Friday, 30 April 2021

Dunleckney Manor


This family, originally from Lancashire or Cheshire, accompanied WILLIAM III to Ireland in 1688.

The first settler was Bartholomew Newtown, whose son,

JOHN NEWTOWN, wedded, in 1730, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Lodge, of County Kilkenny and the city of Dublin, and founded the family residence at Bennekerry, a short distance from the town of Carlow, which, though still in the family's possession, was not then the family seat.

He died in 1748, leaving an eldest son,

BARTHOLOMEW NEWTOWN (d 1780), of Busherstown, County Carlow, who married, in 1767, Anne, daughter of Philip Bernard (by whom he acquired considerable property in the town of Carlow), and had issue (with a daughter, Catherine) two sons,
JOHN, Colonel, Carlow Militia, d unm;
PHILIP, of whom we treat.
The second son, 

PHILIP NEWTON (1770-1833), married, in 1785, Sarah, daughter of Beauchamp Bagenal, of Dunleckney.
Sir Nicholas Bagenal came to Ulster as Marshal of ELIZABETH I's army, settled in County Carlow and founded Bagenalstown.

The family's first house at Dunleckney was built ca 1610, but a new house was built for Walter Newton, who inherited the estate from his mother, the Bagenal heiress, in about 1850.
Mr Newton was succeeded by his son,

WALTER NEWTON (1790-1853), of Dunleckney, County Carlow, who married, in 1817, Anne, fifth daughter of the Hon George Jocelyn (second son of Robert, 1st Earl of Roden), and had issue,
Thomasina Jocelyn.
Mr Newton was succeeded by his only son,

PHILIP JOCELYN NEWTON JP DL (1818-95), of Dunleckney Manor, who married, in 1841, Henrietta Maria, daughter of John Kennedy, of Dunbrody, County Wexford, and Cultra, County Down, and had issue,
Maria Charlotte;
ANNE HENRIETTA, of whom hereafter;
Adeline Sarah.
Mr Newton died without male issue, and was succeeded by his second daughter,

ANNE HENRIETTA, MRS W M VESEY (d 1927), of Dunleckney Manor, whose elder son,

SYDNEY PHILIP CHARLES VESEY CBE JP (1873-1932), Captain, King's Royal Rifle Corps, married, in 1902, Edith Blanch Power.

Dunleckney was sold in 1942.

It was subsequently owned by Mr Thomas Donnelly, who re-sold in 1958.

DUNLECKNEY MANOR, Bagenalstown, County Carlow, is a 19th century Tudor-Gothic house by Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny.

An early Irish example of the Tudor-Gothic style, the manor house, built about 1850, incorporates parts of an earlier house.
Robertson was a talented architect with a large country house practise, who worked comfortably in a variety of styles, from Classical to Gothic. His major buildings are at All Souls, Oxford, Johnstown Castle and Castle Boro, both in County Wexford.
Robinson's work at Dunleckney is certainly of a very high order.

The smooth ashlar surfaces make a superb foil to the crisp, delicately carved tracery details of the tower, door-case and oriel windows.

The interior has fine plaster fan vaulting in the late Perpendicular-Gothic style, and an elaborate wooden staircase which incorporates number of medieval wooden carvings ‘rescued’ from St Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny.

Helen and Derek Sheane purchased the house in 1989, and have spent the ensuing years in restoration.

They have carried out considerable works to the garden and parkland though the superb, straight, 18th century lime avenue was a casualty of long neglect.

First published in November, 2012.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

John Ballance, 1839-93

Rt Hon John Ballance, XIVth Prime Minister of New Zealand

JOHN BALLANCE was born at Ballypitmave, near Glenavy, County Antrim (in a cottage near the Ballance house), into a comfortably off, though not prosperous, Ulster family.

His date of birth is said to have been 27th March, 1839.

His father, Samuel Ballance, was a Protestant tenant farmer on Lord Hertford's estate 'with evangelical tendencies'.

His mother, Mary McNiece, was a Quaker from a prominent local family.

The eldest of eleven children, John was educated at Glenavy National School and at Wilson's Academy, Belfast.

Early impressions of him are of a sturdy but rather lazy boy with a propensity to do nothing all day but read.

Ballamce House

John's father, Samuel, was active in politics, at times nominating conservative candidates for Belfast, and his son took a precocious interest in these activities.

At 16 years of age he was helping to write his father's speeches.

But if it was his father who brought John Ballance into early contact with political life, it was his more liberal mother who influenced the direction of his own political philosophy.

A series of major sectarian riots in Belfast also made a lasting impression.

Ballance left Wilson's Academy before completing his education and took a job with a Belfast ironmongery firm.

In 1857, when he was 18, he left Belfast for Birmingham, where he worked as a travelling salesman.

The original house before restoration

Caught up in the Victorian ethic of self-help and self-education, he enrolled in evening classes at the Birmingham and Midland Institute, studying politics, biography and history.

Birmingham was at the centre of important political and philosophical movements and Ballance took a lively interest in current affairs.

He heard speeches by major figures of the day such as John Bright, Michael Faraday and Joseph Chamberlain.

In Birmingham, Ballance also met Fanny Taylor, the daughter of a licensed victualler; they were married at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Aston, on 17 June 1863.

Not long afterwards, due in part to Fanny's ill health, they decided to emigrate to New Zealand where she had a brother living in Wanganui.

In April 1866 they left London on the Ruahine bound for Melbourne, Australia, and after a short stay continued to New Zealand on the Albion.

They arrived at Wellington on 11 August, and a few days later travelled on to Wanganui.

In Wanganui John Ballance opened a shop on Taupo Quay, selling jewellery he had purchased in Australia.

The business was neither successful nor something Ballance contemplated pursuing for long.

Instead, his chosen career was journalism: He established the Evening Herald in 1867, in partnership with local printer A D Willis.
An able and innovative journalist, Ballance managed and edited the Evening Herald (from 1876 the Wanganui Herald ) and its weekly edition, the Weekly Herald (later the Yeoman ) with considerable success, particularly in the years before the economic downturn of the 1880s.
During the war against Titokowaru of Ngati Ruanui in 1868–69, when the township of Wanganui felt itself under immediate threat, the Herald was outspoken in its criticism of the poor performance of the British forces and vehement in its attitude to Titokowaru's forces.
Regarded by authorities as a maverick troublemaker, Ballance spent a night in jail after refusing to respond to an order to turn out as part of the local militia, the compulsory nature of which offended his liberal beliefs.

