Thursday, 30 June 2022

Lyons Demesne


The family of LAWLESS was of English extraction, but were settled for many years in Ireland, and became first enriched by commerce, and then ennobled on account of their wealth. SIR HUGH DE LAWLESS, of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, settled in Ireland during the reign of HENRY II and obtained a grant from the crown of the manor of Shanganagh, County Dublin, where he erected a castle, the ruins of which are still visible.

RICHARD LAWLESS was Provost of Dublin, 1311, and held the office of Chief Magistrate for three successive years. STEPHEN LAWLESS was consecrated Bishop of Limerick in 1354, and died on Innocents' Day, 1359.

WALTER LAWLESS, of Talbot's Inch, County Kilkenny, had a grant from JAMES I, in 1608, of seven manors, situated in counties Tipperary, Waterford, and Kilkenny, with rights of patronage, to be held for ever, in capite, by knight's service.

He married Margaret, daughter of Robert Wrothe, and died in 1627, leaving an only son,

RICHARD LAWLESS, who succeeding at Talbot's Inch, wedded Margaret, daughter of Patrick Den, of Grennan, County Kilkenny; and dying in 1670, left issue, two sons,
Walter, an adherent of JAMES II;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THOMAS LAWLESS, of Talbot's Inch, espoused Elizabeth, daughter of James Butler, of Kilkenny; and dying in 1704, was father of

JOHN LAWLESS, of Shankill, County Dublin, who married Frances, daughter of John Usher, of Crumlin, and had issue, Peter, ancestor of the family seated at Shankill, and

JOHN LAWLESS, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Richard MacDonnell.

He died in 1730, and was succeeded by his only son,

ROBERT LAWLESS, of Abington, County Limerick, by Mary, daughter of Dominick Hadsor, of Dublin. and had issue,
NICHOLAS, his heir;
Mary (1736-67).
Mr Lawless died in 1779, and was succeeded by his only son and heir,

NICHOLAS LAWLESS (1735-99), of Abington, County Limerick, who, having returned to Ireland from Normandy subsequently to his father's decease and conformed to the established church, obtained a seat in parliament as MP for Lifford, 1776-89.

Mr Lawless was created a baronet in 1776, designated of Abington, County Limerick; and elevated to the peerage, in 1789, in the dignity of BARON CLONCURRY, of Cloncurry, County Kildare.

He married, in 1761, Margaret, only daughter of Valentine Browne, of Dublin, and had issue, 
VALENTINE BROWNE, his successor;
Mary Catherine; Valentina Alicia; Charlotte Louisa.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

VALENTINE BROWNE, 2nd Baron (1773-1853),  who wedded firstly, in 1803, Elizabeth Georgiana, daughter of Lieutenant-General Charles Morgan, and had issue,
Mary Margaret; Margaret; Valentine Anne.
He espoused secondly, in 1811, Emily, daughter of Archibald Douglas, and had further issue,
Cecil John (died 1853);
EDWARD, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

EDWARD, 3rd Baron (1816-69), of Lyons, County Kildare, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1838, County Dublin, 1846, married, in 1839, Elizabeth, daughter of Major John Kirwan, and had issue,
Edward, Colonel, died 1921;
VALENTINE, his successor;
FREDERICK, 5th Baron;
His lordship took his own life by throwing himself from the third floor of Lyons.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

VALENTINE, 4th Baron (1840-1928), of Lyons, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1867, who wedded, in 1883, Laura Sophia Priscilla, daughter of Rowland, 1st Baron St Oswald, and had issue, two daughters,
Mary; Kathleen Emily Marie (1888-1957), of Lyons.
His lordship died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

FREDERICK, 5th Baron (1847-1929), who served on the staff of two Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, was unmarried; and the titles expired on his death in 1929.

LYONS, near Hazlehatch, County Kildare, was originally the seat of the Aylmer family, though they sold it to the 1st Baron Cloncurry, who had a new house built in 1797.

The present mansion house is a three storey block with a curved bow on either side of its entrance front, joined to two-storey wings by curved sweeps.

About 1801, shortly after his release from the Tower of London, the 2nd Baron hired Richard Morrison to undertake improvements and alterations to his father's house, work continuing till 1805.

During this period, Lord Cloncurry was in Italy, collecting antiques and objets d'art for the house.

The seven-bay garden front was left fairly plain, though an immense formal garden was laid out, with abundant statuary and urns.

Beyond the lake, reputedly the largest artificial lake in Ireland, lies the Hill of Lyons.

The Grand Canal passes along one side of the demesne, with a very fine range of Georgian buildings, comprising the Cloncurry private canal station.

The Hon Kathleen Lawless bequeathed the Lyons estate to a cousin, Mr G M V Winn, who sold it about 1962 to University College, Dublin.

Sir Michael Smurfit KBE owned Lyons from 1990-96.

Lyons was later purchased by Dr Tony Ryan, who reputedly spent €100 million on its restoration.

The house stands in nearly 600 acres, including some fine formal gardens.

The orangery and hall contain a large swimming-pool.

There are seven suites in the main house, a self-contained guest wing with four bedrooms, and staff quarters in the north wing.

A further five lodges are located around the estate which include a 22-acre spring-fed lake which is stocked with trout and, for equestrian enthusiasts, there are stables, stud farm facilities and outstanding natural gallops.

Dublin is a 45-minute drive, but private jet access is available on request at nearby Baldonnel's Casement Aerodrome which is three miles from the estate.

It has undergone a total refurbishment which was recognized as outstanding when it received the Europa Nostra and Institut International des Châteaux Historiques joint award for refurbishment.

Cloncurry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in June, 2012.

