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.

House of Acheson

THE EARLS OF GOSFORD WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ARMAGH, WITH 12,177 ACRES

The founder of this noble family in Ulster,

ARCHIBALD ACHESON (1583-1634), descended from a good family in Scotland, was seated at Gosford, Haddingtonshire, previous to his settlement in the Province, where we find him in 1610.

In the following year he had passed patent for a large proportion of land in County Armagh, and at the same time his younger brother, Henry, passed patent for a smaller proportion in the said county, which lands he afterwards assigned to Sir Archibald.

This Henry Acheson returned to Scotland and there died unmarried.

Sir Archibald was "so steady and zealous a friend" of the protestant interest in Ulster that seven years after he obtained this grant (according to the survey made by Nicholas Pynnar) he had 203 men upon his estate capable of bearing arms.

In 1612, he obtained another grant from JAMES I of a small proportion of land in County Cavan containing 1,000 acres.

In 1628, he was created a baronet; and in 1630, this gentleman obtained, in conjunction with Pierce and Walter Crosbie, a territory in Nova Scotia, Canada, called Bonovia [sic].

He was also Solicitor-General, a senator of justice, and many years secretary of state for Scotland; which latter office he continued to fill until his decease in 1634.

He died at Letterkenny, County Donegal, at his nephew's house, Sir William Semple, Knight.

Sir Archibald was succeeded in the title and estates by his eldest son,

SIR PATRICK, 2nd Baronet, at whose decease without issue, in 1638, the title devolved upon his half-brother,

SIR GEORGE (1629-85), 3rd Baronet, who was succeeded by his only son,

SIR NICHOLAS, 4th Baronet, MP for County Armagh, in 1695; who died in 1701 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ARTHUR (1688-1749), 5th Baronet, who wedded Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Philip Savage, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland, by whom he had issue, five sons and two daughters.

He died in 1748, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR ARCHIBALD (1718-90), 6th Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1776, in the dignity of Baron Gosford, of Market Hill, County Armagh; and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Gosford, in 1785.

His lordship married, in 1740, Mary, youngest daughter of John Richardson, of Rich Hill, County Armagh, by whom he had issue,
ARTHUR, his successor;
Anna Maria; Nicolas; Julia Henrietta;
Lucinda; Mary.
Sir Archibald was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR, 2nd Viscount; who was created EARL OF GOSFORD, in 1806.

His lordship espoused, in 1774, Millicent, daughter of Lieutenant-General Edward Pole, by whom he had issue,
ARCHIBALDof whom presently;
Edward, CB, lieutenant-colonel in the army;
Olivia, Brigadier R B Sparrow, of Brampton Park;
Mary, Lieutenant-General Lord William Bentinck GCB;
Millicent, Rev J H Barber MA.
 His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

ARCHIBALD, 2nd Earl (1776-1849), GCB, PC.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's first cousin Nicholas Hope Carter Acheson (b 1947).

He is the eldest son of the Hon Patrick Bernard Victor Montagu Acheson (1915–2005), second son of the 5th Earl.


GOSFORD FOREST PARK, near Markethill, County Armagh, is one of the most beautiful demesnes in Northern Ireland.

There are woodland and forest walks; the walled garden; and a caravan and camping site within the park.



Gosford Castle is said to be the largest private mansion house in Northern Ireland.

The estate was sold to the NI Government shortly after the 2nd world war. 


The castle was restored between 2006-8 and has been divided into a number of apartments.

The Gosford Papers are deposited at PRONI.

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

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.

Hilton Park

THE MADDENS OWNED 4,644 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY MONAGHAN

The name MADDEN or O'MADDEN is among those which claim descent from the Milesian colonizers of Ireland.

THOMAS MADDEN, of Bagottsrath, near Dublin, comptroller to Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland, was eldest son of John Madden, of Bloxham Beauchamp, Oxfordshire, and brother of Robert Madden, of Donore, County Dublin, ancestor of the Maddens of Meadesbrook, and, in the female line, of Oliver Goldsmith, the poet.