The public perception gained of Ballance at this time through his bellicose editorials in the Herald was of a man who 'called a spade a spade'.

The later testimony of friends, however, spoke of his soft-hearted and kindly personality.

Ballance became increasingly involved in Wanganui affairs, helping to found the Wanganui and Rangitikei Land and Building Society and the local Oddfellows lodge. 

In March 1868 Fanny Ballance died after a short illness, at the age of 24.

Two years later, at Wellington, on 19 May 1870, John Ballance married Ellen Anderson, the daughter of Wellington merchant David Anderson and his wife, Ann Thompson.

There were no children from either marriage, but in 1886 Ellen and John adopted Ellen's four-year-old niece, Florence Anderson, whom they re-christened Kathleen.

In 1872 Ballance put his name forward at a parliamentary by-election for the seat of Egmont, but withdrew before the vote.

Three years later he narrowly won in Rangitikei, on a platform stressing abolition of the provincial system and arguing in favour of state education.

He increased his majority at the general election of 1876.

Ballance made an early impact in Wellington.

Following the abolition of the provinces in 1876 he focused on the promotion of closer land settlement, which he considered to be the major political issue of the day.

Ballance won the Wanganui seat in 1879 but two years later suffered what was to be his only electoral defeat.

Out of Parliament he continued to advocate legislative and other measures to promote closer land settlement; encouraging, for example, the establishment of small farm associations.

He reorganised his newspaper business.

He also became involved in the "freethought" movement.

A convinced secularist, he formed the Wanganui Freethought Association with Willis in 1883 and brought out the monthly Freethought Review (1883–85).

At the 1884 general election Ballance was returned for Wanganui by a sizeable majority.

He subsequently joined the Stout–Vogel ministry, holding the lands and immigration, native affairs and defence portfolios.

With his Land Act 1885, a major piece of legislation, he sought to place as many people as possible on the land by encouraging leasehold tenure and establishing government-assisted special settlement schemes.

In a victory that contrasted sharply with the poor performance of other leading government candidates, Ballance took the Wanganui seat at the 1887 election with more than twice the number of votes gained by his opponent.

Ill health and financial difficulties prevented his full commitment to politics during the next two years, but in July 1889 he was able to accept the leadership of the opposition.

A radical land policy was the dominant theme of Ballance's campaign at the 1890 election, which took place against a background of strikes and economic depression.

He won Wanganui by just 27 votes.

Elsewhere, Liberals and their trade unionist allies in the cities fared well.

When the sitting premier, H A Atkinson, resigned after being defeated in the House in January 1891, Ballance was ready to form the country's first Liberal government.

Surrounding himself with a cabinet of considerable talent, Ballance steered his government through two difficult years before his death from cancer in 1893.

In his last months in office Ballance supported moves to enfranchise women, a reform of which he had long been an advocate.

In his support for women's suffrage Ballance was strongly influenced by the views of his wife.

Ellen Ballance was prominent in the growing feminist movement in New Zealand and was vice president of the Women's Progressive Society, an international organisation.

A thoughtful, intelligent and politically astute woman, Ellen shared fully her husband's political interests.

She regularly attended Parliament to listen to the debates from the gallery, and she was highly regarded in Wellington's political circles.

The personal qualities John Ballance possessed fitted him well for the task he faced as premier.

He was kindly, courteous and considerate and displayed great patience.

He was a man of honesty and integrity.

As a result he attracted extraordinary loyalty among his cabinet and party.

Robert Stout wrote of his 'magnetic power of attaching people to him'.

Many viewed his mild temperament as a sign of weakness as a leader.

In fact he possessed much political toughness, although it was often hidden and seldom acknowledged.

WP Reeves described him as 'absolutely the most unassuming and unpretentious' of all the successful and able men he had known.

But, he added, 'as a Premier – and I say it emphatically – he knew how to be master in his own house.'

John Ballance died in Wellington, New Zealand, on 27 April 1893.

After a state funeral he was buried at Wanganui three days later.

Ellen Ballance survived her husband by 42 years.

She remained active in community organisations in Wanganui, including the Anglican church, the Wanganui Orphanage and the Plunket Society.

She died at Wanganui on 14 June, 1935.

First published in May, 2011.

Hillsborough Fort Guard

HILLSBOROUGH FORT was built ca 1650 by Colonel Arthur Hill, the younger son of SIR MOYSES HILL.

The Peerage of Ireland, dated 1789, recounts,
"A castle erected by Sir Arthur Hill in the reign of CHARLES I, which at the Restoration was made a royal fort by CHARLES II, who made Sir Arthur and his heirs hereditary constables, with twenty warders and a well appointed garrison."

"Sir Arthur, having built, at his own charge, and upon his own lands, during the rebellion, for the encouragement of an English plantation, and security of the country, a considerable place of strength, called Hillsborough, fortified with four bastions, or flankers, commanding the chief roads in County Down, leading from Dublin to Belfast and Carrickfergus."

Hillsborough Fort

"His Majesty was pleased to consider that the surprise thereof, upon any insurrection, might prove very prejudicial to his service, and how much it would conduce to His Majesty's service and the safety of the country, that a guard should be placed in that fort for the security thereof."

"He therefore granted a patent at Westminster, 21st December, 1660, for erecting it into a royal garrison by the name of HILLSBOROUGH FORT, with a constable and officers to command it, to be called and known by the name of Constable of Hillsborough Fort, and twenty warders to be nominated and chosen by him; the constable to have the allowance of 3s 4d a day [in 1660 £1 was equivalent to about £206], and the warders 6d each; and this office, which at this day is held and enjoyed by the Earl of Hillsborough, was granted to him, his heirs, and assignees for ever."
In 1690, WILLIAM III stayed for two days at Hillsborough.

The Hill family was effectively authorized "to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy for ever" the office of Constable of Hillsborough Fort; and to raise and maintain a force of twenty men.

Letters patent raised the status of the fort to "a military establishment of the Crown".

Hence the constableship of Hillsborough Fort was vested in the Hill family for ever.

Thereafter the warders were regularly on duty at Hillsborough Castle, wearing "the uniform, somewhat modernised, of the Dutch Guards - blue coat with red lapels; cocked hat trimmed with white lace, and for plume a red feather; white breeches and gaiters."

