Saturday, 30 April 2016

Cabin Hill


CABIN HILL, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, is a fairly large and considerably extended two-to-four storey house, built around a sandstone Tudor-Revival gentleman’s residence of ca 1860, itself extended in similar style ca 1903-5.

A large, modern, flat-roofed, four-storey, rendered block was added to the rear by the school in 1946 with an adjacent, equally large and equally modern, brick wing of about 1980.
When it was built, Cabin Hill was originally closer to the village of Dundonald - or, indeed, Knock - than to the city of Belfast.

This small farm in the townland of Ballycloghan was adjacent to the Belmont estate and the Clelands' Stormont estate.

The name Cabin Hill refers to a "cabin" built in 1786-7 by Samuel McTier and his wife Martha, on a small parcel of land they had acquired for £50 (about £6,700 today).

The house itself, as the name implies, was a single storey, thatched dwelling; however, a painting of 1847 shows that, by the standards of the day, it had a fairly prosperous appearance, being relatively large and prosperous looking ~ not the "cabin" one might have expected.

After Samuel McTier's death in 1795, Martha continued to use Cabin Hill as a country retreat, being joined on frequent occasions by her brother, the Belfast radical and founder of the United Irishmen, Dr William Drennan.

Drennan died in 1820 and Martha in 1837; however, the property appears to have been disposed of some time before the latter date, for in the 1833 valuation it is recorded as the home of a Mr Tomb.

By 1852, it had been acquired by John Dinnen, a Belfast solicitor.

Dinnen appears to have retained the original house for some years, though, by 1861, a new, much larger building appears to have been built.

This new dwelling, a two-storey gentleman's villa in the Tudor-Revival style, remained in possession of Dinnen's descendants until 1903, when it was acquired by Robert James McMordie QC, Lord Mayor of Belfast.

About 1903-5, McMordie greatly extended the house by adding the large section to the eastern side and the new entrance conservatory, all to designs by Hugh Brown.

Mr McMordie died at Cabin Hill in 1914.

Between, 1920-22, his widow leased the property to the Rt Hon Sir James Craig Bt (afterwards 1st Viscount Craigavon), the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Several cabinet meetings were held at the house.

In 1924-25, McMordie's widow sold Cabin Hill to Campbell College, which converted it for use as their preparatory school.

Ca 1935, the school added a porter's lodge to the main gateway and, in 1946, the large four storey modern style wing was added to the rear of the main building itself.

Further separate classrooms were built to the north east side of the building in 1973, with a further modernist extension added to the main school later.

These books give no indication of major building work at Cabin Hill between 1864 and the McMordie extension of ca 1903-5, suggesting that the original section of the Tudor Revival house is pre 1864.

First published in May, 2014.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Laconic Parrot


During my vacation on the Canarian island of Fuerteventura I often walked past a block of offices, en route to the beach.

I regularly passed a slatted door in a tiny room which housed an ancient parrot with a minuscule dog.

Occasionally the door was open in order, presumably, to provide them with some daylight.

This parrot looked down on the tiny dog, which looked up mournfully at me every time I peered in.

The parrot had to be encouraged to sing, though I observed that it made two clicking noises prior to any further utterances.

Accordingly, I began by whistling my patriotic rendition of Rule Britannia! to it.

No joy there.

My next effort was a stirring few lines of Eternal Father, Strong To Save.

The old bird was clearly unimpressed with this old, traditional hymn.

Finally, I succumbed to the cheerful ditty, Consider Yourself, from that marvellous musical Oliver!

Christopher Bellew had fun with the learned double yellow-headed amazon, Pele, at the pub where he stayed.

Had I a copy of HMG's EU referendum leaflet at hand I'd have shoved it in the firing line directly below my old parrot.

Alas (!) a copy has not been received even at Belmont GHQ, as yet; though in hindsight, given the wicked sense of humour, I might have taught it to exclaim a rude or vulgar phrase to unsuspecting passers-by.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Days That Are Gone

I have been reading Days That Are Gone, a book published in 1983 about the childhood of the distinguished Ulster lawyer, businessman and writer, Sir Patrick Macrory.

Sir Patrick Arthur Macrory received a knighthood in 1972 for services to Northern Ireland.

In Days That Are Gone, he reminisces about his childhood spent at the family homestead, Ardmore, near Limavady in County Londonderry.

Ardmore is within a mile of Drenagh estate; and, indeed the McCauslands are mentioned quite a few times in the book.

If you're seeking a nostalgic journey to rural Ulster in the early 20th century, when the railways ran to most of our towns and villages, including Limavady; where there was a halt, indeed, at Ardmore; this, then, will interest you.

Sir Patrick's grandfather was Samuel Martin Macrory JP, of Ardmore Lodge, born in 1836; and his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Samuel (Frank) Macrory DSO DL, born in 1876, was married to Rosa Pottinger (see Pottinger of Mount Pottinger).

In his book, he mentions an amateur production he staged during his youth, at the Town Hall, Limavady, by the so-called Ardmore Players, where the following roll-call of the county's landed families acted:
Pat Macrory ~ Holmes;
William Lenox-Conyngham ~ Dr Watson;
Peggy Garnett ~ Landlady;
Conolly McCausland ~ Villain;
Rosemarie Davidson ~ Housekeeper.
For those who are particularly interested in the old Limavady railway, and the parish of Balteagh, this book has to be essential.

