Thursday, 28 February 2019

Fisherwick Lodge

FISHERWICK LODGE, near Doagh, County Antrim, was a hunting-lodge of the Marquesses of Donegall.

The lodge was re-built about 1805 as a hollow square, with two single-storey fronts of nine bays each.

It has lofty windows which reach almost to the ground, and a pedimented wooden door-case, with fluted columns.

Although the present house is likely to date from the early years of the 19th century, its origins are in an 18th-century hunting lodge for the Donegall estate.

The current lodge was built by the 2nd Marquess (1769-1844).

Its name derives from the barony of Fisherwick, one of the family's subsidiary titles.

The Lodge was built in the midst of an extensive deer park, which covered "nearly all of six townlands", including Kilbride, Ballywee, Holestone, Douglasland, Ballyhamage and part of the parish of Donegore and the Grange of Doagh.

The 2nd Marquess, who had a reputation for extravagance, also laid out an artificial lake in front of the Lodge.

Deer were hunted by hounds in the Doagh district, and the improvements by the 2nd Marquess included the establishment of large kennels and extensive stabling.

In 1899, the kennels were associated with the establishment of a racecourse at Lisnalinchy, which continued to exist in part up until the late 1950s, retaining the name East Antrim Hounds, but have since been relocated to the Parkgate district.

The estate is described in an 1812 statistical survey by the Rev John Dubourdieu:
Close to [Doagh] is Fisherwick Lodge ... the building itself, which is very handsome, and the plantations, have much improved and enlivened the look of this well placed hamlet, which has, in addition, a good inn [Doagh or Farrell's Inn]".
The Ordnance Survey Memoir of 1838 describes the lodge thus:
An elegant and uniform structure in the Cottage style, forming with the offices a spacious quadrangular enclosure. It contains a regular suite of handsome apartments, and is constructed and finished in the most modern style.
Lord Belfast and his father, the 2nd Marquess, subsequently disentailed their estates, with the exception of Islandmagee.

It is recorded that the Donegall family took refuge at Fisherwick Lodge following the seizure in 1806 of the contents of their town residence in Belfast, Donegall House, by creditors.

Fisherwick Lodge was finally sold, in 1847, to John Molyneaux JP.

In 1894, Mr Molyneaux drained the artificial lake in front of the house.

The lodge has since been divided into two properties.

The south gate lodge was demolished ca 2000 and replaced with a modern dwelling.

First published in February, 2015.  Donegall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

George Best Hotel

Artist's Impression

THE GEORGE BEST HOTEL, 15-16, Donegall Square South, Belfast, is an Edwardian building built in 1904 to the designs of Henry Seaver.

It was originally called the Scottish Temperance Building, though later became the Scottish Mutual Building.

This baronial pile, made with dark red Ballochmyle sandstone, is six storeys in height, with corbelled turrets at each corner.

There are black polished granite pilasters at ground floor level.

Dormer windows and chimneys also survive.

The Scottish Mutual Building was purchased in 2013 by the Tullymore House hotel group, which owns Galgorm Resort and Spa in County Antrim.

Scottish Temperance Building ca 1908

The building was sold by the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama), with an asking price of £1.75m.

Signature Living acquired it for £6m during 2017, and work is still progressing on the 63-bedroom hotel.

First published in June, 2013. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Ladies of the Garter

Ladies of the Garter or Thistle are styled "Lady" followed by their christian name and surname, unless they are peeresses.

The prefix "Lady" followed by the christian name normally only applies to the daughters of dukes, marquesses or earls.

Lady Mary Peters LG CH DBE is an example of this format.

Cambridges in Belfast

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting Belfast, Ballymena, County Antrim, and County Fermanagh on a two day trip [27-28 February] that will celebrate the young people of Northern Ireland.

Day One will have a strong focus on the positive impact that sport, nature and the outdoors can have on childhood development, and improved physical and mental health for all.

Their Royal Highnesses will start the first day with a visit to Windsor Park football stadium, home of the Irish Football Association (IFA).

The IFA run outreach programmes that benefit the mental and physical health of local communities. ‘Shooting Stars’ encourages young girls to play football and ‘Ahead of the Game’ works to support clubs and volunteers when dealing with mental health issues, with a focus on challenging the stigma and preventative measures.

In County Fermanagh, TRH will see the incredible work that the charity Extern is doing at their Roscor Youth Village, which is a residential activity centre for children referred to the charity by social workers or the Department of Justice.

The site provides a safe space to help and support these young people, with particular emphasis on outdoor activities and developing independent living skills.

Ending the day back in Belfast at the iconic Empire Music Hall, Their Royal Highnesses will attend a party celebrating young people who are making a real difference in Northern Ireland.

The band LARKS will take to the stage, and guests will encompass representatives from Northern Ireland’s business, arts and sport sectors, including Lady Mary Peters who was today appointed Lady Companion of the Most Noble of the Garter by Her Majesty The Queen.

Lady Mary Peters

Dame Mary receiving insignia of CH in 2015

I am absolutely delighted for Lady Mary Peters, who is appointed a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter.

Lady Mary joins the Duke of Abercorn and the Viscount Brookeborough as the third recipient of the Garter in Northern Ireland today.

The Queen has been pleased to appoint LADY MARY ELIZABETH PETERS to be a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and the Marquess of Salisbury to be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

The appointment of the Knights and Ladies of the Garter is in The Queen's gift, without Prime Ministerial advice.

Appointments to the Order of the Garter are therefore in the same category as the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order. Today's announcement brings the number of Companions to twenty-three (out of a maximum of twenty-four).

Dame Mary Peters, CH, DBE (born 6 July 1939) served as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast between 2009 and 2014.

In the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich, Dame Mary won the Gold Medal in the pentathlon.

In 1975, she established the Mary Peters Trust to support talented young sportsmen and women across Northern Ireland. 

