Editor’s Notes – Margaret Lahiff 1979

Lady Harriet (1782-1830) is indicated as Christopher St. George’s mother in the Irish Georgian Society Journal, Vol. XIX, Nos. 3 & 4, July>December 1976, page 68 (St. George Pedigree). She was, therefore, my Aunt Elizabeth’s great-grandmother. Her maiden name was Lady Harriet St. Lawrence, and she was the eldest daughter of William, 2nd Earl of Howth.

Lady Matilda Bermingham would have been a great-great-great aunt according to Gordon St. George Mark, the author of the article in the above journal. She was a sister of Lady Mary Bermingham who lived in an earlier era. However, there were other Matildas in the family, and it is quite possible that my aunt had one of them confused with Lady Matilda.

Also, the above journal lists Christopher St. George’s children as twelve: two sons and ten daughters. It is quite possible that five children may have died in infancy or early in life making the total of seventeen that my aunt indicated.

The surname, La Hiff, is usually spelled Lahiff, or Lahiffe. Some spell it one way and some another, but it is all the same name. I doubt whether anyone knows its true origin.

My aunt’s parents were Daniel Coleman Lahiff and Mary St. George Lahiff. Mary St. George Lahiff was the second daughter of Christopher St. George and Honoria Kane St. George. From about 1864 to 1874 they had ten children, as follows:

Daniel Arthur Lahiff (emigrated to California about 1898)

Henrietta Lahiff (remained in Ireland)

Honoria Lahiff Bachand (emigrated to Canada about 1910)

Henry Lahiff (emigrated to California about 1888)

Thomas Lahiff (emigrated to South Africa about 1906)

Elizabeth Lahiff Lambert (emigrated to California in 1906)

William & Mary Lahiff (twins who died in infancy)

James Andrew Lahiff (remained in Ireland)

 

Christopher St. George (1810-1877) was a member of the English Parliament from 1847 to 1852. According to the above journal, he was a descendant of Lord St. George, Vice-Admiral of Connaught, who died in 1735. Pages 54-57 of the journal describe Christopher St. George’s funeral as one of the largest ever seen in County Galway.

Tyrone House was located on a promontory on Galway Bay, about two miles from the town of Kilcolgan. To the west was a view of the Aran Islands, and to the north the Connemara Mountains. The interior was completely destroyed by fire in the early 1920’s. Only the thick limestone walls remain standing today. It is now owned by the Irish Georgian Society, who hope that it may someday be restored.

Editor’s Notes (Cont’d)

The life-size marble statue was probably of a more remote ancestor: either the first Lord St. George (1751-1735) or Usher,

Lord St. George who died in 1775. Unfortunately, the statue was destroyed when the house was burned down.

My father, Henry Lahiff (1868-1954), came to the United States in 1888. At first, he was employed by a mining company in Bisbee, Arizona, and later went to California. After working for various mining and bridge companies, he later became self-employed as a mining and civil engineer in the Mother Lode area, mostly in El Dorado County. When he visited his home in Ireland in 1904-05 he took many photographs of Tyrone House and the surrounding area, Some have appeared in the Irish Georgian Society Journal mentioned above.

The grandmother, Honoria Kane St. George, passed away in 1905 at the age of 96. She was the widow of Christopher St. George.

My father, Henry Lahiff, saw her for the last time in 1905 and received news of her death shortly after he returned to California.

The sword and mace are now housed in the Bank of Ireland, which faces Eyre Square, Galway City, and can be seen there during normal banking hours. These two pieces, after having been sold by Anne Blake in 1930, were acquired by William Randolph Hearst in 1935, returned by the Hearst Foundation to the people of Ireland in 1960 and restored to Galway in 1961. (See Galway Guidebook, “Tourist Trail of Old Galway”, published by the Ireland-West Tourism, revised 1978, pages 9-l0)

Round towers in Ireland were built in about the 9th Century to serve as watch towers, belfries, storehouses, and as places of refuge during invasions. (See Illustrated IRELAND GUIDE, published by the Irish Tourist Board.) Perhaps this information was not publicized at the time my aunt wrote these memoires.

