Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Mount Stewart: Dairy & Rose Garden

I motored straight to the Mount Stewart estate, County Down, on an afternoon during the autumn.

Glasshouses near the Rose Garden in 2014

It was a splendid autumnal day. The sun shone for most of the day.

The roof was down on the two-seater.

Rose Garden from the Dairy in 2014

I was eager to revisit the estate's walled garden, dairy and former rose garden.

Entrance to the Dairy and Rose Garden in 2014

The last time I paid a visit to this part of the demesne was about thirty summers ago.

The Rose Garden was originally a cut-flower garden within the 18th century walled garden.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE, created the Rose Garden in 1925.

It contained Lady Londonderry's favourite, scented roses.

The Rose Garden was laid out as an Elizabethan garden, with narrow beds and flagged paths.

A large urn stood in the middle of the Garden.

Rose Garden ca 1960

The Dairy was built for Edith Londonderry in order to make butter, cheese, yoghurt, etc.

The roof of the old ice-well on Rhododendron Hill was re-used for the Dairy.

Dairy in 2014

A statue of Hermes stood within a fountain in the middle of the Dairy (above), its purpose being to cool or humidify the air.

The inner face of the Dairy is flat; whilst the outer is curved.

The decorative tiles are of a raised texture and may be Spanish in origin.

THENCE I strode back to the formal gardens surrounding the mansion house.

Charming little hedgehog steps (I originally figured incorrectly that they were for frogs) are in place at several ornamental ponds.

First published in October, 2014.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Dromoland Castle


This very ancient family claims royal descent, and deduces its pedigree from the celebrated Irish monarch, 
Brian Boru, who ascended the throne in 1002, and fell at the memorable battle of Clontarf, in 1014.

From this prince descended the Kings of Thomond; of which

TURLOGH, King of Munster and principal High King of Ireland, had, with other issue, Dermot, King of Munster, from whom descended, in 1528,

CONNOR O'BRIEN, King of Thomond, who married Anabella, youngest daughter of Ulick De Burgh, 1st Earl of Clanricarde, by whom he left four sons, in minority, at his decease, when the principality was usurped by his brother,

MURROUGH O'BRIEN, who, repairing to England by the advice of the Lord Deputy of Ireland, in 1543, surrendered his royalty to HENRY VIII, and was, in recompense, created Earl of Thomond for life, and BARON INCHIQUIN to his own heirs male.

His lordship wedded Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas FitzGerald, Knight, and dying in 1551, left issue,
DERMOT, his successor;
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

DERMOT, 2nd Baron, who espoused Margaret, daughter of Donough O'Brien, 2nd Earl of Thomond.

He died in 1557, and was succeeded by his son,

MURROUGH McDERMOT, 3rd Baron (c1550-73), who wedded Mabel, daughter of Christopher, 6th Baron Delvin, and had issue,
MURROUGH, his successor;
His lordship was slain by Dermot Reagh O'Shaughnessy in 1573, and was succeeded by his son,

MURROUGH, 4th Baron (1562-97), who wedded Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND.

His lordship fell from his horse and drowned, in 1597, when fording the River Erne, near Sligo, during the Nine Years War.

He was succeeded by his son,

DERMOT, 5th Baron (1594-1624), who wedded Ellen, eldest daughter of Sir Edmund FitzJohn FitzGerald, and had issue,
MURROUGH, of whom we treat;
Honora; Mary; Ann.
His lordship was succeeded by his youngest son,

MURROUGH (1618-74), 6th Baron, who was created, in 1654, EARL OF INCHIQUN.

MURROUGH (1726-1808), 10th Baron, was created MARQUESS OF THOMOND, in 1808.

Barons Inchiquin (1543; Reverted)

The heir presumptive is the present holder's second cousin Conor John Anthony O'Brien (born 1952).

DROMOLAND CASTLE, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, is considered one of the finest examples of a baronial style castle in Ireland.

According to history, the original castle on the site is said to have dated back to the 11th century, and was more rustic in nature than the existing castle of today, similar in style to Bunratty castle.

Like other castles of the times, it served as a defensive stronghold.

From the time of Morrough O’Brien (the original owner of Dromoland) until the 16th Baron Inchiquin - who still owned the castle in the 1960s - the Inchiquins lived at Dromoland for more than 500 years.

In 1736, a second castle was built in the design of the Queen Anne period with a wing enclosing a central courtyard.

This wing of the castle remains today and is almost a century older than the other sections of the castle.

The present castle was completed in 1826 by the 4th O'Brien Baronet in Gothic style, with four large towers made of a dark blue limestone that was cut from a nearby quarry, and built at great expense for the times.

The Castle is dominated by a tall, round corner tower and a square tower, both of heavily crenellated. There are also smaller towers and a turreted porch.

The windows on the main fronts are rectangular with Gothic tracery.

Inside, a square entrance hall opens into a long, inner hall similar to a gallery, the staircase being at one end; while the main reception rooms are at one side of it.

The rooms have quite austere ceilings with Gothic Tudor-Revival cornices.

The drawing-room was formerly called the Keightley Room since it contained many of the 17th century portraits which were acquired by the O'Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O'Brien MP to Catherine Keightley (whose grandfather was the Earl of Clarendon).

Part of the 18th century garden layout survives, including a gazebo and Doric rotunda.

During the latter portion of the 19th century, the Inchiquin family wealth dwindled due to a series of Land Acts, until Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom in 1921.

