Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – Lively Times in July and August

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Lively Times in July and August

Although fishing and boating had so many ardent followers in our family, I think the really gay time was during the months of July and August, when every home around the town and country entertained visitors from other parts. Visitors came for the races at the Ballybrit course, then the County ball, and after that the Tuam races. Then, two days racing at the pretty little town of Gort and two days at Limerick. But, of course, the racing at Leopardstown and the Curragh and Punchestown, all near Dublin, had to be visited, too. And believe me, those were lively times.

Then, would come the Dublin Horse Show which was held at Ballsbridge and also at this time the Vice Regal Lodge would hold its receptions and presentations to the Lord and Lady Lieutenant. If you lived in Ireland, you had to be presented to them before you could get an entry to the levee and drawing room at Buckingham Palace to be presented to His Majesty, the King. All our relations and friends would put up in the city, and the privileged ones who were to be presented would prepare for weeks ahead.

The Vice Regal Lodge – – 1894 Creator Unknown

My Uncle James de Blaquiere would invite his country friends to stay at his town and country or rather suburban residences. The home called Rosemont was a lovely one located near Howth Castle. And the view, when there was no fog, of Ireland’s Eye and the beautiful little town near the harbour, was as interesting as it was charming. My uncle used Rosemont as a sort of retreat when he wished to get away from city life. He spent nearly all the summer months in this beautiful suburb as it was just a short journey to Dublin where his office was located. The firm of De Blaquiere, St. George and Browne were lawyers, who had a tremendous practice. Robert St. George later on had a practice of his own, while his son Howard, who married a Miss Baker of New York, now lives near Ballinasloe, County Galway.

Howth Castle

Howth Castle has been the seat of the Lords of Howth since the days of Sir Almerid de Valence who arrived there in the 13th Century. However, most of the present building dates from the 16th Century. In a setting of beautiful trees, this ivy-clad residence makes a lovely picture. The famous two-handed sword with which Sir Tristram did such mighty execution at the Battle of Howth, is there on display. Mutilated as it is, what remains of it measures five feet seven inches in length. In the dining hall there is a painting of the ancient legend of Gráinne Ni Mháille (Grace O’Malley). Upon arriving at Howth Castle from a visit to Queen Elizabeth in London, this western chieftainess was refused the hospitality of the owner. Seeking revenge, she kidnapped the heir and kept him a prisoner until a pledge was obtained from his father that on no pretence whatever were the gates of the castle to be closed at mealtimes – a promise that was strictly kept up until a very recent date.

Near the magnificent rhododendron walk in the vicinity of the castle you will find a cromlech called the Giant’s Grave, which consists of ten tremendous blocks of stone, the largest being nineteen feet long.

The Abbey of Howth, or to be more correct, the Church of St. Mary is situated in the little village overlooking the harbour. It was built by St. Nessan in the l3th Century. Three bells that once hung here are now preserved in the castle hall. A quaint story is told of the builder of this church: It seems that St. Nessan formerly lived on the little island called Ireland’s Eye, where he founded a religious school. One day the saint was reading the venerated Book of Howth when an evil spirit appeared. St. Nessan was so annoyed at the intrusion that he struck the devil on the side of the head with the sacred book. This blow knocked the evil one right across the water to the mainland where he hit a rock with such force that it split in two. The rock bears the outline of the devil to this day.

St Marys Howth

The 16th Century tomb of Christopher Lord Howth, in the precincts of the abbey, bears the coat of arms of both the St. Lawrences and the Plunkets. St. Lawrence, I should say, is the family name of the present owners.

Areas north of Dublin

Do not think for a minute that I am going to write a tourists‘ guide, but in our circle of friends are several who are connected in some way with the old castles I am mentioning. I cannot say I ever admired Dublin, but the bay, backed by the Wicklow Mountains of the south, makes a very lovely picture. On the north side is the little old-fashioned village of Malahide, the mecca of tourists who go there for bathing, yachting and golf. Malahide Castle, a large square building with lofty circular towers, was the baronial home of Lord Talbot de Malahide, but now very little of it remains. In the hall, which is roofed with carved Irish oak, are some pictures of great value. One in particular is a painting of a small altar piece representing the Nativity, Adoration and Circumcision. This painting, the property of the unfortunate Queen Mary of Scotland, was originally in the Queen’s oratory at Holyrood.

About three miles from Malahide is a small town called Swords and here you will find one of the round towers of Ireland. It is covered with ivy and stands close to the church and monastery founded I think, by St. Columba in the 6th Century. All about the north side of Dublin Bay and the districts around are lovely little villages, each with its special attraction. Take Skerries, for instance: at this little seaside hamlet you can buy the most beautiful lace for very little. And at Balbriggan, a few miles further up the line, they specialize in hosiery, which for quality cannot be equalled the world over. Several of our relations would never think of buying their stockings elsewhere.

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About this record

Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Published here 09 Sep 2022 and originally published 1979

Page 0101 of the Athenry History archive.

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