Thursday, 31 January 2019

Killaire House

Photo Credit:

KILLAIRE HOUSE, Carnalea, Bangor, County Down, is a multi-bay, two-storey, sandstone and ashlar house, built ca 1880 to the designs of James Hamilton.

It is located on the southern shore of Belfast Lough, at the end of Killaire Road, Carnalea.

Killaire sits in mature ground, with a driveway to south-east, accessed via ornate sandstone gate piers and iron gates.

The original coach house and gate lodge have been converted into private homes.

The house is surrounded by lawn to the front.

Photo Credit:

A stone retaining wall to the west and north affords a low ornamental balustrade, adorned with free-standing stone urns.

The grounds to the rear have mature trees.

Development of this area of the coast, to the west of Bangor, County Down, commenced following the construction of the Belfast-to-Bangor railway in 1865.

Open fields are shown on maps of 1858; by 1901, however, several substantial houses had appeared, including Killaire House.

The railway station at Carnalea opened in 1877.

J A Henderson, Mayor of Belfast, 1873-4

In 1871 Killaire was the residence of James Alexander Henderson, of Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast, who leased it from Richard Rose-Cleland, of Rathgael.

Henderson was Mayor of Belfast when he was building Killaire House, and was a magistrate for Belfast and County Down.

As Mayor he was instrumental in Belfast Corporation's purchase of the Gasworks (for £432,000).

He also owned Norwood Tower in Strandtown, where he died in 1883.

Killaire subsequently passed to other members of the Henderson family.

Management of the Belfast Newsletter passed to his eldest son, (Sir) James Henderson.

Sir James Henderson, Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1898

Following the death of James Alexander Henderson, Killaire was let temporarily (ca 1888) to Samuel Davidson of the Sirocco Engineering Works, who later moved to Seacourt, but was otherwise occupied by the Hendersons until the 1920s at least.

In 1900 Sir Trevor Henderson, joint manager of the Newsletter with his brother, lived at Killaire.

During this time the house comprised eighteen rooms and twelve outbuildings, including a stable, coach-house, harness-room, cow-house, calf-house, dairy, boiling-house, turf-house, potato-house, shed, store and laundry.

Alexander Mackay Henderson (1850-1904), a younger son of James Alexander Henderson, was the head of the household and lived with his wife and son, who worked as a clerk.

They had three staff: cook, housemaid and "general man".

Henderson's monogram can be seen in the frosted glass of the inner door.

By 1906 his widow, Susan M Henderson, was the occupant.

Her son, Raymond Leslie Mackay Henderson, resided with her and continued the family business as proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter.

A niece lived with them at the time, and the staff was reduced merely to a 65 year old cook.

Killaire, though considerably renovated, retains many of its original features today.

Dublin Castle: 1783

George, 1st Marquess of Buckingham



St Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle

THIS Day having been appointed by His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant for the Investiture of the Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, the Noblemen named in His Majesty's Letter to be Knights Companions of the Order were summoned to attend, in order to be invested with the Ensigns of that Dignity previous to their Installation; and being assembled in the Presence Chamber, a Procession was made from thence to the Great Ball Room, viz.

Pursuivants and Officers attending the State

Peers named in The King's Letter, viz. Earls:
Bective, and Charlemont.
Courtown, and Mornington.
Clanbrassil, and Shannon.
Tyrone, and Drogheda.
Inchiquin, and Westmeath.
Earl of Clanricarde, and Duke of Leinster.

Officers of His Excellency's Household, viz.

Gentleman at large.

Gentleman of the Chamber.

Master of the Ceremonies.

Gentleman of the House.

Comptroller and Steward of the Household.

Officers of the Order, viz.
Register, and Usher.
Secretary, and Genealogist.


Usher King-at-Arms bearing His Majesty's Commission,
and the Badge and Riband of the Grand Master upon a Blue Velvet Cushion.

Lord Viscount Carhampton, bearing the Sword of State.

His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant with Ten Aides de Camp, Five on each Side.

