Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Athavallie House

THE LYNCH-BLOSSE BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MAYO, WITH 22,658 ACRES

The family of LYNCH was of great antiquity in the province of Connaught, being amongst the very early settlers, denominated the Tribes of Galway.

In an old manuscript in Ulster King-of-Arms' office, William le Petit is stated to be the common progenitor of all the Lynches of Ireland.

The founder of the honours of the family, however, was

HENRY LYNCH, Mayor of, and MP for Galway (eldest of twelve sons of Nicholas Lynch, also Mayor of Galway).

Mr Lynch was created a baronet in 1622.
This gentleman was the son of Nicholas Lynch fitz Stephen (Mayor 1584–1585) and great-grandson of Mayor Arthur Lynch (died 1539); land agent for Richard, 4th Earl of Clanricarde; mentor to Patrick D'Arcy and Richard Martyn, later senior political figures of Confederate Ireland.
He was stepfather to D'Arcy and married to an aunt of Martyn. He was among the first of his family to become a lawyer, and several of his younger sons followed him into this profession, as did, under his influence, D'Arcy, Martyn, Geoffrey Browne and subsequent generations of The Tribes of Galway.
Sir Henry married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Martin, and widow of James D'Arcy, by whom he had three sons and three daughters.

He died in 1635, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ROBUCK LYNCH, 2nd Baronet, who represented Galway in parliament in 1639 and 1641, and was resident counsel for Connaught during the rebellion.

He wedded Ellis, daughter of Sir Peter French, Knight, by whom he had two sons, and was succeeded on his decease, 1667, by the elder, 

SIR HENRY LYNCH, 3rd Baronet, a lawyer of eminence, and one of the barons of the exchequer, in 1689.

Sir Henry wedded firstly, Margaret, daughter of Sir Theobald Bourke, 3rd Viscount Mayo, but by that lady had no issue; and secondly, and had (with a younger son) his successor,

SIR ROBERT LYNCH (-c1720), 4th Baronet, who espoused Catherine, daughter of Henry Blake, of County Mayo, by whom he had, with two daughters, a son and heir,

SIR HENRY LYNCH (-1762), 5th Baronet, of Carracastle, who married Mary, daughter of John Moore, of Brees [sic], County Galway, and had one daughter and an only son, his successor,

SIR ROBERT LYNCH-BLOSSE, 6th Baronet, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Francis Barker, heir of Tobias Blosse, of Little Belstead, Suffolk.

He assumed the surname of BLOSSE, in addition to, and after, that of LYNCH.

It was a condition of the marriage that Robert would assume the additional surname of BLOSSE and conform to Protestantism.

The issue of this marriage were, HENRY, who succeeded to the title; and Francis, who wedded Hatton, daughter of John Smith, and had issue, Robert, who, succeeding his uncle, became the 8th Baronet.

Sir Robert died in 1775, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR HENRY LYNCH-BLOSSE, 7th Baronet (1749-88), upon whose demise, without issue, the title reverted to his nephew, 

SIR ROBERT LYNCH-BLOSSE (1774-1818), 8th Baronet, who wedded firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Gorman, of Carlow, by whom he had FRANCIS, the next baronet, with several other children.

He married secondly, Charlotte, daughter of John Richards, of Cardiff.

Sir Robert  was succeeded by his son,

THE REV SIR FRANCIS LYNCH-BLOSSE (1801-40), 9th Baronet, who wedded, in 1824, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Lord Plunket, and had issue,
ROBERT, 10th Baronet;
William Conyngham, b 1826.
*****

Sir Richard Hely Lynch-Blosse (b 1953), 17th and present Baronet, lives in Oxfordshire.


ATHAVALLIE HOUSE, near Castlebar, County Mayo, is a long, low, plain, two-storey residence, its main block of five bays, with an entrance door set in a broad stone arch.

The front is extended by a four-bay range of the same height, though set back.

In 1894, Athavallie House was recorded as the seat of Sir Henry Lynch-Blosse, 11th Baronet (1857-1918), and most likely the last of the family to reside there.

In 1920, the Sisters of St Louis founded a school which catered for girls only.

It was a boarding school-cum-day school until the St Louis Sisters left in 1978 and the school became co-educational under the control of the local community.