The Most Hon Robert Michael James, Marquess of Salisbury, KCVO, PC, DL (born 30 September 1946) is a former Leader of the House of Lords.

Lord Salisbury is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, and was Chairman of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, which organised the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in 2012.

Lord Salisbury is also Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

The Bates Baronets

Sir Dawson Bates Bt OBE. Photo Credit: NPG

JOHN BATES (1803-55), Town Clerk of Belfast, 1842-55, was father of

RICHARD DAWSON BATES, of Brandon Towers, Strandtown, Belfast, Solicitor and Clerk of the Crown, who married, in 1920, Mary, daughter of Robert Foster Dill, and had issue,
John, died 1874;
RICHARD DAWSON, of whom we treat.
Mr Bates died in 1881, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

THE RT HON (RICHARD) DAWSON BATES OBE JP DL (1876-1949), who married, in 1920, Jessie Muriel, daughter of Sir Charles John Cleland, and had issue, an only child,
Mr Bates received a knighthood in 1921.

He was created a baronet in 1937, denominated of Magherabuoy, County Londonderry.

Sir Dawson was MP for East Belfast, 1929-45; NI Minister of Home Affairs, 1921-43.

  • Privy Counsellor
  • OBE, 1919
  • Knight Bachelor, 1921
  • Baronet, 1937

In his retirement, strained financial circumstances and security (he constantly required a police escort) led him to rent Butleigh House, near Glastonbury, Somerset.

Magherabuoy House. Photo Credit: Magherabuoy House Hotel

It was here that he died in 1949.

Sir Dawson's body was flown back to Northern Ireland for burial at Ballywillan parish church.

Sir Dawson lived at Magherabuoy House, Portrush, County Antrim (above), from 1934-47.
Although Portrush is in County Antrim, the townland of Magherabuoy presumably straddles the bordering county of Londonderry.
Sir Dawson was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN DAWSON BATES, 2nd Baronet, MC, (1921-98), of Butleigh House, Somerset, who wedded, in 1953, Mary Murray, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Murray Hoult, and had issue,
RICHARD DAWSON HOULT, his successor;
Charles Joseph Dill;
Drusilla Mary Cynthia.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD DAWSON HOULT BATES, 3rd Baronet (1956-), who married, in 2001, Harriet Domenique, daughter of Domenico Scaramella, and has issue,
Isobel Jessie Mary, born in 2002.
In 2003, the 3rd Baronet lived on the Isle of Man.

Photo credit: Rev McC Auld

Brandon Towers was a large Victorian villa near Connsbrook Avenue in east Belfast.

First published in May, 2010.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Crown Bar Acquisition


PROPERTY:  Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast

DATE: 1978

EXTENT: 0.09 acres

DONOR: Messrs Edward & James Hillan

First published in December, 2014.

1st Earl of Godolphin

This family derived its surname from GODOLPHIN, in Cornwall, which word in Cornish signifies a white eagle, and that emblem became the device on the shield of the family.

JOHN DE GODOLPHIN was living at the time of the Norman conquest, and amongst other feudal possessions, was lord of the manor of Godolphin, where he resided.

His lineal descendant,

SIR JOHN GODOLPHIN, of Godolphin, was High Sheriff of Cornwall, 1505, during the reign of HENRY VII, and joint steward, with Robert, Baron Willoughby de Broke, of the mines in Devon and Cornwall.

His elder son and successor,

WILLIAM GODOLPHIN (c1486-c1570), of Godolphin, married Margaret, daughter and co-heir of John Glynn, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR WILLIAM GODOLPHIN (1515-70), Knight, MP for Cornwall, 1539-53, an eminent person in the time of HENRY VIII, who received for his services the honour of knighthood.

Sir William was thrice High Sheriff of Cornwall, and he attained a high military reputation, particularly at the siege of Boulogne.

He wedded Blanch, daughter of William Langdon, and had three daughters, Margaret, Grace, and Anne.

Sir William left no male issue, and the representation of the family devolved, upon his decease, upon his nephew,

SIR FRANCIS GODOLPHIN (1540-1608), Knight, MP for Cornwall, 1589, Lostwithiel, 1593, who espoused Margaret, daughter of Sir John Killigrew, of Arwennack, Cornwall, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WILLIAM GODOLPHIN (1567-1613), MP for Cornwall, 1605, who married Thomasine, daughter and heir of Thomas Sidney, of Wighton, Norfolk, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Sir William was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR FRANCIS GODOLPHIN KB MP (1605-67), who was appointed a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of CHARLES II.

He wedded Dorothy, daughter of Sir Henry Berkeley, of Yarlington, Somerset, and had a numerous family including,
William, his heir;
SIDNEY, of whom we treat;
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of St Paul's;
Elizabeth; Ursula; Jael.
The second son,

THE RT HON SIR SIDNEY GODOLPHIN KG MP (1645-1712), QUEEN ANNE'S chief minister, was elevated to the peerage, in 1684, in the dignity of Baron Godolphin, of Rialton.

He espoused, in 1675, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Blagge, and had issue, an only child, FRANCIS, his successor.

Photo Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

His lordship was advanced, in 1706, to the dignities of Viscount Rialton and EARL OF GODOLPHIN.

He was succeeded by his only son,

FRANCIS, 2nd Earl (1678-1766), who married, in 1698, the Lady Henrietta Churchill, daughter of John, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Henrietta, m 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne;
Mary, m 4th Duke of Leeds.
Godolphin arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Harristown House


The family of LA TOUCHE was established in Ireland by

DAVID DIGUES DE LA TOUCHE (1671-1745), a Huguenot, who settled in that kingdom after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, having served first as volunteer, and afterwards as lieutenant and captain in Princess Anne's infantry regiment.

Mr La Touche was the fourth son of a noble Protestant family of the Blésois, which possessed considerable estates between Blois and Orléans, and in other parts of France.

