Saturday, 29 September 2018

Downhill Revived

As part of the students' National Diploma at Northern Regional College, Ballymoney, County Antrim, they have researched and created a "3D" graphical reconstruction of Downhill House, County Londonderry, as it is looked around the early 1800s.

Staff and Students have produced this reconstruction as a concept of what to expect from future interpretation plans for Downhill.

Downhill Demesne is a property of the National Trust.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The O'Conor Don


Of the O'CONOR family John O'Donovan says,
No family in Ireland claims greater antiquity and no family in Europe, royal or noble, can trace its descent through so many generations of legitimate ancestors.
It will be unnecessary here to give more than a summary of the pedigree, which is provided in detail in The O'Conors of Connaught by the Rt Hon Charles Owen O'Conor Don.

FERADACH THE JUST, a legitimate descendant of Hermon, son of Milesius, was elected King of Ireland about 75 AD.

Ninth in descent from him was MUIREDACH TIRECH, King of Ireland, whose son, EOCHAID MUGMEDON, was chosen the Hibernian monarch about 358 AD.

His eldest son, BRIAN, King of Connaught, was set aside in the succession of the monarchy of Ireland by a younger son, NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES.

BRIAN died in 397 AD, leaving a son, DAUÍ GALACH, the first Christian King of Connaught.

Eighteenth in descent from him was

CONVOVAR or CONOR, King of Connaught (son of Teige of the Three Towers), from whom the family name of O'CONOR is derived.

He died in 973, leaving a son,

CATHAL O'CONOR, who is said to have reigned for thirty years but was forced to submit to Brian Boru, King of Munster, who assumed the chief sovereignty.

CATHAL died a monk in 1010, and was father of

TEIGE O'CONOR, of the White Steel, who became King of Connaught in 1015, and died 1030.

His son,

HUGH O'CONOR, of the Broken Spear, King of Connaught, acknowledged the supremacy of the Monarch of Ireland.

He was killed in battle near Oranmore, County Galway, in 1067, and was father of

RODERIC O'CONOR, called Rory of the Yellow Birch, King of Connaught, who was, after an eventful reign, blinded by O'Flaherty in 1092, when he was forced to abdicate.

He died in the monastery of Clonmacnoise, 1118.

His son,

TURLOUGH MOR O'CONOR (1088-1156), King of Connaught, and afterwards monarch of Ireland, was inaugurated as King of Connaught at the ford of Termon, 1106, and having subdued the other provincial kings, reigned supreme over all Ireland after the battle of Moin-Mor, near Emly, in 1151.

His son,

RODERIC O'CONOR, was King of Connaught and Monarch of Ireland after the death of Murlough McLoughlin.

During his reign the English invasion of Ireland occurred in 1170, which culminated in the treaty of Windsor, 1175, whereby the kings of England became paramount of Ireland, and Roderic held the Kingdom of Connaught as vassal of the English crown.

RODERIC eventually abdicated in favour of his son, Conor Moin-Mor, 1186, and died in the monastery of Cong, 1198.

Conor Moin-Mor was killed in 1189, and his son, Cathal Caragh, sometime King of Connaught, who was slain, 1202, leaving issue.

The latter was succeeded by his great-uncle,

CATHAL CROBHDEARG (1153-1224), King of Connaught, son of Turlough Mor O'Conor, who submitted to KING JOHN.

He wedded Mor, daughter of O'Brien, King of Munster, and died in 1224. His eldest son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Rainault, daughter of Auley O'Ferrall, and was murdered 1228. His son,

RORY or RODERIC O'CONOR, who was never King of Connaught, for during his lifetime the sovereignty was held by his uncle FELIM.

He was accidentally drowned in 1244.

His eldest son,

OWEN O'CONOR (1265-74), who for a few months was King of Connaught, was slain by his cousin Rory, son of his uncle Turlough.

His younger son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, acknowledged by the Irish in 1293, though the superiority was claimed by the English king and a great part of Connaught was in the hands of the De Burghs.

He married Finola, daughter of Turlough O'Brien, and was killed in 1309.

His sons, FELIM, ancestor of O'Conor Roe, and TURLOUGH, were successively Kings of Connaught.

The latter,

TURLOUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, married firstly, Devorgal, daughter of Hugh O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell.

He divorced her in 1339, and wedded secondly, Slaine O'Brien.

Turlough died in 1342, having had issue, two sons, HUGH and RORY, who were subsequently rulers of the Irish in Connaught; and two daughters, Finola and Una.

The elder son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Margaret, daughter of Walter de Burgh.

