Friday, 31 August 2012

R L McCartney QC

I was getting a few groceries today - you know the sort of thing, gin, tonic-water, a few bananas - when, to my delight, I encountered the distinguished barrister, R L McCartney QC.

I grinned broadly, shook his hand and enquired as to his health, though I must say he looked well.

He intimated that he was enjoying his retirement.

Marble Hill House


This branch of the Burkes claims to be a scion from the house of Clanricarde; but more immediately connected with the Lords Brittas.

THOMAS BURKE, of Gortenacuppogue (now Marble Hill), died at an advanced age, in 1714.

During the civil wars, in the time of CHARLES I, and subsequently in the revolution of 1688, his predecessors and himself lost a considerable portion of their lands; but he still preserved the estate upon which he resided, and became the seat of the Burke baronets.

He married into the family of Tully, great landed proprietors in County Galway, and owners of the Garbally estate, in the possession of the Earl of Clancarty. The son of this Thomas,

JOHN BURKE, having married and acquired the estate of Killoran, died aged 80 and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS BURKE ESQ, of Marble Hill, who raised an infantry regiment at his own expense during the Napoleonic wars; and was created a baronet in 1797. The 1st Baronet died in 1813.

The 2nd and 3rd Baronets both sat as MPs for County Galway.

The 5th Baronet served as High Sheriff of County Galway in 1883.

The 7th Baronet was a Deputy Lieutenant of County Galway.

Three other members of the family may also be mentioned:

1  Charles Granby Burke (1814-98), 2nd son of 2nd Baronet; Master of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, 1852-82.

2   James Henry Burke (1816-82), 3rd son of the 2nd Baronet, major-general, Bombay Engineers; his son,

3  James Henry Thomas Joseph FitzGerald Burke (1853-1902), captain, Royal Navy.

Marble Hill House, near Loughrea, County Galway, was built ca 1775 for John Burke, and enlarged after 1813 by Sir John Burke, 2nd Baronet.

It was an exceptional country house prior to its destruction by fire in 1921.

Architectural quality and refinement are apparent in the design and detailing. The masonry was executed by skilled craftsmen, as is apparent in the detailing of the door-case.

It forms part of a group of demesne-related structures that includes the gate lodge, outbuildings, walled garden and ice-house.

The ivy-covered roofless ruin of the house, three-bay, three-storey, over a raised basement. It has a canted entrance bay to front (east) elevation, and two-storey return to rear.

Four-bay side elevations, with bowed bay to north side elevation, and with rear two bays of south projecting; moulded cornice; rubble limestone walls, with evidence of weather-slating to the west gable wall.

Square-headed window openings with stone sills and red brick surrounds; square-headed entrance doorway within pedimented carved limestone door-case, having channelled pilasters with plinths and moulded capitals.

Wrought-iron railings to entrance avenue.

The well designed range of outbuildings originally served the adjacent Marble Hill House.

The high-quality stonework suggests that it was a significant part of the former demesne and was possibly by the same architect responsible for the house. Some original sash windows and gates survive.

Marble Hill estate once incorporated a weigh station, forge and smokehouse that are no longer standing.

The ruin of the original house is an ivy-covered shell beside the remains of a courtyard which included a pigeon loft, carriage house, abattoir and worker accommodation.

The mansion house was equipped with running water and flushing toilets, which was the state of the art at the time.

The house also had a central heating system based on technology developed in Roman times, still visible today.

When the estate was in full operation, it had a full complement of blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, gardeners, an engineer, and a catholic priest who said mass in a specially-built private chapel in the house every morning.

Several generations of Burkes were raised at Marble Hill until the family departed in 1922 for their house in London due to the political climate in Ireland.

Several of the Burke gentry throughout the generations served at Westminster and government bodies up to the late 1800s, Ted Burke being the last to serve in political office.

At this point they concentrated solely on the land. The downfall of the Burke family began at this point as the only source of income for the once wealthy family was now rates paid by tenants.

By the early 1900s the estate was in decline and in severe financial difficulties. Burnt down in 1922 by the local IRA, the house burned for 4 days and 4 nights.

The only thing that remained was a complete window which had been bricked up in the blue room. The blue room was a child’s nursery.

After the tragic death of a young infant, the window was sealed as the residents believed the house to be haunted. It was locked and never opened until the house burned down.

Like most landowners, the Burkes were known to sympathise with HM Government, and Thomas Burke helped raise a military regiment, the Connaught Rangers, in 1793 to support England in its war with France.

Although the Burkes had already left for England, the house was burned during the time known as “The Troubles”.

Over the following years the estate was divided among tenants and families.

The original farmyard and store buildings were given to the estate’s herd (an unofficial vet who cured animal illnesses with natural remedies).

Some of the buildings in the courtyard were knocked and the stone sold by the land commission.

The main house itself was completely destroyed, but the servant’s quarters and gardens were intact, including a glasshouse that was operational until the 1970s.

The Rafferty family resided here until the 1990s. Kate Rafferty, the Burkes' former housekeeper, purchased the remaining estate, operating it as a guest-house for many years.

After her death, the house passed to her son and fell into disrepair. With no heirs, the ruin was eventually sold to a developer, whose plans have been halted by the current recession in 2012.

Man O' War

Intrepid swimmers in Ulster beware! I have read that the Portugese Man O' War was been spotted in waters off the Irish Republic.

I swam at Portballintrae, County Antrim, a few weeks ago.

The men-of-war, which look like jellyfish, can cause severe pain and in rare cases,can be fatal.

There is a risk that they may drift into Northern Ireland.

Portuguese men of war are about 30cm long and 13cm wide and it has tentacles that can reach 50m in length.

It is not a true jellyfish, but a floating colony of closely-related hydrozoans that normally live at the surface of the open ocean.

The colony floats from the bottom of an air-filled float, and has many long thin tentacles hanging below that it uses to catch fish.

A sting may lead to an allergic reaction. There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung function. Stings may also cause death, although this is extremely rare.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Hamilton Pumphouse

I was in Belfast city centre today, undertaking research on the Hayes, Style and Musgrave baronets.

These gentry were all major landowners in County Donegal during the Victorian era.

I've been in touch with the company BTW Shiells about Queen's Arcade in Belfast. They run it. I'm keen to write about the arcade's history since it opened in 1910. I was tempted to pop in to their GHQ in May Street, though resisted the urge.

At Sawers, College Street, two pretty girls dressed in period attire were offering samples of special cheese and white wine to patrons; so, never one to be behind in the race to the food trough, young Belmont made a bee-line for 'em and flirted a little, into the bargain.

One of them informed me that the Lord Mayor had visited the new premises earlier.