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Christmas Pie

One turkey and one goose boned. Then fill all the empty spaces with force meat and also fill their cavities with bread crumbs flavoured with pepper, salt and chopped parsley, worked in with plenty of butter. This makes the stuffing easier to handle and keeps the filling moist.

Place the turkey first, then a beef tongue, and lastly the goose side by side in a flat container and add good beef gravy. Cover and steam in a moderately heated oven for two hours. Then line a very deep receptacle with medium short pastry, and place turkey, tongue and goose side by side in this. Fill up the spaces between with beef jelly and cover with piecrust and bake for nearly an hour or until it looks a nice brown colour.

This is made the day before Xmas, and, when cold, is placed on the sideboard in the dining room. Be sure to cut the pie lengthways so that each person gets a little tongue, turkey and goose on his or her plate, and serve with currant jelly.

Tipsy Cake

Take two pounds of sponge cake and cut it in long strips about an inch wide. Make a strong punch of brandy and sherry wine and, of course, some hot water. Dip each piece of sponge cake in the punch and place on a dish criss-cross fashion and cover each section or layer with raspberry preserve. When all the cake has been piled up, cover the whole affair with whipped cream.

Cherry Brandy

To every pint of brandy, put one pound of bitter cherries well crushed, stones and kernels included. Put all in a wide-mouthed jar and shake frequently for several days.

Devilled Fowl

Take a cold boiled or roasted turkey or chicken, disjoint it in large pieces, then scar it over and smear it thickly with Colman’s mustard and butter. Place the pieces in a broiler until it is thoroughly heated through and serve quickly while hot.

Milk Punch

Take two quarts of milk and bring it to boiling point and add six well-beaten eggs and sugar to taste. Stir well and then throw in one quart of good whiskey, or brandy if you prefer.

The End – Now in California

Now here I am in California, a land of contrasts: Where snow-clad mountains raise their noble heads to the azure sky, where peaceful valleys nestle in the bosom of tree-covered hills and where ice glaciers force their ponderous way inch-by-inch towards the verdant plains. A land where the scent of orange or citrus groves is wafted through the air, where the manzanita tree rears its knotty and crooked arms as if trying to extricate itself from the barren rocky soil in which it grows. A land where rivers flow gently through orchards of apple, plum and peaches, and where men have died from thirst in the Valley of Death. A land of flower gardens vying with each other in beauty and colour only a few miles from arid deserts on which cacti raise their weird and spiny heads. A land where birds sing joyfully day-by-day unmindful of the hawk or eagle waiting to launch its fatal stroke. Where the cricket chirps merrily by the hearth and where the wasp wages deadly combat with the spider. A land of opportunity for some and abject failure for others. Yes, a land of contrasts, but to me it is still God’s Country – The Abode of Peace and Happiness.

For this I have to thank my brother, Henry. But for his munificent attention and thoughtfulness, I suppose I would still be living in old Ireland. May God bless him for all he has done for me and mine.

Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Legends: Corkscrew Hill, Athenry Caslte, Kilmacduagh Round Tower 

On the way home from the Lakes of Killarney we would take the train as far as Ennis and then drive on to Ballyvaughan, a little seaside town just opposite Galway on the other side of the bay. Now, I daresay, you may have noticed the queer formation of the hills in that part of the country. One in particular, Corkscrew Hill, like any other place in Ireland that is the least bit out of the ordinary, has a legend:

The story of the Pooka has to do with the taming of a beautiful black horse that used, to no good purpose, his supernatural powers on any person under the influence of spirits who happened to be passing that way. Well, back in the days of King Brian Boru this evil animal was the death of many a wrong-doer. As long as he confined his attentions to that class of society, the King did not trouble very much about it. But one night his little baby was taken sick, and the King wished to send for the doctor, who happened to live quite near the spot where the Pooka was in the habit of exhibiting his murderous traits. The King insisted on his servant going to fetch the doctor, Pooka or no Pooka. So, the unfortunate man saddled the King’s white mare and off he went in fear and trembling and shocking to relate, that was the last that was heard of him. The King had the whole country searched, but nothing was ever seen of him again. Of course, everyone was sure the servant had been killed by the beautiful jet-black horse; so the King determined to teach the Pooka a lesson he would never forget.