Balla Secondary School is based here now.

Athavallie House still stands but is no longer used for educational purposes.

It was used as a military hospital during the 1st World War.

Other former seat ~ Castle Carra, County Mayo.

First published in April, 2013.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Crom: Walled Garden

Although it's one of the most remote parts of the Province and almost as far from Belfast as you can get, I've been to Crom Estate in County Fermanagh many times.

I first visited it in about 1977, when the estate manager took us on a guided tour of the Castle - I'd written to Lord Erne in advance, requesting a visit.

The Walled Garden lies deep within the grounds of Crom.

You cross the White Bridge and walk several hundred yards until it appears, the former head gardener's lodge being opposite it.

Its old, red-brick walls are in good condition, the National Trust having re-built at least one side some years ago.

It extends to roughly three acres in size; and it has been utterly overgrown since its demise after the second world war.

I've no doubt that the Trust intends to revive this magical place as and when funds become available.

Many fruits and vegetables were grown here for the big house.

Exotic fruits, which are nowadays taken for granted, were a rarity then and only the wealthiest families could afford to cultivate them.

In fact many people may never have seen a pineapple or a peach or known they existed.

On one side of the Walled Garden there were raspberries; and strawberries on another.

Heated glasshouses contained peaches, nectarines, pineapples, grapes and tomatoes; not to omit lettuce, marrows, cucumbers and orchards with apples, plums, pears and greengages.

There were also beehives, sweet-pea, daffodils, dahlias and magnolias.

In the middle of the garden there was a large palm-house, now sadly gone, about thirty feet high, where the weather-reading was taken every morning.

The whole garden swarmed with butterflies, bees and other wild insects; birds flitted in and out to help themselves to Nature's goodness.

It must have been heavenly.

Of course the main purpose of the walled garden was to maintain an abundant supply of produce, including flowers, for the Castle: a barrow was wheeled manually up to the Castle with fruit, vegetables and flowers twice daily.

When the family were staying at their London home, the freshly-picked produce was loaded on to the train at Newtownbutler station and taken to Belfast or Dublin; then put on a ferry for its long journey to the metropolis, where it would have been delivered to the Ernes' house the next day; and that was in Victorian times!

I have been in the Walled Garden and my imagination always escapes to those halcyon days, dreaming of what it must have been like.

My fervent hope is that the enchanting walled garden of Crom is resurrected back to life again some day.

This piece was first published in August, 2008. It is thought that the intention is to utilize part of the Walled Garden as community allotments.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Corick House

 THE STORY FAMILY OWNED 2,065 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY TYRONE


JOHN STORY (1648-1725), of Bingfield Hall, Hexham, Northumberland, settled in Ulster about 1697.
Mr Story was established on church land at Corick, County Tyrone, by the Rt Rev St George Ashe (1658-1718), Lord Bishop of Clogher.  He was the elder brother of the Rt Rev Joseph Story, Lord Bishop of Kilmore, sold his estate at Bingfield Hall and removed to Ulster  under the auspices of Bishop Ashe.
This John Story and his son Thomas acquired an estate within the See of Clogher, where they built their first residence.

He died at Corick in 1725, leaving issue,
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Joseph, ancestor of STORY of Bingfield;
John, b 1681;
Samuel, b 1683.
The eldest son,

THOMAS STORY (1678-1768), of Corick, wedded, in 1707, Rebecca ______, and had five sons and two daughters, of whom,
JOHN, of whom presently;
Joseph (Rev), rector of Monaghan (1711-84);
Thomas, 1715-44;
Benjamin, father of JOHN BENJAMIN, s his uncle.
The eldest son,

JOHN STORY (1708-80), died a bachelor and was succeeded by his nephew,

THE REV JOHN BENJAMIN STORY (1764-1844), of Corick, Canon Chancellor of Clogher, who married, in 1790, Jane, daughter of Alexander Young, of Coolkeiragh, County Londonderry, by Catherine his wife, daughter of Richard Hassard, of Gardenhill, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
JOHN BENJAMIN, his heir;
Alexander, died unmarried;
Anne; Kate; Elizabeth; Jane;
Letitia; Frances Thomasina; Maria.
The eldest son,

