Thursday, 30 July 2015

1st Baron Killanin


The family of MORRIS is one of the "Tribes of Galway", an expression first used by Cromwell's soldiers in 1652.

So far back as 1486 Richard Morris was Bailiff of Galway under a charter granted in 1485 by RICHARD III to the inhabitants of Galway, empowering them to elect a mayor and two bailiffs.
From him were lineally descended John Morris, Bailiff of Galway, 1501; William Morris, Mayor of Galway, 1527; Andrew Morris, Mayor of Galway, 1588; George Morris, Bailiff of Galway, 1588; John Morris, of Galway; Andrew Morris, of Galway; and James Morris, of Galway.
GEORGE MORRIS, of Spiddal, County Galway (son of JAMES MORRIS), served in JAMES II's army.

He married, in 1684, Catherine, daughter of John Fitzpatrick, of Loughmore, in the south island of Arran, whose nephew Richard Fitzpatrick represented Galway in the Irish parliament, 1749-61.

By this marriage the property of Spiddal was acquired.

His only son,

ANDREW MORRIS, of Spiddal and Galway, wedded Monica Browne, of the family of Gloves, near Athenry, and had two sons,
JAMES, of whom we treat.
The second son,

JAMES MORRIS (1732-1813), of Spiddal and Galway, espoused, in 1762, Deborah, daughter of Nicholas Lynch, of Galway, and by her had issue,
Monica; Mary.
His third son,

MARTIN MORRIS JP (1784-1862), of Spiddal and Galway, served as High Sheriff of Galway in 1841, the first Catholic who held that office since 1690.

He married, in 1822, Julia, daughter of Dr Charles Blake, of Galway, and by her he had two sons and two daughters,
MICHAEL, of whom presently;
George (Sir), KCB DL MP etc;
Jane Caroline; Lizzie.
Mr Morris's elder son,

THE RT HON SIR MICHAEL MORRIS QC (1826-1901), of Spiddal and Galway, wedded, in 1860, Anna, daughter of Henry George Hughes, Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland.

Mr Morris rose to become one of the most distinguished judges of his time, as LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE KING'S BENCH FOR IRELAND, 1887-89.

In 1885, Mr Morris was created a baronet, of Spiddal, County Galway; and on his appointment as a law lord, in 1889, he was elevated to the peerage, as BARON KILLANIN, of Galway.

By his wife he had issue,
George Henry, father of the 3rd Baron;
Michael Redmond;
Charles Ambrose;
Lily; Rose Julia; Maud Anna; Mary Kathleen;
Frances Anne; Eileen Elizabeth.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

MARTIN HENRY FITZPATRICK, 2nd Baron, PC, JP, (1867-1927), of Spiddal, High Sheriff of Galway, 1897.

His lordship was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Galway, from 1918 until 1922.

He died a bachelor, and was succeeded by his nephew, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon George Henry Morris, Irish Guards,

MICHAEL, 3rd Baron (1914-99), MBE, TD, of Spiddal, who espoused, in 1945, (Mary) Sheila Cathcart Dunlop MBE, daughter of the Rev Canon Douglas Lyall Cathcart Dunlop.

The 3rd Baron, a journalist, author, and sport official, was renowned for his presidency of the International Olympic Committee.

He was appointed MBE (Military Division), 1945.

By his wife he had issue,
Michael Francis Leo "Mouse";
John Martin;
Monica Deborah.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE REDMOND FITZPATRICK, 4th and present Baron, born in 1947, a well-known film producer.

He wedded firstly, in 1972, Pauline, daughter of Geoffrey Horton, and had issue,
Olivia Rose Elizabeth, born in 1974.
He married secondly, in 2000, Sheila Elizabeth, daughter of Patrick Lynch.

The present Baron lives in Dublin.

SPIDDAL HOUSE, Spiddal, County Galway, replaced a considerable smaller Georgian house.

The present mansion consists of two and three storeys, in different places.

It was built in 1910 for Martin, 2nd Lord Killanin.

The windows are rectangular, plain, Romanesque-style.

One end of the house features a tower (a belvedere prior to the 1923 fire) with Romanesque columns.

Beside this tower there is a two-storey veranda with further Romanesque columns and arches.

The opposite end has a loggia, joined to the house by a colonnade with an iron balcony.

Spiddal House suffered a fire in 1923 and was subsequently rebuilt in 1931.

The 3rd Baron sold Spittal about 1960.