He died in 1356, and was father of

TURLOUGH OGE O'CONOR, called O'CONOR DON to distinguish him from his cousin, another Turlough who was called O'Conor Roe.

At the death, in 1384, of Roderic, King of Connaught, the kingdom was divided between the two cousins, each of whom claimed the sovereignty of the whole province, and from that date the heads of each branch were called respectively O'Conor Don and O'Conor Roe.

O'Conor Don presented himself before RICHARD II at Waterford, and there as Captain of Nation, made his submission to His Majesty in 1395.

He married Evaine O'Kelly, and was killed, in 1406, by his cousin, son of Cathal O'Conor Roe.

He was succeeded in the chieftainship by his son HUGH, who seems to have been succeeded by his brother,

O'CONOR DON, FELIM GEANCACH O'CONOR, who wedded Edwina, daughter of O'Conor Sligo; and died 1474.

His son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR from 1476, espoused Devorgilla, daughter of Felim Finn O'Conor Roe, and died in 1485. His son,

O'CONOR DON, CARBERY O'CONOR (1475-1546), died at Ballintober, County Longford, leaving issue, DERMOT, afterwards O'Conor Don, and Turlough, who died in 1582.

The elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DERMOT O'CONOR, chief of his sept after 1550, wedded Dorothy, daughter of Teige Buidhe O'Conor Roe, and had issue,
Con, killed 1563;
HUGH, his heir;
Dermot O'Conor Don, who died in 1585, was the last of the O'Conors who exercised jurisdiction over the province of Connaught.

His son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, SIR HUGH O'CONOR (1541-1627), on his father's death, compounded with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir John Perrot, for all his estates, and was knighted by the Earl of Essex.

Sir Hugh, the first knight of the shire returned to Parliament for County Roscommon, wedded Mary, daughter of Brian O'Rourke, Lord of Breffny, and had four sons,
CALVACH, of Ballintubber, his heir, whose male line became extinct;
HUGH OGE, of Castlereagh;
CATHAL, of whose line we treat;
Bryan Roe.
The third son,

CATHAL O'CONOR (1597-1634), married Anne, daughter of William O'Molloy, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, MAJOR OWEN O'CONOR, of Bellanagare, County Roscommon, Governor of Athlone under JAMES II, who died at Chester Castle, 1692.

He married Elinor, daughter of Roger O'Ferrall, and died without male issue, 1692, when the estate passed to his brother,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES OGE, of Bellanagare, who wedded Cecilia, daughter of Fiachra O'Flynn.

He died in 1696, and was succeeded by his son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1674-1750), of Bellanagare, who espoused Mary, daughter of Tiernan O'Rourke, Chief of Breffny, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Roger (Rev);
Matthew (Rev);
Catherine; Mary; Eleanor; Anne.
The son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES O'CONOR (1710-90), of Bellanagare, a learned and distinguished antiquary, married, in 1731, Catharine, daughter of John O'Fagan, and had (with a daughter) two sons,
DENIS, his heir;
Charles, of Mount Allen.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1732-1804), of Bellanagare, Deputy Governor of Roscommon, who espoused, in 1760, Catherine, daughter of Martin Browne, of Cloonfad, County Roscommon, and had issue,
OWEN, his heir;
Charles (Very Rev Dr);
Catherine; Mary; Bridget; Elizabeth Frances; Eleanor Anne; Alicia.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR (1763-1831), of Bellanagare, MP for County Roscommon, 1830-31, who, on the death of his kinsman, Alexander O'Conor Don, sp 1820, succeeded to the title of O'CONOR DON, as head of the family.

He married, in 1792, Jane, daughter of James Moore, of Mount Browne, County Dublin, and by her had issue,
DENIS, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR JP (1794-1847), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1831-47, who wedded, in 1824, Mary, daughter of Major Maurice Blake, of Tower Hill, County Mayo, and by her had issue,
Denis Maurice, father of
Jane; Kate; Josephine; Eugenia; Dionysia.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON CHARLES OWEN O'CONOR JP (1838-1906), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1860-80, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1884, Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon, 1896-1906, who wedded firstly, in 1868, Georgina Mary, daughter of Thomas Aloysius Perry, of Bitham House, Warwickshire, and had issue,
Owen Phelim;
Charles Hugh, father of
Roderick Joseph;
O'Conor Don espoused secondly, in 1879, Ellen Letitia, daughter of John Lewis More O'Ferrall, of Lissard, County Longford.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON DENIS CHARLES JOSEPH O'CONOR JP (1860-1917), of Bellanagare and Clonallis, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1898, who died unmarried, when the title devolved upon his brother,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN PHELIM O'CONOR (1870-1943), who wedded firstly, in 1913, Mary, daughter of F C McLoughlin, and had issue,
Hélène Françoise Marie, born 1916.
He married secondly, in 1943, Gwendoline, daughter of Charles Matthew O'Conor.

