Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Glin Castle


GILBERT FITZ-JOHN, ancestor of THE WHITE KNIGHT; SIR JOHN FITZ-JOHN, ancestor of the KNIGHT OF GLIN; MAURICE FITZ-JOHN, ancestor of the KNIGHT OF KERRY; and THOMAS FITZ-JOHN, ancestor of the FITZGERALDS of the Island of Kerry, were brothers, whom John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond, by virtue of his royal seigniory as a Count Palatine, created Knights, and their descendants have been so styled in patents under the Great Seal and other legal documents up to the present time.

SIR JOHN FITZ-JOHN, Knight, to whom his father gave the castles of Glyncorbury and Beagh, County Limerick, was the first KNIGHT OF GLIN, and left issue,
JOHN FITZ-JOHN, his successor;
SIR JOHN FITZ-JOHN was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN FITZ-JOHN del Glyn, Knight, from whom descended,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, who was attainted with his father, and executed in the eleventh year of ELIZABETH I, leaving a daughter, Ellen, who wedded Sir Edmond FitzHarris, Knight; and a son, his successor,

EDMOND FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, pardoned and restored to his estates in the thirtieth year of ELIZABETH I.

He espoused Honora, daughter of Owen McCarthy Reagh, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who had livery of his lands in 1628.

He surrendered those estates, and had them re-granted in 1635.

He wedded Joan, daughter of James, Lord Dunboyne, widow of Edmond FitzGibbon, The White Knight, and was succeeded by his son,

GERALD FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who made a deed of settlement of his estates in 1672.

He married Joan O'Brien, and dying before 1700, left issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Mary; Honora; Helen; Jane; Ellen.
The eldest son,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, seized of an estate in tail under the deed of settlement, in 1672, wedded Mary, daughter of Edmond FitzGerald, and had three sons, successively inheritors; of whom the eldest,

EDMOND FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

RICHARD FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who was succeeded by his brother,

THOMAS FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who married, in 1755, Mary, daughter of John Bateman, of Oak Park, County Kerry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Elizabeth; Frances; Ellen; Catherine; Jane.
Thomas FitzGerald died before 1801, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN FITZGERALD, Knight of Glin, who wedded Margaretta Maria, daughter of John Fraunceis Gwynn, of Ford Abbey, Devon, and was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN FRAUNCEIS FITZGERALD JP DL (1791-1854), 24th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, County Limerick, High Sheriff of County Limerick, 1830, who espoused, in 1812, Bridgetta, fifth daughter of the Rev Joseph Eyre, of Westerham, Kent, and had issue,
Edmond Urmston McLeod;
Geraldine Anne; Margaretta Sophia.
The eldest son,

JOHN FRAUNCEIS EYRE FITZGERALD, 25th Knight of Glin (1813-66), wedded, in 1835, Clara Anne, only daughter of Gerald Blennerhasset, of Riddlestown, County Limerick, and had issue,
Gerald B;
William Urmston;
John F E;
Thomas Otho;
George W M;
Geraldine Elizabeth Blennerhasset; Florence Sophia; Margaretta.
The Knight of Glin was succeeded by his eldest son,

DESMOND JOHN EDMUND FITZGERALD JP DL (1840-95), 26th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, County Limerick, High Sheriff, 1870-1, who wedded, in 1861, Isabella Lloyd, second daughter of the Rev Michael Lloyd Apjohn, of Linfield, County Limerick, and had issue,
Urmston FitzOtho;
Louis de Rottenburgh;
Clara Nesta Richarda.
The eldest son,

DESMOND FITZJOHN LLOYD FITZGERALD JP DL (1862-1936), 27th Knight of Glin, of Glin Castle, High Sheriff, 1904, Captain, 3rd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, South Irish Horse, married, in 1897, the Lady Rachel Wyndham-Quin, second daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, and had issue,
The only son,

DESMOND WYNDHAM OTHO FITZGERALD (1901-49), 28th KNIGHT OF GLIN, married Veronica Villiers, a cousin of Winston Churchill, and had issue, three children.

He died from tuberculosis in 1949.

His son and heir, the 29th and last Knight,

DESMOND JOHN VILLIERS FITZGERALD (1937-2011, 29th KNIGHT OF GLIN, was educated at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University.
The Knight worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the furniture department; and later returned to Ireland, and became active in conservation issues, becoming involved with the Irish Georgian Society. He was appointed its president in 1991. He has also represented the Christies art auctioneers in Ireland. He died at Dublin in 2011.
As the last Knight had no sons, and the title cannot be passed to a daughter, the title became extinct.