The late Rt Hon Roy Bradford composed an excellent obituary of Sir Patrick (1911-93).

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Which Bird?

I brought the iPad with me to the beach for the very first time today.

Although I'm not madly obsessed with wildlife, it does interest me.

La Concha beach lies to the north of El Cotillo.

At this beautiful little beach there is a well-known beach bar called Torino's.

Many years ago, Torino's father-in-law, Bill, often took the food and drink orders and acted generally as Mine Host.

I liked Bill. He had a sort of Cockney charm and affability with customers, especially British ones.

Alas, Bill has now retired and Torino cooks the grub in a tiny galley kitchen behind the beach bar.

I digress.

The principal purpose of bringing the iPad today was to photograph a certain kind of bird on the beach  (no, not the 36-24-36 type).

Readers, your task is to identify definitively this breed of bird.

Is it a sand plover? Or a sanderling?

Prey enlighten me.

Tostón Castle

Several days ago I revisited El Castillo del Tostón, a small fort perched on top of the cliff at E Cotillo, Fuerteventura.

It stands in a commanding position and is approached by a dusty track.


Toston Castle stands on the periphery of the village, dating from the late 16th century.

The roof-top is ascended by steep stone steps; whereas the ground floor, down more steps, has a modest gallery with exhibits and souvenirs for sale.

The entrance fee remains €1.50.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

El Tostón Lighthouse

El Tostón lighthouse about a mile along the coast from El Cotillo.

There is a modest museum or exhibition centre with a café and outdoor eating area.

The complex actually has three lighthouses: the largest, striped one being the most recent, constructed in 1985.

The others date from the mid-fifties and ca 1899.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Castle Upton


The family of UPTON was seated at Upton, Cornwall, about the time of the Conquest.

From John Upton, of Upton, descended in the fourth degree,

RICHARD UPTON, who married Agnes, daughter and heir of Walter Carnother.

JOHN UPTON, their son, wedded Margaret, sister and co-heir of John Mules; their son,

THOMAS UPTON, espoused Joan, daughter and heir of John Trelawney, by whom he had issue,

JOHN UPTON, of Treslake, his second son, who married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Mohun, of Portlinch, Devon. Their second son,

JOHN UPTON, was father of

WILLIAM UPTON, seated at Lupton, Devon. His great-grandson,

ARTHUR UPTON, was father, besides his son and heir, of the first member of this family that settled in Ulster,

HENRY UPTON, his second son, a captain in the Earl of Essex's army in 1598.

Captain Upton was great-nephew of Sir Nicholas Upton, one of the knights of Malta.

He fixed his abode in County Antrim, and was returned to parliament for the town of Carrickfergus.

Mr Upton married Mary, daughter of Sir Hugh Clotworthy, knight, and sister of John, Viscount Massereene, by whom he had four sons and three daughters, and was succeeded by the eldest,

ARTHUR UPTON, of Castle Upton, MP for County Antrim for a series of forty years.

This gentleman wedded Dorothy, daughter of Michael Beresford, of Coleraine, and was succeeded by his fourth, but eldest, surviving son,

CLOTWORTHY UPTON, of Castle Upton, MP for County Antrim.
This gentleman, raising a party of men, joined the standard of WILLIAM III, at the siege of Limerick, and was taken prisoner there, after entering the breach sword in hand, and almost alone, his followers, nearly to a man, being cut to pieces.
Mr Upton married firstly, Mary, only daughter of Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, by whom he had no issue.

He married secondly, Margaret, daughter of William Stewart, of Killymoon, County Tyrone, who died also without issue; and thirdly, Jane, daughter of John Ormsby, of Athlacca, by whom he had an only daughter,

ELZABETH, who wedded the Rt Hon Hercules Landford Rowley, and was created a peeress of the realm, as Baroness Langford

Mr Upton was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN UPTON, of Castle Upton, MP for County Antrim, a military officer.
He distinguished himself at the storming of the citadel of Liège, and at the battle of Almansa, under Lord Galway; where, for his spirited conduct, he obtained the command of a regiment, upon the fall of Colonel Killigrew.
Colonel Upton wedded, in 1711, Mary, only daughter of Dr Francis Upton, of London, by whom he had three sons and five daughters.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR UPTON, of Castle Upton, MP and deputy governor of County Antrim.

This gentleman married firstly, Sophia, daughter of Michael Ward; and secondly, Sarah, daughter of Pole Cosby, of Stradbally; but dying without issue, in 1768, the estates devolved upon his brother,

FRANCIS UPTON, a naval officer; at whose decease, unmarried, they passed to a younger brother,

CLOTWORTHY UPTON (1721-85), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1776, by the title of Baron Templetown.

JOHN HENRY, 2nd Baron (1771-1846), was advanced to the dignity of a viscountcy, as VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN, in 1806.

his lordship wedded, in 1769, Elizabeth, daughter of Shuckburgh Boughton, of Poston Court, Herefordshire, by who he left issue,
JOHN HENRY, his successor;
Fulke Greville;
Arthur Percy, CB, lt-gen in the army;
Elizabeth Albinia, m 1st Marquess of Bristol.
  • Henry Augustus George Mountjoy Heneage Upton, 5th Viscount (1894–1981).
The 5th Viscount married firstly, in 1916, Alleyne, daughter of Captain Henry Lewes Conran RN, of Gordon Downs, Queensland, Australia, and had issue,
Alleyne Evelyn Maureen Louisa.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1975, Margaret Violet Louisa, widow of Sir Lionel George Arthur Cust.

