Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling remains one of my favourite restaurants in Corralejo. Reservations are essential because of its diminutive size.

It has, I think, seven tables inside; and the kitchen is very small, too; so small, indeed, that Henrik has to turn away many who haven't booked in advance.

I've written often about this special little establishment before.

Henrik, the proprietor, is Danish, and one of the most courteous hosts you are ever likely to meet.

I invariably email Henrik a few weeks before I visit, and last night was no exception; in fact I reserved for three dates.

Incidentally, they are relocating soon to a new and improved location at Calle El Pulpo, near the Dunas Club apartments and the harbour.

I opted for the signature Green Salad as a starter; followed by the salmon, with bearnaise butter, mashed potatoes, and spinach.

Henrik poured me a flute of well chilled cava.

His parents were seated at the table beside me. Henrik introduced me to them, a delightful couple.

The bill was about €25.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Strong Alioli

I'm spending some time in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, specifically the resort of Corralejo, which I know well.

Yesterday I acclimatised myself in the old town and revisited many familiar haunts.

The town's infrastructure is still being improved: a number of key streets have been pedestrianised to a high standard.

After lunch I had a refresher at Soul Bar-Café in Music Square, which has about one hundred varieties of gin.

Alas, our Shortcross gin does not, as yet, feature on the list; though I commended it to them.

I enjoyed a very simple dinner of chicken escalope with a few chips and salad at Avenida restaurant.

I'm convinced that they have possibly the best alioli in the town: it's strength does it credit; not for the faint-hearted!

At the conclusion of my evening I sat at the bijou Bar Bouganville, where I sipped a White Russian cocktail.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Robert Quigg VC

The possibility is being examined of having a dedicated memorial or sculpture in the admirable little  village of Bushmills, County Antrim, to honour Sergeant Robert Quigg VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour at the Battle of the Somme.

Discussions have taken place at Moyle Council in Ballycastle and it was agreed to write to the Royal British Legion in Bushmills and the Macnaghten family, of Dundarave, to get their views.

Many, including self, would like to see a memorial in place in Bushmills ahead of 2016 which will be the centenary of Quigg's heroics in World War One.

A local historian, Robert Thompson, said:
"In July of 1916 Robert Quigg risked his life to rescue wounded soldiers at the Somme and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts.
"He is the only Victoria Cross winner north of Belfast, yet he is ignored by his home town of Bushmills. If this was anywhere else in the world he would be feted and honoured forever."

North Antrim Assemblyman Robin Swann is also pushing for a memorial. He said:
"While Robert is acknowledged by the presence of a plaque at the War Memorial, the community have suggested that a more fitting tribute or a statue or sculpture could be provided in time for the centenary of his actions.
"I am sure the community will play a full part in planning such a tribute but clearly leadership from the Council in delivering such a memorial will be very important."

Robert Quigg, from the village, enlisted in the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Mid-Antrim Volunteers) during World War One.

His platoon commander was Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten (Sir Edward Harry Macnaghten, 6th Baronet, 1896–1916).

On 1 July Robert's platoon advanced three times only to be beaten back by the Germans. Many hundreds of the 12th Battalion were either killed or wounded.

In the confusion of battle it became known that Lieutenant Macnaghten was missing. Robert Quigg immediately volunteered to go out into no-man's land and search for his commander.

His actions during that fruitless search led him to receive the Victoria Cross.

His citation reads as follows:
Hearing a rumour that his platoon officer was lying wounded, he went out seven times to look for him, under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, each time bringing back a wounded man.

The last man he dragged on a waterproof sheet from within yards of the enemy's wire. He was seven hours engaged in this most gallant work, and was finally so exhausted that he had to give it up.
The body of Sir (Edward) Harry Macnaghten, 6th Baronet, was never found.
Most tragically for Edith, Lady Macnaghten, her two sons, the 6th and 7th Baronets, were both killed in action.

Robert Quigg returned to Bushmills to a hero's welcome. He died in 1955 and was buried with full military honours at Billy Church.

Councillor Joan Baird described Quigg as "a very famous hero of our area".

First published in August,  2011.

Monday, 26 October 2015

William John English VC

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WILLIAM JOHN ENGLISH VC, born on 6 October 1882 in Cork, was the son of Major William English OBE; educated at Harvey Grammar School in Folkstone, Kent from 1894-98; and Campbell College, Belfast from 1898-99.

