Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Ballymacormick Acquisition


PROPERTY: Ballymacormick Point, near Bangor, County Down

DATE: 1952

EXTENT: 33.18 acres

DONOR: Thomas Kingan Esq


PROPERTY: Cockle Island, Groomsport, County Down

DATE: 1975

EXTENT: 0.6 acres

DONOR: Gavin Maxwell Esq

First published in December, 2014.

Cahir Park


This is a branch of the noble house of ORMONDE, springing from

JAMES, 3rd Earl of Ormond (c1359-1405); who, besides legitimate children, had two illegitimate sons, Thomas, Prior of Kilmainham and Lord Deputy of Ireland in the reigns of HENRY IV and HENRY V; and

JAMES LE BOTELLER or BUTLER, whose descendants, by the settlement of Thomas, the 10th Earl, were made next in remainder to the house of Ormonde after the family of Dunboyne.

From this James lineally descended

THOMAS BUTLER, of Cahir, who married Ellice, daughter of the Earl of Desmond, and was father of

THOMAS BUTLER, who wedded Catherine, daughter of Sir Piers Power, of County Waterford, by whom he had two sons; the younger of whom, Piers, was father of Theobald, 3rd Baron Cahir; and the elder,

THOMAS BUTLER, was elevated to the peerage, in 1543, as Baron Cahir.

His lordship espoused Eleanor, fifth daughter of Piers, 8th Earl of Ormond, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

EDMUND, 2nd Baron; who died without issue, when the barony expired, and his two half-sisters became his heirs

The dignity was, however, revived in 1583 by a new patent granted to his lordship's first cousin,

SIR THEOBALD BUTLER, Knight, who became thus 1st Baron Cahir of the second creation.

This nobleman married Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, of Cussington, County Meath, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Ellen; Mary.
Lord Cahir died in 1596, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron, who died in 1627, and leaving an only daughter and heir, Margaret, who wedded Edmund, 3rd Lord Dunboyne, the barony devolved upon his nephew,

THOMAS, 3rd Baron, who espoused Eleanor, granddaughter of Lord Poer, by whom he had seven children, and was succeeded by his grandson,

PIERCE, 4th Baron; who died in 1676, when the family honours reverted to

THEOBALD, 5th Baron, son of Edmund (3rd son of the 1st Baron), who died in 1700, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS, 6th Baron; whose son,

JAMES, 7th Baron, succeeded in 1744, though died without issue, 1746, and was succeeded by his brother,

PIERCE, 8th Baron, at whose demise, unmarried, in 1788, the title reverted to his kinsman,

JAMES, 9th Baron, who was in India at the time of his predecessor's death and so never received the news of his elevation as he died a month later, in 1788.

RICHARD (1775–1819), 10th Baron (son of James Butler, of Fethard, County Tipperary, and grandson of Richard Butler, of Glengall, who was descended from Sir Theobald Butler, 1st Baron Cahir through his third son, the Hon Pierce Butler).

His lordship wedded, in 1793, Emily, youngest daughter of James St John Jefferyes, of Blarney Castle, County Cork, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Harriet Anne, m George, 3rd Marquess of Donegall;
Charlotte Butler; Emily Georgina Arabella.
His lordship was advanced, in 1816, to the dignities of Viscount Cahir and EARL OF GLENGALL.

He was succeeded by his only son,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl (1794-1858), who espoused, in 1834, Margaret Lauretta, younger daughter and co-heir of William Mellish, of Woodford, Essex, and had issue, two daughters.

Having no male issue, the titles expired on his decease in 1858.
Harriet Anne, Countess of Belfast 

The 1st Earl's daughter, the Lady Harriet Anne Butler (above), married George, 3rd Marquess of Donegall, in 1822.

Glengall Street in Belfast is named after this marital union.

Richard, 2nd Earl of Glengall

One of his daughters, the Lady Margaret Butler, inherited her father's extensive estate at Cahir, County Tipperary, following his death in 1858.

In that year she married Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon Richard Charteris (1822-74), and built Cahir Park as the family home.

She was succeeded by her eldest son, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Butler Charteris (1866-1961), who continued to live at Caher until his death.

CAHIR CASTLE stands on an island in the River Suir by the town of Cahir.

It was built in the 13th century on a site of an earlier native fortification called a cathair (stone fort), which gave its name to the place.

The castle was built in two parts, with the side now by the street being built 200 years before the side now housing the audio-visual show.

Granted to the Butlers in the late 14th century, the castle was enlarged and remodelled between the 15th and 17th centuries.

It fell into ruin in the late 18th century, when the family ceased to live in it, though was partially restored in the 1840s. The Great Hall was partly rebuilt in 1840.

It is now a national monument, managed by the Irish state.

Instead, they built a house of three storeys and five bays, now the Cahir House Hotel, facing the main square of the town and backing on to the Castle park.

Swiss Cottage, a delightful cottage orné, was built in the early 1800s by the 1st Earl, it has been said, for a mistress, to a design by the famous Regency architect John Nash.

Its interior contains a graceful spiral staircase and some elegantly decorated rooms.

The wallpaper in the salon manufactured by the Dufour factory is one of the first commercially produced Parisian wallpapers. 

Cahir Park

Following the death of the 2nd Earl in 1858, his daughter, Lady Margaret Charteris, built the house known as Cahir Park, or Cahir Lodge, across the river from the ancient Castle.