On the decease of the 5th Viscount the titles expired.

The ancestral seat of the Templetown family was Castle Upton, Templepatrick, County Antrim. 

CASTLE UPTON demesne, beside Templepatrick, County Antrim, is near the half-way point on the main road from Antrim to Belfast.

The demesne lies on the north side of the village; and the house contains numerous features which are of historical and architectural import.

The Anglo-Norman style flanker towers now form part of the main house of 1612; which, in turn, occupies the site of a 13th century priory of the Knights of St John (Hospitallers) - monks who joined the Last Crusade, sailing from Carrickfergus in County Antrim.

The said monks were expelled from Templepatrick during the Reformation; and the Knights' vaulted refectory was reconstructed, when the mansion was extended by Robert Adam in 1783 for the 1st Viscount Templetown.

Castle Upton House today is essentially a plantation castle built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries by Sir Robert and Sir Henry Norton Bt, who named it Castle Norton.

The castle was sold in 1625 to Captain Henry Upton, who promptly re-named it Castle Upton.

From 1783 Clotworthy Upton, 1st Baron Templetown, and his son (later 1st Viscount Templetown) employed Robert Adam to modernize the interior and give the exterior a "castle air".

Adam raised and machiolated the pair of round towers from the original castle and gave them high, conical roofs, adding a wing with another tower.

Adam also designed a Classical mausoleum in the church-yard and a splendid castellated stable range, in 1789.

In 1837 Edward Blore was employed by the 2nd Viscount to re-model the Castle, inserting mullioned windows and eradicating most of Adams' interiors; raising and panelling the hall; and refurbishing the main reception rooms in a restrained Elizabethan style, with fretted ceilings.

The Castle was sold by the Upton family early in the 20th century; and the subsequent owner re-roofed the main building, an act which ruined Adam's romantic skyline.

Adam's additional wing was allowed to fall into ruin.

In 1963, the 300-acre estate was purchased by Sir Robin Kinahan who, with Lady Kinahan, restored the Castle most sympathetically.

Their most notable achievement was the rebuilding of the ruined Adam wing, which now contains an elegant ballroom; and an Italian marble chimney-piece formerly at Downhill Castle in County Londonderry.

The demesne itself is now diminished, with trees near the house, a small artificial lake and lawns where a 19th century formal garden was once laid out.

The walled garden is used as a field. Robert Adam’s stable block is approached via a contemporary gate lodge of 1820.

The impressive village entrance to the house is by Edward Blore (1837) and has a gate lodge hidden behind it.

Today the demesne is home to Sir Robin and Lady Kinahan's son, Danny Kinahan DL MP, and his family, though it is currently (April, 2016) for sale.
I have met the late Sir Robin several times: When he was Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast at ceremonies in the Ulster Hall; and as chairman of the board of Belfast Cathedral. I recall him well. A true gentleman indeed. 
First published in March, 2010.   Templetown arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

High Cross

The High Cross has stood at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, County Down, for over a millenium.

An exact replica of the iconic Downpatrick High Cross, weighing about a ton, was installed on the 16th April, 2014, in front of the Cathedral.

The original Mourne granite cross, carved ca AD 900 as a "prayer in stone", is of historical, cultural and religious significance.

Its first location is believed to have been the early medieval monastery on the Hill of Down.

Following the Reformation, the High Cross was taken down and was used as Downpatrick's market cross.

It was damaged in a busy town centre location before being dismantled and its parts dispersed around the town.

In the 1890s, the parts were gathered together by Francis Joseph Bigger and reconstructed outside Down Cathedral, with the help of subscriptions from donors.

The old cross was removed in December, 2013, to be preserved as the centrepiece of a display in Down County Museum. 

The 2014 replica was made by County Down stonemasons, using computer technology to make an exact copy of the original. The granite used was blasted from Thomas Mountain in the Mourne mountains.

The head of the cross shows the Crucifixion of Christ, flanked by the spear-bearer, sponge-bearer and the two thieves, who were given their own names in Irish in the 8th century.

The interlace on the side is made up of intertwined snakes, symbols of resurrection as they slough their skin and are reborn.

First published in April, 2014.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Leslie Eulogy

The Irish Aesthete has written a fond and insightful eulogy - if that is the mot juste - of Sir John (Jack) Leslie's life:-

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Beach Vendor

On one occasion during this holiday I spotted a beach vendor near Torino's Bar at El Cotillo, Fuerteventura.

She was carrying a notice with "Beer", "Cola", €1.50, and so on, written by hand on the card.

On her back she had a cool-bag with the said beverages.

The young woman remained quiet, however.

Now I have observed coves peddling these items on other Canarian beaches, and the trick is to have a act of some kind, with comical rhyming verse.

For instance, "Beer, Coca-Cola, Pineapple, Looky-Looky, Tutti-Fruiti"; whereby the sun-worshippers flock to you, brandishing the old dosh.

Cockney costermongers and barrow-boys were exceedingly artful in this regard and could have taught us a thing or two about marketing and salesmanship.

The desired result should prove to be most efficacious indeed, what?

By the way, the fellow atop with his bike and a load of bangles or necklaces is not self, in case you wondered.

