Friday, 25 August 2017

QUEEN ANNE

By the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.


First published in September, 2013.

Monday, 21 August 2017

GEORGE I

By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.


First published in August, 2013.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast

Windsor House ca 2015

MARCUS PATTON OBE, in his invaluable historical gazetteer of central Belfast, describes numbers 9-15 Bedford Street thus:
In 1852 a new stone warehouse had been built on this site for Messrs Robert and John Workman, linen and muslin manufacturers, by Charles Lanyon. 
One of the first developments in the street, this was four storeys high with channelled ground and first floors, central first floor balcony, arched tops to third-floor windows, outer bays set slightly forward, and chimneys rising above deep eaves.

The Workmans' warehouse was demolished in the early 1970s and construction began on Windsor House.


Windsor House, or the Grand Central Hotel as it shall soon be, remains the tallest commercial office building in Northern Ireland (after the Obel Tower), measuring approximately 262 feet in height.

Franklin Street elevation, April, 2017

The Bedford Street (eastern elevation) of the main block is relatively narrow, though the building extends backwards along Franklin Street on the south side and James Street South on the north side for a considerable distance.

A massive extension, forty or fifty feet in height, has been built around these three sides.

Bedford Street elevation, August, 2017

In 2015 it comprised approximately 122,500 square feet, set over ground and twenty-two upper floors.

Most of the floors extend to about 5,300 square feet.

The building incorporated a double-deck car park at ground and first-floor levels, with 96 car-parking spaces accessed via James Street South.

Franklin Street elevation, August, 2017

The external walls were of a mosaic-covered, prefabricated concrete cladding with a steel and reinforced concrete structure.

A concrete mineral felt-finished flat rood covered the building, capped with a communications mast.

It is served by five high-speed lifts from the foyer.

James Street South elevation, August, 2017

Windsor House was purchased in 2015 by the Hastings Hotels group.

I keep a close eye on the construction and building works at the site.

The old Windsor House block is being virtually rebuilt and is being extended on all sides, especially the Bedford Street elevation.

The old building has been gutted and new walls, electrification, and almost everything else is being renewed and replaced.

The new Grand Central Hotel will open in June, 2018.

First published in May, 2015.

Friday, 18 August 2017

New DL

The Earl of Caledon KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Georgina WALSH
Annasamry
Summer Island
Loughgall
County Armagh
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, her Commission bearing date the 25th July, 2017.

Lord-Lieutenant of the County

Birr Castle

THE EARLS OF ROSSE WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN THE KING'S COUNTY, WITH 22,513 ACRES

This noble family, of English origin, was brought into Ireland towards the close of ELIZABETH I's reign.

Its members have, at different periods, filled the highest political employments in the state; have taken distinguished parts in the senate; have become eminent upon the Bench and at the Bar; and have twice been enrolled amongst the baronetage of the kingdom, and twice elevated to the peerage.

WILLIAM PARSONS, of Norfolk, father of Lady Poynings (wife of Richard, Lord Poynings), and mother of Sir Edward Poynings KG (1459-1521), was grandfather (it is presumed) of

WILLIAM PARSONS (1570-1650), who settled in Ireland about the close of ELIZABETH I's reign; and being a commissioner of plantations, obtained very considerable territorial grants from the Crown.

In 1602, he succeeded Sir Geoffrey Fenton, as Surveyor-General of Ireland; in 1610, he obtained a pension of £30 per annum for life.

In 1611, he was joined with his brother, Lawrence, in the supervisorship of the crown lands, with a fee of £60 per annum for life.

In 1620, presenting to JAMES I, in person, surveys of escheated estates, in his capacity of surveyor-general, he received the honour of knighthood, and was created a baronet, denominated of Bellamont, in the same year.

Sir William represented the county of Wicklow in parliament in 1639, and was nominated lord justice with Lord Dillon in 1640; but that nobleman being soon removed, he was re-sworn with Sir John Borlace, Master of the Ordnance.

He continued in the government until 1643, when he was removed, charged with treason, and committed to prison, with Sir Adam Loftus and others.

Sir William died in Westminster, and was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR WILLIAM PARSONS, 2nd Baronet, of Bellamont, County Dublin (only son of Richard Parsons by his first wife, Lettice, eldest daughter of Sir Adam Loftus, and granddaughter maternally of Walter Vaughan).

