Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Horse Island

I had a great day with seven other National Trust volunteers at Horse Island on the Ards Peninsula.

This island - really a peninsula - is almost two miles south of the village of Kircubbin, County Down.

Today we were uprooting ragwort and "strimming" rushes.

We picked two truck-loads of the ragwort.

The mechanical strimmer is a powerful implement, cutting through course vegetation like a hot knife through butter.

In the middle of the field there is a derelict cottage. It has two rooms.

The National Trust has erected a provisional iron roof on the building in order to prevent further deterioration.

Apparently it was last inhabited about fifty years ago.

Sir Arthur Chichester


I have unearthed this historical extract from a volume of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, which I personally find provides a fascinating insight:-
The intrinsic interest of this humorous narrative of the holiday excursion of a knot of English officers in Ulster in the last days of ELIZABETH I's reign derives an extrinsic attraction from the fact that its author was a brother of the famous founder of the Bodleian Library. 
Sir Josias Bodley (ca 1550-1617) was the youngest of Sir Thomas Bodley's four brothers. In March, 1604, he was knighted by Mountjoy. 
After the pacification of Ireland he was appointed to superintend the Castles of Ireland. 
In 1609 Bodley was selected to survey the Ulster Plantation, and in recognition of this work received the appointment of director-general of the fortifications of Ireland, a post which he held until his death. Bodley, who died in 1617, was buried at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
Sir Arthur Chichester, the founder of the fortunes and acquirer of the immense estates (though not the direct ancestor) of the Donegall family, is too well known in Irish history to need much notice here.

He was, at that time, Governor of Carrickfergus; and as Sergeant-Major of the army, somewhat similar to the rank of General, had command over the whole of the troops in Ulster; and had, accordingly, concentrated at Dungannon the troops under his own immediate command,

as well as those of the western parts of Ulster under the command of Sir Henry Dockwra (whose headquarters were at Derry, and under whose superintendence the walls and fortifications of that town were shortly afterwards erected) to drive Tyrone out of his fastnesses.

Choosing such a season of the year, to perform such a duty in such a locality, Sir Arthur proved himself as ignorant in strategy as he was subsequently pre-eminent in statesmanship;

and it is amusing to read the growlings of the rough old soldier, Dockwra, as given in his narrative, at being dragged across the country on such a fruitless expedition, and his despair on climbing a hill to view the woods of Glenconkeine*, spread far and wide before him,

without a road to penetrate or a guide to trust; besides having to ford a river which, if swollen by rain, would eventually cut off his retreat.

It reminds us of some of the difficulties we read of as attendant on the late Caffre war.

Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1604-5, and held that office for the long period of ten years, during which time he was created a peer [1st Baron Chichester].

He was then appointed Lord High Treasurer, and held that office till his death in 1625.

His monument is to be seen in Carrickfergus Church.

He died without issue and was succeeded by his brother.
*Glenconkeine - comprised parishes which included Desertmartin ... extended nearly from Dungannon to Dungiven. Dockwra says it was a wilderness of woods, ravines and mountains, extending 20 miles in length and 10 in breadth; and all the writers of that day agree that as a fastness it was almost impenetrable.
Traditions still exist amongst the mountains of Londonderry and Tyrone of the immense forests that filled their valleys; and of their being inaccessible from the total absence of roads.

Chichester arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dungiven Castle


This branch settled in Ulster at the time of the Plantation.

All the records of the family (originally Ogilvie) were destroyed by fire in Scotland in 1784.

The original residence was at Calhame, Aberdeenshire.

DR JOHN OGILVIE, of Aberdeen, who settled in Limavady, a great friend of the celebrated Bishop Burnetmarried Elizabeth Agnew, of the Scottish family of that name, who settled in County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who changed the spelling of the name from Ogilvie.

He married firstly, Ann Smith, and by her had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Mary Anne.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who wedded Mary, eldest daughter of James Alexander, of Limavady (whose family came originally from the shire of Clackmannan in Scotland), by his wife Elizabeth Ross, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Robert, of Pellipar;
David (Sir);
Leslie, of Strangemore;
Ann; Elizabeth; Mary; Jane.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN OGILBY, of Ardnargle, near Limavady, born in 1746, who married Jane, daughter of James Simpson, of Armagh, and had issue,
Alexander, dsp;
John, dsp;
JAMES, his heir;
David, dsp;
ROBERT LESLIE, of whom presently;
Ann; Jane; Mary.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his third son,

JAMES OGILBY, of Ardnargle, who espoused Bridget Rush, and dsp 1849.

Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT LESLIE OGILBY JP DL (1798-1872), of Ardnargle, High Sheriff, 1854, who married, in 1844, Elizabeth Matilda, daughter of Major William Henry Rainey, of the East India Company, and by her had issue,
John W H;
David Leslie;
Margaret Harriet; Jane Ann;
Elizabeth; Mary Isabella.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT ALEXANDER OGILBY JP DL (1850-1902), of Ardnargle, and Pellipar House, Dungiven; High Sheriff, 1887; Captain, 4th King's Own Regiment; served in Zulu War.

Under the will of his great-uncle, Robert Ogilby, he succeeded on the death of his cousin, James Ogilby, to the Limavady, Pellipar, Tyrone and Woolwich estates.

He married, in 1875, Helen Sarah, second daughter of the Rev George Bomford Wheeler, Rector of Ballysax, County Kildare, and had issue,
Ethel Maude; Mabel Norah;
Esther Gladys; Mildred Constance.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT JAMES LESLIE OGILBY DSO JP DL (1880-1964), of Ardnargle, Limavady, and Pellipar House, Dungiven, co. Londonderry.

Colonel Ogilby was a kinsman of both the Earl Alexander of Tunis and the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, through the line of the Alexanders of Limavady.

He was also brother-in-law of Brigadier-General George Delamain Crocker.
Colonel Ogilby entered the Army as a 2nd lieutenant, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards 1903-1905; a lieutenant, 2nd Life Guards; High Sheriff, 1911; 29 Aug 1914 joined the Special reserve Officers as lieutenant; 29 Feb 1915, captain (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards; 1916, Major and 2nd in Command of the 7th Norfolk Regiment; 1916, lieutenant-colonel commanding 2/114 London Regiment (London Scottish). He served with the British Expeditionary Force (dispatches London Gazette); served 1916-1919 in the war; Belgian Croix de Guerre, Star, 1914; DSO and bar, 1917.
The Woolwich estate was bought at public auction in 1812 by Robert Ogilby (younger brother of John Ogilby), who also leased, in 1803, the Skinners estate at Dungiven and lived at Pellipar House.

Ardnargle was not strictly, therefore, a dower house for Pellipar, although it was used as such when R A Ogilby (1850-1902) inherited both properties from 1885 onwards.
The Ogilby family has had a proud military tradition: Major Robert Alexander Ogilby married Sarah Wheeler, daughter of Rev George Bomford Wheeler, a founder of the Irish Times, TCD classic scholar and contributor to Dickens' magazine, "All Year Round"; a DL for County Londonderry; captain 4th King's Own Regiment; and took part in the Zulu war (1879, medal).
In 1902, Maurice Marcus McCausland, of Drenagh, married Eileen Leslie, daughter of R A Ogilby DL, of Pellipar.

DUNGIVEN CASTLE, Dungiven, County Londonderry, is largely a 19th century edifice.

It has a long, two-storey, battlemented front with a central polygonal tower; a pointed Gothic doorway and pointed window over.

Round towers are at each end. There are five bays on either side of the centre.

THE CASTLE was for centuries the residence of the O'Cahans.

In 1601, after the submission of Sir Donnell O'Cahan, the Government placed a garrison there, and Sir Henry Dockwra subsequently gave to Sir John Sidney (4th son of Sir Henry Sidney) a lease of the castle and adjoining lands.

In 1604, on the restoration of the Earl of Tyrone, a dispute arose as to the ownership of these lands; but on the flight of the Earls, the Government restored the garrison and placed Captain Edward Doddington in the castle as Constable or Lieutenant.

Sir Arthur Chichester stated that the principal places to be held and garrisoned within the County of Coleraine were the castles of Annagh, Limavady, Coleraine, and Dungiven, albeit most of them were ruinous and out of repair.

At the Plantation of Ulster, this part of County Londonderry in which Dungiven Castle was situated was granted to the Skinners' Company, and their grant from the Honourable the Irish Society was dated 1617.

Captain Doddington was knighted and continued to hold the castle and lands from the Skinners' Company.