O'Conor Don died without male issue, and was succeeded by his kinsman,

O'CONOR DON, REV FATHER CHARLES DENIS MARY JOSEPH ANTHONY O'CONOR (1906-81), who was succeeded in the family honours by his second cousin,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS ARMAR O'CONOR (1912-2000), who espoused firstly, in 1937, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Stanley P Marris, and had issue,
He married secondly, in 1943, Rosemary June, daughter of Captain James Piers O'Connell-Hewett, and had issue,
Kieran Denis;
Rory Dominic.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DESMOND RODERIC (1938-), of Horsegrove House, Rotherfield, Sussex, who wedded, in 1964, Virginia Anne, daughter of Sir Michael Sanigear Williams KCMG, and had issue,
PHILIP HUGH, b 1967;
Emma Joy, b 1965;
Denise Sarah, b 1970. 
Garden Front

CLONALIS HOUSE, near Castlerea, County Roscommon, is a five-bay, two-storey Victorian house, built about 1878.

It has an attic storey in the late Victorian Italianate style.

There is a projecting three-stage entrance tower with pilasters and balcony to a west-facing side elevation; gabled dormers to the garden elevation flank a central pedimented projecting entrance bay.

The walls are cement-rendered with pilasters to ground floor garden elevation.

Entrance Front

The O'Conor Don family crest emblazons one side of the entrance front.

The ruins of old Clonalis House, courtyard and walled garden are to the south of the main house.

The courtyard of two-and single-storey stone stables and outbuildings is now in use as guest accommodation.

An elaborate cast-iron bridge and single-arch rock-faced stone bridge span the River Suck on the avenue approaching the house.

Ashlar gate piers supporting decorative wrought-iron entrance gates are flanked by limestone sweeps to the roadside.

Clonalis House is arguably the finest expression of the Victorian-Italianate style in County Roscommon.

It was designed by Frederick Pepys Cockerell and is one of the first concrete houses constructed in Ireland.

The use of the entrance tower with a pyramidal roof and embellishing pilasters and balconies is representative of the Italian influence that became popular in the mid-19th century.

As the seat of the O'Conor Don family it is an historically significant site.

The original Clonalis House, an early 18th-century Georgian house, survives in a ruinous condition, as a reminder of the continuity of habitation enjoyed by this estate.

An exceptional county residence, its setting is enhanced by the walled garden, outbuildings, bridges and entrance gates.

Former ancestral seats ~ Belenagare; French Park. Chambers: 1 Garden Court, Temple, London.

First published in March, 2016.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Kinnitty Castle


THOMAS BERNARD (-1720), of Oldtown and Clonmulsh, County Carlow, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1708, married Deborah, daughter of Matthew Shepperd, of Killerick, County Carlow, and had issue,
Charles, of Bernard's Grove;
Franks, of Castletown;
JOSEPH, of whom we treat.
The third son,

JOSEPH BERNARD (1694-1764), of Straw Hill, County Carlow, and Castletown, King's County, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1730, wedded, in 1717, Mary, daughter of John Edwards, of Old Court, County Wicklow, and had (with five daughters) three sons,
THOMAS, his heir;
John, Captain RN;
William, of Straw Hill.
Mr Bernard was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS BERNARD, of Castletown, who espoused Jane, Mrs Armstrong, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Adam Mitchell, of Rathgibbon.

Mr Bernard died in 1788, and was succeeded by his only son,

THOMAS BERNARD (c1769-1834), of Castle Bernard, Colonel, King's County Militia, High Sheriff of King's County, 1798-9, and for more than 32 years served as MP for that county, who married firstly, in 1800, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Dunalley, which lady dsp 1802; and secondly, in 1814, the Lady Catherine Henrietta Hely-Hutchinson, sister of John, 3rd Earl of Donoughmore, by whom he had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Richard Wellesley;
Frances Margaret; Marguerite.
Colonel Bernard was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS BERNARD (1816-82), of Castle Bernard, Lord-Lieutenant of King's County, 1867-83, High Sheriff of King's County, 1837, Colonel, King's County Militia, who died unmarried in 1882, when the family estate reverted to his cousin,

THOMAS SCROPE WELLESLEY BERNARD JP (1850-1905), Honorary Major, 3rd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, who married, in 1880, Monica Gertrude, sixth daughter of W H Darby, of Leap Castle, Roscrea, and had issue, four daughters,
Marguerite Cecil Elizabeth, m, 1906, Charles J Alexander;
Monica Charlotte Emily;
Kathrine Anne;
Maude Mary Gertrude.