Former Dublin residence ~ 22 Lower Ftzwilliam Street.

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Royal Train

The Queen's Bedroom

The Royal Train  is used regularly throughout England, Scotland and Wales to carry senior members of our Royal Family.

It has been said that The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales all have Roberts radios in their saloons, usually tuned to BBC Radio Four, as they like to wake up in the morning to the Today programme.

The Prince of Wales's Study

The joys of awakening from one's slumber by the mellifluous tones of Mr John Humphrys!



First published in October, 2008.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Prince George of Cambridge

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is two years old today.

Prince George, third in line to the Throne, was born at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

County Londonderry Visit

Ballyronan House

I arose from the heavenly slumber about seven-thirty this morning, made the customary breakfast of tea and toast, and decided it was time to pay Ballyronan, County Londonderry, a visit.

Ballyronan lies on the north-western shore of Lough Neagh, the largest inshore lake in the British Isles.

Ballyronan is, or has been, a charming little village of sorts.

Its nucleus seems to be at Ballyronan House, former seat of the Guassens, which itself is close to the shoreline.

I ambled for perhaps half an hour, wandering over to the main street, where there are several public bars and a little supermarket.

I might have stayed for lunch, though, since no particular hostelry appealed to me, I motored onwards towards Springhill.

Springhill from the rear

Springhill, in the same county, is, of course, the property of the National Trust.

Old Market-house, Moneymore

It is close to the village of Moneymore, itself a delightful little village possessing considerable charm; though traffic seems to pass right through the main street, at a steady pace, without stopping.

New Market-house, Moneymore

Moneymore, to my mind, has always afforded great potential, given its heritage, including two market-houses, a former dispensary, the manor house, and former inn or public bar opposite the new market-house.

Springhill demesne is a few minutes' drive from Moneymore.

The new visitor centre, housed in a former barn, is beside the car-park.

Incidentally, they have free BT wifi.

I chatted with a number of staff, in the barn, the tea-room, and the House itself.

I lunched in the tea-room and enjoyed a delicious bowl of thick soup, viz. carrot and coriander, with a generous, thick slice of Ulster wheaten bread and butter.

This was well worth its £3.50.

The house tour guide was particularly witty and enthusiastic. We all appreciated her fascinating tour, especially her rapport with the kids.

Thence I walked up the slope to the old corn mill at the top of the hill; and onwards along the Sawpit Hill Walk, a distance of one mile.

I passed the former walled garden here, which now seems to be used as allotments.

Having browsed briefly in the second-hand book-shop, in a little gate-lodge, I headed home.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Castle Saunderson Visit

I paid a fleeting visit to Castle Saunderson on the 22nd July, 2013.

The mansion is roofless and ruinous, alas; once the nucleus of a great estate in County Cavan.

The Saunderson arms adorn a section of the wall.

First published in July, 2013.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

St Cuthbert's

After the constitutional breakfast of tea and wholemeal granary toast with butter and marmalade, I felt the urge to revisit St Cuthbert's church, ruinous for a very long time indeed, and not used as a place of worship for two centuries.

This little church was used by worshippers at and within the proximity of Dunluce Castle.

I gather that it used to have a thatched roof.

There is a porch at the west end.

St Cuthbert's is today surrounded by gravestones, apart from the north side, where there is a solitary grave.

It's notable that the window openings are all (wisely) on the south side; the north side is solid.

I hope to write an article about St Cuthbert's at some stage.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Portballintrae Visit

I've been spending a few days at the County Antrim seaside resort of Portballintrae.

For those who don't know, Portballintrae is very close to Bushmills, a larger village, celebrated for its whiskey distillery.

Today, after breakfast, I motored along the coast to Portbradden, a spectacular old cluster of fishermen's cottages at the bottom of a cliff.

There is a National Trust holiday cottage here; and my acquaintance Con Auld was in residence at his charming cottage, decorated and beautified in his inimitable style.

I brought Con an apple pie, though I was a bit early for him. I might call again some afternoon.

Thence I drove further along the coast, to Ballintoy harbour, another spectacular place, renowned nowadays as a Game Of Thrones setting.

The little tea-room and cafeteria, Roark's Kitchen, was open; and I noticed that fresh chowder and wheaten bread was on the menu for lunch.

Two well-coiffured elderly ladies were seated outside, apparently "people-watching"; because, as I passed, I overheard one of them - a woman of some corpulence - make a remark about the "scallywag wearing skinny jeans". 

