Saturday, 30 April 2011

Official Photograph

The Earl of Belmont wishes to apologize to any persons whomsoever, within the Earldom, who found the flying of the Number One size Union Flag outside the Porch of his lordship's residence on Royal Wedding Day in any way offensive.

It will be noted that Lord Belmont has personally received gestures of support from well-wishers, neighbours and supporters of the Blog, its ethos and values.

Noblesse Oblige.

Friday, 29 April 2011

New Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have kissed twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding service in Westminster Abbey.

They were cheered by 500,000 well-wishers who gathered outside the palace, as Royal Air Force planes flew past in honour of Their Royal Highnesses.

Prince William was dressed in a uniform of Colonel in the Irish Guards.

Police estimate a million people lined the processional route from the abbey to the palace.

The bride will now be known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

The Queen is hosting a buffet reception at the palace for 650 guests.

The Nation rejoices today for Their Royal Highnesses.

New Dukedom

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN has been pleased to direct Letters Patent to be passed under the Great Seal of the Realm, to bear this day's date, granting unto Her Majesty's Grandson, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales KG and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, the dignities of BARON CARRICKFERGUS, EARL OF STRATHEARN and DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE.

Royal Wedding Day

 To Commemorate the Marriage of 

His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales  to

Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on 

Friday, 29th April, 2011. 

Conveying my Most Cordial Wishes, 

Compliments and Support. 

God Save The Queen

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Dinner

The Queen has arrived at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge for a pre-wedding dinner with various dignitaries. Lady Anson, the evening's host and Her Majesty's cousin, met her and was greeted with a kiss on both cheeks outside the hotel.

Earlier, the Princess Royal arrived by minibus along with Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, and Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella came in a separate coach.

Castle Sale

A reader has brought my attention to the sale of Spur Royal, now known as Augher Castle, in County Tyrone. It is being sold by Knight Frank estate agents.

Augher Castle is stated to be one of the finest houses in County Tyrone.The present owners have invested considerable time and effort refurbishing the property, creating a beautiful family home with wonderful views across the lake and gardens.

The castle is set in it own well- maintained grounds and perched at a height overlooking the Lake. An estate stone wall abounds the village side, with two entrances to the estate.

The house has both excellent formal reception rooms and beautiful entertaining rooms, coupled with a comfortable family atmosphere. The rooms are light, well proportioned and finished to a high standard, with the majority benefiting from the lovely views over the garden and lake.

On the North East side of the lake sits the Stable Yard with coach houses, a four bedroom cottage and a large walled garden with hanger and further large storage barn. The estate manager’s house is accessed via a separate avenue and it sits amongst a copse of trees over looking the lake.

Augher Castle certainly impresses by its grandeur but feels like a home, as it is a warm, conveniently laid out and well maintained house, which makes everyone feel welcome.

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 3 reception rooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • Equestrian
  • Fishing
  • Garden
  • Golf course
  • Land
  • Secondary accommodation
  • Tennis Court
  • Waterside
  • 51.00 acres (20.6 hectares)
  • Freehold

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tartine Restaurant

Well it is ten past six and I am installed comfortably in Tartine Restaurant, Bushmills, County Antrim, where I'm having the Dinner Madness offer at £16 for two courses and a glass of wine.

This agreeable restaurant is open-plan and I am tapping away at the keyboard in the cosy front lounge and, as I write, the waiter has collected my drink and shown me to my table at the back of the dining-room. The chairs are sturdy wooden affairs, upright. There is a carafe of chilled water on the table; a little candle; and paper serviettes at this sitting.

My starter, a spring roll of goat's cheese, side salad and sweet tomato chutney, has been enjoyable; perfectly acceptable in size for a first course.

The staff here are attentive, courteous and agreeable; the ambiance warm and rather romantic, despite not having a lady-friend with me. I'd consider the dining-room to have a contemporary decor.

I had the fresh, battered coley with chunky chips, salad and tartare sauce for the main course. This I enjoyed: the fish was mild in flavour, delicate and perfectly cooked.

