Thursday, 30 April 2020

Rev John McConnell Auld MA

Photo Credit: Belfast Telegraph

I can't remember my first encounter with Con Auld. He was always quite a distant figure at first, though I was young and naïve.

I suppose it must have been at some civic function in Holywood, County Down, the town where my father was born.

I must have seen him at civic receptions in the Queen's Hall; certainly on Saturday mornings in Holywood's library.

The Reverend John McConnell Auld's main association for me was the tiny hamlet of Portbraddan, on the north County Antrim coast.

On many occasions, mainly during summer months, I made a pilgrimage to that charming gem along the coast from White Park Bay, where Con Auld had created his own holiday home from the remnants of an old mill house.

He even wrote a book about it, Letters to a Causeway Coast Millhouse, published in 2004.

His spotless, vintage, bottle-green MGB GT sports car was usually parked near the tiny church he established beside The Braddan, St Gobban's Church.

St Gobban's

If Con happened to be at home he might have been whitewashing the walls of the cottage, or painting the drainpipes.

He had amassed a remarkable collection of memorabilia and items associated with the Titanic, I seem to recall, including a deck-chair.

The Braddan, like the man himself, was oozing with character.

Con might have been a very private gentleman, though he was also intrepid.

Perhaps one of my fondest recollections was of him seated at his cast-iron table and chairs, at the flag-pole, in front of The Braddan, overlooking the sea and White Park Bay.

Con was quite content to sit there reading and sipping from a bone-china tea-cup.

The Braddan, Portbraddan, County Antrim

He made full use of his talents throughout a charitable and varied life, having gained his MA from Trinity College, Dublin.

Con Auld was educated at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, and Belfast Royal Academy; Princeton, New Jersey, USA, and the Union Theological College, Belfast.

He went on to become senior housemaster and Head of Divinity at Belfast Royal Academical Institution (Inst) from 1958 till 1988.

Con joined the Ulster Unionist Party and was elected to North Down Borough Council, where he served from 1973 until 1988.

The Mayor and Mayoress of North Down? 

He was Mayor and Deputy Mayor between 1980-84.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, though the image above shows Con wearing morning dress as His Worship the Mayor of North Down, with the Mayoress, Councillor Mary O'Fee OBE.

These activities are merely a flavour of his colourful life. I've already spoken of his great charitable endeavours, not least at St Gobban's Church, where many an Old Instonian was married.

Click to Enlarge

Incidentally, it's a shame that St Gobban's Church, or the building, wasn't listed. It was listed in 1990, though for some reason de-listed three years later.

The photograph above shows Portbraddan, probably in the late 19th century. Con Auld's cottage can be seen as it was.

St Gobban's Church, the small building to the left of the image, once used as a byre, was demolished in 2017.

Con had intended to write an illustrated book about the old houses of east Belfast.

He had a large cardboard box with dozens of colour drawings of old villas and mansions, including Garnerville and Norwood Tower.

I was indeed saddened to learn of his death, aged 90, on the 28th April, 2020.

Be in no doubt. Northern Ireland has lost a worthy and virtuous son.

I'm not ashamed to say that a little tear was shed when I heard about his passing

Con was, I believe, a man with a strong faith, and this fortitude served him well through life's challenges.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Strangford House


THOMAS DAWSON, elder brother of the Rt Rev Dr Robert Dawson, consecrated Lord Bishop of Clonfert, 1627, went to Ireland in 1601, it is stated, from Temple Sowerby, Westmorland, and purchased the lands of Castle Dawson, County Londonderry.

His son and successor,

THOMAS DAWSON, Commissary of the Musters of the Army in Ireland, died in 1683, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS DAWSON (c1654-1732), of Castle Dawson, MP for Antrim borough, 1695-9, who married Olivia Upton, of Castle Upton, County Antrim, and was succeeded by his brother,

JOSHUA DAWSON (c1660-c1725), of Castle Dawson, MP for Wicklow Borough, 1705-14, Secretary for Ireland during the reign of QUEEN ANNE, who wedded, ca 1695,  Anne, daughter of Thomas Carr (son of Sir George Carr, Secretary for Ireland), and had issue,
Arthur, ancestor of DAWSON OF MOYOLA PARK;
William;
CHARLES, of whom we treat;
Mary.
Mr Dawson's youngest son,

CHARLES DAWSON, HM Inspector of Customs for Ireland, espoused Sarah, daughter of John Downing, of Bellaghy and Rowesgift, County Londonderry (eldest son of Colonel Adam Downing, and grandson of Henry Downing, younger brother of Sir George Downing Bt, the eminent statesman), and had issue, two sons and three daughters.

The elder surviving son,

REAR-ADMIRAL JOHN DAWSON (1760-), of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and of County Cavan, married his first cousin, Medicis, eldest daughter of the Rev Alexander Clotworthy Downing, of Bellaghy and Rowesgift, Rector of Leckpatrick, County Tyrone, and of Thamazine his wife, daughter and heir of Albert Nesbitt, of Tubberdaly, King's County, and had issue,
Charles, died in infancy;
Alexander, died 1841 sp;
Andrew Hamond Snape, died 1873 sp;
THAMAZINE;
ANNE ARABELLA.
The younger daughter,

ANNE ARABELLA DAWSON, of Corratinner, County Cavan, wedded, in 1847, the Rev John Wrixon, Vicar of Malone, County Antrim, and had issue,
ANNA MEDICI, of Dunloskin, Carrickfergus, m JG Echlin, of Ardquin;
MARIE ELIZABETH, of whom we treat.
The younger daughter,

MARIE ELIZABETH WRIXON, of Corratinner, County Cavan, espoused, in 1879,

GEORGE FRANCIS SAVAGE-ARMSTRONG (1845-1906), of Strangford House, County Down, only surviving son of Edmund John Armstrong, by his wife Jane, daughter and eventual heiress of the Rev Henry Savage, of Glastry, County Down, incumbent of Ardkeen.

On the death of a maternal uncle, he assumed by deed poll, in 1890, as representative of his grandfather, the additional surname of SAVAGE.

They had issue,
FRANCIS SAVAGE NESBITT, b 1880;
John Raymond Savage, b 1882;
Arabella Guendolen Savage.

STRANGFORD HOUSE, Castle Street, Strangford, County Down, is a late 18th century house of three storeys, built about 1789 by HM Collector of Customs, a Mr Norris.

It has a three-bay front, and the centre bay breaks forward.

The doorway has a fanlight with sidelights; and the door lintel is adorned with carved swags.

The top storey has no windows at the front, though there are rectangular blind panels in lieu of the windows instead.

First published in October, 2017.

