Thursday, 31 December 2015

Guards Insignia

The cap badge of the Irish Guards and the bearskin plume are both based on the star and sky-blue sash colour of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.

The Princess Royal is pictured presenting the Regiment with shamrock.

The badge consists of a star, within which is a shamrock with three crowns on its leaves (the historic kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland), the shamrock being placed on a cross of St Patrick.

The centre is surrounded by a circle which bears the legend QUIS SEPARABIT ~ who shall separate ~ and the Roman numerals MDCCLXXXIII ~1783 ~ the year that the Order of St Patrick was established.

First published in November, 2009.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

1st Marquess of Tweeddale


This illustrious family, and that of Hay, Earls of Erroll, are descended from a common ancestor, namely,

WILLIAM II DE HAYA, who settled in Lothian more than eight centuries ago, and filled the office of royal butler during the reigns of MALCOLM IV of Scotland and WILLIAM THE LION of Scotland.

From the youngest son of this personage lineally descended

JOHN HAY (1450-1508), who was raised to the peerage, in 1488, as Lord Hay of Yester; which barony descended, uninterruptedly, to

JOHN (1593-1653), 8th Lord, who inherited, at the decease of his father, in 1609, and was created, in 1646, Earl of Tweeddale.
This nobleman married firstly, Lady Jean Seton, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, in 1624; and secondly, Lady Margaret Montgomerie, daughter of Alexander, 6th Earl of Eglinton, in 1641.
His lordship died in 1653, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN (1626-97), 2nd Earl. This nobleman was advanced, in 1694, to the dignities of Viscount Walden, Earl of Gifford, and MARQUESS OF TWEEDDALE.

He married Lady Jane Scott, daughter of Walter, 1st Earl of Buccleuch, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. His eldest son,

JOHN (1645-1713), 2nd Marquess, who wedded, in 1666, Lady Anne Maitland, only daughter and heiress of John, Duke of Lauderdale, by whom he had three sons. The eldest son,

CHARLES (1670-1715), 3rd Marquess, was succeeded by his son,

JOHN (1695-1762), 4th Marquess, whose son,

GEORGE (1758-70), 5th Marquess, died a minor, when the family honours reverted to his uncle,

GEORGE (1700-87), 6th Marquess, who died without issue, when the family honours reverted to his kinsman,

GEORGE (1753-1804), 7th Marquess, great-grandson of John, the 2nd Marquess (through his youngest son, Lord William Hay).

This nobleman married, in 1785, Lady Hannah Charlotte Maitland, daughter of James, Earl of Lauderdale, by whom he had issue,

GEORGE (1787-1876), 8th Marquess.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's younger brother Lord Alistair James Montagu Hay, Master of Tweeddale (b 1955).

YESTER HOUSE, near Gifford, Haddingtonshire, was built by the architect James Smith for John, 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale.

Smith was assisted by his partner Alexander MacGill and although work began in 1697, progress was slow and the house was not completed for more than 20 years.

By 1729, the 4th Marquess was already planning modernisation. He turned to William Adam, who provided a new roof, some exterior detail and remodelled the interior.

The saloon, by William, John and Robert Adam, was described by painter Gavin Hamilton (1723-98) as "the finest room at least in Scotland".

None of Smith's original interior remains today, but the Adam work is of remarkable quality.

Robert Adam was commissioned once again to restyle the exterior (1789), but only the north side was completed due to Adam's death in 1792.

The architect Robert Brown re-oriented the interior in the 1830s, moving the main entrance to the West. To achieve this, the West wing was demolished.

The original entrance was converted to a dining-room and the garden parlour to a fine drawing-room.

Robert Rowand Anderson made further changes (1877).

The estate was sold after the death of the 12th Marquess in 1967.

In 1972, it was bought by the Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. After Menotti's death, the house was marketed by his family with a price of between £12 million and £15 million.

The house is said to have a gross internal area of 34,580 square feet.

In September, 2010, the guide price was reduced to £8 million, with the exclusion of 120 hectares (300 acres) of woodlands from the sale; and two months later, it was reported that the house was being purchased by the musician Lady Gaga, although this was denied by the estate agent.
Yester was built on the site of a previous 16th Century tower house, which itself had been a replacement for the original 13th Century Yester Castle, the ruins of which are still to be found a mile to the south-east.
First published in December, 2013.  Tweeddale arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 28 December 2015

1st Baron Trimlestown


This family, whose surname was anciently written De Barneval and Barnewall, deduces its lineage from remote antiquity, and claims, among its earliest progenitors, personages of the most eminent renown.

It is the parent stock whence the noble houses of BARNEWALL and TRIMLESTOWN branched.

The name of its patriarch is to be found, with the other companions in arms of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, in the roll of Battle Abbey.

In Ireland, the Barnewalls came under the denomination of "Strongbowians", having established themselves there in 1172, under the banner of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, commonly known as Strongbow.

SIR MICHAEL DE BERNEVAL, Knight, the first settler, joined the English expedition, with three armed ships, and effected a descent upon Berehaven, County Cork, previous to the landing of his chief, the Earl of Pembroke, in the province of Leinster.