This great value meal has encouraged me sufficiently to return for dinner and the game which, this evening, included guinea-fowl, venison and rabbit. I am eager to know from whence the game is procured: Dunderave, Benvarden, perhaps?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

William Craig (MP) 1924-2011

I learned on the news this morning that the former Unionist minister and MP, William (Bill) Craig has died.

I never met him, though I can recount a little anecdote: During the late seventies or early eighties, my father and I were boating on Lough Erne. We were at the Manor House Hotel in Killadeas for a snack.

Bill Craig was seated on his own in a quiet part of the large lounge bar, minding his own business, reading a newspaper and having a drink. He habitually left his boat, which I think may have been called Gaffer Goose or Duck, at the marina. The cruiser appeared to be somewhat neglected, with dirt and weeds growing on parts of the decking.

I believe the Craigs owned a little island, Gaffer Island, not far from the Hotel. I also seem to recall that they flew the Union Jack or Red Ensign from the jetty. They lived in a static caravan near the jetty.

Rumours were circulating at the time that, owing to paramilitary threats, the Craigs hadn't been able to construct a permanent home on the little island. I have no idea as to the validity of that theory.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Viscount Weymouth

Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, heir to the 7th Marquess of Bath, has just taken over running the Longleat estate. He tells the Daily Telegraph's Jasper Gerard about his radical plans for it and his extraordinary upbringing in this article.

New Garter Knights

THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to appoint the Right Honourable the Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers PC and Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB OBE DL to be Knights Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Clandeboye Booklet

I'd forgotten how truly fascinating the small booklet entitled Clandeboye actually is. I pulled it out of the bookcase late last night for a perusal and, although it could be read well within an hour, it is a little gem of a publication.

Published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) in 1985, it provides a much greater insight of the Blackwood family - Barons Clandeboye, Viscounts Clandeboye, Earls of Dufferin, Earls of Ava; and, ultimately, Marquesses of Dufferin and Ava till the marquessate became extinct following the death of Sheridan, 5th and last Marquess, in 1988.

The UAHS has written a piece about Clandeboye on their website.

Sheridan Dufferin writes personally about his upbringing at Clandeboye House; of the innumerable nannies - one or two kinder than the others; his early education at Garth House, a day school in Bangor, County Down; his sisters being sent to Rockport Boys' School; and his sister Lady Perdita's prowess in all matters equestrian.

The present Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava - Lindy Guinness - intimates what an enchanting place Clandeboye really is, more so given the influence of the 1st Marquess, erstwhile Governor-General of Canada, Viceroy of India and various other ambassadorial roles.

We see an old photograph of a family group at the 5th Marquess's Christening - or little Sheridan, Earl of Ava, as he was in 1938: Lord Kilmorey, Lady Broughshaw, Somey Somerset, Lady Novar ... Maureen Lady Dufferin, Lady Caroline, Lady Perdita, and the 4th Marquess.

There is also a chapter about Helen's Tower, which nestles in the grounds of the beautiful Clandeboye estate.

Thoroughly recommended reading.

First published in November, 2009.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Historic McHugh's

Timothy Belmont was out on the prowl last night. Ha! I cycled down to the railway halt at five forty-five, in the glorious, summery weather; tossed the trusty two-wheeler into the foliage; waited patiently for the train; jumped aboard and met BP thereafter at so-called "Central" station.

We walked along the River Lagan to our destination, the Odyssey Pavilion, at Queen's Quay, where we had a curry in the Indian Restaurant (the whole complex, including the restaurant, was eerily quiet). BP complained about his iced Tennant's beer, which he considered a touch "chemical"; so they duly replaced it and the second offering was an improvement, though still imperfect - the excuse was that they don't sell a lot of this brand.

From the Odyssey, we ventured over the weir footbridge and crossed the road, over to Queen's Square (near the Albert Clock) to McHugh's bar, an establishment reputedly established in 1711. Seemingly historians noticed the second-floor windows with small pane sashes in exposed sash-boxes, thus indicating some antiquity.

In 1711 a prominent and enterprising merchant called Isaac Macartney was successful in leasing a tract of unreclaimed land between what is now St George's Church and the River Lagan. Macartney then began work on reclaiming the area, intending to build on it.

