Friday, 31 May 2019

Louth Hall


This noble family, the eldest branch of the numerous house of PLUNKETT, claims a common ancestor with the Earls of Fingall and the Barons Dunsany; namely, John Plunkett, who was seated, about the close of the 11th century, at Beaulieu, County Louth. 

From this gentleman descended two brothers, John and Richard Plunkett; the younger of whom was the progenitor of the Earls of Fingall and the Barons Dunsany; and the elder, the ancestor of

SIR PATRICK PLUNKETT, Knight, of Kilfarnan, Beaulieu, and Tallanstown, who was appointed, in 1497, Sheriff of Louth during pleasure.

Sir Patrick married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Nangle, 15th Baron of Navan, and dying in 1508, was succeeded by his eldest son, 

OLIVER PLUNKETT, of Kilfarnon, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1541, in the dignity of BARON LOUTH (second creation).

His lordship wedded firstly, Catherine, daughter and heir of John Rochfort, of Carrick, County Kildare, by whom he had six sons and four daughters; and secondly, Maud, daughter and co-heir of Walter Bath, of Rathfeigh, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.

He was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (c1547-71), who married Margaret, daughter and heir of Nicholas Barnewall, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

PATRICK, 3rd Baron (1548-75), who wedded Maud, daughter of Lord Killeen; but dying  without issue (having been slain by McMahon, in the recovery of a prey of cattle, at Essexford, County Monaghan), the title devolved upon his brother,

OLIVER, 4th Baron; who having, with the Plunketts of Ardee, brought six archers on horseback to the general hosting, at the hill of Tara, 1593, was appointed to have the leading of County Louth.

He married firstly, Frances, daughter of Sir Nicholas Bagenall, Knight Marshal of Ireland, by whom he had five sons and three daughters; and secondly, Genet Dowdall, by whom he had no issue.

His lordship died in 1607, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

MATTHEW, 5th Baron, who wedded Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Fitzwilliam, of Meryon, and had four sons.

His lordship died in 1629, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

OLIVER, 6th Baron (1608-79); who, joining the Royalists in 1639, was at the siege of Drogheda, and at a general meeting of the principal Roman Catholic gentry of County Louth, held at the hill of Tallaghosker.

His lordship was appointed Colonel-General of all the forces to be raised in that county; and in the event of his lordship's declining the same, then Sir Christopher Bellew; and upon his refusal, then Sir Christopher Barnewall, of Rathasker.

This latter gentleman accepted the said post of Colonel-General, for which he was imprisoned, in 1642, at Dublin Castle, and persecuted by the usurper Cromwell's parliament.

His lordship married Mary, Dowager Viscountess Dillon, second daughter of Randal, 1st Earl of Antrim, and was succeeded at his demise by his only son,

MATTHEW, 7th Baron; who, like his father, suffered by his adhesion to royalty, having attached himself to the fortunes of JAMES II.

His lordship died in 1639, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

OLIVER, 8th Baron (de jure) (1668-1707); who, upon taking his seat in parliament, was informed by the Chancellor that his grandfather, Oliver, 6th Baron, had been outlawed in 1641; and not being able to establish the reversal of the same, the dignity remained, for the two subsequent generations, unacknowledged in law.

His lordship was succeeded by his only son, by Mabella, daughter of Lord Kingsland,

MATTHEW, 9th Baron (de jure) (1698-1754), who was succeeded by his eldest son,

OLIVER, 10th Baron (de jure) (1727-63), who wedded Margaret, daughter of Luke Netterville, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Susannah; Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS OLIVER, 11th Baron (1757-1823), who had the outlawry of his great-grandfather annulled, and was restored to his rank in the peerage in 1798.

He married, in 1808, Margaret, eldest daughter of Randal, 13th Lord Dunsany, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Randall Matthew;
Charles Dawson;
Henry Luke;
Edward Sidney.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS OLIVER, 12th Baron (1809-49), who espoused, in 1830, Anna Maria, daughter of Philip Roche, of Donore, County Kildare, by Anna Maria, his wife, youngest daughter of Randall, Lord Dunsany, and had issue,
RANDAL PERCY OTWAY, his successor;
Thomas Oliver Westenra;
Algernon Richard Hartland;
Augusta Anna Margaret; another daughter.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RANDAL PERCY OTWAY, 13th Baron (1832-83) an officer in the 79th Highlanders.

14th Baron Louth

RANDAL PILGRIM RALPH, 14th Baron (1868-1941), JP DL, was an officer in the Westminster Dragoons and the Wiltshire Regiment, and served in the First and Second World Wars.

The 14th Baron, though not prominent in politics, did take part in public life: He was a member of the Irish Reform Association, and took part in the campaign for a Catholic University. In politics he was a Unionist. His papers show that he was an active sportsman and also travelled widely.
He sold most of the estate soon after the 1903 Wyndham Land Act. He died in 1941, and was succeeded by his only surviving son Otway, briefly 15th Baron, before his death in 1950.

Louth Hall and demesne at Tallanstown were sold and the family settled at Jersey, Channel Islands.