This mansion served as the family seat from then on.

It was built about 1861, designed by Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon; though, according by Bence-Jones, was neither "worthy of its architects, nor of its glorious setting".

It was said to be exceptionally dull and dour, quasi-Baronial, with steep gables, pointed plate-glass windows, and a turret with a pyramidal roof.

Its rooms were apparently "meanly proportioned", though redeemed with some French furniture.

During the 20th century, Colonel Charteris added a billiards-room-cum-library.

The house, somewhat ingloriously, was gutted by fire shortly after it had been sold following the Colonel's death, at the advanced age of 94, in 1961.

Former town residence ~ 54 Grosvenor Street, London.

First published in January, 2013.  Glengall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 30 January 2017

BH Memoirs: VIII



Just before the War the Belfast Corporation had bought Orangefield farmyard and 46 acres of land as park.

We leased the farm buildings from the purchasers at a very high rent, so I purchased Carrowreagh Farm of 220 acres and left Lettice and Joe Barbour (the land steward) the enormous task of carrying out the necessary alterations and moving into it.

My leave had been extended a further two months at the request of Basil Brooke, our Prime Minister.

As Roddens House was burnt down in 1939, Lettice and the children had temporarily been living in the land steward's house.

We purchased Beltrim Castle, Gortin, County Tyrone, in 1944, but as it was occupied by American forces, we were unable to move in until 1946.

In January, 1945, I stood for the two member constituency of County Down, for the Imperial Parliament.

The Rev Dr Little and Lord Castlereagh were the two sitting members, but Castlereagh decided not to stand again.

I was one of thirteen candidates – Unionist – to present themselves to the delegates and came out top, with Sir Walter Smiles second.

Dr Little, annoyed that he was not automatically accepted as an official candidate would not allow his name to go forward on the official candidates list.

He then, with another man called Brown, elected to stand as an unofficial Unionist.

Smiles and I were thus the official candidates, and Little and Brown went to the polls against us as unofficial Unionist candidates.

The result, after a very bitter election, was Little and Smiles elected and I came next.

What a horrible life it would have been!

This was my second and last attempt to become an MP at Westminster.

I had been a member of the Down County Council since 1936.

I did not distinguish myself in local government but I’m sure I can claim to be the first member of the Down County Council to give a forwarding address for minutes and correspondence as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!


First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

The Argory Acquisition


PROPERTY: The Argory, Moy, County Armagh

DATE: 1979

EXTENT: 280.92 acres

DONOR: Hoare Trustees and W A N MacGeough-Bond Esq


PROPERTY: Derrygally Farm

DATE: 1979

EXTENT: 77.1 acres

DONOR: Hoare Trustees and W A N MacGeough-Bond Esq

First published in December, 2014

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Castle Ward Project

The National Trust has embarked on an ambitious conservation project at Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down, which will see a refurbishment of the Temple and the restoration of historic paths and vista points.

The man-made landscape of the Temple Water area, conceived by the Wards, Viscounts Bangor, is one of the most important late 17th and early 18th century gardens to survive in Northern Ireland.

The National Trust's general manager for South Down, Jonathan Clarke, remarked,
Over the years the design of the landscape has become obscured by self-seeded trees, poor drainage and other changes. 
As a conservation charity we are committed to protecting our special places for ever, for everyone and so we are restoring this hidden part of Castle Ward to enhance visitor enjoyment and understanding of the area. 
We anticipate the project will take three years and will include the repair of the Temple and improvements to the parkland that will open up views of both Audley’s Castle and Strangford Lough.
The lake at Castle Ward, known as Temple Water, will be central to the restoration project.

The Temple Water, Castle Ward

Features planned for restoration include the crumbling stone sides of the Temple Water which have been weakened by tree roots over the years.

The Temple will also be refurbished and the original paths will be reinstated, creating a picturesque route around the Temple with spectacular viewpoints.

Historic paths will be reinstated along Lime Tree Walk and visitors will be able to grace the reinstated historic steps on the Yew Tree Terraces.

The viewing mound and early 18th century Ward family home, the Green House, will both be revealed and interpreted.

The walled garden will be levelled and a planting design scheme started.

It will also be opened for public viewing.

The Temple

Improvements will also be made to access around the Temple Water by reinstating former pathways and steps; repairing drains; creating pockets of natural biodiversity; removing some inappropriate trees; pruning others, and planting new trees in locations based on early demesne maps. 

Enhanced interpretation will also be installed to enable everyone to share in the story of the Ward family and their grand designs.

Map of 1835 showing the Green House

A team of National Trust specialists including curators, archaeologists, historic gardens advisers and interpretation designers will be available to provide advice and work together to bring the Temple Water back to the late 17th early 18th century design.

The final picture will be a grand formal and unexpected statement in the midst of rolling landscape.

Bangor arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

The Clones Estate


The family of BARRETT-LENNARD originated in Essex.
The name was an amalgam of the Barrett and Lennard families, after Richard Barrett took the name LENNARD in consideration of the manor of Bell House (Belhus) in Essex, bequeathed to him by Edward, 1st Baron Barrett of Newburgh.
The surname was styled LENNARD-BARRETT until 1755, when Thomas, 17th Lord Dacre, transposed the order of the names.

