Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Kearney Visit

I've spent a glorious day at the National Trust's 19th century fishing village of Kearney, County Down.

It is not far from the tip of the Ards Peninsula.

Portaferry, due west, is the closest town.

The sun shone all day and temperatures must surely have been close to 20c.

There were about ten of us today.

We were painting traditional County Down gates.

At lunch-time we settled at a pleasant spot on the shore and basked in the sunshine.

Lissadell House


This family is a branch of the house of GORE, of Manor Gore, baronets, springing from

SIR FRANCIS GORE, Knight, of Artarman, County Sligo (fourth son of Sir Paul Gore Bt, of Manor Gore, and brother of Sir Arthur Gore, ancestor of the Earls of Arran).

Sir Francis wedded Anne, daughter and heiress of Robert Parke, of Newtown, County Leitrim, and by her had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Ralph, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1715;
Isabella; Mary; Anne; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

SIR ROBERT GORE, knight, of Newtown, who married, in 1678, Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Newcomen, knight, of Sutton, County Dublin, had, with seven sons, four daughters:
Sir Robert was succeeded at his decease, in 1705, by his eldest surviving son,

NATHANIEL GORE, of Artarman and of Newtown Gore, who wedded, in 1711, Lettice, only daughter and heiress of Humphrey Booth, of Dublin, by whom he had two sons and three daughters, viz.
BOOTH, his heir;
Letitia, Mrs French;
Angel Catherine, Mrs Dawson;
Mr Gore was succeeded by his eldest son,

BOOTH GORE (1712-73), of Lissadell, County Sligo, who was created a baronet in 1760.

Sir Booth married Emily, daughter of Brabazon Newcomen, of County Carlow, by whom he had two sons and a daughter.

He died in 1773, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR BOOTH GORE, 2nd Baronet, of Lissadell, and of Huntercombe House, Buckinghamshire; at whose decease, unmarried, in 1804, the title devolved upon his only brother,

SIR ROBERT GORE, 3rd Baronet, who assumed, by sign manual, in 1804, the additional surname and arms of BOOTH.

This gentleman married a daughter of Henry Irwin, of Streamstown, County Sligo, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
He was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR ROBERT GORE-BOOTH, 4th Baronet (1805-76), of Lissadell, who espoused, in 1827, Caroline, second daughter of Robert, 1st Viscount Lorton, by whom he had no issue.

He married secondly, in 1830, Caroline Susan, second daughter of Thomas Goold, of Dublin, a master in Chancery.
The Lissadell Papers are deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

LISSADELL HOUSE, near Ballinful, County Sligo, was built in 1836,in the Neo-Classical Greek Revival style.

It stands grey and austere on an eminence overlooking Sligo Bay, and at the foot of the magnificent Ben Bulben.

There are no outbuildings to mar the simple, classical lines, and likewise no attics.

The outbuildings are connected to the house by a service tunnel which runs from a sunken courtyard to the avenue and stable yard, and staff quarters are in the basement.

The limestone was quarried locally at Ballisodare (location of Yeats’ Salley Gardens).

Francis Goodwin was so proud of his design that it featured in his book Domestic Architecture (on display in the Gallery), the only private residence to do so.

The entrance to the house is by the Porte Cochère, through which Ben Bulben is framed.

The house faces Knocknarea, “That cairn heaped grassy hill where passionate Maeve is stony still”, and has magnificent views over Sligo Bay.

Inside, the house is full of light and brightness – in the gallery, the bow-room, on the Great Staircase, and in the drawing-room.

The drawing-room has stunning views of Ben Bulben, Knocknarea and Sligo Bay, and is now home to a remarkable series of AE paintings, and paintings by Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery, Walter Osborne, John Butler Yeats, Percy French and Humbert Craig.

The bow-room has a wonderful collection of Regency books, reflecting the tastes of Caroline Susan Goold, who married Sir Robert in 1830.

The bow-room, and a small suite of rooms behind, later served as the main living and sleeping rooms of the family of Gore-Booth siblings living in near poverty in the 1960s and 70s, when the remainder of the house was uninhabited.

The gallery, formerly the music-room, has remarkable acoustics.

It is oval in shape, lit by a clerestory and skylights and is 65 feet in length.