Mitchelstown Castle


The family of King was originally of Feathercock Hall, near Northallerton, Yorkshire, and the first of its members we find upon record in Ireland is

SIR JOHN KING, Knight, who obtained from ELIZABETH I, in requital of his military services, a lease of Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon; and, from JAMES I, numerous valuable territorial grants, and several of the highest and most lucrative political employments.

He married Catherine, daughter of Robert Drury, and grand-niece of the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir William Drury, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

SIR ROBERT KING, Knight, muster master-general of Ireland, who wedded firstly, Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Folliott, 1st Baron Folliott, of Ballyshannon, and had, with other children,
The eldest son,

JOHN KING, who received the honour of knighthood, and, although an active Cromwellian, was elevated to the peerage by CHARLES II, for his zeal in inspiring the monarchy, in 1660, in the dignity of Baron Kingston.

His lordship married Catherine, daughter of Sir William Fenton, of Mitchelstown, County Cork, and granddaughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton, principal secretary of state.

By this lady Lord Kingston's family acquired the estate of Mitchelstown.

His lordship died in 1676, and was succeeded by his elder son,

ROBERT, 2nd Baron, who dsp in 1693, having settled his estates to his uncle, Sir Robert King, in consequence of his brother, and the inheritor of his honours,

JOHN, 3rd Baron, having conformed to the church of Rome; but this nobleman appears afterwards to have enjoyed the estates.

He was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber to King JAMES II, and following the fortunes of his master into France, was outlawed; but after his father's death, returning into Ireland, he had a pardon from the crown.

His lordship died in 1727, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

JAMES, 4th Baron, who married twice; but dying without male issue, in 1761, the BARONY EXPIRED, while an estate of £6,000 a year, and a large personal fortune, devolved upon his only surviving daughter, MARGARET.

Sir Robert King's youngest son,

THE RT HON ROBERT KING, of Rockingham, County Roscommon, MP for that county, and a privy counsellor in Ireland, was created a baronet in 1682.

Sir Robert wedded Frances, daughter and co-heir of Colonel Henry Gore; and dying in 1708, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN KING, 2nd Baronet, MP for County Roscommon, who dsp in 1720, when the title devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON SIR HENRY KING, 3rd Baronet, MP for County Roscommon, and a privy counsellor.

This gentleman espoused, in 1722, Isabella, sister of Richard, Viscount Powerscourt; and dying in 1740, was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR ROBERT KING, 4th Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1748, as Baron Kingsborough; but died unmarried in 1755, when that dignity expired, while the baronetcy devolved upon his lordship's brother,

SIR EDWARD KING, 5th Baronet, who was created Baron Kingston, of Rockingham, in 1764; Viscount Kingsborough, in 1768; and EARL OF KINGSTON in 1768.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Charles Avery Edward King-Tenison, styled Viscount Kingsborough (b 2000).

MITCHELSTOWN CASTLE was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Kingston.

It was one of the largest Gothic-Revival houses in Ireland, a noble and sumptuous structure of hewn stone, in the castellated style, erected after a design by Mr Pain, of Cork, at an expense of more than £100,000.

Mitchelstown is about thirty miles north of the city of Cork.

The buildings occupied three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth being occupied by a terrace, under which are various offices.

The principal entrance, on the eastern range, was flanked by two lofty square towers rising to the height of 106 feet, one of which was called the White Knight's tower, from its being built on the site of the tower of that name which formed part of the old mansion.

At the northern extremity of the same range were two octagonal towers of lofty elevation.

The entrance hall opened into a stately hall or gallery, eighty feet in length, with an elaborately groined roof, richly ornamented with fine tracery, and furnished with elegant stoves of bronze, and with figures of warriors armed cap-a-pie; at the further extremity was the grand staircase.


Parallel with the gallery, and forming the south front and principal range, were the dining and drawing-rooms, both noble apartments superbly fitted up and opening into the library, which was between them.

Entrance Hall

The whole pile had a character of stately baronial magnificence, and from its great extent and elevation formed a conspicuous feature in the surrounding scenery.

Near the Castle was a large fish-pond, and from a small tower on its margin, water was conveyed to the baths and to the upper apartments of the castle, and across the demesne to the gardens, by machinery of superior construction.

The gardens were spacious and tastefully laid out, the conservatory 100 feet in length and ornamented with a range of beautiful Ionic pilasters.

The parkland, which comprised 1,300 acres, was embellished with luxuriant plantations, and included a farming establishment on an extensive scale, with buildings and offices of a superior description, on the erection of which more than £40,000 was expended.

It was estimated that the castle, with the conservatories, farm, and the general improvement of the demesne, cost its noble proprietor little less, if not more, than £200,000 (£8.3 million today).

"Big George", the 3rd Earl, was renowned for his extravagant hospitality.

The 4th Earl continued to entertain his visitors regally at Mitchelstown.

One of the under-cooks  was a young man called Claridge.

Lord Kingston suffered a financial downfall: His lordship - and house guests - locked the doors against the bailiffs and were besieged therein for a fortnight, until finally the Castle was possessed, creditors satisfied and much of the estate was sold.

What remained of the estate was inherited by the 5th Earl's widow. Thereafter, Economy reigned.

The house was looted and burned in 1922 by the IRA, which had occupied it for the previous six weeks.

The order to burn the building, to prevent the newly established Irish Free State army from having use of it, was made by a local Republican commandant, Patrick Luddy, with the approval of General Liam Lynch.

