Saturday, 30 January 2016

Geashill Castle

THE BARONS DIGBY WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN KING'S COUNTY,WITH 29,722 ACRES


The original surname of this ancient family is said to have been TILTON, assumed from their residence at Tilton, Leicestershire; and the alteration is supposed to have taken place in 1256, when that abode was abandoned for Digby, Lincolnshire.

Almost two centuries later, in 1434, we find

EVERARD DIGBY, filling the office of High Sheriff of the county of Rutland, and representing that county in parliament.

He fell at the battle of Towton, in 1440, fighting under the banner of the unfortunate HENRY VI.

This gentleman married Jaquetta, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Ellis, of Devon, and left (with one daughter), seven sons, of whom the eldest were,
Everard;
SIMON;
John.
The second son,

SIR SIMON DIGBY, Knight, of Coleshill, Warwickshire, having contributed mainly, with his six valiant brothers, to the Earl of Richmond's success at Bosworth, was rewarded, after the accession of HENRY VII, with large grants of lands and lucrative public employments.

Sir Simon wedded Alice, daughter and heir of John Walleys, of East Radston, Devon; and dying in 1519, was succeeded by his elder son,

REGINALD DIGBY, of Coleshill, who espoused Anne, daughter and co-heir of John Danvers, of Calthorpe, Oxfordshire, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN DIGBY, who married Anne, eldest daughter of Sir George Throgmorton, and was succeeded by his son,

SIR GEORGE DIGBY, who wedded Abigail, daughter of Sir Arthur Henningham, of Kettering, in Norfolk, and had, with other issue,
ROBERT, his successor;
George, created 1st Baron Digby.
The son and heir,

SIR ROBERT DIGBY, Knight, who received that honour from Robert, Earl of Essex, at Dublin, in 1596, represented the borough of Athy in parliament, in 1613, and was called to the privy council.

He espoused Lettice, daughter and heir of Gerald, Lord Offaly, and granddaughter of Gerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, by whom he had, with several other sons, whose male descendants are extinct,
ROBERT, his heir;
Essex(Rt Rev), Lord Bishop of Dromore.
This Lettice was created Baroness Offaly for life, and brought into the Digby family the barony of Geashill, in the King's County.

Sir Robert died in 1618, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT DIGBY (c1599-1642), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1620, as BARON DIGBY, of Geashill, King's County.

His lordship espoused Lady Sarah Boyle, daughter of Richard, 1st Earl of Cork, and was succeeded, in 1642, by his son,

KILDARE, 2nd Baron, whose two elder sons,
ROBERT, 3rd Baron, and
SIMON, 4th Baron,
succeeded in turn to the barony, and both dying without issue, a younger brother,

WILLIAM, 5th Baron (1661-1752), inherited in 1657.

This nobleman married Lady Jane Noel, daughter of Edward, 1st Earl of Gainsborough, by whom he had (with eight daughters), four sons, viz.
John (c1687-1746);
Robert (c1692-1726);
Edward (c1693-1746), father of
EDWARD, 6th Baron;
Wriothesley.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

EDWARD, 6th Baron (1730-57), who died unmarried, when the honours devolved upon his brother,

HENRY, 7th Baron (1731-93), who was created a peer of Great Britain, in 1765, as Baron Digby; and advanced, in 1790, to the dignities of Viscount Coleshill and EARL DIGBY. 

His lordship married firstly, in 1763, Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon Charles Fielding, but by that lady had no surviving issue; and secondly, Mary, daughter and heir of John Knowler, of Canterbury, by whom he had,
EDWARD, his successor;
Robert, in holy orders;
Stephen;
Charlotte Maria; Elizabeth Theresa.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 2nd Earl.

Barons Digby (1620; Reverted)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon Henry Noel Kenelm Digby (b 1954).

GEASHILL, County Offaly, was developed by the Digbys as a planned estate village.

In 1887 Samuel Lewis described the village as containing 87 mostly thatched houses arranged around a triangular green.

Fairs were held on May 1, October 6 and December, the latter being one of the largest pig markets in Ireland.

The 9th Baron carried out extensive improvements in the 1860s and 1870s, and many of the current buildings around the triangular green date from this time.

The Kings County Directory recorded that Lord Digby had "converted the village of Geashill into what it now is, one of the neatest, cleanest and best kept in Ireland."

At the Paris Exhibition of 1867, Lord Digby was awarded the bronze medal for models of the village he was building.

He was awarded the gold medal for three years by the Royal Agricultural Society, for improving the greatest number of cottages in the best manner in the province of Leinster.

The Digbys built Geashill Castle near the medieval tower house of the O'Dempseys, and afterwards of the Kildare FitzGeralds, who were also Barons of Offaly.

This dwelling passed to the Digbys through marriage of Sir Robert Digby to the heiress of the 11th Earl of Kildare.

The house was of seven bays with a recessed, three-bay centre, a high plain roof parapet and a lower wing at one side.

It was burnt in 1922.

Seats ~ Coleshill, Warwickshire; Sherborne Castle, Dorset; Geashill, County Offaly.

If any readers possess better photographs of Geashill Castle, I'd greatly appreciate it.

First published in January, 2012.   Digby arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 29 January 2016

The Hot Toddy


All things considered, the winter must be dealt with. Pitilessly.

Beat the chill. Arm yourself with an abundant supply of whiskey, lashings of lemons and cloves, and fight back.

STEP ONE.  The trick is to heat your glass first, so rinse it out with boiling water just as you would heat a teapot prior to making tea.

