Sunday, 31 March 2019

1953 Victory Re-Union

I don't suppose any readers attended the 1953 Coronation Victory Anniversary Re-Union at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on Friday, May 8th, 1953?

And before you ask, young Timothy William didn't appear on "the scene" until 1959!

Click to Enlarge

I have unearthed an old programme of the occasion. Sonya Lady Enniskillen was President of the Re-Union committee; while the main guest stars were Cheerful Charlie Chester and the Five Smith Brothers...

Click to Enlarge
The list of subscriptions makes for particularly fascinating perusal: Lady Enniskillen donated a fiver, bearing in mind that £5 was equivalent to about £100 in today's money.

A certain Brian Faulkner donated ten shillings (£10 today).

Recognize any other names?

I wonder if the Ulster Hall or Belfast City Council would be interested in the old programme?

First published in September, 2010.

Ode to Belmont

The old school pal, NCS, alias the Bard of Schomberg, has composed an ode specially dedicated to self:-


I was disheartened this evening to see, 
That to your ‘blog’ was missing,
The latest culinary exploit.  
Oh did one with habitual fever wait.

Even as the sun set its head,
Even at the strikes of the midnight hour, 
Nothing had materialised.

Thence I stumbled upon your ‘twitter.’  
I saw before my eyes the most wonderful vista:
Of decadent banana tart and fillet steak, 
And sadness turned to joy.

Jolly fine stuff here from Schomberg and not one penny exchanged hands, either.

First published in April, 2016.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Reade of Carncairn

ALEXANDER READ was father of

JOHN READ, of Downpatrick, County Down, born ca 1720, who had issue,

ROBERT READ, a merchant in Dublin, born in 1744, who married Letitia, daughter of Sir John Doyle, and was father of

DR THOMAS READE (1794-1873), of Belfast, who wedded Helena Harriett, daughter of the Rev James Traill Sturrock, Rector of Seapatrick, County Down, and had issue, a son,

ROBERT HENRY STURROCK READE DL (1837-1913), of Wilmont, Dunmurry, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1901, Chairman, York Street Flax Spinning Company Ltd, Belfast, who espoused, in 1875, Dorothea Emily Florence, daughter of the Rev George Robbins, of Florence, Italy, Rector of Courteen Hall, Northamptonshire, and had issue,
Robert Ernest, DSO;
Harriette Ethel Stewart; Emily Mary Sophia.
The elder son,

GEORGE STURROCK READE JP DL (1877-1950), of Carncairn Lodge, Broughshane, County Antrim, formerly of Firgrove, Muckamore, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1915, Vice-President, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, Director, York Street Flax Spinning Company Ltd, Belfast, married, in 1912, Elise Allen, daughter of Henry Tregellas, of Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had issue,
ROBERT HENRY, his heir;
The only son,

MAJOR ROBERT HENRY (Robin) READE MC ERD DL (1919-2002), of Carncairn Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1956, Director, York Street Flax Spinning Company, wedded, in 1948, Kathleen Grace, only daughter of Edgar Reginald Casement, of Coolgreany, Ballycastle, County Antrim, and had issue,
RICHARD GEORGE, DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Co Antrim; b 1949;
David John, b 1955;
Patricia Elise, b 1951.
Carncairn Lodge, Broughshane, County Antrim

The Reades resided at Wilmont for forty years, when George Reade sold it, in 1919, to the Dixons.

First published in March, 2015.

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Hon Shane O'Neill DL


Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, has been pleased to appoint
The Hon Shane Sebastian Clanaboy O'NEILL
Shane's Castle
County Antrim
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County his Commission bearing date the 30th day of April 2018

Joan Christie

Lord Lieutenant of the County

Rockdale House


JAMES LOWRY, of Rockdale, County Tyrone (third son of the Rev James Lowry, of Desertcreat), married, in 1785, Martha, daughter of the Rt Rev Dr James Leslie, Lord Bishop of Limerick, by his wife Joice, sister and eventual heir of Thomas Lyster, of Lysterfield, County Roscommon, and had issue,
JAMES, of whom presently;
Hester, m W Colvill, an eminent merchant in Dublin and director of Bank of Ireland.
Mr Lowry died in 1790, and was succeeded by his son,