It still has its original Gothic Chamber Organ made by Hull of Dublin in 1812, and also a walnut full size 1820 Grand Piano.

The Gallery is famous for two superb suites of Grecian gasoliers by William Collins, a chandelier maker of the Regency period.

The gasoliers were lit by a gasometer on the estate and as late as 1846 Lissadell was the only country mansion in Ireland lighted with gas generated locally at its own purpose built gasometer.

The images on the dining-room pilasters were painted in 1908 by Casimir Markievicz, husband to Constance Gore-Booth.

The ante-room was a favourite room of Constance Gore-Booth, and was known as her ‘den’. Indeed she has engraved her name on one of the windowpanes.

This room is now home to many of her artistic works, including her sketch of the painter Sarah Purser, and her drawings of Molly Malone.

The billiards-room contains the memorabilia collected by Sir Henry, 5th Baronet.

The basement includes the servants’ hall, butler's pantry, kitchen and pantries, the bakery, wine-cellars, china room, butler's bedroom, housekeeper's room, and the maids' sleeping quarters.

In 2003, Lissadell House was put up for sale by the then owner, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth (a grand-nephew of the original Josslyn Gore-Booth), for €3 million.

Despite celebrities showing an interest in the property, it was hoped that it would be purchased by the Irish state.

The Lissadell estate is now the home of Edward Walsh, his wife Constance Cassidy and their seven children.
Writing about Lissadell for the Sunday Times forty years ago the BBC's Anne Robinson ('The Weakest Link') observed that "the garden is overgrown, the greenhouses are shattered and empty, the stables beyond repair, the roof of the main block leaks badly and the paintings show patches of mildew".
After 60 years of neglect an intensive programme of restoration - without any public funding - has taken place in the House, Gardens, Stable Block and grounds since 2004 and Lissadell is once again a place of beauty. Click here for the text of Anne Robinson's article.

No grants of any kind were made in respect of any part of the restoration, either for the house, the gardens or any part of the grounds.

The new owners' vision was to transform the estate into a flagship for tourism in County Sligo and the north-west of Ireland, whilst providing a secure environment for their children and for visitors.

They have stated that did not wish to exploit Lissadell commercially but to restore the house and gardens to their former glory, make Lissadell self-sustaining and protect this crucible of Ireland's historic and literary heritage.

Other former seats ~ Huntercombe, Buckinghamshire; and Salford, Lancashire.

First published in October, 2013. Select bibliography: LISSADELL HOUSE AND GARDENS WEBSITE.   Gore-Booth arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Cloverhill House


JAMES SANDERSON, of Cloverhill, alias Drumcassidy, County Cavan, son of Alexander Sanderson, and nephew of Colonel Robert Sanderson, of Castle Saunderson, was MP for Enniskillen for thirty years, during the reign of GEORGE II.

Mr Sanderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1732, married Maria, daughter of Colonel Brockhill Newburgh, of Ballyhaise, County Cavan, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Francis (Rev);
Mary, m Charles Atkinson.
Mr Sanderson, whose will was proved in 1768, was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER SANDERSON, of Cloverhill, who wedded Lucy, daughter of the Rev Dr Samuel Madden, of Manor Water House, Galloon, County Fermanagh, "Premium Madden," and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Lucy; Mary; Charlotte.
Mr Sanderson's will was proved in 1787, and he was succeeded by his only son,

JAMES SANDERSON JP DL, of Cloverhill, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac Walker, of Newry, and had issue, four daughters,
Mary Anne, d unm 1873;
Lucy, m 1826, S Winter, of Agher, Co Meath; mother of SAMUEL SANDERSON;
Frances Alexandrina, m 1830, Richard Winter Reynell, of Killyon, Co Westmeath.
Mr Sanderson died suddenly in 1831, as the result of a tragic carriage accident, and was succeeded by his sister,

MARY ANNE SANDERSON, during which period the Cloverhill estate was managed by her agent. 
Miss Sanderson built a chapel of ease (St John's) at the entrance to Cloverhill demesne in memory of her late father, which was consecrated in 1860. During her time, the post office was also built.
The Sanderson connection with what is now known as The Olde Post Inn is not mentioned in its history by the present proprietors. 