It is clear that one of the motivations for the burning was to try to cover up the looting of the castle's contents, including large amounts of furniture, a grand piano, paintings by Conrad, Beechy and Gainsborough.

Many of these objects have come up for sale in recent years and some, such as the piano, are still kept locally.

The Castle was severely damaged by the fire.

However, it is clear from documents in the National Archives of Ireland that, for example, in places where the fire had not reached, 'mantelpieces had been forcibly wrenched from the walls and carted.'

As this episode took place at the height of the Irish Civil War, there was no appetite afterwards to prosecute anyone for their role in the looting and burning.

The ashlar limestone of the castle was later removed to build the new Cistercian abbey at Mount Melleray, County Water.

The site of the building is now occupied by a milk powder processing plant and the surrounding 1,214 acre demesne (private park) of the castle has been destroyed.

Lord Kingston's town residence between 1826-32 was 3 Whitehall Place, London, now part of the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Kingston Arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in February, 2012.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Belfast Rapid Transit

Translink is the brand name of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCo), a public corporation in Northern Ireland which provides the public transport in the region.

NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro are all part of Translink, which is answerable to the Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland, Michelle McIlveen MLA.

I gather that the brand new, multi-million-pound Belfast Rapid Transit service is beginning in the next few years.

They have declared that passengers will be able to pay for their journeys in cash.

Frankly I think Translink needs to catch up with technological progress and enter the 21st century.

I'm very well aware that the transport system in Belfast is hardly comparable to that of the Metropolis, viz. Transport for London.

However, you cannot use cash to pay for your bus fare in London.

The ways to pay in London are as follows:
I have been present when a Belfast Metro bus has stopped at the Connswater Bridge Stop at Newtownards Road.

If there are several passengers, some pay in cash.

If they don't have the correct fare, it can take up to two or three minutes for the driver to deal with the transaction.

At the same time the bus is effectively blocking a vehicle lane and traffic flow is interrupted.

I am certainly not against Cash in principle; indeed it's essential for petty transactions every day.

However, my issue is one of efficiency.

If Translink, for whatever reason, refuses to embrace the cash-free method, at least an effective deterrent could be introduced.

For instance, if a passenger doesn't have the exact fare, no change will be given.

Does Translink employ a department to handle all the cash and coinage handled daily?

There's another saving for the taxpayer.

Stormont Castle


This is a County Down family, claiming descent from James Cleland of that Ilk, Lanarkshire.

THE REV JOHN CLELAND (1755-1834), sometime Prebendary of Armagh, and Rector of Newtownards 1789-1809, became tutor to the young Lord Castlereagh and subsequently acted as agent for the Londonderry estates.

This clergyman married, in 1805, Esther, daughter and co-heiress of Samuel Jackson, of Stormont, by his wife Margaret Vateau, only child and heiress of Paul Peter Isaac Vateau, the descendant of a French Huguenot family.
John Cleland was a student at the Rev William Neilson's Classical Academy in Rademon, County Down; tutor to Lord Castlereagh; rector of Newtownards, 1789-1809. A murder attempt occurred against him in 1796;  he passed on information against the United Irishmen in 1797; agent for Marquess of Londonderry, 1824; bought land in Killeen & Ballymiscaw, 1830.
He died in 1834, leaving issue,
Robert Stewart;
Sarah Frances.
The Rev John's grandson (son of the late Samuel Jackson Cleland),

JOHN CLELAND JP DL (1836-93), of Stormont Castle, Dundonald, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down in 1866, wedded, in 1859, Therese Maria, only daughter of Captain Thomas Leyland, of Haggerston Castle, Northumberland, and Hyde Park House, London.

Mr Cleland died in 1893, having by her had issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES STEWARTof whom hereafter;
Andrew Leyland Hillyar, born 1868;
Florence Rachel Therese Laura, born 1894.
Mr Cleland's eldest son, 

ARTHUR CHARLES STEWART CLELAND (1865-1924), of Stormont Castle; sometime lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment; wedded, in 1890, Mabel Sophia, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel H T D'Aguilar, Grenadier Guards.

Mr Cleland died at Field Green, Hawkhurst, Kent.

STORMONT CASTLE, Dundonald, County Down, is a Scottish-Baronial mansion of 1858, built by the Belfast architect Thomas Turner. 

This mansion replaced the original castle.

The entrance front is three storeys high and eight bays wide, with a two-storey canted bay window.

Remaining windows have square-topped sashes, with bartizan turrets at either end.

There is a tall tower at the eastern end, with a large door surround and balustrade on top, turrets on tower corners, crow-stepped castellation, and three rounded arch windows at top.

Gryphons brandish shields at either side of the main staircase

Cleland arms

The Castle's lofty tower is reminiscent of The Prince Consort's Tower at Balmoral Castle. 

John Cleland's grandson began extending the Georgian house after 1842, though work did not begin on the new Castle (above) till 1858.

It was at Storm Mount that, ca 1830, Cleland created what was described as "a plain house": A mid or  late Georgian house of a traditional type, it was in the form of a plain rectangle with a central projection to the south, presumably for the entrance. 

Associated plantings were very modest; there was a small fringed meadow at the front and an orchard on the hillside to the north west.  