JAMES LOWRY (1787-1847), of Rockdale, who wedded firstly, Harriet, youngest daughter of Thomas Pepper, of Ballygarth Castle, County Meath, and had issue,
JAMES CORRY, his heir;
Edward Leslie (1811-33);
Thomas William (1814-52);
Hercules (1817-51);
Armar, m Jane, 2nd daughter of J Greer, of The Grange, Co Tyrone;
Henrietta Martha; Charlotte; Joice; Georgina; Mary L Pepper.
Mr Lowry espoused secondly, in 1835, Emily, eldest daughter of Joseph Greer, of The Grange, County Tyrone, and had further issue,
Henry MacGregor;
Emily; Martha Leslie.
Mr Lowry was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES CORRY LOWRY QC (1809-69), of Rockdale, Master of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, who married firstly, in 1832, Dorinda, second daughter of James Jones, of Mount Edward, County Sligo, Captain, Sligo Militia, and had issue,
EDWARD LESLIE BARNWELL, succeeded his brother;
Thomas Pepper, (1839-47);
George Pepper, (1843-82);
John Robert Colvill;
Harriett; April; Eliza.
Mr Lowry wedded secondly, in 1848, Ellen, widow of Frederick Gamble; and thirdly, in 1850, Jane, eldest daughter of Booth Jones, of Streedagh, County Sligo, and had further issue, a son,
Somerset Thomas Corry (Rev), Rector of Wonston, Micheldever, Hampshire, b 1855; m, in 1896, Alice Venables Vernon, daughter of the 6th Baron Vernon.
Mr Lowry was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES CORRY JONES LOWRY JP DL (1835-97), of Rockdale, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1874, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, 1889-92, Captain, Royal Artillery, Colonel Commanding, Donegal Artillery Militia, who married, in 1863, Elizabeth Jackson, second daughter of Thomas Greer, of Tullylagan, County Tyrone, and widow of the Rev Thomas Bushe, and had issue,
Dorinda Florence, m 1892 T M Greer, of Sea Park, Co Antrim;
Mina Ethel, m 1899 Major W Lenox-Conyngham, of Spring Hill, Co Londonderry.
Colonel Lowry's second son,

EDWARD LESLIE BARNWELL LOWRY DL (1837-1928), of Rockdale, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1905, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, 1906, Captain, 41st, 31st, and 81st Regiment, married firstly, in 1865, Eliza (d 1869), only child of Thomas John Taylor, of Earsdon, Northumberland, and had issue,
Evelyn Eliza;
Mary Emily.
He wedded secondly, in 1872, Edith Clara Halyma, only child of Samuel Saunders, of Alexandria, and had further issue,
James Taylor, Lieutenant, Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1875-1900;
Hilda Clare Leslie;
Joice Leslie, m 1904 Edward Turnour Master.

ROCKDALE HOUSE, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, is a three-storey early Georgian house, built for James Corry Lowry QC.

It has a basement and three bays.

A breakfront was added to the east by one bay.

The house uses Classical dressing, with tall sash windows and stepped quoins.

The main door is painted and pedimented. Above the door there is a Venetian window.

The roof is slated and hipped behind a cornice.

Rockdale was previously rendered.

An exterior step in the basement well (at the front next to the cold-room under the main entrance steps) is inscribed '1791 R'.

However, there are features typical of an earlier house that support the argument for a mid-18th century date.

A stone outbuilding is dated 1827, and the walled garden is dated 1823.

The gate lodge stylistically may be dated to the mid-19th century, as may the extension to the main house on its east elevation.

First published in February, 2015.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Kinlough House: II


From Chapter 8 of A Man May Fish by T C Kingsmill Moore, first edition published 1960, copyright Estate of T C Kingsmill Moore 1979. 

"… My son tells me that you are an ardent fisherman. We have a house on the shore of Lough Melvin which fishes well in April, and there will be some salmon in the Bundrowse. If you could spare a week or a fortnight of your Easter vacation to stay with us my wife and I would be very pleased”.

This letter, the first of many phrased with the same careful courtesy, introduced me to the big lakes of the west and to a feature of Irish country life then rapidly passing away.

At Bundoran a wizened coachman met me with an outside car which soon covered the hilly miles to where the Big House stood, surrounded on three sides by woodland and open on the fourth, where lawns and fields sloped to the water’s edge.

In spring, the daffodils spread themselves in golden drifts down to the lake, in autumn the scarlet lobelia blazed a flare of colour between house and shrubberies.

The house itself, built when the Georgian style was yielding to the Victorian, was large but architecturally undistinguished.

Originally the walls of all the main rooms had been covered with French cartoons in grisaille, illustrating scenes from classical mythology.

The many life-sized nudes were a little too explicit for Victorian taste, and pictures and furniture had been arranged to hide the more compromising details.

When a later generation, bracing itself to acknowledge the facts of anatomy, removed the obstructions, it was too late.

The discolouration was permanent.

Already the house was an anachronism, a manor house without an estate.

For nearly a century, when Irish country life had been built on a structure of landlord and tenant, it had been the centre of interest for a barony, its stables full of carriages and horses, its garden a model, its owners men of learning and public spirit.

Politics and literature have dealt harshly with the Irish landlord.

Sad and mad they may have been; too often they were absentees.

But many of them were men of culture, bravery, and a high sense of public duty.

Their libraries were good and sometimes remarkable.

They planted world-famous gardens.

They organised and endowed innumerable Irish charities, relieved distress, and helped and advised such tenants as were willing to accept their advice.

Much of their time was spent in hunting and field sports, but these provided employment of the type that the Irish countryman likes, and made the big house a centre of interest and society.

Above all, they supplied a personal relationship which made up for many abuses.

A good landlord was united to his tenantry by bonds part patriarchal, part feudal, and entirely human, which formed a not unsatisfactory pattern of life.

