The main Despard houses in Laois were Crannagh, Cardtown, & Coolrain, Larch Hill, Laurel Hill and Lacca, Shanderry and Altavilla and Donore
The many buildings at Crannagh
Crannagh, the oldest, still stands but is unoccupied and derelict. Cardtown is forestry. Coolrain is but four walls, though valiant attempts to preserve or restore happen from time to time. Lacca and Donore have been demolished and replaced. Altavilla, about which I have already written, Shanderry, Larch Hill and Laurel Hill are all still inhabited, though Laurel Hill did fall into ruin in the lifetime of its builder and was restored. Mind you, there is many a Celtic tiger apartment that has fallen into ruin within 10 years of being built, with the aid not of Whiteboys but wide boy builders. I really wanted to put in some pictures of derelict modern houses here, but restrained myself to avoid a slew of lawyers letters from sensitive developers.
According to Carriggan’s The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory:-
A.D. 1141. King Turlough O’Brien, King of Munster, came to Letter-Crannagh (West hillside of the wooded place) in the parish of Camross, on the mountain of the Slieve Bloom by the banks of the Nore to marry Sadb Mac GILLAPATRICK, daughter of Donnchad MacGILLAPATRICK, the year in which Rory O’Connor had again got together a large force, and made Murchadh, the King of Meath, give him hostages, so that he again became king of all Ireland. He plundered the country near the hill of Croghan in the King’s County,
It is said that Philip d’Espard came to Ireland as a commissioner for the partitioning of forfeited lands, presumably at the time of the Ulster Plantation, after 1609, having arrived in England after the 1572 massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, a refugee seeking religious toleration. Like so many, it seems there was only one religion that he could tolerate and, like Rory, he was after a bit of plunder. He does not seem to have been very good at the plundering – most people who got into the business of forfeited lands made serious money – like William Connolly of Castletown, or William Petty of Kenmare, whose Lansdowne Estates are still wide and prosperous. Despard never rose beyond the ranks of Landed Gentry. Of the Despards we are lucky that two sisters, Elizabeth and Jane wrote respectively the Recollections and Memoranda; Both were born in the 1770s, and their oral history went well back into the late 17th century. They grew up in an embattled society. Elizabeth remembers that “A great tree that stood on a hill overlooking Donore was a gallows for the Protestants of 1641.” Jane writes how her father Philip Despard was brought from the blazing ruins of Cardtown House after it had been attacked by Levellers in 1738.
According to Jane Despard’s manuscript, Philip D’Espard ended up in Queen’s County in 1641, the year of rebellion and the Catholic Confederacy. Petty in the Down Survey has them already there before 1640, which is more likely, as he would have been rather elderly in the 1641. Philip’s grandson, William, was described as a Colonel of Engineers in 1685 under William of Orange – a bit odd as William was not crowned till 1689. Around 1720 the Colonel’s grandson, another William, was being sent to Eton. Iron–smelting must have been very profitable. It also suggests a remarkable degree of aspiration – 44 British Prime Ministers are old Etonians. I well remember the Lady of another Laois estate saying on RTE television ” I brought my children up so that they could speak to every one from the lowliest peasant to the Queen herself. I sent them to Eton.” A great school no doubt, but not the obvious choice for a future iron smelter?
The primeval oaks of Slieve Bloom provided a ready source of charcoal for the iron works which Sir Charles Coote started in this area in the 1620s. It is unclear whether Crannagh was in operation as an iron works prior to 1640, but William Despard had extensive iron-works for founding cannon at Cranagh on the banks of the nascent Nore, between Larch Hill and Mountrath. Canon balls were shipped down the Nore to Waterford in narrow flat bottomed Nore cots . This Colonel William was the purchaser of the “Mountain Property” in Upper Ossory, from the “Hollow Sword-blade Company” in 1709; The deeds of sale were sign’d on Strongbow’s monument in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. This is from a pedigree drawn up by Wheaton Bradish, grandson of Jane Despard.
“There are still to be found many huge iron pots or boilers called cheese pots, these were all made in the iron foundry in the banks of the Nore in Mr Sylvester Phelan’s land in Crannagh. There was a large foundry here in the 17th – 18th Centuries. Oak woods were very plentiful in these districts and it was used for fuel for the furnaces which flourished while the fuel lasted but them had to close down. Cannon- balls were made in this foundry and shipped down the Nore in flat bottom boats to Waterford. There was also a glass factory here also and in a mound nearly there are loads of clinkers – these are supposed to be skimings off the glass. A family named St.John’s (one of them still survives) – was the chief pattern makers of these foundries.” The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0825, Page 405 https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4769995/4765037
Another story in the same collection records that there was a bottle factory here.
One of William’s sons, Richard Despard, in 1730 joined forces with a couple of vultures William Carden and Walter Stephens to snatch the lands of Barnaby Carroll, a papist who lived in Borris in Ossory and held extensive lands under a lease from the Duke of Buckingham.
Richard Vicars of Levally initially issued a Bill of Discovery against Barnaby Carroll for attending Mass in Borris House in 1723. In 1729 a decree was issued against Barnaby, depriving him of his right and title to all his possessions in the Manor of Villiers. He and his wife were obliged to seek refuge in France where he died about 1742.