This gentleman married Catherine, eldest daughter of Arthur, Viscount Ranelagh; and dying in 1658, was succeeded by his only surviving son,

SIR RICHARD PARSONS, 3rd Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1681, as Baron Oxmantown and Viscount Rosse, with remainder to the male issue of his great-grandfather.

His lordship wedded firstly, Anne Walsingham; secondly, Catherine, daughter of George, Lord Chandos, both of whom died issueless; and thirdly, in 1685, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir George Hamilton, and niece of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by whom he two sons and three daughters.

He died in 1702, and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Viscount (1702-41), who was created, 1718, EARL OF ROSSE.

His lordship married, in 1715, Mary, eldest daughter of Lord William Paulet, brother of Charles, 2nd Duke of Bolton, by whom he had two sons and a daughter; and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl; at whose decease, in 1764, without issue, all the honours expired, and the representation of the family devolved upon Sir William Parsons, 4th Baronet, of Birr Castle, MP for the King's County; who married and had issue,

LAURENCE, 3rd Earl, born in 1758,
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Lawrence Patrick Parsons, styled Lord Oxmantown.


The 7th and present Earl is a descendant of the 1st Baronet.

Lord and Lady Rosse live at Birr Castle.
During the period 1979-2007, Lord and Lady Rosse facilitated many decades of research by Dr Anthony Malcomson, former director of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and latterly sponsored by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, to enable the production, for the first time, of a comprehensive calendar of the Rosse Papers in 2008.
The archive is held in the Muniment Room of Birr Castle.

The Calendar is of inestimable value for researchers delving into the history of the Parsons family, including English settlement of the Irish midlands in the 17th century; the Williamite wars; early Irish nationalism; the Royal Navy in the 18th century; 19th century science and astronomy; and the fate of the landed gentry in the early 20th century.


BIRR CASTLE demesne, and the historic town of Birr, County Offaly, lie in the centre of Ireland.

The Castle is private, though the famous gardens of the demesne are open every day.

The demesne includes Ireland's Historic Science Centre whose galleries show what Ireland's leading historic scientists have contributed to astronomy photography, engineering and the art of gardening.


Birr Castle’s most spectacular high ceilinged rooms are its tapestried hall, its great Gothic music saloon overlooking the river, its yellow drawing room and long red dining room.

Other features inside include a unique staircase of the 1660s, an early panelled bedroom and dungeons.

Surrounding the castle is Ireland’s largest heritage garden with rivers, waterfalls, a fountain and lake with a Canadian log cabin, cloisters with urns and statuary.


Beyond that a riverbank wilderness and native woods; a Georgian country house in its own park; even a romantic ruined manor court.

Birr Castle was built on medieval foundations in the 1620s. It has been redeveloped many times over the years with more recent parts of the castle dating to the 19th century.

As such the castle has many stylistic perspectives. The façade of the castle is Gothic.

The reception rooms are high ceilinged and date mainly from the early 19th century with a spectacular Gothic ‘saloon’ or drawing room overlooking the River Camcor.

There is a medieval basement and dungeons beneath the Castle as well as battlements along the roof.

The 100 acre demesne has a huge variety of rare and beautiful trees and plants from all over the world. Some highlights include: The Camcor and Little Brosna Rivers and the Lake.

The Fernery with a waterfall, streams and fountain.

The formal gardens feature the hornbeam cloisters, Bavarian urns and decorative seats.

The walled gardens feature Box Hedges that are over 350 years old.
They are also, according to The Guinness Book of Records, the tallest hedges in the world. Other features include: Orchards, bridges, arboretum, outdoor grass stage (teatre Verde), herbaceous borders, lakeside log cabin, Georgian mansion and derelict manor court and stable muse, bog land, country cottages, moat, drawbridge.
A main feature of the demesne is the "Great Telescope" of the 3rd Earl, an astronomical telescope with a 72" reflector.

When completed in 1845, it was the largest telescope on earth, and capable of capturing more light and seeing further into space than any telescope had done before.

It was dismantled in 1914, but was restored by the state in the 1990s as an Irish scientific icon.