Now all of this has been changed, shattered irretrievably by a great reform which had enabled the tenants to become freeholders.

The landlords lived on, financially not much worse off, still doing their duty on bench and synod, and spending much of their leisure in sport; but the ties which bound them and their families to the countryside were snapped.

Old retainers still remained.

The coachman who had met me was serving his fourth generation, the parlour maid had been nurse to my host, the gardener had been trained by his grandfather.

But the dust was settling; the Big House was dying at its roots.

My host, who had for some years been living a life of use and wont in which sport had ceased to play a part, his guns licensed but unfired, his rods idle in their cases, now roused himself to put his son and myself on the road to true orthodoxy.

He was orthodox to a fault, his fishing methods not so much dated as out-dated, but I owe him a grounding in caution, in boat-craft, and in etiquette which was to help me in difficult times and places...

For four years my fishing centred around the Big House, ten days in spring and the same in August.

The old retainers were dropping away. “I’ve seen what I’ve seen and I’ll not see much more,” said the coachman, now nearly ninety on the last occasion that he drove me to the station.

On my next visit he was gone.

Kate, the parlour maid, found her rheumatism too crippling, and the gardener retired on a pension to a cottage.

The squire had ceased to come to the lake with us, and he was intellectually less alert.

Over the port he had been eager to cross-question me on all the vexed problems of the day, with his unvaried courtesy treating my undergraduate opinions as if they were worth listening to.

Now he avoided discussion.

When things puzzled him he no longer sought an answer.

He lived more and more in the past.

A weary, slightly despairing look often came over his kindly face.

I was too young to recognise the significance of these changes, signs that the organism could no longer adapt itself to its environment, the first, faint, far-borne notes of the trumpet of Azrael.

Then at one stride came disaster.

Father and mother were dead; the son, always delicate, became incurably ill.

The Big House had fallen.

Another old Irish family had come to an end.

Of the Big House itself only a few ruins now remain.’ 

T.C. Kingsmill Moore was born in Dublin in March 1893 and he died there in February, 1979, at the age of 85. He went to school in Marlborough, England, and returned to Dublin to take a degree at Trinity College. 
During the First World War, from 1917-18, he was in the Royal Flying Corps in France and Flanders. He became a barrister on his return to Dublin and during the Civil War from 1922-23 was also the War Correspondent for the Irish Times. 
In 1947 he was appointed a judge of the High Court and in 1961 a judge of the Supreme Court, retiring in 1965. His visits to the Big House at Kinlough took place between 1914 and 1917 when he was an undergraduate in Trinity. 

Donard Lodge


The Earls Annesley derive their surname from the manor of Annesley in Nottinghamshire.

They were one of great noble families of County Down.

The vast Annesley estate stretched from Slieve Croob to Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland's highest mountain), including the village of Castlewellan and part of Newcastle.

They owned 25,000 acres of land in County Down, including 783 acres at Donard Park.

Their ancestral seat was Castlewellan Castle (which still, incidentally, looks as well as the day it was built in 1858 by the 4th Earl).

Lord Annesley and his successors also owned a "marine residence" just outside Newcastle in County Down.

Click to Enlarge

This large house, called Donard Lodge, pre-dated Castlewellan Castle by twenty-five years.

DONARD LODGE, at the southern outskirts of Newcastle, County Down, stood close to the location of the present Donard Bridge, at the foot of Thomas's Mountain and Slieve Donard, close to the location of Donard car park.

The prospect from the mansion towards the harbour and sea must have been spectacular.

Marine residences were popular amongst the nobility during the Victorian era: Murlough House, not far along the coast towards Dundrum, was Lord Downshire's marine residence.

Returning to Donard Lodge, I am in no doubt that it was the finest edifice and address in Newcastle, a distinguished two-storey Classical house of granite ashlar, built ca 1830 by the 3rd Earl.

The entrance front had a central, projecting bay with a strikingly projecting three-sided bow at either side; the centre being joined on each side to the projecting ends by a short Doric colonnade.

One of these colonnades served as an entrance portico, the door being in one side of the central projection.

The garden front had curved and three-sided bows and round-headed ground-floor windows.

There was a fine, semi-circular conservatory at one end of the house.

The little girl standing in the foreground to the right of the conservatory provides an indication the the mansion's size.

The ground floor also joined on to stable buildings and yards.

About 500 acres of land above the mansion were planted with trees, and a beautiful garden was created by the Rev John Moore (of Rowallane) and his sister Priscilla, 3rd Countess Annesley.

Eighty acres of the demesne became the pleasure grounds, with winding paths, ornamental trees and shrubs, waterfalls, cascades, an aviary, a hermitage, shell house, spa house, spa well, visitors' dining house, ornamental dining house, and a variety of rustic stone seats and little bridges.

This scheme may well have been inspired by the near by Tollymore Park.

Annesley Estate Office

The Annesley estate office still stands in the town.

Priscilla, Dowager Countess Annesley, continued to reside at Donard Lodge until her death in 1891.