JOHN BENJAMIN STORY, of Corick, wedded, in 1840, Catherine, daughter of Captain Valentine Munbee, of Horringer, Suffolk; though  dsp in 1862, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

THE REV WILLIAM STORY, of Corick, Rector of Aghabog, who espoused Sarah, daughter of John Black, and had issue,
JOHN BENJAMIN, his heir;
William George Theaker, b 1863;
Marion Letitia; Alice Gertrude;
Emma Mary Geraldine.
He died in 1888, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN BENJAMIN STORY, MB, M.Ch, FRCSI, (1850-1931), of Corick, who married, in 1892, Blanche Christabel, daughter of the Rev J W Hallowell, and had issue,
Eleanor Constance;
Joan Blanche. 

 ***********

DR JOHN BENJAMIN STORY, of Corick, and of 6 Merrion Square North, Dublin,

was educated at Winchester; and Trinity College Dublin; Surgeon Oculist to GEORGE V in Ireland; High Sheriff of Tyrone, 1911; President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; and of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom, 1918-19.
"The King has appointed Mr John Benjamin Story, MB, FRCSI, to be Honorary Surgeon Oculist to His Majesty in Ireland, in room of Mr Charles Edward Fitzgerald, MD, deceased." 

CORICK HOUSE, near Clogher, County Tyrone, was originally built at the end of the 17th century, as a double gable-ended block of two storeys over a basement, with five bays.

In 1863, on the instructions of William Story, the house was enlarged and altered to the design of the Belfast firm of Sir Charles Lanyon.

A new garden front with a large canted bay in its centre and a three-storey tower with Italianate hipped slate roof were added. The original dining room remained unaltered.


The house sits on an elevated site above the River Blackwater, and is approached from the north by a straight avenue, laid down in the 1690s, lined with mature beech trees.

The enclosing parkland, some of whose trees were considered very fine as early as 1835, belongs to the later 18th century.

It is bordered to the south by the river Blackwater, and contains mature trees in set, undulating ground, including a planted rath.

The area around the house is enhanced by a maintained, ornamental garden.

The walled garden is partly cultivated, with a glasshouse.

There are three gate lodges, all of which pre-date the 1850s.

The last member of the Story family, a granddaughter of Dr John Benjamin Story, sold Corick to Mrs Jean Beacom; and the surrounding farmland to local farmers.

Corick House is now a country house hotel.

First published in January, 2013.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Avenida Salmon


I revisited another old haunt last night, the Avenida Restaurant.

It's situated on a back street in Corralejo by the name of Calle General Prim.

Heard of this cove, Prim? I thought not.

Avenida is one of the most popular restaurants in town, particularly with inhabitants.

I was greeted cordially and sat at my usual table, a sturdy, simple, heavy, square, wooden affair.

The chairs are equally robust.

This is an unpretentious place.

Patrons return for good, authentic grub; and it's terrific value, too.


The waiter brought me a little basket of fresh bread and some of their delicious, strong alioli.

Real alioli is almost pungently strong, in my book.

I ordered a soft drink and the grilled salmon.

A word of advice: unless you're the build of Bertie Wooster's acquaintance, the Right Honourable A B Filmer, order a half-portion.

Heaven knows what size the full portion would be.

My salmon duly arrived, with those small Canarian potatoes and salad.

The fish seemed to be cut like a steak, and was served with a considerable number of bones and skin.

However, I have to say that it was a good flavour and succulent.

At the conclusion of my dinner they offered me a local liqueur called Ron Miel, served in a tiny "shot" glass, topped with whipped cream.

The entire bill came to €8.

Friday, 21 April 2017

John Ballance, 1839-93

Rt Hon John Ballance, XIVth Prime Minister of New Zealand
THE ULSTER NEW ZEALAND TRUST WAS FOUNDED IN 1989 TO RESTORE THE BALLANCE HOUSE AND TO CREATE A NEW ZEALAND CENTRE IN NORTHERN IRELAND


John Ballance was born at Ballypitmave, near Glenavy, County Antrim (in a cottage near the Ballance house), into a comfortably off, though not prosperous, Ulster family.