After a short spell in the Merchant Navy, he left it in South Africa and in November 1900 joined the the Scottish Horse.

In March, 1901, he received his commission as Lieutenant in the 2nd Scottish Horse.

The citation of his VICTORIA CROSS reads as follows:
This officer, with five men, was holding the position at Vlakfontein on 3 July 1901 during an attack by the Boers. Two of his men were killed and two wounded, but the position was still held, largely owing to the lieutenant's personal pluck. When the ammunition ran short, he went over to the next party and obtained more; to do so he had to cross some 15 yards of open ground, under a heavy fire at a range of from 20 to 30 yards.
After his retirement in 1930 he lived at Kings Road, Knock, in Belfast where he was the Northern Ireland organiser for the National Association for Employment of Regular Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen.

In August, 1939, he formed in Northern Ireland a Group of the National Defence Corps which in November of that year, became the 6th Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles.

In April, 1941, he left to take up an unknown appointment in the Middle East but died at sea on the 4th July. He is buried in Maala Cemetery in Aden. 

A researcher from the Imperial War Museum recently advised that the English VC medal group is leaving Campbell College, Belfast, and heading to the Lord Ashcroft VC & GC Gallery in the Imperial War Museum, London, on a ten year loan.

Gavin has sent the researcher over some photos from his English VC research.

An interesting video is here:

First published in November, 2010.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Castle Saunderson


ALEXANDER SANDERSON, of Scotland, was made a Denizen of Ireland, 1613, and was appointed High Sheriff of County Tyrone in 1622, and twice subsequently.

He was granted Tullylagan, County Tyrone, and other lands to the extent of 1,000 acres, the whole being erected into the manor of Sanderson in 1630.

Mr Sanderson died in 1633, leaving three sons,
Archibald, of Tullylagan;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
George, dsp.
The second son,

ROBERT SANDERSON, settled at Portagh, and there built Castle Saunderson, County Cavan.

He was Colonel in the army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, and was High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1657.

Colonel Sanderson married Katherine, eldest daughter of John Cunningham, both of Ballyachen, County Donegal; and died in 1675, leaving issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Alexander, father of ALEXANDER;
William, of Moycashel.
The eldest son,

ROBERT SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, MP and Colonel of a regiment in WILLIAM III's army, married Jane, daughter of the Right Rev John Leslie, Lord Bishop of Clogher.

He dsp 1723, and was succeeded by his nephew,

ALEXANDER SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1714, who wedded Mabella, daughter of William Saunderson, of Moycashel, County Westmeath, and was buried at St Mary's, Dublin, in 1726.

His son,

FRANCIS SANDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1740, espoused Anne, eldest daughter of Anthony Atkinson, of Cangort, King's County, and died in 1746, leaving two sons and two daughters.

His son and heir,

ALEXANDER SAUNDERSON, of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1758, changed the spelling of his name.

He married Rose, daughter of Trevor Lloyd, of Gloster, King's County, and died at Cork, 1768, and was buried at Shinrone, King's County.

He left, with other issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Robert, in holy orders;
The eldest son,

FRANCIS SAUNDERSON (1754-1827), of Castle Saunderson, MP for County Cavan, married, in 1779, Anne Bassett, daughter of Stephen White, of Miskin, Glamorgan, and heir of the Bassett estates in that county, and by her (who died 1845) had issue,

ALEXANDER, his successor;
Francis, in holy orders;
Hardress Robert;
James, Lieutenant RN;
William Bassett;
Lydia Waller; Cecilia.
Mr Saunderson's eldest son,

ALEXANDER SAUNDERSON JP DL (1783-1857), of Castle Saunderson, Colonel of the Militia, High Sheriff, 1818, and MP for County Cavan, wedded, in 1828, the Hon Sarah Juliana Maxwell, eldest daughter of Henry, 6th Lord Farnham, and by her (who died 1870) had issue,
Alexander de Bedick (1832-60);
Somerset Bassett (1834-92);
EDWARD JAMES, of whom we treat;
Llewellyn Traherne;
Juliana Harriet; Rose Ann.
Colonel Saunderson was succeeded by his third son, 

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE RT HON EDWARD JAMES SAUNDERSON JP DL (1837-1906), of Castle Saunderson, who married, in 1865, the Hon Helena Emily de Moleyns, youngest daughter of Thomas, 3rd Lord Ventry, and had issue,
SOMERSET FRANCIS, his successor;
John Vernon;
Colonel Saunderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

CAPTAIN SOMERSET FRANCIS SAUNDERSON JP DL (1867-1927), of Castle Saunderson, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1907, who married, in 1914, Mary Satterfield, former wife of Count Larisch von Moennich.