Macartney created a new residential area called Brunswick Square [Queen's Square] and what we now know as Donegall Quay.

McHugh's remains one of only two buildings that still survive from Macartney's development.

It's quite an atmospheric bar and they have endeavoured to replicate some of the 18th or 19th century features. The floor is wooden. Would any experts know if bars and taverns had wooden floors in those days? Or stone floors?

We stayed in McHugh's till after eleven; then I had to catch the last train home at 11:27.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sale of the Century?

Cowdray Park, at Midhurst in West Sussex, is up for sale, as are many of its finest contents including a Gainsborough painting, which is expected to fetch £6 million at auction.

Cowdray Park has been the seat of the Viscounts Cowdray.

Cowdray Park, which is next to the world famous polo club, went on the market in September last year and has been the Pearson family seat since 1909.

In addition to the 44,000 sq ft mansion, there is also a hamlet of cottages, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, pony paddocks and stables, two lakes, landscaped gardens and a cricket pitch, set in 110 acres of parkland.

Lord Cowdray, has now moved to the more modest Greenhill house at Fernhurst, where he and Lady Cowdray lived before he inherited the mansion in 1995. He had hoped to turn the historic house into a hotel, spa and conference centre, but abandoned the plan after failing to find a business partner with whom to realise the scheme.

Lord Cowdray has previously said he wanted to save his son and heir Peregrine, 16, from the responsibility of maintaining the house describing it as “a noose around his neck”.

He has also said: "I'm not the sort of person who feels hugely attached to things, and it's a big house. It's time for us as a family to let go.”

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Ransomes Restoration

The weather has been so fine and sunny that I've taken the opportunity to do a spot of painting - dilettante, Belmont - and I have even felt sufficiently activated to restore the wonderful old Ransomes lawnmower: a certain shade of green, flame red for the blades, aluminium paint for other parts; that sort of thing, don't you know.

Tonight there is an official "launch" at Beatrice Kennedy's restaurant in Belfast, which I have been invited to.

I've been using the old bike more frequently, too, this week; amazing what a little good weather does, isn't it?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Captain Harry Wales

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales has been promoted to Captain within the Army Air Corps in recognition of time service in the Armed Forces.

Prince Harry – now known as Captain Harry Wales in the military – was also awarded his Apache Badge from the Officer in Command of his Squadron on Thursday 14th April, marking the completion of the eight month Apache Conversion to Type (CTT) Course.

Prince Harry is now qualified to fly the aircraft without an instructor and has progressed to a further eight month weapons handling course in order to become a fully operational Army Air Corps Pilot.

The timing of HRH’s promotion to Captain and the completion of the Apache CTT course are coincidental.

Prince Harry will now progress to the Apache Conversion to Role course where he will learn to operate the aircraft and its weapons systems in a variety of challenging operational scenarios. The Prince will be based at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk and undertake a section of the training in the United States of America.

The Apache AH Mark One fleet consists of 67 aircraft and a number of these are deployed very successfully in Afghanistan in support of UK and Coalition forces. It is a multi role aircraft providing close combat attack, escort and support to other operations.

The Apache Attack Helicopter is designed to hunt and destroy armoured vehicles. Apache can operate in all weathers, day and night, and can detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in seconds through its Fire Control Radar. It carries a mix of weapons, including rockets, Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun.

Amis: Miserable Wretch

One may well wonder who Martin Amis is. I am told the man is a writer. He shan't have heard of me, so that "levels the balance".

Seemingly Amis has written a few "best-sellers"; well, I'll avoid them like the bubonic plague, having read about his views on the Royal Family. He doesn't even want to be English.

Amis singles out and insults senior Royalty, alluding to the Prince of Wales's laugh; the Duke of Edinburgh's apparent ignorance as to Amis's occupation (and I don't blame Prince Philip for that); and his perception that the Queen didn't listen to him on the odd occasion that HM encountered him.

Amis has already stated that he would refuse to accept an Honour (no need to worry now, Martin, you have already disqualified yourself).

In a particularly direct attack on the upper classes, Amis says: "As for the British aristocracy, its pathetic. All that snobbery is ridiculous today."