The navy blue tunic had red cuffs on which was a vertical strip of white lace; collar and shoulder straps were also red; and the tunic was faced with four double bars of white lace.

The sergeant-major's attire was as other ranks, but for a red sash and a steel sword scabbard.

The warders were originally armed with muskets.

The uniform has undergone some alterations over the past three centuries, and that worn by the bugler today is essentially late 18th century in pattern.

Warders were colloquially known as "Castlemen."

Hillsborough Guard during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations at
Hillsborough Castle  (Image: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye/PA Wire)

Hillsborough Fort Guard was one of only two private armies in the United Kingdom, the other being the Duke of Atholl's Atholl Highlanders.

The War Office attempted to disband the Guard in 1874; law officers, however, advised against it, and the War Office continued to pay £5 per warder per annum (equivalent to £578 in 2020), and a free uniform every two years to twenty of Lord Downshire's estate workers.

Towards the end of the century an agreement must have been reached to discontinue this remuneration. 

Warders on parade at The Square, Hillsborough, County Down

THE Hill family, Earls of Hillsborough and Marquesses of Downshire, are proud to maintain the hereditary constableship of Hillsborough Fort today.

Andrew Carlisle, Bugler of the Hillsborough Fort Guard, tells me that numbers in the guard have ebbed and flowed over the years.

3rd Marquess with his favourite hunter, 1833, by George Nairn
(Image: the Marquess of Downshire)

The guard still had its full complement in the early 1900s, comprising a sergeant-major, a bugler, and twenty warders.

It survived for many years in the appointment of the Bugler.

Andrew has had the pleasure of fulfilling this role since 2006.

The Most Hon the Marquess of Downshire & Bugler Carlisle at Hillsborough Fort
(Image: Andrew Carlisle)

Lord Downshire still takes a keen interest in the history and the future of the Guard.

The Hillsborough Fort Guard has grown in numbers in the last few years, and it is hoped that the full complement of 20 warders can be attained in the fullness of time.

The Guard is unique to County Down and, indeed, Northern Ireland, having been the oldest formal military presence in Ireland and one of only two surviving private armies in the kingdom.

The Bugler and six Warders

Today, of course, their role is purely ceremonial, and it is envisaged that they would be on duty at Hillsborough Castle during formal state occasions or functions.
In 2019 Historic Royal Palaces advertized that they wished to create a group of enthusiastic individuals to represent the Hillsborough Fort Guard at Hillsborough Castle, including a sergeant-major, bugler, and two corporals. They envisaged "this team expanding in the future."
If you have any particular information relating to the Hillsborough Fort Guard, or images of a relative or estate worker who served with them, contact me at

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Altidore Castle


JOHN DOPPING, of Frampton, Gloucestershire, and of Dopping Court, Dublin, married Joan, daughter of John Elliott, of Shropshire, and had an only son,

ANTHONY DOPPING, of Dopping Court, Dublin, Clerk of the Privy Council in Ireland, Feodary of the Province of Leinster, and Examiner of the Court of Wards, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Gilbert Domvile, MP for County Kildare, by Margaret his wife, daughter of the Most Rev Dr Thomas Jones, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, sister of the 1st Viscount Ranelagh.

Mr Dopping died in 1649, having had issue (with a daughter), a son,

THE MOST REV DR ANTHONY DOPPING (1643-97), Lord Bishop of Meath, of Dopping Court, Dublin, who espoused, in 1670, Jane, daughter of Samuel Molyneux, of Castle Dillon, County Armagh, and had issue,
Samuel, MP for Armagh;
ANTHONY, of whom hereafter;
Margaret; Lucy; Mary; Jane.
His lordship died in 1697, and was buried in St Andrew's Church, Dublin.

His second, and eventually eldest surviving son,

THE RT REV ANTHONY DOPPING (1675-1743), of Dopping Court, Lord Bishop of Ossory, who espoused Dorothea, daughter of Ralph Howard MP, of Shelton Abbey, County Wicklow, ancestor of the Earls of Wicklow, and had issue,
ANTHONY, his heir;
Jane Lucy; Alice; Margaret; Frances; Katherine.
His lordship died in 1743, and was buried in St Andrew's Church, Dublin.

He was succeeded by his only son,

ANTHONY DOPPING, of Lowtown, County Westmeath, who married, in 1756, Alice, daughter of James D'Arcy, of Hyde Park, County Westmeath, and of Derrycassan, County Longford, and had issue (with two daughters),
Samuel (1760-1822), dspm;
RALPH, who carried on the line.
Mr Dopping was succeeded by his elder son, who died as above, while the family was carried on by the younger son,

RALPH DOPPING (1766-1818), of Erne Head and Derrycassan, who wedded, in 1798, Catherine, daughter of Philip Smyth, of Grouse Hall, County Cavan, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Henry, of Erne Head;
Mary; Frances.
Mr Dopping was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN DOPPING JP (1800-55), of Derrycassan, High Sheriff of County Longford, 1823, who wedded, in 1822, Frances, daughter of James Henry Cottingham, of Somerville, County Cavan, and had issue,
RALPH ANTHONY, his heir;
John Francis;
James Henry;
Charlotte Henrietta; Sarah Rose.
Mr Dopping, who was drowned in 1855, was succeeded by his eldest son,

RALPH ANTHONY DOPPING-HEPENSTAL JP DL (1823-87), of Derrycassan, High Sheriff of County Longford, 1859, Honorary Colonel, Longford Rifles, who espoused firstly, in 1858, DIANA DALRYMPLE, daughter of the Rev Lambert Watson Hepenstal, of Altadore, County Wicklow, and had issue,
LAMBERT JOHN, his heir;
Susannah Elizabeth Louisa Mary Caroline; Haidee Emily Rose; Diana Charlotte.
He married secondly, in 1867, Anne, third daughter of Richard Maxwell Fox DL MP, of Foxhall, County Longford, and had further issue,
Ralph Francis Byron;
Maxwell Edward;
Juanita Rose.
Colonel Dopping assumed, in 1859, the additional surname and arms of HEPENSTAL, in compliance with the testamentary injunction of his father-in-law, the Rev Lambert Watson Hepenstal, of Altidore, County Wicklow.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

LAMBERT JOHN DOPPING-HEPENSTAL OBE JP DL (1859-1928), of Derrycassan, County Longford, and Altidore Castle, County Wicklow, High Sheriff of County Wicklow, 1909, County Longford, 1910, Major, Royal Engineers, who wedded, in 1920, Amy Maude, daughter of Major Charles Robert Worsley Tottenham, though the marriage was without issue.


