Monday, 1 February 2016

Fota Island

THE BARON BARRYMORE OWNED 12,890 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY CORK
This family are descended from William de Barri, elder brother of the famous historian and topographer, Gerald of Wales, who was born at Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, about 1146, and was afterwards Bishop of St David's, and died ca 1215.
Sir Robert Barry, son and heir of the said William, accompanied Robert FitzStephen into Ireland, in 1169, to assist Dermot, king of Leinster, to regain his kingdom.

DAVID BARRY, Lord of Olethan, Buttevant etc, was summoned to Parliament in 1381 as "David de Barry Miles".

He died in 1392 and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN BARRY, who had livery of his estates, in 1393, by the name of "John FitzDavid Barry".

He was about 25 years old at his father's decease, and was then wedded to Ellice, the daughter of Gerald, Earl of Desmond.
The earliest document which bears the title of VISCOUNT BUTTEVANT bore date in 1406, and was enrolled in the patent-roll, in the Rolls Office of the chancery in Ireland, during the reign of JAMES I. 
It recites that John Barry required a certain deed to be enrolled in Chancery, dated 1406, whereby James, Viscount Buttevant, granted to John Stapleton, gentleman, the lands of Cullen Island.
This James was probably created Viscount Buttevant either by RICHARD II, on his last visit to Ireland, or by HENRY IV, soon after his accession. 

Whether he was son or brother of the above-named John FitzDavid is uncertain.

WILLIAM BARRY, Viscount Buttevant, was summoned to parliament as premier Viscount of Ireland during the reign of HENRY VII.

The grandson of this nobleman,

JAMES (c1520-81), 4th Viscount Buttevant, was summoned to the Irish parliament in 1559.

He was succeeded by his second son,

DAVID (c1550-1617), 5th Viscount, who, in consequence of the incapacity of his elder brother, was summoned to parliament as VISCOUNT BUTTEVANT in 1585.

His son, David Barry, pre-deceased him, leaving a son, 

DAVID, who succeeding his grandfather and great-uncle, became Viscount Buttevant; and was created, about 1627, EARL OF BARRYMORE, which higher dignity merged until the decease, issueless, of

HENRY, 8th Earl (1770-1823), when that dignity expired, and the viscountcy of Buttevant devolved, as he alleged, upon James Redmond Barry, the claimant.

*****

The title was revived in 1902 in favour of Arthur Smith-Barry, who was created BARON BARRYMORE, of Barrymore, County Cork.

His lordship married firstly, in 1868, Lady Mary Frances Wyndham-Quin, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl; and secondly, in 1884, Elizabeth, daughter of General James Wadsworth, US Army.

There were children from both marriages.

Lord Barrymore died in London in February 1925, aged 82, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.

His only son, James, had died as an infant in 1871, and consequently the barony became extinct on his death.

The family seat, Fota House, was passed to his daughter from his second marriage, the Hon Dorothy Elizabeth (1894–1975), wife of Major William Bertram Bell.

Lady Barrymore died in 1930.

On Lord Barrymore's death in 1925, the estate, which was entailed, passed to his brother, James Hugh Smith-Barry; and on his death it passed to James Hugh's son, Robert Raymond Smith-Barry.

In 1939, Fota Island was acquired by Arthur Hugh's daughter, the Hon Mrs Dorothy Bell for the sum of £31,000.

On her death, in 1975, it passed to her daughter, Mrs Rosemary Villiers.



FOTA ISLAND, near Carrigtwohill, County Cork, was originally a modest two-storey hunting lodge belonging to the Smith-Barry family.

In the 1820s, John Smith-Barry (1793-1837) decided to make Fota his home.

He commissioned the great Irish architects Sir Richard Morrison and his son William Vitruvius Morrison to convert the hunting lodge into an elegant residence.

Initially it was proposed that the design should reflect the current fashion foe Tudor-Revival, but a more elegant Regency style was ultimately executed.


Two new wings were added and a handsome Doric portico made an elegant entrance.

The interior was opened up with fine scagliola columns, leading to a handsome stone staircase. The ceilings of the library and drawing room were decorated with great delicacy in the French style.

In 1872, the engineer Sir John Benson designed the beautiful billiards-room and an extensive conservatory. In 1897, the conservatory was altered to become the present long gallery.


FOTA HOUSE was sold to University College Cork in 1975, following the death of the Hon Mrs Bell.

It is now in the care of the Irish Heritage Trust.

The house has remained virtually unchanged since this time and the visitor today has a privileged glimpse of the great Georgian and Victorian craftsmanship that was to be found in Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries.

It has over seventy rooms, ranging in size from the more modest servant rooms to the large and beautifully proportioned principal rooms.

The curious 'dummy' windows, which occur on the exterior of the building, were added to enhance the aesthetic balance of the house.

The style is classical throughout and the décor reflects continental trends in the gilt, marble work, painted ceilings and magnificent plaster detail throughout.

Since the re-opening of the house in 2009 after restoration, people can now visit the upper floor of the house for the first time in many years.

The glorious neo-classical architecture and innovative designs for which Morrison was renowned can now be fully appreciated, as well as the Collection - a fine collection of paintings and furniture - which have been returned to the house.

It was occupied by Lord Barrymore in 1906; later inherited by Major and the Hon Mrs Bell.

Mark Bence-Jones writes that Fota was sold to University College Cork in 1975, following the death of Mrs Bell.

It is now in the care of the Irish Heritage Trust and, after restoration, was reopened to the public in 2009.

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

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