STEP TWO.  Watch the cold begin its retreat as you intrepidly place four or five cloves in a slice of lemon.

Place the lot in the heated glass.

STEP THREE.   Add about two spoonfuls of sugar (preferably brown) and pour in boiling water till the glass is about half full.

Stir until the sugar has entirely dissolved.

Bushmills Inn, County Antrim

Finally, a liberal helping of whiskey, preferably distilled in the fair village of Bushmills, County Antrim.

Stir well and savour.

You have just beaten the cold.

Start celebrating.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

1st Earl of Home

THE EARLS OF HOME WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN LANARKSHIRE, WITH 61,943 ACRES

This noble family yields to few of its native country in antiquity of descent, being a branch of the great house of Dunbar and March, springing from

THE HON PATRICK DUNBAR, second son of Cospatric III, Earl of Lothian; whose son,

WILLIAM DUNBAR, married, for his second wife, Ada, daughter of Patrick I, Earl of Dunbar, and widow of William de Courtenay, who had obtained from her father the lands of Home in free marriage.

De Courtenay died childless and the lady brought those lands to her second husband, whence his posterity assumed the name of "HOME".

This Ada made a grant to the monastery of Kelso, for the salvation of her soul and the souls of her father and mother, prior to 1240.

The son of her marriage with William Dunbar,

WILLIAM DE HOME, confirmed, under that designation, the grant of his mother to the Abbot of Kelso, in 1268.

From this William lineally descended

SIR ALEXANDER HOME, of Home, who founded the collegiate church of Dunglass, for a provost and several prebendaries.

He wedded Mariotta, daughter and heir of Sir Robert Lauder, of The Bass, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ALEXANDER HOME, of Home, who was ambassador-extraordinary to England in 1459, and was created a Lord of Parliament, as Lord Home, in 1473.

He married firstly, Mariotta, daughter and co-heiress of John Lauder, in Berwickshire, by whom he had, with other issue,

ALEXANDER, MASTER OF HOME, who married Elizabeth Hepburn; and dying before his father, left issue,

ALEXANDER, 2nd Lord, who wedded twice. His 2nd wife, Nichola, daughter of George Ker of Samuelston; and dying in 1506, was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER, 3rd Lord.
This nobleman commanded the vanguard, with the Earl of Huntly, at the battle of Flodden Field, dispersed the English opposed to him, and was one of the few who escaped the carnage of that disastrous day.

His lordship joined the Queen Dowager and her husband, Angus, in 1515, and embraced the English interest in opposition to the Regent, John Stewart, Duke of Albany, who took Home Castle and Fast Castle, the fortlets of Lord Home, and ravaged his lands.

Albany having caused the French Ambassador to offer an amnesty, and to send a pardon to Lord Home, with a request of a conference, he agreed to meet the Regent at Dunglass, where he was instantly arrested, and committed to Edinburgh Castle, then under the governorship of the Earl of Arran; but Lord Home prevailed on Arran to permit him to escape, and to accompant him to the Borders.

Lord Home made his peace with the Regent in 1516, and was restored to his honours and estates; but visiting the Court in September of that year, with his brother William, they were arrested, tried for treason, and convicted.

Lord Home was executed in 1516, his head placed on Edinburgh Tolbooth, and his honours and estates forfeited to the Crown. His brother suffered the next day.
His lordship left by his wife, Agnes Stewart, two daughters,
JANET, married to Sir John Hamilton, natural brother of James, Duke of Châtellerault;
ALISON.
His honours and estates were restored, in 1522, to his brother,

GEORGE, 4th Lord, who wedded Mariotta, daughter and co-heir of Patrick, 6th Lord Haliburton, of Dirleton; and was succeeded, in 1549, by his only surviving son,

ALEXANDER, 5th Lord; to whom succeeded his only son,

ALEXANDER, 6th Lord, who was created, in 1605, Lord Dunglass and EARL OF HOME, with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever.
His lordship married firstly, Christian, daughter of William, 6th Earl of Morton, and widow of Laurence, master of Oliphant; and secondly, the Hon Mary Sutton, eldest daughter of Edward, 5th Baron Dudley, the son of the English keeper of Home Castle in 1547 during the Rough Wooing.
His only son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl; upon whose demise, without issue, in 1633, the honours reverted to his kinsman,

SIR JAMES HOME, knight, of Cowdenknowes, 3rd Earl.
This nobleman wedded Lady Jane, daughter of William, 2nd Earl of Morton, by whom he left three sons; all of whom succeeded, in turn to the family honours.
The youngest son,

CHARLES, 6th Earl, married Anne, daughter of Sir William Purves Bt, of Purves Hall, Berwickshire. The eldest son,

ALEXANDER, 7th Earl, suffered imprisonment in Edinburgh Castle, from the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715, until the revival of the Habeas Corpus Act, in 1716.

His lordship wedded Lady Anne, 2nd daughter of William, 2nd Marquess of Lothian, by whom he had eight children, the eldest and youngest surviving of whom inherited successively the family honours. The former,

WILLIAM, as 8th Earl, upon the demise of his father, in 1720; and the latter,

THE REV ALEXANDER, as 9th Earl, upon the decease of his brother, childless, in 1761.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Michael David Alexander Douglas-Home, styled Lord Dunglass (b 1987).


HIRSEL HOUSE, near Coldstream, Berwickshire, forms  an integral part of Douglas and Angus estates, comprising the Douglas estate in Lanarkshire (33,000 acres) and the Hirsel estate (3,000 acres).