A directory entry of 1837 referred (probably inaccurately) to the house as 'Storemont'; and, by 1864, the "Parliament Gazetteer" still did not rank it amongst the principal residences of the area. 

In those days the most substantial such residence was Rose Park, a name still in use in the residential area (and indeed in Rosepark House, a Government building occupied by the Exchequer and Audit Department and by part of the Department of Finance and Personnel).

It was in the course of removing Rose Park, in the process of consolidating Cleland's holdings, that his son Samuel Jackson Cleland was killed by the collapse of a wall in 1842.

In 1858, the Cleland family commissioned the local architect Thomas Turner to convert the existing plain dwelling into a flamboyant baronial castle.

To what extent the original house survives is not clear. Conventional wisdom, supported by some map evidence, is that the symmetrical five-bay block facing south is the "baronialised" shell of the Georgian dwelling.

To this, Turner added the entrance tower to the east.

The whole image and particularly the outline of the building was given a baronial character with turrets, battlements, bartizans with conical caps, iron cresting and weather vanes. 

The Cleland monogram was used on the shields held by the snarling stone gryphons which still guard the main entrance to the Castle.

The 1850s also saw extensive development of the demesne which was extended to the main Upper Newtownards Road, with the old lodge for Rose Park becoming the lodge for the remodelled baronial Stormont.

The Clelands finally left in 1893, preferring to live elsewhere, and the demesne was let out. 

At some stage Stormont Castle was rented by Charles E Allen JP, a director of the shipbuilding firm of Workman and Clark Limited. 

On his departure from Belfast, the Castle became vacant and, in April, 1921, both it and the surrounding land were offered at auction, but withdrawn when no bid higher than £15,000 was obtained.

Later in 1921, however, it was acquired, with 235 acres of land, as a site for the Parliament Buildings of the new Northern Ireland state. 

On September 20th, that Parliament resolved that 
Stormont Castle demesne shall be the place where the new Parliament House and Ministerial Buildings shall be erected, and as the place to be determined as the seat of the Government of Northern Ireland as and when suitable provision has been made therefore. 
While there was initial uncertainty about the use to be made of Stormont Castle itself, it was later decided that it should become the official residence of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. 

Sir James Craig (later 1st Viscount Craigavon) lived there until 1940, when he moved out to make more room for officials engaged in War work.

Lord Craigavon was succeeded in office by Mr J Andrews and thereafter by Sir Basil Brooke Bt (later 1st Viscount Brookeborough).

While both had offices in the Castle, no Prime Minister resided there with any regularity between 1940 to 1969.

On the arrival in office of Captain Terence O'Neill in 1963, substantial reinstatement and improvement works were carried out.

These included the removal of an ugly glass entrance canopy and the restoration of the old ballroom as an improved Cabinet Room.

In those days the Prime Minister occupied what became the Secretary of State's office, with the Secretary of the Cabinet using the other major front room on the ground floor.

Captain O'Neill (afterwards Baron O'Neill of the Maine), Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, resided, when in Belfast, at nearby Stormont House, originally built as a residence for the Speakers of the NI House of Commons.

His successor, Major James Chichester-Clark (later Baron Moyola), had premises on the first floor converted into a self-contained flat and regularly stayed there.

Since 1974, when Northern Ireland reverted to direct rule from Westminster, the Castle became the administrative headquarters for successive Secretaries of State.

Today, Stormont Castle serves as the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Although Stormont Castle is a house of the 1850s, the grounds date from the time of a former house of 1830. There are a few mature trees from that era.

There is a fine restored glasshouse with 'bothies' on the back (ca 1857).

Formal bedding in the vicinity of the glasshouse and immediately to the west of the Castle was recorded, in its original form, in R Welch’s photographs of 1894 but have now gone. 

The demesne was purchased over the period 1921-78 for the Parliament Buildings and now amounts to about 400 acres.

First published in January, 2011.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Avenida Restaurant

I made another trip to Corralejo yesterday afternoon.

Having strolled along the promenade walkway, I settled down on a comfortable chair at Cantante, a sort of wine-bar overlooking the sea.

There was a young lady singing and playing her guitar here.

At about six pm I arrived at one of my favourite places to eat in Corralejo, Avenida Restaurant.

This establishment never seems to change, nor do the staff, standards of service, and decor.

It's a fairly traditional Canarian or Spanish restaurant with sturdy, old, upright, wooden chairs and tables.

The staff are always attentive and courteous.

It's totally unpretentious, as is the menu, which is renowned for its half portions.

Always order a half portion here unless you happen to be ravenously hungry or capable of consuming gigantic helpings of their fresh seafood, beef, chicken and so on.

Their alioli is excellent and I always look forward to it with the fresh bread.

It's complimentary.

I ordered my usual escalope of breaded chicken, including thick chips and salad.

I've had this very simple dish on many occasions and it's a firm favourite.

I initiated a conversation with a lady seated behind me, and we subsequently chatted for a good half hour.

The bill for my half portion of chicken and a Beefeater and tonic came to €8.80.

I got the eight o'clock bus back to El Cotillo.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

1st Baron Armaghdale


JAMES LONSDALE JP DL (1826-1913), of The Pavilion, City of Armagh, son of Thomas Lonsdale, of Loughgall, County Armagh; married firstly, Jane, daughter of William Brownlee, in 1846.

Mr Lonsdale married secondly, Harriet, daughter of John Rolston, in 1856.