The Barrett-Lennards were absentee landlords of the Clones Estate, which originated in confiscated church lands.

Prominent members of the family included Thomas Lennard, 1st Earl of Sussex, who, in 1674, married the thirteen-year-old Lady Anne FitzRoy (alias Palmer, the family name of the Earl of Castlemaine), natural daughter of CHARLES II and Lady Castlemaine, afterwards Duchess of Cleveland.

The King and her mother spent the first night of the Restoration together and she was born nine months later.

The King acknowledged her as his child and granted her the royal arms with the baton sinister.


ANNE, 16th Baroness Dacre (1684-1755), younger daughter of the 1st Earl of Sussex, married thrice.

By her first husband, Richard Lennard, who later assumed the surname BARRETT under the will of Sir Edward Barrett, she had an only son,

THOMAS, 17th Baron (1717-86), who took a great interest in the management of his estates, manifested by the very considerable number of letters which remain from both his Norfolk and his Irish agents, giving him full accounts of all the details of their management.

In 1740, Lord Dacre paid a visit to Ireland for the purpose of looking after his property.

Merely 23 years of age, and recently married, he was greatly interested in his intended visit, and anxious to show his new bride his town of Clones and the considerable estates which he owned surrounding it.

His lordship's agent, Todd, said that it contained
"only one parlour and three bedrooms with fireplaces, and three other little rooms without fireplaces or any furniture. In the cellar a hogshead of old French claret, very good, if not spoiled with this long frost."

THE CASTLE, Clones, County Monaghan, was re-discovered in 2016.

The Barrett-Lennard Papers are held at PRONI.

First published in January, 2013.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

BH Memoirs: VII



In April, 1939, Roddens House was burnt down.

We had been carrying out some alterations and were living in one corner of the house.

A high wind was blowing off the sea and one of the front windows had been removed.

It was probably caused by a smouldering beam in the chimney.

We planned to rebuild starting on the 1st September, 1939, but Hitler had different plans.

In the meantime we lived in Roddens Farm House.

Lattice and the children remained there till after the war but built on two extra rooms.

In July, 1939, some of us Reservists were invited to do some voluntary training and I did a fortnight’s attachment to the 4th Hussars commanded by Scotty Cockburn at Tidworth.

To my amusement Bunny Head, who had been a Stockbroker in New York for the previous ten years, was my instructor!

At 9pm on the 31st August, 1939, the wireless announced that all Class “A” Reservists were to rejoin.

It was my 41st birthday.

I crossed over on the evening of the 1st September, having fixed up my affairs as best I could during the day.

I was in camp with the Eton OTC on 4 August 1914, and I remember well the cheer and songs with which we greeted the declaration of war then.

But we’d learnt what war meant since.

Waterloo Station was full of reservists rejoining their units and a sad looking lot they were.

When they actually joined and met their old comrades’ things cheered up in the canteen, but I could not help being struck by difference in atmosphere to that I just remembered a quarter of a century earlier.

During these two months I found plenty to do in connection with the buying of cows; bad reports of milk, and the rejection of 41 cows at one half yearly tubercular test.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

The Cullintraw Acquisition


PROPERTY: Cullintraw, Ballydrain, County Down

DATE: 1994

EXTENT: 13.91 acres

DONOR: Joan Morrow

First published in January, 2015.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Ross's Auction-House

22-26 MAY STREET, Belfast, built about 1873 for the Presbyterian Church.

The building comprises two storeys over a ground-level basement.

It is built of red brick and matching sandstone; windows are paired.

The centre bay at May Street protrudes a little, with an arcaded balcony, corbels and Venetian-style capitals.

The door is fan-lighted with a rose window below.

The pediment at the top of the building has the carved burning bush emblem of Presbyterianism.

At the Montgomery Street side, there was a four-storey, ecclesiastical-style tower with a pyramidal roof (now the main entrance), though its top has been shorn off.

May Street elevation

The section of the building at the corner of Montgomery Street and Music Hall Lane is of four storeys, with a large rose window at the top.

It's thought that the premises ceased to be church property post 1905, when the new Church House was built at Fisherwick Place.

This building has been occupied by Ross’s Auctioneers and Valuers for several decades.

It was originally constructed to house the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

When originally constructed the building was owned outright by the Assembly, serving as its headquarters and other Presbyterian organisations and offices.

In 1877 there were also offices for the Bible & Colportage Society, the Presbyterian Orphan Society and the Sabbath School Society in Ireland.

Offices in the building were also leased out to private businesses and, in 1877, a land and rent agency office operated from the site.

Similar to the construction of Belfast’s Old Town Hall on Victoria Street, the General Assembly found the building on May Street to be too small and inadequate for its needs.

After the town’s promotion in 1888, the Assembly sought a new location for their headquarters.

A suitable plot of land was selected on Fisherwick Place (the former site of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church before moving to south Belfast). 

The current Presbyterian Assembly Building was constructed between 1899-1905, during which time the offices on May Street continued to be occupied by the various ecclesiastical organisations.

In 1905 the former headquarters in May Street were vacated.

22-26 May Street remained vacant until 1912, when it was occupied by John Wilson & Son and was renamed Downshire House.

Wilson & Sons were linen, damask, handkerchief, ladies underclothing, gentlemen’s shirt and collar manufacturers.

About 1935, John Wilson & Sons vacated the site.