Stephens took possession of Borris; Carden found Lismore more suited to his tastes ; Despard’s share in the plunder was Ballybrophy. Their lease from the Duke of Buckingham is dated August 1731. Ballybrophy already had a tenant who seems to have remained in possession. Thomas Brereton, the son of William Brereton, had obtained the lease of Ballybrophy in 1723.
As nowadays, amoral (immoral?) ruthless and unsentimental property dealing was the way to make a fortune. Richard’s elder brother William II Despard also purchased for £997 the townlands of Akip (just North of Rathdowney), 186 acres, and Ballintaggart and Kilmartin, 145 acres with two cabins, the entire property being the forfeited estate of Walter Bryan of Akip, killed in rebellion. William II Despard married Francis Green the heiress and granddaughter of the Cromwellian Colonel Green of Killaghy Castle at Mullinahone in 1708.
In the 1730s William III was living not in Killaghy (inherited from his mother), nor in Crannagh, which seems to have been his Uncle Richard’s house, but in Cardtown.
In 1738, when William III’s son Philip Despard was 2 years old, his house at Cardtown was burnt to the ground by levellers. William then built the house in Coolrain .
Stylistically Coolrain could date from the 1750s. Jane Despard does not understand why he did not move into Middlemount House, which he was leasing to the Floods – a house already built, in a walled demesne and a far prettier place, she felt.
Philip remembered the famine of 1741, accompanied by daily flights of locusts. “The Great Frost” struck Ireland and the rest of Europe between December 1739 and September 1741, after a decade of relatively mild winters. Indoor values during January 1740 were as low as −12 °C (10 °F). This kind of weather was “quite outside the Irish experience,” notes David Dickson, author of ‘Arctic Ireland: The Extraordinary Story of the Great Frost and Forgotten Famine of 1740-41’.
During the ramp up to the crisis in January 1740, the winds and terrible cold intensified, yet barely any snow fell. Ireland was locked into a stable and vast high-pressure system which affected most of Europe, from Scandinavia and Russia to northern Italy, in a broadly similar way. Rivers, lakes, and waterfalls froze and fish died in these first weeks of the Great Frost. People tried to avoid hypothermia without using up winter fuel reserves in a matter of days. It is estimated to have killed between 13% and 20% of the 1740 population of 2.4 million people. At this time, grains, particularly oats(ie porridge and gruel) , were more important than potatoes as staples in the diet of most workers.
John Malpas of Killiney Hill and Kathryn Connolly of Castletown House commissioned famine relief projects to provide employment to destitute families. Archbishop Boulter launched an emergency feeding program for the poor of Dublin at his own expense, as did Henry Singleton in Drogheda.
Moving on, around 1770 Philip married his cousin Letitia Croasdaile, daughter of Pilkington Croasdaile of Liskeard, County Galway, and built the house at Laurel Hill, which was in ruins in 1838 when Jane Despard, Philip’s daughter, wrote her memoirs.
Jane Despard recorded a second attack:
“My father Philip once more returned to a house in the country from whence, it is enough to say, that, living one Winter in terror, we were driven away by rebel whitefeet or blackfeet; lost all our plate, chiefly our mother’s which had been placed in a neighbouring town for safety; the house we lived in set fire to and burnt with all the furniture, and my poor father received only 50L damages from the country. We were moved then to Mountmellick for protection and afterwards to Mountrath, where my dear mother breathed her last after years of bad health and suffering. This is the period of our lives, the particulars of which I must pass over.” As Jane was not born till the late 1780s, and as the rising of 1798 happened during the spring and summer, this incident probably occurred in the early 1800s.
William of Crannagh’s great great grandson, and Richard’s great nephew, and Philip’ s brother was Edward Marcus Despard . There is great debate as to where he was born – Crannagh? Donore? Coolrain? Or Killaghy Castle at Mullinahone.
Followers of Poldark will have become familiar with Col Ned, a friend of Horatio Nelson, and his Jamaican wife Catherine, probably the daughter of a freed slave. Edward Marcus Despard’s conspiracy was tied to that of Robert Emmet, and like Emmet, and later Casement, he was an ‘‘Irish apostle of a world-wide movement for liberty, equality and fraternity”.
Despard was given charge of the British enclave of the Bay of Honduras, present-day Belize. As part of the treaty that granted Belize to Britain from Spain, British settlers up and down the Mosquito Shore were required to resettle in the Bay of Honduras, and Despard was charged with accommodating them. Some were wealthy planters of Anglo-Saxon origin, but the majority were a ‘motley crew’ of labourers, brewers, smugglers, freed slaves and ex-military volunteers who had been living in straggling and remote communities and were known collectively as the Shoremen. Despard was instructed by the Home Secretary, Lord Sydney, to accommodate the Shoremen in the new enclave ‘in preference to all other persons whatsoever’. He offered them parcels of land on which to build houses and grow crops for their subsistence, and he did so without distinction of colour, distributing lots on an equal basis to mulattos, blacks and whites. This policy was fiercely opposed by the small number of long-term white settlers in the Bay who had become wealthy through exporting mahogany to Britain, where it provided the materials for furniture makers such as Thomas Chippendale. They argued that the rights of ‘people of mixed colour and negroes’ should be subservient to those of the established Anglo-Saxon colonists. Despard replied that the decision ‘must be governed by the laws of England, which knows no such distinction’. In 1790, Despard was suspended and forced to return to London to argue his case. He was bankrupted by lawyers and ended up in debtors jail for two years. On his release he was rearrested and interned for three years as a suspected terrorist before the suspension of habeas corpus lapsed and he was freed, in theory at least without a stain on his character. Within a year he was arrested once more, in the Oakley Arms, a Lambeth pub, in the company of a number of disaffected soldiers suspected of plotting a mutiny. This time he was charged with high treason, convicted on the evidence of paid informers and executed.