KINNITTY CASTLE, formerly known as Castle Bernard, near Birr, County Offaly, is a landmark building in the area and enjoys commanding views across the surrounding countryside.

This handsome castle was built ca 1833 by the Pain Brothers, important advocates of the Gothic-Revival style in Ireland and architects of Mitchelstown Castle.

Kinnitty displays architectural motifs typical of the style including tall chimney-stacks, gabled elevations, castellated towers and parapets, battered walls and labels to windows.

Built for Thomas Bernard, the estate has played an important role in the economic development of the nearby village of Kinnitty.

The castle was burnt by the IRA in 1922, though rebuilt in 1928 by the Bernard Family who, in 1946, sold it to the 6th Baron Decies, who in turn disposed of the property to the Irish State in 1951.

The Ryan Family acquired the Castle and Estate in 1994 and turned it into a hotel.

The interior survives, much altered.

The Bernards later lived at 30 Saumarez Street, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands.

First published in April, 2012.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

New DL

Mrs Alison Millar, Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint:-
Mrs Lorraine Martha YOUNG JP
County Antrim,
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, her Commission bearing date the 7th day of September, 2018.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Prince Andrew in Northern Ireland

Thursday, 20th September, 2018

THE DUKE OF YORK, Baron Killyleagh, this afternoon visited Belleek Pottery, Belleek, County Fermanagh, and was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh (the Viscount Brookeborough KG).

His Royal Highness later visited Lough Erne Yacht Club, Gublusk Bay, County Fermanagh.

Friday, 21st September, 2018.

THE DUKE OF YORK, Baron Killyleagh, this morning visited a Search and Rescue Exercise at Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, County Fermanagh, and was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh (the Viscount Brookeborough KG).

His Royal Highness, Founder, Pitch@Palace, later held Pitch@Palace on Tour Belfast at Ormeau Baths, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast, and was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs. Fionnuala-Jay O’Boyle CBE).

HRH this afternoon opened the Fintech Hub at Danske Bank, Donegall Square West, Belfast.

His Royal Highness this evening held a Business Dinner at Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

Saturday, 22nd September, 2018.

THE DUKE OF YORK, Colonel-in-Chief, The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd, 87th and The Ulster Defence Regiment), this morning presented new Colours to 1st and 2nd Battalions at Titanic Slipway, Queen's Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala-Jay O'Boyle CBE).

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Killeen Castle


This noble family was of Danish origin, but its settlement in Ireland is so remote that nothing certain can be ascertained as to the precise period.

So early as the 11th century, we find

JOHN PLUNKETT, of Beaulieu, County Meath, the constant residence of the elder branch of his descendants.

The successor at Beaulieu at the beginning of the 13th century,

JOHN PLUNKETT, living at the time of HENRY III, had two sons,
John, ancestor of the BARONS LOUTH;
RICHARD, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

RICHARD PLUNKETT, of Rathregan, County Meath, who, with his son and heir, RICHARD PLUNKETT, by royal writs of parliamentary summons, was summoned to, and sat in, the parliaments and council of 1374; one as a baron, and the other "de consilio regis".

To the same parliament and council was also summoned as a baron "Waltero de Cusake Militi", Lord of Killeen, whose heir general afterwards, as wife of Christopher Plunkett, was previously thought to have first brought the dignity of a parliamentary barony into this branch of the Plunkett family, but how erroneously may best be seen by reference to the writs of summons during the reign of EDWARD III, before alluded to.

The younger Richard Plunkett was father of

SIR CHRISTOPHER PLUNKETT, Knight; who, as a recompense for the services he had rendered in the wars of Ireland, and as an indemnity for the expenses he had incurred, had a grant of a sum of money from HENRY VI, in 1426; before which time he was High Sheriff of Meath; and, in 1432, was deputy to Sir Thomas Stanley, Knight, Lord Deputy of Ireland.

Sir Christopher was created, ca 1426, BARON KILLEEN.

He married, in 1403, Joan, only daughter and heir of Sir Lucas Cusack, Knight, Lord of Killeen, Dunsany, and Gerardstown, County Meath, and became, in her right, proprietor of the Barony of Killeen, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Baron (who, in an act of parliament during the reign of HENRY VI was called "Christofre Plunkett le puisne Seigneur de Killeen").