He first fled to Holland, where a branch of his family had for some time been established, and shortly afterwards embarking with the Prince of Orange, served the Irish campaign under him.

At the conclusion of the war, Mr La Touche, like many of his countrymen, settled in Dublin.

He married twice: By his second wife he had no sons; by the first, who he wedded in 1690, Judith, daughter of Noé Biard, and Judith Chevalier his wife, he had issue,
DAVID, his heir;
James Digges;
Jane; Judith.
Mr La Touche was succeeded in the bank which he had established in Dublin by his eldest son,

DAVID LA TOUCHE (1703-85), who had been educated in Holland with his relation, Digues de la Motte, at Rotterdam.

He espoused, in 1724-5, Mary Anne, daughter of Gabriel Canasille, and had issue,
Gabriel David, dsp;
DAVID (Rt Hon), of Marlay;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Peter, of Bellevue;
Mary Anne; Martha; Elizabeth; Judith.
Mr La Touche's second surviving son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE (1732-1810), of Harristown, MP for Newcastle, 1783-90, Newtownards, 1790-6, Harristown, 1797-1800, married, in 1765, Gertrude FitzGerald, daughter of Robert Uniacke, of County Cork, who took the name and arms of FITZGERALD, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
John, MP for County Leitrim;
Gertrude; Marianne.
The elder son,

ROBERT LA TOUCHE (1773-1844), of Harristown, MP for Harristown, 1794-1800, wedded, in 1810, the Lady Emily Le Poer Trench, youngest daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Anne; Gertrude; Emily.
Mr La Touche was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE JP DL (1814-1904), of Harristown, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1846, Leitrim, 1859, who married, in 1843, Maria, only child of Ross Lambart Price, of Cornwall, by his wife, Catherine, Dowager Countess of Desart, and had issue,
Emily Maria; Rose Lucy.
His eldest son,

ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR LA TOUCHE JP (1846-1921), wedded, in 1870, the Lady Annette
Louise, second daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Clonmell, though the marriage was without issue, and he was succeeded by his sister,

EMILY MARIA LA TOUCHE (1846-68), who espoused, in 1865, Lieutenant-General the Hon Bernard Matthew Ward, son of 3rd Viscount Bangor, and had issue,

HARRISTOWN HOUSE, near Brannockstown, County Kildare, was purchased by the La Touche family in 1768 and a spacious Georgian mansion was erected by Whitmore Davis in a dominant position overlooking the River Liffey.

The old house of three stories was destroyed in 1891 and a smaller two storey house sits well in its place.

The diocesan architect, James Franklin Fuller, oversaw the restoration of the house at the same time that he rebuilt the small parish church at the entrance to the estate.

The omission of the third storey allows for an unusual amount of light into the house through a cleverly constructed lantern light; thus the move from the airy and bright downstairs rooms is complemented by a rush of light from the upstairs hallway.

Another interesting feature is the tunnel that runs underground for some eighty yards from the stable yard into the basement.

Carnalway church is adjacent to the front entrance of the estate and Fuller rebuilt it in the Hiberno- Romanesque style similar to that of his masterpiece at Millicent.

The church also has stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper.

The La Touches were bankers, weavers and politicians.

The partners of La Touche Bank were the original stockholders of the Bank of Ireland, which opened for business in 1783.

The second generation of the La Touches in Ireland included John, who built Harristown House.

His descendants occupied the house until 1921.

The last John La Touche, of Harristown, died in 1904.

The estate was bought in 1946 by Major Michael Beaumont (father of the Lord Beaumont of Whitley), who set about restoring Harristown to its former glory.

They completely renovated the house and installed furniture and pictures from their former home, Wootton, in Buckinghamshire, the interior of which had been designed by Sir John Soane.

On the ground floor the ceilings stand eighteen feet high and the front hall is a magnificent double room off which open the three main reception rooms the library, drawing room and dining room.

However, the best kept secret of this house is the 16th Century Chinese Wallpaper in a sitting room leading off the drawing room which depicts birds in strong vibrant colours.

Among the other curiosities are an upstairs room finished in oak panelling taken from a Tudor house in England; and a set of French Empire pelmets.

Harristown Estate was for sale in 2016.

First published in February, 2012.

James Joseph Magennis VC


James Joseph McGinnes (later spelled Magennis) was born on 27 October, 1919, at 4 Majorca Street, Belfast.

He was the only Northern Irishman to be awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award ‘for valour in the face of the enemy’, during the second World War.

He attended St Finian’s primary School on the Falls Road in West Belfast until 3rd June, 1935, when he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a boy seaman.

Majorca Street, Belfast. Click to Enlarge

He served on several different warships including HMS Kandahar which struck a mine off the coast of Tripoli, Libya, in December 1941 and was irreparably damaged and scuttled.

In 1942 Magennis was drafted into the Submarine service, and in March, 1943, he volunteered for “special and hazardous duties” which meant serving in midget submarines known as X-craft, about 50-feet long and weighing about 130 tons, with a crew of 4 men.

He trained as a diver and in September, 1943, took part in the first major use of X-craft during Operation Source, penetrating Kafjord, Norway, and disabling the German battleship Tirpitz.

He and the other crewmen of the two midget submarines which took part in the attack were Mentioned in Despatches “for bravery and devotion to duty.”

In July 1945, as Allied forces moved to recover Singapore from the Japanese, Acting Leading Seaman Magennis was serving as the diver on the midget submarine HMS XE3 which was tasked, under the codename Operation Struggle, with sinking the 10,000-ton Japanese cruiser Takao.

She had been damaged in the Battle of the Phillipines in 1944, had limped to Singapore and was berthed in the Straits of Johor, between Malaysia and Singapore , as an anti-aircraft battery.

On 30th July, 1945, XE3 was towed to the operational area by the submarine Stygian.

