Monday, 12 October 2020

Kilshannig House


The family of DE LA RUPE, or ROCHE, according to the Irish Peerage, and Rudiments of Honour, by Francis Nichols, published in 1727, were materially descended from CHARLEMAGNE; and in the remarkable pedigree of the ancestors of this family, it is shown that they derive their descent from the most illustrious sources, their progenitors being allied, by intermarriages, with the great Counts of Flanders, the Counts of Bavaria, ALFRED, and other Saxon Kings of England; the House of Capet in France, WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and other Anglo-Norman kings.

The Roches came to Ireland in the reign of HENRY II, along with other Anglo-Norman chiefs in Strongbow's time; and in the reigns of RICHARD I and KING JOHN, they got large grants of lands in County Cork, in the territory of Fermoy, which, from them, was called Roche's Country, and they erected a castle, and founded a Cistercian monastery at Fermoy, and they had seats at Castletown Roche and other places.

RALPH DE LA ROCHE, son of Alexander de Rupe, alias DE LA ROCHE, was patriarch of the family in Ireland.

He married Elizabeth de Clare, by the Princess Joan of Acre, his wife, daughter of EDWARD I and his Queen, ELEANOR, of Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester, by the Princess Joan of Acre, his wife, daughter of EDWARD I.

This Ralph had issue, DAVID, father of John de Rupe or la Roche, Baron of Fermoy, who had MAURICE FITZJOHN, Lord De La Roche, of Fermoy, from whom descended,

DAVID ROCHE, Lord Roche, surnamed The Great, who sat in Parliament as VISCOUNT ROCHE, of Fermoy, in the reigns of EDWARD IV and HENRY VII.

He married Jane, daughter of Walter Burke, called MacWilliam, and had issue,
MAURICE, his successor;
His lordship died ca 1492, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

MAURICE ROCHE, 2nd Viscount, who married twice; and by Joanna, his first wife, daughter of James, Earl of Desmond, had a son and successor,

DAVID ROCHE, 3rd Viscount, father, by Catherine his wife, daughter of MacCarthy Mor, of a son and successor,

MAURICE ROCHE, 4th Viscount, who wedded Grania MacCarthy, and had issue,
DAVID, his successor;
Helena; Marcella; Catherine.
The eldest son,

DAVID ROCHE, 5th Viscount, who succeeded his father in 1566, espoused Helena, daughter of James, 10th Baron Dunboyne, and had issue,
Maurice, his successor;
EDMOND, of whom hereafter;
The third son,

EDMOND DE LA ROCHE, died in 1540, leaving (with a daughter, Joan, married, in 1508, to David de Courcy, Baron Kingsale) a son,

MAURICE ROCHE, who, when Mayor of Cork, in 1571, received a signed letter from ELIZABETH I, with a patent and livery collar, in acknowledgment of his services in suppressing the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond.

He died in 1593, leaving three sons, JOHN, EDWARD, and Patrick, and was succeeded by the eldest,

JOHN ROCHE, who dsp and the estates devolved upon his brother,

EDWARD ROCHE, who died in 1626, leaving three sons, FRANCIS, Edward, and Maurice, of whom the eldest,

FRANCIS ROCHE, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1641, entertained Sir Warham St Leger, the Provost-Marshal of Munster, at his seat, Trabolgan, and assisted him for the King.

He wedded Jane Coppinger, by whom he left at his decease, 1669 (with a younger son, Edmund), a son and heir,

EDWARD ROCHE (1645-96), of Trabolgan, who wedded, in 1672, Catherine, daughter of James Lavallin, of Walterstown, County Cork, and died in 1696, having had issue (with four daughters) four sons,
FRANCIS, his heir;
The eldest son and heir,

FRANCIS ROCHE (1673-1755), of Kildinan and Trabolgan, died unmarried, when the former estate descended to his elder nephew, Edmund, before mentioned, and the latter, of Trabolgan, to his other nephew,

EDWARD ROCHE, of Trabolgan, Colonel, Imokilly Horse, who wedded, in 1781, Susanna, elder daughter of Sir George Wombwell Bt, of Yorkshire, by whom he had one son, Edmund Edward, who predeceased him in 1803, a prisoner of war at Lyons, France.