The restoration of SS Nomadic and the Hamilton dock is progressing well. I took a photograph (top) of what presumably is the pump-house beside the dock.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Burlington Sale

For those readers who aspire to be, or already are, hoteliers, The Burlington Hotel, Dublin, which changed hands for £228 million at the height of the property boom, is up for sale for a fraction of that price.

I haven't stayed in the Burlington since the early 1980s.

The four-star Burlington, one of Europe's biggest city centre hotels, was bought in 2007 by a consortium backed by Bernard McNamara from the Jurys Doyle hotel group for one of the highest prices for land in Dublin ever.

McNamara has since become one of the biggest casualties of the property crash.

The hotel, with 501 bedrooms and conference and banqueting facilities on a 3.8 acre site in the south of Dublin, is the second-biggest hotel in Ireland after Citywest in County Dublin.

Known as the 'Burlo' in Dublin, it was placed in receivership by Lloyds Banking Group in February along with two other hotels, which all continue to trade as normal. The Burlington is now back on the market for €65m-75m.

CBRE Hotels is handling the sale on behalf of Paul McCann of Grant Thornton, who was appointed receiver by Lloyds-owned Bank of Scotland (Ireland), one of McNamara's main lenders.

McNamara owes the bank about €200m.

The Burlington is expected to attract interest from the investment partners of international hotel chains such as the Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Crowne Plaza.

The landmark hotel, which opened in 1972 and briefly closed in January, 2008, is expected to change hands before Christmas, 2012.

Paul Collins of CBRE Hotels said the strong recovery of the Dublin hotel market had been "quite remarkable" since late 2010.

He added the Burlington "should appeal to many international hotel investors and the opportunity to acquire Ireland's most successful and best known hotel, is undoubtedly going to generate strong worldwide interest". 

This weekend the hotel is expected to accommodate almost 1,000 overnight guests for the US college football game between Notre Dame and Navy, an event which is bringing 35,000 American tourists to Dublin.

The hotel is estimated to have made profits of €5m-6m last year, with a large chunk coming from the conference space and banqueting hall, which can host 2,000 guests.

The room occupancy rate is running at about 70-75%.

The €65m-75m guide price equates to about €130,000-150,000 a room.

Hawthorne Lunch

I dashed over to Belfast's Boucher Road in the two-seater today, a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Nipping in to Lakeland, the kitchenware store, I was quick to notice free samples of Australian flavoured licorice. Scoffing a tiny sample, I favoured it and bagged a 500g bag.

It is made by a company called Ricci, and imported into the UK by Lakeland.

A new washing-up brush was needed, too, so I picked one up in the shop.

As regular readers will be aware, Timothy Belmont finds it extremely hard to resist the Hawthorne Restaurant at Fulton's.

Incidentally, the assistant in Lakeland apprised me that Fulton's will be closing down eventually. It has recently been hoped that a buyer might be found.

Having studied the fare on display behind the glass counter, I chose the Savoury Mince Tart, accompanied by a side salad and a good helping of coleslaw.

I invariably pour their delicious mustard dressing over the salad, as those eagle-eyed readers might discern from the photograph.

The tart was sublime. The old nose-bag was working overtime. If this place does close down, I shall greatly miss my trips to the Hawthorne.

After lunch, I passed Isaac Agnew's Mercedes showroom and admired the vehicular metal therein.

Portglenone House


JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eredy, County Donegal, in 1610, (lands he rented from Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock, Ayrshire, who had acquired them on condition that he did not 'alienate the premises to no mere Irishman or any other person unless he or they first take the Oath of Supremacy'), was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE REV ANDREW (John) ALEXANDER DD, of Eredy, a Presbyterian minister, who married Dorothea, daughter of Rev James Caulfeild. Dying ca 1641, his only child,

CAPTAIN ANDREW ALEXANDER, married twice. In 1666 he was granted the lands of Ballyclose, near Limavady, by Sir Thomas Phillips, Governor of Culmore Fort. In 1689 he was attainted by JAMES II's parliament in Dublin. His 2nd son,

JOHN ALEXANDER, married and died in 1747. His 2nd son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock. He was an alderman of Londonderry in 1755. His 4th son,

ROBERT ALEXANDER, (1722-90)  married Anne, daughter of Henry McCullogh, in 1759.

This gentleman lived at Boom Hall, County Londonderry (so named because of its proximity to where the boom was placed during the siege). His eldest son,

THE RT REV AND RT HON NATHANIEL ALEXANDER DD (1760-1840), of Portglenone House; nephew of James, 1st Earl of Caledon; married Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Richard Jackson MP, of Coleraine, in 1785.

This divine was Lord Bishop of Meath. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge.

Bishop Alexander, a privy counsellor, lived at Portglenone House, County Antrim, which he built, and took up residence there. His 2nd son,

THE VEN ROBERT ALEXANDER DD (1788-1840), Archdeacon of Down; married, firstly, Catherine, daughter of Rt Hon John Staples and Hon Henrietta Molesworth, in 1813.

Dr Alexander married, secondly, Hester Helena, daughter of Colonel Alexander McManus, in 1837. There were no children of the second marriage. His eldest son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER MP for County Antrim (1815-53), extended Portglenone House. He had issue, two sons,

ROBERT JACKSON ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House, (1843-84), High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1870; and of County Antrim, 1875.

LIEUTENANT JOHN STAPLES ALEXANDER JP DL RN, of Portglenone House (1844-1901).

A cousin of the above,

MAJOR ROBERT CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House, (1900-68), son of Robert Arthur Moloney Alexander, succeeded to the estate.

Major Alexander married Laura Ina Madeline, daughter of Edward Fraser Lenox-Conyngham, in 1933; was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; High Sheriff in 1938.

He fought during the Second World War in the Irish Guards. Major Alexander died without issue.

Portglenone House comprises a square, late-Georgian block of three storeys over a basement. It was built in 1823 by the Rt Rev Nathaniel Alexander.

The house has a three-bay front, the central bay being recessed. There is a fine classical hall, with a screen of columns separating it from the corridor and stairs.

The columns, subtle mushroom pink marble, have stone capitals of Adam's "Dioclesian" order. They were originally at Ballyscullion, along with some the the house's chimney-pieces.

In 1850, a wing was added by Nathaniel Alexander MP, containing a new staircase lit by a stained-glass dome. The entrance front was also given a large porch and Ionic porte-cochere.

The main rooms were enhanced with cornices and heavy moulded door-cases in the form of aedicules.

Portglenone House was sold by Major Alexander in 1948 and is now part of Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, run as a guest-house.