GLIN CASTLE, Glin, County Limerick, is described by Mark Bence-Jones as
a romantic, white, castellated house overlooking the estuary of the River Shannon from among the trees of its demesne.
It was built ca 1789 by Colonel John FitzGerald, 24th Knight of Glin.

This is an eight-bay, three-storey, country house, comprising full-height curved bows to end bays of the front elevation, full-height three-sided bows with crenellated porch to garden (south) elevation.

Sixteen-bay, two-storey wing to the west, built in the late seventeenth century/early eighteenth century, having full-height canted bay and three-stage square-plan tower to garden elevation.

THIS house remains of considerable social and historic significance to the village of Glin.

Colonel John FitzGerald, who is thought to have added the hall, staircase and two reception rooms, financed much of the main house, which was built in phases.

The artist responsible for the decorative plasterwork to the interior, though unknown, is thought to be the work of a Cork master.

The symbols on the frieze in the hall underline the military background of Colonel FitzGerald, with military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the Irish harp, all incorporated into the ceiling.

The staircase, which is almost unique in Ireland, as it has two lower ramps and a single flying run of steps from the half-landing to the first floor landing.

It may echo Adam's staircase at Mellerstain in Berwickshire.

The style of the joinery on the stairs and front door suggests that the craftsmen who worked here had worked with such prominent architects as Davis Duckart and Christopher Colles in the 1760s and 1770s.

The west wing is the earliest part of the house and was originally thatched.

Despite 19th century alterations, it retains some vernacular characteristics, such as its long, low asymmetric form.

Added to this association with important historical characters, Glin Castle represents more than four centuries of construction and alteration, with different architectural features representing each phase.

The Castle, or part of it, operated as a hotel until 2009.

First published in April, 2013. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Lane-Fox Estate


The family of FOX, which is of ancient descent, ranked amongst the most influential and opulent in the north of England.

WILLIAM FOX, living in the reign of EDWARD IV, acquired by marriage with Sybil, daughter of John de Grete, the lands of Grete, Yardley, Worcestershire.

He was succeeded by his son,

JOHN FOX, of Grete, living in 1523, father by Alice his wife of

JOHN FOX, of Grete, who married and left issue, his son,

THOMAS FOX, of Grete, who, by his wife, had issue,
Richard, of Mosely;
Thomas, of Yardley;
John, of King's Norton;
Henry, of Yardley;
EDMUND, of whom we treat;
Joan; Dorothy.
The youngest son,

EDMUND FOX, of Birmingham, wedded Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Hugh Grossbrooke, and had issue,
Richard, who died issueless;
JOSEPH, of whom hereafter;
Thomas, of the Inner Temple;
Timothy, in holy orders.
The third son,  

JOSEPH FOX, born in 1617, held a major's commission in the army serving in Ireland.

He married the Hon Thomasine Blayney, widow of Sir Henry Pierce Bt and daughter of Henry, 2nd Lord Blayney, by Jane his wife, daughter of Gerald, Viscount Drogheda.

By this lady he had, with four daughters, a son and successor,

HENRY FOX, who espoused firstly, Jane, daughter of Robert Oliver, of Clonodfoy, and had several sons, who all died young.

He married secondly, in 1691, THE HON FRANCES LANE, daughter of Sir George Lane, of Tuske, County Roscommon, Principal Secretary of state in Ireland, created Viscount Lanesborough, and sister and heiress of James, Viscount Lanesborough, who died in 1724.

By her Mr Fox had issue,
Henry, died young;
GEORGE, heir to his father;
Denny Henrietta; Jane; Frances; Anne.
Mr Fox was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE FOX, MP for the city of York, who inherited by will the great estates of Lord Lanesborough, and assumed, by act of parliament, in 1750, in accordance with the testator's injunction, the additional surname and arms of LANE.

He wedded, in 1731, Harriet, daughter and sole heiress of the Rt Hon Robert Benson, Lord Bingley; and was created, on the extinction of his father-in-law's peerage, in 1762, BARON BINGLEY (2nd creation), of Bingley, Yorkshire.

His lordship had an only son, 

ROBERT, 2nd Baron (1732-68), who wedded secondly, the Lady Brigit Henley, eldest daughter of Robert, Earl of Northington, Lord Chancellor of England; but predeceased his father, issueless, in 1768.