Following Lady Annesley's death, Donard Lodge was leased to a number of tenants, all of whom failed to maintain the mansion to a satisfactory standard.

The Lodge suffered a serious fire in 1941.

Its sad demise continued until demolition in 1966 (one year before Castlewellan Castle was sold to the NI Government).

Annesley arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in April, 2009.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

The Florence Court Acquisition


PROPERTY: Florence Court House and Garden

DATE: 1954

EXTENT: 15.53 acres

DONOR: Michael, Viscount Cole


PROPERTY: Land in front of Florence Court House

DATE: 1981

EXTENT: 2.21 acres

DONOR: Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland


PROPERTY: Land at Florence Court and Killymanamly House

DATE: 1985

EXTENT: 121.18 acres

DONOR: 6th Earl of Enniskillen


PROPERTY: Walled Garden, Broad Meadow and Gate Lodges

DATE: 1995

EXTENT: 108.54 acres

DONOR: Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland

First published in January, 2015.

Roxborough Gates

I spent a most agreeable day seven summers ago at The Argory (former home of the MacGeough-Bonds) and Loughgall Manor (the Copes), County Armagh.

I picnicked in the grounds of The Argory, then went for a walk along the River Blackwater.

Doesn't this river divide the counties of Tyrone and Armagh?

Later on I enjoyed a delightful tour of the House at 2pm with a charming and informative guide.

She alluded to the wooden Jamaican carvings, and Tommy MacGeough-Bond's fondness for Jamaica.

I wonder if he was acquainted with Ian Fleming.

The MacGeough-Bonds would doubtless have been well acquainted with other landed families in County Armagh, including the Stronges, Verners and Copes.

Roxborough Gates

Later in the afternoon I motored on to the village of Moy, where the Charlemonts had their impressive country seat, Roxborough Castle.

All that's left to remind us of its greatness are the equally impressive gates (above and top).

An earl's coronet and crest adorn them.

The mansion house itself was maliciously burnt ca 1922.

Loughgall Manor

At Loughgall, I wandered up the steep incline to the manor-house, erstwhile seat of the Cope family.

Its gates, too, are grand.

Loughgall Manor Gates
First published in August, 2010.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Armagh Palace


Archbishops of Armagh resided mainly in Drogheda or Dublin (where they sat in the Irish House of Lords) and stayed at Armagh only when necessary.

Archbishop Robinson, however, determined to live as often as possible in Armagh.

His Grace, however, disliked the Lord Primates' official residence at the time.

Despite renovations, it still did not meet the Archbishop's expectations.

He therefore decided to have a new palace built on 300 acres of church land to the south of the city.

The Palace, Armagh, was erected by Primate Robinson in 1770.

This is an elegant, though chaste and unostentatious structure.

It is ninety feet in length, sixty feet wide, and forty feet in height.

It is of nine bays, the side elevation being five bays.

The Palace originally comprised two storeys over a high, rusticated basement.

It was erected to the design of Thomas Cooley, by Archbishop Robinson, afterwards elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Rokeby.

Garden Front

A third storey was added in 1786.

Some time later, a substantial enclosed porch was added, with pairs of Ionic columns set at an angle to the front.

Adjacent to the entrance front is the handsome Primatial Chapel, in the style of an Ionic temple.

Its exterior, also by Cooley, is of 1770; though the interior was fitted out three years later, in 1784, by Francis Johnston.

The chapel's interior is said to be one of the most beautiful surviving Irish ecclesiastical interiors, boasting a coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling; a delicate frieze; Corinthian pilasters; a gallery; magnificent panelling; and pews.


UNTIL tenure in office of Primate Robinson, archbishops of Armagh were not provided with a place of residence in keeping with the revenues of the office.

During less peaceful times, when nothing was left of either city or churches, a precedent was formed for living elsewhere in the diocese, and for a considerable space the Lord Primates had palaces at Drogheda and Termonfeckin, County Louth.

During St Patrick 's time, the Primatial residence was situated on a part of the hill crowned by the Cathedral.

Bishopscourt, in Mullinure, north-northeast of the city, was a residence, and it is recorded that there were rooms for the Archbishop in the Culdee Priory.

When Dr Robinson was appointed Primate, the residence was in English Street.

Ninety-one numerous plantations then started in the splendid demesne, adding greatly to the beauty of the scenery surrounding the city.

Primate Stuart walled the demesne at a cost of £20,000, reserving for his successors in the archbishopric the privilege of sharing in this needful expenditure.

Lord John George Beresford, appointed to the primacy in 1822, raised the palace from three to four storeys, thereby greatly increasing the dignity of the structure.

At the upper end of the demesne, the ground ascends to a point called Knox 's Hill.

On this there is a marble obelisk, erected by Primate Robinson in 1783, to perpetuate the memory of his friendship with the 1st Duke of Northumberland (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), through whose instrumentality he had been translated to Armagh from the bishopric of Kildare.

The obelisk is 113 feet in height, and it is due to Dr Robinson 's memory to say that its erection was suggested as a means of honourable employment for the people of Armagh during a time of severe distress.

