Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling remains one of my favourite restaurants in Corralejo. Reservations are essential because of its diminutive size.

It has, I think, seven tables inside; and the kitchen is very small, too; so small, indeed, that Henrik has to turn away many who haven't booked in advance.

I've written often about this special little establishment before.

Henrik, the proprietor, is Danish, and one of the most courteous hosts you are ever likely to meet.

I invariably email Henrik a few weeks before I visit, and last night was no exception; in fact I reserved for three dates.

Incidentally, they are relocating soon to a new and improved location at Calle El Pulpo, near the Dunas Club apartments and the harbour.

I opted for the signature Green Salad as a starter; followed by the salmon, with bearnaise butter, mashed potatoes, and spinach.

Henrik poured me a flute of well chilled cava.

His parents were seated at the table beside me. Henrik introduced me to them, a delightful couple.

The bill was about €25.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Purdysburn House


This family, stated to have been originally from Cornwall, was founded in Ireland by SAMUEL BATT, of New Ross, merchant, who acquired considerable property in County Wexford.

He died intestate, leaving, by Alice his wife, who took out administration, 1702, a son,

SAMUEL BATT, of New Ross, whose will was proved in 1716.

He left, by Deborah his wife, five sons,
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Narcissus, dsp;
The eldest son,

THOMAS BATT, of Ozier Hill, County Wexford, married, in 1713, Jane, daughter of Thomas Devereux, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SAMUEL BATT, father of Major Thomas Batt, Royal Fencible American Regiment, who was killed in the American war, when the property devolved upon his youngest brother,

ROBERT BATT (1728-83), of Ozier Hill, a Captain in the 18th Regiment who wedded, in 1765, Hannah, daughter of Samuel Hyde, of Belfast, and had issue,
NARCISSUS, his heir;
Thomas, of Rathmullan, County Donegal.
Captain Batt was succeeded by his eldest son,

NARCISSUS BATT (1761-1840), of Purdysburn, County Down, and Ozier Hill, County Wexford, who wedded, in 1793, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Greg, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Elizabeth; Mary. 
Mr Batt was a founder of the Belfast Bank, kept a town residence, Donegall House, later the Royal Hotel, in Belfast.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT BATT JP DL (1795-1864), of Purdysburn and Ozier Hill, who married, in 1841, Charlotte, daughter of Samuel Wood, and had issue (with four daughters),

ROBERT NARCISSUS BATT JP DL (1844-91), of Purdysburn, who married, in 1866, Marion Emily, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Samuel Walker, of Berry Hill, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and had issue,

EVELEEN MAY BATT, born in 1867.

Robert Narcissus Batt is reputed to have fallen down the stairs at Purdysburn to his death in 1891, leaving his wife and two daughters, all of whom died before the end of the century.

Thus the Batts of Purdysburn died out though there is said to be another branch of the family in Dublin.


THE REV NARCISSUS BATT wrote of his family,

[from Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Second Series, Vol. II, No. 2, January 1896]

DONEGALL PLACE, now full of shops, was, half-a-century ago [1840s], 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 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, lived where the Royal Hotel is now till his new house at Purdysburn was finished.

Thomas, afterwards of Rathmullan, lived at No. 4. 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. ...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 Batt mausoleum at Drumbo Parish Church reads:
To the memory of Robert Batt, son of Thomas Batt of Ozior Hill in the County of Wexford, who died on the 26th of October 1783 aged 55 years. He was for several years a captain in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment and married in 1765 Hannah daughter of Samuel Hyde Esquire who died on the 24th of April 1816 aged 79 years.

Here lies the body of Narcissus Batt, of Purdysburn, Esquire, who died on the 27th January 1840 in the 79th year of his age. He was the oldest son of Robert Batt of Ozier Hill in County of Wexford here is also placed the body of Margaret his wife daughter of Thomas Gregg Esquire who died on the 29th September.

Here also lies the body of Elizabeth Batt daughter of Narcissus Batt of Purdysburn Esq. who died on the 27th March 1854 aged 52 years. Here is also placed the body of Robert Batt Esq. of Purdysburn born 23rd June 1795 died 27th July 1864.
NARCISSUS BATT, along with his partners David Gordon, John Houston and Hugh Crawford, founded the Belfast Bank (now the Northern Bank).

This bank originally began business at a private house on the corner of Callender Street, Belfast, almost directly opposite the White Linen Hall, in 1808.

PURDYSBURN HOUSE, Newtownbreda, County Down, was built ca 1825 after a design by Hopper, in the Tudor-Gothic style.

Sadly it was demolished ca 1965.

The Purdysburn estate had belonged to the Hill-Wilson family and was, at one time, the residence of the Lord Bishop of Down.

In 1812, it became the property of the Batt family, who built large additions to the house.

When two of the Batt daughters were to inherit the estate they both decided they did not want to live there, so Narcissus Batt decided that his property was to go to the Hospital Commissioners.

The commissioners then decided that Purdysburn should be opened as an asylum for the “lunatic poor”.

The opening took place in 1895.

The part of the estate nearest the River Lagan was later used for a new hospital.

Part of the demesne was occupied with the extensive buildings of the Infectious Diseases Hospital, which were in what was once known as the "Fort Field," where there was a very perfect old fort, with trees planted at regular intervals round the moat.

In the centre of the fort,
...there is a most curious tree, said to be about eight hundred years old. Perhaps the fort may be opened at some future time; and it would doubtless well repay the trouble of excavation to find a souterrain and unexpected treasure still securely hidden under the ancient holy tree which has guarded the secret for so many long years.
The grounds belonging to Purdysburn were stated to have been more beautiful and picturesque than in any other place about Belfast.