The 16th Baron died at Jersey, Channel Islands, on the 6th January, 2013, aged 83.

The title now devolves upon his lordship's eldest son, the Hon Jonathan Oliver Plunkett, born in 1952. 

LOUTH HALL, the ancestral demesne of the Barons Louth, is in the parish of Tallanstown, 2½ miles south of the village of Louth, County Louth.

The mansion is a three-storey Georgian house, built ca 1760, now in ruins.

There is a shallow, projecting, curved bow to the east of south elevation of ca 1805; and a tower-house to west of ca 1350.

The roof is not visible, hidden behind a crenellated parapet.

The Plunkett family crest is above the pediment.

Louth Hall is situated within what is now a field, with ranges of random rubble stone outbuildings of ca 1805, arranged around three yards; remains of walled garden to west; artificial lake to south, dovecote to south-west.

Entrance gates to north-east on roadside comprising tooled limestone squared piers, cast-iron gates, flanked by pedestrian gates and curving quadrant plinth surmounted by cast-iron railings.

This house was the home of the Plunkett family from the later medieval until the early-20th century. 

The 14th Baron sold most of the estate soon after the 1903 Wyndham Land Act.

He died in 1941, and his only surviving son, Otway, was briefly 15th Baron Louth, before his death in 1950.

The house and demesne were also sold, some years after the estate, and the family settled in Jersey, Channel Islands.

The continuity of occupation is reflected in the architectural changes, the migration from tower house to Georgian mansion.

A fire in 2000 destroyed delicate early 19th century interior plasterwork.

The archaeological, architectural and historical associations of this building are as immense as the structure itself. 

First published in March, 2013.  Louth arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The White Knights

The family of FITZGIBBON, the chief of which was styled the White Knight, is descended from the FitzGeralds, progenitors of the great houses of Kildare and Desmond.

From the same origin are descended the Knights of Glin (the Black Knights), and the Knights of Kerry (the Green Knights).

These titles were conferred by the Earl of Desmond, as a Count Palatine, on junior branches of the House of FitzGerald, in the like manner as Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, created his inferior barons.

MAURICE FITZGIBBON, THE WHITE KNIGHT, son of Gilbert FitzJohn, was knighted in the field by EDWARD III in 1333, immediately after the defeat of Scottish forces at the battle of Halidon Hill.

He married Katharine Bruce, and had issue,
DAVID, his successor;
The 1st White Knight died in 1357, and was succeeded by his elder son,

DAVID FITZGIBBON, 2nd Knight, father of

JOHN FITZGIBBON, 3rd Knight, who married Isabella Butler, and had issue,

MAURICE FITZGIBBON, 4th Knight, who wedded Margaret O'Brien, and had issue,
The eldest son,

JOHN FITZGIBBON, 5th Knight, was father of

MAURICE MOR FITZGIBBON, 6th Knight, who wedded secondly, Ellice, daughter of William, 8th Baron Barry, and had issue,
The 6th White Knight died in 1496, and was succeeded by his younger son,

MAURICE OGE FITZGIBBON, 7th Knight, of Michelstown, County Cork, who died in 1530, and was father of

MAURICE FITZGIBBON, 8th Knight, who died in 1543, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN FITZGIBBON, 9th Knight, who was murdered by his cousins Thomas and Gibbon at the instigation of their half-brother,

JOHN OGE FITZGIBBON, 10th Knight, who died in 1569, and was father of

EDMUND FITZGIBBON, 11th Knight (c1552-1608), father of

MAURICE OGE FITZGIBBON, 12th and last White Knight (c1597-1611), who wedded Thomasin, daughter of Sir Thomas Browne, though the marriage was without issue.

There have been several claimants to the title.

The Earls of Clare claimed to have sprung from the White Knights.

The Slieve Donard Acquisition


PROPERTY: Slieve Donard Lands, near Newcastle, County Down

DATE: 1990

EXTENT: 1284.76 acres

DONOR: Gerald Annesley

First published in January, 2015.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Newcastle House


NICHOLAS HARMAN, of Carlow, settled in Ireland during the reign of JAMES I.

He was one of the first burgesses of Carlow, named in the charter granted to that borough by JAMES I in 1614, and was High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1619.

By Mary his wife he was father of 

HENRY HARMAN, of Dublin, who had by Marie his wife, five sons and as many daughters, viz.
Anthony, dsp before 1684;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Anne; Mary; Jane; Margaret; Mabel.
Mr Harman died before 1649, and was succeeded by his third son, 

MAJOR SIR THOMAS HARMAN, Knight, of Athy, knighted by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas, Earl of Ossory, 1664, MP for Carlow, 1659, Kildare Borough, 1661.

Sir Thomas obtained a grant of considerable estates in County Longford, under the Act of Settlement, dated 1607.

He married Anne Jones, who also obtained a grant of lands in County Carlow, 1668.