"The guest house provides for those who wish to make private retreats, and can cater for groups who seek to make days of recollection.  As such, it does not function as a B&B, nor as a half-board hotel.  Guests are encouraged to enter into the silence and solitude which characterize the monastic life in this place, and to take the opportunity for spiritual renewal which is offered."

Portglenone House is set in parkland by the River Bann. An earlier house in the vicinity is recorded.

The present house is now part of the Abbey, which also has further buildings added from 1962 in the grounds. This includes the Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey ,which was built in 1948 to the designs of Patrick Murray.

Part of the gardens are private for the monks (the walled garden); parts are ornamental grounds for the Abbey; and parts are cultivated for organic vegetables.

There are mature trees in the remnants of former parkland, an ice house, the Bishop’s Well and two 19th century gate lodges.

Within the walls, part of the demesne is administered by DANI as a forest, which was planted from the 1950s. There is public access and paths are laid out.

In a glade in the forest there is a commemorative plot to Augustine Henry, who was reputedly born nearby.

It was laid out in 1969 with examples of some of the plants that he discovered or introduced from the far east.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bangor Castle


THE HON ROBERT WARD, born in 1754, was a younger son of Bernard, 1st Viscount Bangor.

He married, firstly, Sophia Frances, daughter of Richard Chapel Whaley, in 1782; and secondly, Louisa Jane, daughter of Rev Abraham Symes, in 1797.

He was a colonel in the South Down Militia. His eldest son and heir,

MICHAEL EDWARD WARD ESQ, (1789-1815) married Lady Matilda, daughter of Robert, 1st Marquess of Londonderry and Lady Frances Pratt, in 1815; Minister Plenipotentiary to Dresden. His only son,

ROBERT EDWARD WARD JP DL (1818-1904), of Bangor Castle, married Harriette, daughter of the Rev and Hon Henry Ward and Anne Mahon, in 1857; lieutenant in the 10th Hussars. His only child,

MATILDA CATHERINE MAUDE WARD (1858-1914), born at 29 Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, London; married John George Barry Bingham, 5th Baron Clanmorris, in 1878, at Bangor, County Down.

Lord Clanmorris died at Bangor Castle in November, 1916, aged 64. Lady Clanmorris died at Bangor Castle in February, 1941, aged 82.

BANGOR CASTLE, County Down, was built in 1847 for Robert Edward Ward.

It has mullioned windows, oriels crested with strap-work, and steep gables with finials. At one end there is a battlemented tower with a pyramidal-roofed clock turret; and partly curved quoins.

The grounds are an important, designed landscape with early 17th century origins. The old demesne contained a succession of manorial houses, all on different sites, and each associated with different landscape phases.

The first and earliest house, a gable-ended two storey block, was built by Sir James Hamilton, 1st Viscount Claneboye, ca 1615 and is depicted on Raven’s 1625 Clandeboye Estate map, complete with its associated formal gardens.

This house lay immediately south-east of the present mansion and traces of its associated gardens can still be traced in the park on the east side; these incorporate a number of surviving contemporary yews, including the stump of ‘Schomberg’s Tree’.

These gardens were described by Harris in 1744 in his "The Ancient & Present State of the County of Down" as being 
‘filled with noble evergreens of a great size, cut in various shapes, among which is an evergreen oak, which, though it grows as a shrub in most other places here is a tall tree, and of considerable girth’.

Loudon, writing in 1844, noted that in 1835 there was a large mulberry tree here, probably also of early date.

The house started to fall into decay by at least the 1720s. It was still present in 1752, when Pococke described it as
‘very indifferent’ and noted that in the grounds ‘the spruce fir, the ilex, bays, hollies & other evergreens , planted at first chiefly in the flower garden are grown to be very fine forest trees’.

Luckombe considered it a ‘low moderate structure’ in 1779; but in the 1790s it had been replaced by a ‘very elegant house’, located on a new site just north of the present mansion.

Built by Michael Edward Ward (1789-1832), son of Robert Ward and grandson of 1st Viscount Bangor, this new house (second mansion) was in the Gothic style with a square plan and narrow east wing; and with detached offices further east down-slope.

This building and its surrounding contemporary landscape park are depicted in an engraving dated 1832 in Proctor’s "Belfast Scenery in Thirty Views"; this shows that the house had crenellated parapets, with a mixture of pointed and square-headed windows with hood mouldings and octagonal corner turrets, the main entrance apparently lying on the north side.

The mansion was flanked by park lawns dotted with clumps and isolated trees, all enclosed with screens, belts and woodlands, the whole boasting fine views over Belfast Lough.

In 1847-52 an Elizabethan-Revival style house, the third and present mansion, of Ayrshire sandstone, was built to designs of the prolific Scottish architect William Burn for Robert Edward Ward (1818-1904).

His father’s Gothic mansion, which lay a short distance to the north, was demolished in 1853 once the new house had been completed.

The new house was flanked by formal, terraced gardens with balustrades, especially on the north side; and these at one time boasted colourful parterres in the fashion of the age.

An adjacent stable block, which is incorporated into the house, but built in a more serious medieval style, may be the work of Anthony Salvin, the great English architect.

This stable range is now home of the heritage centre.

Salvin may have also been responsible for the Home Farm buildings (ca 1850-2) and both the Abbey Street Gate Lodge (c.1852) and the Castle Street Gate Lodge (c.1852).

Contemporary with these is the walled garden, lying on high ground a short distance west of the Home Farm building: it has a rectangular plan and its high enclosing walls are built in Bangor clay brick (save only the outside of the north wall).

The garden is subdivided by an east-west wall into two areas; a vinery lay on the south- facing wall in the north sector, but most of the glass-houses' ranges lay in the north sector, including peach houses.

Until recent years this area was used by the Council for propagation. There was a fernery on the north outside wall of the garden; presently this is breeze-blocked to prevent vandals gaining access (accessible from the potting shed).

In the area between the walled garden and the house there is an arboretum, begun in the 1840s and stocked with specimens brought by members of the family serving in various parts of the British Empire.

These trees are protected by older mature parkland trees.

Mitchell, in A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe, 1974, remarks on the fine Monterey Pines and Blue-gums here.

Elsewhere older parkland trees survive. This grassed area south of the house contains a small rockery, family memorials and paths, including ‘My Lady’s Walk’.

Following the death of Lady Clanmorris (Robert Edward’s daughter and heiress in 1941), the property was sold to Bangor Borough Council.

Bangor Castle became the Town Hall in 1952 and the grounds opened to the public as Castle Park.

It is a vast house, with simulated battlements and a crenellated tower with clock and flagstaff, from which could be flown a standard when the family were in residence.

The castle, with its thirty-five bedrooms, huge saloon, entrance halls, with drawing room, library, study, servants' quarters and stables, cost all of £9,000 (almost £1 million in 2011).