So, the King mixed up a concoction of herbs as described in his book of magic, with which he was to enchant the evil one. With this stuff and three hairs out of a mare’s tail, he started off to have it out with the Pooka. Well, just as he came to Corkscrew Hill the lovely black steed came trotting along beside him. Of course, as all evil spirits are supposed to be able to speak, the Pooka and the King entered into a lively conversation. The King very cleverly brought up the subject of age and the Pooka, in order to convince the King that he was not quite as young as he looked, opened his mouth and invited the King to look in. Now, this was just what the King wanted, as it gave him a chance to get the three hairs into the Pooka’s mouth and around his lower jaw and while saying the enchantment he dropped in the charm that was concealed in his pocket.

The three hairs immediately turned into iron bands, and do what he would, the Pooka could not shake them out of his mouth and he knew that he was under the spell of a charm. Well, King Boru got on his back and proceeded to drive him for all he was worth, using his spurs and whip to such good intent, the Pooka screamed with pain. But the King would not listen and, knowing the charm only would act for seven miles around, he rode the Pooka up and down Corkscrew Hill so many times that the Pooka was quite worn out and asked the King for mercy. So, the King let him off on the condition that the Pooka would not kill anybody again and that if he took any bad character for a ride on his back, he was always to bring him back to the spot where he found him and leave him there.

Of course, the Pooka was delighted because he had been up and down the hill so many times that the path was worn into wide terraces that make this hill so much like a corkscrew. i

Athenry Castle

https://www.facebook.com/athenrycastle/photos/

Built as it is on plain, flat country, Athenry, itself, is not much of a town to look at. There are, however, the ruins of a fine old castle with which a quaint old story: It seems that long ago the countryside was ruled by a king Whose name was Dennis. Living nearby were six other kings who thought so much of old King Dennis that they all used to visit him four times a year because Dennis was the oldest of them all. After a time, as is only natural, these kings died, and their six sons kept up the custom of coming to see old King Dennis. Of course, as all stories go, the King had a beautiful daughter, Princess Bridget, a lovely girl to behold but with a disposition that was anything but sweet. Well, as was to be expected, all six of the young kings fell in love with the beautiful princess. Since she could not marry them all, and could not make up her mind which one she liked best, her father decided to hold a great athletic contest at which the six suitors were to partake in deeds of prowess and the princess was to say which one she thought was the best man. So a day was arranged for and everyone of note all around the country came to the sports.

Now, before the contest took place, the wily princess called each of the young kings one by one and told them each the same thing. “I’m sure you will win,” she said, “but don’t tell anyone what I said.” So each king thought that he was the chosen one. Well, the show was a great success and everyone went home happy. The next morning the six young kings came back to the castle to find out which of them had been chosen, but the princess was nowhere to be found. Even her bed had not been slept in that night. The kings were very indignant and said that old King Dennis had played them a dirty trick.

The kings went home, gathered their armies together, and came back in the night to sack the town and castle. When the old king saw the armies outside the castle, he went out to see if he could make a treaty with them. As they were talking it over, a servant came running up with a letter from Princess Bridget to the young kings, saying that she had made her choice as promised and had gone to get married to the King of Galway. Indeed, the servant said that he saw the two of them riding away before daybreak.