Gold Stick.

Yeomen of the Guard.

First published in June, 2014.  I am grateful to The Gazette for assistance.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Malin Hall


JAMES HARVEY, or HERVY, was presumably son of CAPTAIN GEORGE HARVEY, who had a confirmation of arms and grant of crest, 1602, for this confirmation was afterwards in his (James's) possession, and then in the possession of Robert, his fourth son, and was in the possession of George Miller Harvey, DL, of Malin Hall, a descendant.

James Harvey was a lessee under Lieutenant George Gale, of Dunmore, and his son, George Gale, of Dunmore.

His name is written "James Hervy" in a chancery bill dated 1673.

James Harvey died in 1667, having had issue, four sons,
David, of Dunmore;
John, of Imlick;
ROBERT, of whom we treat.
The fourth son of the above James Harvey or Hervy, of Dunmore,

ROBERT HARVEY, of Londonderry, a storekeeper during the siege of Londonderry, 1688, High Sheriff of that county, 1696, married and had issue,
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Samuel, of Londonderry;
The elder son,

JOHN HARVEY, of Londonderry, married, in 1685, Martha Rankin, stepdaughter of Captain Michael Browning, of the merchant ship Mountjoy, and had issue,
He wedded secondly, Jane (d 1706), daughter of Richard Godsalve, of Rigmaden, Lancashire; and thirdly, in 1706, Elizabeth (d 1708), daughter of Alexander Lecky, Alderman and Mayor of Londonderry, High Sheriff, 1677.

Mr Harvey espoused fourthly, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Henry Hart, of Kilderry, Inishowen, by Anne his wife, daughter of Sir Tristram Beresford Bt, by whom he had (with other issue),
GEORGE, of whom presently;
Thomas (Rev).
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE HARVEY (1713-73), High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1754, who acquired a considerable estate in the manor of Malin, Inishowen, and built Malin Hall.

Mr Harvey married, in 1740, his cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel George Hart, of Kilderry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
George Hart, dsp;
Ludford (Sir), knighted 1813;
Mary Anne; Elizabeth; Mary Anne; Alice; Anne.
The eldest son,

THE REV JOHN HARVEY (1742-94), of Malin Hall, wedded, in 1766, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Young, of Culdaff, and had issue,
George, dsp;
George, dsp;
ROBERT, his heir;
Mary Anne.
The eldest surviving son,

ROBERT HARVEY (1770-1820), of Malin Hall, married, in 1801, Barbara Frances, eldest daughter of Robert Gage, of Rathlin Island, County Antrim, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary; Marianne; Barbara; Susan; Catherine.
Mr Harvey was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN HARVEY JP DL (1802-68), of Malin Hall. High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1836, who espoused, in 1831, Emily, daughter of the Rev Dr George Miller, of Armagh, and had issue,
Robert (1833-55);
GEORGE MILLER, his heir.
The son and heir,

GEORGE MILLER HARVEY JP DL (1838-1919), of Malin Hall. High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1870, married, in 1864, Julia Mary, daughter of William Charles Gage, of Drummond House, County Londonderry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary Gage; Julia Emily.
Mr Harvey was succeeded by his son and heir,

JOHN HARVEY (1865-1940), of Malin Hall, who wedded, in 1895, Florita, eldest daughter of J Digby O’Donoghue, of Montevideo, and had issue,
Julia Mary, b 1896;
Emily Georgina, b 1898;
Dora (1903-68).

MALIN HALL, near Clonca, County Donegal, is a two-storey, early 18th century house of 1758 with a five-bay front, the door-case having pilasters and entablature.

The range to the rear has a curvilinear gable.

Malin Hall had been lived in continuously by the Harveys since they built it in 1758 until 1973, when it was sold by George Miller Harvey.

Ian Harvey, born in 1947, left agricultural college in 1966 and lived at Malin Hall, farming the 250 acre estate until its sale seven years later.

First published in August, 2012.