Royal Sussex Regiment

Click to Enlarge

If you happen to be walking past Anderson & McAuley's former premises at 1, Donegall Place, Belfast, you shall see a metal plaque which records the fact that, on the 28th June, 1701, ARTHUR, 3RD EARL OF DONEGALL (1666-1706), formed the 35th Regiment of Foot, which became part of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Lord Donegall was 35 years of age when this occurred, and was killed in action merely five years later.

Possible portrait of Arthur, 3rd Earl of Donegall
(Image: Ulster Museum)

The encampment of first recruits was within the precincts of the Jacobean BELFAST CASTLE (accidentally burned to the ground seven years later, in 1708).

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Lighthouse Island: V

Lighthouse Island, with Mew Island in the Background


Most of us got out of bed early on Sunday morning, certainly before eight o'clock.

The kitchen in the observatory is the hub, in a sense.

I had brought twenty sausages, with potato and soda farls.

Rosie & Nick supplied more bangers, with fresh farm eggs and bacon.

We used the three gas cookers and fried the lot.

The grub was placed in the centre of the table and we all tucked in.

Timothy Belmont was, as ever, amongst the leaders in the race to the food-trough.

Thus the troops were nourished and prepared to stride down to the Heligoland trap for a final push.

We managed to complete about 80% of the trap.

The bird observers might need to finish it off themselves; there's now a good basis for completion.

Thereafter we assembled out tools, placed them in the wheelbarrows, and left for the observatory at the top of the island.

I went for a stroll afterwards with Ron.

The remains of the "new" lighthouse (above), in the courtyard at the back of the observatory, are used as storage for fire-wood.

The original lighthouse was more of a square-shaped tower affair and some of it still exists beside the new lighthouse.

The top half of the lighthouse has been shorn off, so the open roof affords a panoramic view of the island and beyond.

Mew Island Lighthouse

Mew Island, adjacent to Lighthouse Island, has the main lighthouse.

It is named after the common gull or sea mew, Larus canus, which nested there in great abundance during bygone years.

Mew Island Lighthouse

It was not until 1969 that electricity powered the lamp on Mew Island.

The light was converted to automatic operation, and the last keeper left the island in 1996.


AT ABOUT FOUR O'CLOCK, we all packed and tidied up, locked up and took our belongings down to the jetty, where MV Mermaid was waiting to convey us back to Donaghadee harbour.

It was a wonderful experience, though I think forty-eight hours was sufficient for self!

Incidentally, a few of us were bitten by what are thought to have been bracken mites: We have several hives to prove it!

First published in September, 2012.

Drumadarragh House

THOMAS DIXON (1770-1849), of Bonamargy, Ballycastle, County Antrim, married Mary McNeill in 1804, and had a son,

THOMAS DIXON (1805-68), of Larne, County Antrim, merchant and ship-owner, who married, in 1834, Sarah, daughter of Archibald McCambridge, of Mullarts, Cushendun, County Antrim.

The third son,

DANIEL DIXON (1844-1907), of Larne, was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Inst) and subsequently joined his father’s business, becoming a partner in 1864.

His brother, Thomas S Dixon, was also a partner.
The firm, Messrs Thomas Dixon & Sons, thrived and expanded into shipping, becoming owners of the Lord Line, which was formed in 1879 and operated services between Belfast, Dublin, Cardiff and Baltimore. They also sailed to Gulf of Mexico and several South American ports.
In 1917 the company went into liquidation and sold its two remaining ships to the Head Line (Ulster SS Co.). The Lord Line ran between Baltimore and Belfast every ten days. Daniel Dixon was a director of the Ulster Steamship Company, which owned the Head Line.
Sir Daniel was also chairman of the Ulster Marine Insurance Company and a director of the Belfast & County Down Railway.

Sir Daniel Dixon, 1st Baronet

It was his association with Belfast Corporation which brought Sir Daniel into public prominence: In 1872 he became a councillor for Dock Ward, in which his firm’s premises were located; and, nine years later, he became an alderman.

He felt strongly that the Belfast tramway system ought not to be private property and saw to it that it was owned and run by the ratepayers.

He was closely involved in the movement to build the City Hall and the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Purdysburn.

In 1892, Dixon became Mayor of Belfast for the first time, and was the first incumbent to receive the title of Lord Mayor by Royal Charter from Queen Victoria.

In the same year he was knighted.

He was re-elected in the following year and occupied the mayoral chair five more times between 1901-06.

In 1902 he was appointed a Privy Counsellor and Sir Daniel was created a baronet the following year, designated of Ballymenock, County Antrim.
  • Mayor of Belfast, 1892
  • High Sheriff of County Down, 1896
  • Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1893, 1901-3, 1905-6 & 1906-7
  • MP for North Belfast, 1905-07
In politics Sir Daniel was a staunch Conservative and a resolute opponent of Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals.

In 1905 he won the North Belfast by-election for the Unionist Party and successfully defended the seat in the general election of 1906.

Sir Daniel was a member of the Church of Ireland and generously supported the building of Belfast Cathedral.

He erected the “Joseph” window in the Cathedral's south aisle in memory of his brother, Thomas, and his son, Lieutenant Percy Dixon, 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, who died at Cairo, 26 August 1902, aged 20.

Dixon’s first wife was a daughter of James Agnew. His second, whom he married in 1870, was a daughter of James Shaw.

They lived at BALLYMENOCH, Holywood, County Down, and worshipped at Holywood Parish Church, where Sir Daniel was a member of the select vestry for 14 years.

It was on the morning of Sunday 10 March 1907 as he was walking from his home to church when he complained of sudden pain and, instead of continuing to church, he made for his son Herbert’s house near by.

There, in spite of the efforts of his sons, Herbert and Daniel, and a nurse, he died of cardiac failure within minutes.

Sir Daniel left £307,151 in his will which equates to about £28 million in today's money.