In the survey by Captain Nicholas Pynnar in 1618, Lady Doddington, wife of the late Sir Edward Doddington, was in possession of the castle, having taken a grant of it from the Company for 61 years:
"Here is built a strong Castle, being two stories high and a half, with a large Bawn of Lyme and Stone well fortified. In this the Lady is now dwelling, with 24 in her Family."
On the expiry of Lady Doddington's lease, in 1696, the Skinners' Company devised the "Manor of Pellipar and the Castle, town, and land of Dungiven" to Edward Carey.

His son, Henry Carey, in 1742, got a new lease at a rent of £500 on payment of a penalty. The Careys lived in the old castle.

Robert Ogilby, in 1794, paid Mr Carey for his interest in the remainder of the lease, which expired in 1803, and Mr Ogilby then got a new lease from the Skinners' Company on payment of a fine.

The portion of the castle which was standing in 1838 was only one storey, and there are now no traces of the old castle, though the old bawn still remains.

In 1839, Robert Ogilby expended a very large sum of money in rebuilding the castle, and this building is the edifice now standing.

It is at the extremity of the town of Dungiven, and is most beautifully situated, facing south, possessing an extensive foreground with views of the entire chain of the surrounding mountains.

The external appearance is that of a castellated mansion with bastions, flanking towers, etc., with a facade of about 200 feet.

Internally, it was quite unfinished, and it was a matter of regret that it was not finished more in unison with its prepossessing exterior.

Robert Ogilby was bound under his lease from the Skinners' Company to repair, and to uphold and maintain the castle, but he preferred to make his residence at Pellipar.

The bawn has three sides, the present castle forming the fourth and south side, having entrance gateways on the north, east, and west sides.

The pond of water just outside the bawn adds to its picturesqueness.

There are three turrets on the walls, and along the walls are numbers of loopholes and apertures.

On the expiry of Robert Ogilby's lease in 1873, the lands reverted to the Skinners' Company; but in 1890, when the company sold their estates, the castle and grounds were purchased by Robert Alexander Ogilby JP DL, and were inherited by his son, Robert James Leslie Ogilby.

In 1902, Dungiven Castle was inherited by Robert James Leslie Ogilby, who lived in London.

The estate was sold in 1925.

The Castle was occupied by the US Army during the 2nd World War, and later used as a dance hall during the 1950s and 1960s.

Eventually Limavady Borough Council bought Dungiven Castle and thereafter decided to demolish it.

There was public opposition and, with the help of various funding bodies, enough money was finally secured to put the neglected building into good repair.

In March, 2001, Dungiven Castle was re-opened to provide budget accommodation.

In 2009, Dungiven Castle underwent a complete redevelopment and redecoration of the entire property.

First published in September, 2013.

The Smiley Baronets


WILLIAM SMAILLIE, of Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, who died in 1597, had a brother,

THOMAS SMAILLIE, of Braidsheilburne, Cambusnethan, born about 1554. Dying in 1627, he had two sons, of whom the younger,

THOMAS SMAILLIE, of Cambusnethan and later of Glasgow, married. His youngest son,

ROBERT SMAILLIE or SMILLIE, burgess of Glasgow, born 1619; who married and left a younger son,

ROBERT SMILLIE, of Skerry and Dunard, County Antrim; born 1645; died 1712, leaving issue,

SAMUEL SMILEY, who was father of

JOHN SMILEY, of Invermore, County Antrim; died about 1748. The elder son,

SAMUEL SMILEY, of Inver, County Antrim; born 1720; married and left issue,

JOHN SMILEY, whose youngest son,

JOHN SMILEY, of Larne, County Antrim, married and was succeeded by his second son,


THE SMILEYS were an old Ulster-Scots family. Thomas Smaillie (1554-1627) lived at Lanarkshire in Scotland.

His grandson, Robert Smaillie (1619-62) was Burgess of Glasgow.

Robert's son, also called Robert, moved to Ulster and lived at Dunard and Skerry in County Antrim, by which time the family surname was spelt Smiley.
Sir Hugh Houston Smiley, 1st Baronet, still had strong links with Scotland and he was a JP for both Renfrewshire and County Antrim; High Sheriff of County Antrim in 1899; and a Deputy Lieutenant.