Sir Michael is mentioned in the records at the Tower of London as one of the leading captains in the enterprise; and in the reigns of HENRY II and RICHARD I, he was lord, by tenure, of Berehaven and Bantry.

From this gallant and successful soldier we pass to

SIR ULPHRAM DE BERNEVAL, Knight, the tenth in descent, first possessor of Crickstown Castle and estate, and the founder of what was termed the "Crickstown Branch" of the family.

The great-grandson of this Sir Ulphram,

NICHOLAS DE BERNEVALL (fourth of the same Christian name), married a daughter of the Lord Furnivall, and left three sons,
Christopher (Sir), father of 1st Baron Trimlestown;
John, ancestor of the Barons Kingsland;
Barnaby (Sir), an eminent lawyer.
The eldest son,

SIR CHRISTOPHER BERNEVALL (1370-1446), as the name began to be spelt, succeeded to the patrimonial estate of Crickstown; and was, in 1445 and 1446, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

He married Matilda, daughter of Sir _____ Drake, of Drakerath, an had two sons, of whom the younger,

SIR ROBERT BARNEWALL, Knight, was elevated to the peerage by EDWARD IV, in 1461, as BARON TRIMLESTOWN, of Trimlestown, County Meath.

"The next patent of creation that occurs" said the historian, William Lynch, in his work on Feudal Dignities, "is one of considerable importance, as being the first grant (in Ireland) of any description of peerage conveying, by express words, the dignity of a baron of parliament."
The patent was dated in the second year of EDWARD IV's reign, and thereby the King ordained and constituted Sir Robert Barnewall, Knight, for his good services to His Majesty's father when in Ireland, as essendum unum baronum parliamenti nostri infra terram nostram prædictam, to hold to him and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, and to be called by the name of Domini et Baronis de Trymleteston, etc;
And also that the said Sir Robert should be one of his, the King's, Council within the said land during his life, with the fee of £10 yearly, payable out of the fee-farm of Salmon Leap and Chapelizod etc.

His lordship wedded firstly, Elizabeth Broune, by whom he acquired a considerable estate, and had two sons,
CHRISTOPHER (Sir), his heir;
He espoused secondly, Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Plunkett, but had no other issue.

His lordship was succeeded at his decease in 1470 by his elder son,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Baron; who obtained a pardon for his participation in the treason of Lambert Simnel.

His lordship married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Plunkett, of Rathmore, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
a daughter;
His lordship died ca 1513, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 3rd Baron, an eminent judge and politician, who wedded no less than four times, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1538, by the only son of his first wife, Janet, daughter of John Bellew, of Bellewstown,

PATRICK, 4th Baron, who espoused Catherine, daughter of Richard Taylor, of Swords, County Dublin, and widow of Richard Delahyde, Recorder of Drogheda.

His lordship died in 1562, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT, 5th Baron, who married Anne, only daughter of Alderman Richard Fyan, Mayor of Dublin; but dying issueless, in 1573, the barony devolved upon his brother,

PETER, 6th Baron. This nobleman dying in 1598, was succeeded by his only son, by Catherine, daughter of the Hon Sir Christopher Nugent, and granddaughter of Richard, 11th Baron Delvin,

ROBERT, 7th Baron (c1574-1639), who wedded Genet, daughter of Thomas Talbot, of Dardistown, County Meath, by whom he had issue,
Christopher, father of MATTHIAS, 8th Baron;
Mary; Catherine; Ismay.
His lordship had a memorable dispute with the Lord Dunsany regarding precedency, which was decided in favour of Lord Trimlestown by the Privy Council in 1634.

He was succeeded by his grandson,

MATTHIAS, 8th Baron (1614-67), eldest son of the Hon Christopher Barnewall, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward FitzGerald, Knight.

This nobleman serving against the usurper CROMWELL was excepted from pardon for life, and had his estates sequestered; but surviving the season of rebellion and rapacity, he regained a considerable portion of his lands.

His lordship espoused, in 1641, Jane, daughter of Nicholas, 1st Viscount Netterville, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

ROBERT, 9th Baron, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Dungan Bt, and niece of William, Earl of Limerick, by whom he had two sons and five daughters,
MATTHIAS, 10th Baron;
JOHN, 11th Baron;
Jane; Bridget; Dymna; Catharine; Mary.
His lordship sat in King JAMES II's parliament in 1689, and dying in June that year, was succeeded by his eldest son,

MATTHIAS, 10th Baron, who had a commission in the 1st Troop of King James's guards under the Duke of Berwick, and fell in action against the Germans in 1692, when the barony devolved upon his brother,

JOHN, 11th Baron (1672-1746). The 10th Baron having been attainted by WILLIAM III, that monarch granted the family estates to Henry Sydney, 1st Earl of Romney; but those estates were subsequently recovered at law, and were enjoyed by the house of Trimlestown.

His lordship wedded Mary, only daughter of Sir John Barnewall, Knight, second son of Sir Patrick Barnewall Bt, of Crickstown, by whom he six sons and four daughters,
ROBERT, his heir;
Thomasine; Margaret; Bridget; Catharine.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT, 12th Baron (c1704-79). This nobleman lived for many years in France, and pursued the study of medicine with great success.

After his return to Ireland he resided at Trimlestown, and gratuitously and freely communicated his advice to all who applied for it.

