, which opened for business in 1783.

The second generation of the La Touches in Ireland included John, who built Harristown House. His descendants occupied the house until 1921.

The last John La Touche, of Harristown, died in 1904.



The estate was bought in 1946 by Major Michael Beaumont (father of the Lord Beaumont of Whitley), who set about restoring Harristown to its former glory. The Beaumonts still live here.

They completely renovated the house and installed furniture and pictures from their former home, Wootton, in Buckinghamshire, the interior of which had been designed by Sir John Soane.

On the ground floor the ceilings stand eighteen feet high and the front hall is a magnificent double room off which open the three main reception rooms the library, drawing room and dining room.

However, the best kept secret of this house is the 16th Century Chinese Wallpaper in a sitting room leading off the drawing room which depicts birds in strong vibrant colours.

Among the other curiosities are an upstairs room finished in oak panelling taken from a Tudor house in England; and a set of French Empire pelmets.

Harristown House remains a private family home, though welcomes paying guests for weddings, functions and accommodation.

First published in February, 2012.

2 comments :

Charles FitzGerald said...

Inte es ING feature the tunnel Ward period. Tunnel also castleward.can't vsee depth of "area" about house was it dealabe off if rebellious /untrustworthyvservands? Many great irish houses hadcsimilar features.

Anonymous said...

Another Huguenot house, the Manor House in Donaghadee is currently for sale. An important houses in North Down. Thought you'd like to know. VC http://www.propertynews.com/Property/Donaghadee/PNC765156/The-Manor-House/