After his execution in 1803 Catherine and their son James lived with Lord Cloncurry and his family at Lyons for some years. Catherine died near St Pancras in 1815 . James may have fought in the French army during the Napoleonic Wars. Mother and child were supported by a pension from Sir Francis Burdett. James was last seen with a beautiful woman by his uncle General John Despard (though his description was a tad derogatory). Later generations of Despards denied Ned Despard’s marriage, and were thoroughly embarrassed by their kinsman’s inability to distinguish between one race and another.
I write this at the time that Soldier F is being charged for the Bloody Sunday murders in Londonderry in 1972.
There is, in my mind, no doubt that poor old Soldier F did kill people peacefully marching for equal rights in Londonderry in 1972 (as did soldiers D&E and G&H, and maybe several others between A and Z) If you put Number 1 Para into domestic policing, what the hell do you expect! Paras are like Dobermans, very handy in a tight corner bit not ideal fireside pets. Peter Carrington, another old Etonian, and the Secretary for Defence who sent the Paras in (and died last year) should really be on trial. Or Willie Whitelaw, an old Harrovian (ie he couldn’t get into Eton) who was the Northern Secretary. He died 20 years ago in 1999.
The ability of Authority, be it Russian, American, British (God be with the days), Israeli or Muslim to banjax freedom is one of humainty’s greatest mysteries. And I write this as a married man. And poor Edward Despard lost his life because he was nice to people!
George Despard, son of Richard the land grabber, was born 1720, married Gertrude Carden, daughter of William Carden (his father’s land dealing partner) and Gertrude Elizabeth Warburton of Lismore House. He is the first one whom we can say with certainty lived at Donore, where he died in 1814, at the age of 94, having served as magistrate, grand juror and sheriff. It was his habit to embrace the Irish traditions of hospitality by blowing a horn at his door when dinner was served, inviting any passing by to share his table. He was the first of three generations of men named George Depard marrying Carden women, two named Gertrude!
His grandson George (also married to a Gertrude Carden) was born in 1800 at Donore, and became a Sub-Inspector of the RIC (police) at Trim and then a Resident Magistrate. Their son Maximilian, despite having a delicate constitution, had made a fortune by the age of 30, trading in Hong Kong. In 1870 he married Charlotte French, of the de Freyne family of Frenchpark. Her brother John French became the Earl of Ypres, a leading military commander during World War I and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
An absoluteluely splendid lady
Charlotte Despard produced a string of novels, among them Chaste as Ice, Pure as Snow (1874), The Rajah’s Heir (1890), and A voice from the Dim Millions (1884), the last of which stands out for its radical tone. Her husband died on 4 April 1890 on board the SS Coptic on their way back from New Zealand, 4 days out of London. I wonder was he buried at sea by the Captain – Capt. Smith of Titanic fame.
Charlotte found a new lease of life in philanthropy. She moved to the slum London district of Battersea, to live among some of the city’s poorest inhabitants; there she established and financed mother-and-baby clinics and boys’ clubs.
In 1921 she moved to Roebuck House a mansion outside Dublin that would frequently be raided by the police looking for IRA members who found a safe house there. However, she later resigned from Sinn Fein as a response to the factionalism of its members. She visited the Soviet Union in 1930, and took the decision to move from Dublin to Northern Ireland in the wake of an attack on the Irish Workers’ College, which she had financed for some time.
In moving to Belfast she handed Roebuck House to Maude Gonne. In the mid-thirties, her finances were becoming strained and she was declared bankrupt in 1937. Nonetheless, she continued to fight Fascism until her death as a result of a fall at her home in Nov 1939.
Maximilian Carden Despard had a namesake, his nephew, born in March 1892, the son of Captain H. J. Despard, afterwards the Chief Constable of Lanarkshire and Beatrice Lorne Jarvis, daughter of Thomas Jarvis of Mount Jarvis, Antigua. Isn’t it fascinating how many links there are with the Caribbean
“There are many ways of not having a father”. These are the opening words to the story of Maximilian Carden Despard, written by his youngest daughter, Annabelle, who felt like she knew him all to little. She pieced together the story of an officer, born in 1892, who achieved glory and honours in a dramatic action of Dover in 1917. A post-war accident forced him to abandon his career in the Royal Navy and in the Thirties he started a new life as a navel attache, at a time when there was another enemy to face. In Yugoslavia he was a significant mover behind the scenes in Bond-like exploits to hamper the German war-machine.
Of the Despard Houses, the old house at Crannagh was already just walls when Elizabeth knew it. It had been leased to the Kemmis’s in 1779.