Miss Sanderson died in 1873, and was succeeded by her nephew,

SAMUEL WINTER SANDERSON JP DL (1834-1912), of Cloverhill, High Sheriff, 1876, who married, in 1860, Anne, daughter of John Armytage Nicholson, of Balrath, County Meath.

Mr Sanderson, second surviving son of the late Samuel Winter, of Agher, assumed, in 1873, the name and arms of SANDERSON quarterly with those of WINTER.

He was succeeded by his nephew,

MAJOR JOHN JAMES PURDON JP, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, born in 1855, who was succeeded by his nephew,

MAJOR JOHN NUGENT PURDON OBE, who sold Cloverhill demesne ca 1958 to Mr Thomas Mee. 

CLOVERHILL HOUSE, near Belturbet, County Cavan, is a three-storey edifice built for James Sanderson, to the designs of Francis Johnston.

The original block was built in 1758; followed in 1799-1802 by a greatly-enlarged addition to the east.

The top storey is concealed in the front, of three bays, the centre bay breaking forward.

There was a single-storey Ionic portico, though this was removed ca 1993 and re-erected at a house in County Wexford.

There is a wide, curved bow at one side, with Wyatt windows; and a bow-ended drawing-room.

The main entrance of the demesne boasts a plain, though noble, triumphal arch of ca 1800.

Further along the main avenue is the two-storey Red Lodge (the steward's lodge) which, as the name suggests, is a red brick house with timbered oriel dormers and an open porch.

The North Lodge of ca 1837 has been attributed to Edward Blore.

I visited Cloverhill in August, 2013.   I am grateful to Henry Skeath for his invaluable assistance in compiling this article.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Strokestown Park


CAPTAIN NICHOLAS MAHON, an officer in CHARLES I's army, who was distinguished for his loyalty in the civil wars, married Magdalene, daughter of Arthur French, of Movilla Castle, County Galway,
Captain Mahon was granted Strokestown as a royal deer park, as one of the '49 officers. He was a captain in the Royalist Army, distinguished for his loyalty to the two CHARLESES, having fought in the English Civil War. He was High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1664-76.
By his wife Captain Mahon had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Peter (Very Rev), Dean of Elphin;
Captain Mahon died in 1680, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MAHON, who wedded, in 1697, Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas Butler Bt, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

THOMAS MAHON MP (1701-82), MP for the borough of Roscommon, 1739-63, and for the county, 1763-82. He was 42 years in the Irish parliament, and was Father of the House.

Mr Mahon wedded, in 1735, Jane, eldest daughter of Maurice, 1st Baron Brandon, and sister of William, 1st Earl of Glandore (by Lady Anne Fitzmaurice, his wife, eldest daughter of Thomas, Earl of Kerry, and sister to John, Earl of Shelburne, father of William, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne KG), and had issue,
MAURICE, his heir;
Thomas (Rev);
Anne; Jane; Theodosia.
He was succeeded by his elder son,

MAURICE MAHON MP (1738-1819), was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, as BARON HARTLAND, of Strokestown, County Roscommon.

He wedded, in 1765, Catherine, daughter of Stephen, 1st Viscount Mount Cashell, by whom he had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Stephen, Lieutenant-General, d 1828;
MAURICE, heir to his brother.
Lord Hartland was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1766-1835), a lieutenant-general in the army, who espoused, in 1811, Catherine, daughter of James Topping, of Whatcroft Hall, Cheshire; but dsp in 1835, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

MAURICE, 3rd Baron (1772-1845), in holy orders, who married, in 1813, Isabella Jane, daughter of William Hume MP, of Humewood; but dsp in 1845.

His cousin and heir,

MAJOR DENIS MAHON (1787-1847), of Strokestown, wedded, in 1822, Henrietta, daughter of the Rt Rev Henry Bathurst, Lord Bishop of Norwich.

