Monday, 31 October 2016

Search Box

A reminder to new readers that any key word, name or place can be entered in the Search box - a white box - at the top left-hand corner of the Blog.

This is a useful feature.

There are lots of categories on the blog, too, if you scroll down the left-hand side of the page.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Brackenber In The 1950s

A fellow Old Brackenbrian, Tom Graham, has kindly sent me three photographs of staff and pupils at Brackenber House prep school, Belfast, during the mid-fifties.

Many thanks, Tom, for such a wonderful contribution. If you click on the image below, it ought to enlarge.

Tom describes these pictures in his own words:-


"Above is a school photo from about 1956/57. So few pupils, so many teachers!. A student/teacher ratio which would bring a tear to the eye of any modern educator.

On Mr Craig's left is the famous Miss Rankin. I can't name any of the young women to her left.

To his right is Mr Henry, Deputy Principal .

He left to become an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon; then Mr Hunter, next, I believe is the Sport/PE master, whose name escapes me".

"Mr Ferguson and two unknown trainee teachers complete the line-up.

They were all good teachers. Their skills greatly eased the transition to Secondary education".


The photo above suggests that not all reds are equal.

Substantial differences in the blazers are clearly visible. The BHS monogram is missing from many pockets.

My guess is that many families must have struggled financially, and economised by not buying blazers from the approved supplier".

"My parents managed to outfit my brother as well as myself from the approved supplier, but only just, I suspect.

The parents at my daughter's private school ran a thriving a second hand uniform shop. I can't remember any such thing at Brackenber.

I do not recall an overcoat being part of the uniform. It's cost might have been the final straw which would have deterred some parents".

PS That's me, Tom, in the top left corner!


"Above is the football team from 1956/57. We tried hard, but rarely succeeded. The school was small,  so the talent pool was shallow.

We played against Rockport and Cabin Hill, but not against nearby Inchmarlo. The school supplied the shirts, but not the socks, shorts,or boots.

As you can see, the sports budget did not stretch to providing more than one size of shirt! For away matches, Mr Craig took all 12 of us in his car!"

First published in 2009.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Brackenber Memorabilia



A fellow Old Brackenbrian has kindly conveyed several nostalgic illustrations which, I hope, are of considerable interest to others.

I have sought old photographs of the School for some time, so it gives me great pleasure to share these illustrations with readers.

Brackenber House Preparatory School (above) was located at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

The scarlet cap and striped tie are on the right. 

First published in June, 2009.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Post Tardiness


Fret not, dear readers. The posting this morning was later than usual because I'm not using my normal BT connection.

The wifi where I happen to be can be, shall we say, hit or miss.

I shall try to post articles during the evening, when I tend to have a more reliable connection.

I dined at an old favourite earlier: Avenida Restaurant, Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

The food is relatively simple and unpretentious, as is the restaurant.

The standards, however, are first-rate.

My chicken escalope, served with crisp and dry chips, lettuce and tomato slice, was as enjoyable as ever.

Always order a half portion, lest you have the appetite of a hippopotamus.

One is brought a complimentary basket of fresh bread and strong alioli (my preference).

The bill came to a mere €5.90: a bargain.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Barretstown Castle

THE BORROWES BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILDARE, WITH 6,089 ACRES


This family derives (as proved by the patent from Sir William Roberts, Ulster King-of-Arms, granting an augmentation to the arms of Sir Erasmus, 1st Baronet) from a scion of the ancient house of DE BURGH, for centuries so eminent, both in England and Ireland, under the names of Burgh, Bourke, Burke, and Borough. 

HENRY BORROWES, who settled in Ireland during the reign of ELIZABETH I, married firstly, Jane, daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Arthur Savage MP, of Rheban, County Kildare; and secondly, in 1585, Catherine Eustace, of Gilltown.

He was succeeded by his son, 

ERASMUS BORROWES, of Gilltown, MP

This gentleman, High Sheriff of County Kildare at the breaking out of the rebellion in 1641, testified, upon oath, that he was unable to resist the Irish by the Posse Comitatus; and that he had lost in goods, corn, and cattle, at his several houses of Grangemellon, Gilltown, and Carbally, £9,396; in debts, £11,932; besides a yearly income of £1,200, or thereabouts; in consideration whereof, and of his goods and rightful services, CHARLES I, in 1646, created him a baronet, denominated of Grange Mellon, County Kildare.

Sir Erasmus married Sarah, daughter of Walter Weldon MP, of Woodstock Castle, and granddaughter maternally of the Rt Rev John Ryder, Lord Bishop of Killaloe, by whom he had, with a daughter, two sons, by the survivor of whom he was succeeded, viz.