The current occupants of the former Presbyterian Assembly Building, John Ross and Company, came into possession of the site ca 1937.

22-26 May Street survived the heavy bombardment of Belfast’s city centre during the 1941 Blitz.

In 1956 the ground and first floors were occupied by a Mr (or Mrs) D W Gray, who utilised the space as offices, showrooms and stores for John Ross & Co.

This Victorian building has since been the auction-house of John Ross & Company, of whom Daniel Clarke has been proprietor since 1988.

First published in January, 2013.

Richhill Castle


The family of RICHARDSON is descended from

WILLIAM RICHARDSON, stated by William Roberts, Ulster King of Arms, in a confirmation of arms dated 1647, to be descended from the ancient family of RICHARDSON of Pershore, Worcestershire.

His second son,

MAJOR EDWARD RICHARDSON, of Legacorry, alias Richhill, County Armagh, MP for that county, 1661, High Sheriff, 1665wedded Anne, only child and heir of Francis Sacheverell, of Legacorry, and Dorothy his wife (daughter and co-heir of Sir John Blennerhassett, Knight, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer).

Mr Francis Sacheverell was son of Francis Sacheverell, of Rearsby, Leicestershire, who had a grant of Legacorry during the reign of JAMES I.

By Anne his wife Major Richardson (who died in 1690) had issue,
William, of Legacorry (1656-1727), dsp;
JOHN, of whom presently.
The younger son,

JOHN RICHARDSON (1663-c1744), of Legacorry, alias Rich Hill, an army officer, espoused, in 1707-8, Anne, daughter of William Beckett, Prime Sergeant-at-Law, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
HENRY, of whom hereafter;
Hester, m Rev J Lowry, of Pomeroy;
Mary, m Archibald, 1st Baron Gosford.
Mr Richardson was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM RICHARDSON (1749-1822), of Richhill, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1777, MP for County Armagh, 1807-20, who married firstly, in 1775, Dorothea, daughter of Henry Monroe, of Roes Hall, Tullylish, by whom he had no issue.

He wedded secondly, Louisa Magennis, of Waringstown, and had issue, three daughters,
Elizabeth, died unmarried 1859;
Isabella, died unmarried 1860;
The youngest daughter,

LOUISA RICHARDSON (-1881), of Richhill, who espoused, in 1832, Edward Bacon, eldest son of Sir Edmund Bacon, 10th Baronet, though the marriage was without issue.

Mr John Richardson's second son,

HENRY RICHARDSON, of Rossfad, Lieutenant-Colonel, 29th Regiment (entered the army as a cornet in the 8th Horse, Ligonier's, 1743), wedded firstly, Catherine, eldest daughter of Samuel Perry, of County Tyrone, which lady died dsp 1765.

He married secondly, in 1766, Jane, daughter and co-heir of Guy Carleton, of Rossfad, County Fermanagh.

Colonel Richardson died about 1794, having had issue a son,

JOHN RICHARDSON (1768-1841), of Rossfad, Major, Tyrone Militia, who wedded, in 1807, Angel, daughter of Mervyn Archdall MP, of Castle Archdale, leaving by her an only son, 

HENRY MERVYN RICHARDSON DL (1808-82), of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, who espoused, in 1834, Mary Jane, widow of John Johnston, of Crocknacrieve, County Fermanagh, second daughter of Dr Charles Ovenden, of Enniskillen, and Mayfield, Sussex, and had issue,
Charles William Henry (1840-88);
Jane Angel; Angel Catherine Charlotte; Emilie Margaret; Henrietta M Mervyn.
Mr Richardson succeeded on the death of his cousin Louisa, Mrs Bacon, in 1881, to two-thirds of the Richhill estate.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MERVYN ARCHDALL CARLETON RICHARDSON JP DL (1836-1912), of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, Colonel, 3rd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1885, and County Fermanagh, 1888, who married, in 1880, Mildred Harriet, third daughter of Gartside Tipping, of Rossferry, County Fermanagh, and Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, and had issue,
Guy Carleton, b 1885;
Jane Mary; Mildred Cicely Carleton.
The eldest son,


THE CASTLE, Richhill, County Armagh, was built between 1664-90 by Major Edward Richardson MP.

It comprises two storeys, with a gabled attic in a high-pitched roof.

The house is U-shaped, the entrance front having projecting wings which form a three-sided court.

The centre range has five bays, with one bay at the end of each wing.

There are pedimented Dutch-style gables at the ends of the wings.

Chimney-stacks are lofty and prominent.

The doorway boasts Doric columns, pediment and entablature.

The Castle stands on the site of an earlier dwelling erected by Francis Sacheverall, a planter from Rossbye, Leicestershire, in 1611.
In 1610, Sacheverall had received two portions of land, 1,000 acres each, called Mullalelish and Legacorry, and decided to live on the latter. He declared himself to be worth £300 a year and brought over three masons, a carpenter, a smithy, nine labourers, two women, four horses and a cart. Before his death in 1649, Sacheverall had sold the Mullalelish portion to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish speculator who was later honoured with the earldom of Stirling.

Francis Sacheverall's son and heir, also called Francis, and his wife, Dorothy, had an only daughter, Anne, who married Major Edward Richardson in 1654.

Through this marriage, Legacorry became the property of the Richardson family and the present castle was built.