Landlords during this time were forced to sell their farmlands, and so the Inchiquins lost their main source of income.

However, they were able to still hold onto Dromoland.

Although the loss of income suffered by the Inchiquins made the Castle difficult to keep, they managed to do so, and the castle was maintained by the personal wealth of the 15th Baron's wife, and afterwards her son, the 16th Baron, until 1948, when they began to take in tourists as paying guests.

Finally, in 1962, the Castle was sold to an American industrialist, Bernard McDonough, whose family were of Irish descent.

Over a period of six months, the castle underwent major renovations and was eventually re-opened as a luxury hotel.

The original style and atmosphere of the castle are said to have been preserved, and the rooms including its stately, baronial country house atmosphere “look very much today, like they did when the Inchiquin family lived there... ".

The original wing is very elegant inside: Guests enter into a two-storey stone lobby (made from the dark blue limestone) that is complete with suits of armour, a large dark wood carved table, elegant rose tapestry covered chairs, and dark red drapes.

On one side, a stone passage and hallway lead to the large, main drawing room of the castle.

The hallway and drawing-room have a high ceiling,deep red and gold wallpapered walls, and is lined with baronial portraits of the barons and former members of the Inchiquin family.

It is said that O'Brien family portraits (on loan) remain on display at the Castle today.
First published in April, 2011.  Thomond arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Duckett's Grove


THOMAS DUCKETT, who first settled in Ireland, and purchased, 1695, Kneestown and other estates in County Carlow, from Thomas Crosthwaite, of Cockermouth, Cumberland, is stated, by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, to have been the son of JAMES DUCKETT, of Grayrigg, Westmorland, by his third wife Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Walker, of Workington, Cumberland.

James Duckett, of Grayrigg, was tenth in descent from JOHN DUCKETT, of Grayrigg, during the reign of RICHARD II (1377), who obtained that estate by his marriage with Margaret, daughter and heir of Willian de Windesore, Lord of the Manor of Grayrigg, in Westmorland.

John Duckett, of Grayrigg, was son of HUGH DUCKETT, of Fillingham, Lincolnshire, during the time of JOHN and HENRY III.

This descent is elaborately given in a pedigree certified by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, in 1842.

The first settler in Ireland,

THOMAS DUCKETT, of Kneestown, County Carlow, married Judith, daughter and heir of Pierce Power, of Killowen, County Waterford, and left a son,

THOMAS DUCKETT, of Phillipstown, which he purchased from the Earl of Ormond, who married, in 1687, Jane, daughter of John Bunce, of Berkshire, and had, with other issue, a son,

JOHN DUCKETT, of Phillipstown, and Newton, County Kildare, who wedded Jane, daughter of Thomas Devonsher.

The fourth son,

JONAS DUCKETT (1720-97), of Duckett's Grove, County Carlow, married Hannah, daughter of William Alloway, of Dublin, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Mary Alloway; Hannah; Jane.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM DUCKETT, of Duckett's Grove, born in 1761, wedded, in 1790, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of John Dawson Coates, of Dawson Court, banker in Dublin, and had issue,
JOHN DAWSON, his heir;
Joseph Fade;
Thomas Jonas;
Elizabeth; Elizabeth Dawson.
The eldest son,

JOHN DAWSON DUCKETT (1791-1866), of Duckett's Grove, County Carlow, and Newtown, County Kildare, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1819, wedded, in 1819, Sarah Summers, daughter of William Hutchinson, of Timoney, County Tipperary, and had issue,
John Dawson;
Eliza Dawson;
Anne, m, in 1856, HARDY EUSTACE;
Sarah; Victoria Henrietta.
Mr Duckett was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM DUCKETT JP DL (1822-1908), of Duckett's Grove, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1854, and of Queen's County, 1881,  who wedded firstly, in 1868, Anna Maria (dsp 1894), third daughter of Thomas Harrison Morony JP, of Milltown House, County Clare.

Mr Duckett espoused secondly, in 1895, Marie Georgina, eldest daughter of Captain R G Cumming, and widow of T Thompson JP, of Ford Lodge, County Cavan.

He dsp in 1908, when the family estate devolved upon his nephew, Colonel John James Hardy Rowland Eustace, who assumed the additional arms and surname of DUCKETT. 

JOHN JAMES HARDY ROWLAND EUSTACE-DUCKETT JP (1859-1924), of Castlemore and Hardymount, County Carlow, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1895, Colonel, 8th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, wedded, in 1895, Gertrude Amelia, daughter of Algernon Charles Heber Percy, of Hodnet Hall, Shropshire, and had issue,
Hardy Rowland Algernon (1896-7);
Rowland Hugh, b 1902;
Elizabeth Gertrude; Doris Anna; Diana.
The eldest surviving son,

OLIVER HARDY EUSTACE-DUCKETT, espoused, in 1926, Barbara Kathleen,  daughter of Major William Charles Hall, and had issue,
Hardy, died in infancy;
Olive; Kathleen; 


Following William Duckett's death in 1908, his widow Maria continued to live at Duckett's Grove until 1916, when she abandoned the estate.

DUCKETT'S GROVE, near Carlow, County Carlow, was formerly at the centre of a 12,000-acre estate that dominated the landscape of the county for over 300 years.

It was built in 1830 for William Duckett.

It was designed in a castellated Gothic-Revival style by Thomas A Cobden ca 1825.

The mansion house incorporates numerous towers and turrets of varying shapes – round, square and octagonal.