This feudal Lord wedded twice: firstly, to Genet, daughter of Bellew, of Bellewstown; by whom he had two sons.

He espoused secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Wells, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had a daughter and two sons.

Sir Christopher died in 1462, and was succeeded by his elder son,

CHRISTOPHER PLUNKETT, 3rd Baron (1440-c1469); who had summons to parliament in 1463.

His lordship died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

EDMOND, 4th Baron (c1450-1510), who had a son and heir,

JOHN, 5th Baron, who was sworn of the privy council of HENRY VIII, and was found by inquisition to have had four sons,
Patrick, dsp;
CHRISTOPHER, heir to his brother;
The eldest son,

PATRICK, 6th Baron (1521-c1526), was succeeded by his brother,

CHRISTOPHER, 7th Baron, who succeeded to the titles and estates.

His lordship was an active and gallant nobleman, who discharged many high functions and commissions under the royal authority.

He sat in the parliament of 1509, and having married the granddaughter of the 8th Baron Slane, left issue, three daughters, his co-heirs,
Maude, m 3rd Baron Louth;
Catherine, m David Sutton;
Margaret, m Nicholas Aylmer.
He died about 1567, and was succeeded by his brother,

JAMES, 8th Baron (c1542-95), whose inheritance of the ancient family dignity was not opposed or questioned by the daughters, co-heirs of his deceased brother, and he took his place in the House of Lords in 1585.

In 1589, he enfeoffed trustees in his family estates, and was succeeded at his decease by his son and heir,

CHRISTOPHER, 9th Baron (1564-1613), who, when aged 31, sat in the parliament of 1613; and dying soon afterwards, was succeeded by his eldest son,

LUKE, 10th Baron (1589-1637), styled Lucas More.

This nobleman had a large grant of territory in 1613, and was created, in 1628, EARL OF FINGALL, JAMES I precluding the honour by a most flattering letter beginning thus:-
"That having received good testimonies of the virtuous and many good parts of his right trusty and well-beloved subject, the lord Baron Killeen, being one of the ancient nobility of Ireland, His Majesty was pleased" ... etc etc.
His lordship married four times, and by his second marriage with Susannah, fifth daughter of Edward, 1st Baron Ardee, had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, his successor;
George, ancestor of the 6th Earl.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Earl; who, having been made prisoner at the battle of Rathmines, died two weeks later, in 1649, at Dublin Castle, and was succeeded by his son (by Mabel, daughter of Nicholas, 1st Viscount Kingland),

LUKE, 3rd Earl (1639-84); who was restored to his estates and honours by the Court of Claims, and was succeeded at his decease by his only son,

PETER, 4th Earl (1678-1718); who was outlawed by the name of Luke, in 1691, for his loyalty to his legitimate sovereign, JAMES II, but the outlawry was reversed six years later, 1697.

His lordship wedded Frances, third daughter of Sir Edward Hales Bt, and had issue,
JUSTIN, his successor;
Margaret; Emilia; Mary.
He was succeeded by his only son,

JUSTIN, 5th Earl, who died in 1734, without issue, and intestate, and was succeeded in his titles and estates by his cousin,

ROBERT, 6th Earl, who enjoyed the honours without opposition of question on the part of the three daughters and heirs lineal of Peter, 4th Earl.

About a century later, however, the grandson of the youngest daughter, Maurice O'Connor, made claim to the Barony of Killeen, as a barony created by writ, and, as such, inheritable through females.

Like all other claims of the same nature, it has been unsuccessful, though brought forward at a time when the feelings of the Irish government were violently excited against the Earl of Fingall.

Robert, 6th Earl, was a captain in Berwick's regiment, in the service of France.

He espoused Mary, daughter of Roger Magenis, of Iveagh, County Down; and dying in 1738, left (with a daughter, Anne) a son and successor,

ARTHUR JAMES, 7th Earl (1731-93), then in his seventh year.

His lordship married, in 1755, Henrietta Maria, only daughter and heir of William Wollascot, of Woolhampton, Berkshire, and had issue,
ARTHUR JAMES, his successor;
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR JAMES, 8th Earl (1759-1836), KP, who was created a Peer of the United Kingdom, in 1831, by the title of Baron Fingall, of Woolhampton Lodge, Berkshire.
The titles became extinct on the death of the 12th Earl.