The pleasure grounds were laid out in the form of a Union Flag, and the design was carried out with all the borders planted with the colours red, white and blue.

The wonderful yew-tree hedges were apparently unequalled in Northern Ireland.

Robert Narcissus Batt (1844-91), who succeeded to the estate on the death of his father in 1864, was a “hearty and genial sportsman” who kept “stud race-horses and … had many successes at race courses both in England and at the Maze and Downpatrick.”

He married Charlotte Wood in 1841; was father of 4 daughters & High Sheriff, 1846; gave the land free to build Ballymaghery RC church in Clonduff parish in 1850; a deputy lieutenant of County Down in 1852; a magistrate in 1852 & 1862.

He leased a mountain of 31 acres in Stang in 1863 from Lord Downshire; owned Ballynanny, Ballyaughian, Leitrim & Ballymaghery townlands in 1863. of Purdysburn.

At the time of the insurrection of 1641, the four townlands of Clonduff-Leitrim, Ballymaghery, Ballyaughian and Ballynanny were held by Lady Mary Crosby.

At her death, these four passed into the hands of the Waring family and were held until 1834, when the Rev Holt Waring sold his interest to Narcissus Batt for £33,000.

Finally, in 1912, Mrs Essel, grand-daughter of Batt, disposed of the Batt Estate to tenants under the land purchase act.

Batt’s Wall in the Mourne Mountains was built by Narcissus Batt, who had bought the Leitrim Estate in 1834.

The wall was probably constructed during the famine years, and remains in remarkable condition considering that it was built some eighty years before the Mourne Wall itself was completed.

It joins the Mourne Wall at the top of Slieve Muck.

Leitrim Lodge was also built by Batt for use as a hunting lodge ca 1834.

The Batts also owned Rathmullan House - now a hotel - in County Donegal.

The hotel's website states that
Rathmullan House was built around 1820 ... The house and estate was sold in 1837 to Thomas Batt, a member of a prominent Belfast family, founders of the Belfast Bank. 
First published in May, 2010.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Strong Alioli

I'm spending some time in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, specifically the resort of Corralejo, which I know well.

Yesterday I acclimatised myself in the old town and revisited many familiar haunts.

The town's infrastructure is still being improved: a number of key streets have been pedestrianised to a high standard.

After lunch I had a refresher at Soul Bar-Café in Music Square, which has about one hundred varieties of gin.

Alas, our Shortcross gin does not, as yet, feature on the list; though I commended it to them.

I enjoyed a very simple dinner of chicken escalope with a few chips and salad at Avenida restaurant.

I'm convinced that they have possibly the best alioli in the town: it's strength does it credit; not for the faint-hearted!

At the conclusion of my evening I sat at the bijou Bar Bouganville, where I sipped a White Russian cocktail.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Killaloe Palace

THE diocese of Killaloe was founded early in the 6th century.

In the 12th century it was incorporated with the ancient bishopric of Roscrea founded in 620.

In 1752, the See of Kilfenora, which had been established about the 12th century, was united to it; and although very small in extent and value, had continued separate until the Restoration, when it was first annexed to the archbishopric of Tuam.

That union continued 81 years, till 1741, when Ardagh being annexed to Tuam, this bishopric was given in commendam to the Lord Bishop of Clonfert.

THE diocese of Killaloe stretches about 100 miles in length, through the counties of Clare and Tipperary, into the King's County, and includes also a small part of the Queen's County, Galway, and Limerick.

It varies in breadth from 9 to 32 miles.

Kilfenora is confined to the baronies of Burren and Corcomroe, and extends only 23 miles by 11.

THE PALACE, Killaloe, County Clare, is a late 18th century block comprising three storeys over a basement.

The demesne is beside the River Shannon outside the town.

It was built between 1774-78 by the Right Rev Robert Fowler, Lord Bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora, 1771-79.

The palace has a five-bay front and a triple window above the porch; a Doric doorcase with pedimented porch on two columns.

There are steps with iron railings leading up to the hall door.

The side elevation comprises three bays.

The demesne includes a walled garden, outbuildings, and an entrance lodge.

It remained in use as an episcopal palace until 1977.

The last prelate to reside at Clarisford was the Right Rev Edwin Owen, Lord Bishop of Killaloe and Clonfert, 1972-76; when the see was united with the diocese of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe.

Clarisford Park is now privately owned.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Robert Quigg VC

The possibility is being examined of having a dedicated memorial or sculpture in the admirable little  village of Bushmills, County Antrim, to honour Sergeant Robert Quigg VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour at the Battle of the Somme.

Discussions have taken place at Moyle Council in Ballycastle and it was agreed to write to the Royal British Legion in Bushmills and the Macnaghten family, of Dundarave, to get their views.

Many, including self, would like to see a memorial in place in Bushmills ahead of 2016 which will be the centenary of Quigg's heroics in World War One.

A local historian, Robert Thompson, said:
"In July of 1916 Robert Quigg risked his life to rescue wounded soldiers at the Somme and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts.
"He is the only Victoria Cross winner north of Belfast, yet he is ignored by his home town of Bushmills. If this was anywhere else in the world he would be feted and honoured forever."

North Antrim Assemblyman Robin Swann is also pushing for a memorial. He said:
"While Robert is acknowledged by the presence of a plaque at the War Memorial, the community have suggested that a more fitting tribute or a statue or sculpture could be provided in time for the centenary of his actions.
"I am sure the community will play a full part in planning such a tribute but clearly leadership from the Council in delivering such a memorial will be very important."

Robert Quigg, from the village, enlisted in the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Mid-Antrim Volunteers) during World War One.

His platoon commander was Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten (Sir Edward Harry Macnaghten, 6th Baronet, 1896–1916).