In 1611, the 1st Earl of Home contracted to buy the Hirsel estate from Sir John Kerr, although it was not until 1621 that JAMES VI of Scotland finally granted the lands of Hirsel to James, 2nd Earl.

Much of the early tree planting and the existence of the earliest part of Hirsel House appear to have been built by about 1620.

The Hirsel was also justifiably famous for its sport, particularly it’s salmon fishing on the river Tweed, where in 1743 the 8th Earl caught a 69lb salmon on a 22’ rod and a horse hair line.

By the mid-1700s, the house and gardens had been significantly developed and the 9th Earl embarked on a major programme of forestry and agricultural improvement.

Further improvements were made to the property between 1895-1900, including the erection of a new wing to Hirsel House, a chapel, and the building of the stables. 

First published in December, 2013.   Home arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

James Bell Crichton VC


James Bell Crichton (1879-1961) was born at Carrickfergus, County Antrim, though grew up in the hamlet of Northrigg, near Blackridge, West Lothian.

He served with the Cameron Highlanders during the South African (Boer) War before moving to New Zealand.

Enlisting at the outbreak of the 1st World War, he served as a baker on the Western Front until May, 1918, when he transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, during the 1st World War.

Private Crichton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his deeds on 30 September 1918 at Crèvecœur, France:
CITATION 
Private Crichton, although wounded in the foot, stayed with the advancing troops despite difficult canal and river obstacles. When his platoon was forced back by a counterattack he succeeded in carrying a message which involved swimming a river and crossing an area swept by machine-gun fire.

Subsequently he rejoined his platoon and later undertook on his own initiative to save a bridge which had been mined. Under close fire he managed to remove the charges, returning with the fuses and detonators.
He was later promoted to sergeant.

Sergeant Crichton died at Takapuna, New Zealand, on 25 September, 1961.


There is a Blue Plaque in his memory at the premises of Weston Engineering, 75 Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus, County Antrim, the location of his family home.

First published in May, 2013.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Lighthouse Island: V

IN SEPTEMBER, 2012, I SPENT A WEEKEND ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, ONE OF THE COPELAND ISLANDS


Most of us got out of bed early on Sunday morning, certainly before eight o'clock.

The kitchen in the cottage is the hub, in a sense.

I had brought twenty sausages, potato and soda farls.

Rosie & Nick supplied more bangers, with fresh farm eggs and bacon.

We used the three gas cookers and cooked the lot.

the offerings were placed in the centre of the table and we all tucked in.

Timothy Belmont was, as ever, amongst the leaders in the race to the food-trough.

Thus the troops were nourished and prepared to troop down to the Heligoland trap for a final push.

We managed to complete about 80% of the trap.

The bird observers might need to finish it off themselves; there's now a good basis for completion.

Thereafter we assembled out tools, placed them in the wheelbarrows, and left for the observatory at the top of the island.

I went for a stroll afterwards with Ron.

The remains of the "new" lighthouse (top), in the courtyard at the back of the observatory, are used as storage for fire-wood.

The original lighthouse was more of a square-shaped tower affair and some of it still exists beside the new lighthouse.

The top half of the lighthouse has been shorn off, so the open roof affords a panoramic view of the island and beyond.

Mew lighthouse

Mew Island, adjacent to Lighthouse Island, also has the lighthouse.

It is named after the common gull or sea mew, Larus canus, which nested there in great abundance during bygone years.

Mew Island

It was not until 1969 that electricity powered the lamp on Mew Island.

The light was converted to automatic operation and the last keeper left the island in 1996.

*****

AT ABOUT FOUR O'CLOCK, we all packed and tidied up, locked up and took our belongings down to the jetty, where MV Mermaid was waiting to convey us back to Donaghadee harbour.

It was a wonderful experience, though I think forty-eight hours was sufficient for myself!

Incidentally, a few of us were bitten by what are thought to have been bracken mites: We have several hives to prove it!

First published in September, 2012.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Tyrone DL

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT

Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, has been pleased to appoint

Mr David Iain FRAZER,
Dungannon,
County Tyrone,

to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, his commission bearing date the 14th January, 2016.

Robert Scott,
Lord-Lieutenant of the County.

New DLs

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANTS

Mr David Lindsay, Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, has been pleased to appoint


  • Mrs Catherine June CHAMPION, Newtownards;

  • Dr Robert Alexander LOGAN, Gilford;

  • Mr Michael Desmond WATT, Seaforde;

  • Mrs Amanda Claire BROWNLOW, Portaferry;


To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County

David Lindsay
Lord Lieutenant of the County

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Lighthouse Island: IV

IN SEPTEMBER, 2012, I SPENT A WEEKEND ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, ONE OF THE COPELAND ISLANDS


The throne-room, otherwise known as loo-with-a-view, is situated half-way down the cliff, overlooking Mew Island.

For those who haven't been following the narrative, Lighthouse Island is one of the Copeland Islands, off the coast of County Down.

From the observatory at the top of this little island it takes about four minutes to get to the said convenience.

As the steps wind their way down the path, there is a wooden notice which is raised or lowered in order to alert users to the fact that this lavatory is otherwise engaged or not.

At the loo itself, there is a second notice (Belt & Braces approach).

view from loo-with-a-view

This little cubicle has a half-door, open to the elements, where occupants can enjoy the most splendid prospect (above) of Mew Island.

I concur with Nick: Lawnmower Man needs to prune a bush which is obscuring the view somewhat [in 2012].

Next episode ... The Last Day.