William Edward Kemmis, born 4th. March 1758: described as of Knightstown in 1798 and 1802, part of which he was then probably holding as tenant: of Clonin aforesaid, devised to him by his father: of Clopoke and Tomaclonin, parish of Tallowmoy, Queen’s Co. by purchase from Joseph Green, 17th December 1809; purchased 11th March 1779 for £210 from George Despard of Donore, Queen’s Co. lands commonly called Poles Cranna and that part of the lands of Clonin adjoining Thady Keenin’s Quarter and so the high road over the hill of Clonin, 241 acres 2 roods 6 poles in the Barony of Ossory, Queen’s Co. for the life of George Despard being the surviving life named in the lease thereof, subject to the yearly rent of £54. 2s. 3d. with 4 cwts of good bar iron or in lieu thereof £4; also the original lease thereof from Bartholomew Wm. Gilbert to Rd., Despard formerly of Cranna, Geo. Despard covenanting that there was a profit yearly rent of £35. 14s. 6d. thereout over and above the Head rent aforesaid: 19th. October 1802, obtained from his brother Thomas a lease of that part of the townland of Clonin commonly called Poles Crannagh and Ballyhooraghan for the life of his said brother at a rent of £90; in 1825 he held these lands described as “Crana, i.e. Poles Crana and lands thereunto belonging” by lease of three lives from the Earl of Cavan and Gilbert Fitzgerald: held Killeen and Kilmainham from his brother Thomas and after the death of the latter from his nephew William son of his said brother at a rent of £538. 15s. 10d.: Treasurer of the Queen’s Co.; obiit s.p., 7th November 1848; buried at Straboe on 11th. of that month; M.I. on his tombstone and also upon a mural tablet in Maryborough Church; Will dated September 1843, codicil 3rd. September 1847, and proved in Dublin, 28th. November 1848
Crannagh’s iron works had been sub leased to Sylvester Phelan in the late 18th century, and his descendants are still there to this day. Originally it was probably acquired on a lease for three lives, though I have yet to find that in the Register of Deeds or the Collis and Ward papers. There might well be remnants of the 17th century buildings amongst the many crumbling remains. In October 19, 1839 we see an example of the crazy economic system that dominated Irish agriculture – John Pim of Lacca is letting 137 acres at Crannagh in one or four holdings. James Gleeson the herdsman was on hand to show prospective tenants around. There may have been three or four layers of middlemen between the producer actually farming the land and the owner of the land, each layer needing its commission. So much easier now, when its just a straightforward relationship between the money lenders and the farmer! The positive aspect of the system was that it did allow small farmers like the Phelans to take on far more land than they could afford in the certain knowledge that they would be able to sublet it.
Cardtown is quite gone. It was probably built in the early 1700s on the land bought from the Hollow Sword Blade Company. At some stage after the 1738 attack it must have been restored, as Isaac Humphreys of Cardtown is listed as Sherriff of Queen’s County in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine for February 1802.
The year before (1801) Sir Charles Coote in his statistical survey wrote:-
Mr Walpole of Cartown near Glandine Gap is now changing the corn mill there to a woollen factory which is very aptly situate for that branch having a sufficiency of water and fuel very cheap and plenty. Near to Cartown is Lacka where there is erected a breast shot rape mill and also a bolting mill Mr Pim proprietor of both resides here .
Jane Despard writes:- On the 24 th of June, 1817, occur’ d the most terrific storm I ever saw in Ireland. It began about noon, lasting twelve hours. Incessant lightning, frightful thunder, torrents of rain, and for one hour after its commencement, hail as large as walnuts thickly cover’ d the ground. Sixty-five panes of glass were broken by it in Cartown House. The weather having been previously intensely hot and dry, the thatched houses were quickly penetrated by streams of water, requiring tubs, &c. &c. to catch them.
By 1831 it was still being let to Isaac Humphreys – O’Harts Irish Pedigrees has :- James Bramston who on the 6th March, 1884, m. Elizabeth, dau. of the late Isaac Humphrys, Major 46th Regiment, and granddaughter of the late Isaac Humphrys of Cardtown House, Mountrath,and High Sheriff of the Queen’s County in 1831. (This Elizabeth was the second wife of John Pepper Belton, Esq., of Peafield House, Mountrath, who by his first wife had two surviving children).
In 1837 Lewis has Cartown, of Colonel Price (presumably a relation of J.R. Price of Westfield), and he is still there in James Fraser’s Guide through Ireland in 1844.
However William Steuart Trench writes “I went to reside atCardtown, my place in the Queen’s county, in 1845”. Trench, (1808–1872), Irish land agent and author, was born on 16 Sept. 1808 at Bellegrove, near Portarlington, son of Dean Trench of Kildare, and nephew of Lord Ashtown of Woodlwawn, County Galway (ennobled for voting in favour of the Act of Union). He extended it in the 1840s “in fact as new house as it stands at present”
The last reference in the papers was in 1864 “At Cardtown wife of Lt Col Boldero a daughter “ Gentlemans Magazine. It turns out that the Colonel’s lady was Frederick’s cousin, Anna Trench.
By October 1912 Algenon Coote was offering Cardtown to the County Council as a TB Sanatorium. The estate was divided by the land commission in the 1920s. The lake has gone, the house has gone – all that remains is the gable of one of the yard buildings.