The lands surrounding the palace became a demesne by Act of Council, dated 1769.

Until then, the residence of the archbishops had not been legally transferred from Drogheda.

Archbishop Knox, in order that the Palace may be available for residence by his successors, began a fund in 1888.

This was rendered necessary through changes arising out of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.

The Mall, before Primate Robinson tenure, was a swampy common and the road now surrounding it was a race-course.

By an Act of GEORGE III it was granted to the Lord Primate for useful purposes.

In 1797, Primate Newcombe, successor to Primate Robinson, leased it to the Sovereign and Burgesses of Armagh, for the purpose of being transformed into "a public walk for the people."

This was accomplished by subscription, in a creditable manner.

The Most Rev George Otto Simms was the last Primate to live at the palace.

Fourteen of the one hundred and four archbishops have resided at the palace.

The archiepiscopal palace is now the council offices of Armagh City Council.

The walled demesne referred to by Inglis in 1834 as, ‘… in excellent order … laid out with much taste …’ is largely parkland.

The ground undulates and the palace is on high ground, with fine views of the city and the Anglican cathedral.

The original planting set off the house and the vistas.

To the north it is now a public grassed area, with mature parkland trees (chiefly sycamore); and to the south it is grazing, with a stand of 19th century exotic trees near the house.

A belt of woodland on high ground to the west of the northern section of the parkland affords necessary protection.

A golf course now occupies the north-eastern section.

The walled garden is at the north end, with a garden house.

It is not cultivated though used by the rugby club.

There are modern ornamental gardens on the south side of the palace, and a 1990s garden on the west side, near the primatial chapel.

A fine 19th century glasshouse and ice house also lie to the west of the house and there is another ice house near the main entrance.

The stables and coach yard  have been converted for tourism.

The entrance gates were moved when the road was altered and this unfortunate development effectively cut the demesne off from the city, though the grounds are open to the general public.

The 18th century gate lodge has been demolished and only one of three remains.
UNTIL the early 19th century, the Primate's Castle, Termonfeckin, County Louth, was used for several centuries by archbishops of Armagh as an auxiliary residence to their archiepiscopal quarters in nearby Drogheda.
After the Reformation, several of the archbishops of the established church resided periodically at Termonfeckin. The castle's most famous occupant at that time was the Most Rev James Ussher, Lord Archbishop of Armagh from 1625-56.
He used the castle in Termonfeckin for much of his term until 1640, when he departed for England, never to return. The castle was damaged in the Irish rebellion of 1641 and was not repaired. It fell into disuse and was eventually demolished ca 1830.
First published in December, 2012.

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.

Mr Sinclair, Rector of Leckpatrick, 1665-6, 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 wedded, in 1924, Elizabeth Elliot (Bessie) Hayes, of Philadelphia, USA, though the marriage was without 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 Lord Abercorn that Sinclair take his place as he was “a rough honest man.

With income as Abercorn's 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.

First published in February, 2017.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Castle Gore


This family deduces from

GERARD GORE (c1516-1607), citizen, Merchant Taylor, and Alderman of the City of London at the close of the 16th century, who married Helen, daughter of Ralph Davenant, of Davenant Land, Essex.

He died at the advanced age of 91, having had eight sons, of whom,
RICHARD, the eldest, MP for London, d leaving 7 daughters;
JOHN (Sir), 4th son, Lord Mayor of London, 1624;
PAUL (Sir), of whom presently.
The youngest son,

SIR PAUL GORE (1567-1629), captain of a troop of horse, went over to Ireland with his regiment in the reign of ELIZABETH I, and obtaining large grants of land, which he condensed into a manor, designated Manor Gore, settled there.

Captain Gore wedded Isabella, daughter of Francis Wickliffe, and niece of Thomas, Earl of Strafford, and had issue,
RALPH, ancestor of the extinct house of GORE, Earls of Ross;
ARTHUR, of whom we treat.
Sir Paul's second son,

ARTHUR GORE (c1640-97), of Newtown, County Mayo, was created a baronet in 1662, denominated of Newtown, County Mayo.

He wedded Eleanor, daughter of Sir George St George Bt, of Carrick, County Leitrim, and had (with seven daughters) four sons, viz.
PAUL, predeceased his father;
William, of Woodford, MP for Co Leitrim;
George, an eminent lawyer.
Sir Arthur was succeeded by his grandson (son of Paul), 

SIR ARTHUR GORE, 2nd Baronet (c1682-1741), MP for Ballynakill, 1703-13, Donegal Borough, 1714-14, County Mayo, 1715-42, who married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Maurice Annesley, of Little Rath, County Kildare, and had four sons and three daughters,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Paul Annesley;
Anne; Eleanor; Elizabeth.
Sir Arthur was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ARTHUR GORE, 3rd Baronet (1703-73), MP for Donegal Borough, 1727-58, who was created, in 1758, Baron Saunders, of Deeps, County Wexford, and Viscount Sudley, of Castle Gore.