One tall, octagonal turret rises from the structure.

Duckett’s Grove is elaborately ornamented with oriels and niches containing statues.

Several statues on pedestals surrounded the building and lined the approaches.

The house itself is situated in the townland of Rainstown, between Carlow and Tullow; but the estate comprised several large townlands and parts of others.

Following the departure of the Ducketts, the estate was managed by an agent until 1921; then by local farmers; and later by the Irish Land Commission.

The division of the lands was completed by 1930.

Duckett’s Grove was destroyed by fire in 1933, the cause never having been determined.

In September, 2005, Carlow County Council acquired Duckett’s Grove and commenced the restoration of two inter-connecting walled gardens.

It was officially opened in September, 2007, for use as a public park.

The first of the gardens, the Upper Walled Garden, has been planted with historical varieties of shrub roses and a collection of Chinese and Japanese peonies.

The second garden, the Lower Walled Garden, which was once the site of the family's old orchard, now contains a variety of fruits, including figs and historical varieties of Irish apples.

The borders were planted to contain a variety of shrubs and perennials.

First published in February, 2013.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Lime Kiln


Neil Porteous explains: 

This is an 18th century lime kiln, but castellated to look like a medieval structure.

 Lady Mairi had a wooden shed placed on top and used to do her homework there as a youngster.

You often find lime kilns by water because the limestone was heavy.

There were often derricks on top of the structure to lift off the stone and deposit it down into the kiln.

The process is like charcoal burning, controlling the amount of oxygen drawn into the kiln and depending on the fineness of the grade of lime required may take many days say for plasterers lime or a lesser time for agricultural lime.

The lime kiln probably dates from around 1784 and was a designed feature of the demesne.

The whole Sea Plantation was reclaimed from Strangford Lough, its sea wall and peripheral walk would provide views of the Lough.

The canal which held all the drainage water when the tide was in and released it into the lough by means of a non-return valve a pier for mooring yachts and rowing boats and a boat-house; then you would return by the Clay gate lodge and thence on to the Temple of the Winds.

Beyond that there is a faux chapel as well as real archaeological remains ~ the Gothic cow byre; the cromlech; the ruined abbey; and a Motte-and-Bailey from Norman times.

The idea was to provide curiosities, all of them Gothic in design.

They were laid out by William King, of Dublin, Ireland’s answer to Humphrey Repton.

It is one of his very early commissions and is significant in that the estate is intact and unspoilt.

Charles Villiers continues: 

I saw one of your readers has inquired about the building near the Mount Stewart swimming pool: I can supply some information about the one with the "Gothick" windows and traceries.

Whilst I do not know why it was originally built - in, I suppose, the early 19th century - I do know it was adapted in the 1930s with a staircase; the pouring of a concrete floor foundation on the roof; and the construction of four stone columns to support a wooden summer house; completing this substantial superstructure on the old building for the benefit of my late grandmother [Lady Mairi Bury] when she was in her "teens".

My grandmother used it for her studies on warm summer days and to entertain her friends of her own age nearby to the swimming pool, as somewhere separate from the adult gatherings at the swimming pool itself in the 1930s.

My grandmother's siblings were all much older, so her parents gave her the summer house so she had somewhere fun to entertain the numerous friends of her own age who were invited over.

It is obviously sad that this elevated summer house, and the older building which is underneath, is now largely obliterated - like every other building in and around the swimming pool of Mount Stewart, where so much fun was had by so many for around 50 years.

I believe some mindless moron decided to smash the Gothick window surrounds of the old building with a sledgehammer.

First published in May, 2012. Revised in 2014.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Thomastown Park


NICHOLAS BENNETT married Mabel O’Kelly, of County Roscommon, and had issue,
Nicholas, died unmarried;
FRANCIS, his heir;
Mabel, m to John Ball;
Anne, died unmarried.
The eldest surviving son, 

FRANCIS BENNETT, of Thomastown, wedded Elizabeth Laffin, of County Kilkenny, and had issue,
Thomas, died unmarried;
Mary Catherine, m to Lt-Col L'Estrange;
Elizabeth Emily, m to John Farrell.
The younger son,

VALENTINE BENNETT JP DL, of Thomastown, High Sheriff of King's County (Offaly), 1830, married, in 1894, Elizabeth Helen, daughter of George Ryan, of Inch House, County Tipperary, and had issue,
George Henry;
Thomas Joseph;
Henry Grey;
FREDERICK PHILIP, succeeded his brother;
Elizabeth Marian.
Mr Bennett died in 1839, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS VALENTINE BENNETT JP DL (1826-90), of Thomastown Park, High Sheriff, 1854, who died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

FREDERICK PHILIP BENNETT JP DL (1830-1905), High Sheriff, 1895, who died at Monaco.

Mr Bennett left his estate to Mr Valentine Ryan, on condition that he adopt the name of BENNETT.

THOMASTOWN PARK HOUSE, Frankford, near Birr, County Offaly, was built in the mid-18th century.

There is said to be an old castle within the demesne.

The house, built during the mid-18th century for the Leggat family, and in the ownership of the Bennett family during the 19th century, was once a large and important demesne within County Offaly.

The house even had a private chapel.

Though the country house itself is no longer extant, the associated structures of the demesne remain.

Notable elements include the large walls which surround what once was a deer park; the finely tooled limestone entrance gates; the walled garden; and the outbuilding with ashlar bellcote.

