Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Ashford Castle


The family of GUINNESS claims descent from the ancient and eminent house of MAGENNIS, in which formerly vested the viscountcy of Magennis of Iveagh. Several members of this family are interred in the churchyard of St Catherine's, Dublin, and, in the parish register, the translation of the name from Magennis to McGuinness, or Guinness, is clearly traceable. 
ART ROE or ARTHUR MacGUINNESS, of Rathfriland, County Down, received the honour of knighthood, and assumed the surname of MAGENNIS.

In 1623 Sir Arthur was created Viscount Magennis of  Iveagh, though that peerage expired in 1693.

He died in 1629, and was buried at Drumballyroney, near Rathfriland, County Down.

His younger son,

CON MAGENNIS, married and was father of

HUGH MAGENNIS, who wedded and had a son,

EVER MAGENNIS, who removed to, and settled in Dublin.

He married and had issue, 

RICHARD GUINNESS (c1690-1766), of Celbridge, County Kildare, said to be an innkeeper at Celbridge, who was the first of the family to assume the surname.

In 1746, Mr Guinness was described in a Bill in Equity Exchequer as "Richard Guinis, agent or receiver to the Most Rev Arthur Price, Archbishop of Cashel".

He married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Read, of Huttonread, County Kildare, and had issue,
ARTHUR, of whom we treat;
Frances; Elizabeth.
Mr Guinness wedded secondly, ca 1752, Elizabeth Clare.

His second son,

ARTHUR GUINNESS (1725-1803), of Beaumont, County Dublin, the first of the family that established the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, espoused, in 1761, Olivia, daughter and co-heir of William Whitmore, of Dublin, and had issue,
Hosea (Rev);
ARTHUR, of whom we treat;
William Lunell;
John Grattan;
Elizabeth; Olivia; Louisa; Mary Anne.
The second son,

ARTHUR GUINNESS JP DL (1768-1855)of Beaumont, County Dublin, Governor of the Bank of Ireland, held for many years the foremost place amongst the merchants of his native city of Dublin.

He married firstly, in 1793, Anne, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Benjamin Lee, of Merrion, County Dublin, and had issue,
William Smythe Lee (Rev);
Arthur Lee;
BENJAMIN LEE, of whom we treat;
Susanna; Mary Anne; Louisa; Anne; Elizabeth; Rebecca.
Mr Guinness's eldest surviving son,

BENJAMIN LEE GUINNESS JP DL (1798-1868), Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1851, MP for Dublin City, 1865-68, married, in 1837, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Guinness, and had issue,
ARTHUR EDWARD, his successor;
Benjamin Lee, father of the 3rd Baronet;
Edward Cecil, created EARL OF IVEAGH;
Anne Lee.
At his own cost of £150,000 (£15,445,000 in 2014) Mr Guinness restored the venerable cathedral of St Patrick, which was almost in ruins.

In commemoration of this patriotic act, Queen Victoria created Mr Guinness a baronet in 1867, denominated of Ashford Castle, County Galway.

Sir Benjamin was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR ARTHUR EDWARD GUINNESS2nd Baronet (1840-1915), JP DL, MP for Dublin City, 1868, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1880, in the dignity of BARON ARDILAUN, of Ashford, County Galway.

He married, in 1871, the Lady Olivia Charlotte White, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry, though the marriage was without issue.

The barony consequently expired following his lordship's death in 1915; the baronetcy, however, devolved upon his nephew, Algernon Arthur St Lawrence Lee Guinness, as 3rd Baronet.

ASHFORD CASTLE, County Galway, is a medieval castle turned luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo/Galway border, on the shore of Lough Corrib.

The original castle built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke following their defeat of the O'Connors, the Royal House of Connaught, who are still extant in the person of the O'Conor Don.

The principal legacy of the native O'Connors is to be seen at the gates of the estate in the form of the Romanesque Augustinian Abbey of Cong.

After more than three and a half centuries under the de Burgos, whose surname became Burke or Bourke, Ashford passed into the hands of a new master, following a fierce battle between the forces of the de Burgo's and those of the English official Sir Richard Bingham, Lord President of Connaught, when a truce was agreed.

In 1589, the castle fell to Bingham, who added a fortified enclave within its precincts.

In 1715, the estate of Ashford was established by the Browne Family (Barons Oranmore), and a lodge in the style of a 17th-century French chateau was added to the medieval splendour of the castle.

The Ashford estate was purchased in 1852 by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baronet, who extended the estate to 26,000 acres, built new roads, planted thousands of trees and added two large Victorian style extensions.