The Earldom

THE EARLDOM, which existed in England before the Conquest, was, it has been said, originally annexed to a particular tract of land.
The Norman baron Sir William d'Aubigny was created Earl of Arundel in 1138 by KING STEPHEN. It is the most ancient earldom in the peerage, currently held by His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, and is used (along with the earldom of Surrey) by his heir apparent as a courtesy title.
For several centuries, earldoms have been created by letters patent, and the descent of the honour regulated accordingly.

The ancient ceremony of investiture, as in other dignities, has been discontinued; and the custom of deriving the title from some county or town was extended, in consequence of the number of earls, to villages, private estates, and family surnames.

The style of an earl is Right Honourable, and he is officially addressed by the Crown, "Our right trusty and right well beloved Cousin".

The last non-royal earldom to be conferred was in 1984, when the Rt Hon Maurice Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister and statesman, was created Earl of Stockton.

THE coronation robes of an earl are similar to those of a duke and marquess, with the exception that there are three guards of ermine and gold lace.

His lordship's cap is of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, having a gold tassel at top; the coronet has pearls raised upon points, with strawberry leaves low between them.

First published in December, 2013.


Archbishops in the British Isles have the ducal title of "Grace", and have historically taken precedence of all dukes next to those of royal blood.

The Archbishop of Canterbury ranks as first peer of the realm, and the Archbishop of York as third, coming immediately after the Lord Chancellor.

The (Anglican) Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin ranked immediately after the Archbishop of York.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is styled "Most Reverend" and "by divine providence"; while the Archbishop of York and bishops adopt the term "permission" instead of "providence".

First published in December, 2013.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

1st Baron Cushendun


TORQUIL MacNEILL, born ca 1380, Chief of the Clan Neill, of Taynish and Gigha, Constable of Castle Sween, in Knapdale, Argyllshire, was father of

HECTOR McNEILL, Constable of Castle Sween, 1463-72, whose eldest son, 

 was father of

NEILL McNEILL, of Taynish, who became his heir-in-law to Gigha in 1554.

His eldest son, 

TORQUIL McNEILL, of Taynish and Gigha, had two sons, of whom the elder,

NEILL McNEILL, had, with other issue, a second son,

NEILL OGE McNEILL, of Durlocher, father of

LACHLAN McNEILL, of Terfergus and Losset, Argyllshire, who wedded firstly, Mary McNeill, of Colonsay, and had a large family.

The third son,

NEILL McNEILL, settled in County Antrim, 1676, and married Rose Stuart, of Garry, in the same county, by whom he had issue,

LACHLAN McNEILL, of Cushendun, County Antrim, who wedded Jane Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had several children.

The eldest son,

NEILL McNEILL, of Cushendun, espoused Christian Hamilton, of Londonderry, and was father of

EDMUND McNEILL, of Cushendun, who married Elizabeth, daughter of John Hamilton, of Londonderry.

Mr McNeill died in 1790, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDMUND ALEXANDER McNEILL JP (1787-1879), of Cushendun, who was served heir, in 1815, to the entailed estate of Ugadale, in Kintyre; but in an action to recover possession, was defeated by the prescriptive title of the occupier.

He wedded, in 1817, Rose, eldest daughter of Alexander McNeile JP, of Colliers Hall, Ballycastle, and had, with other issue,

EDMUND McNEILL JP DL (1821-1915), of Craigdun and Cushendun, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1879, who married, in 1851, Mary, eldest daughter of Alexander Miller, of Ballycastle, by Jane, his wife, second daughter of Alexander McNeile, of Colliers Hall, and had, with other issue,


The Rt Hon Ronald John McNeill (1861-1934), statesman, parliamentarian, was elevated to the peerage, in 1927, in the dignity of BARON CUSHENDUN, of Cushendun, County Antrim.

A barrister by profession, he was elected Member of Parliament for Kent, St. Austine's Division between 1911-27; Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs between 1922-24; Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs between 1924-25; Financial Secretary to the Treasury between 1925-27.
Lord Cushendun was appointed a privy counsellor in 1927, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1927-29.