On 1 July Robert's platoon advanced three times only to be beaten back by the Germans. Many hundreds of the 12th Battalion were either killed or wounded.

In the confusion of battle it became known that Lieutenant Macnaghten was missing. Robert Quigg immediately volunteered to go out into no-man's land and search for his commander.

His actions during that fruitless search led him to receive the Victoria Cross.

His citation reads as follows:
Hearing a rumour that his platoon officer was lying wounded, he went out seven times to look for him, under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, each time bringing back a wounded man.

The last man he dragged on a waterproof sheet from within yards of the enemy's wire. He was seven hours engaged in this most gallant work, and was finally so exhausted that he had to give it up.
The body of Sir (Edward) Harry Macnaghten, 6th Baronet, was never found.
Most tragically for Edith, Lady Macnaghten, her two sons, the 6th and 7th Baronets, were both killed in action.

Robert Quigg returned to Bushmills to a hero's welcome. He died in 1955 and was buried with full military honours at Billy Church.

Councillor Joan Baird described Quigg as "a very famous hero of our area".

First published in August,  2011.

Monday, 26 October 2015

1st Duke of Gordon


This noble family deduces its origin from

SIR ADAM DE GORDON, knight, of Huntly, who was slain in 1402, and was succeeded in his estates by his only daughter, Elizabeth, who married

ALEXANDER SETON, second son of Sir William Seton, of Seton, upon which occasion that gentleman assumed the name of GORDON, and was created, in 1449-50, Earl of Huntly, in which title he was succeeded by the eldest son of his third marriage, with Elizabeth, daughter of William, Lord Crichton,

GEORGE, who wedded Princess Annabella, daughter of JAMES I of Scotland, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER, who was succeeded in 1523-24 by his grandson,

GEORGE, to whom succeeded his son,

GEORGE, who was succeeded by his only son,

GEORGE, created, in 1599, Baron Badenoch, Lochaber, Strathavon, Balmore, Auchindoun, Garthie, and Kincardine, Viscount Inverness, Earl of Enzie, and Marquess of Huntly.

His lordship married Lady Henrietta, eldest daughter of Esme, Duke of Lennox, and was succeeded, in 1636, by his eldest son,

GEORGE, who was created, in 1632, Viscount Aboyne, with remainder, at his demise, or succession to the family honours, to his third son, Lord James Gordon.

His lordship was a staunch adherent of the unfortunate CHARLES I, and suffered, in consequence, decapitation, in 1649, when he was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

LEWIS, who was succeeded, in 1653, 

GEORGE, who was elevated to a dukedom, as DUKE OF GORDON, in 1684.

His Grace wedded Lady Elizabeth, second daughter of Henry, Duke of Norfolk, by whom he had a son and daughter. He died in 1716, and was succeeded by his only son,

ALEXANDER, 2nd Duke,  who married, in 1706, Lady Henrietta, daughter of Charles, Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth, by whom he had issue four sons.

His Grace wedded secondly, Jane, Dowager Duchess of Atholl, by whom he had seven daughters. He died in 1728, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

COSMO GEORGE, 3rd Duke. His Grace married, in 1741, Lady Catherine, daughter of William, Earl of Aberdeen, by whom he had issue,

ALEXANDER, 4th Duke.

Dukes of Gordon, second Creation (1876)
Other titles: Duke of Richmond (1675), Duke of Lennox (1675), Earl of March (1675), Earl of Darnley (1675), Earl of Kinrara, in the county of Inverness (1876), Baron of Settrington, in the county of York (1675) and Lord of Torboulton (1675)

    • Lord March's heir apparent: Charles Gordon-Lennox, Lord Settrington (b. 1994), Lord March's eldest son

GORDON CASTLE, near Fochabers, Morayshire, was originally built in the 1470s and is the spiritual home of the House of Gordon.

Enlarged in the 1770s as his principle residence by Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon who, until his succession to the dukedom in 1827, was 7th Marquess of Huntly, it became one of the largest houses ever built in Scotland.

The 5th Duke who, like his father before him, was  known as the "Cock o’ the North", died without legitimate male issue in 1836 and Gordon Castle, the Scottish Estates, and eventually the dukedom passed to his nephew, the Duke of Richmond.

Meanwhile, the marquessate of Huntly (traditionally the name of the eldest son of the Duke of Gordon) passed to His Grace's distant cousin, the then Earl of Aboyne.

During the Great War the Castle, like the fictional Downton Abbey, was used as an auxiliary hospital for the wounded soldiers returning from the front.

The 9th Duke sold Gordon Castle and his Scottish estates in 1938 as a result of penal death duties following the deaths of his father and grandfather in 1935 and 1928 respectively.

The Castle fell into disrepair, but was bought back by one of the 7th Duke’s other grandsons, Lieutenant-General Sir George Charles Gordon-Lennox KBE CB CVO DSO, after the 2nd World War.

He was forced to knock much of it down due to significant dry and wet rot, but then turned it into the wonderful family home it is today.

His son, Major-General Bernard Charles Gordon-Lennox CB MBE, successfully continued this legacy with his wife Sally-Rose; and now his grandson Angus and his wife Zara have taken over the running of Gordon Castle and Estate.

HUNTLY CASTLE, Aberdeenshire, originally called Strathbogie Castle, was another seat of the Dukes of Gordon.

Richmond arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

William John English VC

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WILLIAM JOHN ENGLISH VC, born on 6 October 1882 in Cork, was the son of Major William English OBE; educated at Harvey Grammar School in Folkstone, Kent from 1894-98; and Campbell College, Belfast from 1898-99.

After a short spell in the Merchant Navy, he left it in South Africa and in November 1900 joined the the Scottish Horse.