Sir Hugh was principal proprietor of The Northern Whig, the offices of which were situated at 1-3 Waring Street in Belfast, now known as Commercial Buildings and dating from 1819-22.
Major Sir John Smiley (1876-1930), 2nd Baronet,
Lieutenant in the 4th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1900; was a Captain in the Northern Ireland Imperial Yeomanry; a Major in the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers); and fought in the 1st World War.
The 3rd Baronet, Sir Hugh Houston Smiley JP DL (1905-90), 
Fought in the 2nd World War; was educated at Eton and Sandhurst; was a Captain in the Grenadier Guards; a JP for Hampshire in 1952; High Sheriff of Hampshire in 1959; Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, 1962-73; and Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, 1973-82.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Philip Smiley (b 1934), 4th and present Baronet,
Educated at Eton and Sandhurst; fought in the Cyprus Campaign between 1958-59; was Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Bermuda, 1961-62; retired from the military in 1986, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, late of the Grenadier Guards; was with Russell Reynolds Associates between 1986-89. Sir John was elected to the Court of the Worshipful Company of Grocers 1987, and Master of the Grocers Company, 1992-93. 
He lived in 2003 at Cornerway House, Chobham, Surrey.

Entrance front

DRUMALIS HOUSE, Larne, County Antrim, is a rambling, two-storey, late Victorian or Edwardian mansion, dominated by a four-storey central tower and turret.

It has an eaved roof; camber-headed windows; a pillared porch; and a solid parapet on the tower and turret. 

By the middle of the 1920s it became clear to the ageing Lady Smiley that she would have to sell Drumalis.

None of her children had decided to make their lives in Larne but were settled in Scotland and England.

The religious order which was to occupy the house eventually did not do so immediately.

In the Larne of the time, the sale of one of the local ‘big houses’ to an order of nuns would have been unthinkable and so it was a more protracted process.

Garden front

The house was first sold in 1927 to a local developer, Mr William Crawford, who had started Ireland’s first ever Electric Light Company.

There was talk that he would build houses on the land but the house was sold again in 1929 to a Mrs Magill, the wife of a local JP; who then resold it within a year to the nuns of the Cross and Passion order - its present owners. 

THE SMILEYS came to Ulster as labourers from Lanarkshire in the 17th century and settled at Larne and Inver in 1720. 

By 1824, John Smiley was a clockmaker and, by 1872, Hugh Smiley was in a position to acquire the site of Drumalis hill and commence building a house there. 

It was his marriage to Elizabeth Kerr of Gaillowhill, Paisley in 1874 however, which provided the much more substantial wealth that would enlarge the house to its present size and make it the beautiful home it would become.
As only child and heir to a fortune from the manufacture of sewing thread, Elizabeth’s connection to her parents and to Scotland was to remain strong and to be written into the fabric of the house itself, most notably in the work of the Glasgow designer George Walton, who was commissioned to work on its interior.
By the time of Sir Hugh Smiley’s death, in 1909, it was clear that both house and family occupied a central place in the life of Larne - both as employers and through the benevolence and philanthropy of the family, who had by then built and endowed a cottage hospital in the town and much more.

Sir Hugh's Estate was valued at £96,230 in 1909 which, today, would equate to £8.5 million.

The gardens at Drumalis were developed round the house of 1872.

The site shows as barren on the OS map of 1858, which is not surprising as it is an elevated and exposed spot on a headland with sea on the eastern side. 

Shelter belts of trees planted around the house have been successful in protecting the gardens, which retain many original features and are a good example of a late Victorian layout. 

The house is surrounded by lawns, embanked by balustrading on the western and southern sides.

The latter is terraced with good stonework and hedges. 

Terraces lead to southern sloping lawns, where there is a rose garden. 

The original iron pergolas and supports survive. There is a recently restored rockery, which was probably once a fernery, and a pond. 

An extension for the present convent was built in the grounds ca 1960; land was sold in the 1930s; and recently more was lost by compulsory purchase, all of which reduced the area of the gardens. 

As it is a convent, it would be impossible to maintain the gardens in their original state but the grounds are well kept.

The attractive gate lodge on the Glenarm Road is listed. 

There is an extensive walled garden to the north of the house, which is rented out for use as a nursery garden.

Vestiges of an orchard exist to the east of the walled garden.

Other former seat ~ Great Oaks, Goring Heath, Oxfordshire; former town residence ~ 8 Hay Hill, Berkeley Square, London W1.