Lord Cushendun took his title from the village designed by Clough Williams-Ellis in memory of his Cornish wife, Maud, who died in 1925.

He was acting Foreign Secretary in 1928.

Lord Cushendun retired from office in 1929, and died five years later in Cushendun.

He married Elizabeth Maud Bolitho in 1884, and they had three daughters:
Esther Rose;
Loveday Violet;
Mary Morvenna Bolitho.
Elizabeth, Lady Cushendun, died in 1925.

Lord Cushendun married Catherine Sydney Louisa Margesson as his second wife in 1930. She survived him, dying in 1939.

He died without male issue in 1934, when the title became extinct.

GLENMONA HOUSE, Neo-Georgian in style, was built in 1923 to replace an earlier house which was burnt in 1922.

The family's main residence, however, became Craigdun Castle; when Glenmona was increasingly used as a holiday home.

The architect was Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.

Glenmona comprises two storeys at the front and three at the rear.

The principal front has two, three-sided bows joined by an arcade on Tuscan columns.

The roof is high with a solid parapet; external shutters to the windows.

Glenmona House is now a property of the National Trust.

An earlier mansion on the same site and of roughly the same size was burnt by the IRA in 1922.

It was originally a residence of General the 3rd Viscount O'Neill (1780-1855).

Former London residence ~ 18 Cadogan Place.

First published in May, 2010.

Order of St Patrick


Established in 1783, it was an order of knighthood and the letters KP followed the recipient's title.

Originally founded as a gesture of goodwill towards the Kingdom of Ireland, it was made available to Irish peers who had rendered distinguished services, and to those who could not be admitted to the Order of the Garter (limited to twenty-four).

The Order of St Patrick was restricted to twenty-two knights.

The insignia was particularly decorative: a sash riband was worn over the right shoulder, light blue in colour, with an oval pierced badge suspended from it.

This consisted of a shamrock with three crowns on its leaves (representing the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland), the shamrock being placed on a cross of St Patrick.

The centre was surrounded by an oval which bore the legend QUIS SEPARABIT - who shall separate - and the Latin numerals, MDCCLXXXIII (1783).

The gold and enamel collar chain consisted of alternate roses and harps.

The breast star was of silver with a representation of the sash badge in the centre.

The mantle was also light blue satin with the star of the Order embroidered thereon.

The badge and plume of the Irish Guards are based on the Order's star and light blue colour.

The Order was discontinued following the secession of the Irish Republic from the United Kingdom in 1922.

3rd Duke of Abercorn. Photo credit: Government Art Collection

The last non-royal recipient was the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, KG, KP, PC, in 1922.

The last surviving recipient of the Patrick was His late Royal Highness The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1974.

Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster KG KP etc

The last appointment to the Order was for His Royal Highness The Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York (later GEORGE VI), conferred on St Patrick's Day, 1936.

The Rev Professor Peter Galloway, OBE, JP, has written a book about the Order, entitled The Most Illustrious Order: The Order of Saint Patrick and its Knights, by Unicorn Press.

As Professor Galloway concluded, 
Perhaps a day may come when the Order of St Patrick could be revived but, until a new, appropriate and acceptable constituency can be discerned, this seems unlikely in the foreseeable future.
First published in July, 2008.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Kiltanon House


JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon, second son of JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon and Ballynahinch, by his second wife, Mary, daughter of James Lambert, married, ca 1715, Elizabeth, widow of Major Morgan Ryan, and second daughter and co-heir of Thomas Croasdaile, of Clostoken, County Galway, by Mercy his wife, daughter of Colonel Richard Ringrose, of Moynoe House, County Clare, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1717-), of Kiltanon, who married, in 1751, Mary, daughter of Stewart Weldon, of Raheenderry, Queen's County, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Walter Weldon;
Weldon John (Rev);
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1752-1823), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1802, who married, in 1780, Selina, daughter of the Rev John Mills, of Barford, Warwickshire, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Charles Arthur, b 1790;
Edmund, b 1794;
Selina; Mary; Harriet; Anne; Lucy.
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY JP DL (1785-1874), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1828, who wedded firstly, in 1820, Harriet, daughter of William Harding, of Baraset, Warwickshire, and had issue,
James, 1822-34;
WILLIAM MILLS, his heir;
Harriet, died in infancy.
He espoused secondly, in 1828, Lucy, second daughter of Sir Trevor Wheler Bt, of Leamington Hastings, Warwickshire, and had further issue,
Francis Wheler (Rev);
Edmund Weldon;
Trevor Charles;
Frederick Beresford;
Charles Mills, CB;
Mary; Lucy Anne; Harriet Selina.
Mr Molony died at Leamington Hastings, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

WILLIAM MILLS MOLONY JP DL (1825-91), of Kiltanon, Major, 22nd Regiment, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1865, who married, in 1865, Marianne Marsh, elder daughter and co-heir of Robert Fannin, of Leeson Street, Dublin, by his wife Henrietta, daughter of Croasdaile Molony, of Granahan, and had issue,
James Edmund Harding (1873-79);
Henrietta Mary; Iva Kathleen; Selina Charlotte; Maud Alice.
Major Molony was succeeded by his only surviving son,

WILLIAM BERESFORD MOLONY (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1908, Colonel, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, who wedded, in 1905, Lena Maria Annie, only daughter of George Wright, of Heysham Lodge, Lancashire, and of Coverham Abbey, Yorkshire, without issue.

KILTANON HOUSE, near Tulla, County Clare, was an attractive, pale brick three-storey Georgian mansion with stone facing which overlooked rolling parklands of mature trees of both native and imported variety.  

The house was burnt in 1920

Unique family mementos, including a marble table and an inlaid set of playing cards, perished.  

This classic heirloom was said to have been given to Bishop John O'Molony by LOUIS XIV in atonement for having once lost his temper when playing and tearing up his card.

The top floor was an attic storey.

The fenestration was said to be unusual.

A two-storey wing was set back.

The Molonys managed to hold onto Kiltannon House in the 1690s by a fortunate clause in the Treaty of Limerick which exempted serving officers within the city walls.

In 1878, it was estimated that the lands comprising the Kiltannon Estate numbered 10,000 acres with a rateable valuation of £2,500.

It was then owned by Major William Mills Molony.  

His son, Colonel William Molony, was the last of seven generations to own this estate.

Kiltanon was the home of the Molony family for at least two centuries.

The house, built in 1833, had a drive which linked it to the other nearby Molony residences at Bunavory and Cragg.

The house is now ruinous.

In the second half of the 19th century another house, known as the Home Farm House, was built at Kiltanon for Marcus Molony, eighth son of James Molony, and his agent.

This house remains today.

Kiltanon home farm is on the grounds of the Kiltanon Sport Estate and is 1,000 yards south-west of Kiltanon House and estate.

The folklore history of the Kiltanon Estate is that the lands were given to a Cromwellian soldier as payment for his services in the Cromwellian Army.

After arriving in Galway Harbour, he began his journey on foot, and crossing the mountain from Gort, heading south for Tulla with the newly signed property deed on his person, he stopped a member of the Molony clan at Laughan Bridge to ask directions to his estate:
‘Is the lands of Kiltanon as bad as all of the land around here?" the soldier asked. ‘It’s worse’ said Molony, pointing to the snow covered rocks and heather that formed part of the mountain and was many miles from the fertile Kiltanon lands. "Then I have no business being here’ replied the soldier, ‘do you want to buy it from me?’.
Accepting what money Molony had in his pocket as payment, he handed over the deed to Kiltanon Estate and returned to Galway.

Thus, as local folklore has it, the property came into the Maloney family.

A book by Hugh Weir states that the soldier was James Molony, of Ballinahinch and Kiltanon, who served in O’Brien’s regiment of foot in support of JAMES II.

His property was saved at the Treaty of Limerick by a clause which exempted those from within the city walls.