First published in September, 2012.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Lighthouse Island: III

IN SEPTEMBER, 2012, I SPENT A WEEKEND ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, ONE OF THE COPELAND ISLANDS

Heligoland trap

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we gathered our tools, including pitchforks, spades, wire-clippers and heavy gloves.

We placed everything in wheelbarrows and made the short journey - perhaps five minutes - to the location of our day's task.

A Heligoland trap had been erected at one side of the island, though it was uncompleted.

A group of young people had built its framework, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

Our task was to begin where they had left off. We had plenty of wire mesh, nasty and unforgiving stuff.

It came in rolls of perhaps thirty yards by two yards.

Emma & Phil at the trap door

We had to construct the roof of the trap with this mesh, which necessitated manhandling, pulling and stretching it from one side of the trap to the other.

It is a particularly large trap and this task lasted the whole weekend.

Emma, Phil and self spent a fair amount of time time affixing the trap door.

We managed to do it, despite the Heath Robinson craftsmanship!

We used an ancient step-ladder, which began the day with three steps and ended with a mere one.

Of course we stopped for tea-breaks and lunch.

The weather was warm and sunny for most of the time, with a gentle breeze.

*****

DURING the day, one of the bird observers informed us that they had caught a Common Rosefinch, which was being ringed in the hut.

Its plumage was quite plain: Females, juveniles and first year males have streaked brown heads and somewhat resemble small corn buntings.

This species is a very rare visitor to Northern Ireland, I am apprised.

*****

IN THE EVENING, we all had a hearty steak dinner. Phil had brought enough rump steaks for everybody.

I assisted prepared and cooked the vegetables.

We all sat down to a great meal of rump-steak, chips, peas, tomato and onion.

Phil also brought two bottles of red wine, including a Chianti. Many thanks, Phil!

Pudding was delicious, too: sublime home-made blackberry & apple crumble with custard, made by Rosie & Nick. Many thanks, too!

The trusty nose-bag was firmly attached and the gnashers operated in overdrive.

Fret not, readers: I brought several miniature bottles of gin with me, and cans of tonic-water, with a lime.

After dinner we retired to the common-room, where a cheery log-fire was lit.

Thereafter restoratives were liberally consumed.

Some members of the group left at ten-thirty, in search of Manx Shearwaters on the island; whilst I remained at the fire with the others.

 Next episode ... The Throne-Room!

First published in September, 2012.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Gormanston Castle

THE VISCOUNTS GORMANSTON WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 9,657 ACRES

The first member of this very ancient and distinguished family which is found upon record in Ireland is

PHILIP DE PRESTON, whose grandson,

ROGER DE PRESTON, was justice of the court of Common Pleas in the first year of EDWARD III; and in 1331, one of the justices of the Court of King's Bench.

The son and heir of this learned person, 

SIR ROBERT PRESTON, who was knighted in the field, in 1361, by Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and obtained a grant forever of the manor of Gormanston, in counties Dublin and Meath, was Lord Preston in Lancashire, and filled the office of LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND.

Being possessed of Carbury in County Kildare, he made that the chief place of his residence.

This gentleman was elevated to the peerage some time between 1365-70 as Baron Gormanston.

His lordship married Margaret, daughter and heir of Walter de Bermingham, and dying in 1396, was succeeded by his only son,

CHRISTOPHER (c1354-1422), 2nd Baron, who was imprisoned in the castle of Trim for corresponding with the prior of Kilmainham.

He wedded Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of William de Londres, feudal baron of Naas in right of his mother, Emma, daughter of William FitzMaurice, 1st Baron of Naas (so created by HENRY II), and his wife, Helen, sister of Richard, Earl of Pembroke (by which marriage the Prestons obtained the barony of Naas).

His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

CHRISTOPHER, 3rd Baron, who espoused Jane, daughter of Sir Jenico d'Artois, Knight, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT (1435-1503), 4th Baron, who was appointed deputy to Sir John Dynham, Lord Chancellor of Ireland; and Richard, Duke of York, youngest son of EDWARD IV, being constituted Lord Deputy of Ireland, in 1478, Sir Robert was appointed that prince's deputy (he being a minor), with power to elect a deputy to himself.

In 1478, his lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, by the title of VISCOUNT GORMANSTON.

His lordship sat in the parliament of 1490, and in that of 1493.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Viscount, who filled the office of deputy to Sir James Ormonde, Lord Treasurer of Ireland in 1493.

In 1504, his lordship attended the Earl of Kildare, the Lord Deputy, to the famous battle of Knocktough, in the province of Connaught, where, with Lord Killeen, he led the wings of the bowmen; and in 1525, he was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland.

His lordship died in 1532, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JENICO (1502-69), 3rd Viscount, who was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER (1546-99), 4th Viscount, who left, with several daughters, three sons, namely,
JENICO, his heir;
Thomas, created Viscount Tara;
William.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JENICO (1584-1630), 5th Viscount, who left (with a daughter) a son and successor,

NICHOLAS (1608-43), 6th Viscount, who wedded Mary, daughter of Nicholas, 1st Viscount Kingsland, and had issue,
JENICO, his successor;
Nicholas, father of 8th and 9th Viscounts.
This nobleman sided with the rebel Irish Roman Catholics, 1641-42, and acted as their General-in-Chief; for this he was outlawed after his death and posthumously exempted from Cromwell's pardon, 1652.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JENICO, 7th Viscount, who having adhered to his legitimate sovereign, JAMES II, was indicted for high treason, and outlawed upon that indictment in 1691.

His lordship dying, however, in 1691, without male issue, was succeeded by his nephew,

JENICO, de jure 8th Viscount (1640-1700); but the title was not acknowledged, although borne by his lordship and his three immediate successors.