His lordship died in 1772, and having survived his only child, devised his great estates in England and Ireland to his nephew,

JAMES FOX-LANE (1756-1821), of Bramham Park, Yorkshire, MP for Horsham, who wedded, in 1789, the Hon Mercia Lucy Pitt, youngest daughter of George, Lord Rivers, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
William Pitt;
Thomas Lascelles;
Marcia Bridget.
Mr Fox Lane left his very extensive estates strictly entailed upon his eldest son,  

GEORGE LANE-FOX (1793-1848), of Bramham Park, MP for Beverley, who wedded, in 1814, Georgiana Henrietta, daughter of Edward Percy Buckley, of Minestead Lodge, Hampshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Frederica Elizabeth.
Mr Lane-Fox was succeeded by his only son,

GEORGE LANE-FOX (1816-96), of Bramham Park, High Sheriff of County Leitrim, 1846, who wedded, in 1837, Georgiana Henrietta, daughter of Edward Percy Buckley, by the Lady Georgiana West, his wife, daughter of John, Earl De La Warr, and had issue,
George Sackville Frederick (1838-1918);
James Thomas Richard;
Kathleen Mary; Caroline Alexina.
The younger son,

JAMES THOMAS RICHARD LANE-FOX (1841-1906), was father of

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE RT HON GEORGE RICHARD LANE-FOX (1870-1947), who, in 1903, married Agnes, daughter of 2nd Viscount Halifax.

The combination of her wealth, his determination and the compulsory purchase of the family's Irish estates, allowed George to honour a promise he had made to his grandfather, The Squire, to rebuild the House.  The family reoccupied in 1907.

George was wounded in the First World War, serving with the Yorkshire Hussars, a regiment he later commanded.  He had been elected to Parliament in 1906 and held several government posts including Secretary of State for Mines in 1923.

In 1933, he was created BARON BINGLEY (3rd creation); however, he had four daughters and, on his death, the title again became extinct.

THE FAMILY continues to live at their ancestral seat, Bramham Park, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, where their estate comprised 15,000 acres.

The Lane-Foxes had estates in Yorkshire, Dorset, and the Court, near Lanesborough, in Ireland.

Their town residence was at 12 Albemarle Street, London.


IN 1666, GEORGE LANE (1620-83) was granted lands in counties Dublin, Meath, Kilkenny, Longford, Waterford and Cork.

This George was the son of Richard Lane, of Tulsk, County Roscommon, and was created Viscount Lanesborough in 1676.

He acquired lands in the baronies of Roscommon and Ballintober, County Roscommon, and in County Longford, in 1678 and 1679 respectively.

These grants were further augmented by the purchase of the Duke of Buckingham's Irish estates in 1710.

In 1724, the Lanesborough title became extinct.

The Lanesborough estates in England and Ireland were inherited by the 2nd Viscount's sister, who was married to Henry Fox.

Though the Longford and Roscommon properties were sold to Luke White in 1819, the Lane-Fox family continued to hold substantial property in both counties Leitrim and Waterford.

For the most part they were absentee landlords, their estates being managed by a succession of stewards, including Joshua Kell, who was a member of the Grand Jury for Leitrim, in 1851.

The family sold the bulk of their remaining estates to the Irish Land Commission in the early years of the 20th century.

First published in March, 2013. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Garryhinch House


This branch of the family is stated to be of Norman descent, springing from Warburton of Arley, Cheshire.

RICHARD WARBURTON, of Dublin, living there in 1622, left three sons and a daughter, viz.
RICHARD, his heir;
George, of Aughrim, MP;
The eldest son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON (1636-1717), was a junior Clerk of the Council, Ireland, 1654, and afterwards Clerk-Assistant to the Irish House of Commons.

He was styled of Garryhinch in 1662, and was MP for Ballyshannon, 1695-1711 and 1703-13; High Sheriff of Queen's County, 1701.

Mr Warburton wedded, in 1656, Judith, daughter of William Sandes, of Dublin.

He died in 1717, having had (with five daughters) an only son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON (1664-1715), of Garryhinch, MP for Portarlington, 1692-1715, who married, in 1695, Elizabeth, daughter of John Pigott, and had issue,
RICHARD, of Garryhinch (1696-1711);
JOHN, died unmarried;
GEORGE, of whom presently;
PETER, devisee of his brother Richard;
Gertrude; Judith; Jane.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his third son,

GEORGE WARBURTON, of Dublin, who espoused Jane, daughter of Richard Le Hunte, of Artramont, County Wexford, and was father of

JOHN WARBURTON, of Garryhinch, MP for Queen's county, 1779-94, High Sheriff, 1786.