Kiltanon Home Farm was built for Marcus Molony JP, son of James Molony JP DL, of Kiltanon, who married Christina Emma of neighbouring Tyredah Castle and acted as land agent for the family estate which comprised of 10,095 acres.

Colonel William (Willie) Molony (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, was the last of seven direct descendents to own Kiltanon. 

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

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Nu Delhi, Belfast

Great Victoria Street, Belfast, is a major part of Belfast's Golden Mile.

Certainly during the Troubles this street was buzzing, despite the bombing campaign which destroyed many businesses and livelihoods.

From the Grand Opera House, the Europa Hotel, the Crown Liquor Saloon, and numerous other establishments towards Shaftesbury Square and Bradbury Place, it remains one of the liveliest parts of town.

All of the said establishments are still there and continue to thrive.

I called for the old school pal, NCS, and we motored in a westerly direction into town, where I managed to find a tight space at the Great Victoria Street end of Wellwood Street.

It was cold, windy and wet.

Our venue, the Nu Delhi Indian restaurant, is on the first floor of a building beside Bruce Street and Hope Street.

It used to be the premises of the house-furnishers, Donaldson & Little.

It's probably necessary to reserve a table in this large restaurant at weekends.

We had booked a table and the place was practically full when we arrived at seven o'clock.

The staff gave a good impression on greeting and tending to us during the meal.

As far as Indian cuisine goes I usually opt for something on the mild side, so I ordered Desi Chicken Masala with pilau rice, accompanied by peshwari naan bread and a glass of lassi.

NCS had a popular lamb dish, I think, and we shared the bread with poppadoms and three types of chutney.

While NCS was getting some fresh air at the open balcony, I had a look round and my eyes focused on the ceiling, one of those non-ceilings, bare, un-plastered, concrete, loose cables, vents.

My meal was good, mild-to-medium hot, I should say.

The bread was light and freshly made, I'm sure.

My meal cost about £20 (we went Dutch).

Thereafter we hopped on to the lift, emerged at Great Victoria Street, and walked to Robinson's Bar or, rather, Fibber Magee's.

I don't know whether you've ever frequented this bar, though it's at the rear end of Robinson's, a former alley called Keyland's Place.

Keyland's Place was largely demolished to make way for Blackstaff Square, the most direct means of entering Fibber Magee's.

It's a kind of spit-and sawdust theme bar, a Victorian general merchant's, probably conceived twenty-five years ago by the proprietor of Robinson's.

Robinson's Bar was fire-bombed and demolished in 1991, so Fibber Magee's, one of those renowned faux Irish pubs, dates from that era.

The atmosphere or ambiance is very lively indeed with merry revellers, a few of whom were raucous; singing, dancing to a live duo of singing guitarists, bare wooden floorboards, wooden stools, wooden benches, dimly lit.

It has a large, unlit fire-place.

It's undeniably popular and the musicians were playing their own version of well-known pop songs.

I was sitting beside a Yorkshire plumber (who lived near Guiseley), who, with his wife, was staying with friends in Bangor, County Down.

He'd certainly had his fair share of stout or whatever, and kept repeating himself on topics like Retirement, Skiing etc.

I'd had enough of it all by ten o'clock, and bade farewell to NCS, who decided to remain for the duration.

Linenhall Library

Hearty congratulations to one of the greatest institutions in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland and, indeed, the British Isles as a whole; an establishment that we are quite rightly proud of.

The Linenhall Library, thus named after the White Linen Hall, at the site of the present City Hall, celebrated its 225th anniversary on the 13th May, 2013.

The Linen Hall Library was founded in 1788 by a group of artisans as the Belfast Reading Society and in 1792 became the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge.

It adopted a resolution in 1795
"that the object of this Society is the collection of an extensive Library, philosophical apparatus and such products of nature and art as tend to improve the mind and excite a spirit of general enquiry".
It began to acquire books (with a particular focus on those relating to Irish topics, publishing, for example Ancient Irish Music by Edward Bunting in 1796) and also other items which could be used to advance knowledge.

