In this book “Jottings from my Life in Tyrone, Ireland” Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert, recalls some memories of her idyllic childhood in Cloon House, Gort and later in her mother’s family home Tyrone House near Kilcolgan in County Galway.
The book is a real gem and an important piece of our history, as it gives us a great insight into the privileged life of a member of the Landed Society in the west of Ireland in the 19th Century.
Her writings were edited by her niece Margaret Lahiff in 1979 and I was delighted to find a copy, published here for educational purposes only, when I was researching the Lamberts of Athenry 1999.
It is not known exactly when these “jottings” were written by my Aunt Elizabeth. They were probably finished in the early 1930s, but written over a period of many years before that.
She and her husband, with their two young sons, came to California, U.S.A., in 1906. She passed away in Santa Monica, California, on March 20, 1949. The memoires were given to my father,
Henry Lahiff, a brother of whom she was very fond.
The photograph on the cover was taken by my father when he visited his old home, Tyrone House, in 1904/05.
The captions of the various sections are mine to help the reader. Also, as few editorial changes as possible have been made. However, due to a few discrepancies, I have made some notes designated numerically in the Appendix, which includes an explanation of the various spellings of the surname, “La Hiff-”
Margaret Lahiff, Ed
Just a mile from the picturesque town of Gort, County Galway, Ireland, I was born of French and English parents. My mother was a daughter of Christopher French St. George, of Tyrone in that county. She was one of seventeen children: ten daughters and seven sons.
Her father dropped the title which his family held, his aunts being Lady Harriet St. George and Lady Matilda Bermingham. His wife was of Irish descent. My father’s parents were of French extraction. They came to Ireland at an early date, and their name was La Hiff. I was the eighth of ten brothers and sisters; my sister Tilly, of whom I was very fond, and James were the youngest. Our father, Daniel La Hiff, was a younger brother who got his share of the estate after his father’s death.
Long before my existence my father’s brother, Thomas, was celebrating his twenty-first birthday and, being the eldest son, he came into possession of thousands of acres. This was called the Kiltartan lands, which ran right into County Clare. Everything suitable was done as befitted the occasion; bonfires were lit all over that part of the county and dancing for the tenantry indulged in up to the late hours of the night – or rather the morning. When they were all well refreshed, they found their way home as best they could. Invitations had been sent out to all his relations and neighbours for miles around.
They all came: The Goughs of Lough Cutra Castle, Lord Gort, the Gregories of Coole Park, the Persses of Roxborough, the Blakes, de Blaquieres, de Stackpools, and others. Our people owned so much land that the La Hiffs had become the third largest landowners in the county; Lord Clanbrock was first and Lord Clanricard, second.
The jollifications were kept up for days on end, much to the disgust of the servants who were busy night and day preparing food and drink. When everything was over and they had settled down to normal again, Uncle Tom started off one morning for a hunt close by when he decided to take a water jump that happened to be on the lawn just a little way from the house. Unfortunately, his mount threw him off and his head struck a stone that protruded on the other side of the pond. His skull was fractured, so the result was disastrous for him. He partly recovered but a little later he had a relapse and, losing his mind completely, he never spoke again. A residence was purchased for him in the suburbs of Dublin. It was a beautiful old place, called Elmhurst, where he resided for the rest of his life. Everybody around Dublin knew his appearance as he was driven out every day in a carriage drawn by a magnificent pair of greys. Although he took no notice of anyone in his family, he seemed to take an interest in the horses. One day when he noticed a bay horse instead of the grey in the pair, he absolutely refused to sit behind them. And all the efforts of his doctor, who accompanied him, could not prevail on him to take his morning drive. “‘
During all these years his property was in chancery and could not be interfered with, as his recovery was still hoped for. The next of kin, his brother Henry, had been drowned while bathing, so the third son, my Uncle James, was looked on as the next heir, and my father and his sisters came in for additional allowances. So, you see, there is a lot of truth in that old saying “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” Uncle Tom spent 57 silent years in the valley of the shadow of death while his sisters and brothers enjoyed the best that this world could give them.
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Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert
Published here 17 Aug 2022 and originally published 1979
Page 0075 of Athenry History
Tyrone House, Kilcolgan, County Galway, Ireland
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The Swingtime Aces
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