Over the main staircase, a vast, stained-glass window pictured the ancestry of the Wards stretching back to EDWARD III.

When Bangor Borough Council acquired the castle and grounds, the music saloon became the council chamber.

For further reading, the Ward Papers are deposited at the PRONI.

The first Council meeting was held there almost exactly 100 years after the building - now known as the town hall - was first completed.

The successor to Bangor Borough Council, North Down Borough Council, now sits at the Castle.

Situated in Castle Park, the gardens have won many awards for their outstanding blooms.

Ward Park was leased from the Ward family as a public park from 1909. It was designed by Cheal’s Nurseries, who won a competition to plan the layout. It is formal and includes a First World War Memorial. 

The Walled Garden has opened to the general public after major restoration by the council's Parks Department.

First published in February, 2011.

Milverton Hall


JOHN WOODS, of Yorkshire ancestry, who went to Ireland on military service at the time of the Revolution, had issue,

THOMAS WOODS, of Dunshaughlin, County Meath, and of the city of Dublin. His descendant,

GEORGE WOODS JP, of Milverton Hall, County Dublin, was High Sheriff, 1821-22. His only suviving son,

HANS HAMILTON WOODS JP DL, of Whitestown House, and of Milverton Hall, High Sheriff of Dublin, 1854, was succeeded by his son, 

EDWARD HAMILTON WOODS JP DL, High Sheriff of Dublin (1883-1910); late lieutenant, Royal Meath Militia.

When Edward Hamilton Woods died in 1910, the estate passed to Edward George Woods and his wife Senta.
George Woods was evidently very eligible as far as Hans Hamilton was concerned. Not only did he give him a daughter in marriage, but he also gave him the lease to Milverton Estate 'for lives renewable forever'. 
George Woods died at Milverton in 1879, aged 90. His son, Hans Hamilton Woods, only outlived his father by a year and his grandson, Edward Hamilton Woods, succeeded.

The Woods estates were at their largest in 1880, comprising some 30,000 acres in Dublin, Meath and Kildare.

Edward brought forward plans to rebuild Milverton Hall and decided to knock the old house and build a new one on the site. The new, Italianate Milverton Hall was built in two years, to the designs of the architect, Rawson Carroll, and cost over £16,000.

A very impressive house was built and the Woods family continued to live there until the 1950s.

The Wentges family then came to Milverton through marriage, and they have managed the estate for the past 40 years. The Wentges built a modern dwelling in the 1960s.

When Edward Woods died, death duties ensued with a tax bill. Robert and Rosemary Wentges were faced with difficult times and decisions; and, in the interests of saving the estate, they knocked down the old house in 1961, building the present home on the same site.

From then on the family, including Michael Wentges, have expended considerable effort in maintaining the demesne, planting twelve acres of woodland and forming a new lake for a wildlife habitat.

The planting began in 1961 and has carried on in such idyllic locations as Shady lane Wood, Foxes Hole Wood, Sophie’s Wood, Grange, Rosemary’s Wood, Balcunnin, Hill of Ardla and Hannah’s Wood.

The present family attachment at Milverton spans three centuries, a quite remarkable feat when one considers the likes of the estates at Ardgillan and Newbridge House, as well as Malahide, which have long since been taken over by local councils.

However, the very nature of the people behind Milverton House suggests their love of the place will never die and their hold on it will always remain in some form.

MILVERTON HALL, near Skerries, County Dublin, was a 19th century house in the Italianate-French Chateau style, of two storeys over a basement and with a dormered attic in the mansard roof.

The entrance front had three centre bays recessed between one-bay projections; a deep, single-storey, balustraded Doric portico; five-bay side elevation.

Milverton's history is closely associated with the Priory of St Patrick at Holmpatrick until its dissolution in 1537. The monastic estate, including Milverton, became the property of HENRY VIII and was sold on to Mr John Parker.

The next ownership record we have is that of Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam of Baggotrath and Merrion, and next Mr James Fullerton, who in 1608 sold it to Donough O'Brien, Earl of Thomond.

The land was leased then to a captain Nicholas Coddington and was held by him at the time of the1659 census.

It remained in the Coddington family until 1721 when the Earl of Thomond sold the estate to Hans Hamilton.

This estate has been maintained and managed very well by all the owners. Over the years thousands of trees have been planted. There are three small lakes on the land, wetlands, wildlife habitats and an equestrian centre.

Part of the farm at Ardla has been given over to the local council and a new graveyard developed there to supplement the ancient Holmpatrick cemetery.

The present demesne comprises some 437 acres, and there has been a planning proposal to develop two golf courses, a golf club house, tennis academy, putting and practice ranges, a hotel comprising 250 bedroom and suites; and 50 houses.

As of today, Milverton demesne retains many of the features of an old demesne landscape: gate lodges at entry points, mature trees as shelter belts, woodland belts within the demesne to act as cover and shelter, a historic core containing ornamental tree species which suggests the remains of ornamental gardens.

In addition, the site included the remains of an early church site and graveyard, which are listed as a recorded monument.

Together with the adjoining Ardgillan Demesne, Milverton and its woodland forms a substantial block of mature trees when viewed from Skerries and the coast.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Visitor Numbers

Visitor numbers have reached 900,000 since the blog began in December, 2007.

It is expected that the number of hits shall exceed one million by the end of 2012.

House of Dobbs



This family was established in Ulster by  

JOHN DOBBS, who accompanied Sir Henry Dockwra to the province in 1596, and was subsequently his deputy as Treasurer for Ulster.

This gentleman married, in 1603, Margaret, only child of John Dalway, of Ballyhill, and by her had two sons, Foulk, who was lost, with his father, in returning from England; and

HERCULES DOBBS, who succeeded to his father's property. He married Magdalen West, of Ballydugan, County Down, and left an only son,

RICHARD DOBBS, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1664. This gentleman left his estate to his younger son,

RICHARD DOBBS, of Castletown, born 1660, who married and was succeeded by his heir,

ARTHUR DOBBS, born 1689, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1720, and for many years MP for Carrickfergus.


Mr Dobbs, who was appointed Engineer and Surveyor-General of Ireland, by Sir Robert Walpole, was, 1753, sent out as Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired large possessions, including 400,000 acres in the colony. 