This gentleman was heir to his uncle Peter.

He served in early life as a military officer, and was at the taking of Quebec, under General Wolfe.

Mr Warburton married Martha, daughter of Bowes Benson, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Colonel Warbuton died in 1806, and was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1778-1853), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff, 1801, who wedded, in 1800, Anne, daughter of Thomas Kemmis, of Dublin, and had issue,
John, of Garryhinch, dsp 1839;
RICHARD, his successor;
William (Very Rev), Dean of Elphin;
Anne; Martha; Susan; Mary.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his second son,

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1804-62), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff of King's County, 1845, and of Queen's County, 1849, who married, in 1844, Mary Ellinor, daughter and heir of Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, of Millbrook, King's County, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Hugh Dutton;
Catherine Janette; Ellinor Mary Anne; Jessie Isabelle;
Frances Sophia; Ada Blanche; Maude Alyne.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his eldest son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1846-1921), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff, 1869 and 1872, who wedded, in 1867, Georgina Wilhelmina Henrietta, daughter of William Henry Hutchinson, of Rockforest, County Tipperary, and had issue,
Jessie Georgina Hutchinson; Mary Anne.

GARRYHINCH HOUSE, near Portarlington, was a house of early to mid-18th century appearance.

It comprised three storeys with a three-bay centre recessed between two projecting one-bay wings.

The doorway was pointed; a two-storey, three-bay range was at one side, set back.

The former demesne is now a beautiful picturesque woodland for walking and was formerly part of the Warburton estate until it was sold in 1936.

There are a number of specimen trees (remnants of ornamental plantings which adorned the big house) in the forest including monkey puzzle and lime.

The house was accidentally burnt in 1913 and later demolished for safety reasons.

Ruinous outbuildings can still be seen in the forest.

There is an old, three-arched bridge crossing the Barrow.

The forest is surrounded mainly by farmland.

Portarlington Golf Club, which has written a good history of Garryhinch and its association with the Warburtons, lies to the north-east of Garryhinch.

First published in March, 2013.  Photo credits: Liam O'Malley. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Prince Philip in NI

THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH, Patron, today attended a Reception at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

His Royal Highness was received at Belfast City Airport by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

In attendance was Kelly Gallagher MBE, the paralympic gold medalist from Northern Ireland.

His Royal Highness had the opportunity to chat with Gold Award recipients, their families and Duke of Edinburgh leaders.

Prince Philip presented Operating Authority license certificates to the Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland, the Southern Education and Library Board and the Scout Foundation Northern Ireland.

HRH also presented certificates to the first group in Northern Ireland to complete The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Leadership Training Course.

Norwood Pictures

© Lord Belmont In Northern Ireland 2011


"One of them (below) has a photograph of both my aunts, Peggy and Mary, and Mary does not want her photo to go on the Internet so you cannot put that one on the site ...

Sadly it is the best one of the two, as it shows the full door the other one, with the single lady in it, you can use; however I have no idea who she is, it shows a little of what is in the hallway through the door.

I do have some information of the layout of the houses Riversdale [Co Fermanagh] and Norwood Tower from my aunt and will write it up for you ...

Norwood was powered by gas so had gas cookers and lights.


I do have a photograph of a woman standing at the front door which seems quite ornate with iron railings around it I will scan it and send later.

 I also have a photograph of my aunt sitting in front of a lion statue in the garden of Norwood Tower (above); she said that she didn't want it to go on the Internet however I have attached it for you to see.

The lady with her was Mrs Lutton or Litton and she rented part of the servants' quarters in Norwood Tower.

Mary said that another couple rented a different part of the house seemed to be outside of the main house but part of the surrounding building and the rent of those went to the upkeep of the house.

The photograph above shows a glass-house at Norwood Tower.

First published in May, 2011.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Greenmount Manor


SAMUEL THOMPSON (-1838), of Muckamore Abbey, County Antrim, had issue by his wife, Mary, daughter of John Olphert, a son, 

SAMUEL THOMPSON JP (1825-), of Muckamore Abbey, Muckamore, County Antrim, married, in 1865, Maria Hannah, second daughter of Robert Smyth, of Gaybrook, County Westmeath, and by her had issue,
John, 1867-80;
ROBERT, 1869-1952;
Richard, b 1870;
Hugh, 1874-90;
Alexander, b 1879;
Henry, b 1881;
Mary Frances; Henrietta;
Bessy; Eleanor.