CASTLE SAUNDERSON, near Belturbet, County Cavan, is a large castellated mansion combining both baronial and Tudor-Revival elements. It was built ca 1840.

The mansion bears remarkable similarities to Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, a mere five miles away.

The entrance front is symmetrical, with a battlemented parapet, square and turrets. There is a tall central gatehouse tower with its entrance door to the side, which is unusual.

The adjoining garden front is more irregular. The house boasts several Gothic features, including the conservatory. 

The original Castle was built in 1573.

The Saunderson family were seated here until 1977, when it was sold to a London-based businessman.

The Castle was in a state of disrepair and plans to have it completely renovated as a private dwelling at this time never materialized.

The estate was sold again in 1990 to be developed as a hotel.

These plans were also abandoned after a fire gutted and destroyed most of the Castle interior.

This was the third fire to take place in the history of the castle.

In 1997, the castle and estate were offered to Scouting Ireland for €420,000 (estimated to be half its market value at that time).

Now consisting of 103 acres, Castle Saunderson has once again the potential to be restored to its former glory, and to be put to new use as a scout and youth training canter.

Of the 103 acres on the estate, some 70 acres are grass, 25 acres are wooded and the 8 remaining acres are lake and waterway.

Captain Alexander Saunderson, the last remaining member of the Saunderson family to have lived in the Castle, now resides in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

From the outset, Captain Saunderson has wholly endorsed the plans by Scouting Ireland to restore the Castle, family church and grounds to its former glory.

The development plans for the Castle and Church include a cultural and heritage canter highlighting the history of the Saunderson Family, together with local history to include the plantation of Ulster (1603) and other notable historic events.

It is intended to restore the church as a multi-denominational church.

The graveyard around the church and the crypt beneath the church building contains the remains of the Saunderson family, and it is planned to maintain the church and graveyard as part of the cultural and heritage aspect of the overall project.

First published in November, 2011.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Fenagh House


THOMAS PACK,  of Ballynakill, Queen's County, married a daughter of Mr Kelly, of Ballynakill.

Dying in 1758, he left issue, three sons, of whom the eldest,

THE VERY REV THOMAS PACK, Dean of Ossory, wedded, in 1816, Lady Elizabeth Louisa Beresford (daughter of 1st Marquess of Waterford).

His son,

MAJOR-GENERAL SIR DENIS PACK KCB (1775-1823), received the thanks of Parliament five times for his military services.

His second son,

baptised with the name of Denis William Pack; Captain, Royal Artillery; High Sheriff, 1856; MP for County Carlow. In 1854 he inherited Irish estates from his uncle, General the Rt Hon William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford.
His name was legally changed to PACK-BERESFORD when he assumed the additional surname and arms of Beresford in compliance with the will of Lord Beresford, by Royal Licence, in 1854.

His younger son,

DENIS ROBERT PACK-BERESFORD JP DL (1864-1942), of Fenagh House; High Sheriff, 1890, married, in 1891, Alice Harriet, only daughter of the James Acheson Lyle, of Portstewart House.

Denis William Pack-Beresford's grandson,

COMMANDER DENIS JOHN PACK-BERESFORD RN, of Fenagh House, married firstly, in 1928, Basante Hoskins, in 1928; and secondly, in 1933, Daphne, daughter of Lieutenant Horace Robert Martineau VC.

Commander Pack-Beresford was Founder and President, Irish Pedigree Pig Breeders Association; sometime representative to the Council of Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society of Scotland; Vice-President of the Irish Aberdeen-Angus Association; member of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society.

FENAGH HOUSE, Bagenalstown, County Carlow, is a plain and austere stone dwelling, built ca 1829.

It is irregular in plan and extensive, though it has a symmetrical entrance front of three bays, the centre bay of which is recessed with a pillared porch.

First published in November, 2011.

Requisite Bung

There were ten of us on Island Taggart yesterday.

For those of you who might not have been following the narrative, Island Taggart belongs to the National Trust.