That statement has some irony, given that he also opines that "Celebrity is the new religion [i.e. for the working classes]. And you want it to come to you just like that, with no effort, without having any merit". Curiously enough, I agree with him on that one point.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Regal Goring

I am not at all surprised that the Middleton family has selected the Goring Hotel in Beeston Place, SW1, as their accommodation prior to their daughter's transformation from Miss Middleton to Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales (or a royal Duchess) on the 29th April.

The Daily Telegraph has a good little video of the hotel here.

The Goring Hotel was opened by Otto Richard Goring on March 2, 1910 and professed to be the first hotel in the world in which every room had a private bathroom and central heating. I'd consider it to be a "family-run" hotel, insofar as it is not part of a "chain".

The Goring Hotel, eminently traditional and sophisticated, is located neatly between Buckingham Palace and Victoria railway station. It is stated to be the Queen's favourite hotel in London.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Beatrice Kennedy's Launch

I have received an invitation to attend Beatrice Kennedy Restaurant's official launch next Tuesday evening. This gives me great pleasure, since BK's, one of my favourite restaurants in Belfast, suffered a disastrous, accidental fire several months ago.

It's good to know that BK's is back in business again, before Easter.

Royal Victorian Order Service


The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal, Grand Master of the Order, and Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy were present on the 13th April, 2011, at a Service of the Royal Victorian Order held in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Her Majesty The Queen was indisposed and therefore unable to attend.

Their Royal Highnesses were received by the Dean of Windsor (the Right Reverend David Conner) and the Chaplain of the Order (the Reverend Professor Peter Galloway).

Detachments of Her Majesty's Body Guard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard and the Military Knights of Windsor were on duty in St. George's Chapel.

Afterwards The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh gave a Reception at Windsor Castle for those who attended the Service.

Members from NORTHERN IRELAND included

  • The Lord O'Neill KCVO TD JP DL
  • Sir William Hall KCVO JP DL
  •  Lady Moyra Campbell CVO  and
  • Commander Peter Campbell LVO OBE DL RN (Rtd)
  • Miss Valerie Steele LVO OBE
  • David Anderson, Esq, MVO MBE 

Lady Moyra Campbell is the Duke of Abercorn's sister.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Save HMS Caroline

I urge and implore the Royal Navy to keep HMS Caroline in the Port of Belfast.

In an article by the BBC, moving the last remaining navy warship of the 1916 Battle of Jutland to Portsmouth is one of the options being considered for saving the vessel. HMS Caroline, based in Belfast, was recently decommissioned and has been taken over by the Portsmouth-based National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard already holds 400 of the ship's artefacts. The museum's Dr Dominic Tweddle said: "The emphasis is being placed on saving the ship rather than her location".

In an attempt to find a "long term suitable and sustainable" option for the ship, the museum is developing a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid and will continue to examine any solution for her staying in Belfast.

The light cruiser has been in the city's Alexandra Dock for more than 80 years and was a floating base for the Royal Navy Reserve. Around 80% of the ship is original and it has what are thought to be the only surviving in-situ World War I turbines in the world.

Built in 1914 in Birkenhead, HMS Caroline was one of the fastest warships of the time and went on to serve through both world wars.

Dr Tweddle said: "Saving historic ships is never easy, and raising money in the current economic conditions is doubly difficult. But to fail in this endeavour cannot be contemplated. HMS Caroline is the equal of one of our great cathedrals," he added.

Show of the Week

This evening at eight-thirty on BBC Four a new series, Petworth House: The Big Spring Clean begins. Andrew Graham-Dixon goes behind the scenes at one of our most beautiful stately homes, spending a winter working with the National Trust's conservation team at Petworth House in West Sussex.

Graham-Dixon joins the expert conservation team as they commence the epic task of 'putting the house to bed' for the winter. He gets up close and personal with a Turner painting; does the dishes the National Trust way; vacuums one of the UK's rarest rugs; and learns the secrets of a book which pre-dates the invention of printing.

