Sunday, 22 April 2018

Mulholland Grand Organ


The Mulholland Grand Organ is probably the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland and one of the oldest examples of a functioning classic English pipe organ.

It was named after Andrew Mulholland, of Ballywalter Park, Mayor of Belfast, 1845, who donated it to the hall in the 1860s.

The organ was built by William Hill & Son and donated after the hall was officially opened.

In the late 1970s, the organ was extensively restored to Hill's own original design.

Andrew Mullholland's great-great-grandson, Henry, 4th Lord Dunleath, oversaw its restoration.


Let’s face it. There are some things in life which really count and when it comes to the size of your organ, in the mind of the Victorians at any rate, size mattered.

And it still does - although with modern technology, you can probably produce the same effect of a huge organ from a mere box of tricks and a couple of big speakers.

But where’s the romance in that?

Thanks to the size of the trouser pockets of a previous Mayor of Belfast, the generous Andrew Mulholland, this city can claim one of the most interesting old organs in the country.

So when the Mulholland Grand Organ was 'welcomed back' to the Ulster Hall this week and 'tried out' by the current city organist, Colm Carey, I decided that I should get in on the act.

Why not interview the organ itself?
It’s no joke having your ivories tickled at almost 150 years of age. And especially after all that I’ve been through in this past year.
I began to worry that I was going to find this organ hard to handle. Would I get a grumpy old organ response to everything?
Those rough builder types who refurbished the Ulster Hall, I tell you. Despite the swathes of black plastic that had been wrapped around me, I could feel the damp, the dust, the debris getting into my inners. It almost did for me!
At that point, there was a low grumbling from the depths of the organ casing and the beginnings of a cipher so I thought I’d better move the conversation on.

We wouldn’t have wanted to disturb the political rally that was taking place in another part of the Ulster Hall complex – making any sounds to do with the arts would, of course, have been unwelcome.
Ah yes, I’ve seen a few things here you know. Rallies were ten a penny in the old days but there’s just not the same calibre of politicians nowadays as back then. In the old days, they were already rich from exploiting the poor of the country – now they spend all their trying to make themselves rich in other ways – questionable expenses, dodgy land deals, you name it.
I felt this blunt instrument was heading into difficult territory and wanted to get back to the size thing so I remarked on the rather large protrusion at the front top of the organ casing.
That’s the new fanfare trumpet which was added some years ago by Mr Prosser – the lovely organ builder who looks after me so well. Mind you, I’ve noticed he’s got rather portly of late and finds it a bit awkward crawling around inside me and reaching those bits which require someone – how shall I put it? – someone of a lighter frame perhaps?
That fanfare rank is not the easiest place to reach... still, he manages it rightly and, of course, no-one ever uses it now anyway – those tone deaf City Council bureaucrats probably consider it a Health and Safety risk for the audience as it certainly makes one big sound.
But the trumpet fanfare is just the bit 'in your face', I suggested. What’s behind the facade?
You’ll already know that I’m made up of over six thousand pipes – the biggest is 32 feet long and the smallest is no more than half an inch. I’ve got four keyboards or manuals and it takes a six horse power engine to work the bellows that supply me with enough air to sing.
In fact, I’ve also got a back-up two horse power engine as well because when you pull out all the stops – and there’s well over 80 of those – you need one heck of a lot of wind. I remember that nice girl Gillian Weir playing with me in the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony here some years ago and that last chord began to sag ever so slightly – well, it happens.
Now she was one big player! And talking about big players, there was the infamous Carlo Curley also who actually stood up on my pedal board for melodramatic effect. He knew how to play to the gallery and that’s no lie.
In those days, the hall manager, Terry de Winne, had installed a massive spotlight up there, trained only on me so that the ice-cream parlour colours that he’d 'restored' were almost blinding. Funny how one generation thinks it 'restores' what a previous generation has already thought it 'restored'.
Looking at its current casing, the rather dull browns of the falsely grained wood and the unimaginative stencilling, flanked by the most ghastly false Victorian murals I’ve ever seen, I wondered what the future held for this musical masterpiece.
Like many old codgers, I’ve had various bits and pieces added and fall off over the years – some to good effect and, well, others which could be removed without too many tears being shed. I think I’d want to go back to my original specification and get rid of some of the excesses of my 70s rebuild.
That would cost a bit I’m afraid but I’d love to be again the sprightly young romantic organ I was when Mr Hill put me together in 1862.
And I thought to myself, wouldn’t we all like to be the young romantics we once saw ourselves to be!