She slipped her tow at 23:00 and made a 40-mile journey through minefields, hazardous wrecks and hydrophone listening posts to reach the Takao, arriving at 1300 on 31 July.

XE3’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Ian Frazer, placed his craft directly under the keel of Takao with only one-foot of head-room.

Magennis exited from the ‘wet and dry’ chamber with great difficulty because of the restricted space and detached 6 limpet mines (so-called because their magnets were intended to make them stick to the hull of their targets like limpets to a rock) from the limpet carriers on one side of the submarine.

He then found that barnacles on Takao’s hull prevented the mines from getting a proper magnetic grip on the hull and he had to scrape off barnacles with his knife to make room for each of the mines.

He also tied the mines in pairs and placed one of the pair on each side of the keel spread along 45-feet of the cruiser’s hull.

All this time, his ‘frogman’ breathing apparatus was leaking air and sending a tell-tale stream of bubbles to the surface.

In the meantime, the Takao had slowly settled with the tide and XE3 was trapped under her bilge keel.

After much thrashing of the motor and pumping water, XE3 freed herself.

On Magennis’s return to XE3, the crew used hand wheels to drop the two side-cargoes off the midget submarine, one full of two tons of high explosive and the other the now flooded empty limpet carriers.

The explosive cargo dropped away but one of the limpet carriers was stuck to the hull.

Magennis, although exhausted, immediately volunteered to free this limpet carrier, saying “I’ll be alright as soon as I’ve got my wind, Sir.”

He put on his breathing apparatus again, exited the submarine and released the limpet-carrier by hand after seven minutes work with a heavy spanner.

On his return, XE3 started the 40-mile return journey back to HMS Stygian.

At 21:30, some, but not all, of the limpet mines exploded and blew a 23 feet by 10 feet hole in the starboard side of Takao’s hull.

Her keel buckled, the blast disabled her gun turrets and damaged her rangefinder but she did not sink.

Magennis Memorial, Belfast City Hall

On 13th November, 1945, a citation was published in the London Gazette that “the King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross for valour to Acting Leading Seaman James Joseph Magennis”.

The detailed citation recited the difficulties he had faced and observed that “a lesser man would have been content to place a few limpets and then to return”. It concluded that “Magennis displayed very great courage and devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own safety”.

The Commanding Officer of XE3, Lieutenant Frazer, who was also awarded a VC for his part in the attack, was reported as saying that “Jim gave me bother from time to time. He liked his tot of rum but he was a lovely man and a fine diver. I have never met a braver man.”

James Magennis left the Royal Navy in 1949 and returned to live in Belfast.

LS Magennis presented with a Cheque by the Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh Bt,
Lord Mayor of Belfast, on 19th January, 1946

A public collection was held for him called a Shilling Fund (a shilling was one-twentieth of a £, 12 old pence, 5 new pence) which raised £3,600 [about £121,000 in today's money].

He left Belfast in 1955 when he moved to Yorkshire, where he worked as an electrician.

He died on 11th February, 1986, hours before his heroism was honoured by the Royal Navy Philatelic Office with a first-day cover.

Click to Enlarge

There are memorial plaques to him in Belfast and in Bradford.

A six-foot high memorial statue, made of Portland Stone and bronze, was placed outside Belfast City Hall in October 1999.

His Victoria Cross has been on display in the Ashcroft Gallery of the Imperial War Museum, London, since 2010.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Mayoral Lampposts

Bedford Street, February, 2019

Until relatively recently, a pair of singularly ornate, decorative lampposts adorned the entrance to the Lord Mayor of Belfast's home, whether they resided on the Shankill Road or Malone Park.

The features of these lampposts may have been gilded originally.

Sir Charles Brett remarked that "four cretinous putti, coy and obscene" surrounded the columns.

One putto is reading a book; another wears a masonic apron with a trowel; yet another grasps a boat.

The fourth, which faces the Ulster Hall, has unhappily lost his implement.

Seahorses surround the columns below the putti feet.

It is thought that Belfast city Council, in its infinite wisdom, felt that the erection of these civic lampposts was impractical, given the the office of Lord Mayor is usually rotated annually by several parties.

Sir Reg Empey (now the Lord Empey), Lord Mayor, 1989-90, and 1993-4, had the lampposts outside his home.

Who was the last Lord Mayor to enjoy this civic mark of distinction?

At any rate, many citizens shall be disappointed that this unique tradition has ceased.

The Crom Acquisition


PROPERTY: Crom Estate, County Fermanagh
DATE: 1987
EXTENT: 1674.79 acres
DONOR: 6th Earl of Erne

PROPERTY: The Old Schoolhouse
DATE: 2002
EXTENT: 2.58 acres
DONOR: Cormack

PROPERTY: Holy Trinity Church, Crom Estate
DATE: 1995
EXTENT: 0.45 acres
DONOR: 6th Earl of Erne & Others

PROPERTY: Erne Alms House, Crom Estate
DATE: 1997
EXTENT: 0.32 acres
DONOR: 6th Earl of Erne & Others 

First published in December, 2014.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Ballymoyer House


TOBIAS SYNNOT, of County Londonderry, was brought up a Protestant, and was in Londonderry during its celebrated siege.
The family is said to have come originally from Flanders, where the name "Sigenod" meant "Victory-bold". Translations and modifications over time saw the name become "Synad". Various explanations of when and how the family travelled to Ireland have been documented, however all revolve around the Norman Invasion of Ireland.
It is believed that a Richard de Synad was one of the Flemish that crossed to Ireland with Strongbow in the invasion force. After various campaigns from Waterford to Wexford and on to Dublin, he returned to the Wexford region to settle down. He later built a castle at Ballybrennan, close to the present village of Killinick, on the main Wexford-Rosslare road.
This was the family's chief castle, which remained until dispossessed in the Cromwellian confiscations. The castle is long gone, but part of its walls is incorporated into the present large dwelling house at the site.
His eldest son,