In March, 1901, he received his commission as Lieutenant in the 2nd Scottish Horse.

The citation of his VICTORIA CROSS reads as follows:
This officer, with five men, was holding the position at Vlakfontein on 3 July 1901 during an attack by the Boers. Two of his men were killed and two wounded, but the position was still held, largely owing to the lieutenant's personal pluck. When the ammunition ran short, he went over to the next party and obtained more; to do so he had to cross some 15 yards of open ground, under a heavy fire at a range of from 20 to 30 yards.
After his retirement in 1930 he lived at Kings Road, Knock, in Belfast where he was the Northern Ireland organiser for the National Association for Employment of Regular Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen.

In August, 1939, he formed in Northern Ireland a Group of the National Defence Corps which in November of that year, became the 6th Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles.

In April, 1941, he left to take up an unknown appointment in the Middle East but died at sea on the 4th July. He is buried in Maala Cemetery in Aden. 

A researcher from the Imperial War Museum recently advised that the English VC medal group is leaving Campbell College, Belfast, and heading to the Lord Ashcroft VC & GC Gallery in the Imperial War Museum, London, on a ten year loan.

Gavin has sent the researcher over some photos from his English VC research.

An interesting video is here:

First published in November, 2010.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Killala Castle

The episcopal see of Killala appears to have been founded between the years 434 and 441 by St Patrick, who, during that period, was propagating the faith of Christianity in the province of Connaught.

Patrick built a church at this place, called Kill-Aladh, over which he placed one of his disciples, St Muredach, as bishop.

In 1255, a bishop of Killala, whose name is not given, accompanied the Archbishop of Tuam into England to petition the King for the redress of certain grievances to which the clergy were then exposed.

Robert of Waterford, who succeeded in 1350, was fined 100 marks for neglecting to attend a parliament assembled at Castledermot, in 1377, to which he had been summoned.

Owen O'Connor, Dean of Achonry, was advanced to the See by ELIZABETH I in 1591, and was allowed to hold his deanery with the bishopric; and his successor, Miler Magrath, was permitted to hold also the see of Achonry in commendam.

Bishop Hamilton, who succeeded in 1623, obtained from JAMES I a commendatory grant, of the see of Achonry.

Bishop Otway, who succeeded to the united sees in 1671, rebuilt the cathedral from the foundation.

The Sees of Achonry and Killala continued to be held together until the death of the last bishop, Dr James Verschoyle, in 1833, when they became annexed to the archiepiscopal province of Tuam, and the temporalities were vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

They both extend into the counties of Mayo and Sligo.

The River Moy and the Ox Mountains form the boundary between them.

The greatest length of Killala is from east to west 57 miles, by a breadth of 27.

Achonry stretches from north-east to south-west 35 miles, and is 27 broad.

KILLALA CASTLE, Killala, County Mayo, was the seat of the Lord Bishops of Killala and Achonry.

It was a tall, plain, three-storey, L-shaped building with a gable-ended tower-like block at the end of one of its arms.

The Castle was said to be ruinous by 1787, though some repairs were undertaken in 1796.

Around this time the Right Rev Joseph Stock, Lord Bishop of Killala and Achonry, 1798-1810, took up residence.

The Castle was occupied by French troops for a period.

The Right Rev James Verschoyle succeeded Bishop Stock in 1810; and when he died in 1834, the see of Killala was amalgamated with that of Tuam.

Thereafter Killala Castle ceased to the the episcopal seat.

For a period it was the residence of Walter James Bourke and family; then a warehouse; before being swept away in the 1950s for a housing estate.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Castle Saunderson


ALEXANDER SANDERSON, of Scotland, was made a Denizen of Ireland, 1613, and was appointed High Sheriff of County Tyrone in 1622, and twice subsequently.

He was granted Tullylagan, County Tyrone, and other lands to the extent of 1,000 acres, the whole being erected into the manor of Sanderson in 1630.

Mr Sanderson died in 1633, leaving three sons,
Archibald, of Tullylagan;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
George, dsp.
The second son,

ROBERT SANDERSON, settled at Portagh, and there built Castle Saunderson, County Cavan.

He was Colonel in the army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, and was High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1657.

Colonel Sanderson married Katherine, eldest daughter of John Cunningham, both of Ballyachen, County Donegal; and died in 1675, leaving issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Alexander, father of ALEXANDER;
William, of Moycashel.
The eldest son,

ROBERT SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, MP and Colonel of a regiment in WILLIAM III's army, married Jane, daughter of the Right Rev John Leslie, Lord Bishop of Clogher.

He dsp 1723, and was succeeded by his nephew,

ALEXANDER SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1714, who wedded Mabella, daughter of William Saunderson, of Moycashel, County Westmeath, and was buried at St Mary's, Dublin, in 1726.

His son,

FRANCIS SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1740, espoused Anne, eldest daughter of Anthony Atkinson, of Cangort, King's County, and died in 1746, leaving two sons and two daughters.

His son and heir,

ALEXANDER SAUNDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1758, changed the spelling of his name.

He married Rose, daughter of Trevor Lloyd, of Gloster, King's County, and died at Cork, 1768, and was buried at Shinrone, King's County.