The Rev John Hepenstal, of Newcastle, County Wicklow, born in 1699, married, in 1726, Miss Adair, of Hollybrook, County Wicklow, and had issue,
William, who had two daughters;
EDWARD, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

EDWARD HEPENSTAL, of Newcastle, wedded, in 1759, Jane, daughter of John Lambert, of Kilcrony, and sister of Colonel Oliver Richard Lambert, and had issue,
John, dsp;
GEORGE, of whom presently;
The second son,

GEORGE HEPENSTAL, of Sandymount, espoused, in 1787, Hester Watson, and had (with other issue), a son,

THE REV LAMBERT WATSON HEPENSTAL (1788-1859), of Altadore, County Wicklow, who married firstly, in 1809, Elizabeth, daughter of William Ball, and had issue,
Jane Anne; Esther Charlotte; Louisa Diana; Elizabeth Martha; Susanna Rebecca;
Selina Dalrymple; Emily Mary; DIANA DALRYMPLE (as above); Hester Maria.
Mr Hepenstal wedded secondly, in 1858, Cecilia, daughter of John Berkeley Deane, of Berkeley, County Wexford, without further issue.

ALTIDORE CASTLE, County Wicklow, described as a “Georgian toy fort“, was built near the ruins of a medieval castle of the O’Toole family in the eastern slopes of the Wicklow Mountains, west of Newtownmountkennedy.

From its elevated position it looks out over woods to the coastal plain and the Irish Sea beyond.

Altidore was built as a residence for General Thomas Pearce, uncle of the eminent architect, Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, ca 1730.

Sir Edward designed some of Ireland’s finest early Palladian buildings and architectural historians speculate that he may well have been responsible for the plans of Altidore.

It is clearly in the same vein as the early 18th century ‘sham’ forts and castles designed by Pearce and his cousin, the playright-turned-architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

Altidore was enlarged and modified for a subsequent owner, Major Henry Brownrigg, and by 1773 was owned by Rev William Blachford, Librarian of Marsh’s Library and father of the early Romantic poetess Mary Tighe, authoress of “Psyche, or the Legend of Love”, who lived at Altadore as a child.

Subsequently her brother, the noted agriculturalist John Blanchford, lived here with his wife Mary Anne, the daughter of Henry Grattan, the famous parliamentarian from nearby Tinnehinch.

Altidore comprises two stories over a basement, with crenellated towers at each corner and two formal fronts of five bays.

The façade, which faces the mountains, has a three-bay breakfront with a central Venetian window above a heavily blocked door case and a later pillared porch.

The basement appears as the ground floor at the rear, on account of the steeply sloping ground.

The interior has good early 18th century joinery and a panelled dining-room with plaster plaques.

From 1834 till 1918 the Dopping-Hepenstal family, of Derrycassan House (demolished in the 1930s) extensive landowners in County Wicklow, owned the estate.

They rarely lived in the castle and leased it out for long periods, on one occasion for use as a tuberculosis sanatorium. 

In the early 20th century Altidore changed hands more frequently and was owned by two different banks on separate occasions.

Finally, in 1945, James Albert Garland Emmet purchased the house and 300 acres of land from Percy Burton, an eccentric bachelor who had allowed it to become very dilapidated.

The Emmets carried out an extensive restoration and created a large new garden, centred on a pair of canals from the early 18th century garden layout.

The present owners, their grandson Philip and his wife, have farmed the estate organically for nearly 20 years.

The Emmets are descended from Thomas Addis Emmet, a leader of the United Irishmen and brother of the Irish nationalist and republican leader, Robert Emmet.

Altadore contains a small Robert Emmet museum, with a number of interesting original items.

Select bibliography ~ Irish Historic Houses Association.

Seaport Stables

SEAPORT STABLES are situated at the entrance to SEAPORT LODGE in Portballintrae, County Antrim.

They comprises a pair of two-storey, rendered and whitewashed buildings.

The roofs are hipped and slated with leaded ridges and hips.

There is a tall, ashlar, sandstone chimney-stack with equally lofty clay chimney-pots.

The walls are rendered.

The southern block has been converted into a bar and restaurant.
Its principal elevation faces south and comprises four segmental-headed windows at first floor level; and two sash windows at the ground floor, flanking a modern, sympathetically-styled, semi-circular entrance porch.
The western elevation is accessed at first-floor level via a grassy verge.

The southern elevation has a variety of modern window openings and an off-centre modern timber-sheeted door with fanlight.

The eastern elevation is fully abutted by a modern uPVC conservatory.

The northern block has been converted into a dwelling and office, and its main elevation faces south.
The central bay has three glazed oculi at first floor level, over two round-headed windows and a round-headed entrance containing a timber-sheeted door with cast-iron door furniture, surmounted by a four-paned fanlight.
The western elevation has a central, square-headed recess containing a modern timber sash window.

There is a roughcast rendered boundary wall, topped by undressed stone coping, to the Bayhead Road at south; modern rubble-stone wall to entrance at east.

A large, gravel parking area at the front of the southern block.

The coaching stables were originally constructed in the Georgian period, prior to 1832.

No major alteration has been made to the layout of the site in almost two centuries.

The two-storey buildings were formerly utilised as the coaching stables for Seaport Lodge, which was the property of JAMES EDMUND LESLIE.

In 1832, Portballintrae comprised only a few houses, chiefly occupied by pilots, but near this to the west side of the bay was Seaport House, the summer residence of JAMES LESLIE.

The Lodge was built ca 1790, and although its situation was exposed and unprotected, [the location] was admirably calculated for that of a bathing lodge.

Seaport Lodge's coaching stables were probably built at the same time as the main dwelling and were located at the main approach to the estate from the village.

By 1859, occupation of Seaport Lodge had passed to James's brother, Henry Erskine Leslie, who was also recorded as owner of the site.

Henry Leslie continued to reside at Seaport Lodge until his death in 1864, at which time the property passed to his widow, Harriet Ann Leslie.