Killyleagh Castle

THE ROWAN-HAMILTONS OWNED 1,041 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN
This family is descended from Thomas, youngest son of Sir John Hamilton of Cadzow, from which Thomas many families in Ulster descended; namely, those of Killyleagh, Hallcraig or Neillsbrook, Tollymore, Carnesure, Bangor, Ballygally, and Gransha; founded by the six sons of Hans Hamilton of Dunlop.
THE REV HANS HAMILTON (c1535-1608), Vicar of Dunlop, Ayrshire, wedded Margaret Denholm, daughter of the Laird of Weshiels, and had, with other issue,
James, created VISCOUNT CLANEBOYE;
ARCHIBALD, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (c1564-1639), of Hallcraig, Lanarkshire, married firstly, Rachel Carmichael, and had issue,
John;
James;
GAWN, of whom hereafter;
William;
Hugh.
He wedded secondly, Miss Simpson, by whom he left one daughter, Jane, married to Archibald Edmonstone, of Braid Island, County Antrim.

The third son,

GAWN HAMILTON (c1630-1703), of Killyleagh, County Down, espoused Jane, daughter of Archibald Hamilton, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Mary; Rose.
Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, of Killyleagh, who married Mary, daughter of David Johnstone, of Tully, County Monaghan, and had issue,
William;
GAWN;
Susanna; Jane; Mary.
Mr Hamilton died in 1747, and was succeeded by his younger son,

GAWN HAMILTON (1729-1805), of Killyleagh, High Sheriff of County Down, 1773, who wedded, in 1750, Jane, only child of WILLIAM ROWAN, barrister-at-law, and widow of Tichbourne Aston, of Beaulieu, County Louth, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Sidney.
Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (1752-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, County Down, who assumed the additional surname of ROWAN, in conformity with the will of his maternal grandfather, WILLIAM ROWAN, who devised his fortune to his grandson, then a boy at Westminster School
"in the hope that he should become a learned, honest, sober man; live unbribed and unpensioned; zealous for the rights of his country; loyal to his King; and a true protestant without bigotry to any sect."
He married, in 1781, Sarah Anne, daughter of Walter Dawson, of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, and had issue,
Archibald;
GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN;
Sydney;
Frederick;
Dawson;
Jane; Elizabeth; Mildred; Harriet; Francesca.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton's second son,

GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON CB (1783-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, Captain RN, married, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of General Sir George Cockburn, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD ROWN, his heir;
George Rowan;
Melita Anne.
Captain Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his elder son,

ARCHIBALD ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON JP, of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1842, Catherine Anne, daughter of Rev George Caldwell, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, his heir;
George;
Sidney Augustus Rowan;
Frederick Temple Rowan, father of GAWN BASIL GUY ROWAN-HAMILTON;
Mary Catherine; Helen Gwendoline; Harriet Georgina.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton died in 1818, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

COLONEL GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON JP DL (1844-1930), of Killyleagh Castle, and Shanagonagh Castle, County Dublin, High Sheriff of County Down, 1875, who wedded, in 1876, Lina Mary Howley, daughter of Sir George Howland Beaumont Bt, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD JAMES;
Orfla Melita.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD JAMES ROWAN-HAMILTON (1877-1915), who espoused, in 1908, Norah, daughter of Frederick Abiss Phillips.

He was killed in action, 1915, without issue, and was succeeded by his nephew,

BRIGADIER GAWN BASIL (GUY) ROWAN-HAMILTON DSO MC DL (1884-1947), of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1916, Phyllis Frances, daughter of Robert, Lord Blackburn, by his wife Lady Constance Frances Bowes-Lyon, and had issue,
Angus David;
DENYS ARCHIBALD;
Gawn Leslie.
The second son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DENYS ARCHIBALD ROWAN-HAMILTON MVO DL (1921-2018), of Killyleagh Castle, High Sheriff of County Down, 1975, married, in 1961, Wanda Annette, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Warburton, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, his heir;
Constance Orfla; Louisa Anne.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton fought in the 2nd World War; Member, Royal Victorian Order, 1947; Aide-de-Camp, Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1947; Major, 29th Britiish Infantry Brigade, Korea; Military Secretary to West Africa; 2nd in command of the 1st Black Watch, 1957-59; commander, 45th Black Watch, 1960-63; Defence Attache to the British Embassy, Damascus and Beirut, 1964-67; retired from the Army, 1967.

Colonel Rowan-Hamilton's son,

GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON DL (1968-), married Polly Ann, daughter of Colonel Rodney J Martin, and has issue,
Archibald James (b 1997);
Jake Douglas;
Charles Rodney;
Tara Emily; Willa Melita Dorothy.

KILLYLEAGH CASTLE, County Down, is one of the most romantic houses in Northern Ireland, its exotic skyline of turrets and conical roofs dominating the adjacent village and countryside for miles around.

There are claims that it has Norman late-12th century origins, but the house today is basically 17th century, much altered and enlarged from 1847-51.

The Castle stands at the upper end of the principal street in the village; but, though commanding in position, castellated in character, and massive and venerable in appearance, it is strictly a mere mansion, battlemented along the summit, and flanked with large, circular, battlemented turrets.

The grounds are an essential part of the setting of the picturesque house and its geographical association with Killyleagh.


In the early 17th century the house built by Sir James Hamilton, 1st Viscount Claneboye, of which a tower survives, had a large attached deer park , which seems to have fallen into disuse by the 18th century, if not earlier.

There are formal  garden features associated with this early house and/or with the improved late 17th century house, as enlarged in 1666 by Henry, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil.


This includes some of the terraces or hanging gardens on the steep slopes of the south and south west side of the house, together with formal canals or fish ponds.

These terraces were evidently remodelled and enlarged in the Victorian era.

The grounds are not extensive and no garden of note is maintained at the present time, but fine mature trees grace the surroundings.

The productive areas are no longer kept.

The extensive entrance screen encircles the area of the former bawn.

The property was subject to ownership litigation, and the resulting judgement of Solomon, saw the bawn divided for more than a century; the castle was retained by the Hamilton family and the gatehouse went to the Blackwood family [later Lords Dufferin].

The gatehouse was then rebuilt as a tall Georgian block, enlarged ca 1830; while in the early 19th century the main Hamilton castle fell into decay.

The feud was ended by the 5th Lord Dufferin, afterwards 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, after he inherited in 1841.

He returned the property to the castle owner, Archibald Rowan-Hamilton, and as a further gesture removed the old Georgian house and built, in 1886, an appropriate baronial gatehouse to the design of Benjamin Ferry, then employed at Clandeboye.

He married the daughter of Archibald Rowan-Hamilton, who afterwards himself employed, between 1847-51, Charles Lanyon to enlarge and remodel the house, giving it its present appearance.

At Ringhaddy, north of the village, and on Sketrick Island (more celebrated today, perhaps, for Daft Eddy's bar and restaurant), there are two small castles, which acted subordinately to Killyleagh Castle in defence of the barony of Dufferin.

First published in September, 2013.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Coolcarrigan House

THE WILSON-WRIGHTS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILDARE, WITH 5,432 ACRES

The first member of the Wright family to settle in Ireland was

CAPTAIN JAMES WRIGHT (1615-1700), of Royston, Yorkshire, son of John Wright and Margaret, daughter of Richard Ratcliffe.