His date of birth is said to have been 27th March, 1839.

His father, Samuel Ballance, was a Protestant tenant farmer on Lord Hertford's estate 'with evangelical tendencies'.

His mother, Mary McNiece, was a Quaker from a prominent local family.

The eldest of eleven children, John was educated at Glenavy National School and at Wilson's Academy, Belfast.

Early impressions of him are of a sturdy but rather lazy boy with a propensity to do nothing all day but read.

Ballamce House

John's father, Samuel, was active in politics, at times nominating conservative candidates for Belfast, and his son took a precocious interest in these activities.

At 16 years of age he was helping to write his father's speeches.

But if it was his father who brought John Ballance into early contact with political life, it was his more liberal mother who influenced the direction of his own political philosophy.

A series of major sectarian riots in Belfast also made a lasting impression.

Ballance left Wilson's Academy before completing his education and took a job with a Belfast ironmongery firm.

In 1857, when he was 18, he left Belfast for Birmingham, where he worked as a travelling salesman.

The original house before restoration

Caught up in the Victorian ethic of self-help and self-education, he enrolled in evening classes at the Birmingham and Midland Institute, studying politics, biography and history.

Birmingham was at the centre of important political and philosophical movements and Ballance took a lively interest in current affairs.

He heard speeches by major figures of the day such as John Bright, Michael Faraday and Joseph Chamberlain.

In Birmingham, Ballance also met Fanny Taylor, the daughter of a licensed victualler; they were married at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Aston, on 17 June 1863.

Not long afterwards, due in part to Fanny's ill health, they decided to emigrate to New Zealand where she had a brother living in Wanganui.

In April 1866 they left London on the Ruahine bound for Melbourne, Australia, and after a short stay continued to New Zealand on the Albion.

They arrived at Wellington on 11 August, and a few days later travelled on to Wanganui.

In Wanganui John Ballance opened a shop on Taupo Quay, selling jewellery he had purchased in Australia.

The business was neither successful nor something Ballance contemplated pursuing for long.

Instead, his chosen career was journalism: He established the Evening Herald in 1867, in partnership with local printer A D Willis.
An able and innovative journalist, Ballance managed and edited the Evening Herald (from 1876 the Wanganui Herald ) and its weekly edition, the Weekly Herald (later the Yeoman ) with considerable success, particularly in the years before the economic downturn of the 1880s.
During the war against Titokowaru of Ngati Ruanui in 1868–69, when the township of Wanganui felt itself under immediate threat, the Herald was outspoken in its criticism of the poor performance of the British forces and vehement in its attitude to Titokowaru's forces.
Regarded by authorities as a maverick troublemaker, Ballance spent a night in jail after refusing to respond to an order to turn out as part of the local militia, the compulsory nature of which offended his liberal beliefs.

The public perception gained of Ballance at this time through his bellicose editorials in the Herald was of a man who 'called a spade a spade'.

The later testimony of friends, however, spoke of his soft-hearted and kindly personality.

Ballance became increasingly involved in Wanganui affairs, helping to found the Wanganui and Rangitikei Land and Building Society and the local Oddfellows lodge. 

In March 1868 Fanny Ballance died after a short illness, at the age of 24.

Two years later, at Wellington, on 19 May 1870, John Ballance married Ellen Anderson, the daughter of Wellington merchant David Anderson and his wife, Ann Thompson.

There were no children from either marriage, but in 1886 Ellen and John adopted Ellen's four-year-old niece, Florence Anderson, whom they re-christened Kathleen.

In 1872 Ballance put his name forward at a parliamentary by-election for the seat of Egmont, but withdrew before the vote.

Three years later he narrowly won in Rangitikei, on a platform stressing abolition of the provincial system and arguing in favour of state education.

He increased his majority at the general election of 1876.

Ballance made an early impact in Wellington.

Following the abolition of the provinces in 1876 he focused on the promotion of closer land settlement, which he considered to be the major political issue of the day.

Ballance won the Wanganui seat in 1879 but two years later suffered what was to be his only electoral defeat.

Out of Parliament he continued to advocate legislative and other measures to promote closer land settlement; encouraging, for example, the establishment of small farm associations.

He reorganised his newspaper business.