On his decease, Sir Daniel was survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters.

His eldest son,

THE RT HON  SIR THOMAS JAMES DIXON, 2nd Baronet (1868-1950), JP, Privy Counsellor, of Graymount and Drumadarragh, succeeded in the baronetcy.

Sir Thomas Dixon Bt. (Image:Mid & East Antrim Borough Council)

His other sons were Daniel, Frank and Herbert.
  • High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1912
  • High Sheriff of County Down, 1913
  • NI Senator, 1924
  • HM Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, 1924-50. 
The 2nd Baronet was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother, 

THE RT HON SIR HERBERT DIXON, 3rd Baronet (1880-1950), OBE, PC,
born in Belfast; educated at Harrow and Sandhurst; commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and served in the 2nd World War. Sir Herbert was elected Unionist MP for Belfast Pottinger in 1918, becoming representative for East Belfast four years later. He was also sent to Stormont in 1921 as a MP for Belfast East, being appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance; and was finally elected MP for Belfast Bloomfield in 1929. Sir Herbert was appointed OBE in 1919 and appointed privy counsellor of NI in 1923.
Sir Herbert was elevated to the peerage, in 1939, in the dignity of BARON GLENTORAN, of Ballyalloly, County Down.

He served as Government Chief Whip from 1921-42 and as Minister of Agriculture at Stormont, 1941-43.

In 1950 he succeeded his elder brother as 3rd Baronet.

The 1st Baron married, in 1905, Emily Ina Florence, daughter of Arthur, 6th Baron Clanmorris (this family shares a common ancestor with the Earls of Lucan).

He died in 1950, and was succeeded by his son,

DANIEL STEWART THOMAS, 2nd Baron and 4th Baronet (1912-95), KBE,
educated at Eton and Sandhurst; appointed ADC to the General Officer Commanding NI in 1935; Grenadier Guards, 2nd World War; mentioned in dispatches; and in 1950; MP for Belfast Bloomfield at Stormont; Minister of Commerce, a post he held until elected to the NI Senate in 1961. 

He was then minister in, and leader of, the Senate for three years, becoming its last Speaker in 1964. Lord Glentoran was said to have had such a grand demeanour that once, when visiting America, a Texas newspaper carried the headline "Irish Royalty to Visit Texas".

The 4th Baron was appointed KBE in 1973. Lord Glentoran was also HM Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast from 1950-85. In 1933 he married Lady Diana Mary Wellesley (died 1984), daughter of the 3rd Earl Cowley, by whom he had three children.
Coronation Day, 1953, 2nd Lord & Lady Glentoran. Photo Credit : NPG

MAJOR THOMAS ROBIN VALERIAN, 3rd and present Baron and the 5th Dixon Baronet (1935-), CBE.

I have written about him HERE.

DRUMADARRAGH HOUSE, near Doagh, County Antrim, is a two-storey, three-bay, 18th century house with fan-lighted doorway.

Two wings were added ca 1827 of two bays each, in keeping with the centre block, though each has a pediment gable with an oeil-de-boeuf window.

The rear of the house is similar, except for a wing in the same style as the rest of the house which was added in 1903.

The site benefits from mature trees which provide a shelter belt, the chief attribute being a well planted and maintained ornamental garden planted from 1948, both within and outside the walled garden.

Outside there is a wild garden beside a stream and inside there are herbaceous borders, island beds, productive areas, mature trees and an arboretum begun in 1964.


Drumadarragh House was purchased in Thomas Dixon in 1891, though used only as an occasional residence, because the family also owned Graymount in Belfast and RAVENSDALE PARK, County Louth.

Drumadarragh was requisitioned by the army during the 2nd World War; and then reverted to private ownership, by Lord Glentoran.

Drumadarragh House is the seat of the LORD AND LADY GLENTORAN.

First published in 2010.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

The Blackwood Baronets (1763)

This family is of Scottish origin

JOHN BLACKWOOD (1591-1663), a gentleman of respectable lineage in Fife, removed to Ulster some time towards the middle of the 17th century, and, having acquired considerable property, settled in County Down.

Of the Scottish family of BLACKWOOD, the celebrated Adam Blackwood (1539-1613), privy counsellor to MARY, Queen of Scots; and the said JOHN BLACKWOOD, of the same house, had his estate in County Down sequestered, in 1687, by JAMES II's parliament, but was restored on the accession of WILLIAM III
Faithfully and zealously attached to his unhappy mistress, this eminent person published his Martyrdom of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland.

Mr Blackwood, Provost of Bangor, County Down, was interred at Bangor Abbey and his grave-stone reads:
From this gentleman descended 

ROBERT BLACKWOOD (1694-1774), who married firstly, in 1721,  Joyce, sister of JOSEPH, 1ST EARL OF MILLTOWN, and had issue,
Leeson, d 1773;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
He wedded secondly, Grace Macartney, and had further issue,
Grace; Sarah; Elizabeth; Ursula Harriot; Dorcas.
Mr Blackwood was created a baronet in 1763, designated of Ballyleidy, County Down.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

 2nd Baronet (1721-99), who married, in 1751, DORCAS, 1ST BARONESS DUFFERIN AND CLANEBOYE, eldest daughter and heiress of James Stevenson, of Killyleagh, and had issue,
JAMES STEVENSON, his successor;
John (Rev);
HANS, succeeded his brother;
Henry, Vice-Admiral; cr a baronet, designated of the Navy;
Anne; Sophia; Dorcas; Margaret Catherine.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR JAMES STEVENSON BLACKWOOD, 3rd Baronet (1755–1836), who inherited the barony at the decease of his mother and succeeded, in 1807, as 2nd Baron Dufferin and Claneboye.