Sir Thomas died in 1667, and they were both buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, having had issue, with a daughter, Mary, a son,

WENTWORTH HARMAN, of Castle Roe, County Carlow, Captain of the Battle-Axe Guards, 1683, who wedded firstly, in 1679, Margaret, daughter of Garrett Wellesley, of Dangan, and had issue, with one daughter, two sons, namely,
Thomas, b 1681, dsp;
WENTWORTH, of whom hereafter.
Mr Harman married secondly, in 1691, Frances, sister and heir of Anthony Sheppard, of Newcastle, County Longford, and had further issue,
ROBERT, successor to his nephew;
Francis, died 1714;
CUTTS (Very Rev), successor to his brother;
ANNE, m Sir Anthony Parsons Bt, of Birr Castle.
Mr Harman died in 1714, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WENTWORTH HARMAN, of Moyne, County Carlow, who espoused, in 1714, Lucy, daughter of Audley Mervyn, of Trillick, County Tyrone, and sister and heir of Henry Mervyn, of the same place, and had issue,
WESLEY, his heir;
Mr Harman died in 1757, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WESLEY HARMAN, of Moyle, who wedded Mary, daughter of the Rev Dr Nicholas Milley, Prebendary of Ullard, Diocese of Leighlin, by whom he had an only son,
Wentworth, who dsp in his father's lifetime.
Mr Harman died in 1758, and was succeeded by his uncle,

ROBERT HARMAN (1699-1765), of Newcastle, County Longford, and Millicent, County Kildare, MP for Kildare County, 1755, County Longford, 1761, who married Ann, daughter of John Warburton, third son of George Warburton, of Garryhinch, King's County, and dsp 1765, when he was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

THE VERY REV CUTTS HARMAN (1706-84), of Newcastle, Dean of Waterford, who espoused, in 1751, Bridget, daughter of George Gore, of Tenelick, County Longford, Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, and sister of John, Lord Annaly, by whom he had no issue.

The Dean presented to his cathedral the very fine organ which it possesses.

He bequeathed his estates to his nephew, the son of his sister ANNE, who espoused, as above, Sir Lawrence Parsons.

LAWRENCE PARSONS-HARMAN (1749-1807), of Newcastle, MP for County Longford, 1775-92, assumed the additional surname of HARMAN in 1792, on succeeding to his uncle's estates, who wedded, in 1772, the Lady Jane King, daughter of Edward, 1st Earl of Kingston, and had an only daughter,
FRANCES, of whom hereafter.
Mr Parsons-Harman was created, in 1792, Lord Oxmantown; and, in 1806, advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF ROSSE, with special remainder, in default of male issue, to his nephew, Sir Lawrence Parsons, 5th Baronet, of Birr Castle.

His lordship died in 1807, when his peerage passed, according to the limitation, and his Harman estates devolved upon his only daughter and heir,

THE LADY FRANCES PARSONS-HARMAN, of Newcastle, who married, in 1799, Robert Edward, 1st Viscount Lorton, and had issue,
ROBERT, 2nd Viscount, succeeded as 6th Earl of Kingston;
LAWRENCE HARMAN, succeeded to the Harman estates;
Jane; Caroline; Frances; Louisa.
Her ladyship died in 1841, and was succeeded in her estates by her second son,

THE HON LAWRENCE KING-HARMAN (1816-75), of Newcastle, and Rockingham, County Roscommon, who assumed the additional surname of HARMAN.

Mr King-Harman wedded, in 1837, Mary Cecilia (d 1904), seventh daughter of James Raymond Johnstone, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, and had, with other issue, a second son,

WENTWORTH HENRY KING-HARMAN JP DL (1840-1919), of Newcastle, High Sheriff of County Longford, 1896, Colonel, Royal Artillery, who wedded, in 1863, Annie Kate, daughter of D J Smith, of Kingston, Canada, and had issue,
Beatrice Caroline; Lilian Mary; Annette Maude.
Colonel King-Harman was succeeded by his only son,

WENTWORTH ALEXANDER KING-HARMAN DSO (1869-1949), of Newcastle, County Longford, and Mitchelstown, County Cork, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, Royal Irish Rifles, who died unmarried.

NEWCASTLE HOUSE, near Ballymahon, County Longford, is a large, three-storey, seven-bay, early 18th century, gable-ended house, with lower asymmetrical wings.

There is a small, central curvilinear gable on the entrance front, possibly original, which is repeated on the 19th century projecting porch.

The House has a high-pitched roof.

The drawing-room ceiling boasts painted plasterwork in low relief, with musical emblems at the corners.

Newcastle House was originally the residence of the Sheppard family, whose heiress married Wentworth Harman in 1691.

It was inherited, in 1784, by Lawrence Parsons-Harman, later 1st Earl of Rosse; and subsequently by his grandson, the Hon Lawrence King-Harman.

Newcastle House was sold ca 1950 by Captain Robert Douglas King-Harman DSO DSC RN, grandson of the Hon Lawrence King-Harman.

For several years it was a convent.