Though now owned by the National Trust, for the past 250 years the house and the estate have been in the hands of the Wyndham family — currently 7th Baron Leconfield, 2nd Baron Egremont (born 1948), generally known simply as Max Egremont, a direct descendant of Sir John Wyndham. He and his family live in the south wing, allowing much of the remainder to be open to the public.

Incidentally, the Barons Leconfield were the largest landowners in County Clare, Ireland, in Victorian times.

Monday, 11 April 2011

7th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, 1939-2011

Many mourners attended the funeral of Thady Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, 7th and last Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who died at his home in Kilgobbin House in Adare, County Limerick, on the 25th March, 2011.

The 71-year-old peer, who used a wheelchair since contracting polio when he was a teenager, was president of the Irish Wheelchair Association for 25 years and spent much of his life fund-raising and campaigning on behalf of people with disabilities.

Many members of the association were at St Nicholas Church in Adare for his funeral yesterday. Lord Dunraven was laid to rest afterwards at his family’s plot in the cemetery on the grounds of the old golf club at Adare Manor.

The Dunraven family lived at Adare Manor before selling it in the early 1980s to an American businessman, Tom Kane.

Pupils from St Nicholas Church of Ireland School provided a guard of honour as the funeral cortege arrived at the church. Members of the Derrynane Inshore Rescue Service from County Kerry lined the route afterwards as mourners accompanied the coffin by foot to its final resting place.

Chief mourners were Lord Dunraven's widow Geraldine Lady Dunraven; and their daughter, Lady Ana Johnson; and his sisters Lady Melissa and Lady Caroline.

In his homily the chief celebrant, the Rev Stan Evans, paid tribute to a man “who used his position for the betterment of others”.  Four former rectors of Adare, including the Venerable Robert Warren, Rev Rachel Lewis, Rev George Chambers and Venerable Michael Nutthall, attended yesterday’s service.

The RC Bishop of Killala, Dr John Fleming, and the Abbot of Glenstal, Brother Mark Hederman, were also present. The congregation also included many well-known figures from the world of horse racing including Johnny Harrington, Sonia Rogers, Tommy Stack and Edward O’Grady.

Lord Charles Beresford, William Montgomery of Grey Abbey and the antiques expert, George Stackpoole, were among those who recited readings and prayers.

Lord Dunraven's life-long friend, Benjamin Jellett, recalled his friend’s great passion for horses and coursing and his love of nature and Derrynane in Kerry, where he enjoyed many holidays. Mr Jellett paid tribute to the work his friend did on behalf of the Irish Wheelchair Association:-

“He wasn’t just a name on headed paper for the Irish Wheelchair Association. He was there because he really wanted to help. He travelled up and down the country campaigning and fundraising,” he recalled.

In a poignant tribute to her late husband, Lady Dunraven named and thanked every health care worker who looked after her husband since he contracted polio in 1956 and had his first tracheotomy and more recently since he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Following the death of the 7th Earl the titles became extinct.

Dunraven arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Second Hit!

Well I was striping the lawn awhile ago with the venerable old Ransomes and it happened yet again: I was struck from above by a feathered dive-bomber who scored a direct hit on the head.

One will recall that I was hit by bird poo yesterday at Mount Stewart.

This afternoon, the noble - not to say follicly-challenged - pate was hit by another bird; and it caused quite a mess, it must have been a crow.

I went indoors and "showered my head".

Tell me, dear readers, would this remarkable phenomenon, occurring within twenty-four hours, be auspicious?

11th Duke of Grafton, 1919-2011

The Most Noble Hugh Denis Charles Fitzroy, 11th Duke of Grafton KG DL died peacefully at his seat, Euston Hall, near Thetford in Suffolk aged 92 on Thursday 7th April 2011.

Beloved husband of Fortune and devoted father of James, Henrietta, Virginia, Charles and Rose. Much loved grandfather and great-grandfather. Funeral for the family and the estate on Friday 15th April at 3 p.m. at.— St. Genevieve's Church, Euston, Suffolk. Family flowers only. Memorial Service to be announced later."   

Lord Ipswich, who succeeds to the titles, was born in London on April 6, 1978.  He married Olivia Sladen last August.