The irony of it.

On my way back to Portballintrae I stopped at the whitewashed little Ballintoy Parish Church, where I took the opportunity of photographing several headstones in the adjoining graveyard.

Names included Trail, Macartney, and Stewart.

IN the afternoon I visited Dunluce Castle, a historic monument well worth a visit. It is well preserved.

At the car-park there is a charming little cottage which sells souvenirs and provides meals and refreshments. 

Somebody has a keen sense of humour!

The bridge over to the old castle originally had a drawbridge, though this was later replaced with an arched bridge.

I ambled across the main road to the ruinous and roofless St Cuthbert's church, which presumably was once used for divine worship by family or servants at Dunluce Castle.

Dunsany Castle


The family of PLUNKETT is supposed (claimed the historian Sir Richard Lodge) to be of Danish extraction.

The time of its first settlement in Ireland cannot be decidedly ascertained, but it was certainly as early as the reign of HENRY III.

It has extended into many parts of Ireland (particularly the counties of Meath, Dublin, and Louth), and three distinct peerages have been enjoyed by different branches, viz. the earldom of Fingall, and the baronies of Dunsany and Louth.

JOHN PLUNKETT, the earliest of the name on record, appears to have been seated, towards the latter end of the 11th century, at Bewley, or Beaulieu, County Louth, where he died in 1082.

From him descended another JOHN PLUNKETT, who lived in the reign of HENRY III, and had two sons, John, ancestor of the Barons Louth; and RICHARD, ancestor of the Earls of Fingall; and Baron Dunsany.

SIR CHRISTOPHER PLUNKETT, Knight, grandson of the above-named Richard, was deputy to Sir Thomas Stanley, Lord Deputy of Ireland, in 1432, and subsequently under Richard, Duke of York.

He wedded Joan, daughter and sole heir of Sir Lucas Cusack, knight, Lord of Killeen and Dunsany, by whom he had, with other children, JOHN, ancestor of the Earls of Fingall, who inherited the lordship of Killeen; and

CHRISTOPHER (1410-63), that of Dunsany, of which he was created, in 1439, BARON DUNSANY.

His lordship wedded Anne, daughter and heir of Richard FitzGerald, of Ballysonan, County Kildare, younger son of Maurice, 3rd Earl of Kildare, by whom he had four sons, and was succeeded by the eldest son,

RICHARD, 2nd Baron, who espoused Joan, daughter of Sir Rowland FitzEustace, Lord Treasurer of Ireland in 1471, and Lord High Chancellor in 1474; and was succeeded by his only son,

JOHN, 3rd Baron, KG, who married Catherine, daughter of John Hussey, feudal baron of Galtrim, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 4th Baron, who was slain by the rebel O'Connor, 1521, and was succeeded by his son (by Amy, daughter and heir of Philip de Bermingham),

ROBERT, 5th Baron; one of the peers of the parliament held at Dublin, 1541, when he was ranked immediately after his kinsman, Lord Killeen.

His lordship wedded firstly, Eleanor, youngest daughter of Sir William Darcy, Knight, of Platten, vice-treasurer of Ireland, bt whom he had four sons and nine daughters.

He married secondly, Genet, daughter of William Sarsfield, alderman of Dublin, and widow of Mr Alderman Shillenford, by whom he had two other sons.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

CHRISTOPHER, 6th Baron, who espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Christopher Barnewall, Knight, of Crickstown, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK, 7th Baron, who married Mary, eleventh daughter of Sir Christopher Barnewall, Knight, of Turvey, and was succeeded by his only son,

CHRISTOPHER, 8th Baron, who wedded Maud, daughter of Henry Babington, of Dethick, Derbyshire; and dying in 1603, was succeeded by his only son,

PATRICK, 9th Baron (1595-1668), who received a patent of confirmation, from JAMES I, of the several castles of Dunsany, Corbally, etc.