First published in August, 2010.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Mayoral Occupants

MY FASCINATION with the history of the city of Belfast's Rolls-Royce Phantom VI continues.

The following Lord Mayors enjoyed the privilege of being conveyed in that stately limousine:-

1966-69     William Duncan Geddis,
Studied at Skerries College in Belfast before becoming a clothing manufacturer; elected to the Belfast Corporation for the Ulster Unionist Party; Lord Mayor, 1966-69.
1969-72     Joseph Foster Cairns,
Managing director of a furniture retailer, and chairman of a development company; elected to the Belfast Corporation for the Ulster Unionist Party; Lord Mayor, 1969-71.
1972-75     Sir William Christie MBE JP,
Proprietor of a wallpaper company in Belfast; Lord Mayor, 1972-75. During this time his home and business were attacked several times, and his wife survived a gunshot to the head in 1972. 
His time in office coincided with the suspension of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and he was therefore the first Lord Mayor since John White in 1920 not to serve as an ex-officio member of the NI Senate. He retired in 1977.
1975-77     Sir Myles Humphreys JP DL,
Ulster Unionist Party politician, engineer and businessman; Lord Mayor, 1975-77; chaired the NI Police Authority for a decade. Sir Myles appears to have been the last Belfast Lord Mayor to be knighted.
1977-78     James Stewart.

1978-79     David Somerville Cook,
solicitor, eventually becoming a senior partner at Sheldon and Stewart Solicitors; founder member, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland; Belfast City Councillor, 1973-85. 
In 1978, he became the first non-unionist Lord Mayor since partition (the pro-home rule Liberal, William James Pirrie, having held the post in the 1890s); Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party, 1980-84. 
The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Down is presently Mrs Fionnuala Cook OBE DL.
First published in August, 2012. 

The Plain Loaf

Here is a loaf of bread which is a perennial favourite of mine: Irwin's Nutty Krust high-fibre plain bread.

It toasts very well indeed. I turn the toaster up several notches.

It does have a tendency occasionally to be misshapen upon purchase, which necessitates trimming the edges a little for insertion into the toaster.

No matter. The lucky birds get my crumbs.

The plain loaf  is a traditional Ulster-Scots style of loaf. It has a dark, well-fired crust on the top and bottom of the bread.

There is no crust on the sides due to the unbaked loaves being stuck together in batches, baked together then torn into individual loaves afterwards.

This style of bread does not fit well in most modern toasters due to the greater height of the loaf. This was once the more widely available style of loaf in comparison to the now more common pan loaf.

Irwin's bakery is based at Portadown in County Armagh.

First published in November, 2012.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Tynan Abbey

TYNAN ABBEY, County Armagh, was built in 1750 and enlarged in the Tudor-Gothic style around 1820-30.

It had an imposing two-storey entrance front, battlemented and pinnacled; a battlemented central tower and doorway too, with pointed Gothic windows.

Photo credit: Stuart Blakely

The Rt Hon Sir Norman Stronge, 8th Baronet, MC JP, and his only son, James, were murdered by the IRA in the Abbey, which was burnt to the ground, in 1981.

I have written about the Stronge Baronets elsewhere on this blog.

Photo credit: Stuart Blakely

Originally the estate extended to some 8,000 acres. 

The late Douglas Deane OBE recalled the 8th Baronet's passion for wildlife at Tynan Abbey:
He went to live and farm at Tynan Abbey in 1928 and always his interest was in wild things; often he told me about the wildfowl which visited the lake in winter; the groups of Bewick swans; the flocks of white-fronted geese...

...he showed me an incubating woodcock, hidden in a pool of brown leaves by the edge of the main drive at Tynan and told me that his gamekeeper had seen a woodcock carry one of its young, held between its legs, from an open patch in the woods in to cover; and many times had watched a woodcock feed its young in the same fashion as pigeons.

Every year Sir Norman would invite me to Tynan to see the azaleas in colour and the seas of bluebells in the woods and always there was talk of butterflies, painted ladies, peacock and the rest. Sir Norman was the envy of his friends, being an excellent shot.

He would often finish a day's shooting with close to 200 pigeons...his cousin, Sir Basil Brooke [1st Viscount Brookeborough], had the edge on him and always seemed to finish the day with more.
First published in September, 2013.