He left, with other issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Robert, in holy orders;
The eldest son,

FRANCIS SAUNDERSON (1754-1827), of Castle Saunderson, MP for County Cavan, married, in 1779, Anne Bassett, daughter of Stephen White, of Miskin, Glamorgan, and heir of the Bassett estates in that county, and by her (who died 1845) had issue,

ALEXANDER, his successor;
Francis, in holy orders;
Hardress Robert;
James, Lieutenant RN;
William Bassett;
Lydia Waller; Cecilia.
Mr Saunderson's eldest son,

ALEXANDER SAUNDERSON JP DL (1783-1857), of Castle Saunderson, Colonel of the Militia, High Sheriff, 1818, and MP for County Cavan, wedded, in 1828, the Hon Sarah Juliana Maxwell, eldest daughter of Henry, 6th Lord Farnham, and by her (who died 1870) had issue,
Alexander de Bedick (1832-60);
Somerset Bassett (1834-92);
EDWARD JAMES, of whom we treat;
Llewellyn Traherne;
Juliana Harriet; Rose Ann.
Colonel Saunderson was succeeded by his third son, 

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE RT HON EDWARD JAMES SAUNDERSON JP DL (1837-1906), of Castle Saunderson, who married, in 1865, the Hon Helena Emily de Moleyns, youngest daughter of Thomas, 3rd Lord Ventry, and had issue,
SOMERSET FRANCIS, his successor;
John Vernon;
Colonel Saunderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

CAPTAIN SOMERSET FRANCIS SAUNDERSON JP DL (1867-1927), of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1907, who married, in 1914, Mary Satterfield, former wife of Count Larisch von Moennich.

CASTLE SAUNDERSON, near Belturbet, County Cavan, is a large castellated mansion combining both baronial and Tudor-Revival elements. It was built ca 1840.

The mansion bears remarkable similarities to Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, a mere five miles away.

The entrance front is symmetrical, with a battlemented parapet, square and turrets. There is a tall central gatehouse tower with its entrance door to the side, which is unusual.

The adjoining garden front is more irregular. The house boasts several Gothic features, including the conservatory. 

The original Castle was built in 1573.

The Saunderson family were seated here until 1977, when it was sold to a London-based businessman.

The Castle was in a state of disrepair and plans to have it completely renovated as a private dwelling at this time never materialized.

The estate was sold again in 1990 to be developed as a hotel.

These plans were also abandoned after a fire gutted and destroyed most of the Castle interior.

This was the third fire to take place in the history of the castle.

In 1997, the castle and estate were offered to Scouting Ireland for €420,000 (estimated to be half its market value at that time).

Now consisting of 103 acres, Castle Saunderson has once again the potential to be restored to its former glory, and to be put to new use as a scout and youth training canter.

Of the 103 acres on the estate, some 70 acres are grass, 25 acres are wooded and the 8 remaining acres are lake and waterway.

Captain Alexander Saunderson, the last remaining member of the Saunderson family to have lived in the Castle, now resides in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

From the outset, Captain Saunderson has wholly endorsed the plans by Scouting Ireland to restore the Castle, family church and grounds to its former glory.

The development plans for the Castle and Church include a cultural and heritage canter highlighting the history of the Saunderson Family, together with local history to include the plantation of Ulster (1603) and other notable historic events.

It is intended to restore the church as a multi-denominational church.

The graveyard around the church and the crypt beneath the church building contains the remains of the Saunderson family, and it is planned to maintain the church and graveyard as part of the cultural and heritage aspect of the overall project.

First published in November, 2011.

The Corry Baronets


This family moved from Dumfriesshire to County Down early in the 17th century.

JOHN CORRY (1638-1708), of Tullynagardy, near Newtownards, County Down, Provost of Newtownards during the reign of JAMES I, had a son

ROBERT CORRY, of Tullynagardy, who married Mary Porter and had issue,

JOHN CORRY (1771-1851), of Tullynagardy, who wedded Susan White and had issue,

ROBERT CORRY (1800-69), of Tullynagardy, a timber merchant and quarry owner, who married, in 1825, Jane, daughter of Robert Porter, and had, with other issue,

JAMES PORTER CORRY (1826-91), who married, in 1849, Margaret, daughter of William Service, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Mr Corry, MP for Belfast, 1874-85, MP for Mid-Armagh, 1885-91, was created a baronet in 1885, denominated of Dunraven, County Antrim.

He died in 1891 at his home, Dunraven, Malone Road, Belfast.
The Cleaver development, off Malone Road, Belfast, began in 1937 following the demolition of the large Victorian residence of Dunraven (1870). 
Its extensive grounds were laid out for detached houses, and building work began in 1937 but was halted by the 2nd World War. Work re-commenced during the late 1940s on the construction of the remaining detached houses, finishing around the mid-late 1950s.
SIR WILLIAM CORRY, 2nd Baronet (1859-1926), of 118 Eaton Square, London, who wedded, in 1889, Charlotte Georgina Frances Catherine, daughter of J Collins, and had issue,
William Myles Fenton (1893-1958);
Myleta Fenton (1891-1966).
Sir William, a director of the Cunard Steamship Company, was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR JAMES PEROWNE IVO MYLES CORRY, 3rd Baronet (1892-1987), who espoused firstly, in 1921, Molly Irene, daughter of Major Otto Joseph Bell, and had issue,
WILLIAM JAMES, his successor;
Anne; Susan.
He married secondly, in 1946, Cynthia Marjorie Patricia, daughter of Captain Frederick Henry Mahony, and had issue,
Amanda Jane.
Sir James was succeeded  by his only son,

SIR WILLIAM JAMES CORRY, 4th Baronet (1924-2000), who married, in 1945, Diana Pamela Mary, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Burne Lapsley, and had issue,
JAMES MICHAEL, his heir;
Timothy William;
Nicholas John;
Simon Myles (Commander RN);
Jane Susanna; Patricia Diana.
Sir William was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES MICHAEL CORRY (b 1946), 5th Baronet, BP plc, 1966-2001, who lived in 2003 in Somerset.

Robert Corry (1800-69), recognised the commercial potential of the Scrabo stone quarry at Newtownards, and leased part of the hill from Lord Londonderry in 1826.

