Friday, 5 February 2021

Portumna Castle


The family of DE BURGH, DE BURGO, BOURKE OR BURKE (as at different times written), Earls and Marquesses of Clanricarde, ranked among the most distinguished peers in the British Isles, and deduced an uninterrupted line of powerful nobles from the Conquest.

HUBERT DE BURGH (c1160-1243), 1st Earl of Kent, was one of the greatest subjects in Europe, in the reigns of KING JOHN and HENRY III.

His uncle,

ADELM DE BURGH, settled in Ireland, and was ancestor of

RICHARD DE BURGH (c1194-1242), surnamed Great Lord of Connaught, who was Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1227.

This Richard rebuilt Galway Castle in 1232, and that of Loughrea in 1236.

He was a man of high authority and power, and died on his passage to France, in proceeding to meet the King of England at Bordeaux, attended "by his barons and knights".

Mr de Burgh espoused, before 1225, Egidia, daughter of Walter de Lacy, and had issue,
Richard,  Lord of Connaught;
Walter, 1st Earl of Ulster;
Margery; Alice;
two unnamed daughters.
His third son,

WILLIAM DE BURGH, known by the surname of Athankip, from being put to death at that place by the King of Connaught, was succeeded by his son,

SIR WILLIAM DE BURGH, who, having married a daughter of the family of MacJordan, left, with other issue, at his decease in 1324,
John (1350-98);
Thomas, Lord Treasurer of Ireland, 1331;
John, father of John, Archbishop of Tuam;
The eldest son,

SIR ULICK DE BURGH, feudal Lord of Clanricarde, was a person of great power, and distinguished, like his progenitors, in arms.

He wedded Agnes, daughter of the Earl of Warwick; and dying in 1429, was succeeded by his son,

ULICK DE BURGH, of Clanricarde, who espoused Egeline, daughter of Hugh de Courtenay; and dying in 1451, was succeeded by his eldest son,

ULICK DE BURGH, who was succeeded by his son,

ULICK DE BURGHwho was created, by HENRY VIII, at Greenwich, in 1543, Baron of Dunkellin and EARL OF CLANRICARDE; and obtained, at the same time from the His Majesty a grant of the monastery of Abbeygormican, alias de Via Nova, in the diocese of Clonfert, with the patronages and donations of all the rectories etc in Clanricarde and Dunkellin belonging to the Crown.

His lordship did not, however, long enjoy his honours; and dying in the following year, 1544, was succeeded by his only son,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; who overthrew, in conjunction with Sir Richard Bingham, the Scots army, at the river Moye, in 1553.

His lordship married Margaret, daughter of Murrough, Earl of Thomond, and had issue, ULICK, Lord Dunkellin.

He died in 1582, and was succeeded by his son,

ULICK, 3rd Earl, who wedded Honora, daughter of John Burke, and had issue,
John, 1st Viscount Burke, of Clanmories;
His lordship died in 1601, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 4th Earl (1572-1635), surnamed of Kinsale, from the valour he had displayed against the rebels there.

His lordship was created an English peer, in 1624, in the dignities of Baron Somerhill and Viscount Tunbridge, Kent.

He was advanced to an earldom, in 1628, as Earl of St Albans.

His lordship married Frances, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham and widow of Sir Philip Sydney, and of ELIZABETH I's unfortunate favourite, the Earl of Essex, by whom he had one son, ULICK, his successor, and two daughters, Mary, wife of Edmund, son of James, Earl of Ormonde; and Honora, married to John Paulet, Marquess of Winchester.

He was succeeded by his only son,

ULICK (1604-57), 5th Earl of Clanricarde and 2nd Earl of St Albans.

His lordship was advanced to a marquessate, in 1644, in the dignity of MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE.

He espoused the Lady Anne Compton, only daughter of William, Earl of Northampton, and had an only daughter,
MARGARET, m Charles, Viscount Muskerry.
His lordship dying thus without male issue, the marquessate and his English honours expired; while the Irish earldom of Clanricarde and the barony of Dunkellin reverted to his first cousin,

RICHARD, 6th Earl; at whose decease, 1666, without issue, the honours devolved upon his brother,

WILLIAM, 7th Earl, who married firstly, Lettice, only daughter of Sir Henry Shirley, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
JOHN, succeeded his brother;
His lordship wedded secondly, Helen, daughter of Donough, 1st Earl of Clancarty, and had further issue,
Ulick, 1st Viscount Galway;
Margaret; Honora.
His lordship was succeeded at his decease, in 1687, by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 8th Earl, who wedded Elizabeth Bagnell, and had an only daughter, Lady Dorothy Bourke.

He died in 1704, and was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN, 9th Earl (1642-1722), who espoused Bridget, daughter of James Talbot; and was succeeded by his son,

MICHAEL. 10th Earl, who wedded Anne, daughter and co-heiress of John Smith, of Tudworth, Hampshire, Speaker of the House of Commons, and subsequently Chancellor of the Exchequer, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. 