The society declined in the later 1790s however, as it owned no permanent premises and struggled with official attempts to control radical thought.

In 1802, the Library moved into permanent premises in the White Linen Hall (from which it took its name, though legally it is still the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge).

The Library struggled, however, through most of the 19th century.

It became more conservative, attempting to exclude students from Queen's College and debating whether or not to include fiction.

As the Library's centenary approached it was hit by another setback as it lost its premises in White Linen Hall to make way for the construction of the new City Hall.

The Library moved into a warehouse at Donegall Square North (previously used for linen), which was designed by Charles Lanyon and his firm, and which the Library occupies today.

Fountain Street ca 1903

At the same time it made the transition from being a private company to one with public duties with regard to care for its collections.

This was also a period when the Library became much more ambitious, collecting books with a new vigour and implementing many cultural programmes.

By the end of the 1970s the Library was on the brink of closure, with large amounts of material (including an extensive collection relating to the Troubles) but a poor building, few users and serious money problems.

In response, the Department of Education threatened to withdraw its grant and in 1980 proposals were made to close the Library permanently.

After 1980 a fight began to save the library.

It was decided that it should begin to allow and encourage free public reference access and to concentrate particularly on Irish studies, politics and culture, both because it was already strong in these areas and so as not to compete with the expanded Central Reference Library.

The move was successful: the number of subscribers began to increase and the library increased its role as a cultural centre, both facilitating research and fostering close links with the wider community.

It quickly became apparent that lack of space was holding back the library's revival.

After spending ten years exploring various options, the Library acquired a 999-year lease on the upper floors of some neighbouring property in 1996.

This was followed by an extensive fundraising campaign to pay for the development of this new property.

Construction began in 1999 and was completed in time for the opening in September, 2000.

The Librarian of the Linenhall Library in 2013, John Killen MA, commented,
"In 1793 we printed our first catalogue and there were 137 titles. We now have the best part of a million books on these premises. We have become computerised, all our catalogues are now on computer and on the web we have digitised a number of our collections. It's all down to content and the library has oceans of content."
First published in May, 2013.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

S D Bell's

S D Bell's Original Premises, Knock, Belfast

I met my Aunt M for tea this morning at that venerable Belfast institution, S D Bell & Company, purveyors of finest tea and coffee.

They extended their premises about five years ago to include the remaining units beside them.

You enter by a wide, electric door; the ethereal aroma of freshly-roasted coffee beans beckons visitors and patrons.

I usually meet my aunt here for the weekly chin-wag.

They serve freshly-cooked breakfasts, artisan tea and coffee, scones, iced fruit buns, cakes and biscuits in the morning.

I often have the fruit scone with butter and raspberry jam, and a pot of their blended Director's Brew tea.

Orangefield House: 1971

A former form master from Orangefield Boys Secondary School contacted a friend of mine recently to show a few 8mm films from 1971.

One of the films was made in the grounds of Orangefield House, then a burnt-out shell with a scrapyard of cars.

I am very grateful to Matt Maginnis for the use of these valuable photographic relics, taken prior to the imminent demolition of Orangefield House, Knockbreda, Belfast.

I have written extensively about the Orangefield Park, once the home of the Blakiston-Houstons.

Dick BH sent me his father's reminiscences several years ago.

The family owned over 5,000 acres of land in County Down ca 1870.

© Matt Maginnis 2013

The side elevation facing southwards, with its characteristic three-bay bow.

© Matt Maginnis 2013

Above, the entrance front, to the east.

© Matt Maginnis 2013

A closer view of the great columns at the entrance front.

© Matt Maginnis 2013

Finally, what was once the courtyard of a noble mansion house, used as a scrapyard.

Are the remains of the white car those of a Morris Minor?

First published in January, 2013.

Friday, 25 January 2019

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 Armagh County, 1661, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1665, wedded 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 Rich Hill, 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, by whom he had 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, 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.