It lies on Strangford Lough, County Down, near Killyleagh.

At the moment we're using a dinghy to get to the island from an old quay on the mainland.

This dinghy has a four horse-power outboard motor; though we are apprised that the NT is giving us a new boat next year.

We presently have to use a cork bung to keep it afloat; modern technology is marvellous!

The island is merely five minutes' away from the mainland at any rate.

Today, as usual, we cut and burned gorse.

The hedgerows on Taggart are rich with blackthorn, hawthorn, rose-hips, blackberries and many other plants so essential to birds at this time of year.

Tomasz managed to pick some rose-hips at lunchtime.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Summer House

I'm absolutely delighted that the adorable little summer-house or gazebo at Florence Court, County Fermanagh, has been rebuilt to its original specifications.

The first one was maliciously burnt just over a year ago.

I'd only wish to extend my compliments and cordial congratulations to all involved in this splendid and admirable feat; especially those in County Fermanagh and the Impartial Reporter newspaper.

Taggart Revisited

East Down Yacht Club from the island

I spent a terrific day on Island Taggart yesterday with about a dozen other National Trust volunteers.

This was my first visit since September, 2013.

The island has a considerable amount of gorse in places, so we were cutting and burning it.

The field we concentrated on was on the western side of the island, directly opposite East Down Yacht Club.

In fact we landed on the shore here; indeed it's a pity we can't use the yacht club as a base to get over to Taggart.

The field in question is below the old farmstead at the top of the island, which was last inhabited in 1967.

At lunchtime Hugh and Maureen arrived in Cuan Brig, the National Trust barge, in order to deliver parts of a cattle pen.

There are believed to be 28 cattle on the island, including one bull.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Island Taggart


ISLAND TAGGART is a property in County Down owned by The National Trust.

It lies between Ringdufferin, directly to its north, and Killyleagh, the nearest village, to the south.

The island is one mile long and a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point, a total area of about 85 acres, acquired in 1984 from Patrick and Kathleen Mackie.

Click to enlarge

Its length and the height of its two drumlins make it particularly attractive in the southern half of Strangford Lough.

From the higher points there is a fine prospect of varying habitats: from the eastern side, the main body of the lough with its marine life, sea-birds and the landscape of the Ards Peninsula; while, to the west, the sheltered mud-flats and salt-marshes with their population of waders and waterfowl.


The range of habitat types and abundant cover provided by pasture-land, scrub, hedgerows, marsh, foreshore and woodland ensure that the island is exceptionally attractive to wildlife.

A wide variety of butterflies and insects are to be found on the island; and the areas of scrub, with hawthorn, elderberry and brambles, provide excellent feeding for small birds on both the insect life and the fruit.

It is an important wintering ground for chaffinches, linnets, skylarks, stonechats and reed buntings.

There have been two large badger sets occupied on the island.; and there is evidence of foxes.

Otters frequent the northern tip. Porpoises can sometimes be seen feeding close to its eastern shore.


The mudflats to the west of the island provide good feeding for curlew, redshank, oystercatcher, knot, dunlin and turnstone; greenshank and ringed plovers have also been seen.

Terns and black-headed gulls are almost always to be seen around the shore; and, in the winter, there are abundant razorbills, guillemots, cormorants and, occasionally, great northern divers.


On the southern tip of the island there is an open circular stone kiln thought to have been used for burning kelp to produce potash for agricultural purposes.

Close to the north-eastern bay is a second, larger kiln which is very well preserved with a stone, corbelled roof.

At least two wells on the island are built of stone with interesting features which make them worthy of restoration.

At the extreme north-eastern tip of the island there are two "fairy thorns" enclosed in a low ring of stones.

In the past, Island Taggart was intensively farmed, though vegetation has now become more varied and there exists an important field system south of the farmstead with a valuable copse of oak, beech, ash, Scots pine, sycamore, elm and alder trees.


The principal farmstead with its stone-built, slate-roofed, single-storey derelict farmhouse with its farm buildings (a store; cow byre; calf-boxes; and hay-store) are all stone-built, partly slate.

An old well is located just to the side of the sunken lane which runs from the east shore up to the farm. There is an orchard nearby.

Island Taggart is one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough. Visitors are welcome.

There are good anchorages off the eastern shore and at the north-west corner of the island, depending on the weather, although care on a falling tide is advisable.