His lordship was succeeded at his decease by his eldest surviving son,

THOMAS, 13th Baron, a Knight of Malta, who conformed to the established church, and had a confirmation of the dignity (which, although adopted, was unacknowledged from the time of CROMWELL), in 1795.

His lordship dying unmarried, the title reverted to his cousin,

NICHOLAS, 14th Baron (1726-1813), who espoused firstly, in 1768, Martha Henrietta, only daughter of Monsieur Joseph D'Aquin, president of the parliament of Toulouse, by whom he had issue,
JOHN THOMAS, his heir;
He married secondly, in 1797, Alicia, second daughter of Major-General Charles Eustace.

His lordship was succeeded by his son,

JOHN THOMAS, 15th Baron (1773-1839), who wedded, in 1794, Maria Theresa, daughter of Richard Kirwan, of Gregg, County Galway, by whom he had issue,
Martha Henrietta.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS, 16th Baron (1796-1879), who espoused, in 1836, Margaret Randalina, eldest daughter of Philip Roche, of Donore, County Kildare, and had issue,
THOMAS, died in infancy;
Anna Maria Louisa.
His lordship died without surviving male issue, when the barony became dormant.

In 1891, however, the peerage was  was claimed by

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MARYde jure 17th Baron (1846-91), a descendant of the Hon Patrick Barnewall, second son of the 7th Baron.

The 17th Baron died before he had fully established his claim; but in 1893, his younger brother,

CHARLES ALOYSIUS, 18th Baron (1861-1937), was confirmed in the title by the Committee for Privileges of the House of Lords.

His lordship married, in 1889, Margaret Theresa, daughter of Richard John Stephens, of Brisbane, Australia, and had issue,
Reginald Nicholas Francis (1897-1918), killed in action;
CHARLES ALOYSIUS, of whom presently;
Ivy Esmay; Marcella Hilda Charlotte;
Letitia Anne Margaret; Geraldine Christia Marjory.
He wedded secondly, in 1907, Mabel Florence, daughter of William Robert Shuff, of Torquay, Devon; and thirdly, in 1930, Josephine Francesca, fourth but 2nd surviving daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Christopher John Nixon Bt, of Roebuck Grove, Milltown, County Dublin.

The 19th Baron was succeeded by his second son,

CHARLES ALOYSIUS, 19th Baron (1899-1990), who espoused, in 1926, Muriel, only child of Edward Oskar Schneider, of Mansfield Lodge, Manchester, and had issue,
He married secondly, in 1952, Freda Kathleen, daughter of Alfred Allen Atkins, of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANTHONY EDWARD, 20th Baron (1928-97), who wedded firstly, in 1963, Lorna Margaret Marion, daughter of Charles Douglas Ramsay.

He espoused secondly, in 1977, Mary Wonderly, eldest daughter of Judge Thomas Francis McAllister, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

His lordship died in an issueless marriage, and the honours devolved upon his brother,

RAYMOND CHARLES, 21st Baron, born in 1930, of Chiddingfold, Surrey.

There is no obvious heir presumptive to the Barony of Trimlestown.

An heir presumptive may be found amongst the descendants, if any, of Thomas Barnewall, of Bloomsbury, London, a cousin of the 17th and 18th Barons Trimlestown.

TURVEY HOUSE, Donabate, County Dublin, was a late 17th century mansion comprising two storeys below a gabled attic storey.

The upper storey has three distinctive lunette windows added between 1725-50.

The house has nine bays and lofty, narrow windows grouped in threes.

This was once the seat of the extinct Viscounts Barnewall (of Kingsland); though subsequently it passed to a kinsman, the 13th Baron Trimlestown.


TRIMLESTOWN CASTLE, Kildalkey, County Meath, is a medieval tower-house with an 18th century house attached.

In the 19th century, the castle was adorned with ornamental towers, an embattled parapet, and other marks of the style which prevailed in the latter part of the 16th century.

Shortly afterwards, however, the family abandoned the castle and it became ruinous.

Trimlestown arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Stuart Hall Album

I am indebted to those who send me old pictures of Northern Ireland's proud heritage.

Stuart Hall is a good example.

It gives me great pleasure to post these old images.

The Earls Castle Stewart were the second-greatest landowners in County Tyrone, with 32,615 acres in the 1870s.

Lord and Lady Castle Stewart still live at the estate. 
Stuart Hall was built about 1760.

It was originally a three-storey Georgian block with a pillared porch, joined to an old tower-house by a 19th century Gothic wing.

The top two storeys of the main block were later removed, giving it the appearance of a Georgian bungalow.

The mansion house was burnt by the IRA in July, 1972, and subsequently demolished.

A bungalow was built on the site in 1987.

Stuart Hall was actually larger than it appeared from the entrance front, due to high basement or storey to the rear.
Paul Wood has kindly sent me some old photographs taken by his grandfather, William Homewood, who used to travel with the family to Ireland and Scotland.

His grandmother told him that the people (in the photos) were very kind.

It is thought that the gamekeeper's wife was the housekeeper.
They are ca 1919-22. Paul Wood's mother was brought up at Old Lodge on the estate.