THE LANDS occupied by Greenmount, once formed part of Muckamore Abbey, founded by St Colmán Elo in 550 AD. 

The Abbey flourished until the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of HENRY VIII.

The family of Thompson, of Scots-Presbyterian extraction, has been associated with Muckamore since about 1650.

Their descendants lived at Greenmount Manor from the mid-18th century.

The Thompsons were an influential family in the Antrim area, who prospered through their successful textile and bleaching businesses.

The manor house was built ca 1820 by Robert Thompson, to the design of Charles Robert Cockerell, with the balcony added by 1835.

It was described as “a sandstone house, presenting a portico and balcony supported by great Ionic columns”.

Greenmount was acquired in 1835 by the Venerable and Hon James Agar (1781-1866), Archdeacon of Kilmore, through his wife Louisa, youngest daughter of Samuel Thompson, of Greenmount.

On Louisa’s death in 1885, Greenmount passed to Richard Dyott MP, whose mother was a Thompson descendant.

In 1902, Greenmount was purchased by William Taylor Malcolm, a tenant farmer from Stirlingshire.

He delegated the management of the farm to his son John.

In 1910, Mr Malcolm sold Greenmount to the Government for £4,400 (£463,000 in today's money).

After some structural alterations to the house, the first term opened in 1912, with 11 students.

The current sandstone house consists of a portico and balcony supported by six great ionic columns.

The present house replaced a previous villa within the demesne.

Extensions were added after Greenmount changed from being a gentleman’s demesne to being an agricultural college in 1912.

The basalt part of the building was added along with the Principal's House (now the lodge) in 1925.

Another extension was added in the 1950s around the time the main student residences were being constructed.

The demesne records show that in 1809 Greenmount was a fine gentleman’s demesne. There was a landscape in the style of Capability Brown.

A piece then written in 1838 sizes the Greenmount demesne as “about 160 acres, 39 of which were laid out in ornamental grounds and plantings”.

The following extract from Sketch of a Ramble to Antrim, which was published in the Belfast Monthly Magazine of July, 1809, paints a lovely picture of Greenmount in its heyday:-

We crossed the fields to Greenmount, the elegant seat of Robert Thompson Esquire, about one mile from Antrim. This beautiful villa stands on rising ground and is completely furnished in the modern taste.

The demesne is planted with a great number of trees and shrubs laid out into some very pleasing walks. At the rear of the building are two small lakes, well stocked with fish. On them also some swans.

On the verge of one of the fore-mentioned lakes, in a shrubbery is a hermitage build with romantic simplicity and opposite is a small island joined to the mainland by a stonework arch.

Indeed I believe few places in this country surpass in beauty the charming villa at Greenmount.

The stone arch situated at the top end of the Arch Pond, which is about 200 years old, is cleverly constructed from selected stones that press together, holding the arch in place.

This unusual landscape feature once connected an island to the shore in what was then a pond the size of the adjacent car park.

The summer-house, now ruinous, was built about 200 years ago. This summer-house would have looked out over Lough Neigh and the Antrim Town area and the meandering Six-mile Water River.

The Ice house (above) at Greenmount was built around 1820 by the Thompson family and the family crest can be seen above the entrance. 

The Walled Garden at Greenmount College was built in 1801 and has remained in horticultural use until the present day.

Changes in use over the years, and the presence of obsolete or inappropriate features, had by 1996 left a layout which did not do justice to the Walled Garden’s heritage or its potential.

At this stage proposals were put forward to redevelop the site as a resource which would make the best use of the garden’s unique history and aesthetic.

The dramatic formal garden you see today is a result of that vision.

The old farmyard appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1837.  It is built in basalt as a square building enclosing a square courtyard.

Today it houses the main farm office.

The surrounding farmyard has substantially outgrown the courtyard. In the centre of the building on the roof is an old bell tower.

First published in August, 2011.

Lissan Visit

I visited Lissan House and demesne, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, in August, 2012.

Lissan, former seat of the Staples Baronets, comprised about 30,000 acres at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.

I arrived at about ten-thirty and spent five hours in the estate.

Much admirable work has already been done on the old house, though a lot remains to be done.

The ground in front of the house had two tennis-courts and a croquet lawn.

Funding for PHASE II (the restoration of the interior decorative schemes, re-building the Conservatory and the complete restoration of the farmyard and outbuildings) was being sought in 2012.

The fabric of the house has been restored, including a new roof.