Of Coolrain Robert O’Byrne in his blog writes:-
The main block looks to be early-to-mid 18th century, of two storeys over raised basement and five bays with a central breakfront. The latter features a fine cut-limestone Gibbsian doorcase approached by a short flight of steps and flanked by sidelights, with a Venetian window directly above on the first floor. On either side of the main block, and seeming to be slightly later in date, are fine carriage arches, that to the right (south-east) further extending to a small stable yard. But the carriage arches are just that and no more: there is nothing behind them and the entrances are blocked up (if indeed they were ever open). It would appear their main, perhaps only, function was to extend the house façade and thereby give an impression of greater grandeur to anyone arriving there. ……..
At some date after its construction, Coolrain was enlarged by an extension to the rear but only on the left (north-west) side. The gable ends of the older section of the building indicate it was originally just one room deep, with the central portion extended back to accommodate a staircase hall lit by another Venetian window on the return. This window was subsequently blocked up, although one wonders why this was necessary since the extension does not intrude on its space. Aforementioned extension had a kitchen in the basement and a dining room immediately above, and looks to have been added towards the end of the 18th century. The gardens behind presumably ran down to the river Tonet not far away, but to the west of the house and yard are the remains of a little rectangular folly, presumably a tea room (since it has a small basement where the servants could prepare refreshments) from which there would have been a charming view of Coolrain.
……..Later it was the residence of the Campion family who farmed the surrounding land until the death in 1921 of the last member to live there. Coolrain seems to have fallen into ruin subsequently, being too big and too hard to maintain for the average farmer. More recently some work was initiated on the outbuildings, but this appears to have been abandoned, and the house now stands in the middle of a field, the mystery of its origins and early history becoming ever-harder to discern.
From Tarquin Blakes’s Abandoned Mansions
The gardens at Coolrain also had a ha-ha, beyond which a canal or fishpond, so beloved of the garden creator Jim Reynolds, and very similar to the one the Croasdaile family had at Rynn – which was the inspiration, Rynn or Coolrain? It is remarkable that Coolrain was not discovered by Maurice Craig as he quartered the country in his Delage. It is a perfect example of his favourite classic Irish house of the middle size, with so many charming imperfections, like the quoins on either side of the doorcase. and the gabled arched wings, just a tiny bit too short.
Maurice Craig and his Delage D8 (sold by Bonhams for over €100k!)
It appears from Elizabeth Despard’s writings that Coolrain was built in the 1740s by William III Despard, to replace Cardtown.
In June 1784 William Despard is letting a house on 53 acres at Coolrain. This is the William who built Shanderry and Altavlla and married the Armstrong heiress.
1795, Francis White of Coolrain was a subscriber to Samuel Whyte’s book of poems
Feb 1799 Francis White is living at Coolrain and letting a farm at Aghaboe
1803 Francis White of Coolrain, Queens County, Esq, is a party to Francis Freeman’s marriage settlement.
12 September 1809 , Dublin Evening Post
TO be LET, for such term as may be agreed on, and immediate possession given, the Houle, Offices, and Demesne COOLRAIN, containing 50A. The tenant can accommodated with the Furniture and Stock at valuation. Application’to …
22 August 1828 , Dublin Evening Mail ,
A desirable Residence TO BE LET, or the Interest SOLD, the 1st November next, for one good life, the House and Lands of COOLRAIN, containing 42 Irish acres ..
Coolrain appears twice in Lewis’ Topography in 1837 – once as Cooleraine House, of T. Palmer, Esq. and then as a subscriber White, R., Esq., Coolrain-house, Mountrath, Queen’s county.
Coolrain’s Doorcase from Tarquin Blake’s Abandoned Mansions
The next residents may have been the Cooper family.
Susan Molyneux b. 1814 m. Matthew Cooper June 4, 1840 at Anatrim Church, Coolrain. daughter Elizabeth born May 17, 1841.
Joseph Finnamore, 2nd cos to Lord Norbury, married Jane, youngest dau of the late Mathew Cooper, Esq., of Coolrain House, Queen’s March 1881
A researcher on the Molyneaux family has come up with Matthew Cooper’s parents – Alexander Cooper of King’s county who married 25 July 1813 to Susanna nee Cooper ( not Caldbeck as previously thought) daughter of Matthew Cooper b. c.1758 and Mary ?? of Glebe, Coolrain. Susanna had siblings: Sarah 1 May 1801 – 1871 unmarried as far as we know, and Matthew 1798 – 1872 who married Pheobe ? b. c. 1791 – 25 Sept 1846 when she died at Coolrain House, the Glebe.
NB The Glebe, Coolrain is not Coolrain House, but the researcher writes:- Matthew and Pheobe remained in Coolrain and several of their family’s deaths happened at Coolrain House.
Tarquin Blake has identified that Griffith’s Valuation of 30 Nov 1850 has the estate let to tenants Andrew Campion and Catherine Delany.
Jacob Barrington was born 17 May 1779 near Dublin, son to Thomas Barrington and Hannah Haughton, died 22 February 1833 at Rochester, Monroe County, New York. His wife Elizabeth Neale, (to whom he was married 22 July 1804 at Coolrain Mills, Coolrain Townland, Offerlane Parish, Upperwoods Barony, Queen’s County), was born in or about 1776 or 1777, daughter to William Neale and Sarah —; died 8 October 1827
In the London Gazette of Feb 26 1876 George Neale of Coolrain Mills is listed as a shareholder in the London and Westminster Bank.