In 1882, Colonel Edmund Douglas Leslie came into possession of the site and its associated outbuildings, including the coaching stables.

Colonel Leslie resided at Seaport Lodge until 1908, when his nephew, James Graham Leslie (1868-1949) took possession.

Despite the change in ownership during this period, Seaport Lodge remained a summer residence, vacant during both the 1901 and 1911 censuses which were both conducted in the month of April.

James Graham Leslie remained the occupant of Seaport Lodge until 1929.

Historians cite the construction date of Seaport Lodge as ca 1770, despite the Ordnance Survey Memoirs claiming a later date of about 1790.

Sir Charles Brett stated that the dwelling was constructed by James Leslie, soon after the completion of his other main residence, Leslie Hill, in 1772.

James Leslie's ability to erect two major houses within such a short period led Brett to suggest that Leslie "much over-strained the family finances" to realise his ambition of possessing a grand country house with a leisurely seaside retreat.

Local tradition claims that Seaport Lodge was constructed gradually over a period of many years.

The Lodge's main domestic block was the first section of the building to be constructed.

Sir Charles remarked that the two-storey western service wing was added later, most likely in 1827, as that date is inscribed on many of the later wing's wall plates.

It is not known at what stage in the estate's development the pair of two-storey coach stables were erected; however, it was certainly prior to 1832.

Seaport Lodge remained in the possession of the Leslie family until the mid-20th century.

The northern former coaching stable was listed in 1977, and since that time has continued to be privately occupied.

By the 1970s, the two coach stables were no longer utilised as out-offices, but had been converted into a private dwelling named Beach Park and designated Number 6, Seaport Avenue.

In the late-20th century the southern block was converted into a bar & restaurant called Sweeney's; however, the northern block has been maintained as a private dwelling and office space.

As part of the conversion of the site, a modern glass conservatory was added to the eastern elevation of the southern block, whilst the interior was completely refurbished.

A pair of delightful Gothic gate lodges once faced each other at the main entrance to Seaport Lodge (currently being restored).

They stood at the main road, the present entrance into Sweeney's.

First published in March, 2015.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021



KILLINCHY, a post-town and parish, partly in the barony of Dufferin, but chiefly in the baronies of Upper and Lower Castlereagh, County Down, nine miles from Downpatrick.

It contains 13,686 statute acres, of which 6,437¼ (including Dunsy Island and Islandmore in Strangford Lough, and 75¾ acres in that lough) are in the barony of Dufferin.

Bawn Island, and some other insulated ground on the island-powdered bosom of Strangford Lough, belongs to the parish.

The land is chiefly in tillage, and in a high state of cultivation; there is no waste land and but little bog; clay slate abounds, and a thin seam of coal is visible at the lough.

There are several corn-mills; and fairs are held in the town on January 5th, April 6th, July 6th, and October 5th.

Killinchy has a constabulary police station, and has a sub-post office to Comber and Killyleagh.

Petty sessions are held in the court-house on alternate Saturdays.

At Whiterock is a small but excellent harbour, with a small pier, at which vessels of 80 tons can load, and from which a considerable quantity of agricultural produce is exported.

THE living is a rectory, in the diocese of Down, and in the alternate patronage of the Viscount Bangor and the Earl of Carrick.

The church, a large and handsome edifice with a square, embattled tower, situated on an eminence, was built in 1830, at an expense of £900 [£105,000 in 2020], whereof one half was raised by subscription, and the remainder by parochial assessment.

The glebe house was built in 1789, by the then incumbent, and there is a glebe of 12 acres.

The parochial schools are principally supported by the Rector; the school-house, built in 1825, is a good plain edifice containing separate school-rooms for boys and girls, and residences for the master and mistress.

There are ten other public schools, six of which are connected with the National Board; the remaining four are aided by annual donations from Lord Dufferin, the Gordon family, and the Rector.

The Earl of Limerick, about 1730, gave part of the townland of KIllinchy to the Incorporated School Society.

HERE are the remains of Balloo Fort, near which many silver coins of the reigns of KING JOHN and other monarchs were found in 1829.

The ancient castle of the family of Whyte stood on the site of Killinchy Fort, and in 1802 many silver and copper coins were found in its vicinity.

In the church-yard is the tomb of the family of Bruce.

Old Belfast Castles


"AN OLD CASTLE existed until lately on one of the Castlereagh hills (from which, indeed, those hills obtained their name), belonging to the celebrated Conn O'Neill; but it met with a truly Irish fate.

Not many years ago the occupying tenant of the land received orders from his landlord, Lord Downshire, to build a wall round the ruins, with the laudable intention of preserving them from further dilapidation.

The tenant, indeed, built a good and substantial wall, but unluckily he employed the materials of the old castle itself for the purpose!
The name Castlereagh, which far pre-dates the beginning of local government, is derived from the ‘Grey Castle’ of the O’Neills that once perched on the Castlereagh Hills. 
The castle is said to have been built in about 1350 by Aodh Flann O’Neill during the reign of EDWARD III.
The Grey Castle, once called the ‘Eagles Nest’ due to its situation and the powerful influence of Conn O’Neill, the last great chieftain of the Clandeboye O’Neills, was lost to the family in the early 17th Century. 
The Castle, town and lands of Castlereagh were sold to Sir Moses Hill, the founder of the family of the Marquessses of Downshire, in 1616, along with most of Conn’s remaining lands.
The Castle fell into ruins after this, but survived until the early years of the 19th Century. 
It is said that the landowner directed his agent to build a wall around the site and the mason who was entrusted with the work demolished the remains of the castle in order to find sufficient stones to build the wall.
Nothing now remains of the castle, and it is impossible to identify the site even though it must have been a substantial building. 
It was said to have been a ‘square building, one hundred feet square each way and with turrets at the angles’. 
ANOTHER CASTLE was at STRANMILLIS, on the River Lagan, which was the property of the Hill family, and of which some vestiges remained at the close of the last century, under the name of Sir Moses Cellars.

The Stranmillis Castle was designed to guard the ancient fording place on the River Lagan, close to the present King’s Bridge.

AT THE SPOT where Shaw's Bridge now crosses the Lagan, there was formerly a ford, protected by two high forts, one on each bank of the river.

There was afterwards a strong castle built there (it is believed by Sir Moses Hill), near Malone House, which was called Castle Combe.

In 1610 it had been called Freerstone.