THOMAS SYNNOT, Town-Major of the City of Dublin, Captain, Lucas's Regiment of Foot, 1711, was father of

RICHARD SYNNOT, of Drumcondra, Registrar of the diocese of Armagh, who married, in 1694, Jane, daughter of Edward Bloxham, of Dublin, and had (with a daughter) a son,

MARK SYNNOT (1696-1754), of Drumcondra, who wedded firstly, Euphemia, daughter of Mr Rivers; and secondly, in 1769, Anne, daughter of Walter Nugent, of Carpenterstown, County Westmeath, by whom he had issue,
Mark, of Drumcondra;
WALTER (Sir), of whom presently;
Mary, m W Smyth, of Drumcree.
His younger son, 

SIR WALTER SYNNOT (1742-1821), of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1783, built Ballymoyer House in County Armagh.
By the time of his death, he and his son Marcus had made considerable improvements to the estate and many of the beautiful trees, buildings and structural improvements date from this time. The demesne was noted as being very ornate. He was knighted by Lord Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
Sir Walter married, in 1770, Jane, daughter of John Seton, of New York, and had issue, 
MARCUS, his heir;
He espoused secondly, in 1804, Ann Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Robert Martin, and had a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of the Rev Fitzgibbon Stewart, and a son,
Richard Walter.
The son and heir,

MARCUS SYNNOT JP (1771-1855), of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1830, married, in 1814, Jane, daughter of Thomas Gilson, of Wood Lodge, Lincolnshire, and had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
MARK SETON, of Ballymoyer, succeeded his brother;
Parker George;
William Forbes;
Mary Marcia; Maria Eliza; Agnes Jane; Barbara Cecilia; Juliana Hewitt.
Mr Synnot was succeeded by his eldest son, 

MARCUS SYNNOT JP DL (1813-74), of Ballymoyer House, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1853, who wedded, in 1844, Ann, eldest daughter of William Parker, of Hanthorpe House, Lincolnshire.

Mr Synnot died without issue, when the estates devolved upon his brother,

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP DL, of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1876, whose heir,

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1820-90), of Ballymoyer, Captain, Armagh Light Infantry, married, in 1843, Anne Jane, second daughter and co-heir of Mark Synnot, of Monasterboice House, King's County, and Grove House, Clapham, Surrey, and had issue,
MARK SETON, late of Ballymoyer;
MARY SUSANNA, of Ballymoyer;
Rosalie Jane; Eva Charlotte; Charlotte Augusta; Ada Maria; Annette Beatrice.
Mr Synnot was succeeded by his only son, 

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1847-1901), of Ballymoyer, Captain, Armagh Light Infantry, who died
unmarried, when the estate devolved upon his eldest sister,

MARY SUSANNA SYNNOT (1844-1913), of Ballymoyer, who married, in 1868, Major-General Arthur FitzRoy Hart CB CMG, who subsequently assumed the name and arms of SYNNOT, and had issue,
RONALD VICTOR OKES, of whom hereafter;
Beatrice May; Horatia Annette Blanche.
The elder son,

BRIGADIER ARTHUR HENRY SETON HART-SYNNOT CMG DSO, married his nurse, Violet Drower, while convalescing from his wounds, though died without issue in 1942.


THE REV WILLIAM HART, of the parish of Netherbury, Dorset, born in 1668-9, possessed land in Dorset, namely Corfe, in the parish of West Milton, Pomice, Hurlands, Colmer's Estate, Camesworth, Greening's Orchard, and Furzelease House, in Netherbury.

He was buried in 1746 at Netherbury, leaving by Ann, his wife, with other issue who died young, a son,

WILLIAM HART (1707-71), of Netherbury, who wedded, in 1731, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Henville, of Hincknowle, Netherbury, and had issue (with two daughters, Betty and Ann, who both died unmarried), an only surviving son,

GEORGE HART (1744-1824), of Netherbury, who possessed lands in Dorset, viz. Corfe, Cape Leazne [sic], and Pomice.

He wedded Elizabeth Hood, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
His elder son,

WILLIAM HART (1764-1818), of Netherbury, entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman; and was later appointed Ensign in the Dorsetshire Militia, 1792; Lieutenant, 1793; Lieutenant-Colonel, 1812.

Colonel Hart espoused, in 1801, Jane, daughter of Charles Matson, of Wingham, Kent, and had issue,
HENRY GEORGE, of whom hereafter;
Samuel Hood;
Eliza; Mary Anne; Emily.
His third son,

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HENRY GEORGE HART (1808-78), married, in 1833, Frances Alicia, daughter of the Rev Dr Holt Okes, and had issue,
Henry Travers Holt;
Holt William;
George Okes;
Reginald Clare (Sir), VC GCB KCVO;
Horatio Holt;
Jane Margaret; Frances Alicia; Isabel Clara.
The fourth son,

MAJOR-GENERAL ARTHUR FITZROY HART-SYNNOT CB CMG JP (1844-1910), of Ballymoyer, County Armagh, wedded, in 1868, MARY SUSANNA, eldest daughter of Mark Seton Synnot DL, of Ballymoyer, and sister and co-heir of Mark Seton Synnot JP, and had issue,
ARTHUR HENRY SETON, Major, DSO (1870-1942);
Ronald Victor Okes, DSO OBE (1879-1976);
Beatrice May; Horatia Annette Blanche.

The tenanted land of BALLYMOYER estate was transferred to the occupiers under the Irish land acts of 1902 and 1909.

Subsequently Brigadier Hart-Synnot and his brother, Ronald Victor Okes Hart-Synnot, sold the farm land of the demesne and, in 1938, gave the avenue and glen to the National Trust, and had the house pulled down owing to damage suffered from requisitioning.

The estate is now open to the public.

BALLYMOYER HOUSE, County Armagh, was a three-storey 18th century mansion.