There is a long history of photography at the castle. Mary Rosse (1813-85) was the earliest acclaimed female photographer in world.

Her dark room, in which she developed her own photos, is still preserved in the castle exactly as she left it in the 1890s.

Lord Snowdon, who was, as Anthony Armstrong-Jones, partly brought up at Birr, returned to it as a setting for Viyella and other catalogues in the 1980s.

The gardens are host to wedding photography most weekends in the summer.

First published in June, 2011.  Rosse arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

GEORGE II

By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire

First published in August, 2013.

Monday, 14 August 2017

GEORGE III

By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith

First published in August, 2013.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

GEORGE IV

By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith

First published in August, 2013.

Dixon Park

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is located at Dunmurry, County Antrim, now on the outskirts of Belfast.

This fine civic park, originally Wilmont Estate, was conveyed as a gift to the City of Belfast in December, 1959, by Edith, Lady Dixon, DBE, in order to perpetuate the long association of her husband (the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Dixon Bt) and herself with the City.

It comprises 134 acres.


The mansion house of 1859 still stands, in reasonably good condition; though its future seems uncertain, since it lies disused and apparently unwanted by the city fathers.

The surrounding parkland is delightful, with mature trees and woodland, and the River Lagan.


A large section of the grounds is now used for the international rose trials, established in 1964.

The stable block now houses a ground-floor café.

The walled garden is a haven of peace and tranquillity, with a number of park benches donated by the families of deceased loved-ones, their details on metal plaques.

The fruit and vegetables which flourished here are long gone, though some original paths remain and the garden now thrives with fine flora.


On an outside wall of the walled garden, at one corner, there are three mural memorials to pet dogs.

The canine memorial above must have been erected by the Reade family, who sold Wilmont to the Dixons in 1919.

First published in August, 2015.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Lough Fea House

THE SHIRLEYS WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MONAGHAN, WITH 26,386 ACRES

This is a branch of the noble and ancient family of Shirley, EARLS FERRERS, springing from

SIR ROBERT SHIRLEY, Knight, 1st EARL FERRERS (1650-1717), who married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Lawrence Washington, of Garsdon, Wiltshire; and secondly, in 1699, Selina, daughter of George Finch.

The third, but, eventually, eldest surviving son of his second marriage,

THE HON GEORGE SHIRLEY (1705-87), of Ettington Park, Warwickshire, Captain, 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, wedded Mary, daughter of Humphrey Sturt, and had issue,
GEORGE, his successor;
EVELYN, succeeded his brother;
Selina; Margaret.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE SHIRLEY, of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, County Monaghan, who espoused Phillis Byam, daughter of Charlton Wollaston, and had issue,
EVELYN JOHN;
Charles;
William;
James;
Horatio;
Arthur George Sewallis;
Selina; Mary; Frances; Emily Harriet.
Mr Shirley was succeeded by his eldest son, 

EVELYN JOHN SHIRLEY (1788-1856), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, who wedded, in 1810, Eliza, daughter of Arthur Stanhope, cousin to the Earl of Chesterfield, sometime MP for County Monaghan and South Warwickshire, and had issue,
EVELYN PHILIP;
Arthur;
Sewallis;
George Edward;
Walter Devereux;
Selina; Louisa.
His eldest son, 

EVELYN PHILIP SHIRLEY DL (1812-82), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, MP for South Warwickshire and County Monaghan, had issue,

SEWALLIS EVELYN SHIRLEY JP DL (1844-1904), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, MP for County Monaghan, 1868-80, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1884, who had issue,

EVELYN CHARLES SHIRLEY JP DL (1889-1956), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea; High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1914; Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, the Warwickshire Yeomanry; Lieutenant-Colonel, the General Staff, whose only son,

JOHN EVELYN SHIRLEY (1922-2009), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, Major, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

He lived in 2003 at Ormly Hall, Ramsey, Isle of Man.

He had issue,
Philip Evelyn Shirley, b 1955;
Emily Margaret Shirley, b 1957;
Hugh Sewallis Shirley, b 1961.

The Shirley estate is based at Lough Fea, near Carrickmacross in County Monaghan.

It had an area of some 40 square miles, in the western half of the barony of Farney, County Monaghan, in the period 1576-1960.