The outbuildings, including the Creamery (attached to the house); the Turf House; the Donkey House; and the Great Barn, all await restoration.

The Donkey House in 2012

It has been envisaged that the Donkey House will be converted into two apartments for rent.

The Turf House was to have been restored in 2013, as a provisional tea-room until work began on the Creamery.

The walled garden is large, comprising 4½ acres.

The charming, though ruinous, gardener's cottage awaited restoration.

Gardener's cottage in walled garden

Lissan House itself is a wonderful old mansion house.

It is said to be about four centuries old, and the Staples Baronets were seated there for most of that time.

I believe that the 13th Baronet was the last to live at Lissan; and his daughter Hazel was born, lived and died there.

The volunteers running the property are enthusiastic and hospitable. We were given a terrific tour of the house at two o'clock today.

The upper storey (second floor) is presently closed to visitors, though the ground and first floors are open.

The late Hazel Dolling lived on the upper floor, after her mother, Lady Staples, died in 1990.

The Ballroom

The brightest room in the house is the Ballroom, a single-storey, Victorian addition.

Hazel Dolling's little dog Woofie has been immortalized in the form of a cushion in one of the bedrooms, dressed in Georgian attire complete with sash and star of an order of knighthood!

A trip to Lissan is most worthwhile and I heartily recommend it to readers.

I look forward to returning in future years.

First published in August, 2012.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Riverside Clearance

Work has begun clearing the riverside of the Conn's Water on a section near Mersey Street Bridge.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


I revisited Ulster's legendary rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, near Ballintoy, County Antrim, on the 22nd March, 2015.

I shall also recall the visit since I lost a dental crown at the car-park whilst chewing a fruit pastille!

The rope bridge is indeed a mecca for tourists and travellers alike.

The bridge is made from planks between cables and robust rope handrails.

Salmon fishermen crossed from the cliffs - a sea chasm of 100 feet - to their fishery cottage on Carrick Island.

The bridge was formerly assembled in May and dismantled in September, though it now opens for longer.

Incidentally, the cottage opens to visitors on the weekend of the 9-10th May and the 13-14th June, from 1-4pm, in 2015.

On the island the fishing boats were hoisted and lowered by derricks.
Ballintoy and Carrick-a-Rede were granted to Archibald Stewart in 1625 by Randal, 1st Earl of Antrim, for the annual rent of £9. This grant included Sheep Island and the isle of Portcampbell.
The National Trust acquired 56 acres of the property in 1967 from Frank Gailey and Iris Bushell.
The prospect is truly spectacular.

The Weighbridge Tearoom serves delightful light lunches and refreshments: I enjoyed a nutritious bowl of piping-hot leek & potato soup with a thick slice of fresh Ulster wheaten bread.

Incidentally, the tearoom also provides free BT wifi.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Michael Longley CBE

Honorary Burgess of the City of Belfast

Elected and admitted by the Council of the City of Belfast under the municipal privilege (Ireland) Act, 1875:-

Michael Longley CBE
Commander of the civil division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

The honour was bestowed upon Mr Longley by Belfast City Council in recognition of the positive contribution he has made to the city through his acclaimed poetry and writing legacy over five decades.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Portballintrae Visit

This morning, donning the favourite herringbone tweed jacket, woollen scarf, and gloves, I walked to Seaport harbour.

This picturesque little quay is private. It ised to belong to the Leslies, a landed family who built Seaport Lodge, above the harbour, as a holiday home.

The Leslies, of Leslie Hill, County Antrim, were major landowners in the county.

Today the lodge, now derelict, and the harbour both belong to Seymour Sweeney.

Mr Sweeney also owns the former stables, familiarly known today as Sweeney's bar.

The bar-restaurant has been closed for many months, awaiting a new tenant, it is expected.

Masses of razor-wire lines Seaport harbour, presumably to deter trespassers.

I'm in no doubt that this is effective, though, alas, it detracts from the beauty of the place.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lagan Footbridge

Lagan Footbridge at Donegall Quay

Work is progressing well on the new £5m cycle & pedestrian footbridge at the Lagan Weir in Belfast.

It is being undertaken by Graham Construction (I've already written about the Graham Baronets).

As part of a regeneration project for the area, public realm improvements along Belfast waterfront will include an upgrade to the existing bridge to provide an integrated cycle route.

Spanning the River Lagan from Donegall Quay on the north side to Queen's Quay on the south side.