His lordship was subsequently summoned to parliament in the reign of CHARLES I, and suffered considerably in the cause of that unfortunate prince.
A short time before 1541, the Lords Justices and supplied the lords of The Pale with arms, but suddenly recalled them, which occasioned much discontent among the Catholic peers, who, having assembled, appointed Lord Dunsany to assure the justices of their attachment and loyalty, and of their readiness to co-operate in every measure that could be conducive to the peace of the country. 
The Lords Justices, however, took no further notice of the proffered service than by confining his lordship in Dublin Castle, where he remained for several years; but on the restoration of CHARLES II, he again took his seat in the House of Lords, and continued to sit until 1666.
His lordship espoused Jane, daughter of Sir Thomas Heneage, of Haynton, Lincolnshire, and was succeeded at his decease by his grandson,

CHRISTOPHER, 10th Baron (son of the Hon Christopher Plunket, by Catherine, 4th daughter of Randal, 1st Earl of Antrim); at whose decease unmarried the barony devolved upon his brother,

RANDALL, 11th Baron who, adhering to the falling fortunes of his legitimate sovereign, JAMES II, was outlawed in 1691; but being included in the Treaty of Limerick, his estates were restored; neglecting, however, the forms necessary to re-establish himself in the privileges of the peerage, neither his lordship nor his immediate descendants had a seat in the House of Lords.

He married firstly, Anne, widow of Theobald, 1st Earl of Carlingford, and daughter of Sir William Pershall; but by that lady had no issue.

He wedded secondly, in 1711, Bridget, only daughter of Richard Fleming, of Stahalmock, County Meath; and dying in 1735, left an only son,

EDWARD, 12th Baron (1713-81), who conformed to the established church, but took no step to confirm the barony and his right to a seat in the House of Lords.

His lordship espoused Mary, eldest daughter of Francis Allen, of St Wolstan's, County Kildare, MP for that county, and had (with two daughters) an only son,

RANDALL, 13th Baron (1739-1821), who claimed, in 1791, and was allowed his seat in parliament.

His lordship married firstly, Margaret, widow of Edward Mandeville, of Ballydine, County Tipperary, and had issue,
EDWARD WADDING, his successor;
Randall (1780-1834);
Margaret; Anna Maria.
He wedded secondly, in 1800, Emma, sister of Sir Drummond Smith Bt, of Tring Park, Hertfordshire, by whom he had no issue.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD WADDING, 14th Baron (1773-1848), of Dunsany Castle, County Meath.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, the Hon Oliver Plunkett (b 1985).

DUNSANY CASTLE, Dunsany, County Meath, is a modernised Norman castle, begun ca 1180-81 by Hugh de Lacy, who also commissioned Killeen Castle, nearby, and the famous Trim Castle.

It is possibly Ireland's oldest home in continuous occupation, having been held by the Cusack family and their descendants by marriage, the Plunketts, to the present day.

The castle is surrounded by its demesne, the inner part of the formerly extensive Dunsany estate.

The demesne holds an historic church (still consecrated), a working walled garden, a walled farm complex, an ice house, various dwellings and other features.

Dunsany castle was built, probably in succession to basic "motte" fortifications, remnants of which can still be seen to the left and right in front of it, in the period 1180-1200, construction being thought to have begun in 1180-81.

Foundations and the lower parts of the four main towers are thought to be original, and some interior spaces, notably an old kitchen, but much additional work has been carried out, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the current castle is more than three times the size of the original.

The castle, along with Killeen Castle, was held by the Cusacks, initially on behalf of the de Lacys, and passed by marriage in the early 15th century to the Plunketts.
Originally, it and Killeen lay on a single estate but the first generation of Plunketts gave Killeen to the eldest son, and Dunsany to the younger, Christopher, following which the estate was divided, and the Castle descended in the hands of the Barons of Dunsany, who enjoyed almost uninterrupted ownership, aside from issues around Oliver Cromwell's operations in Ireland (the then Lady Dunsany defended the castle against an initial approach but the family were later forced out, some dying on the way to Connaught), and the aftermath of some other troubles between Ireland and England.
They were cousins of St Oliver Plunket.

The Dunsany estate was reduced by the operation of the Irish Land Acts in the late 19th and early 20th century, but the castle is still surrounded by its original demesne, and other estate lands remain around the district, some adjacent to the demesne and some remote.

Much of the work of the writer Lord Dunsany (18th Baron) was done at the Castle, notably in a room in one of the building's towers.

Dunsany Castle is entered through a projecting porch and a lobby with a worked plaster ceiling, which opens into the central hallway, featuring the principal stairway and a vaulted ceiling, and into a secondary hall.

The ground floor holds the grand dining-room, with portraits of past family members, and a fine arts and crafts billiards-room, as well as kitchen spaces, ancient and modern, and other rooms.

On the first floor are the library, and drawing-room, which has Stapleton plasterwork from 1780.