KILLEEN CASTLE, near Dunsany, County Meath, is said originally to have been a Norman fortification, built for the de Lacy magnates, and held from 1172 by the Cusack family, beginning with Geoffrey de Cusack.

The castle was then held from 1399 by successors by marriage (to Lady Joan de Cusack), the Plunketts.

Killeen Castle was originally built by Geoffrey de Cusack around 1181. The date is carved above the doorway.

The castle fell into disrepair in the late 17th century, was leased out, and was not restored until around 1779, when parts of the demesne were landscaped and some of the estate features were added.

Significant reworking was carried out from 1803-13 under the supervision of Francis Johnston, and in 1841, much of the castle was demolished and rebuilt (using much existing material) by the 9th Earl of Fingall, in the style of a small Windsor Castle.

The two towers added have the dates 1181 and 1841 inscribed, and at the time of completion, it was claimed that Killeen had 365 windows.

The 12th and last Earl sold Killeen Castle and Estate, in 1951, to Sir Victor Sassoon.

Lord Fingall remained as manager of the stud farm established near the castle.

In 1953, Lord and Lady Fingall moved to a contemporary house built in the grounds, and most of the house contents were sold.

Sassoon died in 1961 and his heirs sold the estate on in 1963, to the French art dealer and racehorse owner, Daniel Wildenstein.

Lord Fingall moved from the estate to Corballis on the Dunsany estate, then The Commons.

He died in 1984 and is buried at Dunsany Church.

In 1978, the castle and estate were sold to the advertiser Basil Brindley, who continued the stud farm operation.

In 1981, the castle was burnt out in an arson attack, being left abandoned for many years.

The lands and buildings were sold again in 1989, to Christopher Slattery.

In 1997, Snowbury Ltd purchased the castle and its grounds, with a vision to create the estate that exists today.

Fingall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.    First published in April, 2012.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Belmont Cataract

For the benefit of those of you who are unfamiliar with my ophthalmic history, it almost goes back to time immemorial, as those venerable peerages might say.

When I was a youth of about fifteen, suffering from a bout of ennui brought on by pop Thompson's maths class at Campbell, I suppose that was the time when the squinting commenced.

Thereafter I wore spectacles.

When I was about twenty years of age I purchased contact lenses, and wore those instead.

Fast forward to 1988, the year I made an appointment with that eminent Ulster eye surgeon, Mr Eric Cowan, whose consulting-rooms were in Eglantine Avenue, Belfast.

In a sense, Timothy was quite avant-garde in those days.

Mr Cowan pioneered the ophthalmic practice known as radial keratotomy, whereby minute incisions are made around the optic pupil in order to correct or improve myopia. 

I spent forty-eight hours in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, for this surgery.

It did improve the old eye-sight to the extent that I did not need to wear glasses.

My vision, however, deteriorated over time, and I decided to have laser surgery.

Let us Fast Forward again to 2017.

I was on holiday abroad in the bright sunshine one morning, at the swimming-pool of my hotel, when I became aware of a blemish of some sort in my right eye.

This blemish or spot is tricky to describe, so when I arrived home in Old Blighty I arranged for an appointment with the optician.

I was apprised that I had a cataract.

The optician wrote to my doctor, who arranged for me to see the relevant cataract clinic and, after many months, I was finally seen by the eye doctor.

I was informed that I had a cataract on my left eye as well, though I was unaware of this.

By this stage the cataract on my right eye was very blurry indeed.

I was reliant on my left eye for vision.

In April, 2018, I received a letter from the hospital letting me know that I was on a waiting-list for an appointment with them, though there was no mention of cataract surgery.

A few months later I was chatting my my aunt on the blower and she recounted her treatment with an eye surgeon based mainly in Belfast and Hillsborough, County Down.

Furthermore, when she heard of my predicament and the indefinite length of the waiting-list for cataract surgery, she urged me to get it done instanter, and highly recommended her consultant.

I called the clinic in Hillsborough, which happens to be directly beside the war memorial and parish church.

I was told that an appointment with Mr Rankin could be arranged within a fortnight, and that surgery could be about three weeks thereafter.

Well, dear readers, I considered it and called them back for an appointment.

Mr Rankin examined my eyes again and explained everything to me.

I decided to go ahead with surgery as soon as possible, so it took place on Wednesday this week at 3pm.

Service, care, treatment, staff were all second-to-none, as they say.

I didn't feel a thing apart from some stinging in the eye when the anaesthetic eye drops were introduced.

I'm writing this piece at almost 6pm, fifty-one hours later.

The sight in my right eye has been transformed and, as far as I'm concerned, it's virtually miraculous.