Captain Wright, an officer in Cromwell's army, landed at Dublin, 1649.

In 1661, he was granted lands at Golagh in County Monaghan.

Captain wright was, however, attainted by JAMES II's parliament, 1688.

His son,

JOSEPH WRIGHT (1652-1731), of Golagh, married, in 1708, Mary, daughter of Edward Own of Kilmore, County Monaghan, and was father of

JOSEPH WRIGHT, of Golagh, who married, in 1744, Eleanor Martyn, of Clogher and Dumbartagh, County Cavan.

The second son,

JOSEPH WRIGHT JP, of Carrachor Hall, Rector of Killencoole, Lurgan Green and Harristown, County Louth, married Mary Montgomery and had four sons.

His second son,

RICHARD WRIGHT, of Fortfield, Belfast, and Craigavad House, County Down, married Catherine, daughter of George Dowdall.

He died in 1788, leaving issue five sons and two daughters.

The third son,

EDWARD THOMAS WRIGHT (1810-81), of Donnybrook, County Dublin, Barrister, married, in 1832, his cousin Charlotte, daughter of Joseph Wright, of Beech Hill, Donnybrook, County Dublin.

The eldest son,

EDWARD PERCIVAL WRIGHT (1834-1910), Professor of Botany, Dublin University, married Emily, daughter of Colonel Ponsonby Shaw of the Indian Army.

His second son,

THE REV CHARLES HENRY HAMILTON WRIGHT (1836-1909), married, in 1859, Ebba Johanna, daughter of Nils Wilhelm Almroth (Director of the Royal Mint in Stockholm and a Knight of the Northern Star of Sweden).

His second son,

SIR ALMROTH EDWARD WRIGHT KBE CB (1861-1947), married, in 1889, Jane Georgina, daughter of Robert Mackay Wilson, of Coolcarrigan, County Kildare.

His second son,

LEONARD ALMROTH WILSON-WRIGHT JP, of Coolcarrigan, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1921, who married, in 1925, Florence, eldest daughter of James Ivory JP, of Brewlands, Glenisla, Forfarshire, and had issue, an only son,

JOCK WILSON-WRIGHT (1928-), who married, in 1953, Sheila Gwendolyn Yate, only daughter of Colonel Henry Patrick Blosse-Lynch, of Partry, Claremorris, County Mayo, and had issue,
Robert (b 1956);
Jane Sheila (b 1958);
Janet, (b 1951) who married Sir Richard La Touche Colthurst, 9th Baronet, of Ardrum, County Cork, and had issue two sons, Charles (b 1955) and James (b 1957).
***** 

THE WILSONS descend from John Wilson, of Rahee, County Antrim, said to have landed in Carrickfergus in the suite of WILLIAM III.

Robert Mackay Wilson's great-grandfather Hugh Wilson (d 1822) also lived at Rashee.

Robert Mackay Wilson's grandfather William Wilson, of Daramona House, County Westmeath, and Larkhill, County Dublin, was born in 1787 and married, in 1815, Rebecca Dupre (d 1846), daughter of John Mackay of Elagh, County Tyrone, and Prospect, County Londonderry.

Robert's elder brother John (1826-1906) succeeded to Daramona House and was sometime High Sheriff for counties Westmeath and Longford.

Robert Mackay Wilson JP (b1829), High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1887, married, in 1858, Elizabeth, daughter of Murray Suffern, of Belfast.

Mr Wilson purchased Coolcarrigan.

Coolcarrigan passed to his only surviving child,

Jane Georgina Wilson (1860-1926) who married Sir Almroth Wright.


COOLCARRIGAN HOUSE, near Naas, County Kildare, is a mansion of three bays and two storeys in the Georgian style, built in the 1830s by Robert Mackay Wilson to the designs of an unknown architect.

The façade has hooded moldings over the upper windows, a simple parapet and a typical late-Georgian door with fanlight and sidelights, while the central bay is treated as a breakfront by the addition of a pair of pilasters.


Two later curved screen walls, ending in tall piers, project outwards to either side of the entrance front and disguise the fact that the house has been considerably enlarged at the rear.

These additions make Coolcarrigan a very comfortable family home.


There is a beautiful family chapel in the grounds:

Consecrated in 1885 by the Most Rev William Plunket, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and later 4th Baron Plunket, the chapel was built in the Hiberno-Romanesque Revival style, with a Round Tower and a High Cross.

It derives from the 12th century Temple Finghin at Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon.

This tiny complex, surrounded by trees and a dry moat, is the most complete example of the Celtic Revival style in Ireland and makes an attractive view from the house.

The church interior has frescoes in Gaelic script, specially chosen by Douglas Hyde, the first Irish President and a close family friend; while the very good stained glass windows, dedicated to various members of the family, are also in the Celtic Revival style.

The main avenue has a splendid display of spring bulbs while the superb twenty-acre garden has a wonderful collection of rare and unusual trees and shrubs inspired by Sir Harold Hillier, the great 20th century plants-man and collector.

An elaborate 1900s greenhouse in the walled garden has just been authentically restored.

Robert Wilson's daughter Georgina married Sir Almroth Wright, and inherited Coolcarrigan.

Her husband was an eminent physician and a colleague of Alexander Fleming, who worked on the development of vaccination and discovered the cure for typhoid.

Among his friends was the playwright George Bernard Shaw, whose play The Doctor’s Dilemma is based upon Sir Almroth.

Their descendants, the Wilson-Wright family, still live at Coolcarrigan, the sixth generation to live in the house.

First published in March, 2013.

Killynether House: II

I have written an article before about Killynether House, near Scrabo Monument and Newtownards, County Down.

Killynether Wood is directly below Scrabo golf course.

In previous articles I speculated as to the original owner of the House; and my belief, at the time, was that the property belonged to the Londonderry Estate.

I believe I have found confirmation of this: a piece about Killynether in a publication called the Irish Builder, dated the 18th August, 1876.

Henry Chappell of Newtownards was responsible for extensive alterations and additions made in 1875-76 at Killynether House for the 5th Marquess of Londonderry, who declared himself absolutely satisfied with the result, which was alleged to be "elegant and commodious".

This opinion is a matter of debate, since Killynether House combined haphazard Gothic and Tudor elements and had minarets on its many slender turrets; though the House would certainly have been commodious.


The basement contained a kitchen, scullery, pantries, servants' hall and bedrooms, cellars and even a lift. On the ground floor, the drawing-room, dining-room, library, agent's room, two sitting-rooms, housekeeper's room, butler's pantry, store-room, cleaning-room, men-servants' room and a water-closet were all situated.

The first floor had nine bedrooms, all with dressing-rooms, a bathroom, linen-closet and more lavatories. The water supply came from a well, sunk in trap-rock half a mile away; and it was conveyed in pipes to a cistern cut in a hill-side at a level to ensure pressure.