His lordship was advanced to an earldom, in 1762, as EARL OF ARRAN, of the Arran Islands, County Galway.

He espoused Jane, heiress of Richard Saunders, of Saunders Court, and relict of William Worth.

6th Earl of Arran KP (1868-1958)

ARTHUR CHARLES JOCELYN CHARLES [GORE], 6th Earl, KP, PC; Knight of St Patrick, 1909; Privy Counsellor, 1917; Lord-Lieutenant of County Donegal, 1917-20.

The 6th Earl is pictured above, wearing the robe, sash and insignia of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick. 

Address to 6th Earl and Countess of Arran on their marriage

"We, the Tenants on your Lordship's Mayo Estate, and their friends, have heard with the utmost pleasure of your Marriage, and in meeting assembled, unanimously and with sincere and cordial feelings have passed the following resolution ..."

The Earls of Arran were a "Patrick family", the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Earls all having been appointed to the Order of St Patrick. 

The present Earl and Countess of Arran live at Castle Hill House, near Barnstaple, Devon.


CASTLE GORE, or Deel Castle, near Crossmolina, County Mayo, is a 16th century tower house of the Bourkes.

It is close to the northern end of Lough Conn.

After Colonel Thomas Bourke had fought on the side of JAMES II in the Williamite War, the property was forfeited and given to the Gore family, afterwards Earls of Arran, who renamed it Castle Gore.

The tower-house had a large 18th century wing with a handsome rusticated doorway added to it, possibly incorporating a 17th century range.

They also acquired the manor of Belleek from the O'Haras, Barons Tyrawley, and owned estates in County Donegal.

The castle along with other lands was leased to James Cuff, Lord Tyrawley, towards the end of the 18th century; occupied by the Cuffs' steward for part of the 19th century.

James Cuff, Lord Tyrawley, built a house beside the Old Bourke Castle in 1791.

The house was burnt in 1922 when the Arrans removed to England. It was not rebuilt.

The old castle, which was still intact in the early 20th century, is now a ruin.

The Earls of Arran's London residence was The Pavilion, Hans Place.

First published in October, 2012.   Arran arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

The Archdale Baronets


The first of the family of ARCHDALE, who settled in Ireland during the reign of ELIZABETH I, was

JOHN ARCHDALE, of Norsom or Norton Hall, in Norfolk.

In 1612 he was granted 1,000 acres of land in County Fermanagh as part of the Plantation of Ulster.

This gentleman, by the inscription over the gateway in the ruinous castle, appears to have erected the old mansion-house of Archdale.

He married and had two sons,
EDWARD, of whom we treat;
JOHN (Rev), Vicar of Luske, 1664.
John Archdale died in 1621, and was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD ARCHDALE, who espoused Angel, daughter of Sir Paul Gore (ancestor of the Gores, Earls of Ross), and had issue.

During his time, the castle which his father had erected was taken and burned by the rebels under Sir Phelim O'Neill, in 1641, and only two children of a numerous family survived.

One, a daughter, who was absent and married; the other, an infant son, WILLIAM, preserved by the fidelity of his nurse, an Irish Roman Catholic, which

WILLIAM ARCHDALEafter succeeding to the estates, married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Mervyn, of Omagh Castle and Trillick, both in County Tyrone, and had two sons and a daughter, viz.
MERVYN, his heir;
EDWARD, heir to his brother;
He was succeeded by his elder son,

MERVYN ARCHDALE, of Castle Archdale, who died unmarried in 1726, and was succeeded by his brother,

EDWARD ARCHDALE, of Castle Archdale, who wedded firstly, Frances, eldest daughter of Sir John Caldwell Bt; and secondly, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Cole, of Florence Court.

Dying without issue, however, before 1730,  the family estates devolved upon his only sister,

ANGEL ARCHDALE, who thus became heiress and representative of the family.

She espoused NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY MP, of Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, who assumed the surname and arms of ARCHDALE, and left, at her decease about 1742 or 1743, an only son,

MERVYN ARCHDALE MP, of Castle Archdale and Trillick, who espoused, in 1762, the Hon Mary Dawson, daughter of William Henry, Viscount Carlow, and sister of John, 1st Earl of Portarlington, and had issue, 
Mervyn, his heir;
William, an army officer;
EDWARD, of whom we treat;
Henry, an army officer;
Mary; Angel; Elizabeth; Sidney.
In 1773, this gentleman built the Manor House.