The principal part of the walls was removed when Shaw's Bridge was built. 

LISBURN CASTLE is too well known to need particular notice. 

Castle Robin

THERE STILL REMAINS the square tower or "keep" of CASTLE ROBIN, two miles north of Lisburn, which was built by Sir Robert Norton in the reign of ELIZABETH I, the same individual who built Castle Upton, Templepatrick.

The [aforementioned], with the two castles erected to defend the fords, are all of which we have any record on the south side of Belfast. 

ON THE NORTH there was a chain of FORTS, apparently for the purpose of keeping up a communication with Carrickfergus, as well as defending the Antrim side of the Lough; viz. Greencastle, where appears also to have been a fortified camp; Whitehouse, at the site of the present church, the remains of which are now converted into a stable.

It seems to have been merely a large square tower. An immense fire-place still remains.

ANOTHER CASTLE, of which the name is now lost, was about three miles further down along the shore: and there was lastly Carrickfergus Castle itself.

THE RUINS of a castle in Islandmagee, at the mouth of Belfast Lough, are still visible, and are known as Castle Chichester or, vulgarly, Castle Chester".

First published in July, 2012.

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Monday, 26 April 2021



BUSHMILLS, a market and post town, in that part of the parish of Billy which is in the barony of Cary, County Antrim, 6¼ miles from Coleraine.

This place is pleasantly situated near the mouth of the river Bush, from which it derives its name: it is neatly built, and is the general place of resort for parties visiting the Giant's Causeway, about two miles distant, for whose accommodation a large and handsome hotel has been erected [Bushmills Inn Hotel] by SIR F W MACNAGHTEN, Bart, who, in 1827, established a weekly market here.

A distillery is carried on, and is much celebrated for the quality of its whiskey, of which about 12,000 gallons are annually made and principally sent to England, Scotland, the West Indies, and America.

There is a manufactory of spades, shovels, scythes, and sickles upon the river Bush; extensive paper-mills have been erected by F D Ward for the supply of the home and Scottish markets, and near them are mills for flour and for dressing flax.

The Diamond, Bushmills, County Antrim

The market is on Tuesday, and is well supplied with grain, linen yarn, pork, and provisions of all kinds; and fairs are held on January 28th, March 28th, June 28th, July 21st, October 21st, and December 12th.

Here is a constabulary police station; and the petty sessions for the district are held every fortnight.

The COURTHOUSE, a large and handsome building, recently erected by Sir F W Macnaghten, contains also apartments for the police, and some cells for the confinement of prisoners.

The parish church of Dunluce is situated in the town; and there are also a place of worship for Presbyterians, and one for Methodists.

A SCHOOL has been established by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, for the instruction of the children of parishioners, the master of which has a good house and two acres of land; there are also several schools in various parts of the parish.

In the immediate neighbourhood is BUSHMILLS HOUSE, the seat of Sir F W Macnaghten, Bart, who has made numerous improvements on his estate: the mansion [Dundarave] is at present being rebuilt in a very splendid style, and with the grounds will form an interesting ornament to the place.

In the bed of the river, near the bridge, are some small but beautiful basaltic columns fantastically curved.

Loftus Hall


The family of LOFTUS, or, as it was anciently spelt, Lofthouse, appears, from the archives of York Minster, to have flourished in Yorkshire as early as the reign of ALFRED THE GREAT.

Before the advent of the Normans, this family held the town and lands of Loftus, Yorkshire, by thaneage, and after the Conquest, by military tenure.

The same records show that Christopher Lofthouse was prior of Helagh, Yorkshire, in 1460.

EDWARD LOFTUS, of Swineshead, Yorkshire, whose descendants have been, in different branches, thrice elevated to the Irish peerage, had two sons, namely,
Robert, created Viscount Loftus;
ADAM, of whom hereafter.
The elder son, Robert, whose second son, Adam, an eminent lawyer, was appointed LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, 1619; and created, in 1622, Viscount Loftus, of Ely, a dignity which expired with his lordship' grandson ARTHUR, 3rd Viscount.

The younger son,

THE MOST REV DR ADAM LOFTUS (c1533-1605), accompanied, as private chaplain, the Viceroy, Thomas, Earl of Sussex, into Ireland, and was consecrated Lord Archbishop of Armagh, 1562-3.

In 1567, the Lord Primate was translated to the see of Dublin; and six years afterwards we find him Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.

In 1578, His Grace was constituted LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and he continued to hold the seals until his death.

This esteemed divine having a principal share in the foundation of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed by charter its first Provost, which office he resigned in 1594.

He married Jane, eldest daughter of Alan Purdon, of Lurgan Race, County Louth, and by her had twenty children, of whom seven died young, including,
DUDLEY, his heir;
Edward, Recorder of Dublin;
Isabella; Anne; Catherine; Martha; Dorothy; Alice; Margaret.
His Grace was succeeded by his eldest son, 

DUDLEY LOFTUS (1561-1616), of Rathfarnham Castle, who wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenal, of Newry, and had, with other issue,
ADAM, 1st Viscount Lisburne (1st creation);
NICHOLAS, of whose line we are about to treat;
The second son,

NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1592-1666), of Fethard, MP for Fethard, 1613-34, County Wexford, 1640, Joint Clerk of the Pells and of the Treasury in Ireland, wedded and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 

SIR NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1635-1708), Knight, of Fethard, MP for Fethard, 1661-6, who married twice, and had several children, all of whom died issueless, when the estates descended to his brother,

HENRY LOFTUS (1636-1716), of Loftus Hall, MP for Clonmines, 1692-3 and 1695-9, who married twice and was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1687-1763), MP for Fethard, 1710-13, Clonmines, 1713-14, County Wexford, 1715-51, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1751, in the dignity of Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall.

His lordship was sworn of the privy council in 1753; nominated Governor of County Wexford, and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Loftus, of Ely, in 1756.

He married firstly Anne, 2nd daughter of William, Viscount Duncannon, by whom he had issue,
NICHOLAS, his successor;
HENRY, succeeded as 4th Viscount Loftus;
Mary; Anne; Elizabeth.
His lordship wedded secondly, Letitia, daughter of Sir John Rowley, knight, by whom he had no issue.

He was succeeded by his elder son, 

NICHOLAS, 2nd Viscount, who was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Ely in 1766.