The Shirley Papers are deposited at PRONI.

The Shirley Association has written a history of Lough Fea.

The Shirleys were semi-absentee landlords. Their main seat was Ettington Park in Warwickshire.

Evelyn Philip Shirley visited Lough Fea several times a year.

The estate was formerly in the ownership of the Earl of Essex, though underwent the first of several partitions: It passed in two halves to Essex's co-heirs, the Marquess of Hertford and Sir Robert Shirley.

Sir Robert himself died in 1656, imprisoned in the Tower of London for supporting the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.

His son and heir was Sir Seymour Shirley, on whose death in 1667 the estate and the rest of the family inheritance passed in turn to his second and only surviving son, Sir Robert Shirley.

Sir Robert entered the House of Lords in 1677, as Baron Ferrers of Chartley, and in 1711 was further ennobled as 1st Earl Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth.

This last title related to the family seat of Ettington in Warwickshire.

About 1750, the Shirleys built a house near Carrickmacross for their occasional visits.

It was not until 1826 that Robert's grandson, Evelyn John Shirley, laid the foundations of a mansion house worthy of the family and estate, near the banks of Lough Fea.



LOUGH FEA is a very large and unusual Tudor-Gothic house by Thomas Rickman, the English architect and architectural writer who invented the terms "Early English", "decorated" and "perpendicular" to describe the different periods of Gothic architecture.

Unlike most houses of its period and style, Lough Fea has no battlements and few gables, but a solid parapet which conceals much of the roof.

There are also hardly any projecting bows or oriels, but rather small, mullioned windows under hood mouldings; so that the elevations, of pinkish-grey ashlar, have a solid effect.

There are several slender, square turrets with sprocketed, pyramidal roofs; also a polygonal lantern and a small tower and polygonal turret at the end of one wing; but no major tower; so that he house seems low and wide-spreading.

The entrance front, facing the lough, is flanked on one side by the chapel and on the other by a great hall, which together form a three-sided court.

The interior is of great complexity, with many corridors and ante-rooms.

There is a hall divided by a stone arcade, its walls hung with an early 19th-century wallpaper.

There is a large and handsome library, the famous library of EP Shirley, son of the builder of the house.

The chapel is on the scale of a sizeable church, with two pulpits and a gallery.

The clou of the house is, however, the great hall: vast and baronial, with a lofty hammer-beam roof, a minstrels' gallery and an arcade at first-floor level.

It was added after the rest of the house was completed.

According to the story, Mr Shirley and Lord Rossmore vied with one another as to which of them could build the bigger room.

Lord Rossmore enlarged his drawing room at Rossmore Park five times, but in the end Mr Shirley won the contest by building his great hall.

The garden front of the house faces along a vista to an immense Celtic cross.

The demesne is noted for its magnificent woodlands.

At the end of the 19th century the estate comprised 26,386 acres, but these lands had to be sold due to the Irish Land Acts before the First World War.

The estate now has less than 1,000 acres of grass and woodland.

After the sale of the land, which had been rented to tenants, large mansions such as Lough Fea became white elephants with little revenue coming in.



In 1904, when Major Shirley’s grandfather died, his father moved from his Ettington Park home in Warwickshire to Carrickmacross, County Monaghan.

Between 1904 and 1977, Major Shirley’s father and his family lived there permanently.

There was a serious fire at the house in 1966, which did quite a lot of damage.

In 1977, the family moved to the Isle of Man and thus reverted to its 19th Century role of absenteeism; though because Major Shirley and his sons were brought up on the estate they have a great love of the place and they do their best to keep the main parts of the building waterproof.

First published in June, 2011.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

VICTORIA

By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India

First published in August, 2013.

Baronscourt Fête


Hard to believe it was two years ago (June, 2015) that I travelled down to Baronscourt, the Duke of Abercorn's stately home in county Tyrone.


A summer fête was taking place within the grounds in order to raise funds for the Woodland Trust's Centenary Woods project, one of four flagship woods being created throughout the United Kingdom to mark the centenary of the 1st World War.



I began the day with a visit to Baronscourt House, where there were guided tours by Lord Anthony Hamilton, the Duke's brother.



I had earlier encountered the Duke and Duchess near the stately porte-cochère outside the house. 