It had a pedimented doorway and a shallow curved bow, to which a considerably taller three-storey extension was added at some time in the early 19th century.

The taller block had a projection with a curved bow and the lower storey was adorned with engaged Ionic columns and a balustraded roof parapet.

Sadly the House suffered severe damage caused by requisitioning.

The family were involved not only in the linen industry but also had lead mines in their possession.

By 1838 the family had bought the eight townlands and continued to improve the estate.

In 1901 the demesne passed through marriage to the Hart-Synnot family, who presented it to the National Trust in 1937.

Major-General Arthur FitzRoy Hart adopted the name Hart-Synnot when he married Mary Synnot.

Their son, Brigadier-General Arthur H.S. Hart-Synnot, sold parts of the estate to its occupying tenants prior to 1919, under the Land Acts.

This document relates to the sale of small portions of land in the townlands of Knockavannon and Ballintate. The Conditions of Sale include rights of way for Brigadier General Hart-Synnot and the purchasers through the property to be sold.

Ballymoyer House was later demolished and Brigadier-General Hart-Synnot gave the demesne to the National Trust in 1938.

Comprising 7,000 acres of low hills, moorland and small tenant farms, Ballymoyer was one of the largest demesnes in the county of Armagh.

The Synnots had made their money in the linen trade and mining and had always been resident landlords.

When General Hart added his wife's surname to his own, to become General Hart-Synnot, he thus affirmed his place among the Anglo-Irish gentry.

The general was eager to show Arthur the improvements he had begun to make on the estate, the home farm that was not rented out to tenants, knowing his son shared the same love for the place he would one day inherit.


The original stone manor had been built in the 18th century in a gentle valley at a point where three brooks, after racing down from their own glens, reached flatter land and joined together to continue as one fast-running trout stream.
In the early 19th century a more imposing house in the classical style, with a stucco facade of three stories and a colonnaded porch, had been added onto the earlier, rougher building, and the two were linked with creaking corridors and staircases.
The library, the smaller bedrooms, and the servants' hall were in the old section at the back, but the principal bedrooms, drawing room, and dining room were in the grander addition, looking across the lawns and parkland to stands of beech on the hillside.
Over the years the gardens had been landscaped and replanted, and the streams channelled and directed over weirs, but the sound of rushing water could still be heard all round the house, and gave a calming, almost drowsy background noise.
For Arthur's return, both parts of the house were full, with relatives who had come to greet him and would stay until the following day. The celebrations did not end till after dinner, when the general directed a fireworks display on the lawn.
That night Arthur must have wondered how he was going to tell his family what had happened to his personal and emotional life on the other side of the world, and how he wanted nothing more than to put Ireland behind him as fast as possible and get back to Tokyo.
 First published in August, 2010.

Friday, 22 February 2019

City Hall Visit

I was in two minds as to my choice of attire yesterday.

Was it to be the herringbone tweed jacket and suede shoes, or the worsted grey chalk-stripe suit?

Eventually I settled on a compromise: the suit, with woollen tie and chukka boots.

I usually wear a suit or overcoat in town at any rate.

If you have been following the Belmont narrative, you will know that I attended the old school dinner several weeks ago in the Ulster Reform Club, where I sat beside Jeff Dudgeon, MBE, who happens to be a Belfast city councillor.

Jeff asked me if I'd been on one of his City Hall tours.

I had not.

So after breakfast yesterday morning I dressed in the glad rags, jumped into the jalopy, and made a bee-line for the City Hall.

This magnificent civic edifice is located at Donegall Square, so I motored into the inner courtyard and found a space.

Without elaborating too much, the City Hall is a grand, ornate, quadrilateral pile made of Portland stone, about 300 feet wide and 174 feet high, with a splendid copper dome.

It is one of the most impressive civic buildings in the British Isles, took ten years to construct, and was completed in 1906.

The interior has abundant Greek and Italian marble, a fine banqueting hall, and a large mural symbolizing Belfast's industrial heritage.

Most of the ground floor has become an exhibition space now.

A civic lamp-posts is displayed.

A pair of ornate lampposts used to be erected outside Lord Mayors' homes, whether they happened to be on the Shankill Road or Malone Park!

Even the Lord Mayor's ceremonial robe is on display in a glass cabinet.

Jeff and I ascended the grand staircase (he pointed out a section of the plasterwork requiring a bit of attention), past many historical items on the walls, and portraits of former Lord Mayors.

The cherub is not amused.

The Lord Mayor has a particularly distinctive robe, made of black silk satin and emblematic gold lace, with white lace cuffs and jabot, white gloves, tricorn hat, and of course the golden chain-of-office.

Most Lord Mayors are far too bolshy to wear it today, even for ceremonial occasions.

We spent some time in the opulent Council Chamber on the first floor, which has the Lord Mayor's chair at one end and the royal dais at the other.

The Royal Dais

Plentiful wood panelling, stained glass, plush carpet and exquisite plasterwork adorn this room.

The stain-glass windows include the armorial bearings of the Marquess of Londonderry, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, and the City of Belfast.

Alderman Tommy Patton OBE, Lord Mayor, 1982-3

Jeff showed me the Robing Room, something similar in size to a large billiards-room, with a large table and wooden lockers for the councillors' robes.

Sir Edward Coey DL, Mayor, 1861-2

The city's silver mace and the Lord Mayor's robe (or one of them) are displayed here.

Before I departed, Jeff took me into his offices, where we had delicious chunks of fruit (pineapple, melon, grape) on wooden sticks.

I'll revisit the permanent exhibition, perhaps this summer.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Castle Ward Acquisition


PROPERTY: Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down

DATE: 1953

EXTENT: 605.62 acres

DONOR: Ministry of Finance for Northern Ireland


PROPERTY: Mallard Plantation; Mountain Wood; Keeper's Cottage; Terenichol etc

DATE: 1967

EXTENT: 200.92 acres

DONOR: Peter Weatherby


PROPERTY: Mallard Pond, Castle Ward Estate

DATE: 1980

EXTENT: 1.36 acres

DONOR: Edward Crangle

First published in December, 2014.