The library, which may have been worked on by James Shiel, is in the Gothic-Revival style, with a "beehive" ceiling.

Also on this floor is a secondary stairway (where a "priest's hole" for hiding Catholic ministers formerly existed). The third floor holds ornate bedrooms.

The demesne is surrounded by a drystone wall, much of which was built during the Great Famine as a relief work.

There is a full-scale walled garden, over 3 acres in size, still producing fruit and vegetables for the estate.

A cottage, historically occupied by the head gardener, is built into the walls of the garden.

Nearby are working beehives.

Also within the demesne are stone-built farm and stable yards, an ice-house and wells.

There is a home within the stable yard, and at least one ruined cottage near the walls. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sir George White VC

© National Museums Northern Ireland

George Stuart White was a son of James White, of White Hall, County Antrim, and his wife Frances Ann, daughter of George Stewart, Surgeon-General to the Army in Ireland and his wife Frances (daughter of Colonel William Stewart MP, of Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone).

He was born at Low Rock Castle, Portstewart, County Londonderry, in 1835.

He was educated at Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, and later at King William's College on the Isle of Man.

From 1850, he attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, where he was commissioned into the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot in 1853, prior to serving at the Indian Mutiny.

In 1874, he married Amelia, daughter of the Ven Joseph Baly, Archdeacon of Calcutta, with whom he had one son and four daughters.

Major White fought in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War in 1879 as second-in-command of the 92nd Regiment of Foot (later The Gordon Highlanders).

He was 44 years old when the following deeds took place in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

For conspicuous bravery during the engagement at Charasiah on the 6th October, 1879, when, finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person.

Advancing with two companies of his regiment; and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about 8 to 1. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle, and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.

Again, on the 1st September, 1880, at the battle of Candahar, Major White, in leading, the final charge, under a heavy fire from the enemy, who held a strong position and were supported by two guns, rode straight up to within a few yards of them, and seeing the guns, dashed forward and secured one, immediately after which the enemy retired.
He became the commanding officer of the 92nd Foot in 1881.

He commanded a brigade during the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War of 1885, as a result of which he was promoted to major-general and was knighted in 1886.

In 1889 he took command at Quetta District.

Sir George became Commander-in-Chief, India, in 1893.
He was appointed Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1898, holding that post until the following year. He was commander of the forces in Natal during the opening of the 2nd Boer War; and commanded the garrison at the Siege of Ladysmith 1899–1900, for which he was appointed GCMG.
General White became Governor of Gibraltar, 1900-04, and was promoted to field marshal in 1903.

He was Governor of the Royal Chelsea Hospital from 1905 until his death there in 1912.

Sir George was buried at Broughshane, County Antrim, his ancestral home, where a memorial now stands.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen.

First published in May, 2013.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Tall Ships Belfast 2015

A stiff restorative is now the Order of the Day for self.

I spent the afternoon at the Tall Ships festival at the Belfast docks.

I cycled in the trusty two-wheeler through Titanic Quarter and found a discreet parking space under the Lagan railway bridge, at Queen's Quay.

Thence I joined a queue for the shuttle bus, which took us to the County Antrim side of the river Lagan, specifically Pollock Dock, where HMS Northumberland is presently docked.

Northumberland, a Type 23 frigate, was commissioned in 1994; has a complement of 185; and weighs about 5,000 tons.

The queue for Northumberland was hundreds of yards long and it took an hour to reach the gangway, or whatever it's called these days.

Alas, Belmont was not whistled aboard (!), though we had a fairly free run of the main deck.

The interior messes, cabins and quarters were closed to the general public today.

A number of the ship's crew hail from Northern Ireland.

I gather that the new captain is Commander Patricia Kohn RN, and judging by the duty rostrum, she was aboard or afloat this afternoon.

You shall be relieved to hear that the two-wheeler was in situ when I walked back (quicker to walk - the bus queue was hundreds of yards long).

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

McCutcheon's Field

I was out with the National Trust Strangford Lough Group of volunteers today.

We met at a property called McCutcheon's Field.

This comprises several acres of coastline near Groomsport, at Brigg's Rocks and close to Sandeel Bay, in County Down.

There's a holiday park here called Windsor Caravan Park.

We declared War on a considerable number of thistles today.

Earlier I bought a freshly-made egg salad sandwich from the Sandwich Den, a new shop close to Belmont GHQ; and most wholesome and delicious it was, too.