The interior plumbing was termed "very complete and comprising all the most recent suggestions and practical improvements in sanitary science".

Killynether House was demolished in 1966.

First published in November, 2009.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Derreen House

THE MARQUESSES OF LANSDOWNE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KERRY, WITH 94,983 ACRES

The Earls of Kerry trace their origin to a common ancestor in the direct line with the eminent houses of FitzGerald, Windsor, Carew, McKenzie, etc; namely, Walter FitzOtho, Castellan of Windsor in the 11th century; whose eldest son,

GERALD FITZWALTER, obtained a grant, from HENRY I, of Moulsford, Berkshire.

This Gerald wedded Nest ferch Rhys, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, and had issue,
MAURICE, ancestor of the ducal house of LEINSTER;
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
David (Rt Rev), Bishop of St David's.
The second son,

WILLIAM FITZGERALD, Lord of Carew, called by Giraldus Cambrensis the eldest son; but the pedigree of the family of LEINSTER setting forth the contrary, his mother's inheritance, and assuming that surname, bespeak him a younger son, which is confirmed by the unerring testimony of the addition of chief, ermine, to his coat armour (a certain sign of cadence, to distinguish him and his posterity from the elder branch of the family.

This William was sent, in 1171, by Strongbow into Ireland with his son, Raymond, where, for a time, he assisted in the reduction of that kingdom; but returning to his native country, died in 1173, leaving issue by Catherine, daughter of Sir Adam de Kingsley, of Cheshire, seven sons and a daughter.

The eldest son,

RAYMOND FITZGERALD, surnamed, from his corpulence, Le Gros, having, as stated above, accompanied his father into Ireland, was a principal in the reduction of that kingdom.

He married Basilia, sister of Strongbow, and had, as a marriage portion with her, a large territorial grant and the constableship of Leinster.

After this, we find him aiding MacCarthy, King of Cork, against his rebellious son, and acquiring for his services a large tract of land in County Kerry, where he settled his eldest son,

MAURICE FITZRAYMOND, who espoused firstly, Johanna, daughter of Meiler Fitzhenry, founder of Great Connell Priory, County Kildare, and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, by whom he had a son,

THOMAS, who assumed the surname of FITZMAURICE, and became Baron Kerry.

This Thomas founded the Grey Franciscan abbey of Ardfert in 1253.

He married Grace, daughter of MacMurrough Kavanagh, son of the king of Leinster; and dying in 1280, was succeeded by his eldest son,

MAURICE FITZTHOMAS, 2nd Baron; who sat in the parliament held at Dublin in 1295, and attended a writ of summons of EDWARD I, 1297, with horse and arms, in an expedition against Scotland.

He wedded Mary, daughter and heir of Sir John McLeod, of Galway; and dying in 1303, was succeeded by his son,

NICHOLAS, 3rd Baron; whose son,

MAURICE, 4th Baron, having a dispute with Desmond Oge MacCarthy, killed him upon the bench before the judge of assize, at Tralee, in 1325, for which he was tried and attainted by the parliament of Dublin, but was not put to death.

His lands were, however, forfeited, but restored, after his death, to his brother and successor,

JOHN, 5th Baron; from whose time, we pass over almost four centuries, and to come to

THOMAS, 21st Baron (1668-1741), who was created, in 1722, Viscount Clanmorris and EARL OF KERRY.

His lordship wedded, in 1692, Anne, only daughter of Sir William Petty, Physician-General to the army in Ireland in 1652.

Sir William Petty was celebrated for his extraordinary talents, and surprising fortune.

In 1664, he undertook the survey of Ireland; and, in 1666, he had completed the measurement of 2,008,000 acres of forfeited land, for which, by contract, he was to receive one penny per acre, and did actually acquire an estate of £6,000 a year.

This eminent and distinguished person died of gangrene in his foot, in 1687.

The Earl of Kerry had issue,
WILLIAM;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Elizabeth Anne; Arabella; Charlotte.
His lordship's second son,

THE HON JOHN FITZMAURICE (1706-61), having inherited the Petty estates upon the demise of his maternal uncle, Henry Petty, Earl of Shelburne, in 1751 (when that earldom expired), assumed the surname and arms of PETTY, and was advanced to the peerage as Baron Dunkeron and Viscount FitzMaurice.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1753, to an earldom, as EARL OF SHELBURNE.

He married, in 1734, his first cousin Mary, daughter of the Hon William FitzMaurice, by whom he had issue, WILLIAM, his successor; and Thomas, who married Mary, Countess of Orkney, a peeress in her own right.

His lordship was created a peer of Great Britain, in the dignity of Baron Wycombe.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1737-1805), KG, a general in the army, and a distinguished statesman in the reign of GEORGE III.

In 1782, his lordship, after the death of the Marquess of Rockingham (under whom he filled the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), was nominated PRIME MINISTER.

The 2nd Earl was advanced, in 1784, to the dignities of Earl of Wycombe, Viscount Calne and Calstone, and MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE.

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin is named after William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Lansdowne.

His lordship married firstly, in 1765, the Lady Sophia Carteret, daughter of John, Earl Granville, by whom he left one son, JOHN, his successor.

He wedded secondly, in 1779, the Lady Louisa FitzPatrick, daughter of John, Earl of Upper Ossory, by whom he had a son, HENRY, 3rd Marquess; and a daughter, Louisa, who died young.

He was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN, 2nd Marquess (1765-1809), who espoused, in 1805, Lady Gifford, widow of Sir Duke Gifford, of Castle Jordan, in Ireland; but dying without issue, the honours devolved upon his half-brother,

LORD HENRY PETTY, who had already distinguished himself as an eloquent public speaker, and had attained considerable popularity by his enlightened views as a statesman.

His lordship succeeded also to the honours of the house of KERRY upon the demise of his cousin.
The heir apparent is the present holder's elder son, Simon Henry George Petty-Fitzmaurice, styled Earl of Kerry.

The 3rd Marquess declined the offer of a dukedom.


DERREEN HOUSE, near Lauragh, County Kerry, sits in an exceptionally beautiful site at the River Kenmare.

It was enlarged between 1863-66 by the 4th Marquess of Lansdowne, who built a new wing.

The house was further enlarged after 1870 by the 5th Marquess, who was subsequently Governor-General of Canada, Viceroy of India and HM Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


Derreen underwent further work following an attack of dry rot in 1925-6.

It comprises two storeys over a basement, with white rendered walls and dormer gables.


DERREEN GARDEN extends over the greater part of the peninsula on which it lies.

It covers an area of 60 acres and includes nearly eight miles of paths, which wind through mature and varied woodland.

In the moist and mild climate, tender and exotic plants flourish.

Many of the paths in the garden provide marvellous glimpses of the sea (Bay of Kilmakilloge) and the distant mountains (Caha Mountains, Macgillycuddy's Reeks).