Louisa Richardson married Edward Bacon, High Sheriff of Armagh and, as she had no family, the estate passed to the Rossfad branch of the Richardsons after her death in 1881.

In the early part of this century the castle was the residence of Major Robert Gordon Berry.

There are some stories surrounding him involving secret passages, skeletons and a grave in the castle grounds.

After the establishment of the Government of Northern Ireland in 1920, the castle became the property of the NI Education Authority.

During the 1930s it was occupied by Sam Hewitt, whose main claim to fame was the invention of an egg-washing machine.


The elaborate gates of Richhill Castle were constructed by the Thornberry Brothers of Armagh in 1745. 

They were 18-20 feet high and topped with the Richardson coat-of-arms.

In 1936, the gates were removed during the night to Hillsborough Castle, then the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland, which was being renovated after a fire in 1934.

In spite of a storm of protest from local councillors and villagers, the gates were never returned.

The Richardson family crest (above) adorns the top of the gates.

Villagers are seeking the return of the gates to the Castle.

According to villagers, the gates were taken from Richhill in the late 1930s as part of the 2nd World War effort, when gates and railings all over the UK were seized by the Government to melt down and turn into guns and tanks to fight the Nazis.
But the former Richhill Castle gates, considered too ornate to waste on Hitler, were stashed away during the hostilities. They turned up in Hillsborough to adorn the castle at the top of the town's main street.

Clamours for the gates' return built up a head of steam during 2009, but the death of Gordon Lyttle, the incumbent of Richhill Castle, held things back:

Dr Alan Turtle, chairman of the Richhill Improvements Association:

"But now that the seemingly impossible has happened with the political agreement. It would seem appropriate to give us back our gates.

We are in the process of spending £747,000 donated by the Heritage Lottery Fund on a major scheme in Richhill, and the least the government can do is give us back the gates that were taken, supposedly temporarily, but seem to have a permanent home at Hillsborough.

It's our long-term ambition to buy the castle and turn it into a hotel and conference centre, so we'll be stepping up the gates campaign."
Ca 1681-82, permission was granted for Major Edward Richardson to hold a Saturday market and three fairs per annum.

The fairs were held on Shrove Tuesday, St Swithin's Day and St Francis's Day. New orchards were being planted at this time and houses were springing up along the road sides.
A market-house was built in the Square by William Richardson in 1753, which became a very important centre of the brown linen trade where, in 1804, sales averaged at least £500 per week, despite rival markets in both Armagh and Portadown.

The construction of a new road from Armagh to Belfast, which by-passed Richhill, triggered the decline of the weekly market and the three fairs; thus the market-house was converted into the present parish church in 1837.

It is notable that, in a census in 1814, Richhill had 161 dwellings, six more than Portadown.

Occupations included hand-loom weaving, straw plate-making, shuttle-making, wood-turning and spade-making.

By 1835, the three Misses Richardson, who now owned the estate - and were described as excellent landlords - had built many new country schools on the estate, Mulladry and Derryhale being two examples.

First published in August, 2010.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

BH Memoirs: VI



I left the Army on the 1st November, 1935, after 19 years service.

The General Election was taking place a fortnight later.

From Chester I rang up Mr J H Andrews, Ulster’s Minister of Finance, in Northern Ireland, one evening to offer my services in the election in any capacity.

Next day I received a wire from Herbert Dixon [later 1st Lord Glentoran] asking me to contest Tyrone and Fermanagh.

It was a two seat constituency and a Lincolnshire farmer called Deane was to be my colleague.

We never had a chance unless there was a split among the nationalist opposition.

Unfortunately elections in Northern Ireland are a contest between the Roman Catholic Nationalists and the Protestant Unionists.

The election agents knew the exact voting strength of each side.

Up till nomination day we thought it might be a three-corner contest, but it turned out to be a straight fight.

Two nationalist abstentionists defeated us by abut 52,000 to 46,000 votes.

We stayed at Colebrooke with Sir Basil Brooke [later 1st Viscount Brookeborough] for the election.

I had never made a political speech in my life before this election.

Since those days I have had quite a bit of experience in Irish Politics.

I fought a by-election in County Down on Sir David Reid’s death in 1945, and stood as one of the Official Unionist candidates for County Down in the General Election in 1945.

I never succeeded.

As everyone knows, antagonism between the Roman Catholic anti-British Irish Free State and the Protestant pro-British North has been the dominant factor in every Northern Ireland Election since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act in 1920.

The Roman Catholics in the North with their co-religionists in Eire want Ireland to be one under an Irish Republican Parliament in Dublin; whereas the Ulster Protestants want to retain every tie that binds them to Britain.

The Ulster Unionist Party has been in power since 1921 without a break; Ulster enjoys great prosperity at present.

Agriculture is Ulster’s greatest industry, and while we are represented in Westminster and are constitutionally part and parcel of the United Kingdom, Ulster farmers enjoy the same guaranteed prices for their farm produce as do farmers in England.

From an economic point of view, therefore, we have no desire to join up with Eire.

As Protestants we have no desire to come under the control of a Roman Catholic Government in Dublin.

We are quite happy as we are.

The Ulster Government is strictly impartial to Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Unfortunately there have been one or two cases of local authorities having been not so impartial and uneducated men on both sides are definitely bigoted, but as far as government policy is concerned it is above reproach and why, then, it may be asked is Eire so anxious to absorb Northern Ireland?