He married Mary, eldest daughter and heir of SIR GUSTAVUS HUME, 3rd Baronet, of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh; and dying in 1766, was succeeded by his only son, 

NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl, who died unmarried, in 1769, when the earldom expired, and the viscountcy and barony reverted to his uncle,

THE HON HENRY LOFTUS, as 4th Viscount, born in 1709.

His lordship was advanced to an earldom, in 1771, as Earl of Ely; and installed a Knight Founder of the Most Illustrious of St Patrick, 1783.

Lord Loftus married twice, though died without issue, in 1783, when the titles became extinct; while the estates devolved upon his nephew, 

THE RT HON CHARLES TOTTENHAM, who then assumed the surname and arms of LOFTUS, and was created, in two years afterwards, Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1789, as Viscount Loftus; and Earl of Ely in 1794.

He was further advanced, to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1800, as MARQUESS OF ELY.
His lordship was postmaster-general of Ireland in 1789; privy counsellor; Knight of St Patrick; governor of Wexford; governor of Fermanagh; colonel, the Wexford Militia.
GEORGE HENRY WELLINGTON, 7th Marquess (1903-69), styled Viscount Loftus between 1925-35, became known by the courtesy title Viscount Loftus when his father succeeded to the marquessate in 1925.

He was educated at Lancing College and served as a major in the North Irish Horse during the 2nd World War.

He was High Sheriff of County Fermanagh in 1931.

In 1935 Lord Ely succeeded to the marquessate on the death of his father.


CHARLES JOHN, 8th Marquess, who died in 2006 aged 92, was a Canadian prep school headmaster for some 40 years and a dogged, if silent, attender at the House of Lords for almost 30 years until his exclusion by Tony Blair's reforms. He was appalled by the "constitutional vandalism" that cost him his seat.

His eldest son, John, who was born in 1943, succeeded to the titles as 9th Marquess.

The Ely Papers are deposited at PRONI.

LOFTUS HALL, near Fethard-on-Sea, County Wexford, is, according to Mark Bence-Jones, a gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a parapet, incorporating parts of a previous, late 17th century house.

The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, an extremely wind-swept spot bereft of trees and shelter.

The present house was built after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely (who also had plans for Ely Lodge in County Fermanagh).

It contains an impressive staircase hall.

In 1917, Loftus Hall was bought by the Sisters of Providence and turned into a convent and a school for young girls interested in joining the order.

In 1983, it was purchased by Michael Deveraux, who re-opened it as "Loftus Hall Hotel", which was subsequently closed again in the late 1990s.

It was privately owned by Deveraux's surviving family until late 2008, when it was sold to an unnamed buyer, rumoured to be "Bono" of U2 fame.

While in need of repair at the time of writing, the nine-bay mansion comprises seven reception rooms, twenty-two bedrooms and a function room spread across three floors.

First published in May, 2012.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Jonathan Swift

BRYAN SWYFTE had a grant from Lewis de Beaumont, Bishop of Durham (who died 1333), of part of the lordship of Allergill, County Durham, to be held of the palatine earldom of the Bishop by service of the eighth part of a knight's fee.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR HUMPHREY SWYFTE, Knight, of Allergill, who married a daughter of Alexander, of Beddick, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN SWYFTE, of Allergill, who wedded Maria, daughter of John Hedworth, and was succeeded by his son,

EDMOND SWYFTE, of Allergill, who espoused Margaret, daughter of Thomas Trollope, of Thornley, County Durham, and was succeeded by his son,

ANTHONY SWYFTE, of Allergill, who married a daughter of Sir Richard Surtees, Knight, of Dinsdale, and was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT SWYFTE, of Allergill, and of Rotherham, Yorkshire, who wedded firstly, a daughter of William Hansard, of Walworth, by which lady he had issue,
THOMAS, of whom presently.
He espoused secondly, Agnes, daughter of Martin Anne, of Frickley, by whom he had two sons,
Robert, of Rotherham;
William, of Rotherham.
The eldest son,

THOMAS SWIFTE, of Allergill, was father of

HENRY SWIFTE, of Sheffield; at whose decease he left two sons, viz. Sir Francis Swifte, knighted 1616, who died in 1642; and

THE REV THOMAS SWIFT, Rector of St Andrew's, Canterbury, Kent, 1566-92, who was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

He married Margaret, daughter of daughter and heir of the Rt Rev Dr Thomas Godwin, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, and left an only son,

THE REV THOMAS SWIFT (1595-1658), Vicar of Goodrich and Rector of Bridstow, Herefordshire, distinguished for his active devotion in the cause of CHARLES I, and to the person of his son, Prince Charles (afterwards CHARLES II, during the latter's protracted wanderings.

He wedded Elizabeth, daughter of John Dryden, sister of Sir Erasmus Dryden, 1st Baronet, of Canons Ashby, and grand-aunt of John Dryden, the poet, by which lady he had (with four daughters) ten sons, of whom,
Godwin, succeeded him;
Dryden, dsp;
JONATHAN, of whom we treat;
Adam, of Greencastle, County Down.
The fifth son,

JONATHAN SWIFT (1640-67), of Dublin, a solicitor, espoused Abigail Erick, of Leicestershire, by whom (who died in 1700) he left, with a daughter, Jane, a posthumous son,

Jonathan Swift (Image: Bodeian Libraries)

THE VERY REV DR JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745), the celebrated Dean of St Patrick's, born in Hoey's Court, Dublin, who has related many anecdotes of his grandfather's loyalty in his account of Anecdotes of the Family of Swift, the original manuscript of which is still preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

Dr Swift died unmarried, and was interred at St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

First published in April, 2019.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

The Onoto 5600

De la Rue Onoto 5600

I wrote an article about the umbrella and shirt collections some years ago.

I am sure that, like many others through the fullness of time, I have accumulated or acquired some interesting items of apparel during my life, some inherited, others acquired.

My late father was stockier and slightly taller than me, so I couldn't wear any of his clothing, though I do still have a waistcoat and several polo-neck jumpers of his.

I had an old Aquascutum overcoat of his altered unsuccessfully.

I inherited a miscellany of accessories, mainly gold and military cuff-links and a lovely, old Onoto fountain pen, dating from the 1930s.

I treasure it, to the extent that I have recently sold my Montblanc collection; and the De la Rue Onoto fountain pen, dating from the 1930s, is currently being serviced by Peter Twydle.