The Duke was a direct descendant of Charles II and Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, whose second son, Henry, was created 1st Duke of Grafton.

His Grace the Duke of Grafton was born on  April 3, 1919 at Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Charles FitzRoy, 10th Duke of Grafton and his first wife, Lady Doreen Buxton, daughter of the 1st Earl Buxton. 

The Duchess of Grafton GCVO was at the Duke's side when His Grace died.   The couple married on October 12, 1946.   The Graftons were long time friends of The Queen.

The Duchess is HM's Mistress of the Robes.

The Duke is survived by his wife, and four of their five children:  Lady Henrietta St. George; Lady Virginia FitzRoy, former wife of Lord Ralph Kerr, son of the 12th Marquess of Lothian; Lord Charles FitzRoy; and Lady Rose Monson.

The Duke's eldest son James, Earl of Euston, died on October 1, 2009.  He was married to Lady Clare Kerr, daughter of the 12th Marquess of Lothian. Their son (the Duke's grandson) Henry FitzRoy, Viscount Ipswich, succeeds to the Dukedom.

Grafton arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

18th Baron Inchiquin

According to The Clare Champion newspaper, the present Lord Inchiquin has not ruled out the possibility of standing as a candidate in the next Irish presidential election.

Lord Inchiquin, 18th Baron and 10th O'Brien Baronet,  whose ancestors were Earls of Thomond, Earls of Inchiquin and Marquesses of Thomond, is descended from Brian Boru who, as High King of Ireland, had his seat of power at Kincora, Killaloe, is the latest name to be connected with the Irish presidential race.

He is not ruling out the possibility of throwing his hat into the ring to become the next occupant of the former Viceregal Lodge in Phoenix Park.

The chief of the 700,000-strong O’Brien Clan has confirmed he would consider entering the race as a non-political candidate, if a groundswell of support for his candidacy emerged.

Speaking to The Clare Champion, the 67-year-old peer he said would weigh up his options if the O’Brien Clan asked him to put his name forward but stressed he would not presume the clan would support any presidential bid.

Lord Inchiquin admits the odds are against him becoming the next Irish President, pitted against the PR machines of the three main Irish political parties and is not fully convinced that the Republic of Ireland is ready to elect him because of his English roots. He also acknowledged that he would have to learn to speak Irish:

“There is no point in me putting my name forward unless I have a reasonable chance of success. If the presidential election was not a political race, I would seriously consider going forward. Irish people have to be willing to go for a change to a non-political contest. I am not actively campaigning or canvassing to become President and I don’t think I would put my name forward at this stage.

I am not ruling it out though and I would consider running if I had the backing of a good section of Irish people. I am not sure if Ireland is ready to go back to its past and elect a chieftain as President of Ireland. I am honoured to be even considered for the highest office in the land and it would add a new dimension to the race,” he said.

Frank Meehan described the Prince of Thomond as an enlightened and exemplary 21st century leader who had earned the love, honour and respect of the hundreds of thousands of local and international clan members, who would travel from the four corners of the world for the millennium celebrations of the Battle of Clontarf and death of Brian Boru in April 2014.

James O’Neill-O’Brien called on Clare people to lobby councillors to support O’Brien’s candidacy:

“Conor O’Brien is a prince, a perfect gentleman and truly above politics. His presidency would be good for Clare and good for Ireland. Ireland deserves a President with the gravitas of a chief of a royal and ancient clan, rather than a retired politician or TV presenter. 

As chief of the 700,000-member O’Brien Clan, Conor O’Brien will be presiding over one of the largest gatherings in history during commemorations of the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf and the death of Brian Boru. Millions of visitors mean billions of euros for the Irish economy. There is no better choice for President of Ireland,” he claimed.

Far be it for Timothy Belmont to become involved in the Irish presidential election (it could be a poisoned chalice!); nevertheless, my vote would definitely go to Conor Lord Inchiquin and I wish him well, and the O'Brien Clan.

Arms of 1st Marquess of Thomond courtesy of European Heraldry.