Derreen garden is particularly noted for its rhododendrons and tree ferns.

Throughout the garden a rich patina of moss, lichens ferns and saxifrages gives a sub-tropical feel to the whole area.

As a foil to the luxuriant plantings, there are great natural outcrops of rocks.

The garden is open to the public every day from April to October.

During the 2nd World War Derreen was separated from the Lansdowne title by the death of Charles, 7th Marquess, who was killed in action in 1944, when his entailed estates were inherited by a kinsman.

Derreen, not being entailed, was inherited by his sister, Katherine Evelyn Constance Petty-Fitzmaurice, Lady Nairne (1912–1995), and is now owned and managed by her grandson, Charlie Bigham.

The seat of the Marquesses of Lansdowne is now Bowood House, Wiltshire.

Former town house ~ Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, London.

First published in July, 2013. 

Rose-Cleland of Rathgael

THE ROSE-CLELANDS OWNED 599 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

The family of CLELAND (formerly spelt Kneland) was of great antiquity in Scotland.

Their coat-of-arms, tradition states, was acquired by their being hereditary foresters to the ancient Earls of Douglas.

JAMES CLELAND, of that Ilk, in Lanarkshire, ancestor of the Clelands of that Ilk and of several other families of the same surname, joined his cousin Sir William Wallace in 1296 for the relief of his country against the English, along with a considerable number of noblemen and gentlemen.

He was present at, and assisted Sir William Wallace in most of his exploits, particularly in capturing Thomas of Longueville, commonly called The Red Rover.

After the death of Sir William Wallace he firmly supported the cause of ROBERT THE BRUCE, and for his loyalty and good services that king gave him several lands in the barony of Calder, West Lothian.

WILLIAM CLELAND, of that Ilk, was fifth in descent from the above James Cleland, and in the reign of JAMES III, King of Scotland, about 1462, married Jean Somerville.

His son and successor,

ALEXANDER CLELAND, of that Ilk, was killed in 1513 at the battle of Flodden, along with his cousin, William Cleland, of Faskine, fighting valiantly in defence of their Scottish King, JAMES IV.

To a charter of 1498, there was appended a seal of this Alexander, upon which was a hare, leaping, with a hunting horn about his neck.

The lineal descendant of this gentleman,

JOHN CLELAND, of Whithorn, Wigtownshire, was appointed factor to James, 5th Earl of Galloway, and in 1731, wedded Margaret Murdoch, only child of the Provost of Whithorn.

He died in 1747, having had issue,
William, died in infancy;
JAMES, of whom hereafter;
John;
Katharine; AGNES; Margaret.
The second daughter,

AGNES CLELAND (1740-75), espoused firstly, in 1766, Lieutenant Richard Rose, of the East India Company's European Regiment, by whom she had an only child, JAMES DOWSETT ROSE, who afterwards assumed the additional surname of CLELAND.

She married secondly, in 1774, William Nicholson, of Balloo House, though the marriage was without issue.

John Cleland's son and successor,

JAMES CLELAND, of Newtownards, County Down, wedded, in 1770, Sarah, only child of Captain Patrick Baird, though the marriage was without issue.

He died in 1777, when the his estate reverted to his nephew,

JAMES DOWSETT ROSE-CLELAND JP DL (1767-1852), of Rathgill, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1805, who succeeded to his father's property in 1768, and to that of his paternal grandfather, Richard Rose, of Abingdon, Berkshire, in 1784.

In compliance of the testamentary injunction of his cousin, Patrick Cleland, of Ballymagee, he assumed the additional surname and arms of CLELAND (his mother's name).

He espoused firstly, in 1790, Sarah, only child of William Eaton Andrews, of London, and had issue,
William Nicholson, died in infancy;
Elizabeth Hawkins.
Mr Rose-Cleland married secondly, in 1832, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William Nicholson Steele-Nicholson, of Balloo House, and had issue,
JAMES BLACKWOOD, heir to his father;
RICHARD, successor to his brother;
Edward Allen, b 1840;
Henry Somerville, b 1843;
Agnes Elizabeth; Isabel Hamilton;
Margaret Sabina, m Arthur Wellington Garner, of Garnerville.
Mr Rose-Cleland commanded the Newtownards Yeomen Infantry at the battle of Saintfield, 1798; and three months' later raised the Rathgael Yeomen Infantry, and received repeated thanks from the Government for his services.

He presided at the contested election for County Down between Robert, Viscount Castlereagh (later 2nd Marquess of Londonderry), and Colonel the Hon John Meade, which lasted 21 days.

Mr Rose-Cleland was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES BLACKWOOD ROSE-CLELAND (1835-56), of Rathgael House, who died at Constantinople, and was succeeded by his brother,

RICHARD ROSE-CLELAND (1836-92), of Rathgael House, who married, in 1861, Elizabeth Wilhelmina, daughter of Robert Kennedy, of Lisburn, County Antrim, and had issue,
James Dowsett, b 1862;
Robert Kennedy, b 1863;
Richard, died in infancy;
Charles Arthur, b 1876;
Elizabeth Helen Louisa; Mary Isabella Eveline; Edith Adelaide;
Maude Ethel; Florence May; Alice Gertrude; Catherine Mabel; Harriet Ella.
Rathgael was inherited by the youngest son and the seven youngest daughters.

Rathgael House

Rathgill, or Rathgael House, dating from the 18th century, was originally the nucleus of a farm comprising 88 acres on the northern part of Clandeboye estate.

The house was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Rathgael Training School.

A lake was created by the Cleland family in the late 1800s for fishing, and some of the planting surrounding it dates from that period.


A new housing development, known as Helen's Wood, has been created on land close to the location of Rathgael House.


First published in April, 2016.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Franklin Maxims: IV

THE ROTTEN APPLE SPOILS HIS COMPANION.

Killynether House: I


I first discovered Killynether Wood in December, 2007.

Such a beautiful spot.

Deep in the woods there is a sea of bluebells in May each year.

Killynether Wood lies on a hill overlooked by Scrabo Tower, that august landmark and memorial to the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

The nearest town is Newtownards in County Down; the Woods are roughly between Comber and Newtownards.

I had no idea, until I was told, that there used to be a large country house here, called Killynether House.

Killynether was the second property acquired by the National Trust since it became established in Northern Ireland

The owner in 1937 was Jessie Helen Weir ( b 1856).

She donated her property that year, including 42 acres of mixed woodland and an endowment of £2,000, to the Trust.

I believe that the house was built in 1858.

In 1907 Killynether House was described in the street directory as Killynether Castle, the owner being Arthur James Weir (b 1863); though in a directory of 1886 the occupier was none other than James Brownlow, a local magistrate; and shortly thereafter Brownlow resigned as Lord Londonderry's land agent.

Andrew Cowan, another local magistrate, also occupied Killynether at one stage.