Sir James married, in 1801, Anne Dorothea, daughter of John, 1st Baron Oriel, though the marriage was without issue.

He was succeeded in the family honours by his brother,

HANS, 3rd Baron and 4th Baronet (1758-1839), who espoused firstly, in 1784, Mehetabel Hester, daughter of Robert Temple, and had issue,
Robert Temple (1788-1815);
PRICE, 4th Baron;
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1801, Elizabeth, daughter of William Henry Finlay, and had further issue,
William Stear (Rev);
Henry Stevenson;
Anna Dorothea; Elizabeth Dorcas; Henrietta Catherine; two other daughters.
The 3rd Baron was succeeded by his son and successor,

PRICE, 4th Baron and 5th Baronet (1794-1841), who married, in 1825, Helen Selina, daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and had issue,

FREDERICK TEMPLE, 5th Baron and 6th Baronet (1826–1902), who was created, 1871, Earl of Dufferin; and advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1888, as MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA.


John Francis Blackwood, 11th Baron Dufferin and Claneboye (b 1944), is the 12th Blackwood Baronet of Ballyleidy, and the 8th Blackwood Baronet of the Navy.

The Blackwood Baronets' London residence was 13 Cavendish Square.

First published in June, 2012.



JAMES MACAULAY, MACAULEY or McAULEY, JP, of Ben Neagh, Crumlin, County Antrim, married, in 1785, Jane, daughter of Thomas Hyndman, of Ballyronan, County Londonderry, and died in 1839, leaving a son,

ROBERT McAULEY (1788-1864), of Glenoak, Crumlin, and Larne, County Antrim, who wedded, in 1807, Helena, daughter of Jasper White, of Limerick, and had issue,
Jasper, of Leigh Hill House, Cobham, Surrey;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Helena; Robina; Emily.
Mr McAuley's younger son,

JOHN McAULEY JP DL (1823-1912), of Redhall, Ballycarry, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1891, espoused, in 1853, Jane Callwell, daughter of Patrick Agnew, of KILWAUGHTER and Larne, County Antrim, and had issue,
Agnew McNeil;
Elizabeth Agnew; Helen Elizabeth White; Edith May Agnew.
Mr McAuley was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT HELENUS McAULEY (or MACAULAY) (1854-1943), who married, in 1883, Sarah, youngest daughter of William Richardson, of BROOKLANDS, Belfast, and had issue,
ROBERT KEITH AGNEW, 1884-1963, Lieutenant, Royal Engineers;
John Mortimer William, b 1885;
Irene Vera Muriel.
REDHALL, near Ballycarry, County Antrim, is essentially a 17th century tower-house, enlarged by the addition of two wings containing large reception rooms of ca 1790, and remodelled in the 19th century.

In the older part of the house there are ceilings of primitive though vigorous plasterwork.

John Dalway arrived at Carrickfergus in 1573 and, marrying Jane O’Neill, was given a large grant of land in this area.

It is presumed he built a house and that he coined the name Red Hall.

In 1609, William Edmonstone, of Duntreath, Stirlingshire, secured a lease from John Dalway.
What form the house took at that time is not known, though it would appear that Edmonstone repaired and modernised an existing castle or tower house which had been owned by the O'Neills and dated from at least the mid-16th century, if not earlier.
Dating from the 17th century remodelling are the oak staircase of the Jacobean period; the roof timbers; and a panelled room in late 17th century style.

Panelled ceilings in the first floor have been ascribed to ca 1730.

In 1784, the estate was sold by Sir Archibald Edmonstone Bt to RICHARD GERVAS KER who, in 1793, added the wings to each side to create drawing and dining rooms, with a kitchen in the basement.

Mr Ker was also probably responsible for remodelling the main block, including building a parapet around it and adding a four-columned porch in front of a newly positioned central entrance.

Ker was succeeded by his nephew, David Stewart Ker, of MONTALTO, who, in 1822, is recorded as having built the nearby threshing mill to the west of the house in 1835.

In 1830, the house was described as,
Very plain in its architecture, stone finished on the outside without anything ornamental in its structure or appearance ... the garden is small but the demesne ornamental and pleasure grounds are very extensive, and the plantings of firs, larch and beech very tastefully varied and laid out.
In 1869, the estate was bought by John McAuley, to whom may be attributed the present rendered finish to the exterior, incorporating quoins, rustications, string courses, and surrounds to windows; the small balcony on the east elevation; the canted bay added to the south wing, the square turret added at the north-east corner; the replacement of the small-paned windows by plate glass; and banks, terraces and stone steps around the house, all apparently between 1871-75.

The McAuley surname is spelled MacAulay in the 1912 edition of Burke's Gentry of Ireland, and varies in several other publications.

The internal plasterwork ceilings in the entrance hall and morning room, and plasterwork details in the dining-room and drawing-room may also be attributed to McAuley.

The present porch was in position by 1871, when it had a small pediment over it.

An addition by McAuley, subsequently removed, was a large central chimney on the south parapet of the main block.

In 1902, the estate was bought by W J Porrit, who was responsible for the red-painted finish to the exterior, of which only traces now remain.

In 1918, George Reade became Redhall's new owner.

He inserted dormers into three of the attics; and was probably responsible for the removal of Macauley's south chimney.

In 1927, after lying empty for some years, it was bought by Vice-Admiral John William Leopold McClintock, son of Admiral Sir Francis L McClintock KCB, and grandfather of the present owner.

In 1939-45, it was requisitioned for military use.

IN the 1870s the grounds comprised 567 acres.

The wooded demesne at Redhall is laid out on an axial plan typical of sites dating from the 17th century.

The majority of such sites were subsequently altered during passing generations but the grounds at Redhall remain little altered in plan.

The house, enlarged from its 1627 origins, stands at the apex of straight avenues leading from north to south and from east to west.