Stable-yard entrance

Inside the mansion house, Lord Anthony conducted tours of the principal rooms, including the main hall, the Rotunda, the long gallery at the garden front (the present garden front used to be the entrance front).



There is a charming little children's play house (below) within the formal garden beside the House.



Baronscourt boasts an array of old masters, including portraits by van Dyke and Panini, to mention but a few.


Ducal arms

I reminisced with Lord Anthony about his period as custodian of Florence Court estate, County Fermanagh, during the late 1970s.



At lunch-time I made a beeline for the stable-yard tea-room, where ladies of Baroncourt parish were providing delicious cream teas, sandwiches, and pastries.



Later, I ambled towards a display of army trucks, including one mighty beast which had two bunk-beds behind the driver's seat.



At two o'clock, Peter Archdale conducted an informative woodland walk.



Deep in the woods, there is a replica of a Russian Dacha  (the Duchess is patron of the Pushkin Trust).


Dacha replica



Irish cobs
I left for home at about four-thirty.
First published in June, 2015

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Ardgillan Castle

THE TAYLORS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 9,000 ACRES
AND 805 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DUBLIN


THE HON AND REV HENRY EDWARD TAYLOUR (1768-1852), fourth son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Bective KP, married, in 1807, Marianne, eldest daughter of Colonel the Hon Richard St Leger, and had issue,
THOMAS EDWARD, his heir;
Richard Chambré Hayes (Sir), GCB, General in the army;
Marianne Jane; Louisa Catherine.
The eldest son,

THE RT HON THOMAS EDWARD TAYLOR JP DL MP (1811-83), of Ardgillan Castle, County Dublin, MP for County Dublin, 1841-83, Lieutenant-Colonel, Royal Meath Militia, 1847-74, Honorary Colonel.


Colonel Taylor, who was a Lord of the Treasury 1858-59, and Joint Secretary of the Treasury 1866-68, was appointed in the last-named year Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and again in 1874-80.

He married, in 1862, Louisa Harrington, second daughter of the Rev and Hon Hugh Francis Tollemache, Rector of Harrington, Northamptonshire, and had issue,
EDWARD RICHARD, his heir;
Basil Reginald Hamilton, Lieutenant RN;
Cecil Cornelia Marianne St Leger; Beatrix Virginia Louisa Tollemache (twins).
Colonel Taylor died at his sister's house, 15 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, and was buried in the family vault at Balbriggan, County Dublin.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD RICHARD TAYLOR JP DL (1863-1938), of Ardgillan Castle, Captain, Grenadier Guards, who espoused, in 1935, Ada, daughter of William Howe Bodley, though the marriage was without issue.


ARDGILLAN CASTLE, near Balbriggan, County Dublin, is set in the 200-acre Ardgillan demesne.

Featuring castellated embellishments, the building overlooks Barnageera Beach, the Irish Sea and Dublin (Balbriggan).

The castle consists of two storeys over a basement, which extends under the south lawns.

When occupied, the ground and first floors were the living accommodation; while the west and east wings were servants quarters and estate offices.

The basement was the service floor, the kitchen and stores.

The castle has now been restored and the ground floor rooms and kitchens are open to visitors for guided tours.

Tea-rooms are located off the main reception area and serving light snacks are open in conjunction with the Castle opening times.

Upstairs, the former bedrooms are used for classes and exhibitions including a permanent and unique exhibition of the "Down Survey" colour maps and text.

Ardgillan demesne is a popular local park, with a mix of woodlands and large grass open spaces.

The park contains a walled herb garden, rose garden, Victorian conservatory, tea rooms and an ice house.

A children's playground was added in 2006.

Ardgillan Castle provides guided tours and hosts exhibitions throughout the years.

A new Holistic Centre is set in the former Gardener's House in the corner of the Rose Garden.

The previous owner of the land was Robert Usher, a wine merchant from Tallaght.
When the Very Rev Robert Taylor bought the land it was quite a wooded area, so he employed some out of service soldiers from Bangor, County Down, and paid them one penny and a meal per day, as well as bed every night. They also received a tot of Bushmills whiskey, which was brought in for 2/2 a gallon.
The Castle was built by the Very Rev Robert Taylor in 1738.