It is, perhaps, a matter of some curiosity that Arthur Dobbs was not elevated to the peerage or, indeed, the baronetage, for his services. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS, of Castle Dobbs, MP  for Carrickfergus, and High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1752. Mr Dobbs died in 1811 and was succeeded by his heir,

RICHARD DOBBS, of Castle Dobbs. His eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS JP DL, born in 1796, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1841; MP for Carrickfergus, 1832. He married and was succeeded by his heir,

MONTAGU WILLIAM EDWARD DOBBS JP DL MA, of Castle Dobbs, born in 1844. High Sheriff for County Kildare, 1871, and for County Antrim, 1888. Barrister. Following his decease in 1906, Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his cousin,

ARCHIBALD EDWARD DOBBS JP MA, of Castle Dobbs, born in 1838, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1909; barrister. His eldest son,

ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS DL BA, born in 1876; lieutenant, Harwich Division, Royal Engineers Militia; captain, Antrim Royal Garrison Artillery; major, Howitzer Battery. He fought in the First World War, where he was mentioned in despatches. High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1921;  Member of the NI Senate, 1929-33 and 1937.

Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his only son,

SIR RICHARD ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS KCVO JP BA, educated at Eton; fought in the Second World War; temporary captain, the Irish Guards (Supp Reserve); was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1947 entitled to practice as a barrister.

Sir Richard (right) was a judge of the Circuit Court, 1951-55, Midland Circuit; Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, 1959-94; subsequently appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

He had five children:-

1  Richard Francis Andrew Dobbs, b 1955; married Lady Jane Alexander, sister of 7th Earl of Caledon, 1990; divorced in 1999 and had issue, three daughters.   

2  Nigel Christopher Dobbs b 1957; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 2009.

3  Matthew Frederick Dobbs b 1959; Fund Manager, Shroders, 2012.

4  Sophia Carola Dobbs b 1965

5  Nicholas Arthur Montagu Dobbs b 1973; Director, Wealth Management, Cazenove Capital, 2012.


In 1610, John Dobbs built a "fair" castle at Kilroot,, two miles north of Carrickfergus, called Castle Dobbs, where he also built a stone bawn. The castle was built upon "Ensign Dalway's land."

This castle was still standing, though ruinous, in Richard Dobbs' time (grandson of aforesaid John Dobbs), 1683.

The present mansion was built for Arthur Dobbs, Governor of North Carolina and possessor of 400,000 acres in that state.


It is a large, Palladian-style seven-bay, two-storey house with a high basement. The two wings consist of five bays, two storeys, and are linked to the main block by pairs of lunette windows.

The garden front boasts thirty-three windows, though has no doors or french windows at all.


The entrance front, beyond which runs the River Kilroot below a steep bank, has a remarkable double staircase of red stone, leading to a veranda, with Ionic columns, and the main door of the house.

Despite its elegance and grandeur, Castle Dobbs, old Castle Dobbs and the demesne remain very much a private estate, little known though of considerable importance in County Antrim and, indeed, Northern Ireland.

The extent of the estate is estimated to be five or six hundred acres. The River Kilroot, which runs though the park, is a major feature. There is a pheasantry.

The image above shows the side elevation of the house from the garden front. The persons are unknown to me.

Commander Richard Conway Dobbs MP RN inherited an estate comprising 7,921 acres in County Kildare, thought to be Donadea, through his daughter Alicia's marriage to Sir Gerald Aylmer Bt.

I have endeavoured to obtain colour images of Castle Dobbs though my requests were declined. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Mayoral Occupants


1966-69     William Duncan Geddis 

Geddis studied at Skerries College in Belfast before becoming a clothing manufacturer. He was elected to the Belfast Corporation for the Ulster Unionist Party and served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1966-69.

1969-72     Joseph Foster Cairns

Cairns was the managing director of a furniture retailer, and chairman of a development company. He was elected to the Belfast Corporation for the Ulster Unionist Party, and served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1969-71.

1972-75     Sir William Christie MBE JP 

Christie was an Ulster Unionist politician who served as Lord Mayor of Belfast.The owner of a wallpaper company in Belfast, Christie was Lord Mayor between 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, and the UUP vote dropped more than 3,000 votes. Amongst two UUP councillors elected to replace him was the future Lord Mayor, Billy Bell.

1975-77     Sir Myles Humphreys JP DL

Humphreys was an Ulster Unionist Party politician and activist, engineer and businessman. He served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1975-77, and later chaired the NI Police Authority for a decade. Sir Myles appears to have been the last Belfast Lord Mayor to be knighted to date.

1977-78     James Stewart

1978-79     David Cook  

Cook has worked as a solicitor, eventually becoming a senior partner at Sheldon and Stewart Solicitors. In 1970, he was a founder member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland; Belfast City Councillor,1973-85. 

In 1978, he became the first non-unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast since partition (the pro-home rule Liberal, William James Pirrie, having held the post in the 1890s). From 1980-84, Cook served as the Deputy Leader of APNI.

The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Down is presently Mrs Fionnuala Cook OBE DL.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cullintraw Revisited

Timothy Belmont was working up a porcine sweat today at Cullintraw, fourteen acres of land belonging to the National Trust, between Comber and Castle Espie in County Down.

There were a mere six of us today, though we got the task accomplished.

We completed the rush-cutting and made larger stacks.

At lunchtime I handed round a box of mini chocolate-chip muffins. Apart from that little indulgence, I had a banana, clementine, apple and some strawberries; washed down with tea.

After lunch some of us dug a trench at the edge of the field.

The blackberry season is almost upon us! I sampled a few ripe ones in the hedgerows, and they were juicy and sweet.

Titanic II

You'd be forgiven for thinking it is the name of a film; it is actually a replica of RMS Titanic, the ill-fated ocean liner.

The BBC in Australia reports that one of the world's richest men, Clive Palmer, intends to bring this pipe-dream to reality.

"It will be 98% the same," says Mr Palmer. "The only difference will be an extra deck, to give the bridge greater visibility over the bow, which the original didn't have - very much to its cost."

Titanic II will also be 4m wider, to meet international safety standards on stability.

Apart from that it will be virtually identical to the original, with a few minor concessions to modernity, and it will have "more than enough" lifeboats.

"In fact all the life boats will have been tested by the oil industry and can survive in an open ocean with their hooded canopies and navigation equipment," he says.

"We will also have replica lifeboats, just like the Titanic's originals, but they'll largely be for show".

"We've obtained copies of the actual original plans," he says, with evident pride.

"It's incredible that no one has done this before. In the past, others have put forward plans for gigantic cruise ships masquerading as a replica Titanic," says Mr Palmer.

"They would never have worked, as they weren't identical to the original in size, or spirit. Mine will be."
Replica plates and decor of the Titanic

He is reluctant to put an overall cost on his venture, but it is unlikely to threaten his fortune, estimated to lie between A$8-15bn ($8.4-15.7bn, £5.2bn-9.9bn), amassed first through real estate and then in extensive mining interests.

"We've already had 45,000 people expressing an interest in travelling on Titanic II," he says.