There is an oak avenue, a lime avenue leading to the church of 1848 and a late 19th century Wellingtonia avenue (the latter is in addition to the axial plan mentioned above).

There has been continuous tree planting in the demesne including less formal areas around a glen and waterfall.

Atkinson, in Ireland Exhibited to England (1823), remarks on the beauty of the lawn and forest.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1839 state that,
About fifty acres are under ornamental plantings and shrubberies. Besides these are numerous judiciously disposed belts and clumps of plantings, which not only show to advantage beautifully diversified surfaces of the demesne, but exceedingly heighten the effect of the rich scenery of Larne Lough.
The demesne, on ground rising to the west from the lough, still enhances the area today.

Terraced lawns at the house are reminiscent of the Victorian era.

The walled garden is close to the house and is part cultivated with fruit trees.

There is a stone building, possibly built as a summer house.

The lodge on the Larne Road and a tower are both listed.

First published in December, 2010.

Monday, 27 June 2022

The Hamilton Baronetcy (1781)

JOHN HAMILTON, of Dullerton, County Tyrone, and jure uxoris of Manor Elieston (Donemana), married Sarah, daughter of Sir William Hamilton, of Manor Elieston, son of Sir Claud Hamilton, brother of James, 1st Earl of Abercorn, and son of Claud, 1st Lord Paisley, and was father of

JOHN HAMILTON, of Dunamanagh (Donemana), County Tyrone, had, with another daughter, wife of John Hamilton, of Hamilton's Grove, County Antrim, at least other three daughters and a son, viz.

WILLIAM HAMILTON (1708-62), of Dunamanagh, County Tyrone, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1735, MP for Strabane, 1733-62, who married, in 1735, Catherine, daughter of the Rev Dr George Leslie, of Ballyconnell House, County Cavan, and had issue,

JOHN STUART HAMILTON (c1740-1802), High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1764, MP for Strabane, 1763-97, who married Sarah, daughter of Frederick, 3rd Viscount Boyne.

Mr Hamilton was created a baronet in 1781, designated of Dunamanagh, County Tyrone.
Sir John was a member of the Dublin Society, 1769-76. His membership lapsed in 1777 but was renewed more than twenty years later in 1798. He was listed by the Society as a member in 1802-03, and deleted ca 1804.
It is thought that the following statement alludes to the 1st Baronet, Sir John Stuart Hamilton:
"When he was but nineteen he was unanimously elected one of the representatives in Parliament for Strabane, in which high and honourable station he behaved for upwards of thirty years with a conduct suitable to the great confidence reposed in him:"

"To his immortal honour he was one of those heroic patriots of Fabrician fortitude, who signalized themselves in so conspicuous a manner in the successful defence of the pass, which in 1753 was strenuously attempted to be forced, in order to overthrow the parliamentary constitution of this country; for which they were distinguished from their opponents by their wearing gold medals in memory of that glorious epoch:"

"And so sensible were his constituents of his singular merit and invariable principles in favour of his country, that at the late general election they unanimously re-elected him 
to represent them in parliament; the goodness and benevolence of his heart endeared him to all, and render his death universally lamented." 
"He is succeeded in his estate by John Hamilton, Esq., his eldest son and heir."
SIR JOHN CHARLES HAMILTON, 2nd Baronet, died in 1818, when the baronetcy expired. 

First published in January, 2011

Derryquin Castle



This family was originally seated in Yorkshire. The first who settled in Ireland was THE VERY REV JAMES BLAND, Archdeacon of Limerick and Dean of Ardfert. In a deed of sale registered in Wakefield, 1717, he is described as "of Killarney, County Kerry", and as disposing of his estates in Sedbergh, Yorkshire, to Richard Willen. Dr Bland was the son of John Bland, of Sedbergh, as proved by the records of St John's College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1684. He went to Ireland as Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Henry Sydney, Earl of Romney, in 1692.

Dr Bland wedded Lucy, eldest daughter of Sir Francis Brewster, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1674-5, by whom he had issue, and was father of the Rev Francis Bland (whose great-grandson, THE VEN NATHANIEL BLAND, Archdeacon of Aghadoe, was the head of the family); and of

NATHANIEL BLAND LL.D, Judge of the Prerogative Court of Dublin, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, who married firstly, Diana, only daughter and heiress of Nicholas Kemeys, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
He wedded secondly, Lucy, daughter of Francis Heaton, and had further issue,
Lucy; Hester; Dorothea.
Dr Bland was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE REV JAMES BLAND, of Derryquin Castle, who espoused firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Julian, and had issue,
Letitia; Diana; Maria; Elizabeth.
He married secondly, Barbara, daughter of _____ Nash.

The Rev James Bland was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS CHRISTOPHER BLAND, of Derryquin Castle, High Sheriff of County Kerry, 1806, who wedded, in 1798, Lucinda, daughter of Arthur Bastable Herbert, of Brewstersfield, near Killarney, by his wife Barbara, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, Knight of Kerry, and had issue,
Francis Christopher;
Elizabeth; Lucy; Frances Diana; Mary Matilda;
Christina Frances; Laetitia; Barbara; Laetitia; Clara Delinda.
Mr Bland died in 1838, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES FRANKLIN BLAND JP (1799-1863), of Derryquin Castle, High Sheriff of County Kerry, 1835, who espoused, in 1825, Emma, daughter of Major Joseph Taylor, of Dunkerron Castle, County Kerry, and had issue,
James Franklin;
Nathaniel Franklin;
Alice Phillis.
Mr Bland was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS CHRISTOPHER BLAND JP (1826-94), of Derryquin Castle, High Sheriff of County Kerry, 1859, who married, in 1849, Jane, daughter of the Rev Archibald Robert Hamilton, and had issue,
Archibald Robert Hamilton;
Francis Christpher Earle;
Richard Townsend Herbert;
Emma Alice; Jane Hamilton; Catherine Cotter;
Alice Phillis; Mary Evelyn.
Mr Bland was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES FRANKLIN BLAND (1850-1927),  late of Derryquin Castle, and of Drimina House, Sneem, County Kerry, who wedded, in 1873, Agnes Margaret, eldest daughter of Samuel Wilson Block, of 15, Talbot Square, Hyde Park, London, and had issue,
Archibald Franklin Wilson;
Godfrey Hamilton;
Agnes Emma; Evaleen Wilson; Ethel Hamilton.
Mr Bland was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS CHRISTOPHER CECIL BLAND (1875-1953), of Drimina House, who married, in 1904, Mary Green, daughter of Henry Albert Uprichard, and had issue,
Henry Archibald Forster.
Mr Bland was succeeded by his elder son,