First published in April, 3013.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Glin Castle


OTHER, a Baron of England, of Saxon descent, living during the reign of EDWARD THE CONFESSOR, was father of

WALTER FITZOTHER, who, at the general survey of the kingdom, 1078, was castellan of Windsor, and was appointed by WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR Warden of the Forests in Berkshire; and having wedded Gladys, daughter of Ryall ap Conyn, had issue,
GERALD FITZWALTER, of whom presently;
Robert, Baron of Easton or Estaines, Essex;
William, ancestor of the Barons Windsor and Earls of Plymouth.
The eldest son,

GERALD DE WINDSOR (c1075-1135), Castellan of Windsor, married Nest, daughter of Rhys, Prince of South Wales, and had issue,
MAURICE FITZGERALD, of whom hereafter;
William, ancestor of the Earls of Kerry;
David, Bishop of St David's.
Gerald was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

MAURICE FITZGERALD (c1105-76), Lord of Lanstephan, who proceeded to Ireland in 1168, being sent with ten knights, twenty esquires, and 100 archers, before his countryman, Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, to assist Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster.

He was buried in the abbey of Greyfriars, at Wexford, leaving issue,
Gerald, ancestor of the Dukes of Leinster;
William, Lord of Naas;
Maurice, Lord of Kiltrany;
THOMAS, of whom we treat;
The fourth son,

THOMAS FITZMAURICE FITZGERALD (1175-1213), espoused Ellinor, daughter of Jordan de Marisco, and sister to Hervé de Monte Marisco, Constable of Ireland, and of Geoffrey de Marisco, Lord Justice of Ireland in the reign of KING JOHN.

He was succeeded by his son,

JOHN FITZGERALD, 1st BARON DESMOND, who married firstly, Margery, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas FitzAnthony, Lord of Decies and Desmond, by whom he acquired those demesnes which were confirmed to him by PRINCE EDWARD in 1260, as amply as they had been held by Sir Thomas during the reign of HENRY III.

By the heiress of Decies and Desmond, John FitzGerald had a son and heir,

MAURICE FITZGERALD, Lord of Decies and Desmond, ancestor of the FITZGERALDS, EARLS OF DESMOND, who ranked among the most powerful nobles of Ireland for more than two centuries, until Gerald, 16th Earl, entering into rebellion, waged war for nearly ten years against the whole power of the English government, and eventually lost his life in attempting to seize upon a prey of cattle, when his head was transmitted by the Earl of Ormond to ELIZABETH I, who caused it to be fixed on London Bridge.

An attainder followed (1582), by which his prodigious estates, comprising 574,628 acres, became forfeited.

The son of this unfortunate nobleman, James FitzGerald, having been educated at the court of ELIZABETH I, embraced the Protestant faith, and Her Majesty, hoping by his influence to bring the followers of his deceased father to their allegiance, recognized him as EARL OF DESMOND, and despatched him to Ireland; but so soon as it was known that he had attended church at Balinalloch, the crowds who collected to see and follow him immediately withdrew; he was obliged, therefore, to return to London, where he died in 1601.

The last male heir of the House of Gerald who assumed the style of Earl of Desmond was an officer in the King of Spain's and the Emperor's armies, who died in Germany, in 1632.

From Maurice FitzGerald, founder of the Desmond line of the House of Gerald, derived OSBORN FITZGERALD, who removed from Ireland to Wales about the middle of the 13th century.

JOHN FITZGERALD wedded secondly, Honora, daughter of Hugh O'Connor, of Kerry, and had further issue,
SIR JOHN FITZJOHN, of whom presently;
JOHN FITZGERALD, 1ST BARON DESMOND, by virtue of his royal seigniory as a Count Palatine, created three of his sons, by the second marriage, knights, and their descendants have been so styled in Acts of Parliament, patents under the Great Seal, and all legal proceedings up to the present time; and having founded the monastery of Tralee, was buried there in 1261.

His second son,

SIR JOHN FITZJOHN, Knight, to whom his father gave the castles of Glyncorbury and Beagh, County Limerick, 1st KNIGHT OF GLIN, had issue,
JOHN FITZJOHN, his successor;
SIR JOHN was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN FITZJOHN, 2nd Knight, from whom descended,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, who was attainted with his father, and executed in the eleventh year of ELIZABETH I, leaving a daughter, Ellen, who wedded Sir Edmond FitzHarris, Knight; and a son, his successor,

EDMOND FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, pardoned and restored to his estates in the thirtieth year of ELIZABETH I.

He espoused Honora, daughter of Owen McCarthy Reagh, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who had livery of his lands in 1628.

He surrendered those estates, and had them re-granted in 1635.

He wedded Joan, daughter of James, Lord Dunboyne, widow of Edmond FitzGibbon, The White Knight, and was succeeded by his son,

GERALD FITZGERALD, 17th Knight of Glin, who made a deed of settlement of his estates in 1672.