His lordship died in 1726, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

JOHN SMITH, 11th Earl (1720-82), who was father of

HENRY,12th Earl (1743-97), Privy Counsellor, Knight of St Patrick, Governor of County Galway, who was created, in 1785, MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE (second creation).

His lordship died without issue, when the marquessate expired, and his lordship's other titles devolved upon his only brother,

JOHN, 13th and 1st Earl of Clanricarde (1744-1808), a General in the army, Colonel, 66th Foot, who wedded, in 1799, Eliza, daughter of the late Sir Thomas Burke Bt, of Marble Hill.
In 1800, Lord Clanricarde obtained a grant, conferring the dignity of countess upon his daughters in succession, and that of Earl of Clanricarde upon their male issue, according to priority of birth, in case of the failure of his own male descendants.
His lordship's eldest son,

ULICK JOHN, 14th and 2nd Earl (1802-74), KP, married, in 1825, Harriet, only daughter of the Rt Hon George Canning, HM Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

His lordship was advanced to a marquessate, in 1825, as MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE (third creation).

Earls of Clanricarde; Second creation (1800; Reverted)

PORTUMNA CASTLE, built near the shore of the northern extremity of Lough Derg on the river Shannon in the reign of JAMES I, was stated to be without equal in Ireland at the time in style, grandeur and distinction.

The elegance of Portumna can be attributed to the taste, experience and wealth of its builder, Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde.

It was built between 1610 and 1618 at a cost of £10,000, and Lord Clanricarde also built a mansion at Somerhill, Tonbridge Wells, in Kent.

Portumna was one of the first, if not the first, building in Ireland to admit some of the Renaissance refinements already common in Italy and France for over a century, but which took so long to filter through to Ireland.

The shell of this great mansion conveys an impression of alien splendour, and the overall effect is unique and has a curiously continental air.

The Renaissance features of the exterior of Portumna are - strictly speaking - limited to the fine doorcase of the front entrance and the Tuscan gateway of the innermost courtyard, but the very layout is an expression of Renaissance ideas.

The castle is symmetrical in shape and consists of three stories over a basement with square corner projecting towers.

A central corridor runs longitudinally from top to bottom, supported by stone walls, which contain numerous recesses and fireplaces.

The approach is elaborate from the north with gardens, avenues and three gates.

The formal gardens of Portumna Castle were laid out in the 17th century and were the first Italian or Renaissance gardens to be introduced to Ireland.

It is reputed that the 4th Earl copied the style of Sir John’s garden for his castle at Portumna.

The stately gardens of the 17th century contained formal walks, arbours, parterres, and hedges, as well as jets d’eau, or fountains, artificial cascades, columns, statues, grottoes and similar puerilities.

The inner courtyard, known as the Grianan, was the ladies' pleasure ground.

It contained shrubs, seats, pathways and lawns, where the ladies of the castle congregated, did their embroidery, and discussed womanly affairs.

Fifteen Earls and Marquesses of Clanricarde owned Portumna from 1543-1916.

In the latter years, Hubert de Burgh-Canning, 2nd Marquess, 15th and 3rd Earl of Clanricarde (1832–1916) died. 
He was said to have been a notorious miser and eccentric who dressed like a tramp and spent his life in London; and on his death the estate at Portumna passed to his nephew, Henry Viscount Lascelles, afterwards 6th Earl of Harewood. 
In 1928, Princess Mary and her husband, the same Lord Lascelles, visited Portumna, and by all accounts received a cordial welcome.

They mixed with all the people and visited all the formal schools and institutions in town as well as attending various meetings.

The Portumna estate was acquired by the Irish Government in 1948, with the castle being allocated to the then Office of Public Works, the 1,500 acre demesne to the Forestry Commission and land being given for a Golf Course and sports pitch.

Lord Clanricarde was a friend of Sir John Danvers and shared his great love of gardens.
The castle was accidentally burned in 1826; it was very grand and highly interesting; its staircase, its great hall and its state drawing-room were very handsome; its library was a long apartment in the highest storey.  
Several of its rooms acquired an impressive and venerable air from the presence of old family portraits and a large quantity of ancient furniture; opulent plasterwork friezes; carved armorial bearings; and it commanded a brilliant and very extensive prospect of Lough Derg, the River Shannon and the surrounding countryside.
The Castle remained ruinous until work commenced on its restoration by the Irish State in 1968.

To date, the shell and the internal walls have been faithfully restored, and the roof and chimneys which are in place protect the castle from the elements.

The windows, fireplaces and flooring joists and basement have been restored and elaborate archaeological work has been carried out on the outside.

Once the main staircase and internal floors have been installed, the most difficult of the restoration work will have been achieved. 

First published in August, 2011.  Clanricarde arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1 comment :

Garvagh said...

Very interesting. I last saw Portumna Castle in 1976!
Lord Harewood kept a prize herd of Angus cattle on the estate, for a number of years.
Michael Maclagan knew the aged Lord Clanricarde, and used to have tea with him at Albany, in Piccadilly.