JAMES FRANKLIN McMAHON BLAND (1905-84), of 14, Tullybrannigan Road, Newcastle, County Down, who married, in 1936, Jess Buchan, daughter of Major Harry Campbell Brodie, and had issue,
Godfrey Hamilton.
The elder son,


DERRYQUIN CASTLE, Sneem, County Kerry, was a Victorian pile of rough-hewn stone by James Franklin Fuller, built for the Bland family.

The main block was of three storeys, with a four-storey octagonal tower running through its centre.

The entrance door was at one end, flanked by a two-storey, part-curved wing.

There were rectangular, pointed and camber-headed windows; battlements, and machicolations.

The castle was eventually sold by the Blands to the Warden family.

In 1906, it was owned by Colonel Charles W Warden and valued at £70.

The Wardens resided there until it was burnt in 1922.

It was located in the grounds of what is now the Parknasilla Hotel, but the ruins were demolished in 1969.

In 1732, the Rev Dr Nathaniel Bland obtained his grant of the Parknasilla area, the grantors being described as 'Rt Hon Clotworthy, Lord Viscount Massareene, and Philip Doyne, with the consent of James Stopford.'

The link with these three gentlemen is Elizabeth Smyth.

Her father, the Rt Rev Edward Smyth, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor, married secondly, the Hon Mary Skeffington.

She was the daughter of Clothworthy, 3rd Viscount Massareene. Elizabeth married James Stopford in 1726.

In 1762, he was created Viscount Stopford and Earl of Courtown.

His sister, also Elizabeth Stopford, was the third wife of Philip Doyne.

The Rt Rev Richard Pococke, Lord Bishop of Ossory, visited the area in 1758.

He was an avid traveller who published accounts of his visits to the Middle East, Scotland and England.

The Bishop went in search of Dr Bland's house, which was a summer residence located between the Sneem River and the Owreagh River.

He found the house, known as 'The White House', abandoned by its owner, in favour of Parknasilla, a fine Georgian residence a little further east.

Nathaniel Bland's first wife Diana, was the daughter of Nicholas Kerneys or Kemis of County Wexford. They had two sons, John and Rev James.

It was to Rev James that Nathaniel left the bulk of his estate and we shall return to him presently.

John served in the army at Dettingen, Fontenoy and Clifton Moor.

Nathaniel's son Francis, by his second marriage, was a captain in the army and gave it up to become and actor in Thomas Sheridan's company in Dublin.

He fell in love with Grace Phillips, a Welsh actress, and married her in 1758.

They had several children. Grace was the daughter of the Rev Phillips of St. Thomas's Haverfordwest.

Nathaniel  died in 1760 just before the birth of Francis and Grace's child, a daughter, in 1761.

She was christened Dorothea and known as Dorothy, although she referred to herself as Dora and acquired a surfeit of names.

In 1774, Francis decided to leave Grace and his family and marry an heiress.

This time he chose the well-to-do Catherine Mahony from Kerry.

Dora became an actress and was also known by her stage name, Mrs Jordan. She was seduced by her actor manager in Dublin.

Shortly afterwards she became pregnant and fled to England and fell in love with Richard Ford , a handsome lawyer, who was knighted some years later.

She lived with Ford and had three children by him.

When he failed to do the decent thing and marry her, she left him.

She became mistress to William Henry, Duke of Clarence, 3rd son of George III in 1790. He became William IV upon the death of his brother George IV.

They lived together in Busy House in Teddington, near Hampton Court from 1797 until 1811, when he took a new mistress.

Their children, ten in total and all illegitimate, were known as the FitzClarences. The boys were ennobled, the eldest was created Earl of Munster.

The girls married well, viz. two earls, a viscount, the younger son of a duke and a general in the army.

The Duke pensioned Dora off. She was swindled out of money by a son-in-law.

When Nathaniel Bland died in 1760, his son, the Rev James Bland, inherited the estate. Derryquin Castle was probably built during his era.

His son, Francis Christopher Bland, married Lucinda Herbert in 1798.

His son, James Franklin Bland, was born in 1799. Under him the Derryquin estate witnessed its golden years and was self-supporting.

His sister Frances "Fanny" Diana married Thomas Harnett Fuller of Glasnacree and their son James Franklin Fuller was to become the architect of the new Parknasilla hotel in 1897.

James Franklin Bland was succeeded in turn by his son Francis Christopher.

This Francis Christopher joined the Plymouth Brethren.

He neglected his estate and devoted his energy to preaching.

Land agitation was rife in Ireland at this juncture and it was unfortunate that Bland decided to absent himself.

The estate inevitably went into rapid decline.

First published in September, 2012.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Albion Place, Belfast

Albion Place ca 1900 (Image: A R Hogg/NMNI)

Numbers 16-42 Bradbury Place, Belfast, formerly Albion Place, a terrace of three-storey, early Victorian houses, was built between 1832-48.