The Very Rev Robert Taylor, Dean of Clonfert, was born in 1689 in Cheshire.

In 1714, having studied Holy Orders at Trinity College Dublin, he was appointed Archdeacon of Kilmacduagh in the Province of Tuam.

In 1722, he was appointed Precentor of Clonfert, where his brother-in-law Dr Fitzgerald was Dean.

By 1726 he was appointed Dean of Clonfert, only to resign within months.

Robert Taylor died unmarried in 1744 and Ardgillan, together with its estate, became the property of his eldest brother Sir Thomas Taylor, 2nd Baronet.

Ardgillan remained in the Taylor family until 1962, when the estate was sold to Heinrich Potts, of Westphalia, Germany.

In 1982, the estate was sold to Fingal County Council, which renovated the house.

It was officially opened to the public in 1992.

First published in April, 2013.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Prince Henry

A photograph of my late father, Major Thomas Ferres TD, being presented to Field Marshal His late Royal Highness The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, KG KT KP GCB GCMG GCVO (1900-74).

Prince Henry was appointed Field Marshal in 1955, so this picture would have been taken at some time in the 50s or early 60s, I think. My father was a captain at the time.

Prince Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and thus uncle to Elizabeth II.

He was appointed potential regent for his niece, when his brother (George VI) came to the throne in 1936, and was required to stay in the United Kingdom until she came of age in case her father died and she ascended the throne under age.

HRH served as the 11th Governor-General of Australia, from 1945-47.

At his death, Prince Henry was the last surviving Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Visiting Card

A gentleman's or lady's visiting card used to be de rigueur in the past; whereas even today, in the Internet Age, they survive in the form of a business card.

Traditionally, visiting cards have been in differing sizes for men and women and I gather that the classic man's size was 3" x 1½".

They were very simply laid out, with merely the name in the centre, often the address at the bottom left, and one's club to the bottom right.

I happen to think that they still serve a useful purpose.


Cognisant of this I searched the Internet for printers who specialize in such cards; and I discovered Blush Publishing, based in Flintshire.

Nobody in Northern Ireland seems to specialize in the kind of products that Blush sells.

I contacted two in County Down and might I suggest that they have a look at the Blush web pages.

They use heavy cotton paper and the cards are printed using the letterpress method with vintage Heidelberg presses.

I can apprise you that I am delighted with my new visiting cards, which is why I'm expressing my appreciation in this article.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Westport House

THE MARQUESSES OF SLIGO WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MAYO, WITH 114,881 ACRES

This is a junior branch of the noble house of BROWNE, Barons Kilmaine, which is supposed to have sprung from a common ancestor with the extinct Brownes, Viscounts Montagu; though some suggest that the family sprang more immediately from the Brownes of Betchworth Castle, Surrey.

WILLIAM BROWNE, of The Neale, County Mayo, whose will is upon record in Dublin, was father of

RICHARD BROWNE, head of an independent company in the service of ELIZABETH I.

On the division of Connaught into counties by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1565, Captain Browne fixed his abode at The Neale, County Mayo, of which county he was appointed first High Sheriff.

He fell in the act of quelling a riot in his official capacity, and was succeeded by his son,

JOSIAS BROWNE (c1579-1634), of The Neale, who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN BROWNE, who was created a baronet in 1636.

Sir John married Mary, daughter of Sir Dominick Browne, Knight, of Galway, by whom he had
George, ancestor of the Barons Kilmaine;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Dominick.
Sir John's second son, 

JOHN BROWNE (1638-1711), a colonel in King James's service, and one of the capitulators of Limerick, where (being originally bred a lawyer) he had a principal hand in drawing up the celebrated articles of capitulation.

By his second wife Maud, daughter of Theobald, 3rd Viscount Bourke, he had two sons and three daughters: Bridget, Lady Athenry; Elizabeth; and Elizabeth.

Colonel Browne was succeeded by his elder son, 

PETER BROWNE, who wedded Mary, daughter of the Rt Hon Denis Daly, one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland.

Mr Browne died in 1722, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN BROWNE (1709-76), MP for Castlebar, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1760, by the title of Baron Mount Eagle, of Westport, County Mayo.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1768, as Viscount Westport; and further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1771, as Earl of Altamont.