The new footbridge will be approximately 400 feet in length, between abutments with additional ramp lengths of approximately 89 feet and 95 feet, with a deck width varying from 14 feet to 33 feet at its widest.

Lagan Footbridge at Queen's Quay

The vertical profile will be a continuous curved profile with ramps at a gradient of 1:20.

The horizontal alignment will also be curved with a degree of asymmetry.

The new footbridge will consist of structural steel, enveloped in aluminium cladding with a glass parapet on the east elevation and a stainless steel post and wire system on the west parapet.

The project will also include the refurbishment of the weir lighting with removal of existing halogen lights to be replaced with new energy efficient lighting.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St Patrick's School

ST PATRICK'S NATIONAL SCHOOL, Donegall Street, Belfast, was built in 1828 to the designs of the Newry architect, Timothy Hevey.

It was the first Roman Catholic school to be built in the city of Belfast.

The land was donated by the 2nd Marquess of Donegall, and had been the town dump until the school was built.

Operated by the Christian Brothers for a large portion of its history, the school continued to serve the educational needs of north Belfast until it closed in 1982.

Before then it had been the place of schooling for the comedian Frank Carson; the Lord Fitt, founding Leader of the SDLP; and former World Champion boxer, Rinty Monaghan, as well as countless generations of children from across north Belfast.

Squat and brown bricked, people speak fondly of its pointed Gothic windows and Dutch gable.

After it closed it served briefly as a parish community centre and survived until a fire caused severe damage in late 1995.

The damage so severe that the owners wished to have the building demolished for public safety and to enable expansion of a car park.

The threat to the future of Belfast’s last remaining Neo-Gothic building was the impetus for the foundation of the Belfast Buildings Trust.

With a package of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Architectural Heritage Fund, various charitable trusts and the Belfast Building Trust's own borrowings, the group ensured a completed project at a cost of £1.2 million.

Reopened in 1999 by the Lord Dubs, Minister for the Environment, St Patrick’s now houses offices, a bookshop and a restored classroom that is used for events ranging from creative writing classes to business seminars.

First published in August, 2011. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Ardress House


This family claims descent from Thomas Edensor, of Cumberland and Staffordshire, and his wife, Anne Hopwas, of Hopwas.

JOB ENSOR (1688-), second son of Edward Ensor, of Wilnencote, Staffordshire, by Jane Darey his wife, married Mary Hill, by whom he had issue,
John, of Dublin; ancestor of ENSOR OF ROLLESBY HALL;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1724-1803), married, in 1760, Sarah Clarke, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Thomas, b 1777;
Job, b 1778;
Henry, b 1779.
The family seems to have moved to Ireland between George's christening in 1724 and 1729, when Job Ensor was working on the parliament house in Dublin.

George, a younger half-brother of JOHN ENSOR, was baptised at St Michael's church, Coventry, in 1724.

In 1745, he won first prize for designs for a house in one of the Dublin Society competitions sponsored by Dr Samuel Madden.

The previous year he had been appointed clerk of works in the office of the Surveyor-General.

In 1747, he was given the task of inspecting barracks.

His wife, Sarah Clarke, was heiress to the small estate of Ardress, County Armagh; there is, however, no definite evidence of his having come into the property until 1783.

In the interim, he worked as an architect and developer in Dublin and elsewhere.

He was appointed surveyor of the works at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in 1761.

George Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE ENSOR JP (1769-1843), of Ardress, an eminent lawyer and author, who wedded, in 1804, Esther Weld, and had issue,
Henry, b 1806;
George, b 1808;
GEORGE, of whom we treat;
Charles, 1811-75; father of CHARLES.
Elizabeth; Caroline; Matilda; Florence; Alexa; Anna Maria.
The third surviving son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1809-79), of Ardress, died unmarried and the family estate passed to his nephew,

CHARLES ENSOR (1841-97), who espoused, in 1873, Catherine Howard, and had issue,
Robert &
George, twins, b 1880;
Dudley, 1881-1963;
John, b 1882;
Edward, b 1883;
Henry, b 1885;
Francis, b 1886;
Ernest, b 1891;
Elizabeth Catherine; Harriet; Ester; Alexa; May.
Mr Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES HOWARD ENSOR OBE JP DL (1880-1963), of Ardress, who married, in 1912, Ethel Clare Sinton, and had issue,
CHARLES HOWARD (1916-2002);
David George, GM, DSM (1917-89);
Ethel Alexa; Katie.
Captain Charles Howard Ensor  © National Trust
Colonel Charles Howard Ensor OBE, JP, DL, was born on the 3rd August, 1878, at Clayton, Contra Costa County, California, United States.