Killynether and the surrounding land formed part of the Londonderry Estates; and we also know that James Brownlow was Lord Londonderry's land agent in 1886; and that there was a Cowan Inheritance in the 17th century.

This was a Victorian, Tudor-Gothic mansion with a mullioned roof and various towers.

This, at least, we can deduce from old photographs.

The house was already being used as a youth hostel in 1937, so the Trust agreed that the YHA tenancy should continue.

At the start of the Second World War, the House and grounds were requisitioned by the Army; and the tenure of the Estate, including those austere but functional Nissen huts, was not actually released by the Ministry of Defence till the 31st May, 1949.

The concrete bases of the huts remained, despite considerable pleas from the Trust to the MoD about this.

The NI committee of the National Trust was concerned that the property should be utilized to its full potential following the army's departure, so an umbrella group representing the YHA, Federation of Boys' Clubs, Civil Service Social Service Society and National Council of YMCAs was formed and the Trust granted them a short lease for their activities.

In June, 1947, Killynether House was still found to be in reasonably good condition.

About five years later, in 1952, the youth hostel grouping's tenure expired, though the YHA was permitted to remain until November, 1953.

Regrettably, dry rot had begun to take hold of the house; nevertheless some remedial repairs were undertaken.

At this stage the Trust wished to find suitable private tenants for the property though, sadly, during a period when the house was empty, it succumbed to inevitable vandalism.

Eventually a tenant was found in September, 1955.

The perennial problems associated with dry rot persisted and Killynether House became uninhabitable to such an extent that, by 1966, the matter came to a head and the National Trust felt that regrettably they had no option other than to demolish the old house.

First published in May, 2009.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Stormont Castle

THE CLELANDS OWNED 4,385 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

This is a County Down family, claiming descent from James Cleland, of that Ilk, Lanarkshire.

THE REV JOHN CLELAND (1755-1834), second son of Moses Cleland, of County Down, married, in 1805, Esther, daughter and co-heiress of Samuel Jackson, of Storm Mount, County Down, by his wife Margaret, only child and heiress of Paul Peter Isaac Vateau, descendant of a French Huguenot family, and had issue,
SAMUEL JACKSON, his heir;
Robert Stewart, b 1810; died under age;
Sarah Frances, m Robert Richard Tighe, of Woodstock.
John Cleland was a student at the Rev William Neilson's Classical Academy in Rademon, County Down; tutor to Lord Castlereagh; Prebendary of Armagh; Rector of Newtownards, 1789-1809; murder attempt occurred against him, 1796; he passed on information against the United Irishmen, 1797; Lord Londonderry's agent, 1824; bought land in Killeen & Ballymiscaw, 1830.

The Rev John Cleland's eldest son,

SAMUEL JACKSON CLELAND (1808-42), of Storm Mount, Dundonald, County Down, married Elizabeth (1817-92), daughter of James Joyce, of Thorn Hill, Belfast, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
James Vance, Captain (1838-86), of Ennismore, co Armagh;
Robert StewartLieutenant-Colonel (1840-81), died of his wounds at Muree;
Samuel Frederick Stewart (1842-1902);
Margaret.
Samuel Jackson Cleland's premature death, aged 34, is said to have been caused by the sudden collapse of a wall at Rose Park (which he was demolishing at the time), close to his new residence, Stormont Castle.


The Cleland family mausoleum at Dundonald grave-yard, which was erected in his memory, cost the considerable sum of £2,000 to build in 1842 (about £228,000 today).

Samuel Jackson Cleland's eldest son,

JOHN CLELAND JP DL (1836-93), of Stormont Castle, Dundonald, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1866, wedded, in 1859, Therese Maria, only daughter of Captain Thomas Leyland, of Haggerston Castle, Northumberland, and Hyde Park House, London, and had issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES STEWART, his heir;
Andrew Leyland Hillyar, b 1868;
Florence Rachel Therese Laura, b 1894; m  E U Blackett, of Wylam, Northumberland.
The eldest son, 

ARTHUR CHARLES STEWART CLELAND (1865-1924), of Stormont Castle, Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment, wedded, in 1890, Mabel Sophia, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel H T D'Aguilar, Grenadier Guards.

Mr Cleland died at Field Green, Hawkhurst, Kent.


STORMONT CASTLE, Dundonald, County Down, is a Scottish-Baronial mansion of 1858, built by the Belfast architect Thomas Turner. 

It replaced a previous house.

The entrance front comprises three storeys high and eight bays wide, with a two-storey canted bay window.


Remaining windows have square-topped sashes, with bartizan turrets at either end.

There is a tall tower at the eastern end, with a large door surround and balustrade on top, turrets on tower corners, crow-stepped castellation, and three rounded arch windows at top.

Gryphons brandish shields at either side of the main staircase

Cleland arms

The Castle's lofty tower is reminiscent of The Prince Consort's Tower at Balmoral Castle. 

John Cleland's grandson began extending the Georgian house after 1842, though work did not begin on the new mansion until 1858.


It was at Storm Mount that, ca 1830, Cleland created what was described as "a plain house": A mid or late Georgian house of a traditional type, it was in the form of a plain rectangle with a central projection to the south, presumably for the entrance. 

Associated plantings were very modest; there was a small fringed meadow at the front and an orchard on the hillside to the north west.  

A directory entry of 1837 referred (probably inaccurately) to the house as 'Storemont'; and, by 1864, the "Parliament Gazetteer" still did not rank it amongst the principal residences of the area. 


In those days the most substantial such residence was Rose Park, a name still in use in the residential area.

It was in the course of removing Rose Park, in the process of consolidating Cleland's holdings, that his son Samuel Jackson Cleland was killed by the collapse of a wall in 1842.

In 1858, the Cleland family commissioned the local architect Thomas Turner to convert the existing plain dwelling into a flamboyant baronial castle.

To what extent the original house survives is not clear. Conventional wisdom, supported by some map evidence, is that the symmetrical five-bay block facing south is the "baronialised" shell of the Georgian dwelling.

To this, Turner added the entrance tower to the east.

The whole image and particularly the outline of the building was given a baronial character with turrets, battlements, bartizans with conical caps, iron cresting and weather vanes. 

The Cleland monogram was used on the shields held by the snarling stone gryphons which still guard the main entrance to the Castle.

The 1850s also saw extensive development of the demesne which was extended to the main Upper Newtownards Road, with the old lodge for Rose Park becoming the lodge for the remodelled baronial Stormont.

The Clelands finally left in 1893, preferring to live elsewhere, and the demesne was let out. 

At some stage Stormont Castle was rented by Charles E Allen JP, a director of the shipbuilding firm of Workman and Clark Limited. 

On his departure from Belfast, the Castle became vacant and, in April, 1921, both it and the surrounding land were offered at auction, but withdrawn when no bid higher than £15,000 was obtained.

Later in 1921, however, it was acquired, with 235 acres of land, as a site for the Parliament Buildings of the new Northern Ireland state. 