I'm afraid I don't know the names of the gamekeeper and his wife.
I have written at length about Stuart Hall near Stewartstown in County Tyrone.
First published in November, 2010.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

6th Earl of Erne (1937-2015)

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of the Right Honourable Henry George Victor John Earl of Erne KCVO today.

Lord Erne was a true friend of Northern Ireland, particularly his beloved Couny Fermanagh and Crom.

He shall be sorely missed.

I convey my sincere condolences to Lord Erne's family.

Ormiston Restoration

I met an old school pal for breakfast at S D Bell's this morning.

I fancied the scrambled eggs and granary toast, which were tip-top.

Major restoration work is progressing today, 23rd December, 2015, at Ormiston, in east Belfast.

Ormiston was the former residence of Sir Edward Harland Bt; and the Viscount Pirrie.

The Hawthornden Road lodge of ca 1867 has a new slate roof and awaits further renovation.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tesco Vintage Port

I happened to be at a massive Tesco store near me this morning at nine o'clock and bagged a bot of their finest vintage port, viz. the 1997 Vinho Do Porto, by Symington Family Estates.

Christopher Bellew, on his fine new blog, has apprised us - not to add tipped us off - about this.

It currently costs £16.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Connswater Progress

February, 2015

In February, 2015, I photographed the river Conn's Water at Holywood Arches health centre, Belfast, where the river is culverted for a short distance.

December, 2015

Today I revisited the same location and, as we can see, the Connswater Greenway scheme is progressing well.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Belvoir House

West front

I am grateful to the Northern Ireland Forestry Service for providing me with photographs of Belvoir House, Newtownbreda, Belfast, which enables me to share my passion and fascination of Belvoir with others.
BELVOIR HOUSE was a large, three storey, mid-18th century mansion set in a demesne of 6,348 acres in 1876.

The top storey was treated as an attic, above the cornice.

It had a seven-bay front and a three-bay break-front centre with four giant Doric pilasters supporting a pediment, flanked by two oculi.

East front

There was a curved bow on the eastern side elevation.

At the apex of the pediment the Bateson baronets' coat-of-arms was prominently displayed, their crest being a bat's wing; and their motto Nocte Volamus.

The great mansion boasted an impressive staircase hall and the stairs had a cast-iron balustrade.

The original owners of Belvoir were the Hill-Trevors, Viscounts Dungannon, who, in turn, sold the estate to the Batesons, Barons Deramore.
Lord Dungannon's seat at Belvoir was probably the largest and grandest private dwelling in Belfast, and remained thus until its deplorable demolition. The only other possible contenders would have been Lord Donegall's Tudor-Revival pile at Ormeau Park; or Orangefield, residence of the Houston family of bankers.
Belvoir House was demolished on the 18th February, 1961, by the NI Forest Service.

The site is now the main car park.

Today the forest park extends to 185 acres.

Belvoir House was considered a candidate for the new Parliament of Northern Ireland as a possible seat of Government before the Stormont Estate was chosen.

Belvoir was also contemplated by HM Government as the official residence of the new Governor of Northern Ireland (Hillsborough Castle, or Government House as it became known, was chosen instead). 
The two governments felt that the surrounding demesne and parkland was too extensive at the time.

The picture at the very top shows the west entrance front, which was opposite the present stable-yard where the RSPB has its office.

The west side of the house was long, so the actual door entrance would have been beyond the stables (the rear courtyard buildings and the conservatory attached to the House, at ground floor level, cannot be seen in the picture).

North front

The picture immediately above shows the garden front with its portico, facing northwards towards the motte and the formal gardens below.

The Irish Aesthete has written about the house and posted several good images.

Ben Simon has published A Treasured Landscape: The Heritage Of Belvoir Park.

First published in May, 2009.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dunsandle House

The family of DALY, or O'DALY, is of very ancient origin, deducing its descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages, monarch of Ireland in the 4th century, who was also common ancestor of the O'NEILLS of Tyrone and O'DONNELLS of Tyrconnell, from whom the pedigree of this family is lineally traced in the Heralds' office.
THE RT HON DENIS DALY (c1638-1721), son of James Daly, of Carrownakelly, by his wife, Anastase D'Arcy (niece of Patrick D'Arcy), had a son,

DENIS DALY, of Carrownakelly, whose son,

JAMES DALY MP (1716-69), represented Athenry and the borough of Galway in the Irish parliament.

He married firstly, Bridget, daughter of Francis, 14th Baron Athenry; and secondly, Catherine, daughter of Sir Ralph Gore Bt.

By his second wife, he had issue,
St George;
DENIS, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

THE RT HON DENIS DALY (1748-91), of Dunsandle, County Galway, married, in 1780,  Lady Henrietta Maxwell, daughter of 1st Earl of Farnham

His eldest son,

JAMES DALY (1782-1847), was created BARON DUNSANDLE AND CLANCONAL in 1845.

His lordship  married, in 1808, Maria Elizabeth, second daughter and co-heiress of Rt Hon Sir Skeffington Smyth Bt, MP, of Tinny Park, County Wicklow.