On the map of the world Ireland is a very small place and, on the face of it, it seems ridiculous to have it divided into two countries.

The Irishman is intensely proud of having regained the status of Independent Nationhood.

He says “Ireland was a nation when England was a pup” etc.

Now to what extent is this claim true?

It can’t be denied that Ireland kept the flame of Christianity burning at a time when it was practically extinguished in England.

Neither can it be denied that the Penal Laws drove many fine Irishmen out of their native country.

It can’t be denied either, that the severity of those Penal Laws is still responsible for the present day hatred of England.

It is claimed that the Protestants of the North are not Irishmen at all but that they are all descendants of the Scottish and English Planters in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the early Stewarts.

There is certainly some foundation for this, but purity of race in my belief can only be rightly claimed by a very few Celts who have been driven by a succession of invaders into the mountains and to the Atlantic Coast.

All the Eastern and Southern Counties were subjected to invasions by Danes, English, Scottish and others long before Ulster was touched.

Each invasion left its mark on the original inhabitants but like China, Ireland seemed to absorb them and they in their turn became “more Irish than the Irish”.

They adopted the Irish language and the Christianity of Ireland.

Fundamentally the Northerner is a materialist and the Southerner is a sentimental theorist.

Throughout history, however, except possibly for a very short time, Ireland never was a nation.

It was an agglomeration of three or four provinces or tribes usually warring against each other under rival chiefs.

Being unable to co-operate they never were able to keep invaders out and no one personality arose strong enough to defeat his competitors and to weld Ireland into a nation.

Far the greatest and most important claim Irishmen can make is that Ireland with England and Scotland were the foundation members of the Great British Empire.

Ireland has every right to make this claim.

It is not till one travels in America or in the British Dominions that one realises what Irishmen have done.

An Irishman is only half a man in Ireland.

We have argued the Irish question from many angles and as one always does, when Ireland is concerned, looked back into medieval history.

We have got no nearer a solution, and I’m beginning to think the present partition is the best we are likely to get for many years to come.

In spite of the fact that Eire was started off on her career with no National Debt and that she has been spared sharing in any cost of the two world wars, yet her economic position is not sound.

That is another very strong reason why she is so anxious to join up with the industrious North.

The Southern Irishman is one of the most pleasant companions in the world.

He is kind and full of good cheer and humour and is popular wherever he goes in the world.

It is a great relief to escape from the ever-present materialistic outlook of the modern world and there are few places where this can be done better than in Eire.

My father used to say “an Irishman is a man who honestly believes what he knows to be false”.

I have studied some of them for a long time now and am certain he was right.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

Floral Hall, Belfast

The Floral Hall is located at Belfast Zoo, Antrim Road, Belfast.

It is a substantial, two storey, modernist style concert-dance hall and café built 1935-36 for Belfast Corporation, with a capacity of up to 1,000.

The building consists of a circular, shallow, domed hall with a flat-roofed foyer, stage or service blocks, and a semi-circular portico.

The Hall, owned by Belfast City Council, last served as a concert venue in 1972.

It is currently disused and in poor repair.

The Floral Hall is situated within the grounds of Belfast Zoo, on high ground to the west of Antrim Road.

The entire façade  is finished in plain-painted render.

The Hall has a relatively shallow domed roof which is covered in bituminous felt.

Projecting from the ground floor of the taller section is a semicircular flat-roofed entrance portico with plain columns with a curving taper supporting a tall plain rendered frieze.

Within the portico (and following the semi-circular plan form) there are a series of doors (currently boarded over).

Stone semi-circular steps fan out from the base of the portico.

In the centre of the second floor there is a small, painted moulding of the Belfast coat-of-arms.
The moulding and the large window to the first floor are both set within a broad, but shallow, bay which rises to a typically Art Deco stepped parapet, upon which is set the words "floral hall" in large lettering set on a projecting frame.
These letters are in a sans-serif lower-case typeface.

Behind these letters (and directly above the coat-of-arms) is a tall, angular, Art Deco pediment moulding with reducing edges.

The Floral Hall is the only example of this type of building in the Art Deco style in Northern Ireland and one of a very few remaining Art Deco structures of any type.

Originally Belfast Corporation decided to build a playground and pleasure gardens (Bellevue Gardens) to encourage customers and provide a recreational area.

During the 1920s and 30s Bellevue was a popular destination for day excursions, and in 1933 it was decided to have a "representative zoological collection" on the site.

In 1934, twelve acres on either side of the "Grand Floral Staircase" was laid out as Bellevue Zoo, with the Hall following two years later, just to the south of the zoo itself.

The building boasted a spacious stage, seating for up to 1,000 people, with a striking interior colour scheme comprising mainly blue, gold and tangerine

It was built and fitted out by Messrs J & R Taggart at the cost of £14,520 (£900,000 today).

The Hall continued in regular use as a ballroom and concert venue during the 2nd World War, with "blackouts" fitted to the windows so that dances could continue.

It retained its popularity in the austere post-war years, attracting up to 130,000 people in 1947.

In the 1950s and 1960s it became a regular venue for show bands and, occasionally, more ground-breaking acts - the original Pink Floyd line up played there in April, 1967.

Roller-skating was introduced to the Hall in 1965.