Old farm buildings give a good indication of life on the island and, indeed, it was used by Little Bird Films to make December Bride, a story about County Down folk at the turn of the 19th century.

Thick hedges full of bird life, relatively unspoiled meadows full of wild flowers, and small marshes bright with Yellow Flag iris and orchids make this a lovely island to visit, whilst in high summer it is full of butterflies including large numbers of Common Blues and Small Coppers.

Simmy Island (Sir William and Lady Hastings) lies at Island Taggart's north-western tip; while the Dunnyneill Islands are to the south-east.

One small, ruinous cottage is at the northern tip of the island; two other cottages, which are within fifty yards of each other, lie at the eastern side of the island about two-thirds of the way up from the southern tip; and the main farm sits at the top of the hill in the middle of the island.

The main farm, with farm-house, outbuildings directly opposite, farm-yard, walls and pillars with "bap" toppings, an old orchard, a stone well, privy and other features, is substantial enough and could conceivably be restored at some future date.

A lane ran from this farmstead down the hill, past the well (marked on the map), to the eastern shore and still exists today. Two further wells served the cottages to the north of the island.


There is a comment on the island in 1821:
Taggart Isle is attached to the parish of Killyleagh and contains 3 houses and 23 inhabitants.
This figure seems to have been at the time when the number of islanders was at its peak.

The island was attached to the Parish of Killyleagh in the barony of Dufferin. The owners were Lord Dufferin and Claneboye and Catherine A Hamilton.

    • 1841: 9 males, 6 females, 2 houses occupied
    • 1851: 4 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1861: 3 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1871: 3 males, 3 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1881: 3 males, 4 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1891: 3 males, 6 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1901: 2 males, 2 females, 1 house occupied
    • 1911: 2 males, 1 female, 1 house occupied
    • 1926: 1 male, 1 female, 1 house occupied

      The census and will records of Island Taggart record several families, all of whom were Presbyterian farmers:

        • Samuel Bishop, son of James and Margaret, died on the 7th August, 1855 aged 67
        • Grace Bishop, possibly Samuel's sister or wife, died on the 12th March, 1877
        • Thomas Morrow died on the 15th July, 1898 and probate was granted to his widow, Bridgetta. He left £440 7s 6d (£43,000 in today's money)
        • The 1901 Census recorded Bridgetta Morrow, 67, Head of Family; Samuel Morrow, 34, son; May Morrow, 25, daughter; and Samuel McDonald, 23, servant
        • the 1911 Census recorded Bridgetta Morrow, 80; Samuel Morrow, 45; and a new servant, John Fitzsimmons, aged 35
          In the spring of 1966, East Down Yacht Club purchased lands from James (Jimmy) Nelson's father and thereafter established the sailing club which hadn't existed prior to this.

          Mr David (Davey) Calvert was the last occupier of Island Taggart and he left the island in 1967.

          First published in December, 2010.

          Tuesday, 13 October 2015

          Powerscourt House


          THE surname of Wingfield is derived from the manor of Wingfield, Suffolk, where the progenitors of this family are stated to have been located before the Conquest; and the place of their abode was denominated Wingfield Castle.

          It has been said that this manor gave both a name and seat to a large family in those parts, famous for their knighthood and ancient gentility, which brought forth an abundance of renowned knights, and among them two celebrated companions of the Most Noble Order of the Garter under the reign of HENRY VIII.

          SIR RICHARD WINGFIELD (1550-1634), lineally descended from the Wingfields of Letheringham, Suffolk, a person of high military reputation, began his career under his uncle, Sir William Fitzwilliam, Lord Deputy of Ireland, in the civil wars in Ireland.

          He was afterwards engaged upon the Continent; and returning to Ireland, was appointed by ELIZABETH I, in 1600, Marshal of Ireland; and by JAMES I, for his subsequent achievements, twice joined in the government of Ireland.

          At the same time he was called to His Majesty's privy council.

          Sir Richard was elevated to the peerage, 1618, as VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT; but died without issue, in 1634, when the dignity expired; while the estates devolved upon his cousin,

          SIR EDWARD WINGFIELD, a distinguished soldier under the Earl of Essex, and a person of great influence and power in Ireland.

          He married Anne, daughter of Edward, Lord Cromwell; and dying in 1644 or 45, was succeeded by his only son,

          FOLLIOTT WINGFIELD (1642-1717), in whose favour the viscountcy of Powerscourt was revived in 1665.