Dunraven House was the 1st Baronet's residence on the Malone Road in Belfast, a large house of ca 1870 in the Italianate style by the architect, John Corry, for his brother.

The grounds extended to 16 acres.

The house and grounds were purchased by John Cleaver, a partner in Robinson & Cleaver, who died there in 1926.

Dunraven was demolished in 1937 for the "Cleaver" housing development.

J P Corry, Building Suppliers, are still in existence though it is not known whether any members of the Corry family still hold shares or directorships.

First published in September, 2010.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Fenagh House


THOMAS PACK,  of Ballynakill, Queen's County, married a daughter of Mr Kelly, of Ballynakill.

Dying in 1758, he left issue, three sons, of whom the eldest,

THE VERY REV THOMAS PACK, Dean of Ossory, wedded, in 1816, Lady Elizabeth Louisa Beresford (daughter of 1st Marquess of Waterford).

His son,

MAJOR-GENERAL SIR DENIS PACK KCB (1775-1823), received the thanks of Parliament five times for his military services.

His second son,

baptised with the name of Denis William Pack; Captain, Royal Artillery; High Sheriff, 1856; MP for County Carlow. In 1854 he inherited Irish estates from his uncle, General the Rt Hon William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford.
His name was legally changed to PACK-BERESFORD when he assumed the additional surname and arms of Beresford in compliance with the will of Lord Beresford, by Royal Licence, in 1854.

His younger son,

DENIS ROBERT PACK-BERESFORD JP DL (1864-1942), of Fenagh House; High Sheriff, 1890, married, in 1891, Alice Harriet, only daughter of the James Acheson Lyle, of Portstewart House.

Denis William Pack-Beresford's grandson,

COMMANDER DENIS JOHN PACK-BERESFORD RN, of Fenagh House, married firstly, in 1928, Basante Hoskins, in 1928; and secondly, in 1933, Daphne, daughter of Lieutenant Horace Robert Martineau VC.

Commander Pack-Beresford was Founder and President, Irish Pedigree Pig Breeders Association; sometime representative to the Council of Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society of Scotland; Vice-President of the Irish Aberdeen-Angus Association; member of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society.

FENAGH HOUSE, Bagenalstown, County Carlow, is a plain and austere stone dwelling, built ca 1829.

It is irregular in plan and extensive, though it has a symmetrical entrance front of three bays, the centre bay of which is recessed with a pillared porch.

First published in November, 2011.

Requisite Bung

There were ten of us on Island Taggart yesterday.

For those of you who might not have been following the narrative, Island Taggart belongs to the National Trust.

It lies on Strangford Lough, County Down, near Killyleagh.

At the moment we're using a dinghy to get to the island from an old quay on the mainland.

This dinghy has a four horse-power outboard motor; though we are apprised that the NT is giving us a new boat next year.

We presently have to use a cork bung to keep it afloat; modern technology is marvellous!

The island is merely five minutes' away from the mainland at any rate.

Today, as usual, we cut and burned gorse.

The hedgerows on Taggart are rich with blackthorn, hawthorn, rose-hips, blackberries and many other plants so essential to birds at this time of year.

Tomasz managed to pick some rose-hips at lunchtime.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Ardbraccan House

SEVERAL small bishoprics gradually coalesced into one See, which received the name of Meath, at the end of the 12th century.

In 1568, the bishopric of Clonmacnoise was incorporated with it by act of parliament.

It extends from the sea to the River Shannon, over part of six counties, viz. Meath, Westmeath, King's County (Offaly), Cavan, Longford, and Kildare.

From east to west it extends 80 miles; and in breadth, about 25 at a medium.

The Lord Bishop of Meath traditionally took precedence next to the four archbishops, and has been styled Most Reverend.

The other bishops, excepting only the Lord Bishop of Kildare, took precedence according to the date of their consecration.

Entrance front

ARDBRACCAN HOUSE, near Navan, County Meath, is a large Palladian mansion house which served from the 1770s until 1885 as the seat of the Lord Bishop of Meath.

By the Middle Ages a large Tudor house, containing its own church, known as St. Mary's, stood on the site.

Bishop Evans left money for the building of a new residence here early in the 18th century.

His successor, Bishop Downes, came here with Dean Swift to lay out the new ground; though it was not until 1734 that Bishop Price (1678-1752) decided to replace the decaying mansion with a new Georgian residence.

Initially the two wings of the house were built, before the main four-bay two-storey block of the house was completed in the 1770s by Bishop Maxwell.

It was partly designed by the acclaimed 18th-century German architect Richard Castle (also known as Richard Cassels).

Garden front

When the two two-storey, five-bay wings had been completed, Bishop Price was translated to the archbishopric of Cashel.

For the following thirty years, succeeding bishops did nothing about building the centre block, but resided in one of the wings, using the other for guests.

It wasn't till the early 1770s that Bishop Maxwell, a younger son of the 1st Baron Farnham, decided to complete the house.

This prelate boasted that he would erect a palace so grand that no scholar or tutor would dare inhabit it.

The centre block, which was eventually begun in 1776, took a number of years to complete.

It comprises two storeys and seven bays, with an Ionic doorcase.

This block complements the wings with curved sweeps and niches.

The garden front has a three-bay central breakfront.

The interior plasterwork is Neo-Classical in style.

Bishop Alexander carried out more elaborate renovations to the outbuildings in the 1820s and 1830s.

THE disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 fatally weakened the economic survival of the bishops' estate, which was left totally reliant on the small local Church of Ireland community.

In 1885, the Church of Ireland sold the estate and house.

The bishop moved to a smaller mansion nearby (until 1958, when it was sold to a Catholic religious institute, the Holy Ghost Fathers).