He married Joan O'Brien, and dying before 1700, left issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Mary; Honora; Helen; Jane; Ellen.
The eldest son,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, 18th Knight of Glin, seized of an estate in tail under the deed of settlement, in 1672, wedded Mary, daughter of Edmond FitzGerald, and had three sons, successively inheritors; of whom the eldest,

EDMOND FITZGERALD, 20th Knight of Glin, dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

RICHARD FITZGERALD, 21st Knight of Glin, who was succeeded by his brother,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, 22nd Knight of Glin, who married, in 1755, Mary, daughter of John Bateman, of Oak Park, County Kerry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Elizabeth; Frances; Ellen; Catherine; Jane.
Thomas FitzGerald died before 1801, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN BATEMAN FITZGERALD, 23rd Knight of Glin, who wedded Margaretta Maria, daughter of John Fraunceis Gwynn, of Ford Abbey, Devon, and was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN FRAUNCEIS FITZGERALD JP DL (1791-1854), 24th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, County Limerick, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1830, who espoused, in 1812, Bridgetta, fifth daughter of the Rev Joseph Eyre, of Westerham, Kent, and had issue,
Edmond Urmston McLeod;
Geraldine Anne; Margaretta Sophia.
The eldest son,

JOHN FRAUNCEIS EYRE FITZGERALD, 25th Knight of Glin (1813-66), wedded, in 1835, Clara Anne, only daughter of Gerald Blennerhasset, of Riddlestown, County Limerick, and had issue,
Gerald B;
William Urmston;
John F E;
Thomas Otho;
George W M;
Geraldine Elizabeth Blennerhasset; Florence Sophia; Margaretta.
The 25th Knight was succeeded by his eldest son,

DESMOND JOHN EDMUND FITZGERALD JP DL (1840-95), 26th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, County Limerick, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1871, who wedded, in 1861, Isabella Lloyd, second daughter of the Rev Michael Lloyd Apjohn, of Linfield, County Limerick, and had issue,
Urmston FitzOtho;
Louis de Rottenburgh;
Clara Nesta Richarda.
The eldest son,

DESMOND FITZJOHN LLOYD FITZGERALD JP DL (1862-1936), 27th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1904, Captain, 3rd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, South Irish Horse, married, in 1897, the Lady Rachel Wyndham-Quin, second daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, and had issue,
The only son,

DESMOND WYNDHAM OTHO FITZGERALD (1901-49), 28th KNIGHT OF GLIN, married Veronica Villiers, a cousin of Winston Churchill, and had issue, three children.

He died from tuberculosis in 1949.

His son and heir, the 29th and last Knight,

DESMOND JOHN VILLIERS FITZGERALD (1937-2011, 29th KNIGHT OF GLIN, was educated at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University.
The Knight worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the furniture department; and later returned to Ireland, and became active in conservation issues, becoming involved with the Irish Georgian Society. He was appointed its president in 1991. He has also represented the Christies art auctioneers in Ireland. He died at Dublin in 2011.
As the last Knight had no sons, and the title cannot be passed to a daughter, the title became extinct.

GLIN CASTLE, Glin, County Limerick, is described by Mark Bence-Jones as
a romantic, white, castellated house overlooking the estuary of the River Shannon from among the trees of its demesne.
It was built ca 1789 by Colonel John FitzGerald, 24th Knight of Glin.

This is an eight-bay, three-storey, country house, comprising full-height curved bows to end bays of the front elevation, full-height three-sided bows with crenellated porch to garden (south) elevation.

Sixteen-bay, two-storey wing to the west, built in the late seventeenth century/early eighteenth century, having full-height canted bay and three-stage square-plan tower to garden elevation.

THIS house remains of considerable social and historic significance to the village of Glin.

Colonel John FitzGerald, who is thought to have added the hall, staircase and two reception rooms, financed much of the main house, which was built in phases.

The artist responsible for the decorative plasterwork to the interior, though unknown, is thought to be the work of a Cork master.

The symbols on the frieze in the hall underline the military background of Colonel FitzGerald, with military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the Irish harp, all incorporated into the ceiling.

The staircase, which is almost unique in Ireland, as it has two lower ramps and a single flying run of steps from the half-landing to the first floor landing.

It may echo Adam's staircase at Mellerstain in Berwickshire.

The style of the joinery on the stairs and front door suggests that the craftsmen who worked here had worked with such prominent architects as Davis Duckart and Christopher Colles in the 1760s and 1770s.

The west wing is the earliest part of the house and was originally thatched.

Despite 19th century alterations, it retains some vernacular characteristics, such as its long, low asymmetric form.

Added to this association with important historical characters, Glin Castle represents more than four centuries of construction and alteration, with different architectural features representing each phase.

In 1993, the FitzGeralds decided to turn the castle into a hotel to help pay for the upkeep.

The hotel closed in 2008.

In 2011, Desmond, 29th Knight, died without a male heir.

In 2015, the castle was put on auction at Christie's by Lady FitzGerald.

The castle did not sell in auction.

In an effort to keep the castle in the family, it was purchased by Catherine FitzGerald, daughter of the last Knight of Glin, and her husband Dominic West.

First published in April, 2013. 

Derrymore Trip


DERRYMORE HOUSE was acquired by the National Trust in 1952.

It's not far from Newry, County Down (the river Newry divides the adjoining counties).