The walled garden, outbuilding, deer park and former entrance gates and lodge to former Thomastown Park House, built ca 1750.

Main entrance gates (above) with square-profile, ashlar limestone gate piers with frieze and capping stones with wrought-iron gates flanked by pedestrian entrances with tooled limestone surrounds flanked by quadrant walls; large, walled deer park to north of former demesne with random coursed stone walls.

Walled garden to west of former house site with random coursed stone walls and red brick internal wall to north.

Outbuilding to farmyard complex with rough-cast rendered walls, corrugated roof and ashlar limestone bell-cote to south-east elevation.

Segmental and square-headed carriage arch openings with corrugated doors.

The estate was sold by Group Captain Richard Stephen Ryan CBE RAF in 1951.

First published in January, 2013.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Wilmont House


WILMONT HOUSE, Dunmurry, is located on Upper Malone Road in south Belfast.

It is a plain two-storey Victorian house, built in 1859, with a three-bay front and a balustraded porch.

There is a lower wing, ending with the wing as high as the main block.

The adjoining front has a central curved bow and one bay on either side; and camber-headed windows in the upper storey of the main block.

The roof is eaved on a bracket cornice.

There is a good article here about Wilmont's history.

The estate was formed in the mid-18th century by William Stewart, a member of a family which had come from Scotland, over a century before, to neighbouring Ballydrain.

The Stewarts were prominent farmers.
It is recorded that carrots, on a field scale, were grown at Wilmont in the early 1800s - a novel crop in those days - and that one of the early threshing machines was erected on the Wilmont Farm in 1811. There was a bleach-green on the property until 1815.
Bleach-greens, common features of the Lagan Valley during the 18th and 19th centuries, consisted of grass areas where long strips of brown linen were pegged out to bleach in natural light.

The original house, which stood on the site of the present-day barbecue area, dated back to 1740 and was replaced by the present red-bricked house in 1859.

This house was designed by Thomas Jackson (1807-90), one of Belfast`s most notable Victorian architects.

Wilmont House is typical of Jackson's domestic designs, sensibly and comfortably planned, undemonstrative in an age when many buildings were excessively ornate, and providing a composition entirely suiting the situation.

One unusual feature of the house is the false window which has been painted on the brickwork above the porch to balance the facade composition.

In the 19th century, Wilmont was inhabited by the Bristow family, influential bankers who were descendants of the Rev William Bristow, Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast in the latter years of the 18th century.

The initials of James Bristow, the first of the family to take up residence, are inscribed on the side of the house.

The Bristows sold Wilmont to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade, JP, DL (1837-1913) in 1879.

His son, George Reade, subsequently sold the house to Sir Thomas Dixon Bt.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Wilmont demesne in 1919.

Wilmont was one of three homes belonging to the Dixons, the others being Drumadarragh and Cairndhu, both in County Antrim.

The Dixons were a highly respected and illustrious couple.

Sir Thomas, 2nd Baronet, born in Groomsport, County Down in 1868, was the eldest son of Sir Daniel Dixon, Bt.

Both Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon had distinguished public careers: From 1939-41 they served as first Mayor and Mayoress of Larne, and were great benefactors to the Borough.

In 1935, they donated Dixon Park to Larne Borough Council as a gift, together with £500 for the provision of music in the park.

Cairndhu was donated to the Hospitals Authority, for use as a convalescent home.

In 1957, Lady Dixon presented the Mayoress's chain of office to Larne Borough Council; and in 1964, robes, to be worn by Aldermen, Councillors and Mace Bearer.

In the early 1960s, Lady Dixon donated £10,000 towards the cost of converting and renovating the former technical college into Council Offices.

They are now known as Sir Thomas Dixon Buildings.

Sir Thomas died at Harrowgate in 1950. Lady Dixon, who was appointed DBE after the 1st World War in recognition of her service to HM Forces, died in 1964. 

A year before her death, in 1963, Wilmont demesne was officially handed over to Belfast Corporation.

The house, according to her wishes, was shortly afterwards opened as a home for the elderly; while the grounds, at her behest, were opened to the public.

The present park, named after its benefactors, consists of 134 acres and has been the venue for the City of Belfast International Rose Trials since 1964.

Over the years, it has become one of the most popular parkland areas in the city of Belfast.

Many distinguished visitors have stayed at Wilmont House in the past: Captain Scott, the famous Antarctic explorer, was a guest, during his visit to Belfast in 1904.

In 1934, the house became the temporary residence of His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland when Government House, Hillsborough, was damaged by fire on 7th August of that year.

The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Ulster, was a guest in 1935, during Sir Thomas's period as Lord-Lieutenant. 

During World war II, the house served as the Northern Ireland headquarters of the United States Army.

The property, as already mentioned, was given to Belfast Corporation by Lady Dixon in 1963.

ALAS, the future of Wilmont House is uncertain at the time of this article (February, 2015).


The 134 acres formed part of a demesne founded in the 18th century for a house of 1740, which is now gone.

The grounds retain many features from the gardens for this house and many subsequent developments added by Belfast City Council.

There are fine mature trees in undulating woodland and parkland, with the River Lagan adding interest.

A large part of the park contains the International Rose Trial grounds, set up in 1964 and remodelled from the late 1980s. 

Judging takes place over a long period but the highlight is Rose Week, which has been marked every year in July since 1975.

Camellia trials have taken place since 1981. 

A Japanese Garden was added in 1991.

The walled gardens have been redesigned from their traditional layout and contain interesting plant material.