He was High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1891.
This James was a substantial tenant farmer at Loughgall. In the 1860s, however, he realised that, rather than just produce and sell his own butter, it would be much shrewder to buy other farmers’ butter for the English market.

He established butter depots in Armagh and many other parts of Ireland. About 1880, he moved the centre of his operations to Manchester and began to import food produce from the Empire. His two sons, John and Thomas, joined him in this enterprise which became very successful financially.
His eldest son,

JOHN BROWNLEE LONSDALE JP DL (1849-1924), of The Pavilion, a partner in J & J Lonsdale and Company, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1895, MP for Mid-Armagh, 1899-1918; and, for fifteen years, was honorary secretary of the Irish Unionist Party.

Sir John was Party Leader for two years and said to be a staunch opponent of Home Rule.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, 1920-24.

In 1911, Mr Lonsdale was created a baronet.

Seven years later, in 1918, Sir John was elevated to the peerage, as  BARON ARMAGHDALE, of Armagh, County Armagh.

He served as HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh from 1920-24.

Lord and Lady Armaghdale lived in the city of Armagh at The Pavilion, a single-storey house with exceptionally wide Georgian-glazed windows and a splendid portico of four Gothic columns supporting a Classical nomenclature.

The doorway was surmounted by a segmental, pointed fanlight with a Regency veranda on one side of the portico.

During the 19th century the grounds comprised twenty acres.

The conservatory was wooden and glass construction, with Georgian astragals obscuring the range behind it.

Turtle Bunbury has published a photograph (above) of the Lonsdales seated in their car at the Pavilion in 1904.

Lord Armaghdale didn't have long to enjoy the privileges of his noble title because he died in 1924; and, without an heir, the barony became extinct.

First published November, 2009.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Castle Leslie


THE RIGHT REV JOHN LESLIEor LESLEY, Lord Bishop of Clogher, founder of the Glaslough branch of the Leslie family in Ireland, was the son of George Leslie, of Crichie, 2nd son of Walter Leslie, of Wardis, Falconer to JAMES VI.

His lordship was born in northern Scotland, and educated first at Aberdeen and then at Oxford, of which he was Doctor of Divinity.
Of this distinguished divine, there is an interesting account in Sir James Ware's History of Ireland, edited by Harris. He was consecrated, in 1628, Bishop of the Isles in Scotland, whence he was translated to Raphoe in 1633, and thence translated to the see of Clogher, in 1661.

He died at Glaslough in 1671, aged 100 years, all but five weeks, leaving two sons, of whom John the elder, then 26 years of age, succeeded to the estate at his seat at Castle Leslie, otherwise Glaslough, in 1671.
The Bishop's second son and successor, 

THE REV CHARLES LESLIE MA, of Glaslough, County Monaghan, Chancellor of Connor Cathedral, 1686, left a son,

ROBERT LESLIE, of Glaslough, who left male issue,

CHARLES POWELL LESLIE, of Glaslough, MP for County Monaghan.

This gentleman's descendent,

COLONEL CHARLES POWELL LESLIE JP MP, of Glaslough, was High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1788; MP, 1802-26.

His second son,

JOHN LESLIE JP MP, of Glaslough, was a captain in the Life Guards, MP for County Monaghan, and a noted painter.

He was created a baronet in 1876.
The heir is the present holder's nephew, Shaun Rudolf Christopher Leslie (b 1947).
The heir's heir is his brother, (Christopher) Mark Leslie (b 1952).
The 2nd Baronet was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Monaghan, from 1921 until 1922.

CASTLE LESLIE, or Glaslough House, is adjacent to Glaslough, County Monaghan.

The castle is fashioned in the Scottish-Baronial style and was designed by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon in 1870 for Sir John Leslie, 1st Baronet, MP.

It is situated where an earlier castle stood and never had a defensive purpose.

The house presents a rather dour and austere façade and is sited in such a way so as to mask the gardens to an approaching visitor.

To the rear of the house the gardens are relieved by a Renaissance-style cloister which links the main house to a single storey wing containing the library and billiards-room.

In contrast to the exterior designed by W H Lynn, the interior shows the hands of Lanyon and John Leslie himself through its strong Italian Renaissance feel.

The estate has three lakes: the largest, Glaslough, shares its name with the local village; Kilvey Lake is to the north; and, finally, Dream Lake, which features a crannóg.

The 1,000-acre estate comprises park land, meandering streams and several forests.

The house remains the seat of the Leslies and is run by Samantha (Sammy) Leslie.

Other family members still assert their influence on the running of the estate through a family trust.

The estate is open to paying guests, who can stay in the former Hunting Lodge, the main house itself, the recently constructed traditional-style holiday cottages located in the village or the fully restored and refitted "Old Stable Mews".

While restoration of the house and grounds is ongoing, many new features have been added to the estate, including a spa, a bar and restaurant, and a cookery school.

A new pavilion, adjacent to the long gallery of the main house, facilitates conferences, weddings and other large events.

Work on restoring the walled garden is also continuing, though for now they remain overgrown and locked.

2004 saw the return to the estate of the Equestrian Centre and Hunting Lodge which had been sold out of the family twenty years previously.

The estate now features miles of new horse trails and jumps, a state-of-the-art indoor horse arena and new stabling.

Walkers are also catered for with many trails upgraded and clearly signposted, a new estate map being available from the Hunting lodge.