Major Mahon was barbarously murdered in 1847, leaving issue, THOMAS, born in 1831, who died unmarried; and

GRACE CATHERINE MAHON, of Strokestown House, who espoused, in 1847, HENRY SANDFORD PAKENHAM JP DL, eldest son of the Hon and Very Rev Henry Pakenham, Dean of St Patrick's, by Elizabeth his wife, niece and co-heir of Henry, 2nd Baron Mount Sandford

He assumed, by royal licence, the additional surname and arms of MAHON, and died in 1893 leaving issue,
HENRY, his heir;
Henrietta Grace; Florence; Maud.
Their only son,

HENRY PAKENHAM-MAHON JP DL (1851-1922), of Strokestown Park, married, in 1890, May, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Sidney Burrard, Grenadier Guards, and had issue,

OLIVE HALES-PAKENHAM-MAHON, born in 1894, who married firstly, Captain Edward Charles Stafford-King-Harman, son of the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Joseph Stafford Bt, in 1914; and secondly, in 1921, Wilfred Stuart Atherstone, son of Colonel Herbert Marwick Atherstone Hales.

Her younger son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL NICHOLAS HALES-PAKENHAM-MAHON (1926-2012), was raised on the family's Roscommon estate and educated by a governess until he went to Winchester College.
Because of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where he had served in Londonderry during the rioting of the early 1970s as in the Grenadier Guards, he knew that he could not return to claim his inheritance of Strokestown House because his ancestry was known to IRA intelligence.

As heir to the property he convinced his ailing parents to sell the Palladian mansion, which was then in a bad sate of repair, in 1979 to Jim Callery of the Westward Garage group based in Strokestown.
Strokestown Park now houses the National Irish Famine Museum.

The Ordnance Survey Field Name Books record Thomas Conry as agent to Lord Hartland.
In the 1850s Henry Sandford Pakenham-Mahon held land in the County Roscommon parishes of Dysart, barony of Athlone, Kilglass and Kilmore, barony of Ballintober North, Kilbride, Kilgefin, barony of Ballintober South, Cloonfinlough, Bumlin, Aughrim, Elphin, Kilbride, Kiltrustan, Lissonuffy, barony of Roscommon.
Over 8,600 acres of the Mahon estate was vested in the Congested Districts' Board in 1911-12.

STROKESTOWN PARK, Strokestown, County Roscommon,  was built by Thomas Mahon MP (1701-82) on lands which had been granted to his grandfather, Nicholas, in the latter half of the 17th century.

The family continued its association with Strokestown until 1979, when, eight generations later, Mrs Olive Hales-Pakenham-Mahon moved to a nursing home in England, at the age of eighty-seven.

Bence-Jones states that the mansion consists of a centre block and wings, in the Palladian manner, the centre block being mainly 17th century and finished in 1696; though altered and re-faced during the late-Georgian era.

It consists of three storeys over a basement and seven bays. There is a fanlighted doorway under a single-storey, balustraded Ionic portico.

The wings are of two storeys and four bays, joined to the central block by curved sweeps as high as they are themselves; possibly added ca 1730.  One wing contains a splendid stable and vaulting carried on a row of Tuscan columns.

One addition at the rear of the mansion is a magnificent library with a coved ceiling and original 19th century wallpaper of great beauty.

The entrance to the demesne is a tall Georgian-Gothic arch at the end of the tree-lined street of the town, one the Ireland's widest main streets. Apparently the 2nd Lord Hartland intended to create a street wider even than the Ringstrasse in Vienna.

Strokestown's main street is the second-widest street in Ireland, after Sackville Street - now called O'Connell Street - in Dublin.

The initial intention of Westward Garage was to keep the few acres they needed to expand their business and to sell on the remainder of the estate to recoup their finances. At that stage Westward was a young emerging company, with limited cash resources.

However, when they spent some time in the house and saw what was there, they decided that Strokestown Park was far too important from a heritage point of view to risk losing it.

They negotiated a deal with the Mahon family to ensure that virtually all of the original furnishings would remain at Strokestown Park.

They also pleaded with the family to leave behind the documents that remained in the estate office. By doing so they had ensured the salvation of a huge part of the heritage of County Roscommon, particularly relating to the Irish famine.

The first public role for the house was when it was used for the making of the film ‘Anne Devlin’, based on the 1798 Irish Rising, in 1984.

What then followed was a restoration project of such enthusiasm and energy that it was to be acknowledged as the single best private restoration in the history of the Irish state.

The house was opened to the public in 1987 and is "unique" in that it affords visitors the opportunity to browse through the public rooms on professionally guided tours, surrounded by the original furnishings of the house.