Masters Golf

Since I am not a subscriber of Sky television and, therefore, have been unable to view this year's US Masters Golf tournament on the BBC (until this evening, I think), I wish to convey a message of support and encouragement to Rory McIlroy, originally from Holywood in County Down, our Ulster golfer who has done so well at the Masters championship in the State of Georgia, USA.

At a mere 21 years of age, he is already one of the greatest golfers in the United Kingdom, such a magnificent achievement for British golf, let alone the game in Northern Ireland.

Rory McIlroy (and the other NI golfers) is a great asset to British golf in general and, naturally, Ulster golf in particular.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Exemplary Butler?

I watched a hilariously funny programme last night and I haven't laughed so vigorously since the DD several weeks ago. It was called Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience and the episode was Butler.

The indefatigable comedian, Mr Gilbert, "trained" to be a butler for one day, to some baronet whose seat was a Norman castle; and where the guests at a dinner party included Lord and Lady Bradford.

I roared with laughter when Rhod followed the owner up the cellar steps exclaiming "both your [back] sides look good"; and, when given a lesson on how to remove a champagne cork inaudibly, "it should be like a duchess's fart".

Lord Bradford had a drip or two of pudding remains on the back of his dinner jacket, so Rhod obligingly asked his lordship if he'd remove it for attention!

What a hoot!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Irish State Visit

Further details have been announced regarding the State Visit to the Irish Republic by The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh:-

The visit will take place from Tuesday 17th to Friday 20th May 2011.

The programme will include a formal welcome by Her Excellency the Irish President at the former Viceregal Lodge, now known as áras an Uachtaráin; a ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance; a courtesy call on the Irish Prime Minister at Government Buildings; and a State dinner in Dublin Castle, at which both Her Majesty and Her Excellency will deliver speeches.

The programme will also include events at Trinity College Dublin; at the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge; at the Guinness Storehouse; and at Croke Park.

A return event celebrating The Queen’s visit will be hosted by the Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will also visit the Irish National Stud in County Kildare as well as Cashel in County Tipperary, and Cork.

Royal Proclamation

Confounded traffic lights, too many of 'em; ruddy buses blocking whole lanes, causing even more congestion - avoid the rear-end of a bus like the bubonic plague, Belmont; parking spaces like the proverbial hens' teeth; no spaces at all near Molly's Yard, the place where I had intended to lunch today.

Consequently, I motored home and was deprived of a few choice morsels at Molly's!

Now that I've got that rant off my chest, I wandered into City Hall in Belfast - haven't darkened its doors for quite a few summers. I photographed Queen Victoria's proclamation granting Belfast City Status.

Earlier I'd been in the Linenhall Library. It's curious how one sees the same old buffers there, like pieces of the furniture.

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Moreton Hall

Whilst scanning some documents recently I happened upon an entry for the Ogilbys of Ardnargle and Pellipar House in County Londonderry.
Charles Tuller Garland was an American citizen who later served with the British Army in the Great War and was owner of Moreton Hall in Warwickshire (now part of Mid-Warwickshire College). Moreton Hall is a listed Georgian-styled Edwardian mansion built in the early 1900s.

Garland, founder of the National City Bank in New York, USA, died in 1921 and the Moreton Hall estate was purchased by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert James Leslie Ogilby DSO JP DL (1880-1964).

In 2009 a disastrous fire broke out at the Hall, causing £6 million worth of damage.

New PRONI Office


I called in to the brand new offices of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland at the Titanic Quarter, Belfast,  this morning and took a few photos.

I carried out a little research in the Reading Room upstairs; perused the menu of the day ( though did not partake), which included chicken curry at £2.95; and motored home.


I think the best place to park is on Sydenham Road, if you're able to get a parking space.

Show of the Week

I recorded Country House Rescue on Sunday and viewed it last night. This is a programme I invariably look forward to. I like Ruth Watson, the presenter: She is cheerful, very positive, proactive, firm and forthright.

In fact I ceased watching The Hotel Inspector when Ruth Watson left.

Country House Rescue is an observational documentary series; and in each episode Ruth Watson visits a struggling country house and tries to turn its fortunes by giving advice and suggestions to the owners.

I viewed the Kentchurch Court episode last night.