SIR WALTER BORROWES, 2nd Baronet (c1620-85), who wedded firstly, in 1656 (the ceremony being performed with great pomp, before the Rt Hon Ridgeway Hatfield, Lord Mayor of Dublin), the Lady Eleanor FitzGerald, third daughter of George, 16th Earl of Kildare.

He married secondly, Margaret, fifth daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Adam Loftus MP, of Rathfarnham.

By the former he had, with a daughter, an only son, his successor,

SIR KILDARE BORROWES, 3rd Baronet (c1660-1709), MP for Kildare County, 1703-9, who espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Dixon, and sister of Robert Dixon, by whom he had two sons and three daughters.

Sir Kildare was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR WALTER DIXON BORROWES, 4th Baronet (1691-1741), MP for Harristown, 1721-7, Athy, 1741, who inherited the estates of his maternal uncle, Robert Dixon, already mentioned, in 1725.

He married, in 1720, Mary, daughter and co-heir of Captain Edward Pottinger, by whom he had three sons; the second and third died unmarried, and the eldest succeeded to the baronetcy, and became, 

SIR KILDARE DIXON BORROWES, 5th Baronet (1722-90), High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1751, for which county he had been some years before (1745) returned to parliament.

He married firstly, in 1759, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of John Short, of Grange, Queen's County, by whom he had three sons and one daughter; and secondly, in 1769,  Jane, daughter of Joseph Higginson, of Mount Ophaley, County Kildare, by whom he had four sons and two daughters.

Sir Kildare was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR ERASMUS DIXON BORROWES, 6th Baronet (1759-1814), who wedded, in 1783, Harriet, youngest daughter of the Very Rev Arthur Champagné, Dean of Clonmacnoise, and great-granddaughter (maternally) of Arthur, 2nd Earl of Granard, and had issue,
WALTER DIXON, his successor;
Arthur;
Kildare;
ERASMUS, 8th Baronet;
Marianne; Harriet; Elizabeth.
Sir Erasmus was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WALTER DIXON BORROWES, 7th Baronet (1789-1834), who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother, 

THE REV SIR ERASMUS DIXON BORROWES, 8th Baronet (1799-1866), Rector of Ballyroan, Queen's County, who married, in 1825, Harriet, daughter of Henry Hamilton, and niece of Hans Hamilton, MP for County Dublin, and had issue,
Kildare (1828-37);
ERASMUS;
Walter Joseph;
Henrietta Mary; Adelaide Charlotte Marianne; Eleanor Caroline.
Sir Erasmus was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 

SIR ERASMUS DIXON BORROWES, 9th Baronet (1831-98), of Barretstown Castle, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1873, Queen's County, 1880, who espoused firstly, in 1851, Frederica Eaten, daughter of Brigadier-General George Hutcheson, and had issue, a son,
KILDARE, his successor.
He married secondly, in 1887, Florence Elizabeth, daughter of William Ruxton, and had further issue,
Walter (1892-1915);
Mary Adelaide Vernon.
Sir Erasmus was succeeded by his son,

SIR KILDARE BORROWES, 10th Baronet (1852-1924), who married, in 1886, Julia, daughter of William Holden, by whom he had no issue.
Sir Kildare was Captain in the 11th Hussars and aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
The baronetcy expired on the death of Sir Eustace Dixon Borrowes, 11th baronet, in 1939.


BARRETSTOWN CASTLE, Ballymore Eustace, Naas, County Kildare, is an old tower-house with a two-storey, Gothic-Victorian addition.

The latter has rectangular, pointed and segmental-pointed plate glass windows.

One side of the front has a four-storey tower with a stepped gable.


The first historical mention of the place is in a 1547 inquisition held after the dissolution of the monasteries, when Barretstown Castle was listed as the property of the Lord Archbishop of Dublin, from whom it was promptly confiscated by the Crown.

Thereafter the Castle was held by the Eustace family on a series of "permanent leases."

In the 17th century, Sir Walter Borrowes married a daughter of the Earl of Kildare and acquired the estate, and the family retained possession for over two centuries.

Members of the family, such as Sir Kildare Borrowes, 5th Baronet, represented Kildare County and Harristown in the former Irish Parliament.

Unlike the Eustace Baronets of the 16th and 17th centuries, the five Borrowes Baronets, who spanned the 19th century, played no part in public life.