The Crown Bar

THE CROWN BAR, also known as the Crown Liquor Saloon, is one of three similarly scaled buildings lining the east side of Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

It is located at 46, Great Victoria Street, on a corner site, with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street.

It comprises three storeys, though the southern elevation extends as a two-storey attic return.

The bar stands almost directly opposite the Europa Hotel, at the end of a terrace.

This stucco-fronted building was built ca 1840, and remodelled ca 1898, including a decorative, tiled pub shopfront.

The interior was remodelled about 1885.

The pitched, natural slate roof was reconstructed ca 2005.

A painted fascia reads 'THE CROWN BAR', each corner surmounted by urns.

The elaborately tiled pub shopfront has tiled panels divided into five bays by Corinthian tiled pilasters.

Three central bays are recessed to provide a porch, with a pair of pink and white marble Corinthian columns to full-span gilded glass fascia proclaiming "LIQUOR {THE CROWN} SALOON" and tiled panels to either end, stating "SPIRIT" and "VAULTS".

All are surmounted by a series of scrolls, finials and tiled scallops to either end.

The porch contains a mosaic tiled floor proclaiming "CROWN BAR", with etched and painted fixed-pane windows to three sides and tiled panels below.

THE CROWN BAR was recorded in the 1852 Belfast street directory as the Ulster Railway Hotel and Tavern, the proprietor being Terence O’Hanlon.

In 1859 it was recorded that the Ulster Railway Hotel was let to Mr O’Hanlon by Henry Joy.

The hotel was described as a three-storey, A-class building that measured 19½ by 12 yards.

Mr O’Hanlon continued to occupy the hotel until 1880, when it was taken over by Patrick Flanigan (who later purchased the building in 1885).

Mr Flanigan thereafter purchased numbers 19 and 21 Amelia Street to its rear, and converted the entire premises into a public house.

By 1901, the premises were known as the Crown Bar, comprising ten rooms and a storeroom.

Patrick Flanigan was 45 years of age and lived at the address with his wife and their seven children.

He employed a number of staff including barmaids, shop assistants and domestic servants.

Mr Flanigan occupied the property until his death in 1902, when his widow, Ellen, came into sole possession.

Mrs Flanigan ran the bar until 1927, when Patrick McGreeny took possession.

He also owned 2, Keyland’s Place, a cul-de-sac at the rear of the pub (now part of Blackstaff Square).

The exterior mosaic facade and stained glazing of the bar was considerably damaged through general wear, but also through numerous attacks during the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, in 1980-81 Robert McKinstry undertook a restoration of the bar's interior and restored the mosaic facade using a plan of the original pattern design which was found at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire.

Further changes to the Crown Bar took place after McKinstry’s restoration, when £250,000 was spent on the eradication of dry rot in the walls during the 1980s.

A restaurant was constructed on the first floor in 1988 by Gifford & Cairns costing £450,000.

Marcus Patton, OBE, remarks that this restaurant was named the Britannic Lounge and incorporated panelling from the Harland & Wolff shipyards originally intended for RMS Britannic (sister ship of the Titanic), which was sunk during the 1st World War in 1916.

The Crown Bar continues to operate as a public house and is a popular tourist destination attracting people visiting Belfast with its beautifully preserved Victorian character.

It was listed in 1977 and is said to be the only bar owned by the National Trust, which acquired the building in 1978.

The bar is today administered on behalf of the National Trust by Nicholson's Bars.

First published in February, 2017.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Argory


JOSHUA MacGEOUGH (1683-1756), of Drumsill, County Armagh, married Anne, only daughter and heir of Brigadier-General the Rt Hon William Graham, MP for Drogheda, 1727-48, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
John, dsp;
Samuel, of Derrycaw;
Elizabeth, m W Houston, of Orangefield;
Mary; Anne.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM MacGEOUGH, of Drumsill, married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Walter Bond, of Bondville, County Armagh, and had a son,

JOSHUA, his heir.
He wedded secondly, the daughter of Joseph Boyd, and had three daughters,
Elizabeth; Mary; Anne.
Mr MacGeough died ca 1791, and was succeeded by his only son,

Joshua MacGeough

JOSHUA MacGEOUGH (1747-1817), of Drumsill, who espoused Anne, daughter of Joseph Johnstone, of Knappagh, County Armagh, and had two sons,
WILLIAM, his heir, of Drumsill, dsp;
WALTER, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

WALTER MacGEOUGH-BOND (1790-1866), of Drumsill, Silverbridge, and The Argory, County Armagh, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1819, Barrister, assumed, in 1824, the name and arms of BOND in addition to his own.

He married, in 1830, Anne, second daughter of Ralph Smyth, of Gaybrook, County Westmeath, and had, with other issue,

JOSHUA WALTER, his heir;
Ralph MacGeough-Bond-Shelton, of The Argory;
Robert John MacGeough, of Silverbridge;
Mary Isabella; Anna Maria.
The eldest son,

JOSHUA WALTER MacGEOUGH-BOND JP DL (1831-1905), of Drumsill, County Armagh, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1872, MP for Armagh City, 1855-57 and 1859-65, married, in 1856, Albertine Louise, daughter of Frederick Shanahan, Barrister, and had issue,
Ralph Xavier, Lt-Col; d 1946;
Angeline Aimee Eliza; Anne Albertine Mary.
Mr MacGeough-Bond was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WALTER WILLIAM ADRIAN MacGEOUGH-BOND JP DL (1857-1945), of Drumsill and The Argory, County Armagh, Vice-President of Court of Appeal at Cairo, Egypt, Knight Bachelor, 1917, who wedded, in 1901, Ada Marion, youngest daughter of Charles Nichols, of Dunedin, New Zealand, and had issue, an only child,


Garden Front

THE EARLIEST document relating to the MacGeoughs' Argory lands -  then known as Derrycaw -  dates from the 1740s, when Joshua foreclosed the mortgage on the property from a family named Nicholson, who stayed on as tenants.