The third son, 

EDWARD ARCHDALE JP DL (1775-1864), of Riversdale, County Fermanagh, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1813, married, in 1809, Matilda, daughter of William Humphrys, and had issue,
Mervyn Edward, of Castle Archdale;
William Humphrys Mervyn, of Castle Archdale;
Edward, of Clifton Lodge, Lisnaskea;
Henry Montgomery (Rev), Rector of Trory;
NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY, of whom hereafter;
Hugh Montgomery, of Drumadravy;
Audley Mervyn;
James Mervyn;
Mary; Letitia Jane; Richmal Magnall.
The fifth son,

NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY ARCHDALE JP DL (1820-77), of Riversdale and Crocknacrieve, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1861, married, in 1852, Adelaide Mary, daughter of Rev John Grey Porter, of Belleisle, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
EDWARD MERVYN, his heir;
John Porter, of Belleisle;
William Henry;
Henry Butler;
Nicholas Francis;
Theodore Montgomery;
Margaret Eleanor; Matilda Lavinia.
Mr Archdale was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON EDWARD MERVYN ARCHDALE JP DL (1853-1943), Privy Counsellor, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1884, Lieutenant-Commander RN, MP for North Fermanagh, 1898-1903 and 1916-22, MP for Enniskillen, 1929-43.

Mr Archdale was created a baronet in 1928, designated of Riversdale, County Fermanagh.

Sir Edward Archdale Bt, Photo Credit: Ulster Museum

He married, in 1880, Alicia Bland, daughter of Quintin Fleming, and had issue,
NICHOLAS EDWARD, his successor;
William Porter Palgrave, CBE;
Audley Quintin, Lt-Col;
Dominick Mervyn;
Humphries, DSC, Captain RN;
Sir Edward was succeeded by his eldest son,

VICE-ADMIRAL SIR NICHOLAS EDWARD ARCHDALE, 2nd Baronet (1881-1955), CBE, who married, in 1920, Gerda Henriette, daughter of Frederik Christian Sievers, and had issue,
EDWARD FOLMER, his successor;
Alice Gerda (1923-87).
Sir Edward fought in the 1st World War, with the submarine flotillas; was Aide-de-Camp to HM King George V, 1929; General Inspector, NI Ministry of Home Affairs, 1931-46.

Sir Edward distinguished himself in the Royal Navy.

He was succeeded by his only son,

CAPTAIN SIR EDWARD (Ted) FOLMER ARCHDALE, 3rd Baronet, (1921-2009), DSC, RN, who married, in 1954, Elizabeth Ann Stewart, daughter of Major-General Wilfred Boyd Fellowes Lukis, and had issue,
NICHOLAS EDWARD, his successor;
Lucinda Grace.
Sir Edward distinguished himself in the Royal Navy , serving as aide-de-camp to HM The Queen prior to his retirement in 1971.

He lived at Comber, County Down.

Sir Edward, 3rd Baronet, was succeeded by his only son,

SIR NICHOLAS EDWARD ARCHDALE, 4th and present Baronet (1965-).

The heir presumptive is his cousin, Peter Mervyn Archadale (b 1953).

The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son, Jonathan Talbot Archdale (b 1982).

CROCKNACRIEVE, near Enniskillen, is a Georgian house originally owned by the Richardsons of Rich Hill.

It was acquired by the Archdales through marriage by a cousin.

Sir Edward, 1st Baronet, sold the property in 1901.

RIVERSDALE HOUSE formed part of a 5,627 acre estate.

It is now the regional office for the NI Rivers Agency.

I have written about Castle Archdale here.

First published in June, 2010.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Cleggan Notes


"I believe Fisher was a Manchester merchant who was involved in the iron ore mining in North Antrim above the Glens.

Hence Fisher's Pond and the scutch mill which he also constructed, powered by the water from the Pond. 

I presume he rented from O'Hara and that, when he left after the iron ore mining failed, O'Hara sold.

I have a copy of the offer for sale in 1897 when my great-grandfather bought it, not for the Shane's Castle Estate but as a personal asset.

My great-grandmother née Cochrane considered living there and they added a top floor (very badly) and I think the double staircase.

But the idea was dropped with World War I and the death of their son in World War I.

It fell into disrepair until my grandfather bought Cleggan from his father in 1927.

Cleggan was always part of the medieval O'Neill Estate and was mortgaged to Lord Mount Cashel and became part of the disputed Estates Office in Dublin from whom the 1st and last Earl O'Neill rented it in 1820 after Shane's Castle was burnt in 1816. 

It was he who built this thatched Cottage Orné with eyebrow windows.

At the same time he built architecturally similar houses on Ram's Island.

Lough Beg and in the Shane's Castle deer park, where he and his brother (both bachelors) entertained women and gambled.

They also owned Tullymore Lodge near Broughshane and had a private racecourse there which is now the Ballymena Golf Club, whose freehold, I believe, is still owned by The Shane's Castle Estate.

First published in June,2010.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Leslie of Leslie Hill


This family springs from

THE REV PETER LESLIE (1686-1773), born at Westminster, Rector of Ahoghill, County Antrim, who married, in 1718, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY (Rev),1719-1803;
EDMUND, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE VEN EDMUND LESLIE (1735-90), appointed Archdeacon of Down, 1782, and also a prebendary of Connor, wedded firstly, Jane, daughter of John Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had issue,
Peter, died in London;
Bartholomew, died in India;
JAMESof whom we treat;
Edmund, died in India;
Archdeacon Leslie espoused secondly, Eleanor, daughter of George Portis, of London, and had issue,
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of Connor;
Samuel, Rear-Admiral, of Donaghadee;
The Archdeacon's eldest surviving son, 

JAMES LESLIE JP DL (1768-1847), of Leslie House, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1799, succeeded to the estates on the demise of his uncle, James Leslie, in 1796.