He was succeeded by his brother,

ANTHONY, de jure 9th Viscount, who espoused, in 1700, Mary, only child of his uncle, Jenico, 7th Viscount, and was succeeded by his only son,

JENICO, de jure 10th Viscount (1707-57), who wedded, in 1729, Thomasine, eldest daughter of John, 11th Lord Trimlestown; and had, with other issue,
ANTHONY, his successor;
James;
Jenico;
John;
Catherine; Frances; Bridget; Elizabeth Margaret.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANTHONY, de jure 11th Viscount, who espoused Henrietta, daughter of John Robinson, of Denston Hall, Suffolk; and dying in 1786, left issue by her,

JENICO, 12th Viscount (1775-1860), who, in 1800, obtained the removal of the outlawry of his predecessors and had a writ of summons to take his seat in the Irish House of Lords, but owing to the final prorogation of that House he did not have the opportunity to do so, took an active part in the cause of Catholic Emancipation.

His lordship wedded, in 1794, Margaret, eldest daughter of Thomas, 2nd Viscount Southwell, by whom he had issue,
EDWARD ANTHONY JOHN, his successor;
Arthur Anthony;
Jenico Charles;
Robert;
Charles;
Edmund;
Matilda.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD ANTHONY JOHN, 13th Viscount.
The heir apparent is the present holder's eldest son, the Hon Jenico Francis Tara Preston (b 1974).

The Viscounts Gormanston are the premier viscounts of Ireland.



GORMANSTON CASTLE, Balbriggan, County Meath, is situated near Drogheda, about sixteen miles north of Dublin.

Mark Bence-Jones states that the old Manor at Gormanston was low and gabled, adjoined to a chapel where Mass was said all through the Penal times.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the 12th Viscount rebuilt the house in the Gothic-Revival style.


Gormanston Castle is an impressive castellated building with a quadrangular plan with a tower at each corner except the north-west corner. The main building is three storeys.

The central part of the frontage is flanked by two narrow castellated towers on either side of the entrance.

The 12th Viscount intended the Castle to be much larger, though building work ceased when his wife died in 1820.

Gormanston is renowned for the foxes which are said to collect at the Castle when the head of the family is dying or has died; indeed the family crest is a fox.

Foxes are claimed to have gathered followed the deaths of the 12th and 14th Viscounts.

The author Evelyn Waugh was interested in purchasing the estate in 1946 and even bid for it.

He described it as "A fine, solid, grim, square, half-finished block with tower and turrets".

On learning that Butlins were opening a holiday camp in the vicinity, he promptly changed his mind.

The castle grounds were developed in the 1950s with the building of a boys' secondary school adjacent to the Castle.

The Franciscans have been in Gormanston since 1947, when they purchased Gormanston Castle, the ancestral home of the Preston Family since ca 1300.

In 1954 a Preparatory School for the College in Multyfarnham was opened in the Castle.

New plans resulted in the building of a new college and the transfer of the Multyfarnham College to this new location.

Gormanston College today is a thriving secondary school, with 500 students.

Gormanston arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in January, 2012.

Lighthouse Island: II

IN SEPTEMBER, 2012, I SPENT A WEEKEND ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, ONE OF THE COPELAND ISLANDS

The kitchen

On Saturday morning, most of us arose from the bunk-beds swiftly after seven o'clock.

There are sponge mattresses.

Bring your own sleeping-bag and pillow-case; abundant heavy blankets are provided.

It's wise to be self-sufficient here: Bring all food and drink, though there is a limited supply of fresh water from the well.

"Washing" water comes from a butt, and it is emphasised that this must not be used for consumption, even for boiling in a kettle.

So I got dressed and, armed with my wash-gear, found the male wash-room, which is outside in an old shed.

The stainless-steel sink is very large and, unfortunately, lacks a plug.

It has no running water, either; so you boil water and bring it from the kitchen to the wash-room outside.

There is no bath or shower in the wash-room.

Given that the island had not been occupied all week, the sink contained a few swallow droppings!

I decided not to avail of the facilities in the wash-room.

Instead, I boiled some water, poured it into a Pyrex bowl from the kitchen, took it outside to the front of the cottage, and washed myself in the open.

This was easier and less fuss.

I don't know what the others did. Some, I suspect, didn't bother to wash at all!

Others let their beards grow. The duty officer, I noticed, used an electric razor.

I made the mistake of believing that we, as a NT group, would all be sharing all our food.

I brought plenty of ingredients for an Ulster Fry, including twenty sausages, potato-bread and soda-bread; while others provided fresh eggs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Phil generously supplied rump steaks, oven chips, vegetables, and red wine.

The kitchen is well equipped, with three cookers and an abundance of kitchen knives, forks, spoons, dishes, baking-trays and so on.

Next episode ... off to Heligoland!

First published in September, 2012.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Lighthouse Island: I

IN SEPTEMBER, 2012, I SPENT A WEEKEND ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, ONE OF THE COPELAND ISLANDS

Lighthouse Island jetty

Timothy Belmont has been incommunicado for forty-eight hours, mainly due to the fact that I have spent that time at Lighthouse Island, one of the Copeland Islands, opposite Donaghadee, County Down.

I arrived at Donaghadee on Friday afternoon at about four-thirty, parked the car, and swiftly made a bee-line for Pier 36, a well-frequented establishment on the sea-front near the harbour.

At Pier 36, I seated myself up at the bar and ordered a little restorative, viz. a Tanqueray and tonic-water.