A design team is at work in Europe and a Chinese ship yard that Clive Palmer uses to build his merchant vessels is being readied to take on the construction.

The vessel will have three passenger classes, like the original.

The cabins will also be near-replicas, though with some additions such as air-conditioning and the internet.

Each cabin will also have a little wooden cabinet. "In each one, there'll be a photo of the person who sailed in that cabin on the Titanic. It also tells you whether they lived or died," he says.

But he says care is being taken not to Disney-fy the experience.

"It is a replica, to give people the chance to live through what the ship was intended for, not to become a fairground ride."

It begs another question - why does he want to build a replica of the Titanic?

"Because I can," comes the reply. He sees it as "paying homage to the men and women who built her and to those who lost their lives sailing on her".

Paul Syvret, the associate editor of Brisbane's Courier Mail who has covered Clive Palmer for years, describes him as "larger than life".

"He's a hero to many people here, embodying Queensland's frontier mentality. He's a maverick who likes to do ambitious things."

But he is not sure whether Mr Palmer's project will come to fruition.

"The short answer is, we don't really know if he's going to build the Titanic. We're still coming to terms with his claim [made in March] that the CIA is backing green groups in a bid to kill the Australian coal mining industry."

Clive Palmer later distanced himself from his own comments, but the story dovetails with the view of some cynics - that he is adept at hoisting flags up poles, only to run them down later, sheepishly and quietly, when the cameras have been switched off.

"Look," says Paul Syvret, "When it comes to the Titanic, he's Clive Palmer and he might just do it."

The man himself appears to have no doubts, insisting Titanic II will be launched in 2016, with Titanics III and IV possibly to follow.

This charming mining magnate may be attracting a lot of doubters over what may be the most extravagant voyage of maritime nostalgia ever embarked on but, at 58, he sees it in much more manageable terms.

"Most people of my age and means either want to retire or build a boat. I'm going to build a boat.

Night in Town

I've had a great evening in Belfast. Having indulged in several snifters at a city centre bar, I walked over to Bedford Street, to the Ulster Hall, where I enjoyed a BBC Invitation Concert, produced for BBC Radio 3.

The conductor was the excellent Howard Shelley OBE. Works by Sibelius and Vaughan Williams featured. The Ulster Orchestra is such a wonderful establishment.

After the concert, I jumped into a cab and went to a charity "do" at the Belfast MAC, which is located behind Belfast Cathedral.

A jazzy quartet ~ or was it a quintet? ~ played for us. My cousin once removed, Michael, played percussion; and his girlfriend, Jess, sang. How marvellous.

I told Jess that we must sing a duet!

Paul and my cousin Alison very kindly gave me a lift home.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Mayoral Rolls-Royce

This stately Rolls-Royce Phantom VI was used for official business by lord mayors of Belfast between 1968-78. It was purchased new by Belfast Corporation for the use of the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor.

The traditional navy blue colour is still on the bonnet, roof and boot, though elsewhere it has been re-painted. Its original registration number was 1 WZ.

I am of the opinion that the Council should have kept the car and continued to use it. It could even have been converted to run on bio-fuel.

First off the production line: 1969 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine. Coachwork by H J Mulliner, Park Ward. Registration number WVO 338G. Chassis number PRH4108. Engine number 4108. Sold for £36,700, including premium.


Rolls-Royce’'s in-house coach-builder Park Ward Limited (later H J Mulliner, Park Ward) produced what was, in effect, the ‘standard’ seven-passenger limousine coachwork for the Phantom V.

This timeless design would survive until 1990, being built in near-identical Phantom VI form from 1968, when separate air conditioning for front and rear compartments was standardised alongside the Silver Shadow-specification 6,230cc V8 engine.

The usual upholstery for the front compartment was leather, which was also included in the list of alternatives for the rear along with West of England cloth.

As one would expect in a car of this class, a cocktail cabinet incorporated into the rear compartment’s cabinet-work was one of a host of options that also included electric windows.

Phantom development tended to lag behind that of the contemporary ’Shadow range, and it was not until 1978 that the model received the three-speed automatic transmission and 6.75-litre engine that had featured on the latter for many years.

By this time the opulent Phantom VI was being built to special order only, with prices ‘on application’.

The very first Phantom VI produced, chassis number ‘PRH 4108,’ was sold new to Belfast City Corporation for use by the Lord Mayor (as referenced in Martin Bennett’s book, ‘Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years’) and was mostly maintained by the Crewe factory until sold by the Corporation in 1978.

The car enjoyed three subsequent owners before passing into the vendor's’ hands in 1991, and comes with numerous invoices for this period issued by recognised Rolls-Royce specialists.

Since acquisition it has been maintained by the engineer owners and used regularly on R-REC events, most notably Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at Windsor Castle in 2002.

Restored in the early 1990s, the vehicle is reported as being to factory specification apart from the addition of an electric radiator cooling fan, while a slight leak from the air conditioning system is the only fault notified.

It is offered with current road fund licence, Swansea V5 and MoT to May 2008.


This, four previous owner car, was acquired by the current vendors in 1991 when it was then comprehensively restored underneath and new rear springs fitted.

It has since been enjoyed at many club events. In addition to regular servicing, the car has benefited from a new radiator, brake overhaul, three new tyres, rear fog lamps and an electric radiator fan together with new front and rear bumpers.

The car comes with all MOT certificates dating back to 1977 and numerous invoices from recognised Rolls-Royce specialists.

Handbook, jack and wheel brace are all included and the cocktail cabinet is complete with decanters and glasses.

Malin Hall



JOHN HARVEY, of Londonderry, storekeeper of the city of Londonderry during the siege, in 1689; High Sheriff of that county in 1696; 4th son of JAMES HARVEY, of Dunmore, administered his father’s goods and thus became possessed of the confirmation of Arms, dated 1602.

He had issue, his eldest son,

JOHN HARVEY, of Londonderry, who married and had issue, his 2nd son,

GEORGE HARVEY, born 1713, High Sheriff of Donegal, 1754. This gentleman acquired a considerable estate in the manor of Malin, Inishowen, and built Malin Hall. His eldest son,

THE REV JOHN HARVEY, of Malin Hall, born in 1742, whose eldest son,

ROBERT HARVEY, of Malin Hall, born 1770; married, in 1801, Barbara Frances, eldest daughter of Robert Gage, of Rathlin Island, County Antrim. His eldest son,

JOHN HARVEY JP DL, of Malin Hall. High Sheriff, 1836. This gentleman was succeeded by his son,

GEORGE MILLER HARVEY JP DL, of Malin Hall. High Sheriff, 1870; married, in 1864, Julia Mary, daughter of William Charles Gage, of Drummond House, County Londonderry. His eldest son,

JOHN HARVEY, born 1865. Married, in 1864, Florita, eldest daughter of J Digby O’Donoghue, of Montevideo. 