The House is unchanged from the time when the Mahons lived there, as evidenced by photographs which can be seen in the house.

Strokestown Park is now open to the public as a visitor attraction.

Former town residence ~ 35 St George's Road, Eccleston Square, London.

First published in October, 2011.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Judicial Appointment

THE QUEEN has been pleased to approve that the honour of Knighthood be conferred upon Adrian George Patrick Colton, QC, on his appointment as a Justice of the High Court.

The Hon Mr Justice Colton was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1983, and took Silk in 2006.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Mystery House

Do any readers recognize this house?

The image shows a wedding party with members of the Silcock family.

The Silcock residence was once Marybrook House, near Crossgar, County Down.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Warrenpoint House

Do any readers recognize this house?

It is or was located near Warrenpoint, County Down.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Charleville Forest


This family derives maternally from the extinct house of MOORE, Barons Moore, of Tullamore, and Earls of Charleville of the first creation, which sprang from a common ancestor with the Moores, Earls and Marquesses of Drogheda.

THOMAS MOORE, living in the reign of EDWARD II, was ancestor, after ten generations, of

JOHN MOORE, of Benenden Place, Kent, living, in 1519, who had issue,
EDWARD (Sir), father of the Earls of Drogheda;
THOMAS (Sir), of whom we treat.
Sir Edward and Sir Thomas went over to Ireland, as soldiers of fortune, in the reign of ELIZABETH I.

Sir Edward founded the noble house of DROGHEDA; and

THOMAS MOORE obtained by grant from the Crown, 1577, the castle of Castletown, with 758 acres of land thereunto adjoining, in the King's County, being styled in the said grant, "Thomas Moore of Croghan."

Mr Moore received, subsequently, the honour of knighthood for his services against the Irish, by whom he was eventually put to death in his castle.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR JOHN MOORE, of Croghan Castle, who, with other considerable territorial possessions, had a grant from the Crown, 1622, of the town and lands of TULLAMORE, King's County, to the extent of 1,147 acres.

Sir John married Dorothy, fifth daughter of Dr Adam Loftus, Lord Archbishop of Dublin; and dying in 1633, was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS MOORE, of Croghan, MP for Philipstown, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Sir Ambrose Forth, of County Dublin, Judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

JOHN MOORE, of Croghan, who espoused a daughter of Sir William Sambach, Attorney-General for Ireland, but by that lady had no surviving issue.

He married secondly, in 1669, Ellen, second daughter of Dudley Colley, of Castle Carbery, County Kildare, by whom he had Dudley, who fell in a duel with Cornet Castine, 1714; and an elder brother, his heir,

THE RT HON JOHN MOORE, of Croghan, MP for the King's County, who was called to the Privy Council by GEORGE I in 1714; and, in 1715, by the same monarch, was created Baron Moore, of Mellefont, County Louth.

His lordship obtained a reversionary grant of the office of Muster-master General of Ireland.

He wedded, in 1697, Mary, daughter of Elnathan Lunn, banker, of Dublin, by whom he had, with an only surviving daughter, an only surviving son,

CHARLES, 2nd Baron (1712-64), appointed Privy Counsellor, Governor of King's County, and Muster-master-General in Ireland.

The 2nd Baron was created, in 1758, EARL OF CHARLEVILLE.

His lordship, having died in a childless marriage, 1764, when the titles expired, was succeeded by his nephew,

JOHN BURY, eldest son of the Hon Jane Bury (sister of the 2nd Baron), born in 1725, whose only son,

CHARLES WILLIAM BURY, born in 1764, was created Baron Tullamore, of Charleville Forest, King's County (2nd creation) in 1797.

He was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1800, as Viscount Charleville.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1806, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF CHARLEVILLE (2nd creation).

The following account of the Bury family, Earls of Charleville, is taken from Mark Girouard's account of Charleville published in Country Life, 27 September, 1962:
... Charles William Bury (1764-1835) [was] a landowner of considerable wealth, derived partly from [Shannongrove], the Bury estate in Co. Limerick (where the family had settled in 1666), and partly from property in [and around] Tullamore, King's County, inherited through his father's mother, the only sister and heiress of Charles Moore (1712-1764), Earl of Charleville and Baron Moore of Tullamoore [as the Moores liked to call it]. He himself was created Lord Tullamoore in 1797, Viscount Charleville in 1800 and Earl of Charleville in 1806.