He married Elizabeth, heiress of William Pettiver, of Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire.

This gentleman died in 1640, leaving his eldest son,

JOHN MADDEN (1598-1661), of Maddenton, County Kildare, and Enfield, Middlesex, one of the attorneys of His Majesty's Court of Castle Chamber, and general solicitor for parliamentary sequestrations, 1644-49.

He espoused, in 1635, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Charles Waterhouse, of Manor Waterhouse, County Fermanagh.

This gentleman was succeeded by his second son,

DR JOHN MADDEN (1648-1703), of Manor Waterhouse, County Fermanagh,  who wedded firstly, in 1680, Mary, daughter of Samuel Molyneux, of Castle Dillon, County Armagh; and secondly, Frances, daughter of Nicholas Bolton, of Brazeel, County Dublin.

Dr Madden was succeeded by his son (by his first wife),

THE REV SAMUEL MADDEN DD (1686-1765), of Manor Waterhouse, Rector of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, who was one of the founders of the Dublin Society, and a great benefactor to his country, known in the family as "Premium" Madden.

Dr Madden, who married Jane Magill, of Kirkstown, County Armagh, was succeeded by his third son,

JOHN MADDEN, of Maddenton, County Monaghan, who wedded, in 1752, Anne, daughter of Robert Cope MP, of Loughgall, County Armagh.

He died in 1791, having had, with four daughters, a son,

SAMUEL MADDEN (1756-1814), of Maddenton, now Hilton, County Monaghan, lieutenant-colonel of the Monaghan Militia, who married Katherine, daughter and heiress of the Rev Charles Dudley Ryder, and granddaughter of the Most Rev John Ryder, Lord Archbishop of Tuam.

Colonel Madden left issue,
JOHN, his heir;
CHARLES DUDLEY, of ROSSLEA MANOR;
Catherine; Anne; Charlotte; Maria Alicia.
Colonel Madden was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MADDEN JP DL (1782-1844), of Hilton Park, and Manor Waterhouse, High Sheriff for Monaghan and Fermanagh, Colonel of the Monaghan Militia.

He married, in 1835, Sydney Anne, daughter of Admiral William Wolseley, of Rostrevor, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Charles Dudley Ryder;
William Wolseley;
Sydney Jane.
Colonel Madden was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MADDEN JP DL (1837-1902), of Hilton Park, and of Manor Waterhouse, who married, in 1864, Caroline, daughter of the Rev and Hon Nathaniel Clements.

Mr Madden was succeeded by his son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN CLEMENTS WATERHOUSE MADDEN JP DL (1870-1935), who wedded, in 1908, Agnes Mary, third daughter of Sir William Henry Tate Bt, of Highfield, Woolton, Lancashire.

He was succeeded by his son,

MAJOR JOHN WILLIAM RYDER MADDEN (1913-1996), of Hilton Park, who married Nita, daughter of Brigadier J Seymour Mellor CBE DSO MC, in 1937.

Major Madden's son and daughter-in-law, Mr and Mrs J S D Madden (who made significant additions to the deposits in PRONI), opened Hilton as a 'Hidden Ireland' country house establishment.

Hilton Park is today run by the seventh generation of the Madden family, Fred and Joanna Madden, and Fred's sister, Laura, with her family.

The estate still extends to over 600 acres, much of it woodland, and provides a remarkable natural habitat for flora and fauna.


HILTON PARK (formerly Maddenton), near Clones, County Monaghan, is a noble house, built in 1734, comprising two storeys over a basement.

It has an eleven-bay entrance front, the five central bays of which break forward.

Hilton Park House was rebuilt, having suffered a fire in 1804.

In 1872, the basement was excavated to become the ground floor and the house was re-faced in Dungannon stone.

A fine Ionic porte-cochère was added, with coupled central columns.


Hilton Park, as we see it today, is the work of noted church architect William Hague, for Colonel John Madden.

Classical influences are evident in the elaborate portico and symmetry of the façade, which was developed from a simple two-storey Georgian house when the ground around the basement was excavated, and the evolution of the house is testament to the power and stature of the Madden family.