A celebratory concert to mark the Mulholland Grand Organ’s return to working order was held on Tuesday, the 4th May, 2010, featuring the Belfast City Organist, Colm Carey, and the Ulster Orchestra.

First published in April, 2010.

Castle Upton


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

ARTHUR UPTON, of Lupton, elder brother of the Chevalier John Upton, Knight of Malta, and grandson of John Upton, of Lupton, Devon, by Joan his wife, daughter and heir of Sir Wincomb Raleigh, Knight.

John Upton, of Lupton, was fourth in descent from John Upton (and Agnes his wife, sister and heir of John Peniles, of Lupton), younger son of John Upton, of Trelaske, Cornwall.

This Arthur Upton married Gertrude, daughter of Hugh Fortescue, of Filleigh, and had, with other issue,
John, of Lupton;
HENRY, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

HENRY UPTON, a captain in the army of the Earl of Essex, 1598, fixed his abode in County Antrim, and was returned to parliament for the town of Carrickfergus, 1634.

Captain 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, who 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, who, 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; and 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, who 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 for Antrim Borough, 1692, Deputy Governor of County Antrim, who 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 espoused, in 1769, Elizabeth, daughter of Shuckburgh Boughton, of Poston Court, Herefordshire, and had issue,
JOHN HENRY, his successor;
Fulke Greville;
Arthur Percy, CB, Lieutenant-General in the army;
Elizabeth Albinia, m 1st Marquess of Bristol.
Mr Upton was elevated to the peerage, in 1776, by the title of Baron Templetown, of Templetown, County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN HENRY, 2nd Baron (1771-1846), who married, in 1796, the Lady Mary Montagu, only daughter of John, 5th Earl of Sandwich, and had issue,
Henry Montagu (1799-1863);
GEORGE FREDERICK, successor to his brother;
Edward John;
Mary Wilhelmina.
His lordship was created a viscount, in 1806, as VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN, of County Antrim.
Henry Montagu Upton, 2nd Viscount (1799–1863);
George Frederick Upton, 3rd Viscount Templetown (1802–90);
Henry Edward Montagu Dorington Clotworthy Upton, 4th Viscount (1853–1939);
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,Ulster
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.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Belleek Manor


JAMES KNOX (1774-1818), third son of Francis Knox, of Rappa Castle, County Mayo, was called to the bar, 1797, and returned by the borough of Taghmon to the last Irish Parliament, 1797-1800.

He settled at Broadlands Park in County Mayo, became a magistrate, 1803, and deputy governor of that county.

In 1813, Mr Knox assumed, in compliance with the will of his maternal grandfather, Annesley Gore, the surname and arms of GORE in addition to those of KNOX.

He married, in 1800, the Lady Maria Louisa Gore, eldest daughter of Arthur, 2nd Earl of Arran, by Anna, his second wife, daughter of the Rev Boleyn Knight, of Ottley, Yorkshire, and had issue,
Henry William;
George Edward;
Anna Maria; Louisa Maria; Eleanor Adelaide; Charlotte Catharine.
Mr Knox-Gore, Ranger of the Curragh of Kildare, was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS ARTHUR KNOX-GORE JP (1803-73), of Belleek Abbey, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Mayo Militia, who wedded, in 1829, Sarah, daughter of Charles Nesbitt Knox, of Castle Lacken, and had issue,
CHARLES JAMES, his successor;
Jane Louisa; Matilda.
Colonel Knox-Gore, Lord-Lieutenant of County Sligo, 1831-68, succeeded to the estates of his great-grandfather, Annesley Gore, brother of the 1st Earl of Arran, on the demise, in 1821, of the Rt Hon Henry King, who had a life interest in the property.