I couldn't see any road signs to Bessbrook on my way in to Newry, so stopped the car and told the "sat-nav" that I wished to go to the said village.

So far, so good.

However, on approaching Bessbrook there were no obvious signs, so I stopped at the side of the main road twice and enquired of passers-by.

I was told to look for Rose Cottage; and indeed there was an unmarked drive beside this private cottage which I found, having re-traced my steps, as it were.

I gingerly drove up the track, which passed an old walled garden.

Eureka! I saw the familiar thatch and shape of Derrymore House.

There's a car-park beside this exquisite cottage orné.

Derrymore is larger than it appears because there is a basement below this single-storey house.

I arrived about two-thirty and there were no other visitors, so I ventured in through a corner entrance.

It's a charming building, though only one room is open to visitors, if you exclude the entrance hall.

The drawing-room, as it formerly was, affords a beautiful aspect of the rolling lawn and landscape.

This is a spacious room, with a large central window.

I have unearthed an old picture of the way this room used to look, though it's largely unfurnished at the moment.

Presumably the chandelier is in storage or hanging in another property.

The plasterwork is not elaborate, though there is some detail at the fireplace.

There are various niches for books and so on.

The ceiling has an oval kind of recess with a chunky chain hanging from the middle, obviously meant to hang a heavy chandelier.

The drawing-room is also known as the Treaty Room, an allusion to the Act of Union which was said to have been drafted here.

This room has charming quatrefoil windows.

Sir Charles Coote considered Derrymore "without exception, the most elegant summer lodge".

I've written about the Corrys and Derrymore here.


I remained in the house and conversed with the warden for about twenty-five minutes, before taking my leave and roving into the fine oak woods and demesne.

I passed The Woodhouse, a fair-sized house in the woods which was the residence of the Richardson family before they gave Derrymore to the National Trust.

There is a curious enclosed circular or oval garden deep within the woods, which has a shallow wall and stone archway, apparently of some antiquity.

I terminated my stroll at the Friends' Meeting House (the Richardsons were Quakers).


ON my way back to Belfast, I stopped at the Corry monument, an obelisk at the side of the main road into Newry.

It's generally in good condition, though the Corry arms, carved from a block of sandstone, are badly eroded.

First published in May, 2014.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Lane-Fox Estate


The family of FOX, which is of ancient descent, ranked amongst the most influential and opulent in the north of England.

WILLIAM FOX, living in the reign of EDWARD IV, acquired by marriage with Sybil, daughter of John de Grete, the lands of Grete, Yardley, Worcestershire.

He was succeeded by his son,

JOHN FOX, of Grete, living in 1523, father, by Alice his wife, of

JOHN FOX, of Grete, who married and was father of

THOMAS FOX, of Grete, who, by his wife, had issue,
Richard, of Mosely;
Thomas, of Yardley;
John, of King's Norton;
Henry, of Yardley;
EDMUND, of whom we treat;
Joan; Dorothy.
The youngest son,

EDMUND FOX, of Birmingham, wedded Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Hugh Grossbrooke, and had issue,
Richard, died without issue;
JOSEPH, of whom hereafter;
Thomas, of the Inner Temple;
Timothy, in holy orders.
The third son,  

JOSEPH FOX, born in 1617, held a major's commission in the army serving in Ireland.

He married Thomasine, widow of Sir Henry Pierce Bt and daughter of Henry, 2nd Lord Blayney, by Jane his wife, daughter of Gerald, Viscount Drogheda, by whom he had issue, with four daughters, a son and successor,

HENRY FOX, who espoused firstly, Jane, daughter of Robert Oliver, of Clonodfoy, and had several sons, who all died young.

He married secondly, in 1691, THE HON FRANCES LANE, daughter of Sir George Lane, of Tulsk, County Roscommon (Secretary of State in Ireland, created Viscount Lanesborough), and sister and heiress of James, Viscount Lanesborough, who died in 1724, by whom he had issue,
Henry, died young;
GEORGE, heir to his father;
Denny Henrietta; Jane; Frances; Anne.
Mr Fox was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE FOX (c1697-1773), MP for the City of York, who inherited by will the great estates of Lord Lanesborough, and assumed, by act of parliament, in 1750, in accordance with the testator's injunction, the additional surname and arms of LANE.

He wedded, in 1731, Harriet, daughter and sole heiress of the Rt Hon Robert Benson, Lord Bingley; and was created, on the extinction of his father-in-law's peerage, 1762, BARON BINGLEY (second creation), of Bingley, Yorkshire.

By this lady, with whom he acquired £100,000 (ca £21.6 million today), and £7,000 a year, he had an only son, 

THE HON ROBERT FOX-LANE (1732-68), who wedded, in 1761, the Lady Brigit Henley, eldest daughter of Robert, Earl of Northington, Lord Chancellor of England; but predeceased his father, without issue, in 1768.