There are also remains from former times: for example, an ice house; gate lodge; stable block; and a yew walk.

The recreational facilities take the form of picnic benches, children’s playground, lawns, good planting, band concerts, café and shop. 

This is not a park designated for organised sports, though part of the original holding is now a private golf course.

First published August, 2010.

Ardnargle House


This branch settled in Ulster during the Plantation.

All the records of the family (originally Ogilvie) were destroyed by fire in Scotland, 1784.

The original residence was at Calhame, Aberdeenshire.

DR JOHN OGILVIE, of Aberdeen, who settled in Limavady, was a great friend of the celebrated Bishop Burnet.

He married Elizabeth Agnew, of the Scottish family of that name, who settled in County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who changing the spelling of the name from Oglivie, married firstly, Ann Smith, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Mary Ann.
Mr Ogilby wedded secondly, Mary Campbell, and had issue,
Robert (Dr), of Spring Hill, Limavady.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who wedded Mary, eldest daughter of James Alexander, of Limavady (whose family came originally from Clackmannanshire in Scotland), by his wife Elizabeth Ross, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
James, dsp;
Robert, of Pellipar;
David (Sir), East India Company;
Lesley, of Strangmore;Ann; Elizabeth; Mary; Jane.
The fourth son, Robert Ogilby, of Pellipar House, Dungiven, purchased the entire Manor of Limavady from the Conolly family, also large properties in County Tyrone, and estates at Woolwich in Kent.

He was also lessee of the estates of the Skinners' Company in County Londonderry.

Mr Alexander Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN OGILBY, of Ardnargle, who married Jane, daughter of James Simpson, of Armagh, and had issue,
Alexander, dsp;
John, dsp;
JAMES, his heir;
David, dsp;
ROBERT LESLIE, of whom presently;
William, of Kilcatten;
Ann; Jane; Mary.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his third son,

JAMES OGILBY, of Ardnargle, who wedded Bridget Rush, and dsp 1849. 

Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT LESLIE OGILBY JP DL (1798-1872), of Ardnargle, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1854, who espoused, in 1844, Elizabeth Matilda, daughter of Major William Henry Rainey, of the East India Company, and had issue,
John W H, dsp;
David Leslie;
Margaret Harriet; Jane Ann; Elizabeth; Mary Isabella.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT ALEXANDER OGILBY JP DL (1850-1902), of Ardnargle, and Pellipar House, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1887, Captain, 4th King's Own Regiment, served in Zulu War.

Under the will of his great uncle, Robert Ogilby, he succeeded on the death of his cousin, James Ogilby, to the Limavady, Pellipar, Tyrone and Woolwich estates.

Mr Ogilby married, in 1875, Helen Sarah, second daughter of the Rev George Bomford Wheeler, Rector of Ballysax, County Kildare, and had issue,
Ethel Maude; Eileen Leslie; Mabel Norah; Esther Gladys; Mildred Constance.
Captain Ogilby was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT JAMES LESLIE OGILBY DSO JP DL (1880-1964), of Ardnargle and Pellipar, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1911, who married, in 1936, Isabel Katherine, daughter of Captain P C J Webster, though the marriage was without issue.


THE ogilbys were kinsmen of the Earl Alexander of Tunis and the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, through the line of the Alexanders of Limavady.

The Woolwich estate was bought at public auction in 1812 by Robert Ogilby (younger brother of John Ogilby), who also leased, in 1803, the Skinners estate at Dungiven and lived at Pellipar House.

Ardnargle was not strictly, therefore, a dower house for Pellipar, although it was used as such when R A Ogilby (1850-1902) inherited both properties from 1885 onwards.
The Ogilby family has had a proud military tradition: Major Robert Alexander Ogilby married Sarah Wheeler, daughter of Rev George Bomford Wheeler, a founder of the Irish Times, TCD classic scholar and contributor to Dickens' magazine, "All Year Round"; a DL for County Londonderry; captain 4th King's Own Regiment; and took part in the Zulu war (1879, medal). 
In 1902, Maurice Marcus McCausland, of Drenagh, married Eileen Leslie, daughter of R A Ogilby DL, of Pellipar.

Photo credit: Rohan Boyle

ARDNARGLE HOUSE, near Limavady, County Londonderry, was built by John Ogilby ca 1790.

It is a plain, two-storey, five bay house.

About 1854, a porch, three-sided bow, window surrounds with console brackets, and a modillion cornice were added by R L Ogilby.

John Ogilby purchased the farm from the Wilsons in 1781, built the house in 1790 and planted the trees.

Robert Leslie Ogilby extended it in 1840 and created the terrace.

Photo credit: http://northernireland-awealthofhistory.doomby.com/

The interior has classical Victorian plasterwork in the main reception rooms and hall.

First published in April, 2011.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Laurel Hill House


The family of KYLE, formerly settled in Ayrshire, acquired, during the plantation of Ulster, the lands of Camnish, County Londonderry.