Ardbraccan House was bought by Hugh Law, the son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and remained in the ownership of his descendants until sold by Colonel Owen Foster in 1985 to Tara Mines who used it as a guest residence for visiting businessmen.

In the late 1990s, Ardbraccan once again changed hands.

The new owners invested large sums to restore the mansion house.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Portaferry Hotel

THE PORTAFERRY HOTEL is a substantial, long, relatively plain, two-storey block located at the corner of the Strand and Castle Street in Portaferry, County Down.

The Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough are amongst the most picturesque parts of Northern Ireland.

This building consists of amalgamated and much altered, formerly separate properties, one of which is doubtless pre-1834.

A large section to the south-east was the site of two smaller houses, which were demolished in 1991 when the hotel was extended.

To the rear there are large modern extensions.

The facade is rendered and painted.

The roof of the main section is mainly gabled, though is hipped on the corner.

The roof is covered in Bangor blue slates, with three plain, rendered chimney stacks to the southern elevation, with matching pots.

A Small cast-iron skylight is in the middle of the roof to the south elevation.

The two buildings seen to the left now form the Hotel

This building was built in stages and represents the amalgamation of a number of properties and the demolition of others.

Eventully the remainder of the property on the south, or Strand, side incorporated the site now covered by the present hotel as well as land and buildings to the rear.

During the early 19th century, however, the lease was sub-divided, with the buildings to the rear becoming Maxwell's Distillery (later a corn mill and by 1860s, falling into dereliction) and a tan yard, run by William Warnock.

The rest of the section to the corner formed one large property, with a separate house next to it further along The Strand.

In 1835, the larger property to the corner was in the possession of Hugh Boden and included a two-storey dwelling house with extensive single storey outbuildings.

The dwelling further along The Strand (also two-storey) was the home of Eliza Lyttle.

In 1860, Edward Bryce had obtained a lease of the large corner property, as well as the house beyond; and for most of the next two decades ran a spirit grocer's on the corner, whilst sub-letting the two houses beyond.

In 1880, Mr Bryce sold the lease to Henry McGrath, an auctioneer and leading figure in Portaferry's social, cultural and political life.

The property remained in the McGrath family until 1933, when the lease was bought by William Lyons, who sold it three years later to a local businessman, William McMullan.

With many other business interests already, McMullan sub-let the spirit grocer's to a Mrs Corbett and her daughter, Miss Thompson, who decided to open a hotel on the site.

Thus, during the late 1930s, the spirit grocer's and the buildings to Castle Street were converted and a door opened from the hotel to the house on The Strand (likely Hugh Boden's residence in 1835).

In 1947, the lease was acquired by a Mrs Wilson, who had been in the hospitality trade for some time, and who extended the business, taking in the whole of the former house.

John Herlihy became the new proprietor in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The Portaferry Hotel, as the premises become known, remained in this form until 1991, when the adjoining houses, numbers eight and nine, were acquired and demolished.

The hotel was extended on to this site, extensively renovating the entire building in the process.

The Portaferry Hotel changed hands again recently, when Mr Herlihy retired.

The hotel closed down in October, 2015.

First published in June, 2014.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Derry Palace

THE see of Derry was constituted in 1158.

It originated in a monastery founded by St Columb, about 545, of which some of the abbots at a very early period were styled bishops; but the title of Bishop of Derry was not established until 1158, or even a century later, as the bishops, whose see was at Londonderry, were sometimes called Bishops of Tyrone.

The see first existed at Ardstraw, where St Eugene, the first bishop, died about the end of the 6th century.

It was subsequently removed to Maghera, whence it was transferred to Londonderry.

By an inquisition in 1622, the Bishop was found to be entitled to fish for salmon on the Monday after the 4th June, within the great net fishery belonging to the London Society; also to half the tithe of salmon, etc, caught in the River Bann and Lough Foyle.

Bishop Hopkins, who died in 1690, was at great expense in beautifying the cathedral, and furnishing it with organs and massive plate; and is said to have spent £1,000 in buildings and other improvements in this diocese and that of Raphoe.

Derry continued to be a separate bishopric until the death of Dr Bissett, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, in 1836, when that See was annexed to the diocese of Derry, and its temporalities became vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Its greatest length is 60 miles, and its greatest breadth 54 miles, extending into four counties.

It comprises parts of counties Londonderry, Tyrone, Donegal, and Antrim.

Garden front

THE PALACE, Londonderry, County Londonderry, adjoining the cathedral, was built in 1753 by the Right Rev William Barnard, Lord Bishop of Derry, 1747-68.

It comprises a square Georgian block of three storeys over a high basement.

It is thought that the palace was extended ca 1800 by the Right Rev Frederick Hervey, commonly known as the Earl-Bishop.

It was damaged in 1802 while occupied as a barrack and subsequently repaired by the Right Rev and Hon William Knox.

The palace was sold by the Church of Ireland in 1946 to the Freemasons.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Summer House

I'm absolutely delighted that the adorable little summer-house or gazebo at Florence Court, County Fermanagh, has been rebuilt to its original specifications.

The first one was maliciously burnt just over a year ago.

I'd only wish to extend my compliments and cordial congratulations to all involved in this splendid and admirable feat; especially those in County Fermanagh and the Impartial Reporter newspaper.

Taggart Revisited

East Down Yacht Club from the island

I spent a terrific day on Island Taggart yesterday with about a dozen other National Trust volunteers.

This was my first visit since September, 2013.

The island has a considerable amount of gorse in places, so we were cutting and burning it.

The field we concentrated on was on the western side of the island, directly opposite East Down Yacht Club.

In fact we landed on the shore here; indeed it's a pity we can't use the yacht club as a base to get over to Taggart.