I am simply not using writing instruments as often these days: A few vintage Parker ballpoint pens and the Onoto 5600 are sufficient.

Some of the clothing is ancient and utterly useless, unless one is a courtier or a recipient of invitations to state banquets.

I acquired full evening dress from an old friend of my father's (Jim McClenaghan): a heavy worsted tail-coat with ribbed silk lapels; old, starched, white dress-shirt and white tie; white pique waist-coat; heavy black, double-braided trousers.

The top hat was acquired many years ago at Parsons & Parsons in Belfast.

The morning-coat is black; the waistcoat, dove grey and double-breasted.

I found the waistcoat in a charity shop.

I discovered one of my most precious acquisitions in a charity shop: a DINNER-JACKET dated 1933, in another charity shop.

It is beautifully made, with functional button cuffs and a very wide, ribbed silk lapel.

I simply had the jacket altered and had a few cuff buttons sown on.

I shan't disclose what it cost me; suffice it to say that it was a bargain ~ like a "find" on the Antiques Roadshow!

If anyone is interested, my best advice to them, if they are in their twenties or thirties, is to buy the very best clothing and footwear now.

That's what I did, and it has endured.

Most of my most precious clothing was acquired when I was in my early twenties: the Church's shoes from Harrod's and Austin Reed's store in Belfast; the Burberry trench-coat; the Aquascutum overcoat; five or six shirts from Turnbull & Asser.

If you invest in half-decent stuff today and look after it, only wearing it occasionally, it will provide decades or, indeed, a lifetime, of satisfaction and service.

First published in February, 2010.

Friday, 23 April 2021



AGHADOWEY, a parish in the half-barony of Coleraine, County Londonderry, six miles from Coleraine, on the road from that place to Dungannon.

This parish, which is bounded on the north-east by the river Bann and, with the extra-parochial grange or liberty of Agivey, which is locally within its limits, and has since the Reformation been attached to it, comprises 18,115¾ statute acres.

Its westerly extremity is mountainous and barren, but eastward toward the river the soil is fertile; the lands are generally in a high state of cultivation, particularly in the neighbourhood of Keely, Ballybritain, Rushbrook, Flowerfield, and Mullaghmore; in the valley where the Agivey and Aghadowey waters meet, the soil is very rich.

Previously to 1828 no wheat was grown in this parish; but since that period the system of agriculture has been greatly improved, and, in 1832, James Hemphill introduced the cultivation of mangelwurzel and turnips, which has been attended with complete success.

There are considerable tracts of bog, but they will soon be exhausted by the large quantities annually consumed in the bleach-greens; and in the western or mountainous parts are large tracts of land which, from the depth of the soil, might easily be brought into cultivation.

Ironstone is found in several parts, but is more particularly plentiful in the townland of Bovagh.

The greater part of the parish formed part of the lands granted in 1609, by JAMES I, to the Irish Society, and is now held under the Ironmongers' Company, of London, by who, on the expiration of the present leases, the land will be let, as far as may be practicable, on the English principle.

The Mercers' Company, the Bishop of Derry, and the Rev T Richardson are also proprietors.

There are numerous gentlemen's seats, of which the principal are Rushbrook, the residence of J Knox; Landmore, of George Dunbar; Flowerfield, of J Hunter; Flowerfield, of Mrs Hemphill; Keely, of Andrew Orr; Ballydevitt, of T Bennett; Mullaghmore, of A Barklie; Moneycarrie, of J McCleery; Meath Park, of J Wilson; BOVAGH, of R Hezlet; and Killeague, of Mrs Wilson.

PREVIOUSLY to 1730 the parish was for the greater part unenclosed and uncultivated; but three streams of water which intersect it attracted the attention of some spirited individuals engaged in the linen trade, which at that time was coming into notice, and had obtained the sanction of some legislative enactments for its encouragement and support.

Of these, the first that settled here with a view to the introduction of that trade were Mr J Orr, of Ballybritain, and Mr J Blair, of Ballydevitt, whom in 1744, established some bleach-greens; since that time the number has greatly increased, and there are at present not less than eleven in the parish, of which ten are in full operation.

The quantity of linen bleached and finished here, in 1833, amounted to 126,000 pieces, almost exclusively for the English market; they are chiefly purchased in the brown state in the markets of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Strabane, and Londonderry, and are generally known in England as "Coleraines," by which name linens of a similar kind, wherever made, are now called, from the early celebrity which that town acquired for linens of a certain width and quality.

In addition to the bleaching and finishing, Messrs A and G Barklie have recently introduced the manufacture of linens, and have already 800 looms employed.

THE living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, constituting the corps of the prebend of Aghadowey in the cathedral church of that see, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £500.

The church, situated in a fertile vale near the centre of the parish, and rebuilt in 1797, is a small neat edifice with a handsome tower, formerly surmounted by a lofty octagonal spire erected at the expense of the Earl of Bristol (when Bishop of Derry), but which was destroyed by lightning in 1826; the tower, being but slightly injured, was afterward embattled and crowned with pinnacles.

The Board of First Fruits granted £100 towards the erection of a glebe house in 1789 [almost £16,000 in 2020]; and in 1794 the present house, called Blackheath, was built by Sir Hervey Bruce Bt as a glebe house for the parish.

It is a handsome residence; over the mantelpiece in the drawing-room is an elegant sculpture, representing Socrates discovering his pupil Alcibiades in the haunts of dissipation, which was brought from Italy by Lord Bristol, and presented to Sir Hervey Bruce.

The glebe lands comprise 403 statute acres, exclusively of a glebe of 121 acres in Agivey; and the gross value of the prebend is £880 per annum [equivalent to about £109,000 in 2020].

A religious establishment was founded here, in the 7th century, by St Guaire, as a cell to the priory or abbey founded by him at Agivey, the latter of which became a grange to the abbey of St Mary-de-la-Fouta, or Macosquin, in 1172.

A very splendid lachrymatory or double patera of pure gold, of exquisite workmanship and in good preservation, was found at Mullaghinch in 1832, and is now in the possession of Alexander Barklie.

In the townland of Crevolea is a large druidical altar, called by the country people "the grey stone;" and on the mountains above Rushbrook is a copious chalybeate spring, powerfully impregnated with iron and sulphur held in solution carbonic acid gas.