On his death in 1868, the estate passed to his son Lord Ardilaun, an avid gardener who oversaw the development of massive woodlands and rebuilt the entire west wing of the castle.

He also subsidised the operation of several steamboats, the most notable of which was the Lady Eglinton, which plied between the villages of the Upper Lough Corrib region and Galway City, thus opening the area to increased commerce.

In a time of agitation by tenant farmers in the Land Wars of the late 19th century, epitomised by the action of tenants at nearby Lough Mask House (home of Captain Charles Boycott), he was considered by many to be an 'improving' landlord.

Some of his efforts were unsuccessful, particularly the Cong Canal, also known as 'the Dry Canal', which was built to link Lough Mask and Lough Corrib but was a failure, due to its inability to hold water.

Despite such setbacks, the love borne by him and his wife Olive, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry, for the castle and the estate was deep and best epitomised by that fact that when he was ennobled in 1880 he derived his title from the island of Ardilaun, which formed part of the estate on Lough Corrib.

Ashford passed to Lord Ardilaun's nephew, Ernest Guinness, who sold it to Noel Huggard in 1939.

He opened the estate as a hotel, which became renowned for the provision of its country pursuits, such as angling and shooting.

Noel Huggard's parents had been in the hotel business in Waterville, County Kerry, since 1910 and his granddaughters, Louise and Paula, run the Butler Arms Hotel there to this day.

In 1951, the film director John Ford came to the west of Ireland to film what would become a movie classic The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

The grounds of Ashford Castle as well as nearby Cong formed the backdrop for much of the action in the film.

In 1970, Ashford Castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size with the addition of a new wing in the early 1970s, building a golf course and developing the grounds and gardens.

In 1985, a group of Irish American investors, which included Chuck Feeney, purchased Ashford.

The Castle was sold by these investors in 2007 for €50 million to Galway-based property investor Gerry Barrett and his family.

Ashford was financed by Bank Of Scotland (Ireland), who placed the property in receivership in November 2011, though the hotel continues as a going concern.

In its time the castle has played host to many notable guests, including: John Lennon, George Harrison, King George V, his consort Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde (whose father, Sir William Wilde, had an estate adjacent to Ashford, where the writer spent much of his childhood), HRH The Earl of Wessex, John Wayne, HSH The Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his consort, HSH The Princess Grace.

Former seats ~ Ashford Castle, near Cong, County Galway; Macroom Castle, County Cork; St Anne's, near Clontarf, County Dublin; Muckross, Killarney, County Kerry. 

10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London

Former town house ~ 11 Carlton House Terrace, London: Gladstone took up occupation in 1856, and was there during the early years of his first great ministry, 1868-74; and finally the Guinness family took over, staying on until the 1920s (with an interruption when the house became an annexe to the Horse Guards' high command).

First published in June, 2012.


bryan somers said...

I believe Ashford has been bought from receivership very recently by a lady millionaire - american - who runs a group of fine hotels around the world. It is undergoing much needed cleaning and updating

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe the Castle is now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, headed by Bea Tollman (she and her family are well worth a 'google'...), and has undergone a much needed overhaul, including the addition of new spa facilities. I have visited Ashford Castle and Cong many times over the years and the aesthetics of the castle and its interiors do not appeal to me in the least. However, they do quite a good afternoon tea (a reservation is required; it is, I have found, possible to obtain one at quite short notice) and the gardens are splendid and, at this time of year, very popular with our American cousins, as is the hotel itself (when I last visited, the grounds and castle were off-limits as an American couple had booked the castle for exclusive use for a four-day wedding party). The Lodge, formerly known as Lisloughrey Lodge, is now under the ownership of the Red Carnation group and offers comfortable and more affordable accommodation for those wishing to experience the estate but not prepared to pay the sometimes exorbitant cost of staying in the castle itself. The Lodge has a tenuous connection to Oscar Wilde as has a restaurant named in his honour...

Martyn Cornell said...

Of course, the whole "Arthur Guinness was descended from Conn Magennis younger son of the first Viscount Iveagh" nonsense was a fantasy invented by the Guinnesses to give themselves a cod aristocratic background: Arthur Guinness's grandfather was actually called Owen Guinneas, he pops up in Murphystown, six miles south of Dublin, in 1687, and DNA studies of his descendants early in the 21st century showed he almost certainly came from the area of south Down/Iveagh, but his family was the MacCartans, not the Magennises/McGuinnesses. See Patrick Guinness's great book Arthur's Round for more …