In 1891 (“Return of judicial rents fixed by Sub-Commissions, and Civil Bill Courts, notified to Irish Land Comission, January 1891” ) George Neale of Coolrain with Captain Henry R. Despard was a trustee of Richard Despard, deceased.
28.12.1894 was proved the will of George Neale of Coolrain by Mary Emma Campion of Coolrain, Spinster and hare sister Linda Anne Harding of Noreview Widow both in Queen’s County. He left £8000. There is work to be done to understand the relationship of the various Campions, Hardings and Neales.
In the 1901 census the protestant Mary Emma Campion, spinster, b abt 1841, was the head of the household , Coolrain House, Coolrain, Queen’s Co., with a resident coachman and maid. In 1911 she was still there, with a new coachman and maid, Mary Dunne, aged 23 and Christopher Tearle also 23. Miss Campion died in June 1921, leaving £1,096 8s 4d. On 16 July 1921 there was a sale of the contents.
22nd Noveber 1969 is the last that we hear of Coolrain in the Nation Press, when Telfords are selling the cows, machinery and household effects of Frederick D Foote, following the sale of the fam and 112 acres.
Mr Foote may have been letting the farm because in 1966 Griffith Bayley of Coolrain House is selling seed potatoes, The year before that William S Pearse of Coolrain House had been fined 5/- by Mr Justice Sweetman for driving a tractor without a mirror.
It is unclear who built Donore. Legend attributes it to George Despard 1720-1814. He m. Gerturde Carden of Lismore and had 2 sons and 5 daughters.
Abbeyleix Heritage House has a fantastic document setting out the specification for the complete refurbishment of Donore House in 1891 for WW Despard. The house was stripped in the 1960s, and a new house built beside the ruins in the 1980s.
Notice the shadow of the roofless facade!
It has been regarded as their principal seat by Despards, and as they spread around the world other Donores appeared. The most famous was in Cheltenham where in the 1880s Rosina Despard, the eldest of six children, became the first to witness an apparition that would become famously known as the ‘woman in black”, a phenomenon that still haunts Pitville Circus Road.
Richad Despard married Miss Frances Burton, of the family of the baronets of Burton Hall, County Carlow in 1747 and Larch Hill, almost opposite the original estate at Crannagh, dates from then. After his death in 1780 his son Francis Green Despard, another man of the cloth, moved in with his new wife, Jane Humphreys, whose mother was also a Despard. Rev Francis Green Despard died in 1820 and the house was let.
Larch Hill left, and Crannagh , right
While the Rev Francis was still alive Atkinson wrote in The Irish Tourist “Larch-hill, nearly south of Mountrath, is a place worth seeing. Its beauties, as you approach the place from that town, commence in a neighbourhood rather wild and heathy, and by this contrast are rendered more particularly striking. The house, though not much elevated, commands a good prospect over the demesne to the mountains of Cullinagh, about fourteen miles distant. These mountains are part of an estate recently purchased by Lord Norbury, and in that country they form an important object in its best landscapes. The improvements on Larch-hill display great taste and judgment. Of these a beautiful circular lake at the foot of the lawn, with the ornamental planting on its margin, was not the least remarkable. The prospect over this lake through an ample vista in the plantations to a fine rising country, which terminates in the mountains we have just noticed, was alone sufficient- to animate and render brilliant the whole landscape—but Larch-hill is not alto-gether dependent upon this grand feature, for its character of beauty. The little plantations, which on hills remote from the interior improvements to the scenery, and give the spectator an idea of the grandeur of space, come in also for our share of admiration, in common with the other proofs of taste and judgment which that scene exhibits.”
By the time of the Ordnance Maps lake and planting had all gone. The Buildings of Ireland survey describes Larch Hill House thus:-
Detached five-bay two-storey house, built c.1820. Double-pitched and hipped slate roof with nap rendered chimneystacks. Nap rendered walls, painted. Square-headed window openings with limestone sills and replacement timber casement windows, c.1985. Round-headed door opening with limestone archivolt and replacement timber panelled door, c.1985. Interior not inspected. Set back from road in own grounds; landscaped grounds to site. Gateway comprising limestone monolithic piers with carved patarae and wrought iron gates.
Russell of The Times
In April 1825 Anne 3rd dau of William Russell of Baggot Street died at Larch Hill. She was the sister of William Howard Russell, who became the Times Crimean correspondent and whose account of the Light Brigade aroused the passions of Middle England even more than Brexit.
Born at Kiltalown House, not far from Tallaght, the seat of his maternal grandfather, Captain John Kelly. Captain Kelly also owned Mount Pelier and Castle Kelly, in the county of Dublin, and afterwards had a fine ree-raw place, called Larch Hill, in the Queen’s County …he was a keen Nimrod, well known to all the sportsmen of his neighbourhood, and descended from an old family in the counties of Kildare and Kilkenny. His son Felix died in the army, and none of his male descendants survived him. His daughter who died many ago married in extreme youth.
Kelly was a larger than life character, the Master of The Tallaght Hunt, tall with long powdered hair tied with a black bow. He wore a blue coat with brass buttons, a fawn waistcoat with many pockets, and buckskin breeches (that were not spotless, as Russell recalled when he was 65 years old). He had a set of keys and seals hanging from his pockets and wore a pair of boots with tan tops.