          His lordship wedded Lady Elizabeth Boyle, eldest daughter of his guardian, the Earl of Orrery; but dying without issue, the peerage again expired, while the estates passed to his cousin,

          EDWARD WINGFIELD, barrister-at-law (son of Lewis Wingfield), who espoused firstly, Eleanor, second daughter of Sir Arthur Gore, of Newton Gore, County Mayo; and secondly, Miss Lloyd, daughter of William, Lord Bishop of Killala; by the former of whom he had one son and two daughters, viz.
          RICHARD, his heir;
          Isabella; Sidney.
          The only son,

          RICHARD WINGFIELD (1697-1751), of Powerscourt, MP, was elevated to peerage, in 1743, by the titles of Baron Wingfield and VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT (3rd creation).

          His lordship married firstly, in 1721, Anne, daughter of Christopher Usher, of Usher's Quay, Dublin, but by her had no issue.

          He wedded secondly, Dorothy, daughter of Hercules Rowley, of Summerhill, County Meath, and had issue,
          EDWARD, 2nd Viscount;
          RICHARD, 3rd Viscount;
          Frances; Isabella.
          His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

          EDWARD, 2nd Viscount (1729-64); at whose demise, unmarried, the honours devolved upon his only brother,

          RICHARD, 3rd Viscount (1730-88), who espoused Emelia, daughter of John, Earl of Aldborough, and had issue,
          RICHARD, his successor;
          Martha; Emilia; Harriot.
          His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

          RICHARD, 4th Viscount (1762-1809), who married firstly, in 1789, Catherine, second daughter of John, 1st Earl of Clanwilliam, by whom he had three sons,
          RICHARD, his successor;
          Edward, father of RICHARD.
          The 4th Viscount wedded secondly, in 1796, Isabella, second daughter of the Rt Hon William Brownlow, and by that lady had,
          Catherine; Emily.
          His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

          RICHARD, 5th Viscount (1790-1823), who espoused, in 1813, Frances Theodosia, eldest daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Roden, by whom he had issue,
          RICHARD, his successor;
          Catherine Anne.
          His lordship married secondly, in 1822, Theodosia, daughter of the Hon Hugh Howard, and niece of the Earl of Wicklow, but had no other issue.

          He was succeeded by his only son,

          RICHARD, 6th Viscount,
          • Mervyn Patrick Wingfield, 9th Viscount (1905–73);
          • Mervyn Niall Wingfield, 10th Viscount (1935-2015);
          • Mervyn Anthony Wingfield, 11th Viscount (b 1963)
          The 8th Viscount was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Wicklow, from 1910 until 1922.

          Garden front

          POWERSCOURT, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow, is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland.

          Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans, who came to Ireland in the 12th century.

          By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name.

          The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare.

          In 1603 Powerscourt Castle and lands were granted to a new English arrival in the area: Richard Wingfield.

          Following a successful military career in Ireland, Flanders, France and Portugal, Wingfield was knighted and in 1600 was appointed as Marshal of Ireland.

          His descendants were to remain at Powerscourt for over 350 years.

          Powerscourt was much altered in the 18th century when famous German-born architect, Richard Castle, remodelled the castles and grounds.

          The work was commissioned by Richard Wingfield (1697-1751) and involved the creation of a magnificent mansion around the shell of the earlier castle.

          Entrance front

          The central courtyard was converted into an entrance hall beneath the remarkably beautiful ballroom.

          The north front was adapted to present a grand entrance in the Palladian manner, while the south and front faced the gardens and was initially only two storeys in height.
          Powerscourt House was extensively altered during the 18th century by the German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741: On a commanding hilltop position, Cassells deviated slightly from his usual sombre style, to give the house something of a 'castle air'; a severe Palladian façade bookended by two circular domed towers. 
          GEORGE IV was the guest of Richard Wingfield, 5th Viscount, in August 1821.

          The 7th Viscount inherited the title and the Powerscourt estate, which comprised 49,000 acres of land, at the age of 8 in 1844.

          When he reached the age of 21, he embarked on an extensive renovation of the house and created the new gardens.

          Main attractions on the grounds include the Tower Valley (with stone tower), Japanese Gardens, winged horse statues, Lake, Dolphin Pond, Walled Gardens, Bamberg Gate and the Italian Garden.