It's almost like having a new eye.

In fact, my right eye - the one which had a cataract - now has better, clearer, brighter vision than the "good" one.

I have an appointment with Mr Rankin in a few weeks time for a follow-up review, when I'll mention the other eye to him.

The Rock House


The family of CLIVE is descended from Robert Clive, of Styche, Shropshire.

GEORGE CLIVE JP DL (1805-80), of Ballycroy, County Mayo, and of Perrystone Court, Herefordshire, MP for Hereford, third son of Edward Clive, of Whitfield, wedded, in 1835, Ann Sybella Martha, second daughter of Sir Thomas Harvie Farquhar Bt, and had issue,
EDWARD HENRY, his heir;
Archer Anthony (1842-77), Barrister;
Charles Farquhar;
Sybella Harriet; Kathleen.
The eldest son,

GENERAL EDWARD HENRY CLIVE JP DL (1837-1916), of Perrystone Court and Ballycroy, wedded, in 1867, Isabel, daughter of Daniel Hale Webb, and had issue,
GEORGE SYDNEY, his heir;
Edward Archer Bolton;
Richard Alfred;
Henry Ambrose;
Sybil Mary; Isabel Kathleen; Laura Cicely; Judith Evelyn.
General Clive's eldest son,

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR GEORGE SIDNEY CLIVE GCVO KCB CMG DSO (1874-1959), died following a catastrophic fire at the family residence, Perrystone Court, in 1959.

The Clives of Ballycroy, as they subsequently became known, distinguished themselves as parliamentarians and soldiers.

They were the cousins of the celebrated Robert Clive of India.

In the vicinity of The Rock House, George Clive, who acquired the estate, planted approximately 72 acres of forest, including walkways leading from The Rock House to the sea and rivers on the property.

The forest, now beautifully matured, consists of some unique species, e.g., Austrian Pine, Spanish Chest Nut, etc., some of whom were reportedly supplied by Clive of India and delivered by train to the nearby Mulranny Station.

In 1982 Jacques Maillet and his son Jean Claude established Tucson Investments, having an 80% and 20% ownership respectively.

In 1986 they purchased The Rock House in Ballycroy and some 300 acres consisting of woodlands, blanket bog, non-agricultural land, stretches of the Owenduff and Ballyveeney rivers and shooting rights to approximately 32,000 acres in West Mayo.

The Maillets have already made an investment of €600,000 in the refurbishment of The Rock House and nearby lodge, converting both to high quality accommodation for paying guests.

The Rock House has now become an established tourist destination.

First published in July, 2012.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Menlough Castle


The founder of this family in Ireland, Richard Blake, alias Caddell, is said to have accompanied Prince (afterwards King) JOHN into that kingdom, 1185, and obtained for his military services large grants of land in the counties of Galway, Mayo, Clare, and in the town of Galway.

VALENTINE BLAKE (1560-1635), married firstly, Margaret, daughter of Robert French, and had, with other issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
He wedded secondly, Annabel, daughter of James Lynch, without further issue.

Mr Blake, Mayor of Galway, MP for Galway, was created a baronet in 1622, denominated of Menlough, County Galway.

Sir Valentine was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BLAKE, 2nd Baronet, MP for Galway Borough, 1645-5, Mayor of Galway, 1637, who espoused Julianne, daughter of Geoffrey Browne, and was father of

SIR VALENTINE BLAKE, 3rd Baronet, of Menlough Castle, MP for County Galway, 1634-5, Galway Borough, 1639-42, Mayor of Galway, 1643, who wedded Eleanor, daughter of Sir Henry Lynch Bt, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Julianne; Elizabeth; Annabel.
Sir Valentine died in 1652, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BLAKE, 4th Baronet, who married firstly, in 1649, Mary, daughter of Richard Martin; and secondly, in 1656, Maria, daughter of Robert French, by whom he had issue,
VALENTINE, 5th Baronet;
WALTER, 6th Baronet.
Sir Thomas died ca 1670, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR VALENTINE BLAKE, 5th Baronet (1664-86), who fell in a duel, and leaving no issue, the title devolved upon his only brother,

SIR WALTER BLAKE, 6th Baronet, who was the first Catholic gentleman of distinction who joined the standard of the Prince of Orange, and obtained a commission from His Royal Highness to raise a regiment, which he maintained and clothed at his own expense.

Sir Walter, MP for Galway, 1689, wedded firstly, in 1687, Anne, daughter of Sir John Kirwan, and had, with other issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
He espoused secondly, in 1706, Agnes, daughter of John Blake, and had further issue, a daughter, Catherine.