His eldest son,

DENIS ST GEORGE, 2nd Baron, a captain in the 7th Dragoons, wedded, in 1864, Mary, daughter of William Broderick; though dying without issue, the family honours devolved upon his next brother,

SKEFFINGTON JAMES, 3rd Baron, who, dying unmarried and without issue, was succeeded by his cousin,

JAMES FREDERICK, 4th Baron (son of the Hon Robert Daly, youngest son of the 1st Baron); Assistant Private Secretary to Lord Beaconsfield, 1874-80; Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Treasury, 1885-87; Assistant in the National Debt Office, 1888.

On the death of the 4th Baron in 1911 the titles became extinct.

DUNSANDLE HOUSE, near Athenry, County Galway, was a five-bay, three-storey country house, built ca 1780, now in ruins and roofless.

It was said to have been the finest house in the county, famed for its neo-classical plasterwork.  Various visitors commented that it had a good cellar and a fine library.

The basement housed some of the servants, the money room, and the boiler. On the ground floor were the drawing room, the bathrooms, the function room and one of the sitting rooms.

There was also a spacious hallway which led into a highly decorative interior with neo-classical plasterwork.

Photo credit: Eamonn McNally

The second floor had more sitting rooms, several bedrooms and a very large bath, and the attic was used for storage and for water tanks.

According to The Buildings of Ireland,
Although ruinous, the high quality of construction employed in this country house is clearly evident. String courses, cornice and window surrounds are the work of skilled stonecutters and masons. The associated outbuildings and the fine entrance archway enhance the house. The detailing hints at the formerly splendid architectural quality that has been lost in the ruination of Dunsandle House.
The centre block had three storeys over a basement with five-bay entrance and garden fronts, each with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; joined by long, straight screen walls with pedimented doorways and niches to low and wide-spreading two-storey wings.

The saloon had elaborate plasterwork; a coved rococo ceiling in the morning-room; Adamesque ceiling in the drawing-room.

Dunsandle was sold by Major Bowes Daly MC, grandson of the 2nd Lord Dunsandle, about 1954. Major Daly was aide-de-camp to the Viceroy of India, and Master of the Galway Blazers

 A reader has provided me with more information:
Major Bowes Daly divorced his first wife Diane Lascelles to marry a divorcee Mrs Hanbury (whose first husband Guy Trundle had an affair with Wallis Simpson). This created a scandal in Country Galway on a par with the abdication crisis of 1936!

Major Daly was the last of his family to reside at Dunsandle House and the furore over his re-marriage led to the Catholic clergy boycotting the Galway Blazers of which he was Master. He sold up in 1954 and the house was later demolished.

After going to East Africa he returned to Ireland and lived his last years on Lord Harrington`s estate in Co. Limerick. He is buried in Loughrea near his former home. 
The Irish land commission demolished parts of Dunsandle House and sold all the valuable parts of the house in 1958.

They divided the land of the estate between the local farmers.

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

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Skillin's Wood

I spent the morning at Skillin's Wood, near Greyabbey, County Down, this morning.

I met Tomasz and other National Trust volunteers at the Mount Stewart schoolhouse, where we gathered the equipment and drove the mile or two to the wood.

Skillin's Wood overlooks the village of Greyabbey on the inside; and Mid Island to its west.

There were fourteen of us today.

Our task was to construct a wattle fence bird "lookout" at the shoreline.

We finished at about one o'clock, motored back to the schoolhouse, and all congregated for the annual Christmas party.

Sausage-rolls, cocktail sausages, chicken, quiche, chilli con carne, soup, more nibbles, a Yule log, chocolate cake, crisps and much more bore down on the table.

I think Maureen made the Yule-log and Christmas cake - sumptuous, Maureen; thank you!

One of the long-term volunteers, Sebastian, was leaving, so we presented him with two wildlife books and a card.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Balfour of Balbirnie


The surname of Balfour was originally assumed from the barony and castle of Balfour, a beautiful seat, standing near the confluence of the rivers Ore and Leven.

And so early as 1229, we find Ingelram de Balfour, Vicecomes de Fife, a witness to a charter granted to the monastery of Aberbrothwick.

The family of Balfour was originally styled 'of Dovan'.

ANDREW BALFOUR filled the office of Sheriff Depute of Fife, in 1483. His son,

JOHN BALFOUR, of Lawlethan, by 1499, had received a charter of Dovan from Andrew Laundin of Balgonie, which he proceeded to share between his sons,
Thomas, of Dovan;
David, of Lawlethan (d 1546).
The estates passed uniterruptedly until 1596, when the Dovan family found themselves in impecunious circumstances; and thereafter the property was mortgaged to the Pitcairns of Forthar.

Due to the grant of 1499, Martin Balfour of Lawlethan was able to prove his right to some of the lands of Dovan, enabling the right to the lands to be sold to Sir Andrew Balfour of Montquhannie.