He wedded, in 1795, Mary, daughter of Adam Cuppage, of Donaghcloney, County Down, by whom he had issue,
Henry, JP, of Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae;
Frances Seymour, of the Home Office;
Bartholdus George Albert (1812-15).
The eldest son,

JAMES EDMUND LESLIE JP DL (1800-81), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1854, wedded, in 1823, Sarah, youngest daughter of the Rt Rev Daniel Sandford DD, Bishop of Edinburgh, and by her had issue,
James Sandford, 1824-29;
Henry Erskine, 1825-29;
EDMUND DOUGLASof whom hereafter;
Daniel Sandford, died in infancy;
Seymour Montague, b 1835; father of JAMES GRAHAM;
Francis Macnaghten, b 1837; in the army;
Erskine Douglas, died in infancy;
Frances Mary; Mary Wilhelmina; Sarah Agnes; Jane Elizabeth.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE was granted the honorary rank of Colonel in 1877. 

He was succeeded by his third son,

EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who died a bachelor, and was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES GRAHAM LESLIE JP DL (1868-1949), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1907, Barrister, some time head of a department in the Office of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, who espoused, in 1901, Grace, only daughter of J Lamont Brodie, of Wimbledon, and had issue,
Grace Margaret Hester, b 1905;
Mary Etheldritha (Audrey), b 1908.

THE CREST of this family has traditionally been an angel, though a gryphon is sometimes used by some portions of the family. 

The motto, Grip Fast, has remained unchanged since the time of QUEEN MARGARET of Scotland, by whom it was given to Bartolf (Bartholomew), under the following circumstances:
In crossing a river swollen by floods, the Queen was thrown from her horse, and in danger of being drowned, when the knight, plunging into the stream, seized hold of Her Majesty's girdle; and as he brought her with difficulty towards the bank, she frequently exclaimed grip fast, and afterwards desired that he should retain the words as his motto, in remembrance of the occurrence.
LESLIE HILL, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, was built by James Leslie ca 1750, on the site of an older castle. 

The house originally consisted of a gable-ended main block of three storeys over a high basement, joined to two-storey office wings by single-storey links.

The principal block has a seven-bay front with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; doorway, with two Doric columns and a fanlight under a baseless pediment.

There is a lunette window in the pediment which lights the attic. The former wings were of three bays and the links of two.

There is a flagged hall with screen; principal rooms have modillion cornices and doors with shouldered architraves.

The attic room has a convex-coved ceiling and central roundel containing a portrait which may be of the James Leslie who built the House. 

Alas, the wings and connecting links were demolished in 1955.

The present owner is directly descended from the Rt Rev Henry Leslie (chaplain to CHARLES I, Bishop of Down & Connor, 1635) and the 4th Earl of Rothes, by his marriage to Agnes Somerville. 

Leslie Hill has been occupied continuously by the Leslie family for more than 350 years.

In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger", under John Paul Jones, opened fire on Carrickfergus Castle and attacked HMS Drake, putting it out of action.

This attack, and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which, at that time, was practically bereft of Crown forces.

This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the nobility, at their own expense, to defend the Irish coast and guard life and property.

Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes.

The estate was of considerable acreage, comprising 7,428 acres, with a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903.

Not all the Leslies in Ulster remained there: in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England, USA, to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. 

There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.

It is of significance that another James Leslie and his family left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America.

They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.

James Seymour Leslie (1958-2009) was a NI politician, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His father owns Leslie Hill estate at Ballymoney. He was married with a daughter.

The Castle Leslie demesne, adjacent to Ballymoney, lies in a ridge above the Bann Valley. Continuous ownership of the Leslie family adds interest in the property.

The house of ca 1760 – now minus two wings – has landscaped parkland to the north, with fine trees and a small, artificial, late 19th century lake complete with island and boat-house.

ha-ha separates the south front lawns from parkland and exposes the fine distant views.

There are stands of mature trees and mixed woodland. A late 19th century, ‘Robinsonian’ garden is no longer distinguishable.

A small enclosed garden to the east of the house has two lily ponds constructed ca 1891 of unusual shape.

These are listed, together with the enclosing walls and a nearby ice house.

Ornamental shrubs and trees, with under-planting of wild flowers, decorate the access route to the walled gardens.

The walled garden has a rectangular western part, which is partially cultivated and under restoration to be attractive and productive for modern usage.

The Melon House has been restored. Remnants of other glasshouses are exposed.

The garden is divided into two by a brick wall and the smaller eastern part is uncultivated.

The outbuildings are notable, fully restored and open to view.

A disused gate lodge at the main entrance is of ca 1911 and replaced a pair removed when the road was realigned in the 1850s.

The house is private and grounds are private.

The family formerly had a marine residence, Seaport Lodge, at Portballintrae.

First published in January, 2012.