He was created a baronet in 1868, denominated of Belleek Manor.

Sir Francis was succeeded by his son,

SIR CHARLES JAMES KNOX-GORE, 2nd Baronet (1831-90), of Belleek Manor.

The baronetcy expired following the decease of the 2nd Baronet.

BELLEEK MANOR (now Belleek Castle Hotel), Ballina, County Mayo, is a large Tudor-Gothic mansion built about 1825 for Francis Knox-Gore, later 1st Baronet.

It has a symmetrical front with three stepped gables flanked by slender, polygonal, battlemented turrets and pinnacles.

There are oriels at the sides; and the central porch is surmounted by a twin corbelled oriel.


The mansion and its parkland are described by the NIAH thus:-

A COUNTRY HOUSE erected for Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Francis Arthur Knox-Gore (1803-73), first Baronet; widely accepted as a particularly important component of the early nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Mayo with the architectural value of the composition, 'a noble mansion in the later English style of architecture' (Lewis 1837 II, 189);

confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking manicured lawns and the broad River Moy; 
the symmetrical frontage centred on a Tudoresque door-case showing pretty Georgian Gothic glazing patterns; 
the construction in a deep grey limestone offset by sheer dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also compounding a ponderous monochrome palette; 
the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual effect with the principal "apartments" defined by handsome bay windows;

and the elongated pinnacles embellishing a multi-gabled roof-line: meanwhile, although traditionally attributed to John Benjamin Keane of Mabbot Street [James Joyce Street], Dublin, strong comparisons with the contemporary Coolbawn House (1823-39), County Wexford, put forward Frederick Darley, Junior (1798-1872), as an equally likely design source. 
Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; 
and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. 
Furthermore, an adjoining stable complex; the nearby Knox-Gore monument; and an eye-catching gate house, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a much depleted estate having historic connections with the Knox-Gore family, including Sir Charles James Knox-Gore, 2nd Baronet; 
and the succeeding Saunders-Knox-Gore family, including Major-General William Boyd Saunders-Knox-Gore (née Saunders) (1827-1902); 
and Matilda Saunders-Knox-Gore (née Knox-Gore) (1833-1912); Lieutenant-Colonel William Arthur Gore Saunders-Knox-Gore JP DL (née Saunders) (1854-1925); and Lieutenant-Colonel William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore JP DL (née Saunders) (1888-1975).

THE KNOX-GORES continued to live at Belleek Manor until the 1940s.

Marshall Doran, a merchant navy officer and an avid collector of fossils and medieval armour, acquired the run down property in 1961.

He proceeded to restore the house and opened it as a hotel in 1970.

Some of the rooms are in 19th century style, whilst most of the interior design has a medieval and nautical theme.

Today Belleek Castle Hotel is owned by the Mayo Trust and managed by Marshall’s son, Paul Doran, and Ms Maya Nikolaeva.

First published in March, 2016.

The Queen's Birthday


THE QUEEN is 92 today.

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

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

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

Three cheers for Her Majesty The Queen.

Friday, 20 April 2018

AB Simon

My Nauticalia  replica of Simon

Simon (ca 1947-49) was the ship's cat who served on the Royal Navy frigate HMS Amethyst.

In 1949, during the Yangtze Incident, he received the PDSA's Dickin Medal after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, raising morale, and killing off a rat infestation during his service.

Simon was found wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong in March 1948 by 17-year-old Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom, a member of the crew of HMS Amethyst, the Royal Navy frigate stationed in the city in the late 1940s.

At this stage, it is thought Simon was approximately one year old, and was very undernourished and unwell.

Hickinbottom smuggled the cat aboard ship, and Simon soon ingratiated himself with the crew and officers, particularly because he was adept at catching and killing rats on the lower decks.