The first houses to be constructed had triangular pediments above the first-floor windows; with moulded surrounds at second-floor level.

One of which boasted a balustraded parapet and fluted urns.

The front gardens were all built over with single-storey shops about 1900.

The balustraded building to the left has been absorbed into Lavery's bar.

A section of the terrace was demolished in 1866 to make way for the railway line, leaving the site vacant. 

The original developer of the site, Martin Wallace, was living in Albion Place in 1880.

Marcus Patton, OBE, in his Central Belfast: A Historical Gazetteer, remarks that
"the southern end and the mid-terrace house at nos. 24-26 were demolished in 1990, which has effectively terminated the life of the terrace as a whole." 
"It is a great shame that the terrace was not developed from the rear, as separate access existed to the two-storey mews houses behind from Albion Lane."
30-44 Bradbury Place, 2022 (Timothy Ferres)

Incidentally, I visited Albion Lane in June, 2022, and it was in a deplorable state, with large council wheeled bins proliferating along the alley, and various obstructions along the entire length of the Lane.

Numbers 30-44 in the terrace were all demolished in 2021, in preparation for another block of student accommodation.

Finnebrogue Visit

Image © Finnebrogue House

In March, 2016, I was invited to see Finnebrogue House, the former seat of the PERCEVAL-MAXWELLS (until, I think, about 1969).

The owner knew of my interest in heritage and country houses and I'd already written about Finnebrogue prior to its admirable restoration.

Finnebrogue is located in a beautiful part of the County Down countryside, close to the river Quoile, near Downpatrick.

Main gate lodge ca 1900

The main entrance lodge of ca 1888 is built of red brick and is generous in size (for a gate lodge).

My main article about Finnebrogue can be seen HERE.

Old gate piers stand isolated in the garden of this lodge, adjacent to the main road.

J A K Dean, in his indispensable gazetteer, The Gate Lodges of Ulster, describes them thus:-
"Square in section, the big dressed sandstone pillars with plinths and full entablatures have breakfronts or pilasters on three faces, one forming a gate stop."
Driving slowly up the main drive, the big house emerges to one's right, slightly elevated on a slope.

Its surrounding demesne was the focus of an extensive late 17th century and early 18th century geometrically designed landscape.

This layout was focussed upon the house, which has a north-south axis view to Down Cathedral and Inch Parish Church.

A series of symmetrical enclosures, comprising courts, gardens and orchards, would have surrounded the building, including an entrance court on the north side.

The formal geometric layout was replaced by the present ‘naturalistic’ landscape park in the late 18th century.

Finnebrogue House was built in 1660 and is reputedly the oldest inhabited private residence in Northern Ireland.

It is built on an "H"-plan: a long, central block with wings projecting at the front and back.

It comprises two storeys over a basement, and the wings have attic storeys.

The interior dates mainly from 1795.

The owner gave me a complete tour of the house, which has been sympathetically and fully restored; including the old wooden flooring.

Image © Finnebrogue House

One striking feature is the colourful skylight above the main staircase which has several county family coats-of-arms; and the quartered armorial bearings of the Perceval-Maxwells, complete with supporters and crest.

Image © Finnebrogue House

Finnebrogue House remains a private house; it is, however, available for selected corporate & charity events by prior arrangement; and its period architecture also makes it suitable as a location for film and television.

First published in March, 2016.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Lighthouse Island: IV


The throne-room, otherwise known as loo-with-a-view, is situated half-way down a cliff, overlooking Mew Island.

For those who haven't been following the narrative, Lighthouse Island is one of the Copeland Islands, off the coast of County Down.

From the observatory at the top of this little island it takes about four minutes to get to the said convenience.

As the steps wind their way down the path, there is a wooden notice which is raised or lowered in order to alert users to the fact that this lavatory is otherwise engaged or not.

At the loo itself there is, helpfully, a second notice (Belt & Braces approach).

View from loo-with-a-view

This little cubicle has a half-door, open to the elements, where occupants can enjoy the most splendid prospect (above) of Mew Island.

I concur with Nick: Lawnmower Man needs to prune a bush which is obscuring the view somewhat [in 2012].

Next episode ... The Last Day.

First published in September, 2012.

Ballymenoch's Fate

The Belfast Newsletter reported on the 4th July, 1914:-


BALLYMENOCH HOUSE [Holywood, County Down], one of the largest and most stately mansions in Ulster, was totally gutted by fire yesterday. Between five and six o'clock yesterday morning it was discovered that the building was on fire. 
Although the brigade remained on the scene until half-past three yesterday afternoon, they were unable to do any effective work after the water supply failed; and when they left, the whole of the roof collapsed. 
About four o'clock, when the fire seemed to have spent itself, huge sheets of flame commenced to shoot up from the cellars, and burnt fiercely until everything of a combustible nature had been destroyed. 
No explanation can be given for the origin of the fire, but two copies of The Suffragette, the organ of the militant women, were found in the grounds, and on the windows of the conservatory, which are painted white, the words 'Votes for Women' had been written.

First published in June, 2020. 

Friday, 24 June 2022

New Vice Lord-Lieutenant


The Viscount Brookeborough, KG, Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh, with the approval of Her Majesty The Queen, has been pleased to appoint:-
Mrs Jane Styles DL
County Fermanagh
Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the said County, her Commission bearing date the 3rd day of July 2022

Lord-Lieutenant of the County

Cairndhu House

CAIRNDHU HOUSE, near Larne, County Antrim, was built for Mr Stewart Clark at some stage after 1878.
Mr Clark was a wealthy Scottish textile industrialist. He married Annie (daughter of John Smiley and sister of SIR HUGH HOUSTON SMILEY Bt). Their daughter Edith married Sir Thomas Dixon in 1906. 
Cairndhu comprises two storeys and many gables; though it's style is vaguely Oriental, given that it boasts ornate, openwork bargeboards and an elaborate wooden veranda and balcony running for most of the frontage.