On September 20th, that Parliament resolved that 
Stormont Castle demesne shall be the place where the new Parliament House and Ministerial Buildings shall be erected, and as the place to be determined as the seat of the Government of Northern Ireland as and when suitable provision has been made therefore. 
While there was initial uncertainty about the use to be made of Stormont Castle itself, it was later decided that it should become the official residence of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. 

Sir James Craig (later 1st Viscount Craigavon) lived there until 1940, when he moved out to make more room for officials engaged in War work.

Lord Craigavon was succeeded in office by Mr J Andrews and thereafter by Sir Basil Brooke Bt (later 1st Viscount Brookeborough).

While both had offices in the Castle, no Prime Minister resided there with any regularity between 1940 to 1969.

On the arrival in office of Captain Terence O'Neill in 1963, substantial reinstatement and improvement works were carried out.

These included the removal of an ugly glass entrance canopy and the restoration of the old ballroom as an improved Cabinet Room.

In those days the Prime Minister occupied what became the Secretary of State's office, with the Secretary of the Cabinet using the other major front room on the ground floor.

Captain O'Neill (afterwards Lord O'Neill of the Maine), Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, resided, when in Belfast, at nearby Stormont House, originally built as a residence for the Speakers of the NI House of Commons.

His successor, Major James Chichester-Clark (later Lord Moyola), had premises on the first floor converted into a self-contained flat and regularly stayed there.

Since 1974, when Northern Ireland reverted to direct rule from Westminster, the Castle became the administrative headquarters for successive Secretaries of State.

Today, Stormont Castle serves as the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Although Stormont Castle is a house of the 1850s, the grounds date from the time of a former house of 1830.

There are a few mature trees from that era.

There is a fine restored glasshouse with 'bothies' on the back (ca 1857).

Formal bedding in the vicinity of the glasshouse and immediately to the west of the Castle was recorded, in its original form, in R Welch’s photographs of 1894 but have now gone. 

The demesne was purchased over the period 1921-78 for the Parliament Buildings and now amounts to about 400 acres.

First published in January, 2011.

Friday, 24 April 2020

New Tyrone DL

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT


Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Elizabeth Ruth Cuddy OBE
Dungannon
County Tyrone
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, her Commission bearing date the 15th day of April, 2020.

Signed: Robert Scott
Lord-Lieutenant of the County.

Crom Castle

THE EARLS OF ERNE WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY FERMANAGH, WITH 31,389 ACRES


This family is said to descend from a branch of the Creightons or Crichtons, Viscounts Frendraught, in Scotland, which title ceased with Lewis, the 5th Viscount, about 1690.

JOHN CREIGHTON, of Crum [sic] Castle, County Fermanagh, settled in County Fermanagh during the 17th century.


This John married Mary, daughter of Sir Gerald Irvine, of Castle Irvine.

He died before 1631, leaving an only son, who acquired the leasehold of Crum, or Crom, by his marriage with Miss Spottiswood.
'Crom does not appear to have ever been the residence of Sir Stephen Butler, for we find that about the year 1624 the lands of Drumbrochas, Crum, and Innisfendra were leased to Dr James Spottiswood, who was consecrated Bishop of Clogher in 1621. 
There was not at that time an episcopal residence provided for this see, as the Bishop, during his tenure of it, resided either at Crom or at the Castle of Portora, near Enniskillen. 
The Bishop's third daughter, Mary, was married to Colonel Abraham Creighton about 1655, and this marriage brought Crom into the Crichton family.'
John Creighton's son and heir,

ABRAHAM CREIGHTON (c1626-1705), of Drumboory, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1673, MP for Fermanagh, 1692, Enniskillen, 1695, who commanded a regiment of foot at Aughrim, 1692.

Colonel Creighton married, in 1655, Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev Dr James Spottiswood, Lord Bishop of Clogher, and had issue,

DAVID, his heir;
James;
Abraham;
Jane; Marianna.
Crom Castle was  acquired by the Crichtons in 1655.

He was succeeded by his only son,

DAVID CREIGHTON (1671-1728), celebrated for his gallant defence, in 1689, of the family seat of Crom Castle, against a large body of the royal army (JAMES II's).

Having repulsed the assailants, young Creighton made a sally, at the instant that a corps of Enniskilleners was approaching to the relief of the castle, which movement placed the besiegers between two fires, and caused dreadful slaughter.

The enemy attempting to accomplish his retreat across an arm of Lough Erne, near Crom Castle, that spot became the scene of such carnage, that it bore the name of the "Bloody Pass".

This gentleman represented Enniskillen in parliament, and attaining the rank of major-general in the army, was appointed governor of the royal hospital of Kilmainham.

He wedded, in 1700, Catherine, second daughter of Richard Southwell, of Castle Mattress, County Limerick, and sister of 1st Lord Southwell.

General Creighton, MP for Augher, 1695, Lifford, 1695-1728, died in 1728, he was succeeded by his only son,

ABRAHAM CREIGHTON 
(c1700-72), who espoused firstly, in 1729, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon John Rogerson, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and had issue,

Abraham (died 1810);
JOHN, his successor;
Charlotte.
He married secondly, in 1763, Jane, daughter of John King, without further issue.

Mr Creighton was elevated to the peerage, in 1768, in the dignity of Baron Erne, of Crom Castle.

His lordship was succeeded by his surviving son,

JOHN, 2nd Baron (1731-1828), who was created Viscount Erne, in 1781; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1789, as EARL OF ERNE.

His lordship wedded firstly, in 1761, Catherine, second daughter of the Rt Rev Dr Robert Howard, Lord Bishop of Elphin, and sister of the Viscount Wicklow, and had issue,

ABRAHAM, his successor;
John;
Elizabeth; three other daughters.
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1776, the Lady Mary Hervey, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon and Rt Rev Frederick Augustus [Hervey], Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry, and had an only daughter, Lady Elizabeth Caroline Mary Crichton, who wedded James Archibald, Lord Wharncliffe.
Abraham Creighton, 2nd Earl (1765–1842);
John Crichton, 3rd Earl (1802–85);
John Henry Crichton, 4th Earl (1839–1914);
Henry William Crichton, Viscount Crichton (1872–1914;)
Hon George David Hugh Crichton (1904–1904);
John Henry George Crichton, 5th Earl (1907–40);
Henry George Victor John Crichton, 6th Earl (1937-2015).
 
JOHN HENRY NINIAN, 7th and present Earl (1971-), DL, married, in 2019, Harriet, daughter of Alan Patterson, of Berwickshire.



CROM CASTLE, near Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, is one of the the finest estates in County Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.

The Castle stands in a commanding position, with the entrance front to the east, the south front looks out towards the deer-park and Old Castle; while the west front (above) has the prospect of the boat-house and Inisherk Island.

Crom is one of my favourite places.


Books have been written about Crom.

It used to be a thriving community, virtually self-contained, complete with its own post-office; stable-yard; school-house; church; riding school; turf-house and saw-mill; petrol pump; court-yard; and staff accommodation.