“All my early memories relate to hounds, horses and hunting; there were hounds all over the place, horses in the fields and men on horseback galloping, blowing of horns, cracking of whips, tallyho-ing, yoicksing and general uproar,” wrote Russell.
He recalled his grandfather being in high spirits on hunting mornings if the weather was fine and singing: “Tally ho, my boys! These are the joys that far exceed the delights of the doxies!”
After Kelly’s financial ruin around 1830 a new tenant was found for Larch Hill.
1835 At Larch-Hill, near Mountrath, the lady of A. Seymour, Esq., of a son. – Suddenly, Seymour, as in The Little Shop of Horrors, maybe?
In 1837 Lewis lists the Rev. J. Bourke at Larch Hill
In 1862 The Cork Examiner, on 1 August reported that George Roe of Rush Hall died at Larch Hill. How was it the he came to die here, 4 miles from his home?
Dawson Shortt late of Larch Hill, Mountrath in the Queen’s County Gentleman who died 20 October 1889 bought Larch Hill from Richard Brooke Despard through the Landed Estates Court in 1876.
Capt Vere Shortt
Captain Vere Dawson Shortt, (1874-1915) 7th Northamptonshire Regiment, who was killed in action in France on the 27th September,1915 at the Battle of Loos, was the only son of the late James Fitzmaurice Shortt, of Moorfield, Mountrath, and grand nephew of the late Vere Shortt, of Larch Hill, Queen’s County. He was in the Cape Mounted Rifles from 1890-1895 and served through the Pondoland campaign with them. He then served in the French Foreign Legion, in Africa, before the outbreak of the war in Europe.
A sci fi writer, his first novel, Lost Sheep (1915), uninterestingly incorporates some elements of black magic. He saw active service in France, dying before completing The Rod of the Snake (1917), which was completed by his sister Frances Mathews. The tale, a not entirely coherent, clottedly erotized occult romance, hints at sf through links to Atlantis understood in terms of Theosophy. The “Old Ones” who are invoked through the use of the titular talisman are conveyed with Horror in SF menace, and it is possible H P Lovecraft was influenced by Shortt’s depiction of cosmic malice.
By 1905 Dr. Eugene Francis Hogan, a subscriber to Carrigan’s History of Ossory was living at Larch Hill and was the organiser of the ‘Upperwoods Volunteers’ in 1914. The Ulster Volunteers had been established with the overt goal of blocking Home Rule by any means necessary, including, if required, armed resistance. The Irish Volunteers were established as a counterpoint to their Unionist opponents and their overt aim was to protect Home Rule at all costs.
The first corps established in Laois was in Abbeyleix on 27 April 1914. Mountmellick followed suit and throughout May, the nationalists of Laois awoke from their slumber and began to catch up with the rest of the country. Camross Volunteers would have been initially catered for in the Mountrath, Borris-in-Ossory, or Castletown corps. However, sometime around June 1914, a corps called the ‘Upperwoods Volunteers’ became affiliated with the organisation. Its leading organiser was Dr. Eugene Francis Hogan of Larch Hill, Coolrain. Hogan, a Justice of the Peace, became a much respected member of the organisation in the county. He presided over the first meeting of the County Board of the Laois Volunteers and was nominated as the county vice-president, a position which he modestly chose to pass on to someone else.
For the last century it has been the home of the Hyland family.
Shanderry, or Seandoire, the old oak wood, appears in Leet in 1814 as the seat of Francis Despard. From Jane Despard’s Memoranda we know that it was built by his father about 20 years earlier.
Shanderry from The Buildings of Ireland web site
Building of Ireland describes it thus:-
Detached five-bay three-storey house, c.1830. Renovated and extended, c.1970, with flat-roofed projecting porch added to front and returns added to rear. Double-pitched and hipped slate roof with nap rendered chimneystacks. Flat-roof to porch. Roughcast rendered walls, painted. Square-headed window openings with stone sills and replacement timber casement windows, c.1985. Round-headed openings to porch. Interior not inspected. House is set back from road in own grounds; landscaped grounds to site; tarmacadam drive and forecourt to approach; hedge inner boundary to forecourt.
Jane Despard in her Memoranda of 1837 writes:-
Two brothers now remained William, the younger, died early at Shanderry of an idle and dissipated life. Frank, the eldest, was pleasant and gentleman-like in company, but as an officer, a husband or domestic companion he was the perfect description of cross-grained. He was a good landlord, honourable in all things and friendly when his temper did not interfere, but I recollect him once when at home on leave of absence, getting a letter of congratulation on his promotion from some person whose office it was to inform him. His observation on reading it, or rather his execration, before a whole roomful of his relations was (as l recollect) “May the Devil damn your congratulations.” I repeat this to show you the man, however, he soon afterwards quitted a profession for which his rebellious spirit was unﬁt, and married a sour piece of goods like himself and a connection of his own, being niece to Lord Norbury and Mr. Toler who were nephews to his grandmother Armstrong. His wife was daughter of General Head who commanded the 13th Dragoons in the Peninsular, what one calls a real good kind of man, with nothing of the ill-natured spice of his mother’s milk (who was a Toler) but who left his sour legacy chieﬂy to his daughter Despard, the present Dowager Shanderry. I always used to call Frank and her “Sir Andrew and Lady Acid.” for they never were in harmony either with each other or with their neighbours. Poor Frank died, I am told, with a more serious way of thinking than he lived, but she was then as before quite opposed to Evangelical religion; I have not heard anything of her lately.