The house was later extended, in 1897-8, to the designs of Samuel P Close.

A collection of small buildings were on the site, presumably a farm, which in 1857 was called Seaview, the property of Robert Agnew.

Mr Clark bought Seaview in 1878, and would appear to have rebuilt it rather than remodelled or extended it, as there is now no trace of any earlier buildings.

The architect of the initial phase of Clark's building may have been Mr Close.

Cairndhu was extended by Mr Clark at various times, the last time reportedly being in 1906.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Cairndhu in 1918.

They added the servants' dining hall.

In 1947, the Dixons donated the house and 162 acres of land to the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority. 


SIR THOMAS DIXON, 2nd Baronet, married Edith, youngest daughter of Mr Stewart Clark, of Dundas Castle, South Queensferry, Scotland, and Cairndhu, in 1906, at Dalmeny Church, South Queensferry.

Edith Clark was the sister of Sir John Stewart-Clark, 1st Baronet.

After their marriage, the Dixons lived for varying periods at Graymount House, Hillsborough Castle, Drumadarragh, Luttrelstown, and Lucan, before purchasing Lady Dixon’s childhood summer residence, Cairndhu.

The estate increased in size to nearly 500 acres when the adjoining properties of Droagh (formerly Sir Edward Coey’s estate) and Carnfunnock (William Chaine’s property) were purchased.

The Dixon family held many house and garden parties and entertained public dignitaries with grouse shooting in the Antrim Hills. 

More improvements were made to the house including the servants' dining hall.

The house was beautiful and Cairndhu had a large workforce, with 20 indoors staff, kitchen staff, ladies maids and upstairs staff .

Sir Thomas occupied his time with livestock farming, including a herd of dairy cows.

The farm office, stables and cattle byres were based at Hillhead Farm, now the clubhouse of Cairndhu Golf Club. 

Mr. Frank Brownlow was responsible for looking after the extensive herds of cattle and sheep at Carnfunnock, Cairndhu and hill land at Ballyboley.

He travelled to auctions all over Ireland to purchase cattle for Sir Thomas and managed the farm at Cairndhu. 

The land at Cairndhu was used for grazing cattle, mainly Shorthorns and Galloway cattle, which were bred for beef.

Two or three mornings per week they would inspect the cattle together and if Mr Brownlow pointed out to Sir Thomas that neighbouring farms were for sale, such as Droagh Farm, Sir Thomas would buy them and knock down hedges to have his fields extended for grazing. 

Sir Thomas often had his chauffeur, Sandy Moreland, drive him round the fields in his yellow and black Rolls-Royce to see his cattle, land stewards and head gardeners.

There were twenty-two gardeners and estate workers. 

In 1937, when Carnfunnock was merged with Cairndhu, Mr Brownlow was responsible for the management of the whole estate, which consisted of 500 acres.

In September, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Sir Thomas, as Mayor of Larne (1939-41), handed over his Larne residence for use as a War Hospital Supply Depot and organised the YMCA canteen at the harbour. 

Lady Dixon was president of the Ulster Fund and War Hospital Supply Depot for Serving Forces (Larne Depot) with donations requested in October 1939 to purchase necessary materials.

Sir Thomas provided his land, though he and Lady Dixon were able to live independently in Cairndhu without being affected.

The Carnfunnock walled garden grew cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables that were used in Cairndhu or taken to Lady Dixon’s friends and family. 

In 1940 Lady Dixon gave one of their three Rolls-Royces to be converted into an ambulance for first-aid parties to the Larne A.R.P. Ambulance Service.

In May, 1947, Sir Thomas celebrated his 79th birthday, and the occasion was marked by announcing a generous gift: After forty years at Cairndhu, the Dixons donated their 60-room family home, with 100 acres of the estate, to the Ministry of Health and Local Government for use as a convalescent home and hospital. 

At the time, Lady Dixon said that she was very sorry to be going away from the house that her father built: “It’s too big for us now, though. It was different in the days when we could entertain.”

Sir Thomas died on holiday at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on 10th May, 1950, aged 81.

His body was brought back on the Stranraer steam-boat en route to his last residence, Wilmont House in Dunmurry.

The funeral service was held at Belfast Cathedral before burial at Dundonald Cemetery.

His younger brother Herbert, who had already been elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Glentoran, succeeded him in the baronetcy.

At the time of Sir Thomas’s death, his effects were valued at over £389,000.

Cairndhu was officially opened as a convalescent hospital in 1950, but funding difficulties meant that, in 1986, it was closed down by the Department of Health and Social Services. 

In 1995, the Lord Rana purchased Cairndhu House and the surrounding gardens from the council.

A public consultation was held in 2018 over plans to develop the site of the derelict mansion into 'retirement village' facilities and a care home.


CAIRNDHU was originally built as a summer residence in 1875 on a beautiful site overlooking the sea, which hitherto had a small amount of planting around a former smaller house called Sea View.

The trees, forming an effective shelter-belt, date from the late 19th century.

The site benefited initially from the shelter-belts of the adjoining property, Carncastle Lodge (now Carnfunnock Country Park).

These adjacent sites are now both administered by Larne Borough Council.

Gardens developed round the house with steeply terraced lawns.

The grounds rise on a steep slope from sea level, east to west.

The productive gardens were to the west side of the house at the most elevated level.

Vestiges of these remain and some dilapidated glass-houses.

There are good specimens of mature trees, shrub planting and lawns.

The northern end is now a golf course.

First published in August, 2010.