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.
Gabriel David, dsp;
DAVID, of Marlay;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Peter, of Bellevue;
Mary Anne; Martha; Elizabeth; Judith.
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;
JOHN, his heir;
Anne; Gertrude; Emily.
ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR;
Emily Maria; Rose Lucy.
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.