The field in question is below the old farmstead at the top of the island, which was last inhabited in 1967.

At lunchtime Hugh and Maureen arrived in Cuan Brig, the National Trust barge, in order to deliver parts of a cattle pen.

There are believed to be 28 cattle on the island, including one bull.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Island Taggart


ISLAND TAGGART is a property in County Down owned by The National Trust.

It lies between Ringdufferin, directly to its north, and Killyleagh, the nearest village, to the south.

The island is one mile long and a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point, a total area of about 85 acres, acquired in 1984 from Patrick and Kathleen Mackie.

Click to enlarge

Its length and the height of its two drumlins make it particularly attractive in the southern half of Strangford Lough.

From the higher points there is a fine prospect of varying habitats: from the eastern side, the main body of the lough with its marine life, sea-birds and the landscape of the Ards Peninsula; while, to the west, the sheltered mud-flats and salt-marshes with their population of waders and waterfowl.


The range of habitat types and abundant cover provided by pasture-land, scrub, hedgerows, marsh, foreshore and woodland ensure that the island is exceptionally attractive to wildlife.

A wide variety of butterflies and insects are to be found on the island; and the areas of scrub, with hawthorn, elderberry and brambles, provide excellent feeding for small birds on both the insect life and the fruit.

It is an important wintering ground for chaffinches, linnets, skylarks, stonechats and reed buntings.

There have been two large badger sets occupied on the island.; and there is evidence of foxes.

Otters frequent the northern tip. Porpoises can sometimes be seen feeding close to its eastern shore.


The mudflats to the west of the island provide good feeding for curlew, redshank, oystercatcher, knot, dunlin and turnstone; greenshank and ringed plovers have also been seen.

Terns and black-headed gulls are almost always to be seen around the shore; and, in the winter, there are abundant razorbills, guillemots, cormorants and, occasionally, great northern divers.


On the southern tip of the island there is an open circular stone kiln thought to have been used for burning kelp to produce potash for agricultural purposes.

Close to the north-eastern bay is a second, larger kiln which is very well preserved with a stone, corbelled roof.

At least two wells on the island are built of stone with interesting features which make them worthy of restoration.

At the extreme north-eastern tip of the island there are two "fairy thorns" enclosed in a low ring of stones.

In the past, Island Taggart was intensively farmed, though vegetation has now become more varied and there exists an important field system south of the farmstead with a valuable copse of oak, beech, ash, Scots pine, sycamore, elm and alder trees.


The principal farmstead with its stone-built, slate-roofed, single-storey derelict farmhouse with its farm buildings (a store; cow byre; calf-boxes; and hay-store) are all stone-built, partly slate.

An old well is located just to the side of the sunken lane which runs from the east shore up to the farm. There is an orchard nearby.

Island Taggart is one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough. Visitors are welcome.

There are good anchorages off the eastern shore and at the north-west corner of the island, depending on the weather, although care on a falling tide is advisable.

Old farm buildings give a good indication of life on the island and, indeed, it was used by Little Bird Films to make December Bride, a story about County Down folk at the turn of the 19th century.

Thick hedges full of bird life, relatively unspoiled meadows full of wild flowers, and small marshes bright with Yellow Flag iris and orchids make this a lovely island to visit, whilst in high summer it is full of butterflies including large numbers of Common Blues and Small Coppers.

Simmy Island (Sir William and Lady Hastings) lies at Island Taggart's north-western tip; while the Dunnyneill Islands are to the south-east.

One small, ruinous cottage is at the northern tip of the island; two other cottages, which are within fifty yards of each other, lie at the eastern side of the island about two-thirds of the way up from the southern tip; and the main farm sits at the top of the hill in the middle of the island.

The main farm, with farm-house, outbuildings directly opposite, farm-yard, walls and pillars with "bap" toppings, an old orchard, a stone well, privy and other features, is substantial enough and could conceivably be restored at some future date.

A lane ran from this farmstead down the hill, past the well (marked on the map), to the eastern shore and still exists today. Two further wells served the cottages to the north of the island.


There is a comment on the island in 1821:
Taggart Isle is attached to the parish of Killyleagh and contains 3 houses and 23 inhabitants.
This figure seems to have been at the time when the number of islanders was at its peak.

The island was attached to the Parish of Killyleagh in the barony of Dufferin. The owners were Lord Dufferin and Claneboye and Catherine A Hamilton.

    • 1841: 9 males, 6 females, 2 houses occupied
    • 1851: 4 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1861: 3 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1871: 3 males, 3 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1881: 3 males, 4 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1891: 3 males, 6 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1901: 2 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1911: 2 males, 1 female, 1 house occupied
    • 1926: 1 male, 1 female, 1 house occupied

      The census and will records of Island Taggart record several families, all of whom were Presbyterian farmers:

        • Samuel Bishop, son of James and Margaret, died on the 7th August, 1855 aged 67
        • Grace Bishop, possibly Samuel's sister or wife, died on the 12th March, 1877
        • Thomas Morrow died on the 15th July, 1898 and probate was granted to his widow, Bridgetta. He left £440 7s 6d (£43,000 in today's money)
        • The 1901 Census recorded Bridgetta Morrow, 67, Head of Family; Samuel Morrow, 34, son; May Morrow, 25, daughter; and Samuel McDonald, 23, servant
        • the 1911 Census recorded Bridgetta Morrow, 80; Samuel Morrow, 45; and a new servant, John Fitzsimmons, aged 35
          In the spring of 1966, East Down Yacht Club purchased lands from James (Jimmy) Nelson's father and thereafter established the sailing club which hadn't existed prior to this.

          Mr David (Davey) Calvert was the last occupier of Island Taggart and he left the island in 1967.

          First published in December, 2010.