Simon rapidly gained a reputation for cheekiness, leaving presents of dead rats in sailors' beds, and sleeping in the captain's cap.

The crew viewed Simon as a lucky mascot, and when the ship's commander changed later in 1948, the outgoing Ian Griffiths left the cat for his successor, Lieutenant-Commander Bernard Skinner RN, who took an immediate liking to the friendly animal.

However, Skinner's first mission in command of Amethyst was to travel up the Yangtze River to Nanking to replace the duty ship there, HMS Consort.

Halfway up the river the ship became embroiled in the "Yangtze incident", when Chinese communist gun batteries opened fire on the frigate.

One of the first rounds tore through the captain's cabin, seriously wounding Simon. Skinner died of his wounds soon after the attack.

The badly wounded cat crawled on deck, and was rushed to the medical bay, where the ship's surviving medical staff cleaned his burns, and removed four pieces of shrapnel, but he was not expected to last the night.

He did manage to survive however, and after a period of recovery, he returned to his former duties in spite of the indifference he faced from the new ship's captain, Lieutenant-Commander John Kerans RN.

While anchored in the river, the ship had become overrun with rats, and Simon took on the task of removing them with vigour, as well as raising the morale of the sailors.

Following the ship's escape from the Yangtze, Simon became an instant celebrity, lauded in British and world news, and presented with the "Animal Victoria Cross", the Dickin Medal, as well as a Blue Cross medal, the Amethyst campaign medal, and the fanciful rank of "Able Seacat".

Thousands of letters were written to him, so much that one Lieutenant Stuart Hett RN was appointed "cat officer" to deal with Simon's post.

At every port Amethyst stopped at on its route home, Simon was presented with honour, and a special welcome was made for him at Plymouth in November when the ship returned.

Simon was, however, like all animals entering the UK, subject to quarantine regulations, and was immediately sent to an animal centre in Surrey.

Whilst in quarantine, Simon contracted a virus and, despite the attentions of medical staff and thousands of well-wishers, died on the 28th November, 1949, from a complication of the viral infection caused by his war wounds.

Hundreds, including the entire crew of HMS Amethyst, attended his funeral at the PDSA Ilford Animal Cemetery in East London.

Simon is also commemorated with a bush planted in his honour in the Yangtze Incident Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Oriel Temple


JOHN FOSTER, of Dunleer, County Louth, son of Colonel Anthony Foster, married Elizabeth, youngest daughter of William Fortescue, of Newrath, County Louth, and aunt of William Henry, 1st Earl of Clermont, and by her had issue,
ANTHONY, his heir;
Thomas (Rev);
John William, MP for Dunleer;
Margaret; Charlotte; Alice.
Mr Foster died in 1747, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANTHONY FOSTER (1705-79), of Collon, County Louth, MP for Dunleer, 1738-60, MP for County Louth, 1761-66, who wedded firstly, in 1736, Elizabeth, daughter of William Burgh, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
William (Rt Rev);
He espoused secondly, in 1749, Dorothea, daughter of Thomas de Burgh.

Mr Foster was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON JOHN FOSTER (1740-1828), of Dunleer, County Louth, MP for Dunleer, 1761-8, MP for County Louth, 1761-1800, who married Margaretta Amelia Foster, VISCOUNTESS FERRARD in her own right.

Mr Foster was elevated to the peerage, in 1821, as BARON ORIEL, of Ferrard, County Louth.

His wife, Margaretta Amelia (daughter of Thomas Burgh MP, of Bert, County Kildare) was created Baroness Oriel in her own right, 1790; and advanced to a viscountcy, 1797, as VISCOUNTESS FERRARD.

They had issue,
Anna Dorothea, m to Lord Dufferin.
The only son and successor,

THOMAS HENRY (1772-1843), 2nd Viscount Ferrard, wedded, in 1810, Harriet, Viscountess Massereene and Baroness Loughneagh in her own right.

In consequence of this union, Lord Ferrard assumed the Viscountess's surname of SKEFFINGTON, and the arms of her ladyship's family.

