Friday, 26 June 2020

Fota Island


THE HON JOHN BARRY (1725-84), youngest son of James, 4th Earl of Barrymore, succeeded, by bequest, to the unsettled estates of his father, which were very considerable, including Marbury Hall and large possessions in Cheshire, and Fota Island, and extensive estates in County Cork.

The Hon John Smith-Barry. Photo Credit: Tabley House Collection

He wedded, in 1746, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of Hugh Smith, of Weald Hall, in Essex (by whom he acquired large estates in the counties of Tipperary, Louth, and in Huntingdonshire), and had issue,
JAMES HUGH, his heir;
The eldest son,

JAMES HUGH SMITH-BARRY (1748-), of Marbury Hall and Fota Island, High Sheriff of Cheshire, died leaving two sons and three daughters,
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Caroline Augusta; Narcissa; Louisa.
The elder son,

JOHN SMITH-BARRY (1793-1837), of Marbury Hall and Fota Island, married firstly, Eliza Mary, second daughter of Robert Courtenay, of Ballyedmond, and had issue,
JAMES HUGH, his heir;
John Hugh;
Robert Hugh;
Richard Hugh;
Anne; Elizabeth.
Mr Smith-Barry espoused secondly, Eliza Felicia, second daughter of General Heron, of Moor Hall, Cheshire, but by her had no issue.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES HUGH SMITH-BARRY JP DL (1816-56), of Marbury Hall and Fota Island, High Sheriff of County Cork, and of Cheshire, who wedded, in 1841, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Shallcross Jacson, of Newton Bank, Cheshire, and had issue,
ARTHUR HUGH, his heir;
James Hugh;
Geraldine; Maude.
Mr Smith-Barry was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR HUGH SMITH-BARRY JP DL (1843-1925), MP for County Cork, 1867-74, South Huntingdonshire, 1886-1900, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1902, in the dignity of BARON BARRYMORE, of Barrymore, County Cork.

His lordship married firstly, in 1868, the Lady Mary Frances Wyndham-Quin, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl; and secondly, in 1884, Elizabeth, daughter of General James Wadsworth, US Army.

There were children from both marriages.

Lord Barrymore died in London in February 1925, aged 82, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.

His only son, James, had died in infancy, in 1871, and consequently the barony became extinct on his death.

The family seat, Fota House, was passed to his daughter from his second marriage, the Hon Dorothy Elizabeth (1894–1975), wife of Major William Bertram Bell.

Lady Barrymore died in 1930.

On Lord Barrymore's death in 1925, the estate, which was entailed, passed to his brother, James Hugh Smith-Barry; and on his death it passed to James Hugh's son, Robert Raymond Smith-Barry.

In 1939, Fota Island was acquired by Arthur Hugh's daughter, the Hon Mrs Dorothy Bell for the sum of £31,000.

On her death, in 1975, it passed to her daughter, Mrs Rosemary Villiers.

FOTA ISLAND, near Carrigtwohill, County Cork, lies at the head of Cork harbour, and is separated by very narrow straits or channels from Great Island on the south, Little Island on the west, and the mainland on the north and east.

Nearly all of it is occupied by the beautiful and richly-wooded former demesne of Lord Barrymore.

The mansion was originally a modest two-storey hunting lodge belonging to the Smith-Barry family.

In the 1820s, John Smith-Barry (1793-1837) decided to make Fota Island  his home.

He commissioned the great Irish architects Sir Richard Morrison and his son, William Vitruvius Morrison, to convert the hunting lodge into an elegant residence.

Initially it was proposed that the design should reflect the current fashion foe Tudor-Revival, but a more elegant Regency style was ultimately executed.

Two new wings were added and a handsome Doric portico made an elegant entrance.

The interior was opened up with fine scagliola columns, leading to a handsome stone staircase. The ceilings of the library and drawing room were decorated with great delicacy in the French style.

In 1872, the engineer Sir John Benson designed the beautiful billiards-room and an extensive conservatory. In 1897, the conservatory was altered to become the present long gallery.

FOTA HOUSE was sold to University College Cork in 1975, following the death of the Hon Mrs Bell.

It is now in the care of the Irish Heritage Trust.

The house has remained virtually unchanged since this time and the visitor today has a privileged glimpse of the great Georgian and Victorian craftsmanship that was to be found in Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries.

It has over seventy rooms, ranging in size from the more modest servant rooms to the large and beautifully proportioned principal rooms.

The curious 'dummy' windows, which occur on the exterior of the building, were added to enhance the aesthetic balance of the house.

The style is classical throughout and the décor reflects continental trends in the gilt, marble work, painted ceilings and magnificent plaster detail throughout.

Since the re-opening of the house in 2009 after restoration, people can now visit the upper floor of the house for the first time in many years.

The glorious neo-classical architecture and innovative designs for which Morrison was renowned can now be fully appreciated, as well as the Collection - a fine collection of paintings and furniture - which have been returned to the house.

It was occupied by Lord Barrymore in 1906; later inherited by Major and the Hon Mrs Bell.

Mark Bence-Jones writes that Fota was sold to University College Cork in 1975, following the death of Mrs Bell.

It is now in the care of the Irish Heritage Trust and, after restoration, was reopened to the public in 2009.

Barrymore arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in December, 2011.

No comments :