2005 saw five new sub-ground floor bedrooms being added to the castle, the Desmond Leslie room, the Agnes Bernelle Room, the Helen Strong Room, Sir Jack's Room and the only room in the castle not named after a family member, The Calm Room.

Castle Leslie hit the headlines in 2002 when Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills in the family church located on the estate.

In 2008, the castle was the venue of the launch of RAPID IRELAND (Rescue and Preparedness in Disasters, Ireland), a sister rescue charity to RAPID UK.

The event was hosted by Sir Jack and the Lord Oranmore and Browne, and attended by a number of ambassadors and dignitaries, including HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

Throughout the years many famous faces have frequented the house, including the poet WB Yeats, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Patrick Moore and the several members of the Churchill family (to whom the Leslies are related). 

The Leslie Papers are deposited at PRONI.

First published in April, 2012.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Harristown House


The family of La Touche was established in Ireland by

DAVID DIGUES DE LA TOUCHE (1671-1745), a Huguenot, who settled in that kingdom after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, having served first as volunteer, and afterwards as lieutenant and captain in Princess Anne's infantry regiment.

Mr La Touche was the fourth son of a noble Protestant family of the Blésois, which possessed considerable estates between Blois and Orléans, and in other parts of France.

He first fled to Holland, where a branch of his family had for some time been established, and shortly afterwards embarking with the Prince of Orange, served the Irish campaign under him.

At the conclusion of the war, Mr La Touche, like many of his countrymen, settled in Dublin.

He married twice: By his second wife he had no sons; by by the first, who he wedded in 1690, Judith, daughter of Noé Biard, and Judith Chevalier his wife, he had issue,
Jane; Judith.
Mr La Touche was succeeded in the bank which he had established in Dublin by his son,

DAVID DIGUES LA TOUCHE (1703-85), who had been educated in Holland with his relation, Digues de la Motte, at Rotterdam.

He espoused, in 1724-5, Mary Anne, daughter of Gabriel Canasille, and had issue,
Gabriel David, dsp;
DAVID, of Marlay;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Peter, of Bellevue;
Mary Anne; Martha; Elizabeth; Judith.
Mr La Touche's second surviving son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE, of Harristown, MP for County Kildare, married, in 1765, Gertrude FitzGerald, daughter of Robert Uniacke, of County Cork, who took the name and arms of FITZGERALD, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
John, MP for Co Leitrim;
Gertrude; Marianne.
The elder son,

ROBERT LA TOUCHE (1773-1844), of Harristown, MP for County Kildare, wedded, in 1810, the Lady Emily Le Poer Trench, youngest daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty, and by her had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Anne; Gertrude; Emily.
Mr La Touche was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN LA TOUCHE JP DL (1814-1904), of Harristown, who married, in 1843, Maria, only child of Ross Lambart Price, of Cornwall, by his wife, Catherine, Dowager Countess of Desart, and had issue,
Emily Maria; Rose Lucy.
His eldest son,

ROBERT PERCY O'CONNOR LA TOUCHE JP (1846-1921), wedded, in 1870, The Lady Annette
Louise, second daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Clonmell.

He died without issue, and was succeeded by his sister,

EMILY MARIA LA TOUCHE (1846-68), who espoused, in 1865, Lieutenant-General the Hon Bernard Matthew Ward, son of 3rd Viscount Bangor.

HARRISTOWN HOUSE, near Brannockstown, County Kildare, was purchased by the La Touche family in 1768 and a spacious Georgian mansion was erected by Whitmore Davis in a dominant position overlooking the River Liffey.

The old house of three stories was destroyed in 1891 and a smaller two storey house sits well in its place.

The diocesan architect, James Franklin Fuller, oversaw the restoration of the house at the same time that he rebuilt the small parish church at the entrance to the estate.

The omission of the third storey allows for an unusual amount of light into the house through a cleverly constructed lantern light; thus the move from the airy and bright downstairs rooms is complemented by a rush of light from the upstairs hallway.

Another interesting feature is the tunnel that runs underground for some eighty yards from the stable yard into the basement.

Carnalway church is adjacent to the front entrance of the estate and Fuller rebuilt it in the Hiberno- Romanesque style similar to that of his masterpiece at Millicent.

The church also has stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper.

The La Touches were bankers, weavers and politicians. The partners of La Touche Bank were the original stockholders of the Bank of Ireland, which opened for business in 1783.

The second generation of the La Touches in Ireland included John, who built Harristown House. His descendants occupied the house until 1921.

The last John La Touche, of Harristown, died in 1904.

The estate was bought in 1946 by Major Michael Beaumont (father of the Lord Beaumont of Whitley), who set about restoring Harristown to its former glory. The Beaumonts still live here.

They completely renovated the house and installed furniture and pictures from their former home, Wootton, in Buckinghamshire, the interior of which had been designed by Sir John Soane.

On the ground floor the ceilings stand eighteen feet high and the front hall is a magnificent double room off which open the three main reception rooms the library, drawing room and dining room.

However, the best kept secret of this house is the 16th Century Chinese Wallpaper in a sitting room leading off the drawing room which depicts birds in strong vibrant colours.

Among the other curiosities are an upstairs room finished in oak panelling taken from a Tudor house in England; and a set of French Empire pelmets.

Harristown House remains a private family home, though welcomes paying guests for weddings, functions and accommodation.

First published in February, 2012.