George Miller Harvey, born in 1908, sold the house and land to the present owner in 1973, who is understood to have carried out some alterations.

Ian Harvey, born in 1947, left agricultural college in 1966 and lived at Malin Hall, farming the 250 acre estate until its sale seven years later.

MALIN HALL, near Clonca, County Donegal, is a two-storey, early 18th century house of 1758 with a five-bay front, the door-case having pilasters and entablature.

The range to the rear has a curvilinear gable.

Malin Hall had been lived in continuously by the Harveys since they built it in 1758 until 1973, when it was sold.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sawers' New Premises

The weather remained clement enough during my visit into town this morning. I spent an hour at the Linenhall Library, researching Dunne of Brittas, and Lyons-Montgomery of Belhavel. Mission well accomplished. 

Sawers have got new premises ~ beside the old shop ~ in College Street.

Sawers was established in 1895 and, in 1974, when they were located at the corner of Castle Street and Fountain Street, they described themselves thus: "Fishmongers, Poulterers, Game Dealers, Fruiterers, Provision Merchants and Butchers."

Today, I imagine they'd be happy enough to be termed a delicatessen.

The new shop is far more spacious; a good improvement on the old one.

I wish them well.

Donaghadee Manor House


The family of De la Cherois descends from the younger branch of an ancient and noble house in France, formerly resident at Cheroz or Cherois, a small town near Sens, in the province of Champagne, whence the name is derived.

It had there, in the beginning of the 17th century, large possessions, and was allied to some of the first families in that country, among others, to the great family of Montmorency, in consequence of the marriage of Catherine De la Cherois with Jean Seigneur de Beaurnez, whose daughter, Marguerite, married Antoine de Montmorency.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, compelled the De la Cherois', being protestants, to abandon country, kindred, and fortune, to preserve their freedom of conscience.

In the hurry and distress, unavoidably attendant upon so disastrous a flight, and consequent dispersion that ensued, many particulars relating to their family and history, together with other interesting documents, were destroyed.

In 1641, CAPTAIN SAMUEL DE LA CHEROIS (ancestor of the branch of the family settled in Ireland), served in the war against the House of Austria. He left three sons who all fled to Holland in 1685, where they were well received.

In 1689 WILLIAM, Prince of Orange, being called to the throne of Great Britain, formed two regiments of the French Huguenots, of which Nicholas was appointed a major; Daniel, a captain; and Bourjonval, a lieutenant.

By 1685, the year of the Revocation, they were living in Ham in Picardy, where they owned land and other property, as did many Huguenots.

They accompanied WILLIAM III to Ireland in 1690 and finally settled there. The De la Cherois family came to Ulster.

The first to arrive was Daniel, who had stayed in Ham at first with his father whilst Nicholas and Boisjonval served in the army of Louis XIV, but after the Revocation he escaped from France to Holland and joined the army of William of Orange, becoming a lieutenant in the Comte de Manton's Regiment (afterwards Lord Lifford's), and came to England.

In 1699 he married Marie Angelique, a cousin of Louis Crommelin, in London and probably joined the Lisburn colony after that. Being an astute business man he spent much of his time acquiring property.

When the fire of Lisburn broke out in 1707 he was living in Castle Street and, his house being destroyed, he was invited to join the Brownlow family at Lurgan, who were busy developing the linen trade there.

However, he rebuilt his house in Lisburn on the site of the old one, and returned there after its completion.

Daniel De la Cherois died in 1732, leaving his estate to his only child Angelique, with some bequests to the French Church and to cousins.

The other two brothers came with the invading army and took part in the Irish Campaign, serving in Colonel Du Cambon's Regiment. Only Nicholas went back to Lisburn.

Nicholas De la Cherois received a commission in the French army in 1675; a description on his passport, issued in 1686 says he is "aged about 35 years, with chestnut coloured hair". 

It is believed that he used this passport as a means of escape from France, through Lille in the same year, going into Holland.

During the winter of 1689, after the debacle of Dundalk, the brothers Nicholas and Boisjonval were stationed in Lisburn, from where they were sent on forays to Carlingford, Sligo and the besieged Charlemont.

Captain Nicholas De la Cherois fought at the Boyne and during the rest of the Irish Campaign, only returning to Lisburn after Daniel had settled there, probably after 1699. Then he joined Daniel in the linen industry, also living in Castle Street. 

In 1697 Louis Crommelin, a native of Picardy, described as "an able and experienced Huguenot refugee capitalist" travelled to London with his son Louis and was asked by HM Government to investigate the possibility of taking a group of Huguenot weavers to Ireland. 

At this time Louis Crommelin, junior, was fifteen years old "and showed an inherited business ability and an affinity with his father" that was to prove a great advantage.

In 1698 Louis Crommelin arrived at Lisburn in County Antrim, bringing a company of about seventy people. These settlers probably spoke no English and had to rely on French refugees already living in the district for instruction and conversation.

In 1701 Louis Crommelin started what was said to be the first mass bleaching establishment in Ireland at Hilden on the outskirts of Lisburn.

He married Mary Madeleine, a sister of Louis Crommelin and they had two children. He died accidentally in 1724 after being sent poison in mistake for medicine by an apothecary.

Boisjonval, the youngest brother, also wintered in Lisburn, but during the spring of 1690, while out on reconnaissance, was ambushed near Dungannon and killed.

The next generation was represented by Samuel and his sister Madeleine. Samuel De la Cherois married Sarah, another Huguenot. 

They had three sons and lived at Hilden, later moving to Donaghadee. Samuel adopted the name Crommelin.

Their third son Samuel carried on the name through his son Nicholas, who built Carrowdore Castle. He is buried in the de la Cherois tomb there, just outside the east end of the church.

His sister Anne was the mother of Dr Charles Nicholas De la Cherois Purdon, who wrote the family history in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology in 1853.

The line now continues through the distaff side and in churches attended by the de la Cherois family there are memorial plaques bearing the names of sons who did not attain the inheritance.

In 1811 Nicholas De la Cherois, an ensign in the 47th Regiment of the Line, was killed during the Napoleonic wars at the Battle of Barross, aged 22 years.

In 1859 Lieutenant Louis De la Cherois RN died in the Crimean War; and in the next generation in 1905, Philip Alexander Vaughan De la Cherois, who was born at Donaghadee, died of fever in Africa, while serving as a District Officer.


This is a plain, two-storey Georgian house with its entrance front behind railings at the corner of High Street and Manor Street in Donaghadee, County Down.