[This was mainly because in 1795 he had purchased political control of the borough of Carlow, which continued to be represented in the Parliament of the UK after the Union, and used his nomination of members for Carlow to bargain for his advancement in the peerage.]
The titles descended from father to son until the early death of his grandson, the 4th Earl, in 1874, who was succeeded by his uncle, the 5th Earl.

The 5th Earl died childless in 1875, when the titles expired.


Lady Emily Howard-Bury, daughter of the 3rd Earl, married Kenneth Howard, son of the Hon James Howard.

She succeeded to the Charleville estates, including Charleville Castle, on the death of her brother the 5th Earl in 1875 and in 1881 she and her husband assumed by Royal license the additional surname of Bury.

The property passed in 1931 to her son, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury DSO JP DL.
He was the leader of the first Everest expedition to find a route through Tibet to the North Col (1921), and is best known for that achievement. He is said to have abhorred Charleville Forest and stripped it of its contents at a now notorious auction in 1949. 
The Howard-Bury Papers are held at the PRONI.

CHARLEVILLE FOREST, near Tullamore, County Offaly, is thought to be the finest and most spectacular early 19th century castle in Ireland.

It was built between 1800-12 for Charles, 1st Earl of Charleville (2nd creation).

The Castle is nestled among the huge and ancient oak trees that were once held sacred by the Druids.

The building site was originally home to the Lynally monastic community, which existed as a part of the Durrow settlement.

By the 1500s, the site was no longer ecclesiastical in nature, but used as a plantation settlement for the Moores.

This thickly wooded acreage at the very centre of Ireland has been occupied through generational succession until the late 19th century.

The castle itself, Ireland’s premier example of Gothic Revival architecture, was a work in progress from 1798 until it was completed in 1812.

It was designed and erected in the style of a “tin soldier fortress” partly to commemorate Cornwallis’s victory over French revolutionary forces that had made their way into the Irish midlands.

Following the death of the 5th Earl in 1875, the titles became extinct.

Charleville passed to the sister of the 4th Earl; then to her son; and then to the grandson of another of the 4th Earl's sisters.

From 1912 until 1971, the unoccupied castle fell victim to the ravages of time.

The years that followed the war for independence and the accompanying economic difficulties reduced the structure to a nearly roofless, ruined condition by 1968.

The restoration and renovation work that was begun in 1971 by Michael McMullen continued under the supervision of Constance Heavey Seaquist and Bonnie Vance.

The Castle is open to the public and is currently funded by a charitable trust under the direction of Dudley Stuart.

It occupies 30 acres of land that includes gardens as well as densely wooded areas.

The castle building was designed by Francis Johnston, and Charles Bury was the original owner.

Johnston was responsible for several classic Georgian buildings in Dublin, including the General Post Office.

The exterior of the building is dominated by stately turrets and a flag tower, and features many mullioned windows.

A large window located above the main entrance is the focal point of the façade.

Inside, the rooms are gigantic, including the dining room designed by William Morris that still bears its original stenciled wallpaper.

The estate also includes a small outbuilding that resembles a gothic chapel and actually houses the kitchen and storage area.

The stable yard is located just beyond this building.

Lord Byron visited Charleville Forest Castle often and it is said that he held many parties here.

The castle grounds are now the object of a massive restoration project that, when finished, will clear the area of overgrowth, discern the original plantings from the old English flower garden, and design and build new garden and relaxation areas for visitors.

Volunteers are on hand to do this work from UK, France, the USA and Canada.

They also assist in the regular maintenance of the property.

The house and the surrounding grounds are said to be haunted by Druids and past occupants of the castle.

It has been featured on several television programmes, including Most Haunted and Scariest Places on Earth.

The huge staircase is reportedly visited often by the ghost of a young girl named Harriet, who was killed accidentally while sliding down the balustrade.

Visitors have felt the chill of her presence while climbing the stairs, and have seen her ghostly figure skipping past.

Sometimes, she is seen in the company of a small boy.

Another haunting, reported by Bonnie Vance, included an early morning visitation of the ghosts of Charles Bury and Francis Johnston, accompanied by a large group of Druids.

