The Dressed Pig and the Flaming Footman

by Anne Casement

In 1874, John Casement (1825-1902) and his wife, Charlotte nḗe Miller (1836-1909) had something to celebrate.  After much careful planning, anxiety, not to mention expense, Magherintemple, the splendid new home they had dreamt of creating in County Antrim, had finally become a reality.

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Magherintemple: From Dream to Reality

by Anne Casement

In 1874, John Casement (1825-1902) and his wife, Charlotte nḗe Miller (1836-1909) built a splendid new home for themselves on land his family owned in North Antrim. John’s family already had a house here, known as Churchfield House, a modest, two-storey building, probably built in the mid-18th century which members of his family had occupied since the later 1700s. Rather than demolish this, the couple had decided to link it to a substantial new Scots Baronial-style dwelling better suited to the lifestyle and status of a country gentleman. The cost of building, running and maintaining such an establishment would have been high. John owned 3369 acres in County Antrim, and although much of this was upland of poor quality, the rental income, together with turbary money and other monies, might have provided him with the necessary income. It possible that he also had other means at his disposal.

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‘Clear It’: a personal reflection on the restoration of the walled garden at Barmeath

by Bru Bellew

‘Clear it’. These two words spoken by Father Edward changed the lives of Rosemary, my wife, and myself. Father Edward, an Ampleforth housemaster, was visiting his ex pupils in Ireland and one of them, Charles Carroll, had brought him to our home at Barmeath Castle in County Louth. We knew Father Edward had created at Ampleforth, with the help of his pupils, an award-winning garden, so when he said ‘clear it’ on seeing our four-acre walled garden jungle we treated his words with respect.

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The Westmeath aristocracy and the local government election of 1899

by Eugene Dunne

The Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898 was arguably one of the most important pieces of political legislation passed by the British government for Ireland, part of a suite of Conservative reform policies that came under the party’s ‘killing Home Rule by kindness’ strategy. The act made provision for the establishment of county councils to replace the landlord-dominated grand juries which had previously been responsible for the administration of local government. The grand jury in Westmeath had historically been dominated by the county aristocracy and gentry who used it as a means to consolidate and protect their interests.

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Rokeby Renovation

by Jean Young

Rokeby Hall in Co Louth is an eighteenth-century neo-classical country house originally designed by Thomas Cooley for Archbishop Richard Robinson, Primate of the Church of the Ireland. Cooley’s death in 1784 meant that the final design work and the actual construction, begun in 1786, were carried out by his apprentice, Francis Johnston. Although the archbishop did intend to live in the house, poor health in his final years meant that he never took up residence. On his death in 1794 he bequeathed the house to a nephew; the house and its almost 3,000 acre estate remained in the ownership of the Robinson family until 1913 when the estate and house were sold to tenants and other purchasers. Since 1913, ownership of the house has changed hands on several occasions. My husband, Jeff, and I purchased the house twenty-five years ago in 1995. We were resident in the U.S. at the time; we received word of the completion of the sale in a fax congratulating us on being the new owners of ‘a magnificent Georgian mansion with a few holes in the roof’.

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John Edmund Vincent, Lord Penrhyn’s unofficial agent

E.W. Thomas, Bangor University

In amongst the Penrhyn Castle archive collection held at the Archives of Bangor University is a small box with the words Welsh Land Commission Letters written on its side. What I expected to find was correspondence between Lord Penrhyn and his agent, Col. Sackville West, on how they were going to deal with the commission. What I found was over 50 letters, covering the period 1893-1896, between Lord Penrhyn and a correspondent named J.E. Vincent, which were to prove far more interesting.

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Adaptation and sustainability: Killruddery, Co Wicklow, in the twenty-first century

by Terence Dooley

In 1868, Reginald Brabazon, later 12th earl of Meath, married Lady Mary Jane Maitland. That year the Brabazons were celebrating another milestone: 250 years of residency at Killruddery. In 1534, Reginald’s ancestor, Sir William Brabazon had arrived in Ireland with instructions from King Henry VIII (or more likely Thomas Cromwell) to establish the king’s authority. This was the era of the dissolution of monasteries and following the dissolution of St Thomas’ Augustinian Friary in the Liberties area of Dublin, its lands, and other Augustinian lands in Wicklow, were given to Sir William. The family chose to live in Dublin until 1618 when they took up residence in Wicklow.

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‘They found hen’s roosting on valuable oil paintings’: country house looting during the Irish Revolution 1920-23.’

by Terence Dooley

Looting has been an unavoidable part of war and revolution from time immemorial.

Those who burned country houses in Ireland during the War of Independence and Civil War were usually thorough in what they did.  Typically, a gang of armed men arrived at a house, offered the family, or whoever was in residence, fifteen to thirty minutes to remove what they could, then they piled the furniture in the middle of rooms, sprinkled it with paraffin, and set it alight. In this way, houses were reduced to ruins and contents destroyed. But did looting take place?

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What to do when your sitter is dead?

by Katherine Hardwick, Holkham Hall

In 1758, Thomas Coke, 1st earl of Leicester (1697-1759) summoned the Italian artist, Andrea Casali (1705-1784) to his family seat, Holkham Hall in Norfolk, to execute a commission for a series of paintings depicting the Coke family. Casali was paid £300 for nine full-length, and two head-and-shoulders portraits.

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Francis Wheatley, Portrait of the 5th earl of Carlisle and his family in Phoenix Park, 1781.

by Chris Ridgway

Before Independence in 1922 many English aristocratic families had deep historical connections with Ireland. These might take the form of landholdings, with many examples recorded in John Bateman’s 1883 survey of landowners; but these links might also be through marriage or political office. The Howard family of Castle Howard, unlike many of their peer group did not hold secondary estates in Ireland; nor did they marry into Irish families. However two generations were intimately involved with Irish political affairs, Frederick, 5th earl of Carlisle (1748-1825), and his grandson, George, the 7th earl (1801-1864).

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