Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Glenstal Abbey


This family claims descent from a common ancestor with the BARRINGTONS of Barrington Hall, Essex, raised to the rank of Baronet in 1611.

From a younger branch of that ancient and eminent family is said to have sprung 

SAMUEL BARRINGTON, who settled at Limerick in 1691, as appears by a monument in the cathedral of that city, who was succeeded by his son,

BENJAMIN BARRINGTON, High Sheriff of Limerick City, 1714, father of

BENJAMIN BARRINGTON, High Sheriff of Limerick City, 1729, who wedded Anne, daughter of John Waltho, of Anna, and was succeeded by his son,

MATTHEW BARRINGTON, who married Jane, daughter of John Canter, of Ballyvara, and left, at his decease, in 1765, an only son,

JOSEPH BARRINGTON (1764-1846), who was created a baronet in 1831, designated of Limerick, County Limerick.

He married, in 1787, Mary, daughter of Daniel Baggott, and had issue,
MATTHEW, his successor;
Daniel (1792-1842);
Croker, Lieutenant RN;
Samuel, barrister;
Honoria; Jane Martha.
Sir Joseph founded the hospital in Limerick bearing his name, along with his sons.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR MATTHEW BARRINGTON, 2nd Baronet (1788-1861), High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1846, crown solicitor for the province of Munster, who wedded, in 1814, Charlotte, daughter of William Hartigan, and had issue,
WILLIAM HARTIGAN, his successor;
CROKER, 4th Baronet;
Mary Anne; Charlotte; Jessey; Olivia; Josephine; Henrietta Victorine.
The eldest son,

SIR WILLIAM HARTIGAN BARRINGTON, 3rd Baronet (1815-72), espoused, in 1859, Elizabeth Olivia, daughter of Henry Darley, and had issue,
Maria Louisa Olivia;
Charlotte Jessy.
Sir William died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR CROKER BARRINGTON, 4th Baronet (1817-90), DL, who married, in 1845, Anna Felicia, daughter of John Beatty West, and had issue,
CHARLES BURTON, his successor;
William Matthew;
John Beatty, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1912;
Anna Josephine; Mercy; Olivia Maria;
three other daughters.
Sir Croker was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR CHARLES BURTON BARRINGTON, 5th Baronet (1848-1943), MBE JP DL, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1878, Colonel, Limerick City Royal Field Reserve Artillery, who wedded, in 1895, Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Hickman Bacon Bt, and had issue,
CHARLES BACON, his successor;
Winifred Frances.
Sir Charles was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR CHARLES BACON BARRINGTON, 6th Baronet (1902-80).

It is thought that the present 8th Baronet lives in Canada.

GLENSTAL ABBEY, formerly Glenstal Castle, Murroe, County Limerick, is a massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London.

It was begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880.

The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range.

The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse replicated from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire.

The stonework is excellent and there is abundant carving, the entrance door being flanked by the figures of EDWARD I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier.

The staircase is of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns.

The octagonal library at the base of the round tower is lit by little windows in deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars.

The main building faces south, and commands an unbroken view of some thirty miles towards the Galtee Mountains.

It is built on a height of some three hundred feet above sea-level, and can be seen from many miles away.

Sir Charles and Lady Barrington left Ireland permanently in 1925 and the castle and estate were purchased shortly thereafter by a priest, Monsignor James Ryan, for the nominal sum of £2,000.

Glenstal Castle, in the parish of Murroe, Co Limerick, was built by the Barrington family in the 1830s. The architect, William Bardwell, designed it in the Norman-Revival style, with a gate-tower, keep, and impressive front façade. The Barringtons had acquired the Carbery estate in 1831, which stretched from the Mulcair River at Barrington's Bridge, to the Clare River on the Limerick-Tipperary Border.
In 1870, the estate consisted of 9,485 acres. This holding was considerably reduced, following a series of Land Acts, passed between 1881 and 1909. Thus, by the year 1925, when Sir Charles and Lady Barrington decided to leave Glenstal, they owned less than 1,000 acres, in and around the castle demesne. They were finding it more and more difficult to maintain the castle and estate, especially in the new Ireland, which emerged from the War of Independence and the Civil War (1922-23).
One of the main reasons why the Barringtons left Glenstal was the sad death of their only daughter, Winifred ('Winnie'), who was killed in an unfortunate incident in May, 1921. She was travelling in the company of a Black and Tan officer, Captain Biggs, when the car was ambushed by the local IRA unit near Newport, Co Tipperary. Winnie, who was in the front seat of the open car, was shot by mistake, and died that evening in Glenstal.
The family was devastated. Lady Barrington, who was a Scot and a Unionist at heart, urged her husband to leave Ireland as soon as possible, and take up residence in England. When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a mag­nificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General.
Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and 'were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations'. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that 'our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal'.
Soon after this, the Barringtons held an auction of the furniture and books in the castle, and let it be known that they were about to leave Ireland for good. The news soon spread to the village of Murroe, and caused much comment and dismay, as the Barringtons had been a major employer in the area for nearly a hundred years. It would be a local disaster, if the Glenstal demesne and castle were to be abandoned and become a ruin, like so many other big houses in Ireland.
There thus began a local campaign to save Glenstal. It should be said that the Barringtons never intended abandoning the place, and kept a skeleton staff in the castle, in the hope that someone might come along to buy it. Some months after the purchase, Msgr Ryan wrote to Celestine Golenvaux, the Abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Mared­sous, and invited him to come to Ireland and set up a daughter house in Glenstal and, by March 1927, the first two Belgian monks had arrived at Glenstal to establish the new house.
In 1932, the monks opened a Secondary School.

Glenstal is now a Benedictine abbey and a well-known boys' public school.

First published in June, 2012.

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