SAMUEL KYLE (1686-1769), of Camnish, married, in 1720, Mary Buchanan, and had issue,
ARTHUR, of whom presently.
The fourth son,

THE REV ARTHUR KYLE (1733-1808), Minister of First Coleraine Presbyterian Church, wedded, in 1770, Martha, daughter of James Wood, by his wife Maria Lœtitia, second daughter of the Rev Robert Higinbothom, of Laurel Hill, County Londonderry (James Wood was brother to Robert Wood, the celebrated traveller, who discovered the ruins of Baalbec, and was Under-Secretary of state, in 1759, in Lord Chatham's government), and had issue,
SAMUEL, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

SAMUEL KYLE (1772-1814), espoused his cousin Martha, youngest daughter of the Rev Henry Wright, by his wife Martha, eldest daughter of the Rev Thomas Higginbotham, Rector of Pettigo, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
Arthur, died unmarried;
Henry Wright, died unmarried;
Samuel, died unmarried;
Robert Wood;
HENRY, of whom hereafter;
Maria Lœtitia Wood; Rachel Anna; Martha Eleanor; Anna Lily; Emily H.
Mr Kyle was buried at Capel Curig, North Wales.

His fifth son,

HENRY KYLE JP DL (1811-78), of of Laurel Hill, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1868, who succeeded his uncle, Robert Kyle, 1831, married, in 1836, his cousin, Elizabeth Mary, third daughter of William Thompson, of Oatlands, County Meath, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
William Thompson;
Anne Elizabeth; Ellen; Frances Martha; Georgina Higinbothom.
Mr Kyle was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE REV ROBERT KYLE JP (1837-98), of Laurel Hill, who wedded, in 1868, Kathleen, second daughter of William Wilson Carus-Wilson, of Casterton Hall, Westmorland, and had issue,
Francis Carus;
Robert Wood;
Mary Alice Kathleen.
Mr Kyle was succeeded by his eldest son,

DR HENRY GREVILLE KYLE (1869-), of Laurel Hill, and 31, Westbury Road, Bristol.

LAUREL HILL HOUSE, Coleraine, County Londonderry, is a two-storey, five-bay house of 1843, with a single-bay pedimented breakfront centre which has three narrow, round-headed windows at first floor level.

The porch boasts a fine, single-storey Corinthian portico.

Quoins are vermiculated and rusticated.

The hall has columns at the rear, disguising the join with an earlier house.

There is said to be good plasterwork in several reception rooms.

The house comprises 5,300 square feet, to the designs of (Sir) Charles Lanyon.

It was lately used by the Ministry of Defence, mainly as an activity centre with ancillary function rooms and recreational space together with showers and toilets.

The Granary lies to the south of the main house.

Laurel Hill House is located on the high ground to the west of Coleraine, overlooking the River Bann.

The Kyles inhabited the house since 1711; hence the road outside the estate was named Kyle’s Brae.

Henry Kyle (1811-78), eldest son of Rev Arthur Kyle, Minister of First Coleraine Presbyterian Church, was the last member of the family to live at Laurel Hill.

During the 2nd World War, Laurel Hill House accommodated elements of the American army.

It was sold to a private buyer in 2012.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Derrymore Acquisition


PROPERTY: Derrymore House, Bessbrook, County Armagh

DATE: 1953

EXTENT: 40.63 acres

DONOR: J S Richardson


PROPERTY: Lands of Derrymore

DATE: 1988

EXTENT: 60.84 acres

DONOR: J S Richardson

First published in December, 2014.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Creagh House


ALEXANDER KNOX (son of William Knox, who died intestate, son of Alexander Knox), said to have sold Silvyland, Renfrewshire, settled in County Donegal, and is said to have had issue, two sons,
William, of Ashmoyne;
ALEXANDER, of Ballybofey.
The younger son,

ALEXANDER KNOX, of Ballybofey, County Donegal, whose will was proved in 1742, left issue by Mary his wife,
WILLIAM, of Cloghan;
Alexander, of Ballybofey;
a daughter; Margaret; Mary.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM KNOX, of Cloghan, County Donegal, died ca 1760, and left issue, by Margaret his wife, a son,

JAMES KNOX, of Kilcaddan, County Donegal, who left, by Martha his wife,
WILLIAM, of Kilcaddan;
Carncross, of Ballybofey;
Margaret; Elizabeth; Martha.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM KNOX, of Kilcaddan, County Donegal, High Sheriff, 1776, married, in 1778, Elizabeth, only child of Charles Nesbitt, of Scurmore, County Sligo, and had issue, a son,

COLONEL CHARLES NESBITT KNOX (-1860), of Scurmore, County Sligo, and Castle Lacken, County Mayo, High Sheriff of Sligo, 1810, and Mayo, 1831, who married, in 1810, Jane Cuff, testamentary heiress of James, Lord Tyrawley, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
The only son,

CHARLES KNOX (1817-67), of Cranmore, Ballinrobe, County Mayo, High Sheriff, 1860, Colonel, North Mayo Militia, wedded, in 1839, the Lady Louisa Catherine Browne, daughter of Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, and had issue,
Howe James, Lieutenant-Colonel;
Colonel Knox was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES HOWE CUFF KNOX JP DL (1840-1921), of Creagh, High Sheriff, 1873, Honorary Colonel, Connaught Rangers, who married, in 1869, Henrietta Elizabeth, daughter of the Rt Hon Sir William Gibson Craig Bt.

There is a stained-glass window "In memory of Charles Howe Cuff Knox who died 27th Dec. 1921 aged 81 years" in the Church of Ireland (now the Library) in County Mayo.

Colonel Knox had issue,
Charles William Cuffe, dvp 1910;
HENRY HOWE, his heir;
Gerald Vivian Cuffe, Commander RN;
Louisa Gertrude.
The eldest surviving son,

HENRY HOWE KNOX (1871-1954), of Creagh House, wedded, in 1906, Ada, only child of Sidney Bryan, of Kenilworth, Port Elizabeth, and had issue, a daughter.