They appeared to be invoking a blessing upon Bonnie as she lay in her bed.

Also, disembodied voices of two men have been heard as they spent the evening drinking at the castle, as well as children’s voices and shrieks in the empty playroom.

Many of the visitors that arrive are paranormal experts, investigating the reports of various hauntings.

People also come to attend a diverse range of events that includes plays, shows and auctions.

Many ancient oak trees line the driveway. One of the largest is referred to as “King Oak”.

Legend says that a member of the Charleville family has died every time the tree lost a branch to weather or old age.

Colonel Howard-Bury died in 1963, two weeks after the tree was nearly destroyed by a lightning strike.

First published in September, 2011.   Charleville arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

McCutcheon's Field Day

Groomsport from McCutcheon's Field

I've spent the day with other National Trust volunteers at a place known as McCutcheon's Field.

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

There's a static caravan park here called Windsor Holiday Park.

This field is close to Groomsport.

Today we were gathering gorse bushes and burning them.

There were about eight of us today.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Graymount Visit

As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend, today I visited Graymount House, Greencastle, County Antrim (on the outskirts of Belfast).

I've already written an article about Graymount here.

ON the way home I drove via Belfast's Titanic Quarter, where I stopped at the old light cruiser HMS Caroline.

Ostensibly there is little sign of restoration being undertaken, though perhaps it's more likely that work is progressing on the interior of the historic vessel.

A very large super-tanker, Santa Regina, was berthed across the harbour.

Connswater Progress

Work is continuing along the river Conn's Water, which runs through the heart of east Belfast.

These images were taken at King George V playing-field, adjacent to The Oval, Glentoran Football Club's pitch, and Victoria Park.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Horse Island II

We returned to Horse Island today for another bash at the ragwort.

We managed to uproot virtually all of it, which was very satisfactory.

I have a small rucksack where I keep my Thermos flask, food, waterproof garments, thermal gloves, woolly hat, first aid kit, whistle, Swiss Army knife etc.

Later, at the old schoolhouse, we collected our new National Trust gear, including fleece jackets, waterproof trousers, and safety wellington boots.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Decanal Installation

I attended the installation of my old school pal, The Very Rev Nigel Crossey, as Dean of Kilmore and Rector of Ballintemple last night at Kilmore Cathedral, County Cavan.

The service was well attended.

This was my first visit to the Cathedral.

Nigel now lives at Danesfort, the deanery, near by.

The Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, the Right Rev Ferran Glenfield, officiated at the ceremony, assisted by the Archdeacon of Kilmore, the Ven Craig McCauley.

Afterwards we were all cordially invited to tea and refreshments at the parish hall, which was the original cathedral.

The tables heaved with sandwiches, cakes, buns and other delightful food.

The Bishop now resides at the new see house, within eyesight of the parish hall.

The old episcopal palace still stands in its own demesne across the road.

Farnham: II

Fortified with a substantial breakfast this morning, I drove back to Kilmore Cathedral, where I had another amble.

The former episcopal palace or see house seems to be empty now.

counted three storeys over a basement. The episcopal coat-of-arms emblazons the apex of the entrance front.

I wonder when the Church of Ireland sold it.

Thereafter I motored into the town of Cavan, County Cavan, for a stroll.

There's a statue of one of the Barons Farnham outside the library and tourist office. 

It might once have been in a more prominent position, though it's fairly discreet in its present location.

THE village of Cootehill has a wide Main Street which leads ultimately to the handsome little parish church.

The church is on the edge of Bellamont Forest. Indeed, Bellamont's main entrance is a few yards beyond the church.

The mansion house is private, though the woods are accessible for walkers. There are deer in the forest.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Farnham: I

I arrived in County Cavan about midday and made a beeline for Farnham Estate, now a country house hotel.

The old mansion house still stands and is integrated into a modern building behind it, connected by a massive glass structure.

The portico of the mansion house is therefore indoors now.

Several function rooms and the bridal suite are located in the mansion house.

I lunched in the new section. I had a rather tasty bowl of potato and squash soup with wheaten bread (€6).

After lunch I drive the shirt distance to my guesthouse, which is in the surrounding countryside.

My room overlooks forest and woodland on the edge of Farnham estate.

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 is a mile 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 in the early 1980s.