Joshua McGeough's principal house was Drumsill, near Armagh.

He married Anne Graham, and their son William, the first of six children, first married Elizabeth Bond, the daughter and heiress of Walter Bond of Bondville, County Armagh.

When Joshua died in 1756, his house and estate at Drumsill passed to his elder son, William.

Joshua MacGeough, William's only son, rebuilt Drumsill House between 1786-8, apparently to the design of the master mason, William Lappan. He commissioned Francis Johnston to add wings to it in 1805-6, shown in two signed drawings now at the Argory.

Joshua McGeough died in 1817, leaving a curious will by which his eldest son William was given only £400 a year; while Drumsill was left to his second son Walter and his three daughters.

Walter was not, however, permitted to live there after his marriage as long as two of his sisters remained unmarried.

Isabella died later in the same year, leaving Walter her jointure of £10,000, but Mary-Ann and Eliza lived on as rich spinsters at Drumsill (with £20,000 each) for the rest of their lives.

Walter MacGeough, who had become a barrister after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1811, must have realised that his sisters were unlikely to marry, or to give up Drumsill. He therefore lost no time in adding to the land he had inherited at Derrycaw, and building a new house there - later to be known as the Argory.
Work began on The Argory in 1819, and the main block and offices were more or less complete by 1824, when he assumed the additional name and arms of Bond, from 'affectionate regard to the family of his deceased grandmother'. 

Since Walter's eldest son, Joshua Walter, had already inherited Drumsill from his spinster aunts, The Argory was left to the second son Ralph, or Captain Shelton, who adopted the additional name of Shelton after a distant relation who may have left him some money.

Entrance Front

When Ralph died without issue in 1916, Walter Adrian MacGeough-Bond, who had already inherited Drumsill in 1905, inherited The Argory.

He moved most of the contents of Drumsill to The Argory and sold Drumsill in 1917.

He was a lawyer, ending his career as Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in Cairo, and received a knighthood for his services.

In 1901 he married Ada Marion, daughter of Charles Nichols, of Dunedin, New Zealand, a founding partner of Dalgety, Nichols & Company.

Their son, Walter Albert Nevill (Tommy) MacGeough-Bond DL, was born in 1908, attended Eton, and King's College, Cambridge.

Long a student and patron of the Arts, he and his family's interest in music is reflected throughout the Argory.

He formed a large personal art collection, including many works by Ulster artists.

Sir Walter's son and successor, the late Walter Albert Nevill MacGeough-Bond, presented The Argory and demesne of 320 acres to The National Trust in 1979.

He died in 1986 and is buried in the grounds beside the house. 

Quoting selectively from  The MacGeough Bonds of The Argory, by Olwen Purdue:

"Sir Walter was The Argory's most reluctant owner. He had worked as a judge in Cairo, Egypt and was knighted for his efforts and, like Captain Shelton, had an unwelcome culture shock on coming to The Argory.
He was also an unenthusiastic Moy resident and wrote: The Argory is not a desirable residence for me on account of the excessive dampness of the valley of the Blackwater.
I have, as you know, been advised by high medical authority to avoid a damp climate. And avoid it he did, spending as much time as possible in Rome and Nice.
He even brought an Italian man, Secondo Belucci, to work in The Argory. Some members of the local Orange Order found this really offensive and wrote this nasty letter to him saying basically 'we've got perfectly good Protestant people here, why don't you get them to work for you?"

Dr Purdue says that Sir Walter oversaw the sale of much of the family's lands in the final stages of land reform, choosing safe investments for the proceeds of sale.

He had married Ada Nicholls in 1901.

Their marriage was deeply unhappy and, again, they lived separate lives.

Sir Walter's wife Ada, Lady Bond, was known to leave The Argory and stay in a hotel whenever her husband was expected home.

Their son Nevill inherited The Argory and lived there for 30 years, becoming towards the end an "increasingly isolated and eccentric addition to the community". 

Like his father, he hated the damp weather, spending his summers in Jamaica, and only ventured into the chilly St James's Church in Moy, wrapped in several coats.

"The Troubles" deeply affected Nevill. His friends in Tynan Abbey, Sir Norman Stronge and his son, James, who was in the RUC, were murdered by the IRA on January 21, 1983.

Nevill's driver, Frederic Lutton, was also ambushed and shot dead by the IRA in 1979, inside The Argory's grounds.

A bullet was fired at Nevill and embedded in the door of the car. Terrified, he stayed away for a time. In addition, The Argory was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, so Nevill decided to give the house to the National Trust:

"It was a very hard thing... having been in the family for these generations, for him to have to be the one to pass it out of the family,"

Dr Purdue continues: 
"But basically the family line died out with him and there wasn't going to be anyone else that would step in."

The demesne was established for the present house on the banks of the River Blackwater, built in 1824, and includes Pleasure Gardens, stable yard, South Lodge, gate screens and gates.

The grounds are fully maintained with fine mature trees, shrubs and lawns.

The architects, A & J Williamson, made plans for the gardens in 1821, the shape of which is adhered to, but the internal layout differs from the original plan.

The Pleasure Ground to the north-east of the mansion house has herbaceous borders, yew arbours, a tulip tree, a well- placed cedar and twin pavilions.

There is an enclosed early 19th century sundial garden at the house, with box-edged rose beds.

A riverside lime walk under pollarded limes is planted with daffodils.

An ilex avenue leads to the walled garden, which is made of brick and not cultivated.

Of the three gate lodges, two of ca 1835 are occupied; and an earlier lodge of ca 1825 is not used.

First published in August, 2010.