COLLON HOUSE, or Oriel Temple, Collon, County Louth, the former lodge of Lord Ferrard, though small mansion, possesses associations of remarkable interest.

It stands in the midst of a demesne and an estate replete with the results of skilful and energetic improvement.

Anthony Foster found its entire extent, about 5,000 acres at that time, a waste, heath-clad sheep-walk, declared by many observers to be irreclaimable; and he began a course of elaborate, judicious, far-sighted and multitudinous procedures for enclosing, tilling and manuring it; and for causing the barren wilderness to smile with cultivation.

Mr Foster's son John, 1st Baron Oriel, carried forward the agricultural improvements, completed the plantations which had been commenced on the demesne, and lived to see the district equal in beauty and lusciousness of cultivation to many an estate improved in similar circumstances.

The plantations on the demesne covered almost 600 acres, and contained trees of every description.

Collon House is, according to Bence-Jones, a house which seems to have started literally as a temple or garden pavilion, built in the 1780s by John Foster, later 1st Baron Oriel.

The earlier house was known simply as Collon.

The Temple had a pedimented portico and a room painted by Peter de Gree.

About 1812, Mr Speaker Foster added to the Temple and it became a somewhat amorphous two-storey house with the entrance doorway in a bow, under a pedimented porch with two, fluted, Doric columns.

It is now greatly altered.

One of the main features of this period around Collon was the return of the Cistercian Order to the district in 1938.

The Order purchased Oriel Temple and surrounding lands and established a new monastery there.

It is located about three miles from the ruins of their first foundation in Ireland.

Mother Mary Martin, the founder of the medical and nursing order of nuns, The Medical Missionaries of Mary, established her first house of the Order, in Collon, in 1938.

The order moved to Drogheda shortly afterwards where they built the Lourdes Hospital.

First published in September, 2011.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Crom Castle


This family is said to descend from a branch of the Creightons or Crichtons, Viscounts Frendraught, in Scotland, which title ceased with Lewis, the 5th Viscount, about 1690.

JOHN CREIGHTON, of Crum [sic] Castle, County Fermanagh, settled in County Fermanagh during the 17th century.

This John married Mary, daughter of Sir Gerald Irvine, of Castle Irvine, and was succeeded by his son,

ABRAHAM CREIGHTON, MP for County Fermanagh, who commanded a regiment of foot at Aughrim, 1692.

Colonel Creighton married Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev James Spotiswood, Lord Bishop of Clogher, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

 celebrated for his gallant defence, in 1689, of the family seat of Crom Castle, against a large body of the royal army (JAMES II's).

Having repulsed the assailants, young Creighton made a sally, at the instant that a corps of Enniskilleners was approaching to the relief of the castle, which movement placed the besiegers between two fires, and caused dreadful slaughter.

The enemy attempting to accomplish his retreat across an arm of Lough Erne, near Crom Castle, that spot became the scene of such carnage, that it bore the name of the "Bloody Pass".

This gentleman represented Enniskillen in parliament, and attaining the rank of major-general in the army, was appointed governor of the royal hospital of Kilmainham.

He wedded, in 1700, Catherine, second daughter of Richard Southwell, of Castle Mattress, County Limerick, and sister of 1st Lord Southwell.

Dying in 1728, he was succeeded by his only son,

, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1768, as Baron Erne, of Crom Castle.

This nobleman espoused Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Lord Chief Justice Rogerson, of the court of King's Bench, by whom he had issue, his elder surviving son,

JOHN, 2nd Baron, who was created Viscount Erne, in 1781; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF ERNE, in 1789.

His lordship wedded firstly, in 1761, Catherine, 2nd daughter of the Rt Rev Robert Howard DD, Lord Bishop of Elphin, and sister of the Viscount Wicklow.

This nobleman espoused secondly, in 1776, Lady Mary Hervey, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon and Rt Rev Frederick Augustus [Hervey], Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry, and had an only daughter, Lady Elizabeth Caroline Mary Crichton, who wedded James Archibald, Lord Wharncliffe.