With the outbreak of "The Troubles" in 1969 audiences declined, and the hall was closed in April, 1972.

Despite being used as a counting-centre for the Northern Ireland Border Poll in 1973, and occasional dances in the mid 1970s, the building has largely remained closed to the general public.

In recent years it has been used occasionally as a store by the zoo, which has expanded to occupy the land surrounding the hall itself.

Photo credit: Spatial Pan - http://www.flickr.com/photos/spatial_pan/4330505942/

The Belfast Buildings Trust (BBT) has been in negotiations with Belfast City Council about the possibility of restoring the Floral Hall to its former glory.

Plans have progressed and the Council is keen to see the building restored.

Discussions are now centred on the possibility of providing a wedding and conference facility in conjunction with an education facility for the zoo that would help with regeneration in north Belfast.

In advance of this, BBT is launching an oral history project to gather and document the memories associated with Floral Hall and to capture the public’s affection for the building. 

First published in January, 2015.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Tandragee Castle


The house of Montacute is of an antiquity at least contemporary with the Norman Conquest.

In the reign of EDWARD III, Sir William Montagu, alias de Montacute, was created Earl of Salisbury, which title continued in his descendants until HENRY VI, when the fourth and last Earl was slain at the siege of Orléons in France.

From a younger branch of this family was lineally descended

GEORGE, 6TH DUKE OF MANCHESTER (1799-1855), of Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire, who married firstly, in 1822, Millicent, daughter of Brigadier-General Robert Bernard Sparrow, of Brampton Park, Huntingdonshire, by his wife, the Lady Olivia Acheson, eldest daughter of Arthur, 1st Earl of Gosford, of Gosford Castle, County Armagh, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Robert, of Cromore House, m Ellen Cromie;
His Grace espoused secondly, in 1850, Harriet Sydney, daughter of Conway Richard Dobbs, of Castle Dobbs, County Antrim, and had issue,
Sydney Charlotte;
George Francis.

The site of Tandragee Castle in County Armagh - formerly spelt Tanderagee - once belonged to the O'Hanlon Clan, one of the most powerful clans in the history of Ulster.

A more detailed account of the O'Hanlon lineage is provided on their website.

photo credit: GreyHobbit

THE CASTLE, Tandragee, County Armagh, was rebuilt by the 6th Duke of Manchester in the Baronial style about 1837.

At one end of the Castle stands a solid machicolated tower; while the opposite end has a gabled block somewhat similar to a Tudor manor-house.

A notable, corbelled "look-out" turret is at another corner.

Photo credit: Roy Vogan ( www.royspics.com )

In the interior, the entrance hall had a grand marble fireplace with Italian woodwork; while the ceiling panels displayed coats-of-arms of families formerly connected with the Castle.
The 7th Duke was appointed a Knight of St Patrick (KP) in 1877. As Prime Minister, Benjamin Disaeli appointed six Conservative peers to the Order: The Duke of Manchester; The Marquesses of Waterford and Londonderry; and the Earls of Erne, Mayo and Portarlington.
The site of Tandragee Castle in County Armagh - formerly spelt Tanderagee - once belonged to the O'Hanlon Clan, one of the most powerful clans in the history of Ulster.

A more detailed account of the O'Hanlon lineage is provided on their website. 


Two villagers, one Samuel (Tucker) Croft and the other Edward Kelly, decided to start a football team in an organised league and approached the Duke of Manchester for a playing field.

The Duke, along with various other businessmen from the town decided to back them and both Samuel and Edward were invited to the Castle to discuss the question of a playing field.

Level fields were few and far between, and the right to use the old pitch on the Scarva Road was finally granted as long as it was required for a football team.

Tandragee Rovers was established in August 1909 and the pitch, secured from the Duke, was duly named Manchester Park.

The newly formed team also decided to adopt the coat-of-arms of the Duke of Manchester  as their club badge.

The motto "Disponendo me, non mutando me" dates back to the time of HENRY VIII, and is the most ancient of all the Montagu mottos.

It is said to have originated with Sir Edward Montagu, the executor of the King's will.

The arms are still used as the Club's badge.
In 1911, the 9th Duke brought John Stone, an eminent Scottish professional from Sandy Lodge Golf Club, London, to lay out a private golf course on his estate at Tandragee. In those days, there was no clubhouse and Mr. Stone, his wife and their two daughters collected fees at the Gate Lodge where they had set up residence.
The Duchess of Manchester, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, even designed some of the original bunkers which were laid out in the shape of the Great Lakes and these remain to this day. The golf club received notice to quit the Duke's estate, to take effect from 12th November, 1949.
Tandragee Castle remained the Ulster seat of the Dukes of Manchester till 1939.

In 1943 it became home to a garrison of the US Army.

The Montagu connection with Tandragee and Northern Ireland ended in 1955, when the 10th Duke sold the Castle to the founder of Tayto Crisps, Thomas Hutchinson.

Tandragee Castle is now a well-known potato crisp factory.

Manchester arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in November, 2009.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Headfort House



THOMAS TAYLOR, of Ringmer, Sussex, died in 1629, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN TAYLOR, of Battle, Sussex, who died in 1638, leaving an only son,

THOMAS TAYLOR, who removed to Ireland, in 1653, in the train of Sir William Petty, in order to undertake the Down Survey, in which kingdom he purchased lands in 1660, of which the town and townlands of Kells formed a portion, having disposed of his estates in England.