His lordship, having survived his only child, devised his great estates in England and Ireland to his nephew,

JAMES FOX-LANE (1756-1821), of Bramham Park, Yorkshire, MP for Horsham, who wedded, in 1789, Mercia Lucy, youngest daughter of George Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
William Pitt;
Thomas Lascelles;
Marcia Bridget.
Mr Fox Lane left his very extensive estates strictly entailed upon his eldest son,  

GEORGE LANE-FOX (1793-1848), of Bramham Park, MP for Beverley, who wedded, in 1814, Georgiana Henrietta, daughter of Edward Percy Buckley, of Minestead Lodge, Hampshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Frederica Elizabeth.
Mr Lane-Fox was succeeded by his only son,

GEORGE LANE-FOX (1816-96), of Bramham Park, High Sheriff of County Leitrim, 1846, who wedded, in 1837, Georgiana Henrietta, daughter of Edward Percy Buckley, by the Lady Georgiana West, his wife, daughter of John, Earl De La Warr, and had issue,
George Sackville Frederick (1838-1918);
James Thomas Richard;
Kathleen Mary; Caroline Alexina.
The younger son,

JAMES THOMAS RICHARD LANE-FOX (1841-1906), was father of

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE RT HON GEORGE RICHARD LANE-FOX (1870-1947), who married, in 1903, Agnes, daughter of 2nd Viscount Halifax.

The combination of her wealth, his determination and the compulsory purchase of the family's Irish estates, allowed George to honour a promise he had made to his grandfather, The Squire, to rebuild the House.  The family reoccupied in 1907.

George was wounded in the First World War, serving with the Yorkshire Hussars, a regiment he later commanded.  He had been elected to Parliament in 1906 and held several government posts including Secretary of State for Mines in 1923.

In 1933, he was created BARON BINGLEY (third creation); however, he had four daughters and, on his death, the title again became extinct.

THE FAMILY continues to live at their ancestral home, Bramham Park, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, where their estate comprised 15,000 acres.

The Lane-Foxes had estates in Yorkshire, Dorset, and The Court, near Lanesborough, in Ireland.

Their London residence was at 12 Albemarle Street.


IN 1666, GEORGE LANE (1620-83) was granted lands in counties Dublin, Meath, Kilkenny, Longford, Waterford and Cork.

This George was the son of Richard Lane, of Tulsk, County Roscommon, and was created Viscount Lanesborough in 1676.

He acquired lands in the baronies of Roscommon and Ballintober, County Roscommon, and in County Longford, in 1678 and 1679 respectively.

These grants were further augmented by the purchase of the Duke of Buckingham's Irish estates in 1710.

In 1724, the Lanesborough title became extinct.

The Lanesborough estates in England and Ireland were inherited by the 2nd Viscount's sister, who was married to Henry Fox.

Though the Longford and Roscommon properties were sold to Luke White in 1819, the Lane-Fox family continued to hold substantial property in both counties Leitrim and Waterford.

For the most part they were absentee landlords, their estates being managed by a succession of stewards, including Joshua Kell, who was a member of the Grand Jury for Leitrim, in 1851.

The family sold the bulk of their remaining estates to the Irish Land Commission in the early years of the 20th century.

First published in March, 2013. 

Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Cleggan Shoot


"The main reason we go game shooting is because it is fun.

The thought of taking a day out to enjoy the countryside in the company of friends is reason enough for most of us to don our complicated tweeds, wrestle the shotgun from the cabinet and take on hours of driving to reach some far-flung corner of our islands.

Bad weather, however, tends to take the wind out of your sails.

Or sometimes firmly put the wind in your sails and the rain down your back.

When you find any game shooting which puts a smile on your face in spite of the conditions, you know you must have found something of a gem.

I was reliably informed that the week before my visit last October the guns had been taking on the impressive partridges of the Cleggan Shoot in their shirt sleeves.

This was cold comfort for the guns on this occasion, who found themselves bracing against the wind, and squinting through the rain in pursuit of their quarry.

In spite of this, you would be hard pressed to see a downcast face all day.

The Cleggan Shoot lies in the North Antrim hills above the Glens of Antrim, facing the Mull of Kintyre.

Partridge game shooting was started there in 2000, adding to the established pheasant game shooting.

The estate provides five partridge drives and nine main pheasant drives, with a further 10 drives used for smaller driven days and walked-up game shooting.

The attitude and atmosphere of the Cleggan Shoot is set by Lord Rathcavan, the estate owner, and shoot manager Joe Taylor.

Both men have a clear love of game shooting and of the countryside, and they have built up a team of like-minded people who give the game shooting its unique, welcoming feel.

Joe explains,
They’re a great bunch of lads, you won’t ever hear a cross word said between them. I think in 10 years I’ve only had two people leave - and you were probably better off without them. I think that says it all.
This is backed up by Adam Lucas, one of Cleggan’s dedicated pickers-up who has been with the estate for six years:
The game shooting is what brings you back, watching the game shooting and taking part by working the dogs. 
The teamwork here is great, it’s good fun and there’s never a bad word said. At lunchtime we get well fed and watered - it’s just an excellent day.
The guns on the day were more than happy to buy into the party spirit, it being a rare chance for a group of friends from all over Europe to get together.