Abraham Creighton, 2nd Earl (1765–1842)
John Crichton, 3rd Earl (1802–85)
John Henry Crichton, 4th Earl (1839–1914)
Henry William Crichton, Viscount Crichton (1872–1914)
Hon George David Hugh Crichton (1904–1904)
John Henry George Crichton, 5th Earl (1907–40)
Henry George Victor John Crichton, 6th Earl (1937-2015).
John Henry Michael Ninian [Crichton] succeeds his father as 7th Earl.

CROM CASTLE, near Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, is one of the the finest estates in County Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.

The Castle stands in a commanding position, with the entrance front to the east, the south front looks out towards the deer-park and Old Castle; while the west front (above) has the prospect of the boat-house and Inisherk Island.

I do admit to a prejudice here: My fondness for Crom cannot be overstated.

Books have been written about Crom. It used to be a thriving community, virtually self-contained, complete with its own post-office; stable-yard; school-house; church; riding school; turf-house and saw-mill; petrol pump; court-yard; and staff accommodation.

The old farm-yard has been transformed into visitor accommodation with a visitor centre, exhibition, tea-room, jetty and more besides.

There is the Crichton Tower, too, a stone folly built as a Famine relief project ca 1847 to serve as an observatory.

The demesne is situated in a heavily wooded lough shore and island setting, the nearest village being Newtownbutler.

The estate was established in the 17th century and the ruins of the original Plantation castle - built about 1611 and destroyed by fire in 1764 - are still accessible on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, surrounded by vestiges of a formal garden; and near to a pair of venerable old yew trees.

The formal garden resembles a garden that would have graced the old castle; but is, in fact, a later garden, made when a plan was laid out in the early 19th century for the present mansion of 1831, by Edward Blore.

It was what I have termed one of the Big Five in the county; though the total income from all the Erne estates, reaching far beyond County Fermanagh, generated £23,850 per annum by 1883 with an overall acreage of 40,365.

In today's terms, that would equate to an annual income of £1.1 million.

The mansion is on an elevated site and is surrounded by mature trees; with vistas cut through the planting to the lough,  buildings used as "eye-catchers" in the distance, including the old Castle.

The Castle combines Baronial and Tudor-Revival elements.

The entrance front has a gabled projection with a corbelled oriel at each end, though they're not totally similar; while the tall, battlemented entrance tower, incorporating a porte-cochére, is not central but to one side, against the left-hand gable.

There are stone-carvings on the south and east fronts of the Castle.

Inside there is a series of heraldic stained-glass panels in the bay window at the foot of the staircase, one of which commemorates the marriage of the 1st Earl to Lady Mary Hervey, daughter of the Earl Bishop of Derry and a sister of Lady Elizabeth Hervey (Duchess of Devonshire).
The hall and staircase at Crom Castle are among Edward Blore's finest surviving interiors: Classical in form, the staircase was given a late-Perpendicular veneer by the arcades at top and bottom - the latter rather in the feeling of a chantry chapel - while the cathedral atmosphere was enhanced by the encapsulation tiles of the floor and the armorial stained glass windows.
Although the other rooms have been greatly altered since Blore's day, Crom remains one of the most impressive Victorian houses in Northern Ireland.

The adjoining garden front is symmetrical, dominated by a very tall central tower with slender octagonal turrets.

On either side of it is a gable and oriel.

The landscaping scheme was planned by the eminent landscaper, W Gilpin, in 1838 and is one of the very few sites designed by a named English employee, at a time when English landscape design was pre-eminent.

Crom survives as an outstanding landscape park in the Picturesque style.

The natural features of lough and islands are embellished with trees, bridges and buildings.

The formal garden, with its parterre, is long gone. The parterre was at the west front and has since, I believe, been turned to lawn.
Parterres were a common feature of large country houses: Florence Court used to have one immediately to its rear; while Castle Ward had what was known as the Windsor Garden, a parterre in the sunken garden within its walled garden.
These features were relatively easy to maintain, since a small army of gardeners was employed for the purpose!