Rosie and Nick, two fellow National Trust volunteers, arrived soon afterwards.

We had another drink, then ordered a meal.

 I had the halibut with buttery mash and asparagus tips, which was simply delicious.

Craig and his party then arrived, and we proceeded to make for our ferry, MV Mermaid, which took about fifteen of us, including eight NT personnel, to Lighthouse Island.

This compact little island lies behind the main Copeland Island itself.

The journey took about forty-five minutes. When we arrived at the small jetty, we disembarked and unloaded various provisions and tools for the weekend's task.

Wheelbarrows are used to take bulky items up the hill to the cottage, also known as Copeland Bird Observatory.

Having set up camp and having been told the basic house rules and regulations, I chose my bunk in the men's dormitory, which sleeps nine.


Later that evening, we were all invited to join Davy, the duty officer, for the evening catching and ringing juvenile Manx Shearwaters, quite remarkable sea-birds which live in burrows and are not great on the feet. Indeed, they are relatively easy to catch at night.

We also caught and ringed a fair number of swallows. We were all given the opportunity to release them outside the ringing office.

When darkness fell, these wonderful little birds sat on the palm of my hand for a few minutes, before flying away.

Next episode ... ablutions and eating arrangements

Wattling


By Jove, it became foggy yesterday morning as I motored in a southerly direction, along the Portaferry Road, towards Greyabbey, County Down.

I was meeting other National Trust Strangford Lough volunteers for some woodland maintenance.

Thompson's Wood, at Island View Road, is to the west of Greyabbey.

It overlooks Skillin's Point and Mid Island.

There were about eight of us today.


We were thinning young trees (22 years old) and working on a wattle enclosure.

Loppers and hand saws were used.

We finished our task at about twelve-thirty, and drove back to our GHQ, the old schoolhouse on the periphery of Mount Stewart estate.

The coast and countryside manager was conducting our biannual meeting to review progress and update us on developments.

I lunched (or munched) on an apple, mandarin, and banana!

*****

I PASSED a local B&M store the other day and they're selling Frank Cooper's raspberry conserve for, I think, 66p or thereabouts.

This sounds like a bargain; have any readers tried this jam?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mount Stewart Memories: II


CHARLES VILLIERS, A GRANDSON OF LADY MAIRI BURY AND GREAT-GRANDSON OF THE 7TH MARQUESS AND MARCHIONESS OF LONDONDERRY, REMINISCES ABOUT MOUNT STEWART, COUNTY DOWN,  DURING THE 1960s AND 1970s

An interesting facet was that while the gardens were open via the National Trust, the house itself was my grandmother's totally private residence until I was about 13, complete with butler and quite a lot of staff.

There were still some large house parties: At Christmas and New Year, 1973-74, I remember that every one of the 26 or so bedrooms had at least one guest staying in them.

At that time, the extensive attics were piled to the ceilings with an enormous quantity of surplus furniture for which there was no space in the rest of the house.

Those attics were cleared in a big furniture sale in 1975.

I must have been a very precocious 12 year-old because I wanted to use some modest Post Office savings to buy two dusty paintings of an attractive-looking lady, one with an elbow-sized hole in the canvas, clearly signed "B West" in black paint, and dated in the late eighteenth century, which I knew of from my "boy's den" in one of the attics before they were brought down for the sale.

I was told by my parents that I could not use my Post Office account for the purpose of the paintings of the beautiful lady.

In the event the portraits sold for relative buttons in the auction in the stable yard at Mount Stewart, were cleaned up by the Bond Street dealer who flew over from London and back the same day to buy them; then declared them to be by the famous American painter Benjamin West; cleaned; and identified as two portraits of Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh's mother-in-law; and were each quickly re-sold for large sums to two museums in the United States where they currently reside now.

There is no doubt that I would have been outbid by the dealer, but I'd have liked him to have had to cough up a bit more cash than he did.

I could go on with reams of other recollections.

My memories of Mount Stewart are, above all, of the happiest loving kind when it comes to my grandmother [Lady Mairi] who was the most wonderful grandparent anyone could have had, and we were all so lucky to have her for so long.

I am grateful to Charles Villiers for sending me these recollections. First published in November, 2010.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Mount Stewart Memories: I

CHARLES VILLIERS, A GRANDSON OF LADY MAIRI BURY AND GREAT-GRANDSON OF THE 7TH MARQUESS AND MARCHIONESS OF LONDONDERRY, REMINISCES ABOUT MOUNT STEWART, COUNTY DOWN,  DURING THE 1960s AND 1970s



The swimming-pool at Mount Stewart was such a fun place for children.

My sister Charlotte and I loved every minute of going there.

I have virtually an album full of photographs of enjoyable times on hot days at the swimming pool.

As I remember, the last summer we used the pool daily, as opposed to intermittently thereafter, was 1977. 

I was born at Newtownards in 1963 and, my parents having married whilst my father was an undergraduate at Oxford, had no proper home at first so, my mother having returned to Northern Ireland for me to be born, they then left me with my grandmother [Lady Mairi] for the first six months of my life.

Thereafter, during all my childhood and school-days, we spent huge amounts of the holidays at Mount Stewart - pretty well every Christmas and New Year, a month every summer (much spent at the pool), and occasional Easters.

My wonderful grandmother gave me my driving lessons in her lime green Rover (with bright orange interior) on the estate roads. 

Curiously enough I was always back at boarding school by the time the rhododendrons were in full flower so it was only in the 1990s when we now stayed with my grandmother in May most years that I saw them for the first time in all their glory.