The old farm-yard has been transformed into visitor accommodation with a visitor centre, exhibition, tea-room, jetty and more besides.

There is the Crichton Tower, too, a stone folly built as a Famine relief project ca 1847 to serve as an observatory.

The demesne is situated in a heavily wooded lough shore and island setting, the nearest village being Newtownbutler.

The estate was established in the 17th century and the ruins of the original Plantation castle - built about 1611 and destroyed by fire in 1764 - are still accessible on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, surrounded by vestiges of a formal garden; and near to a pair of venerable old yew trees.

The formal garden resembles a garden that would have graced the old castle; but is, in fact, a later garden, made when a plan was laid out in the early 19th century for the present mansion of 1831, by Edward Blore.


It was what I have termed one of the Big Five in the county; though the total income from all the Erne estates, reaching far beyond County Fermanagh, generated £23,850 per annum by 1883 with an overall acreage of 40,365.

In today's terms, that would equate to an annual income of £1.1 million.

The mansion is on an elevated site and is surrounded by mature trees; with vistas cut through the planting to the lough,  buildings used as "eye-catchers" in the distance, including the old Castle.

The Castle combines Baronial and Tudor-Revival elements.

The entrance front has a gabled projection with a corbelled oriel at each end, though they're not totally similar; while the tall, battlemented entrance tower, incorporating a porte-cochére, is not central but to one side, against the left-hand gable.

There are stone-carvings on the south and east fronts of the Castle.

Inside there is a series of heraldic stained-glass panels in the bay window at the foot of the staircase, one of which commemorates the marriage of the 1st Earl to Lady Mary Hervey, daughter of the Earl Bishop of Derry and a sister of Lady Elizabeth Hervey (Duchess of Devonshire).
The hall and staircase at Crom Castle are among Edward Blore's finest surviving interiors: Classical in form, the staircase was given a late-Perpendicular veneer by the arcades at top and bottom - the latter rather in the feeling of a chantry chapel - while the cathedral atmosphere was enhanced by the encapsulation tiles of the floor and the armorial stained glass windows.
Although the other rooms have been greatly altered since Blore's day, Crom remains one of the most impressive Victorian houses in Northern Ireland.

The adjoining garden front is symmetrical, dominated by a very tall central tower with slender octagonal turrets.

On either side of it is a gable and oriel.

The landscaping scheme was planned by the eminent landscaper, W Gilpin, in 1838 and is one of the very few sites designed by a named English employee, at a time when English landscape design was pre-eminent.

Crom survives as an outstanding landscape park in the Picturesque style.

The natural features of lough and islands are embellished with trees, bridges and buildings.

The formal garden, with its parterre, is long gone.

The parterre was at the west front and has since, I believe, been turned to lawn.
Parterres were a common feature of large country houses: Florence Court used to have one immediately to its rear; while Castle Ward had what was known as the Windsor Garden, a parterre in the sunken garden within its walled garden.
These features were relatively easy to maintain, since a small army of gardeners was employed for the purpose!

The house is set in wonderful surroundings, affording fine views.

There are some very fine trees, including a number of a great age both in the woodland and in the parkland, which includes a small Deer Park.

Victorian bedding schemes at the house, known from contemporary photographs, have been grassed over, but the conservatory of 1851 remains.

The walled garden survives, with glasshouses and bothies.

It is not planted up and the buildings are presently disused.

The many attractive demesne buildings are in good repair and are listed.

The stables are used as offices and the farm is a Visitors Centre, with holiday accommodation.

I visited the Castle about 1977 with my mother.

There used to be an indoor swimming-pool, though this has been taken away and, it is thought, turned into accommodation in the west wing.


The Erne Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The 4th Earl's time at Crom coincided with the Land Acts and the Land Courts.

The latter appreciably reduced the rents payable to the landlord in most of the land cases which were brought judicially before it, with the result that land purchase, when it came, was calculated on the basis of these new and lower 'judicial' rents.

Terence Reeves-Smyth writes:
... The large bulk of the Erne estates were sold by the 4th Earl between 1904 and 1909 under the ... Land Act of 1903. ... By April 1908 ..., [most] of the Fermanagh estates had been sold to their tenants for £240,440. Only 49 holdings remained unsold, valued at £12,770. ...
When the amounts already received for the Sligo and Donegal estates are added - £25,000 and £83,427 respectively, both sold in October 1905 - the grand total comes to £348,867, or £20 million at 2010 values.

Mr Reeves-Smyth does not mention Mayo, part of which was still unsold in 1912.

It also looks as if a further ca £70,000 remained to be realised, post-1908, out of the Donegal estate, and a further £26,000 out of the Sligo.

The Dublin estate, being entirely urban, was unaffected by the Land Acts.

The 5th Earl, for a time, served as lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards, his father's old regiment.

Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939, he raised the North Irish Horse, which was based in Enniskillen between November 1939 and February 1940.

In 1940, Lord Erne was killed near Dunkirk, and the castle and the demesne passed into the control of trustees whose most immediate problem was to protect the castle and demesne from the depredations of, firstly, British and then American forces, for whose use it was requisitioned at the beginning of the 2nd World War.

Terence Reeves-Smyth writes:
... From 1940 ... to 1958, the castle and demesne were controlled by a board of trustees. During the war the demesne actually made a profit, but the trustees throughout this period were considering leasing or selling the property to the Ministry of Agriculture. During the war and later in the 1950s the trustees undertook a number of tree fellings in the demesne woods to raise capital for the estate.

When the 6th Earl inherited in 1958, he attempted to create a dairy farm out of the farm lands, and later a toy factory in the farm yard, but neither enterprise was totally successful. Eventually part of the demesne was sold to the Department of the Environment in 1980 and subsequently, in 1987, the National Trust acquired the rest of the demesne, in part as a gift, while the castle itself has been retained by Lord Erne...
The Crom Estate is now held inalienably by the National Trust, including crucial rights to islands in, and parts of, Upper Lough Erne.

If its sale or lease to the Ministry of Agriculture had gone ahead, its "... great wealth of wildlife would have completely vanished under a monoculture of spruce" (Reeves-Smyth), and Crom Castle "may have been turned into a hotel or perhaps even demolished."

Under the 6th Earl, many changes were made and continued to be made to render the castle suitable for present-day living.

The 6th Earl's aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Abercorn, GCVO, was Mistress of the Robes to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The 5th Earl was a Page of Honour to HM King George V 1921-4, and a Lord-in-Waiting to HM King George VI 1936-9.

The 6th Earl served as HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh, 1986-2012.

The West Wing at Crom Castle is available to rent, further details being available here.

The opening of the West Wing as holiday accommodation marks a new departure for Crom Castle which, as the family home, remains closed to the general public.

Erne arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  Photo credits: 6th Earl of Erne and Mr Noel Johnston.   First published in January, 2010.