Mr Roche died in 1828, and bequeathed his estates to his nephew (only son of his elder brother, Edmund),

EDWARD ROCHE (1771-1855), of Trabolgan and Kildinan, who espoused, in 1805, Margaret Honoria, only child and heiress of William Curtain, and had issue,
EDMOND BURKE, his heir;
Frances Maria.
Mr Roche was succeeded by his only son,

EDMOND BURKE ROCHE (1815-74), MP for County Cork, 1837-55, who wedded, in 1848, Elizabeth Caroline, daughter of James Brownell Boothby, of Twyford Abbey, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
JAMES BOOTHBY BURKE, succeeded his brother;
Elizabeth Caroline Burke.
Mr Roche was elevated to the peerage, in 1865, in the dignity of BARON FERMOY, of County Cork.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDMUND FITZEDMUND BURKE, 2nd Baron (1850-1920), JP DL, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1873, who espoused, in 1877, Cecilia, daughter of Standish, 3rd Viscount Guillamore, and had issue, an only child,
Ada Sybil (1879-1944).
His lordship died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

JAMES BOOTHBY BURKE, 3rd Baron (1852-1920), MP for East Kerry, 1896-1900, who married, in 1880, Frances Ellen, daughter of Frank Work, and had issue,
EDMUND MAURICE BURKE, his successor;
Francis George;
Eileen; Cynthia.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

(EDMUND) MAURICE BURKE, 4th Baron (1885-1955),
(Edmund) Maurice Burke Roche, 4th Baron (1885–1955);
Edmund James Burke Roche, 5th Baron (1939–84);
(Patrick) Maurice Burke Roche, 6th Baron (b 1967).
The heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, the Hon Edmund Hugh Burke Roche.

Garden Front

KILSHANNIG HOUSE, Rathcormack, Fermoy, County Cork, was built between 1765 and 1766 for Abraham Devonsher, a wealthy Cork burgher, on the summit of a gentle hill about six miles south of Fermoy.

Mr Devonsher served as High Sheriff of County Cork, 1762, and MP for Rathcormack between 1756 and 1776.

Originally a Quaker, he was expelled from the Quaker community in 1756 for 'conformity to the world' and for his involvement in politics.

His architect was a Sardinian, Davis Ducart, whose Irish career began in the 1760s and continued until his death in about 1785.

Ducart balanced his career as a canal and mining engineer with some of the second half of the 18th century’s most innovative Irish houses.

Entance Front

He was arguably the most accomplished architect working in Ireland between the death of Richard Cassels and arrival of James Gandon.

As a southern European, he remained completely loyal to the Baroque and never ventured into the new neo-Classisical style.

Kilshannig has four formal fronts.

The entrance is of rose red brick while the other fronts are of cut sandstone with limestone dressings.

The brick facade has a mezzanine floor, segmental headed windows, a fine tripartite stone centrepiece with blind occuli and a round-headed niche on the upper floor.

The other fronts have more regular fenestration although they incorporate several unusual details.

This seven-bay block is attached to a pair of square pavilions by straight narrow links, single storied and elaborately arcaded on the garden front.

From the pavilions the wings extend back towards the entrance in an L-shape and reconnect to the main block by curved walls to form a pair of enclosed courtyards.

Saloon Ceiling

Kilshannig contains a splendid series of rich 18th century rooms with perhaps Ireland’s finest decorative plasterwork, executed by the Lafrancini brothers during their second visit.

These have noble proportions, magnificent chimneypieces and joinery, and deeply coved Rococo ceilings.


Most notable are the columnar hall, the double height saloon, which occupies the centre of the garden front, and the superb stone spiral staircase.

Mr. Devonsher was childless and left his estate to his nephew, after whom the house changed hands with monotonous regularity, deteriorating continuously with each passing year.


Before 1837, Kilshannig was sold to Edward Roche (1771-1855), of Trabolgan House, who used the mansion as a winter residence, as did his son Edmond Burke Roche, raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Fermoy.

Kilshannig had a succession of owners during the 20th century until Commander Douglas Merry and his wife purchased it in 1960.

At that stage Kilshannig was in poor condition: The cupolas had disappeared; one wing was ruinous; and the whole house badly needed attention.

Fortunately Commander Merry possessed a singular combination of engineering skill and aesthetic sensitivity with considerable 'DIY' skills, and it is entirely due to his efforts that the house survived the 20th century.

His son Hugo, a successful bloodstock agent, now lives at Kilshannig with his wife Elaine and their family.

They have continued the good work and have recently given the whole house a new roof, reinstated the cupolas and clad them in copper and a great deal of other work.

This has all been executed to the highest possible standards, to make the house secure for the next hundred years.

Fermoy arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  Select bibliography ~ Irish Historic Houses Association.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Thank God it survived, we have lost some many great houses over the last century, they are part of our heritage. Thanks to the Merry family