A variety of timber sliding sash windows is retained throughout, articulated by dressed sandstone detailing.


The large porte-cochère is the dominant feature of the building and amply articulates the entrance.

The various additions to the rear enhance the building and reflect the changes over the building's history.

Prominently set within extensive parkland among related demesne structures, Hilton Park is a relatively complete demesne landscape.

First published in January, 2014.

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.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Ardagh House

THE FETHERSTON BARONETS, OF ARDAGH, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LONGFORD, WITH 8,711 ACRES.


The founder of this family,

CUTHBERT FETHERSTON, of the ancient stock of the Fetherstons of Heathery Cleugh, County Durham, removed into Ireland after the battle of Worcester, in which Sir Thomas Fetherstonhaugh was made prisoner, and afterwards beheaded at Chester.

The eldest son of this Cuthbert, 

CUTHBERT FETHERSTON, had three sons,
Cuthbert, ancestor of Fetherston of Bracklyn;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Francis.
The second son,

THOMAS FETHERSTON, settled at Ardagh, County Longford and marrying Miss Sherlock, had four sons,
John (Very Rev), Dean of Raphoe;
William, of Carrick;
Francis;
RALPH, of whom we treat.
The youngest son,

RALPH FETHERSTON (1731-80), of Ardagh, MP for Longford County, 1765-6, was created a baronet in 1776, denominated of Ardagh, County Longford.

He wedded firstly, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Samuel Achmuty, of Brianstown, County Longford, by whom he had an only daughter, Elizabeth; and secondly, Sarah, daughter of Godfrey Wills, of Will's Grove, County Roscommon, by whom he had four sons and four daughters,
THOMAS, his heir;
Godfrey, killed in the East Indies;
John;
Francis;
Sarah; Maria; Letitia; Elizabeth.
Sir Ralph was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS FETHERSTON, 2nd Baronet (1759-1819), who represented County Longford for several years in parliament.

This gentleman married Catherine, daughter of George Boleyn Whitney, of New Pass, County Westmeath, by whom he had,
GEORGE RALPH, his successor;
John;
THOMAS, succeeded his brother;
Elizabeth; Catherine; Isabella; Sarah; Octavia.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR GEORGE RALPH FETHERSTON (1784-1853), 3rd Baronet, MP for County Longford, 1819-30, who espoused, in 1821, Frances Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Richard Solly, of York Place, Portman Square, London, in a childless marriage.
Sir George and Lady Fetherston landscaped the demesne grounds and the village of Ardagh. The conversion of the old house into the mansion within its demesne may have been completed at this time, and involved the re-siting of the village street or road. The village clock-tower and surrounding buildings were erected in 1863 in remembrance of Sir George and of his life-long devotion to the moral and social improvement of his tenantry, and the site whereon they stand purchased by Frances Elizabeth, his widow. A memorial stone in the old church records his death on 12th July 1853, and that his wife died in London twelve years later and was buried in Walthamstow. 
Sir George was succeeded by his youngest brother,

THE REV SIR THOMAS FRANCIS FETHERSTON (1800-53), 4th Baronet, married firstly, in 1823, Adeline Godley; and secondly, Anne L'Estrange, of Moystown, County Offaly, and had issue,
George Ralph, died in infancy;
THOMAS JOHN, his successor;
Edmund Whitney;
John Henry;
Albert William Boleyn;
Boleyn Henry Francis;
Henry Ernest Wiliam;
Rosa Elizabeth; Catherine.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR THOMAS JOHN FETHERSTON, 5th Baronet (1824-69), who espoused, in 1848, Sarah, daughter of Henry Alcock, and had issue,
GEORGE RALPH, his successor;Adeline Margaret; Caroline Louisa.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his only son,

THE REV SIR GEORGE RALPH FETHERSTON (1852-1923), 6th and last Baronet, who died unmarried, when the baronetcy expired.

Sir George was born in Dublin and educated at Brighton College.