After the Restoration, Mr Taylor was appointed one of the sub-commissioners of the court of claims.

In 1669-70, he was deputy receiver-general under Sir George Carteret, and immediately before his death he officiated as vice-treasurer and treasurer-at-war.

Mr Taylor married, in 1658, Anne, daughter of William Axtell, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, and had one surviving son, THOMAS, his heir, and one daughter, Anne, married to Sir Nicholas Acheson Bt.

He died in 1682, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON THOMAS TAYLOR (1662-1736), who was created a baronet in 1704, and sworn of the Privy Council, 1726.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Cotton Bt, of Combermere, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Robert (Very Rev), Dean of Clonfert;
Henrietta; Salisbury; Anne.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR THOMAS TAYLOR (1657-96), 2nd Baronet, MP and a privy counsellor, who married Mary, daughter of John Graham, of Platten, County Meath, and left, with a daughter, Henrietta, an only son, 

SIR THOMAS TAYLOR, 3rd Baronet, KP, PC, MP (1724-95), who wedded, in 1754, Jane, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Hercules Langford Rowley, by Elizabeth, Viscountess Langford, by whom he had issue,
Robert, a general in the army;
Clotworthy, created Baron Langford;
Henry Edward, in holy orders;
Sir Thomas was elevated to the peerage, in 1760, as Baron Headfort; advanced to a viscountcy, in 1762, as Viscount Headfort; and further advanced, to the dignity of an earldom, in 1766, as Earl of Bective.

Lord Bective was installed, in 1783, a Founder Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (KP), and sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Earl (1757-1829), who espoused, in 1778, Mary, only daughter and heir of George Quin, of Quinsborough, County Clare, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Mary; Elizabeth Jane.
His lordship was created MARQUESS OF HEADFORT in 1800.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Marquess, KP (1787-1870), KP, MP for co Meath, 1812-29, Lord Lieutenant of County Cavan, 1831-70, who wedded firstly, in 1822, Olivia, daughter of Sir John Stevenson, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
John Henry;
Olivia; Mary Juliana; Virginia Frances Zerlina.
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1853, Frances, daughter of John Livingstone Martyn.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 3rd Marquess, KP PC (1822-94),
High Sheriff of Meath, 1844, and of Cavan, 1846, State Steward to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1852-3; High Sheriff of Westmorland, 1853; MP for Westmorland, 1854-70; Lord Lieutenant of Meath, 1876-94; Privy Counsellor, 1879; Knight of St Patrick 1885.
GEOFFREY THOMAS, 4th Marquess, Senator of the Irish Free State, 1922-28.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Thomas Rupert Charles Christopher Taylour, styled Earl of Bective (b 1989).
The Taylour family became very much involved in the political life of the locality, and several members of the family served as MPs for Kells and the county of Meath.

They were also a "Patrick Family", the 1st Earl, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marquesses all having been appointed Knights of St Patrick.

HEADFORT HOUSE, near Kells, County Meath, is a large, austere mansion, built in the early 1770s.

Sir Thomas Taylour, 1st Lord Headfort and afterwards 1st Earl of Bective, commissioned Irish architect George Semple to build the house.

It was designed in a severe, unadorned neo-classical style with an impressive scale and position.

The mansion house has three storeys, eleven bays and long, single-storey side wings.

The façade of the house is a severe, almost drab grey.

It is built of Ardbraccan limestone in an extremely plain style. The interiors were designed by the Scottish architect Robert Adam.

Much of the interior remains in very good condition, thanks mainly to Headfort School's occupancy.

In a previous era, there were three large estates surrounding the town.

Of these, Headfort was until recently the sole survivor.

The others had been split or large portions sold off in face of financial pressure.

In the 1980s, Lord Headfort sold Headfort House and estate to a Canadian multi-millionaire, B.J. Kruger. Mr Kruger's twin passions in life were shooting and fishing.

Headfort's 1,000 acres provided ample scope for the rearing of pheasant and duck.

Mr Kruger also undertook extensive renovation of the estate until his death.

Land was reclaimed, fencing replaced and the 8 miles of roadway were all resurfaced.

After Mr Kruger's death, the estate was split into three lots: a farm, the woodlands and the school and its environs.

The estate formerly stretched from Kells to Virginia.

The land found its way into the Headfort family as a result of the Down Survey, being granted to Thomas Taylour, 1st Earl of Bective, as a result of his helping Sir William Petty in that survey. Gradually the estate shrank is size and chunks were sold off to pay debts.

Most recently, Headfort Golf Club bought its course from Mr Kruger.

The present 7th Marquess is thought to live in the Far East and his son, Lord Bective, in the UK.

Headfort remained the private residence of the Taylour family until 1949, when the family removed to one wing and the central pavilion was leased to the newly formed Headfort School.

In 1996, ownership of the buildings was transferred to a building preservation trust, the Headfort Trust, and the buildings are currently leased back to Headfort School.

This relationship has saved the interiors from the fate of many similar sized properties which have suffered from alteration and over-repair.

The Headforts also had homes at Virginia Park Lodge, County Cavan, and Underley Hall, Lancashire.

First published in January, 2013.  Headfort arms courtesy of European Heraldry.