In fact she died in 1862 – April 6, at Pembroke-terrace, Dublin, Mary Argyle, aged 70, relict the late Francis Green Despard, Shanderry, Queen’s County; niece of the first Earl ofNorbury and sister of the late General Head, 18th Dragoons,
It is recounted locally that Despard left the army as a Lieutenant and by the time he died had become a Colonel, promoting himself as his brother officers rose through the ranks.
TO LET, for ever, the House of SHANDERRY, with either 41 Acres of Land, well sheltered and divided. The House is calculated for a small genteel family. 17 March 1826
April 17 1830 the Waterford Mail reported that Airy Penrose Jessop (22) of Shanderry had married Elizabeth Howe at the Friends Meeting House in Mountmellick.
In 1833 he was advertising Mayfly, the high bred racehorse, standing at Shanderry with a stud fee of 5 Gns. In that same year he was letting Altavilla. So we may presume that he was acting as someone’s agent (possibly James Perry’s). Mayfly was still standing in in 1840 – with a stud fee of £2. He was a descended from Darley Arabian (as are 95% of thoroughbred horses) – however here The Darley was only his 4 greats grandsire and Eclipse was his grandsire
The Darley Arabian
In 1837 Lewis’s Topography has A P Jessop of Shanderry. By Jan 1841 Shanderry and Mayfly were both for sale, and by 1844 Jessop had moved to Pleasant View, Ballsbridge (where he had a daughter in 1847) .
Shortly afterwards AP Jessop, commercial clerk, became “an insolvent debtor”. In Sept 1854 Andrew Kiel, esq, of Chicago, married Sophia, eldest daughter of A P Jessop of Prospect Terrace, Glasnevin, and in March 1859 his daughter Elizabeth Anne was marrying Anthony Jacob in Wellington, New Zealand. Emma Louise, another daughter, emigrated to Canada at the age of 30 and married a fellow Irish ex-pat Thomas Woods, on St. Patrick’s Day 1874 at St. James’s Cathedral in Toronto. On their twenty-fourth anniversary, Thomas died and a year later she lost her only son to drowning. Life in Canada was not always easy for Emma but she lived a long and relatively prosperous life in West Toronto until she died at an advanced age at her home at 39 Concord Avenue, leaving her three daughters, Annie, Grace and Ida and two Grandchildren. Most of their six other siblings also seem to have emigrated.
In October 1849 the Dublin Evening Mail reports that there was delivered to the lady of the Rev Leslie Badham of Shanderry House a son; then in July of 1856 (according to The Freemans Journal of Aug 1) another son and in Nov 1859 a daughter, according to the Leinster Express . He had left Coolrain, where he was curate, to become Vicar of Fenagh, Co Carlow in 1869, and sure enough we have an advertisement for it to let in November 1868
In 1878 he married his son the Rev. Frederick John Badham, Rector of Ballynacargy, County Westmeath, to Alice Marianne, daughter of the late John Samuel.
Also in 1878, as the rector of Fenagh, he was officiating at the marriage of the Hon. John McClintock Bunbury, Esq, of Molye, Co. Carlow,to (Elizabeth) Myra Watson, second daughter of Robert Watson of Ballydarton, the famous Master of the Hounds. He died the following year, for in Fenagh church is a tablet To the memory of the Revd. Leslie Badham for ten years the beloved Pastor of his flock. He died 18th April 1879 aged 67 years.
Badham had dad a doctorate in Mathematics from Trinity in 1838
George Neale of Coolrain Mills seems to have acquired an interest in Shanderry, though whether he actually lived there is unclear.
Next we find the Coote’s land agent at Shanderry. Henry Cornelius was living at Shanderry by 1884 Born in Anatrim he lived in Ballytarsna, Borris-in-Ossory and later at Ross na Clonagh, Mountrath and shortly before his death in a home called Shanderry ( according to a letter from his nephew written in 1894). Agents to the Cootes, the Cornelius family had arrived in Ireland with William of Orange and spent 100 years as agents for the Maxwells, Earls of Farnham, and the Cootes of Bellamont, before moving to Laois to become agents for the Cootes at Ballyfin. There is a story in the family that one day a gypsy went to Ross na Clonagh selling clothespegs. When Henry’s wife Elizabeth refused to buy any, the gypsy cursed her saying that her daughters would all be barren and her sons would only bear daughters. Of her 9 daughters,only one had children (Susannah) and her son, Harry, had only the one daughter. Thomas died without children.
A complaint of 1884 in the Leinster Express Correspondence
The Leinster Express June 1904, concerning a row about a turf bank, throws light on the later ownership of Shanderry.
This turf bank contained 8 perches, and had been cut by the late Mr George Neale and since his death in 1894 , by the trustees under his will, or rather by their tenant, who occupies Shanderry House. The estate did belong to Mr W D Despard . He was the landlord of Shanderry House. His estate was sold in the Landed Estates Court in October, 1902, and the lot referring to Shanderry House, which was held at a rent of £69 13a Id, was bought by Neale’s representatives from Steele, Despard and others. It was presumably then sold or leased to the Cooper family, who are still there – the Cooper Marriage of 1904 was reported extensively, and I love their list of presents!