Sir Kildare, 10th Baronet (1852–1924), whose father, the Rev Sir Erasmus, 8th Baronet, had significantly modified the residence in a medieval, romantic, asymmetrical style, was the last of the family to live at Barretstown.

In 1918, the Borrowes family left Ireland and Barretstown was purchased by Sir George Sheppard Murray, a Scotsman who converted the estate into a fine stud farm, and planted many of the exotic trees that dominate the landscape.

In 1962, Elizabeth Arden acquired the castle from the Murray family. Over five years, Arden extensively reconstructed, redecorated, and refurnished the castle.

Her influence dominates the look of the house to this day.

The door of the castle is reputed to have been painted red after her famous brand of perfume Red Door, and remains so to this day.

After Arden's death in 1967, the billionnaire Garfield Weston took up residence.

Under his ownership the grounds were significantly improved, particularly through the addition of a magnificent lake in front of the castle.
The Weston family, which owns Dublin's famous Brown Thomas department store, presented the estate to the Irish government in 1977, during which time it was used for national and international conferences and seminars, as well as being used as a part of the Irish National Stud.
The Irish government has leased the castle and its grounds to the Barretstown Gang Camp Fund for the next 90 years.

First published in September, 2012.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Prince Edward In NI

The Earl of Wessex, Trustee, yesterday carried out engagements in Northern Ireland to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim (Mrs. Joan Christie OBE).

His Royal Highness met young people participating in the Grass Roots Challenge, at Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

The Earl of Wessex visited a Probation Board Project at the Book Reserve, 407 Lisburn Road, Belfast.

His Royal Highness afterwards visited Belfast Activity Centre, Barnett's Stable Yard, Barnett's Demesne, Malone Road, Belfast, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

HRH later visited Strangford Integrated College, Abbey Road, Carrowdore, Newtownards, County Down,and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Down (Mr. David Lindsay).

His Royal Highness yesterday evening attended a Dinner in County Down.

TODAY His Royal Highness visited Ballyclare High School, Ballyclare, County Antrim.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Marble Hill House

THE BURKE BARONETS, OF MARBLE HILL, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY GALWAY, WITH 25,258 ACRES


This branch of the Burkes claims to be a scion from the house of CLANRICARDE; but more immediately connected with the Barons Bourke of Brittas.

THOMAS BURKE, of Gortenacuppogue (now Marble Hill), died at an advanced age in 1714.

During the civil wars, in the time of CHARLES I, and subsequently in the revolution of 1688, his predecessors and himself lost a considerable portion of their lands; but he still preserved the estate upon which he resided, and it became the seat of the Burke baronets.

He married into the family of TULLY, great landed proprietors in County Galway, and owners of the Garbally estate, in the possession of the Earl of Clancarty.

The son of this Thomas,

JOHN BURKE, wedded the daughter of Carroll of Killoran, who was nearly allied to the Donelans, County Galway, and to the Carrolls of King's County.

By this lady the family acquired the Killoran estate.

Mr Burke died in 1793, aged 80, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS BURKE, of Marble Hill, who was created a baronet in 1797, denominated of Marble Hill, County Galway.

He espoused Christian, daughter of ____ Browne, of Limerick, of the Browne family of Camus, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
James, d 1812;
Maria; Julia; Elizabeth; Anne; Eleanor.
Sir Thomas died in 1813, and was succeeded by his elder son,

COLONEL SIR JOHN BURKE, 2nd Baronet (1782-1847), of Marble Hill, MP for County Galway, 1830-32, who married Elizabeth Mary, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon John Calcraft MP, and had issue,
THOMAS JOHN, his heir;
Charles Granby;
James Henry;
Edward Howe;
Maurice William Otway;
Henry Ulick;
Elizabeth Anne; Caroline Jane.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS JOHN BURKE, 3rd Baronet (1813-75), DL, of Marble Hill, MP for County Galway, 1847-59, who wedded the Lady Mary Nugent, daughter of Anthony, 9th Earl of Westmeath, and had issue,
JOHN CHARLES, 4th Baronet;
HENRY GEORGE, 5th Baronet;
THOMAS MALACHY, 6th Baronet;
William Anthony;
Julia Catherine Anne; Mary Clare Theresa.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN CHARLES BURKE, 4th Baronet (1858-90), who died unmarried, and the title devolved upon his next brother,

SIR HENRY GEORGE BURKE, 5th Baronet (1859-1910), JP, DL, who died unmarried, when the baronetcy devolved upon his brother,