Ruth Watson and her husband live in a 16th century farmhouse 20 minutes away from the Crown and Castle Hotel, which has a 120-acre organic farm harvesting some produce for the Crown and Castle.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Royal Moroccan Visit

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Morocco today. Their Royal Highnesses were greeted at Rabat airport by Prince Moulay Rachid, brother HM the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI.

During their tour today, TRH visited the 1st Brigade Infanterie Parachutiste, where they saw a number of peacekeeping training skills being taught in the classrooms there. Prince Charles is Colonel-In-Chief of the UK's Parachute Regiment and was wearing a regimental tie and badge on his lapel.

The visit ended with a display of 22 parachutists jumping from a plane at 800 metres and landing yards from where TRH were watching. They watched through binoculars and then clapped as each soldier handed. The first parachutists were carrying the British and Moroccan flags.

Later in the day, Their Royal Highnesses went to the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V. They laid wreaths at the tombs of Mohammed V and Hassan II, both previous Kings of Morocco. The Prince of Wales laid a wreath during his visit to the tomb in 1995.

His Royal Highness then visited the National Library to meet business leaders who had just attended a seminar on the social and economic benefits of corporate social responsibility. HRH's charity, Youth Business International, discussed the opportunities for companies to engage with young entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, The Duchess of Cornwall went on to the Villa Des Arts where she met young Kaftan designers and looked at some of their creations.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Much Ado...

I have seen the image of Joanne Salley, the Ulster girl who now works as a teacher at Harrow School. Some might say it is inappropriate, given the location , her job and the fact that it is a boy's school.

The image in question shows her posing in a room, looking directly at the camera, wearing a pair of denims and nothing else. She is covering one breast with an elbow; the other breast can be seen.

So what? Only a self-righteous "prude" would find fault with that. Don't the authorities permit public breast-feeding nowadays? How easy is it for a school-boy - or anybody, for that matter - to access the Internet?

Joanne Salley, originally from County Tyrone, is a beautiful young woman. As far as I'm concerned, if one has "got it", why not flaunt it?

Cruise Control

I have finally discovered the joy of Cruise Control. I've had the two-seater for four months and the drive home from Moira was the very first time I've used it.

Maurice told me how wonderful it was, up at the sports club, and I was sceptical. Maurice was right. Mind you, Big Pete doesn't like the concept at all - he wonders about dozing off at the wheel and all that.

On the way home from Moira last Sunday, I decided to give it a try, having had the two-seater for almost four months. Now I am converted. I set it, incrementally, to 53 mph, took the old feet off the pedals and relaxed.

I have a feeling that this cruise control function works best on motorways and longer stretches of dual carriageways.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Favour Royal Arson

I have just heard this afternoon that two men have been arrested in connection with a suspected arson in County Tyrone. The fire, at Favour Royal House, in Aughnacloy, is believed to have been started deliberately.

The men were arrested on Main Street in Aughnacloy. The house, which is a listed building, was badly damaged in the blaze on Friday.

I have written an article about Favour Royal here.

Photograph of Favour Royal Manor shown by kind permission of Stephen Paskin.

Left-Wing BBC

The Daily Telegraph reports that the television presenter, Michael Buerk, believes, as do many of us, that the BBC has been institutionally biased for many years.

Mr Buerk accuses BBC staff of making the left-wing Guardian newspaper their “bible” and political correctness "their creed”:

“What the BBC regards as normal and abnormal, what is moderate or extreme, where the centre of gravity of an issue lies, are conditioned by the common set of assumptions held by the people who work for it.

It’s all very well-meaning, and painstakingly even-handed, but often notably adrift of the overriding national sentiment ...for those of us who love the place, and what it should stand for, these are worrying times.” 

Well said and good for him. Personally I'd wish to see more programmes - documentaries and dramas -  featuring our rich and colourful heritage of country houses, demesnes and their owners; and less inner city, brash and crude stuff.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Squirrel Pox Arrival

The latest news that a native red squirrel has died from the squirrel pox at Tollymore Forest in County Down is, indeed, cause for concern.

This is the very first recorded incidence of a red squirrel dying from the disease in Northern Ireland.