He also became involved in the "freethought" movement.

A convinced secularist, he formed the Wanganui Freethought Association with Willis in 1883 and brought out the monthly Freethought Review (1883–85).

At the 1884 general election Ballance was returned for Wanganui by a sizeable majority.

He subsequently joined the Stout–Vogel ministry, holding the lands and immigration, native affairs and defence portfolios.

With his Land Act 1885, a major piece of legislation, he sought to place as many people as possible on the land by encouraging leasehold tenure and establishing government-assisted special settlement schemes.

In a victory that contrasted sharply with the poor performance of other leading government candidates, Ballance took the Wanganui seat at the 1887 election with more than twice the number of votes gained by his opponent.

Ill health and financial difficulties prevented his full commitment to politics during the next two years, but in July 1889 he was able to accept the leadership of the opposition.

A radical land policy was the dominant theme of Ballance's campaign at the 1890 election, which took place against a background of strikes and economic depression.

He won Wanganui by just 27 votes.

Elsewhere, Liberals and their trade unionist allies in the cities fared well.

When the sitting premier, H A Atkinson, resigned after being defeated in the House in January 1891, Ballance was ready to form the country's first Liberal government.

Surrounding himself with a cabinet of considerable talent, Ballance steered his government through two difficult years before his death from cancer in 1893.

In his last months in office Ballance supported moves to enfranchise women, a reform of which he had long been an advocate.

In his support for women's suffrage Ballance was strongly influenced by the views of his wife.

Ellen Ballance was prominent in the growing feminist movement in New Zealand and was vice president of the Women's Progressive Society, an international organisation.

A thoughtful, intelligent and politically astute woman, Ellen shared fully her husband's political interests.

She regularly attended Parliament to listen to the debates from the gallery, and she was highly regarded in Wellington's political circles.

The personal qualities John Ballance possessed fitted him well for the task he faced as premier.

He was kindly, courteous and considerate and displayed great patience.

He was a man of honesty and integrity.

As a result he attracted extraordinary loyalty among his cabinet and party.

Robert Stout wrote of his 'magnetic power of attaching people to him'.

Many viewed his mild temperament as a sign of weakness as a leader.

In fact he possessed much political toughness, although it was often hidden and seldom acknowledged.

WP Reeves described him as 'absolutely the most unassuming and unpretentious' of all the successful and able men he had known.

But, he added, 'as a Premier – and I say it emphatically – he knew how to be master in his own house.'

John Ballance died in Wellington, New Zealand, on 27 April 1893.

After a state funeral he was buried at Wanganui three days later.

Ellen Ballance survived her husband by 42 years.

She remained active in community organisations in Wanganui, including the Anglican church, the Wanganui Orphanage and the Plunket Society.

She died at Wanganui on 14 June, 1935.

First published in May, 2011.

The Queen's Birthday

HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY Elizabeth The Second, OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, AND OF HER OTHER REALMS AND TERRITORIES QUEEN, HEAD OF THE COMMONWEALTH, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH.

THE QUEEN is 91 today.

Her Majesty was born at 17 Bruton Street, London, on the 21st April, 1926, and ascended the throne, upon the demise of her father, GEORGE VI, 6th February, 1952.

The Queen usually spends her birthday privately, at Windsor Castle.

The occasion is marked publicly by a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, London, and 21 gun salutes in the other nations of the United Kingdom.

Three cheers for Her Majesty The Queen today.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wodehouse Gems: III

BERTIE AND THE RT HON A B FILMER

Aunt Agatha to Bertie: "I want to have a word with you before you meet Mr Filmer."

"Who?"

"Mr Filmer, the Cabinet Minister. He is staying in the house. Surely even you must have heard of Mr Filmer?"

"Oh, rather," I said, though as a matter of fact the bird was completely unknown to me.

This man Filmer, you must understand, was not one of those men who are lightly kept from the tea-table. 

A hearty trencherman, and particularly fond of his five o'clock couple of cups and bite of muffin, he had until this afternoon always been well up among the leaders in the race for the food-trough. 

If one thing was certain, it was that only the machinations of some enemy could be keeping him from being in the drawing-room now, complete with nose-bag.

First published in March, 2012.