It has a six bay entrance front with a pillared porch; and a three-sided bow in the side elevation.

It was built ca 1775, after the property had been acquired in 1771 by Daniel De la Cherois.

The manor house is surrounded by a garden, which includes glasshouses; however, the main garden is across the road.

The ornamental section of the garden has been built over since the 1970s, but the walled garden remains productive, complete with box-edged beds, a rare survival.

The garden wall is of stone and has an impressive castellated entrance.

The family vault of the De la Cherois family is under the west aisle of Donaghadee parish church.

The De la Cherois estate extended to 1,356 acres in the 1870s.

First published in January, 2011.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cod Loin Repast

Today Timothy Belmont got stuck in to a most toothsome loin of smoked cod, accompanied by creamy champ, baby leeks, fine beans and sauce béarnaise.

Never found wanting in the race for the food-trough, I donned the venerable nose-bag and this agreeable repast departed from the plate like snow off a ditch.

The cod, I am reliably apprised, was almost as expensive as sea-bass, at £17 per kilo, whatever that is in pounds and ounces.

It was baked simply, with seasoning and lemon, in tin foil.

So fear not, dear readers, the old grey cells have been rejuvenated!

Quintin Castle

QUINTIN CASTLE is located on the Ards Peninsula, about 2½ miles east of Portaferry in County Down.

It is one of the very few inhabited Anglo-Norman castles in Ulster.

The original castle was built by John de Courcy in 1184.

In the later middle ages the castle was held by the Smiths, a dependent family of the Savages.

In the mid 1600s, Sir James Montgomery, a relation of the Savages, purchased the castle and the surrounding lands from Dualtagh Smith.

Sir James and his son William renovated the castle, adding a large house to it as well as a walled courtyard.

At some period after an interlude in the 1650s, when a Cromwellian officer held Quintin, the Montgomerys sold the castle to George Ross, a member of an influential local family who held lands at Kearney.

Ross never lived at the castle, which remained in its mid-17th century form until the 1850s, when one of his descendants, Elizabeth Calvert, set about remodelling it.

Quintin Castle was, by that time, a ruinous structure, much of whose stone, according to the OS Memoirs, had been taken by local people.
This remodelling included the raising in height of the central keep, the construction of drawing and dining rooms and the general decoration to the entire building, as well as rebuilding the courtyard walls, gates and outer towers.
In 1897, the estate was sold by The Land Commission; however, the house remained with the descendants of the Calverts, one of whom, Miss Louise King-Hall, became a writer whose many works included The Wicked Lady, a story of highwaymen and women, which later became a successful film.

The King-Halls sold the castle in the 1920s and Quintin passed though a series of owners, one of whom, Mr. James O'Hara, ran the building as a nursing home during the 1980s.

It may have been at this stage that that the secondary entrance in the front facade was added, perhaps to provide easier access for some of the elderly residents.

The building is now a private residence.

The central keep was raised; a walkway constructed within the battlements; a drawing-room which opened into the inner gardens; and a dining-room constructed on the lowest floor of the great tower. 

Most of the grounds were also enclosed by a massive stone wall.

In the 1870s the estate comprised 1,007 acres.

Quintin Castle was extensively refurbished by the builders McGimpsey and Kane, changing hands most recently in 2006.

It underwent a further restoration ca 2006, when it was bought by the property developer, Paul Neill.

In 2011, one bank moved against him taking control of two of his retail parks in Bangor over a £37m debt. Mr Neill was subsequently declared bankrupt.

Consequently, the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama) repossessed the castle in 2012.


The original demesne is now split up, but the house retains stone-walled terrace gardens, which were depicted as being fully planted up.

The walled garden is in separate ownership.

There is medieval-style gateway leading into the grounds of ca 1855, and a tall octagonal rubble-constructed folly tower within the grounds.

First published in January, 2011.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lohort Castle


DAVID PERCEVAL, Lord of Tykenham, Rolleston, Somerset, who accompanied THE CONQUEROR to England, dying in 1534, left issue, 

GEORGE PERCEVAL, whose son, 

RICHARD PERCEVAL, born in 1550, who, having been educated at distinguished institutions, and through the influence of the Lord Treasurer, Burghley, that nobleman employed him in the management of those state affairs which required the greatest trust and secrecy.

This gentleman filled several important offices and, dying in 1620, was succeeded by his son, 

SIR PHILIP PERCEVAL, knight, a very distinguished statesman, who, having been actively employed in the government of Ireland for a series of years, obtained grants of forfeited lands there to the extent of 101,000 acres. His heir, 

SIR JOHN PERCEVAL, knight, who was created a baronet in 1661, by patent, containing this remarkable clause, that
"the eldest son, or grandson, shall exist a baronet, after the age of 21 years, at the same time with the father or grandfather." 

His great-grandson,

THE RT HON SIR JOHN PERVEVAL, 1ST EARL OF EGMONT, who, after becoming a privy counsellor, and sitting for several years in the Irish House of Commons, was elevated to the peerage of that kingdom, by patent, in 1715, as Baron Perceval; and in 1722 his lordship was created Viscount Perceval, in County Cork, with the annual fee of twenty marks, payable out of the Exchequer, attached, to support the honour.

In 1732, Lord Perceval obtained a charter to colonise the province of Georgia, in America, and being nominated president thereof, was advanced to an earldom, in 1733, as EARL OF EGMONT.

Lohort Castle is situated on the Castle Lohort demesne near Cecilstown, County Cork.

This historic castle is an impressive five-storey fortified tower with rounded corners, standing over eighty feet tall. The massive walls are ten feet thick at the base, narrowing to six feet.

Around the top storey there is a machicolated parapet that runs unbroken apart for a short section on the eastern side. There used to be a deep moat around the castle with a drawbridge. The castle grounds cover more than one hundred acres.

Lohort Castle was built ca 1496 by Donogh Og McDonagh McCarthy. The castle was taken by the Irish forces during the civil war. One of the bloodiest battles of the English civil war took place in the grounds of Lohort Castle in 1647, when over 4,500 men were killed in battle.

Lohort was bombarded by Oliver Cromwell's troops in 1650 and captured, but the castle withstood the cannon fire due to the immense strength of its thick walls.


The castle as it now stands was rebuilt ca 1750 by Sir John Perceval, 1st Earl of Egmont, and the Percivals lived there until the 20th century, when it was burnt by the IRA in 1922.

Some of the fireplaces from nearby Kanturk Castle appear to have been relocated to Lohort Castle; this was probably done when Lohort Castle was restored in the 18th century.

Lohort subsequently became the home of Sir Timothy O'Brien Bt, a well-known cricketer.