I am grateful to Charles Villiers for these recollections.   First published in November, 2010.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Woodlawn House

THE BARONS ASHTOWN WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LIMERICK, WITH 11,273 ACRES. 

The family of TRENCH is descended from a French protestant family, said to have emigrated from the town of La Tranche, in the province of Poitou, to avoid the religious persecutions instituted by LOUIS XIV against those who dissented from the established church.

This family and that of TRENCH, Earls of Clancarty, derive from a common ancestor, namely,

FREDERICK TRENCH, who settled at Garbally, County Galway, some time in the beginning of the 17th century, and dying in 1669, left by Anna, his wife, daughter of the Rev James Trench, two sons:
FREDERICK, of Garbally, founded the house of Clancarty;
John (Very Rev), Dean of Raphoe.
Dying in 1725, Mr Trench was succeeded by his eldest son,

FREDERICK TRENCH, of Moate, County Galway, who married, in 1718, Mary, daughter and heiress of Richard Geering, Clerk of the Court of Chancery,  and had to survive him,
FREDERICK, his heir;Anne; Mary; Elizabeth.
He died in 1758, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

FREDERICK TRENCH, of Moate and Woodlawn, both in County Galway, who wedded, in 1754, Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Francis Sadleir, of Sopwell Hall, County Tipperary.

He died in 1797, and left issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Francis, of Sopwell Hall, father of
FREDERICK;
Thomas (Very Rev), Dean of Kildare;
William, of Cangort Castle;
Charles;
Richard;
John;
Catharine; Mary; Elizabeth; Frances; Anne.
The eldest son,

FREDERICK TRENCH (1755-1840), of Moate, espoused, in 1785, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Dr Robert Robinson, and niece of the Hon Mr Justice Robinson, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench, but had no issue.

Mr Trench was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, by the title of BARON ASHTOWN, of Moate, County Galway.

His lordship represented Portarlington in the Irish parliament from 1798-1800; and Maryborough, 1785-90.
The present 8th Baron lives in East Sussex.


*****

THE TRENCHES of Woodlawn were one of a number of Trench families who came to prominence in County Galway in the 17th century.

They were all descended from Frederick Trench who came to Ireland early in the 1600s.

Strategic marriages into the Warburton and Power families led to the acquisition of more lands in East Galway.

Much of the Woodlawn estate was originally Martin and Barnewall lands which were purchased by the Trenches in the early 18th century.

Lord Ashtown was recorded as a non-resident proprietor in 1824.

In County Roscommon he held over a 1,000 acres; and in County Tipperary he held at least 21 townlands in the parishes of Ballingarry and Uskane, barony of Lower Ormond, inherited from the Sadleir family of Sopwell Hall.

In the 1870s, Lord Ashtown's main estate in County Galway amounted to over 8,000 acres and he also held land in seven other counties including County Waterford where he had purchased lands from the Earl of Stradbroke in the 1870s. 

These townlands remained in Trench ownership until purchased by the Irish Land Commission in the 1930s.

In 1852 Lord Ashtown married as his second wife Elizabeth Oliver Gascoigne, an heiress with large estates in County Limerick and Yorkshire.

In the 1870s Lord Ashtown is recorded as the owner of 11,273 acres in County Limerick and 4,526 acres in County Tipperary.


WOODLAWN HOUSE, near Kilconnell, County Galway, is a Palladian-style country house comprising a three-bay, three-storey central block built ca 1760, having slightly advanced end bays and projecting tetra-style Ionic portico to entrance bay.

There is an interesting video clip of the mansion house and ruinous outbuildings here.

The House consists of 30,000 square feet standing on 115 acres of land.

It boasts 26 bedrooms, a walled garden, courtyard, gatehouse, gardener's house and a lake.

Woodlawn was remodelled ca 1860 and flanked by four-bay two-storey wings having projecting pedimented end bay to each wing.

The central block has tripartite openings to end bays, ground floor of each end bay having segmental pediment and engaged Doric columns to slightly advanced middle light, and flanked by Doric pilasters.

The wings have tripartite windows to pedimented bays, ground floor having Venetian-style windows, middle light slightly advanced and having engaged square-plan Doric columns, flanked by Doric pilasters and having with moulded capitals and cornices.

The mansion is set in its own demesne, with outbuildings to west, and entrance gates and lodge to east.


This large house is an elaborate exercise in classical orders, the use of carved and cut limestone extending throughout the front elevation and evidence of both the skill of 19th century stonemasons and the wealth of the Trench family whose seat it was.

An unusual composition, the quoins to the central block give a vertical emphasis that is extended by the pinnacles.

Although the motifs are classical, the extensive use of dark limestone, the variety of textures and treatments, and the use of pinnacles give it a somewhat Gothic appearance typical of the late 19th century.

Extended and remodelled by the 2nd Baron Ashtown in the 1860s to designs drawn up by James F Kempster, the county surveyor for the East Riding of County Galway, it shows little evidence of the Georgian house behind the façade.

During the 1920s, the 3rd Baron was declared bankrupt and, as a result, the house was closed up and its contents sold at auction; at one point, the IRA occupied one of the wings.

The 4th Baron eventually returned to Woodlawn, but in 1947 he sold the estate to his cousin, Derek Le Poer Trench who, in turn, disposed of it in 1973.

Since then, Woodlawn has had two further owners but neither of these have lived in the house.

Michael Lally, a local publican, bought the property ca 1989.

Before that date, in 1982, a fire burnt out the east wing and caused extensive damage to the central block, partly because of the water used to put out the flames.