The house is set in wonderful surroundings, affording fine views.

There are some very fine trees, including a number of a great age both in the woodland and in the parkland, which includes a small Deer Park.

Victorian bedding schemes at the house, known from contemporary photographs, have been grassed over, but the conservatory of 1851 remains.

The walled garden survives, with glasshouses and bothies.

It is not planted up and the buildings are presently disused. The many attractive demesne buildings are in good repair and are listed.

The stables are used as offices and the farm is a Visitors Centre, with holiday accommodation.

I visited the Castle about thirty years ago and can vouch for its substantial size.

There used to be an indoor swimming-pool, though this has been taken away and, it is thought, turned into accommodation in the west wing.

The Erne Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The 4th Earl's time at Crom coincided with the Land Acts and the Land Courts.

The latter appreciably reduced the rents payable to the landlord in most of the land cases which were brought judicially before it, with the result that land purchase, when it came, was calculated on the basis of these new and lower 'judicial' rents.

Terence Reeves-Smyth writes:
... The large bulk of the Erne estates were sold by the 4th Earl between 1904 and 1909 under the ... Land Act of 1903. ... By April 1908 ..., [most] of the Fermanagh estates had been sold to their tenants for £240,440. Only 49 holdings remained unsold, valued at £12,770. ...
When the amounts already received for the Sligo and Donegal estates are added - £25,000 and £83,427 respectively, both sold in October 1905 - the grand total comes to £348,867, or £20 million at 2010 values.

Mr Reeves-Smyth does not mention Mayo, part of which was still unsold in 1912.

It also looks as if a further ca £70,000 remained to be realised, post-1908, out of the Donegal estate, and a further £26,000 out of the Sligo.

The Dublin estate, being entirely urban, was unaffected by the Land Acts.

The 5th Earl, for a time, served as lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards, his father's old regiment.

Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939, he raised the North Irish Horse, which was based in Enniskillen between November 1939 and February 1940.

In 1940, Lord Erne was killed near Dunkirk, and the castle and the demesne passed into the control of trustees whose most immediate problem was to protect the castle and demesne from the depredations of, firstly, British and then American forces, for whose use it was requisitioned at the beginning of the 2nd World War.

Terence Reeves-Smyth writes:
... From 1940 ... to 1958, the castle and demesne were controlled by a board of trustees. During the war the demesne actually made a profit, but the trustees throughout this period were considering leasing or selling the property to the Ministry of Agriculture. During the war and later in the 1950s the trustees undertook a number of tree fellings in the demesne woods to raise capital for the estate.

When the 6th Earl inherited in 1958, he attempted to create a dairy farm out of the farm lands, and later a toy factory in the farm yard, but neither enterprise was totally successful. Eventually part of the demesne was sold to the Department of the Environment in 1980 and subsequently, in 1987, the National Trust acquired the rest of the demesne, in part as a gift, while the castle itself has been retained by Lord Erne...
The Crom Estate is now held inalienably by the National Trust, including crucial rights to islands in, and parts of, Upper Lough Erne.

If its sale or lease to the Ministry of Agriculture had gone ahead, its "... great wealth of wildlife would have completely vanished under a monoculture of spruce" (Reeves-Smyth), and Crom Castle "may have been turned into a hotel or perhaps even demolished."

Under the 6th Earl, many changes were made and continued to be made to render the castle suitable for present-day living.

The 6th Earl's aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Abercorn GCVO, was Mistress of the Robes to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The 5th Earl was a Page of Honour to HM King George V 1921-4, and a Lord-in-Waiting to HM King George VI 1936-9.

The 6th Earl served as HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh, 1986-2012.

The West Wing at Crom Castle is available to rent, further details being available here.

The opening of the West Wing as holiday accommodation marks a new departure for Crom Castle which, as the family home, remains closed to the general public.

Erne arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  Photo credits: 6th Earl of Erne and Mr Noel Johnston.   First published in January, 2010.