He wedded, in 1729,  Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Gore Bt, and sister of Arthur, 1st Earl of Arran, and had issue,
PETER, his successor;
Arthur, colonel in the army;
James;
Henry;
John;
Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

PETER, 2nd Earl, who married, in 1752, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Chief Justice Kelly, of the island of Jamaica, and had issue,
JOHN DENIS;
Denis, a privy counsellor;
Anne; Elizabeth; Charlotte.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son, 

JOHN DENIS, 3rd Earl, KP (1756-1809), who wedded, in 1787, the Lady Louisa Catharine Howe, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Admiral the Earl Howe, by whom he had an only son, HOWE PETER.

His lordship was created MARQUESS OF SLIGO, in 1800.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Christopher Ulick Browne, styled Earl of Altamont.
The 6th Marquess was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Mayo, from 1914 until 1922.



WESTPORT HOUSE, near Castebar, County Mayo, ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Sligo, is located west of the Shannon and is one of Ireland's most historic country houses open to the public.

It was designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century.

Westport House enjoys a superb parkland setting with lake, terraces, wonderful gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick. 

It was built and is still privately owned by Lord Sligo, a direct descendant of the 16th century Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley.

During the 1500s, Grace O’Malley was a famous Pirate and “Queen of Connaught”.

After her death, a report stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West.

She was chief of the O’Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo.

Grace O’Malley had several castles in the West of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built.

There is still an area of her original Castle in the basement of the House (now known as the Dungeons) which is on view to the visitors.

A bronze statue of Grace O’Malley by artist Michael Cooper is situated on the Westport House grounds.


The original house was built by Colonel John Browne, a Jacobite, who was at the siege of Limerick, and his wife Maud Bourke.

Maud Bourke was Grace O’Malley’s great-granddaughter.

The House then had no lake or dam, and the tide rose and fell against the walls.

The east front of the House as it is today was built in 1730 by Colonel John Browne’s grandson, 1st Earl of Altamont, who hired the famous German architect Richard Cassels.

It is built with the finest limestone taken from the quarry south of the estate farmyard and was executed by local craftsmen. 

Richard Cassels also designed Carton, Hazelwood, Russborough and Leinster House.

Westport House was completed by James Wyatt, who also laid out the town of Westport. 

On the south face of the House is the date 1778 and inside many of the ceilings, cornices and fireplaces are examples of his finest work.

The Large Dining room is perhaps the finest remaining example of his work.

The doors are mahogany, brought back from the family estates in Jamaica. 

There are still a number of original James Wyatt drawings on show, together with some of his son’s, Benjamin Wyatt, who also did some work in the House.

There are several architecturally stunning rooms on show, complete with original contents, most of which have a long association with Ireland and are of particular interest.
Among the pictures are portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the 1st Earl of Altamont; the Rt Hon Denis Browne, brother of the 1st Marquess and a member of Grattan’s Parliament, by Beechy; Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess, who spent four months in jail for bribing seamen in time of war, to bring his ship, full of antiquities from Greece to Westport.
The 2nd Marquess was a friend of GEORGE IV and the poet Byron.

There is also a portrait of Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Howe, father of the 1st Marchioness of Sligo, by John Singleton Copley.

Other Artworks include a magnificent collection of landscapes painted in the locality by James Arthur O’Connor.

Other artists such as Chalon, Barret, Gibson, Opie, Brooks and Lavery are part of the collection.

There is also a collection of waxwork figures by Gems Display Figures, which are a tribute to the literary, arts and music achievements of the West of Ireland.

Other original items on show in Westport House, of particular interest, include a fine collection of old English and Irish silver, including 18th century Irish ‘potato’ or dish rings, Waterford glass, a library with many old Irish books.

A Mayo Legion Flag was brought to Ireland by General Humbert when he invaded the country in 1798 and has ever since been at Westport House, which was occupied by his troops.

Westport House was opened to the public for the first time in 1960 and since then has welcomed over four million visitors.

Westport House and grounds were sold in 2017 to a local business family, committed to investing and maintaining the current facilities which are a major tourist attraction.

Mayo County Council has acquired forty acres of the estate which are expected to be retained in their current form as part of the setting for the house.

First published in June, 2011.  Sligo arms courtesy of European Heraldry.