JAMES CRAIG was born near Strandtown on the outskirts of east Belfast, the sixth son of James Craig (1828–1900) a wealthy distiller.
The Craig family came to Ulster in 1608 and lived at Ballyvester, near Donaghadee; and, at a later time, at Ballyvester House itself.Craig entered the firm of Dunville & Company, whiskey distillers, as a clerk, aged 40. He subsequently became a millionaire and partner in the firm.
His career is already well documented on the Internet.
The Craigavon Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
The supporters of the Craigavon coat-of-arms depict a constable of the Ulster Special constabulary, his hands resting on a rifle, on the left; and a private soldier of the Royal Ulster Rifles, armed and accoutred, to the right.
The titles are currently held by the 3rd Viscount, born in 1940.
CRAIGAVON HOUSE, Strandtown, Belfast, was the seat of the Craig family.
Its main entrance was on the Holywood Road, close to where the Mormon church is today.
The grounds extended to twenty acres.
Craigavon House was built in 1870.
It is a two-storey Victorian dwelling with a front of two bays on either side of a central bow.
There are round-headed windows in the lower storey, with camber-headed windows above.
A pavilion with pedimented portico forms the entrance front of the house, joined to the main block by an orangery.
The Craigavon crest, a lion rampant, adorns the front of the orangery in the form of carved stone-work.
There were two gate lodges, one on the Holywood Road where William Cowan, a gardener, lived ca 1900, since demolished; and the other on Circular Road, home to James Clements, coachman.
From Holywood Road the drive ran parallel to the Circular Road, on a steep incline.
The Circular Road lodge is in good condition.
The Craigs' closest neighbours would have been the Mitchells at Marmont House.
Of the big houses on Circular Road, only Craigavon and Marmont (Mitchell House School) remain.
Craigavon House is owned and run by the Somme Association, a charity which cares for elderly war veterans.
Sadly, the future of Craigavon House remains uncertain.
Sir Edward Carson declared the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant from its steps.
It was later signed by more than 47,000 men and women on 28 September, 1912, who pledged themselves to defend the Protestant heritage in the province.
Tyrella House, between Ardglass and Newcastle, County Down, was bought by the 1st Viscount's father.
Here is a link to one of the 1st Viscount's brothers, Vincent, who was an architect: http://www.dia.ie/architects/view/892.
He designed The Royal Ulster Yacht Club.
Another brother, Charles Craig, was also a politician.
Tyrella House was sold to the present family in the 1940s.
I think the last member of the Craig family to live there was Clarence, another brother of the 1st Viscount (who had seven brothers and one sister).
Lewis describes the site in 1837 as ‘… a richly planted demesne of 200 acres …’
There is a folly fort on a hill top to the north- east of the house.
This area fell into decline after the 2nd World War.
There are glasshouses and a potting shed.
Other noted features are the entrance gates and screen pre-1835; gate lodge pre-1835; a smithy, which looks like a gate lodge.
The 1st Viscount is buried at the Stormont Estate.
The title is currently held by the 3rd Viscount, born in 1940.
First published in May, 2010.