One of the guns, Haiko Visser, explained to me what made the journey from Switzerland to Northern Ireland to shoot worth it:
“We came for the first time in 2009, and I’ve already booked up for next year. It’s a wonderful day out. For me it’s not just the game shooting which makes the day, it’s the whole weekend with the boys. 
We’re spread all over Europe, making it difficult to get together regularly. Game shooting is the perfect excuse and you certainly don’t get moaned at by your wife in the same way for going out to the pub.

“I live 20 miles south of Zurich, it’s a lovely part of the world - absolutely magnificent. Switzerland is a very outdoorsy sort of lifestyle. We’re all closeted up inside most of our lives when you think about it, so any chance to get outside - even on a day like this when it’s pouring with rain - is lovely. 
You’re outside with the amazing landscape all around you, the air is fresh and you’re not surrounded by people and being pushed off the pavement.

There is a balance to game shooting - why you do it, where you shoot, the quality of the game shooting and the people you do it with. I think this place has got the balance absolutely right.”
Each of the guns is put under the care of a specific picker-up who will watch and advise throughout the day.

This is particularly important due to the terrain of the estate, which once used to hold large numbers of grouse, and presents the partridges in a similar manner.

As such safety is paramount, which is reinforced in the briefing at the beginning of the day.

The nature of the terrain, being high on various hillsides and in deep valleys, offers a real variety of shooting.

Guns move onto the pegs quietly and are live immediately. 

The early birds do indeed burst off the hills like grouse, and the guns have to be ready to shoot them as such.

A long blast of a horn indicates the beaters are about to break the skyline, at which point the style of shooting changes and the drives become the more usual style of partridge shooting most guns will be used to.

In spite of the heavy rain the birds were extremely strong, flying hard and fast in consistent numbers interspersed with large coveys.

The birds are bought in as chicks from the first week of April, and sometimes even the last week of March, so by October they are already six months old.

This extra time obviously gives them time to adjust to the conditions on a Northern Ireland hillside, as it is most unusual to see birds flying so well in such tough conditions.

Both Joe Taylor and head-keeper Steven Baird have been working on the shoot for over 10 years, and deserve great credit for creating what is a very impressive shoot.

The main property on the 1,000 acres of the Cleggan Shoot, once a part of the vast O’Neill Estate, is an old shooting lodge.

It was built in 1822 on the edge of what were then very extensive grouse moors.

A love of shooting has been a feature of Lord Rathcavan’s family for several generations, as he explained:
I always shot as a boy - though I wasn’t much good at it. My grandfather was a tremendous shooting man all his life. He was the youngest son, and so bought Cleggan from his father in 1927. 
It remained part of the O’Neill estate in spite of the Land Act of the 1870s because shooting properties were exempt. All the shooting rights still belong to my cousin, who is the present Lord O’Neill.
A real highlight of the day, and one of the key criteria for judging any shoot, is the food on offer.

Lord Rathcavan was the proprietor of the Brasserie St Quentin on Knightsbridge, whose sign now hangs in the guns’ lunch room.

His son, the Hon Francois O’Neill, now owns and runs [ran] the award-winning Brompton Bar and Grill from the same site, so clearly a passion for food runs in the blood:-
“Shooting is about a lot more than just the shooting,” Lord Rathcavan explains. “The problem with being out here in Northern Ireland is we can’t hope to compete with the biggest shoots in England and Scotland, particularly the west country partridge shoots. As such we have to offer something different. 
One of the ways we do that is the cultivation of the special atmosphere we have here, a big part of which is our lunches.

“I buy the beef un-butchered from the local meat factory, making sure it’s all hung for 28 days. It’s so much better to see beef on the bone. I get the rib and stick it in the Aga at nine in the morning.
After an hour or so I cut the skirt off, which then goes in the beater’s oven with the two big hunks of shoulder they have cooked in their oven in their shoot room.

“I take the meat out of the oven at 12 and let it rest on top for about an hour, which is the most important part.
Isabel is our lunch steward, the most wonderful girl who does all the other bits of cooking. The guns get a good wine, and the meal ends with a cheese board.

“So many people come back here just because of our lunches - it’s all part of the camaraderie of the day.
You can always judge how good a day people are having at lunchtime as it’s their first opportunity to mull over the shooting. I think it’s all part of the experience."

Good though the food is, the quality of shooting on offer is not to be underestimated.

Thanks to the varied terrain there is a wide range of sport on offer, from driven partridge and pheasant days to smaller boundary days and walked-up woodcock shooting.

My old school pal Gavin Whittley pictured on the right in 2011

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.


Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.

Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Shoot manager Joe Taylor (left) & Gavin Whittley discuss the morning’s drives.
Unusually, the partridge shooting is charged on a fixed rate at £6,000 for a day on the basis of 300 birds.

Though most guns will be used to being charged on a per-bird basis, the flat fee actually works out as extremely good value, coming in at about £20 per bird.

Considering the quality of sport on offer, even in the rain, this seems like a bargain to me".

First published in July, 2011.