SIR THOMAS MALACHY BURKE, 6th Baronet (1864-1913), JP, who married, in 1893, Catherine Mary Caroline, daughter of Major-General James Henry Burke, and had issue, an only child,

SIR GERALD HOWE BURKE, 7th Baronet (1893-1954), DL, who wedded firstly, in 1914, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Patrick Mathews, and had issue,
THOMAS STANLEY, his successor.
He espoused secondly, in 1920, Merrial Alison, daughter of Edward Christie, and had issue,
Bridget Alison;
Elizabeth Anne.
Sir Gerald was succeeded by his only son,

SIR THOMAS STANLEY BURKE, 8th Baronet (1916-89), who married, in 1955, Suzanne Margarete, daughter of Otto Theodore Salvisberg, and had issue,
JAMES STANLEY GILBERT, his successor;
Caroline Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

SIR JAMES STANLEY GILBERT BURKE (1956-), who wedded, in 1980, Laura, daughter of Domingo Branzuela, and has issue.

Marble Hill (Photo credit: Dr Patrick Melvin & Eamonn de Burca)
MARBLE HILL HOUSE, near Loughrea, County Galway, was built ca 1775 for John Burke, and enlarged after 1813 by Sir John Burke, 2nd Baronet.

It was an exceptional country house prior to its malicious destruction by fire in 1921.

Architectural quality and refinement are apparent in the design and detailing.

The masonry was executed by skilled craftsmen, as is apparent in the detailing of the door-case.

It forms part of a group of demesne-related structures that includes the gate lodge, outbuildings, walled garden and ice-house.

The house is now an ivy-covered, roofless ruin.

It comprised three storeys over a raised basement, with a canted entrance bay to the front (east) elevation, and two-storey return to rear.

Four-bay side elevations, with bowed bay to north side elevation, and with rear two bays of south projecting; moulded cornice; rubble limestone walls, with evidence of weather-slating to the west gable wall.

Square-headed window openings with stone sills and red brick surrounds; square-headed entrance doorway within pedimented carved limestone door-case, having channelled pilasters with plinths and moulded capitals.

Wrought-iron railings to entrance avenue.


The well designed range of outbuildings originally served the adjacent Marble Hill House.

The high-quality stonework suggests that it was a significant part of the former demesne and was possibly by the same architect responsible for the house.

Some original sash windows and gates survive.

Marble Hill estate once incorporated a weigh station, forge and smokehouse that are no longer standing.

The ruin of the original house is an ivy-covered shell beside the remains of a courtyard which included a pigeon loft, carriage house, abattoir and worker accommodation.

The mansion house was equipped with running water and flushing toilets, which was the state of the art at the time.

The house also had a central heating system based on technology developed in Roman times, still visible today.

When the estate was in full operation, it had a full complement of blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, gardeners, an engineer, and a catholic priest who said mass in a specially-built private chapel in the house every morning.

Several generations of Burkes were raised at Marble Hill until the family departed in 1922 for their house in London due to the political climate in Ireland.

Several of the Burke gentry throughout the generations served at Westminster and government bodies up to the late 1800s, Ted Burke being the last to serve in political office.

At this point they concentrated solely on the land.

The downfall of the Burke family began at this point as the only source of income for the once wealthy family was now rates paid by tenants.
By the early 1900s the estate was in decline and in severe financial difficulties. Burnt down in 1922 by the local IRA, the house burned for 4 days and 4 nights. The only thing that remained was a complete window which had been bricked up in the blue room.
The blue room was a child’s nursery. After the tragic death of a young infant, the window was sealed as the residents believed the house to be haunted. It was locked and never opened until the house burned down.
Like most landowners, the Burkes were known to sympathise with HM Government, and Thomas Burke helped raise a military regiment, the Connaught Rangers, in 1793 to support Great Britain in its war with France.

Although the Burkes had already left for England, the house was burned during the time known as “The Troubles”.

Over the following years the estate was divided among tenants and families.

The original farmyard and store buildings were given to the estate’s herd (an unofficial vet who cured animal illnesses with natural remedies).

Some of the buildings in the courtyard were knocked and the stone sold by the land commission.

The main house itself was completely destroyed, but the servant’s quarters and gardens were intact, including a glasshouse that was operational until the 1970s.

The Rafferty family resided here until the 1990s. Kate Rafferty, the Burkes' former housekeeper, purchased the remaining estate, operating it as a guest-house for many years.

After her death, the house passed to her son and fell into disrepair.

With no heirs, the ruin was eventually sold to a developer, whose plans have been halted by the current recession in 2012.

First published in August, 2012.