In his mid-twenties he entered Salisbury Theological College to prepare for ordination into the ministry of the Church of England.  

He served as curate in Tenby and Worcester City, and for six years as Rector or Vicar of the Parish of Pydeltrenthide in Dorset.

He served also as an honorary chaplain to Millbank Military Hospital, London, during the 1914-18 War.

He was one of the first two men in Holy Orders to serve as Sheriff in their Counties until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland clerics of the Anglican Communion were not permitted to hold such Office.

Being Sheriff in 1897 he received the Diamond Jubilee Medal and preached his Jubilee Sermon in St. Patrick's Church, Ardagh.

Sir George was a man of many interests and hobbies — music, travel, cycling, fishing, photography, collecting ancient china and stamps, bird-watching and study of insects.

He travelled widely in Europe, Africa, North and South America.

This must have absorbed some of the Ardagh estate income.

He was Fellow and Vice-President of the Guild of Church Musicians and of the Victoria College of Music London. 

Who's Who credited him with the composition of 150 alternative tunes for Hymns Ancient & Modern, various chants, songs and other music, but none of these are to be found in current chant and Hymn books.

His publications have been listed as The Malvern Hills, Through Corsica with a Pencil. The Mystery of Maple Street, A Poem: The Rose of England. An Incident in the Siege of Antwerp, A Legend of Corpus Christi College, and four books of Sermons and Addresses.

These may have been published privately for limited sale or distribution.

Sir George may not have had much interest in the ownership and management of the estate.

He entered into voluntary agreements with over 300 tenants to sell to them the freehold of their farms, under the Irish Land Act 1903. 

The Ardagh estate was not acquired or purchased by the Irish Land Commission, which, however, advanced the money required by the tenants and others, and the holdings were vested in them by the Commission in 1922-23.

An area of 427 acres of bog land was vested in trustees for the use of purchasing new freeholders.

Sir George retained Ardagh House and demesne acres until his death in a Worcester City Nursing Home, and burial in Tenby, South Wales, in 1923. 


An attempt to destroy the house by fire in 1922 may have been a local expression of dissatisfaction with allocation of estate land or an effort to hasten sale of the last remnants of the estate.

Manuscripts written in Irish were salvaged from the 1922 flames of Ardagh House.


Ardagh House is an eight-bay, two-storey (originally three-storey) over-basement house, originally built ca 1730 and altered ca 1826 and ca 1863. 

A Three-bay, two-storey block (formerly the ballroom) was attached to the south-east end, having hipped slate roof with overhanging bracketed eaves.

A single-bay porch with tetra-style porch to the centre of the front façade (south), adjoined to the east by a four-bay single-storey additional conservatory with pilasters and lean-to roof. 

Ardagh House was acquired as training college by the Sisters of Mercy ca 1927, with multiple extensions to the east and the north-east.

It retains much of its early character despite a fire in 1948 that resulted in it being reduced to two storeys in height.

Much interesting fabric remains, such as some timber sliding sash windows, and console brackets to the porch. 

Although probably early-to-mid 18th century in date, this structure now has a predominantly early-to-mid 19th century appearance.

The elegant porch and conservatory, and the former ballroom/block to the east, were also added at this time. 

It also retains some of its early fabric to the interior, despite the fire in 1948, including plasterwork and fireplaces.

THE POET and novelist Oliver Goldsmith (1728-74), when a young man, once loitered on his way between Ballymahon and Edgeworthstown, strayed from the direct road, and found himself benighted on the street  of Ardagh.

Wishing to find an inn, but inquiring "for the best house in the place", he was wilfully misunderstood by a wag and directed to the large, old-fashioned residence of Sir Ralph Fetherston, 1st Baronet.

Sir Ralph, whom the poet found seated by a good fire in the parlour, immediately perceived the young man's mistake; and being humorous and well-acquainted with Goldsmith's family, he for some time encouraged the deception.

The incidents of the occasion for the groundwork of Goldsmith's well-known comedy "Mistakes of a Night."

First published in December, 2011.