Martin Balfour of Lawlethan, dying in 1624, and was succeeded by

GEORGE BALFOUR, 1ST OF BALBIRNIE (d 1665), who became a clothier in London and Edinburgh, and purchased the estate of Balbirnie, in 1642. His eldest son,

ROBERT BALFOUR, 2ND OF BALBIRNIE (1641-1713), whose younger sons succeeded in turn to Lawlethan, which estate was finally lost to creditors in 1692. His son,

GEORGE BALFOUR, 3RD OF BALBIRNIE (1664-1743), bought back Lawlethan in 1716. His son,

ROBERT BALFOUR, 4TH OF BALBIRNIE (1698-1766), was later styled Balfour-Ramsay after his marriage to Ann, daughter of  Sir Andrew Ramsay Bt, of Whitehill, in 1736. He was MP for Edinburghshire, 1751-54. His eldest son,

JOHN BALFOUR, 5TH OF BALBIRNIE (1739-1813), purchased the estates of Dovan and Forthar, and of Whittingehame, Haddington, in East Lothian. His eldest son,

whose younger brother, James Maitland Balfour, inherited Whittingehame and married Lady Blanche Cecil, daughter to the 2nd Marquis of Salisbury.
Their son, the Rt Hon Sir Arthur James Balfour, KG OM DL, became Prime Minister and was later created 1st Earl of Balfour.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

COLONEL JOHN BALFOUR JP DL, 7TH OF BALBIRNIE (1811-95), of Balbirnie House, whose eldest son, Robert, served in the Grenadier Guards and died of wounds received at the Battle of Tel el Kebir in Egypt in 1882. His second son,

EDWARD BALFOUR JP DL, 8TH OF BALBIRNIE (1849-1927), of Balbirnie House, whose eldest son, Robert, was killed in action in 1914. His younger son,

BRIGADIER EDWARD WILLIAM STURGIS BALFOUR CVO DSO OBE JP DL, 9TH OF BALBIRNIE (1884-1955), of Balbirnie House, served in the 1st World War; DSO, 1915; OBE, 1919. His son,

MAJOR JOHN CHARLES BALFOUR MC JP DL, 10TH OF BALBIRNIE (1919-2008), of Balbirnie House, served in North Africa and Europe in the 2nd World War and was awarded the Military Cross in 1942; DL and JP for Fife, 1957-58; and Vice Lord-Lieutenant for Fife, 1988-96.

Robert Balfour, present and 11th of Balbirbie, owns and manages the Balbirnie estate, which comprises 5,000 acres.

BALBIRNIE HOUSE, Glenrothes, Fife, was completed in 1817 as a re-build of an 18th-century building, itself a replacement for a 17th-century dwelling.

The home of the Balfour family from 1640, the house was sold in 1969 and opened as a hotel in 1990.

The grounds now comprise a large public park and a golf course.

Ca 1640, the Balbirnie estate was acquired by the family of Balfour.

A 17th-century house on the estate was remodelled or replaced in the later 18th century for John Balfour.

The architecture of these works, completed around 1782, has been attributed to both James Nisbet and to John Baxter, Junior.

In 1815, further changes were begun by General Balfour, to designs by the architect Richard Crichton.

Some £16,000 was spent on extending the south-west front, and constructing the portico at the south-east.

At the same time, the landscape gardener Thomas White provided plans for the improvement of the 18th-century parkland.

Further alterations, comprising offices, were carried out in 1860.

The plant collection was expanded from the mid-19th century with seeds sent from India by George Balfour, a friend of plant collector William Hooker.

In 1969, the house and estate was acquired by the Glenrothes Development Corporation, who were then building the new town of Glenrothes.

A golf course was laid out in the grounds, while the house was converted into council offices.

The mansion house was sold to a private owner who redeveloped it as a 30-bedroom hotel, opened in 1990 by the Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC MP, then Secretary of State for Scotland.

416 acres of parkland and woodland remain in the ownership of Fife Council as a public park.

Robert Balfour, the present and 11th of Balbirnie, owns and manages the Balbirnie estate itself.

The Balfours had a town residence at 14 Carlton House Terrace, London.

Santry Court


Of the family of DOMVILLE were two branches in Cheshire; the elder seated at Oxton, from the period of the conquest to its termination in females, who carried the estate through the families of Troutbeck and Hulse, into that of the Earls of Shrewsbury.

The younger at Lymm Hall, Cheshire, of which 

GILBERT DOMVILLE (2nd son and heir of William Domville, of Lymm Hall), removed into Ireland in the beginning of the reign of JAMES I, and was clerk of the Crown and Hanaper there, having for his colleague the ancestor of the Wellesley family.

Mr Domville, MP for County Kildare, 1618, married Margaret, daughter of the Most Rev Thomas Jones, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, father of the 1st Viscount Ranelagh.

He died in 1637, and was buried in the choir of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

His son,

THE RT HON SIR WILLIAM DOMVILLE (1609-89), Attorney-General for Ireland, 1660, MP for County Dublin, Privy Counsellor, Speaker of the General Convention of Ireland at the Restoration, wedded Miss Lake, daughter of Sir Thomas Lake, of Cannons, Middlesex, Secretary of State to JAMES I, and had issue,
William (Sir), MP for Co Dublin;
THOMAS, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

THOMAS DOMVILE (c1650-1721), of Templeogue, Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, was created a baronet in 1686, denominated of Templeogue, County Dublin.

He wedded firstly, the daughter of his cousin, Sir Launcelot Lake, by whom he had a daughter (married to Barry, 3rd Lord Santry); and secondly, the Hon _____ Cole, daughter of Arthur, Lord Ranelagh, but had no issue.