Much of the original decoration of the house has also been lost, not least the fireplaces in the principal reception rooms.

While all the walls still stand and the pitched slate roof remains, Woodlawn today is a mere shadow of the house it had been 100 years ago.

Other former seat ~ Chessel House, Southampton, Hampshire.

Ashtown arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in December, 2011.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ballymacormick Stonechat

Female stonechat

I've been outdoors for most of the day, at Ballymacormick Point, County Down.

This coastline belongs to the National Trust.

It comprises about thirty-three acres and was acquired in 1952 from Thomas Kingan.


Today, as is frequently the case, we were cutting gorse. 

I parked at Groomsport and we met at the entrance to the property.


Thankfully it was dry with sunny intervals, though there was a bitterly cold wind.

We spotted stonechats, a sparrowhawk, and lapwings today.

Adam of Blair Adam

THE FAMILY OF ADAM WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN KINROSS-SHIRE, WITH 2,896 ACRES

The surname of Adam is of great antiquity in Scotland, as proved by many documents in the public record.

HENRY ADAM, a military man, lived in the reign of WILLIAM THE LION. His son,

ALEXANDER ADAM, was Laird of Roscobie near Forfar, in the reign of ALEXANDER III of Scotland. His eldest son,

DUNCAN ADAM,  lived in the reign of ROBERT THE BRUCE, and had four sons, the youngest of whom,

DUNCAN ADAM, who accompanied James, Lord Douglas, in his expedition to Spain on his way to the Holy Land, with the heart of King Robert; and from whom is stated to have descended,

JOHN ADAM, who accompanied JAMES IV of Scotland to Flodden Field, and there lost his life, in 1513. His left a son,

CHARLES ADAM, seated at Fanno, in Forfarshire, ca 1549, who married Margaret Ferguson; by whom he had two sons,
CHARLES, his heir;
David, progenitor of Adams of Kingsbarns, Fife;
two daughters.
The elder son,

CHARLES ADAM, of Fanno, wedded Isabel Bisset, by whom he had several sons and daughters.

The second, but eldest surviving son,

ROBERT ADAM, about the end of the reign of Queen MARY, married Isabel, daughter of James Hunter, and was father of

DAVID ADAM, of Fanno, who wedded his cousin, Jean Hunter, by whom he had a son and successor, 

ARCHIBALD ADAM, of Fanno, sold his patrimonial lands in the time of CHARLES I, and acquired those of Queensmanour in time same county.

He married Mary, daughter of John Hay, of Montrose, and died in the reign of CHARLES II, leaving issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
JOHN, successor to his nephew, of whom hereafter;
Alexander; Patrick; Phyllis; Mary.
The eldest son,

CHARLES ADAM, of Queensmanour, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Wishart, of Logie, Forfarshire; and by her had a son and successor,

JAMES ADAM, of Queenmanour, who sold the paternal estate.

He died unmarried and was succeeded in the representation of the family by his uncle,

JOHN ADAM, who married Helen, daughter of William, 3rd Lord Cranstoun, by whom he left one surviving son,

WILLIAM ADAM (1689-1748), an eminent architect, who purchased several estates, particularly that of Blair, in the county of Kinross, where he built a house and village, which he named Maryburgh.

He married Mary, daughter of William Robertson, of Gladney, and, with other issue, had 
JOHN, of whom we treat;
Robert, architect to
GEORGE III; MP for Kinross-shire, 1768;
James;
William;
Janet; Helen;
Mary, m Dr John Drysdale, Dean of the Chapel Royal;
Susanna, m John Clerk;
Margaret.
Mr Adam died in 1748 and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM (1721-92), of Maryburgh, who wedded, in 1750, Jean, daughter of John Ramsay; by whom he had, with other issue, a son and successor, 

THE RT HON WILLIAM ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM (1751-1839),
married the Hon Eleanor Elphinstone, daughter of Charles, 10th Lord Elphinstone, in 1777. He was Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court [Scotland]; Lord-Lieutenant of Kinross-shire; Baron of the Exchequer [Scotland]; Member of Parliament.
His second son,

ADMIRAL SIR CHARLES ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM KCB (1780-1853), a distinguished naval officer, married and his heir,

THE RT HON WILLIAM PATRICK ADAM CIE DL (1823-81), served as a colonial administrator and politician; Companion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire.

His eldest son,

(SIR) CHARLES ELPHINSTONE ADAM (1859-1922), was created a baronet in 1882.

He was a barrister and former army officer.

Sir Charles died childless in 1922, when the baronetcy became extinct. His estate devolved upon his nephew,

CAPTAIN CHARLES KEITH ADAM DSO RN (1891-1971), Lord-Lieutenant of Kinross-shire, 1955-66.

Captain Adam was raised in Australia but returned to Scotland to manage the estate.

His son, Keith Robert Adam (b 1944), is the present owner. The estate comprises 200 acres today.


BLAIR ADAM HOUSE, is located near Kelty, in Fife.

William Adam purchased the Blair Crambeth (subsequently Blair Adam) estate in 1731 and shortly afterwards built the modest five-bay two-storey house which forms the centre of the present building.

By 1736, Adam had enlarged the house by the addition of harled single-storey wings, originally of three bays, which continued the line of the original block.

Both were extended by John Adam in 1775, the south wing being heightened and given a bowed end.


The north wing was made an L-shape by the construction of a block across its end which stretches back to the west and joins it to the office range.

This range, originally very plain, was remodelled in 1815-16 and a low rubble-walled tower was built behind it.

First published in December, 2013.