          The Pepper Pot Tower is said to be designed after a favoured three-inch pepper pot.

          Of particular note is the pets' cemetery, whose tombstones have been described as "astonishingly personal".

          Inspiration for the garden design followed visits by Powerscourt to ornamental gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna, and Schwetzingen Castle near Heidelberg.

          The garden development took 20 years to complete in 1880.

          In 1961, the estate was sold by the 9th Viscount, Mervyn Patrick Wingfield, to the Slazenger family, who still own it to this day (2010).

          Tragically in the early hours of 4th November, 1974, a fire broke out on the top floor and by the morning the main part of the house was a roofless shell.

          No one was injured, but all of the principal reception rooms and bedrooms were destroyed.

          The Saloon

          The walls of the main house, revealing stonework dating back to the 16th century, stood as a stark reminder of the fire for over twenty years.

          Then in 1996 a process of regeneration began with the re-roofing of the house and the restoration of the windows as they were before the fire.

          The entrance hall now features an exhibition describing the fascinating history of Powerscourt, while shops, a terrace café and other visitor facilities are also located in the house.

          Wendy Anne Pauline Slazenger (daughter of the late Ralph Slazenger), married the 10th Viscount, Mervyn Niall Wingfield, in 1962. The marriage was dissolved in 1974 and Lord Powerscourt remarried.

          Through her children, the Hon Mervyn Anthony Wingfield and the Hon Julia Wingfield, there remains a strong family connection between the two families and the Powerscourt Estate.

          Only two rooms are open to the public as they once appeared while Powerscourt had residents, while the rest of ground floor and first floor are now retail units.

          THE GARDENS at Powerscourt were laid out in two main periods.

          When the house was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the surrounding grounds were laid out in a series of formal rides and parkland to the North, with carefully planned gardens and terraces to the South. 

          The design reflected the desire to create a garden which was part of the wider landscape.

          To the north formal tree plantations framed the vista from the house, while a walled garden, fish pond, cascades, grottoes and terraces lay to the south. 

          Walks wound through the wooded grounds and a fine tree lined avenue was created.

          A century later the 6th Viscount instructed his architect, Daniel Robertson, to draw up new schemes for the gardens. 

          Robertson was one of the leading proponents of Italianate garden design which was influenced by the terraces and formal features of Italian Renaissance villas and perfected in gardens in France and Germany.

          Robertson designed the terrace nearest the house.

          He is said to have suffered from gout and directed operations from a wheelbarrow, fortified by a bottle of sherry.

          When the sherry was finished, work ceased for the day!

          The death of the 6th Viscount in 1844 meant that alterations to the gardens ceased until his son resumed the work in the late 1850s. 

          Using a combination of Robertson's designs and the plans of the other landscape experts, the terraces were completed, enormous numbers of trees were planted and the grounds adorned with an amazing collection of statuary, ironwork and other decorative items.

          By the time of his death in 1904, the 7th Viscount had transformed the Estate.

          Further generations of the Wingfields maintained the grounds, adding the Japanese Gardens, Pepper Pot Tower and continuing to plant specimen trees. 

          First published in November, 2011.   Powerscourt arms courtesy of European Heraldry. Select bibliography: The Powerscourt Website.

          Monday, 12 October 2015

          Royalty in Fermanagh

          His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent is undertaking a two-day visit to County Fermanagh.

          The Duke of Kent this morning visited Ready Eggs Limited, Manor Water House Farm, Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh.

          His Royal Highness, President, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, this afternoon opened Carrybridge Lifeboat Station, Carrybridge, County Fermanagh.

          HRH later viewed an emergency services exercise at Enniskillen Airport, 62 Killadeas Road, Trory, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

          The Duke of Kent opened Horizon West Children's Hospice, Killadeas, Enniskillen, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh (the Viscount Brookeborough).

          His Royal Highness this afternoon visited Arc Healthy Living Centre, 116-122 Sallys Wood, Irvinestown, County Fermanagh.

          The Duke of Kent, President, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, later visited the Commonwealth War Graves in Derryvullan North Church of Ireland Churchyard, County Fermanagh.

          His Royal Highness subsequently visited the recently restored Famine Graveyard in Reihill Park, Irvinestown.

          The Duke of Kent afterwards visited St. Gabriel's Retreat, the Graan, Enniskillen.