Having been a company commander in the Armagh Regiment, Ulster Volunteer Force, for ten months, he enlisted into the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers on its formation and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1914.

He went to France with 36th (Ulster) Division in October, 1915, as Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company.

During the attack at Hamel on the 1st July, 1916, he was wounded in the right leg.

He lay in a shell hole for four days (for the last ten hours up to his armpits in water) before being found.

He was evacuated to hospital in England on the 9th July, 1916, where he remained until the 20th October, 1916.

His wounds precluded general service and he served with the 10th (Reserve) Battalion until released from service in 1919.

On the formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary in November, 1921, he was appointed County Commandant for County Armagh and for his work with the USC he was appointed OBE (Civil).

During the 2nd World War he served as the Commandant of the four County Armagh battalions of the Ulster Home Guard in the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Ensor held the post of County Commandant in the Ulster Special Constabulary until he retired in 1952, aged 74.

He died at Rostrevor, County Down on the 29th January, 1963, aged 85, and was buried at Annaghmore Parish Church, County Armagh.

His brother, Captain Ernest Nash Ensor, also served with the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers and with the Chinese Labour Corps.

Colonel Ensor's son, David George Ensor, GM, DSM, earned a Distinguished Service Medal at sea serving as a Lance Sergeant with Third Regiment, Maritime Royal Artillery during the 2nd World War.

He subsequently earned a George Medal tackling armed robbers in Dungannon and Donaghmore, County Tyrone, in 1952.

An auction of the contents of Ardress House in 1959 attracted interested bidders from throughout Ulster and beyond, including Dr McCann, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, who acquired a Welsh dresser for the archiepiscopal palace.

The entrance front

ARDRESS HOUSE, near Portadown, County Armagh, assumed its present appearance after a series of additions between 1790 and 1810, some of which were evidently made by the author George Ensor (1772-1845) soon after he inherited Ardress from his father in 1803.

Two bays of windows were added to each end of the front façade in order to impress - an exercise that involved constructing no less than five dummy windows and a partly false front hut, which allowed the formation of an elegant garden front with curved sweeps at right angles to the main façade.

New wings were added to the north and east sides, the latter containing the dining-room which, curiously, was linked to the drawing-room by a colonnade along the garden front and was later removed, in 1879.

The garden front in 2016

The room was restored in 1961 and now contains some exceptional furniture, most strikingly a heavily carved grotesque Irish Chippendale side-table and a pair of commodes made in 1759 by Pierre Langlois.
Here hangs a fine collection of paintings from Stuart Hall, near Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and now on permanent loan to the National Trust. They include a group of 'Four Seasons' by Theobald Michau, 'The Road to Calvary' by Frans Francken the younger and 'Christ on the Road to Emmaus' signed by J Myts (1645-64).

Ardress was inherited in 1845 by the third George Ensor who died unmarried in 1879.

The property then passed to his nephew Charles Ensor, and later to Charles's son, Captain Charles H Ensor, who sold Ardress to the National Trust in 1960.

In addition to upgrading the house, the National Trust has restored the mainly 18th century farmyard, where visitors can inspect a milking shed, dairy, boiler house, forge and threshing barn.

There is also an interesting display of old farm implements.

On display is the 1799 table made for the speaker of the Irish Parliament upon which GEORGE V signed the Constitution of Northern Ireland on 22nd June, 1921.

First published in March, 2013.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Beer's Bridge

Beer's Bridge, north side, March 2015

I went for a short stroll this morning in order to see Beer's Bridge on the Beersbridge Road in east Belfast.

I have little knowledge of the bridge or its history, though it seems to have been widened at some stage.

The little river Conn's Water flows under this bridge.

A century ago, this was a thriving industrial area, with the Owen O'Cork Mills on the river's eastern side.

Beer's Bridge, south side, March 2015

Further north, the huge Belfast ropeworks flourished.

The other side of the Conn's Water was adjacent to the Grove Weaving Factory (linen) and Elmgrove House (where the school now stands).

Travelling southwards along the river, there is a weir, the highest point  to which ordinary tides flow.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mersey Street Bridge

Conn's Water from Mersey Street, March 2015

The prospect today from Mersey Street Bridge, Belfast, of the river Conn's Water.

The river and its riverside paths are all being restored and beautified as part of the £40 million Connswater Community Greenway Project.

The section of the river above flows from Mersey Street to its termination at or close to Victoria Park.