Sir Thomas married thirdly, Anne, daughter of the Hon Sir Charles Compton (second son of Spencer, 2nd Earl of Northampton), and had issue,
COMPTON, his heir;
Elizabeth, mother of
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON SIR COMPTON DOMVILE (1696-1768), 2nd Baronet, clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, privy counsellor, MP for Dublin for forty-four years.

At the decease of this gentleman, in 1768, the baronetcy expired, and his estates reverted to his nephew,

CHARLES POCKLINGTON (1740-1810), MP for County Dublin, 1768, who assumed, pursuant to the will of his uncle, the surname and arms of DOMVILE only.

He wedded Margaret, daughter of ______ Sheppard, and had issue,
COMPTON, his heir;
Henry Barry, in holy orders;
William, in holy orders;
Elizabeth; Margaret; Anna Maria; Caroline; Louisa; Mary; Bridget.
The eldest son,

COMPTON POCKLINGTON DOMVILE (1775-1857), was created a baronet in 1815, denominated of Templeogue and Santry House, both in County Dublin.

He married firstly, Elizabeth Frances, daughter of the Hon and Rt Rev Charles Lindsay, Lord Bishop of Kildare, and cousin of Lord Balcarres; by whom he had a son,

  • Sir Charles Compton William Domvile, 2nd Baronet (1822-84) son of 1st baronet; married Lady Margaret St. Lawrence; no issue;
  • Sir William Compton Domvile, 3rd Baronet (1825-84) son of 1st baronet; married Caroline Meade; one son and three daughters, including Mary Adelaide, later wife of Sir Hutcheson Poë, 1st Baronet
  • Sir Compton Meade Domvile, 4th Baronet (1857-1935) son of 3rd Baronet; never married.
The baronetcy expired on the death of the 4th Baronet.

SANTRY COURT, Santry, County Dublin, was a very important, early 18th century mansion of red brick with stone facings, built in 1703 by the 3rd Lord Barry of Santry, commonly called Lord Santry.

It was of two storeys over a singularly high basement, with a dormer attic behind the roof parapet.

It had a nine-bay entrance front with a pedimented breakfront.

There were Corinthian columns at the head of a great flight of steps.

Curved wings and sweeps were added later, ca 1740-50, by the 4th and last Lord Barry (Lord Santry).

The Court had a fine interior with a large hall; good plasterwork.

Following the death of Henry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry, the Domvile family inherited the Santry estate, including Ballymun.

Santry Court and nearly 5,000 acres of land remained in the Domvile family’s hands for almost 200 years (1751-1935).

Much of the historical records for the Santry Estate date from Sir (Thomas) Compton Domvile's inheritance of Santry Estate in 1751.

There is some evidence that the Santry estate was experiencing financial difficulties, partly due to the expenses incurred building Santry Court, but also because of the lavish habits of the 4th Baron.

When Sir Charles, 2nd Baronet, inherited Santry Court, demesne and estate from his father in 1857, he began the largest renovation and building programme (gardens and house) that the Santry estate had seen since its construction in the early 18th century.
A vast number of maps, diagrams and plans have survived from this period. Sir Charles was the last member  of the Domvile family to reside permanently at Santry. He married Lady Margaret Frances St Lawrence, a daughter of the 3rd and last Earl of Howth.
After the death of Sir Charles, Santry Court passed briefly to his brother, Sir William, 3rd Baronet, and then to the Pöe family who were relatives of the Domviles by marriage.

Shortly after 1935, Santry Court became a residential care home.

The house fell into disrepair, initially at the turn of the 20th century as the estate proved not to be economically viable; but ultimately after the Domvile family left Ireland in 1921.

It came into the possession of the Irish state, which intended to repair it and use it as a mental asylum.

This plan was shelved by the start of the 2nd World War; the need to increase security around Dublin Airport meant it was used as an army depot, and part of the gardens as a firing range.

There are many theories locally about what happened next, but it appears that soldiers of the Irish army caused a fire and the house was severely damaged in 1947; followed by demolition shortly afterwards.

First published in November, 2011.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce was made today at Belmont GHQ.

Having obtained the requisite main ingredient, caster sugar is dissolved with some water in a saucepan.

The juice of a clementine and its finely-grated zest is added; and a glass of port.

Thereafter the berries are added and the mixture is simmered for ten or fifteen minutes, until the desired consistency is reached.

The sauce will be refrigerated till required.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Ferns Palace

The diocese of Ferns seems to have been established in 598 by St Edan.

During the prelacy of Bishop Grave, who was consecrated in 1600, the see of Leighlin, which had been for some time vacant, was united with Ferns.

His successors continued to be Bishops of Ferns and Leighlin from that period until 1836, when, on the death of the last bishop, Dr Elrington, both sees were annexed to the diocese of Ossory.

The diocese of is one of the five which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Dublin: it comprises a small part of County Wicklow and of Laois, and almost the whole of County Wexford.


THE PALACE, Ferns, County Wexford, was the seat of the Lord Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin until 1836, when the two dioceses were united to that of Ossory.

It was begun in 1785 by Bishop Cope, who died in 1787.

The Palace was finished by his successor, Bishop Preston.

This was a large, square, stone edifice, with a late-Georgian staircase in a side hall leading to the top storey.

It was plundered and seriously damaged during the 1798 rebellion.