          His Royal Highness later visited the Inniskillings Museum, the Castle, Enniskillen.

          HRH visited the ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown and met staff and guests.

          His Royal Highness also met a range of volunteers from uniformed organisations, hospital volunteers and recipients of the British Empire Medal.

          Johnstown Castle


          LORD MAURICE FITZGERALD (1852-1901), second son of the 4th Duke of Leinster, married Lady Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, daughter of the 7th Earl of Granard, in 1880.

          Lord Maurice was Lord-Lieutenant of County Wexford, 1881-1901; officer in the Royal Navy.

          JOHNSTOWN CASTLE, near Wexford town, has been home to two prominent County Wexford families.

          The first owners were the Esmonde Baronets, a Norman family who settled in the county in the 1170s.

          They constructed the tower houses at Johnstown and Rathlannon during the 15th or 16th century.

          During the Cromwellian period of 1640s the estate was confiscated and changed hands several times before being acquired by John Grogan in 1692, whose descendants remained at Johnstown up until 1945.

          Following the death of H K Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Baronet, a descendant of the original owners.

          The demesne afterwards passed to Grogan-Morgan's daughter Jane, Countess of Granard; and eventually to Lady Granard's daughter, Lady Maurice FitzGerald.

          The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan, who was unjustly executed for treason after the 1798 Rebellion.

          By 1863, Johnstown Castle estate was at its peak of development and comprised of a large demesne of over 1,000 acres.

          It was divided in two with a deer park to the north, and the castle, pleasure grounds, home farm and two lakes (with a third lake under construction) to the south.

          In 1945 Maurice Victor Lakin presented Johnstown Castle estate as a gift to the Irish state.

          Today Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority, owns Johnstown Castle estate and has a research facility on site.

          The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed in the old stable and farmyard buildings of the demesne.

          Burke's guide describes Johnstown as being,
          An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlemented and machiolated castle of silver-grey ashlar built about 1840 for H K Grogan-Morgan MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson, of Kilkenny.

          The entrance front is dominated by a single tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
          First published in November, 2011.  Leinster arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

          Saturday, 10 October 2015

          Greenway Progress

          View from Mersey Street Bridge, October, 2015

          Work progresses well along the river Conn's Water in east Belfast.

          Yesterday I visited Mersey Street and, at the bridge, two large cement lorries were stationary.

          The scene is looking from Mersey Street Bridge towards Victoria Park.

          At the moment it's hard to visualize the new paths in correlation to the river, though of course this increases one's interest and enthusiasm.

          Work has also begun further along the river, at Beer's Bridge.

          Wednesday, 7 October 2015

          McCutcheon's Field Day

          Tomasz has considered that today might have been one of our final visits to McCutcheon's Field in 2015.

          This property of the National Trust is about a mile from Groomsport, County Down.

          Today, yet again, we were cutting and burning gorse bushes.

          The Dexter cattle were there.

          there were about eight of us today.

          Monday, 5 October 2015

          Castle Ward Visit

          I spent a most agreeable three hours at Castle Ward yesterday, on what was a fine, sunny autumn day.

          Castle Ward, County Down, is, of course, the ancestral seat of the Viscounts Bangor. Indeed, the family still has an apartment in the mansion house.

          When I arrived I made a bee-line for the cafeteria in the stable-yard, where I had a delicious bowl of very thick curried carrot and parsnip soup, served with a generous slice of wheaten-bread.

          Castle Ward has been a property of the National Trust since the early 1950s.

          The Tack Room

          I think the 7th Viscount gave the estate to the Northern Ireland government at the time as part of death duties.

          After lunch, I took advantage of the free wi-fi in the stable-yard and posted a few photographs.

          Thence I donned the wellington boots and had a long walk through the estate woodland.

          I passed the former gamekeeper's cottage, otherwise known as the Bunkhouse; the pond; and a very large field with cattle.

          BACK at the mansion house, I admired the prospect from the garden front of Strangford Lough.

          Scrub and bushes have been cleared from the area between the house and the stable-yard outbuildings, revealing a very small single-storey cottage or bothy, which has obviously been derelict for many years.

          I've been coming to Castle Ward since I was a boy and I've never seen this building before.

          I wonder what its purpose was? Did it store something?

          Bonito Cottage

          Before I departed I visited the farmyard, where Old Castle Ward is located, and walked past the former smithy to the charming Bonito Cottage.