Sir Walter died in 1748, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BLAKE, 7th Baronet, of Somerville, County Galway, who married, in 1716, Elizabeth, daughter of Ulick Burke, and had issue,
ULICK, his successor;
Sir Thomas died in 1749, and was succeeded by his son,

SIR ULICK BLAKE, 8th Baronet, who wedded Mary, daughter of Richard Blake, though the marriage was without issue.

Sir Ulick died in 1766, when the title passed to his cousin,

SIR THOMAS BLAKE, 9th Baronet, who espoused, in 1730, Eleanor Lynch, though the marriage was without issue, and the title passed to his brother,

SIR WALTER BLAKE, 10th Baronet, who wedded, in 1751, Barbara, daughter of Myles Burke, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Dominick Joseph;
Walter (Brigadier).
Sir Walter died in 1802, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN BLAKE, 11th Baronet (1753-1834), who married firstly, in 1779, Eleanor, daughter of Edward Lynch, and had issue,
VALENTINE, his successor;
He espoused secondly, in 1800, Rose, daughter of Edward Brice, of Kilroot, County Antrim, by his wife Theodora, daughter of Thomas , 1st Baron Ventry, and had further issue,
John Brice;
Eliza; Jane Margaret; Arabella.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR VALENTINE BLAKE, 12th Baronet (1780-1847), MP for Galway, 1813-20 and 1841-7, who wedded firstly, in 1803, Eliza, daughter of Joseph Donellan, and had issue,
THOMAS EDWARD, his successor;
John Francis;
Elly; Eleanor; Eliza.
He married secondly, in 1843, Julia Sophia, daughter of Robert MacDonnell, and had further issue, a son,
Valentine Charles.
Sir Valentine was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS EDWARD BLAKE, 13th Baronet (1805-75), who espoused, in 1830, Lætitia Maria, daughter of Ulick O'Brien, and had issue,
VALENTINE, his successor;
Louisa; Eliza Maria.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

SIR VALENTINE BLAKE, 14th Baronet (1836-1912), JP, High Sheriff of County Galway, 1872, Honorary Major, Galway Militia, who wedded, in 1864, Camilla Eugenia, daughter of Harvey Combe, and had issue,
Valentine Joseph;
James Herbert;
Florence Anne; Maude Julia.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS PATRICK ULICK JOHN HARVEY BLAKE, 15th Baronet (1870-1925), JP, Captain, Royal Garrison Artillery, who espoused, in 1903, Evelyn winifred, daughter of Lewes Arthur Stewart, and had issue, an only child,

SIR ULICK TEMPLE BLAKE, 16th Baronet (1904-63), Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, who married, in 1940, Betty, daughter of Arthur Gordon, and had issue, an only child,
Sir Ulick was found dead in his car after inheriting Menlough Castle.

He was succeeded by his son,

Sir Anthony Teilo Bruce Blake, 18th Baronet (1951–2014), great-great-great-great grandson of the 10th Baronet through his 2nd son, Dominck Joseph Blake (1754–1843);
Sir Charles Valentine Bruce Blake, 19th baronet (b 1994).

MENLOUGH CASTLE, County Galway, was originally a gabled 17th century tower-house on the bank of the river Corrib, two miles from Galway City.

The building had several additions and extensions during the 19th century, in including battlements, curvilinear gables, Georgian sashes etc.

In July, 1910, the castle was gutted by a catastrophic fire, in which a daughter of the 14th Baronet perished.

Menlough Castle was thereafter abandoned and has remained a ruin since then.

Princess Royal at Hillsborough

THE PRINCESS ROYAL this afternoon attended a Garden Party at Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

Her Royal Highness afterwards held a Reception in the garden of Hillsborough Castle for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Wednesday, 5th September: The Princess Royal, President, UK Fashion and Textile Association, this morning visited Mourne Textiles, Rostrevor, County Down, and was received by Mrs Fionnuala Cook OBE, (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Down).

Her Royal Highness, President, Royal Yachting Association, afterwards visited Portaferry Sailing Club, Portaferry, County Down, to mark its Fiftieth Anniversary, and opened Portaferry Recreation Hub, and was received by Mrs Amanda Brownlow DL.

The Princess Royal later opened Lakeland Dairies' new Packing Hall, 46 Belfast Road, Newtownards, County Down, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Down (Mr David Lindsay).

Her Royal Highness later opened the Northern Ireland Prison Service Memorial Garden, Hydebank Wood Secure College, County Down.