In 1834, Bishop Elrington carried out a number of additions to the design of Thomas Alfred Cobden, probably including the porch with its four Doric pilasters.

I am seeking photographs of Ferns Palace.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Ballyarr House


LORD GEORGE AUGUSTUS HILL (1801-79), fifth son of Arthur, 2nd Marquess of Downshire, married firstly, in 1834, Cassandra Jane, fifth daughter of Edward Austen Knight (the novelist Jane Austen's brother), of Godmersham Park, Kent, and had issue,
Augustus Charles Edward (1839-1908);
Norah Mary Elizabeth.
He wedded secondly, in 1847, Louisa, daughter of Edward Knight, and had issue,
Cassandra Jane Louisa;
George Marcus Wandsbeck (1849-1911).
Lord George was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR BLUNDELL GEORGE SANDYS HILL (1837-1923), of Gweedore, County Donegal, who espoused, in 1871, Helen Emily, daughter of the Most Rev and Rt Hon Richard Chenevix-Trench, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, and had issue.

BALLYARR HOUSE, near Ramelton, County Donegal, was built ca 1780.

It was acquired in 1842 by Lord George Hill.

Lord George had previously bought 23,000 acres in and around Gweedore.
Ballyarr’s most famous visitor during Lord George's time was the historian Thomas Carlyle, and it was he who later described the house as ‘a farm-like place’ with a ‘piazza’, an Italian style square that was then considered fashionable.
After Lord George's death, in 1879, the house passed through his family until it was sold in 1900, along with the adjacent mill, to William Russell.

It remained in the Russells’ hands until it was bought in 1974 by Ian Smith, a former hotelier and war hero, and his artist wife Peggy.

One wing of the house, which had been barely altered since Lord George’s time, had fallen into ruin and was demolished.

However, one large fanlight window was saved and later erected in a house in Castle Street, Ramelton, known as ‘ The House on the Brae’, owned by Ramelton Heritage Society.

Ballyarr House was bought in 1981 by Andy O’Loghlin, bank manager, and his wife Breda.

They sold it to Roy and Noreen Greenslade in 1989 and the following year they oversaw a substantial restoration in order to return the interior to something like its original Georgian appearance.

The drawing room and library were returned to their previous proportions, with the addition of new fireplaces.

Ceiling cornices in the main bedroom were restored.

The exterior front elevation was also stripped of its stucco to reveal the original stone-work. 


In 1838, Lord George Augustus Hill purchased land in Gweedore and over the next few years expanded his holdings to 23,000 acres, including a number of offshore islands, the largest of which was Gola island.

He estimated that his lands had about 3,000 inhabitants, of whom 700 were rent payers.

Unlike previous landlords who often left their holdings and people alone, Lord George came to stay, and set about to improve the roads and bridges.

He had an advantage in that he knew the Irish language, the main language of the people of the area.

The first road into Gweedore was constructed in 1834 when the Board of Works constructed a road from Dunlewey to the Gweedore River and Lord George further improved the roads on his estate.

At Bunbeg he constructed a harbour and corn store and a general merchandise store.

By purchasing grain at the prices prevailing in Letterkenny, Lord George hoped to curb the practice of illicit distillation, which he perceived was one of the prime causes of distress in the area.

The suppression of illicit distillation was one thing in which Lord George had to admit he wasn't as successful as he would have liked.

Quite conveniently, although not mentioned by him or his admirers, the purchasing of grain from the tenants would have given them money with which to pay their rent. Potatoes were grown for their own needs.

About four miles from Bunbeg, up the Clady River, Lord George constructed a hotel, which he surrounded by a model farm.

Early editions of Hill's book were subtitled With Hints For Donegal Tourists, and this was, apart from demonstrating his agricultural improvements, the other purpose for writing Facts from Gweedore; he wanted people to come and stay in his hotel.

Hill also set up a shop in Bunbeg and imported a Scot named Mason to open a bakery.

Lord George was not for the "free market,"  and made sure that no one else opened up in opposition to him.

Margaret Sweeney was evicted for trying to set up a bakery without permission.

Almost immediately on taking up his land in Gweedore, Hill set about to improve the agricultural practices of his estate.

His tenants naturally were not so inclined to share the landlord's view of what was good agriculture and this became a bone of contention for many years even though Lord George was quite successful in abolishing the Rundale system.

Even he admitted that the reorganization of the farms was
a difficult task, and much thwarted by the people, as they naturally did not like that their old ways should be disturbed or interfered with...the opposition on the part of the people to the new system was vexatious and harassing.
In 1888, there were 800 official tenancies on the Hill estate, which increased the next year to 920, due to sub-tenants being recognized as official tenants, after a settlement negotiated between the landlord and the parish priest.

Downshire arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in November, 2011.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Killynether Woods

I haven't been to Killynether Woods since January, 2014.

Killynether, near Newtownards, County Down, has been a property of the National Trust since 1937, when it was bequeathed by Miss J H Weir.

It comprises 42 acres.

Today we were coppicing hazel, as we usually do.

There must have been about ten of us today.

We lunched under a birch tree; and, for a change (!) I munched on chicken and sweetcorn sandwiches.

Most of of spent five hours coppicing and gathering the branches, which will be used for fencing.