CREAGH HOUSE, near Ballinrobe, County Mayo, was built in 1875 for Captain Charles Howe Cuff Knox, to the design of S U Roberts.

Sadly diminished drastically in size in the 1930s by fire (it appears to have been halved), there still remains today a sizeable period house of around 6,000 square feet.

It is located in beautiful and secluded surroundings, habitable, and indeed inhabited, but needing further restoration.

The property today occupies grounds of just under two acres, looking toward Lough Mask.

The grounds are partially wooded with lawned areas around the house.

The front of the house has magnificent views over the Tourmakeady mountains and from some aspects, to the lake.

First published in January, 2013.

Forthill Park

Forthill Park is a drumlin-top public park in Enniskillen, the county town of County Fermanagh.

Topped with a tall monument and surrounded by trees, it stands out as a feature from the distance.

Fort Hill has historic interest, both as a 17th century artillery star-fort and as an early public garden, laid out as a promenade by 1846.

The Forthill Promenade and Pleasure Park has always been a space for public use.

In the years after the Plantation of Ulster, it was known as Commons Hill or Cow Hill, where the Enniskilleners, as they were called, could graze their livestock.

It was also known as Camomile Hill where, in 1689, the Governor of Enniskillen, Gustav Hamilton, ordered a fort of sods to be raised in Enniskillen; hence Forthill.

In 1836, the area was enclosed and planted with trees; it became a promenade and pleasure ground.

Following the Crimean War, a captured Russian gun was brought to the south bastion of the Forthill.

It fired a salute to the first train arriving in the town in 1857 and broke the windows in Belmore Street.

By the 1880s, the park had become overgrown.

Thomas Plunkett, Chairman of the town commissioners, supervised the landscaping of the park.

He felt that the Forthill had become little used and overgrown.

The Forthill Pleasure grounds officially opened on the 7th August, 1891.

It had been transformed: special areas included the Dell, the Fernery, the Fountain, and the Waterfall; all designed by Plunkett.

A new entrance was added and the Forthill steps were built, which saw “The Bower Lane” disappear.

Forthill Bandstand was erected during Plunkett's own lifetime, in 1895, as a mark of appreciation.

The bastions of the fort remain prominent and are grassed.

The park element still has the feeling of a Victorian civic park, with winding paths, clipped evergreen shrubs and island flower beds.

Mature trees provide a canopy above.

The park was officially opened as Fort Hill Pleasure Grounds in 1891.

There are two memorials of high quality: the Cole Monument, built between 1845-57; and the Bandstand, with clock tower, built in 1895.

The Cole Monument takes the form of a Doric column, topped by a statue of General the Hon Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole GCB, by Farrell.

General Cole, a younger son of the 1st Earl of Enniskillen, died in 1842 at his country seat, Highfield Park, Hampshire, now a hotel.

108 steps lead to the viewing platform atop the Cole Monument, which affords magnificent views of Enniskillen and the surrounding area.

First published in December, 2012.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Fisherwick Lodge

FISHERWICK LODGE, near Doagh, County Antrim, was a hunting-lodge of the Marquesses of Donegall.

The lodge was re-built about 1805 as a hollow square, with two single-storey fronts of nine bays each.

It has lofty windows which reach almost to the ground, and a pedimented wooden door-case, with fluted columns.

Although the present house is likely to date from the early years of the 19th century, its origins are in an 18th-century hunting lodge for the Donegall estate.

The current lodge was built by the 2nd Marquess (1769-1844).

Its name derives from the barony of Fisherwick, one of the family's subsidiary titles.
The Lodge was built in the midst of an extensive deer park, which covered "nearly all of six townlands", including Kilbride, Ballywee, Holestone Douglasland, Ballyhamage and part of the parish of Donegore and the Grange of Doagh.
The 2nd Marquess, who had a reputation for extravagance, also laid out an artificial lake in front of the Lodge.

Deer were hunted by hounds in the Doagh district, and the improvements by the 2nd Marquess included the establishment of large kennels and extensive stabling.

In 1899, the kennels were associated with the establishment of a racecourse at Lisnalinchy, which continued to exist in part up until the late 1950s, retaining the name East Antrim Hounds, but have since been relocated to the Parkgate district.

The estate is described in an 1812 statistical survey by the Rev John Dubourdieu:
Close to [Doagh] is Fisherwick Lodge ... the building itself, which is very handsome, and the plantations, have much improved and enlivened the look of this well placed hamlet, which has, in addition, a good inn [Doagh or Farrell's Inn]".
The Ordnance Survey Memoir of 1838 describes the lodge thus:
an elegant and uniform structure in the Cottage style, forming with the offices a spacious quadrangular enclosure. It contains a regular suite of handsome apartments, and is constructed and finished in the most modern style.
Lord Belfast and his father, the 2nd Marquess, subsequently disentailed their estates, with the exception of Islandmagee.

It is recorded that the Donegall family took refuge at Fisherwick Lodge following the seizure in 1806 of the contents of their town residence in Belfast, Donegall House, by creditors.

Fisherwick Lodge was finally sold, in 1847, to John Molyneaux JP.

In 1894, Mr Molyneaux drained the artificial lake in front of the house.

The lodge has since been divided into two properties.

The south gate lodge was demolished ca 2000 and replaced with a modern dwelling.

First published in February, 2015.  Donegall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Holyhill House


THE REV JOHN SINCLAIR, son of James Sinclair of the Caithness family, was the first of the family who settled at Holyhill, County Tyrone.

He was appointed Rector of Leckpatrick, 1665-6.

Mr Sinclair was succeeded by JOHN, his son, father of JOHN, whose son,

WILLIAM SINCLAIR, who died before his father, married Isabella, daughter of Thomas Young, of Lough Eske, County Donegal, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
The eldest son,

JAMES SINCLAIR DL (1772-1865), of Holyhill, wedded, in 1805, Dorothea, daughter and heir of the Rev Samuel Law, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Alexander Montgomery;
Mary; Dorothea; Marion; Rebecca; Ann; Isabella; Caroline Elizabeth.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM SINCLAIR JP DL (1810-96), of Holyhill, County Tyrone, and Drumbeg, County Donegal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1854, Barrister, who espoused, in 1830, Sarah, daughter of James Cranborne Strode, and had issue,
William Frederic;
William Frederic;
Donald Brooke;
Alfred Law, Lt-Col, DSO;
Jemima Sarah; Dorothea Mary.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MONTGOMERY SINCLAIR JP (1841-99), of Holyhill and Bonnyglen, Inver, County Donegal, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1899, who married, in 1868, Mary Everina, youngest daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Barton, of The Waterfoot, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
Everina Mary Caroline; Rosabel.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM HUGH MONTGOMERY SINCLAIR (1868-1930), of Holyhill and Bonnyglen, Called to the Irish Bar, 1897; Vice-Consul at Manilla, 1900-02; at Boston, 1902-4; Buenos Aires, 1904-7; Emden, 1907-9; Consul for the States of Bahia and Sergipe, 1909.

Mr Sinclair married, in 1924, Elizabeth Elliot (Bessie) Hayes, of Philadelphia, USA, though had no issue.

HOLYHILL HOUSE, near Strabane, County Tyrone, is a plain, three-storey, five-bay Georgian house.

The demesne and house, located in the townland of Hollyhill and the parish of Leckpatrick, date from the late 17th century.

Holyhill House, whitewashed, three-storey with five bays, seems be ca 1736, when William Starratt surveyed of the estate.

It was originally attached in front of an earlier house, which was removed in the early 19th century and replaced with the present building.


William Hugh Montgomery Sinclar served from 1900 in the consular service in Manilla, Boston and Buenos Aires, during which time his mother sold off most of the estate to its tenants between 1904-05 under the terms of the 1903 Land Act.

William Sinclair married the American heiress Elizabeth Elliott Hayes.

Upon her death in 1957, the estate was left to a distant Sinclair relation, Major-General Sir Allan Adair Bt, who sold many of the heirlooms and burned a lot of the estate records.

Sir Allan sold the property in 1983 to Hamilton Thompson, a Strabane pharmacist.

During the Plantation of Ulster, the lands were held by the 1st Earl of Abercorn, who granted them sometime before 1611 to his younger brother, Sir George Hamilton, of Greenlaw, who built a timber house that year.

A document of ca 1680 records that
“Ballyburny alias Holihill” belonged to “James Hamilton Esq. a Minor Sonne to Sir George Hamilton ye Elder” before 1641 and was distributed to Sir George Hamilton afterwards. 
This first house was burned in 1641, and at some time thereafter the property was granted to the family’s agent in the Strabane barony, David Maghee, whose son, Captain George Magee, sold the house to the Rev John Sinclair, who came to Ulster from Caithness and was instituted in the parish of Leckpatrick (in which Holyhill is located), in 1665-66, and to Camus, 1668”.
The residence purchased was rebuilt after 1641, either by James Hamilton or one of his immediate descendants.

The Rev John Sinclair purchased Holyhill with incomes from two parishes: his 1703 memorial re-erected in Leckpatrick Parish Church lauds his staunch defence of the established church and persecution of dissenters.

The Abercorn Papers contain numerous letters about and between Lord Abercorn and Mr Sinclair going back as early as 1749.

In 1756, Lord Abercorn wrote to his agent, Nathaniel Nisbitt,
“When you chance to see Mr Sinclair of Hollyhill, tell him I have not the counterpart of his deed of Holyhill; and that I therefore desire he will give me a copy of it. If he seems to think his title called in question, you may say you know of no such thing, but that you believe I am desirous of having my privileges ascertained.”
On his retirement in 1757, Nisbitt recommended to Abercorn that Sinclair take his place as he was “a rough honest man.

With income as an Abercorn agent, John expanded his demesne in the late 1760s.

He was succeeded at Holyhill by son George, who had been apprenticed to a linen merchant.

George Sinclair died in Limerick between 1803-04, with his body being buried in the old parish graveyard in 1804.

George was succeeded by his nephew, James, who later served as JP in counties Donegal and Tyrone, and took part in parliamentary inquiries in the 1830s and 1840s, including the Devon Commission and the inquiry into the Orange Order, which he held in very low regard, and spoke in favour of Catholic Emancipation at a public meeting of “the nobility, gentry, clergy and freeholders of the County of Tyrone”.


The house is set in a maintained ornamental garden with herbaceous borders and lawns.

A water garden was added in the 1970s.

There are mature trees beyond, in what was described by Young in 1909 as a, ‘… richly wooded park.’

These form a shelter belt round this fine parkland, together with and stands of woodland.

The walled garden is partly cultivated and retains glasshouses.