Round Towers

In early Christian times churches were always located near a round tower. Although these towers of which there are many in Ireland – were built in prehistoric eras, many legends of Christian saints are connected with them. The tower at Cashel, for instance, is supposed.to have been built by King Cormac McCarthy, who was also the archbishop of the diocese. However, the architecture of the tower antedates that of the church and chapel by many hundreds of years. The tower at Tulleherin is said to have been erected in one night by a missionary, so anxious was he to convert the natives.

These interesting relics are not only found in Ireland, but also in the Mediterranean countries and even as far off as India. There is one on the island of Malta that is the exact replica of the tower at Cashel. The natives seem to have been sun worshipers – a theory based on the amount of ashes found in the basements of these towers. Indeed, the names of many parts of Ireland suggest that the pagan Irish, like other people the world over, looked on fire as the emblem of the Sun God. You have heard of Mount Galtymore; the word “Galtymore” means the flame of the great circle. By the way, we had a race horse – The Maid of Oran – who was the half-sister of Galtymore, the famous race horse that won the Grand Prix in France. That makes me think of races and horse shows again.

Round Tower at Kilmacduagh

Compliments – Peter Craine :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

Kilmacduagh, an ancient fort with the usual round tower, has a cemetery and the ruins of a 7th Century abbey and church. It is here that my father’s people have their vault and here also is the tomb of my grand uncle De Blaquiere, who won renown at the Battle of Waterloo where he fought under the Duke of Wellington.

This interesting old place, only three miles from Gort, has, like many other ancient spots in Ireland, a weird legend attached to it. It seems that the old round tower would have been built up to the sky, had it not been for a red-headed girl who passed by without saying, “God bless this work.” The result of this mistake, was that every Monday a woman was found dead nearby. This so terrified the natives that they asked God to stop the curse, which I suppose He did, for after that a little sparrow was found dead there every Monday, instead.

The tower was completed, but it certainly does not reach up to Heaven by any means. As I said before, the La Hiff vault is here at Kilmacduagh, and here most of them rest in peace — I hope.

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Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – The Lakes of Killarney

After the excitement of the races, we would take a rest for a while in the soothing atmosphere of the Lakes of Killarney. Although many of us knew those beautiful stretches of water by heart, there was something about them that was continually inviting us to enjoy their charms once more. The little town of Killarney is only a little more than a mile from the Lower Lake, or Lough Leane as it is called. From there a trip around the lakes can be made in a day but that is no way to really enjoy all the lovely views that the lakes and mountains provide for appreciative visitors. However, when we were accompanied by friends whose time was limited, we would start off early in the morning, either in cars or on ponies.

Our first stop would be at the old ruins of Aghadoe (a portion of a round tower, an old castle, and all that is left of what was once a church). From here there is a lovely view of Lough Leane. But we do not spend much time here, as the exhilarating morning air makes us in no mood for rambling through such ancient abodes. This part of the lake is rather flat but still is not without beauty‘ but having seen it before, we would hurry on to the Gap of Dunloe. 0n the way we pass Dunloe Castle, the seat of the Mahoney family, and stop at Kate Kearney’s cottage for a glass of milk re-enforced with poteen. Here the Gap really begins, and the mountain scenery begins to be almost awe-inspiring. ”

The Gap is nearly four miles long, and the immense rocks which form its sides seem to give one a spooky feeling, especially as one rides through the deep shadows that are cast over everything. And the mountains, too, attain a height of nearly 3,000 feet, and are quite impressive after the undulating country we had left earlier. A little stream runs fussily through the glen, and every now and then expands itself into a small lake, as if to show us how important it is.

Kerry Climbing – Old RIC barracks,Gap of Dunloe

The police barracks, just half way through the glen, look quite inviting at the foot of the Purple Mountain, which at this point drops right down to the edge of one of the little lakes. I think this is the weirdest part of the valley. I am always glad when we are well on the way to Gap Cottage where we must leave our cars and walk or ride the ponies three miles more to the shore of the Upper Lake.

After arriving at Lord Brandon’s cottage near the lake, we would have our lunch which had been sent up the lake by boat. During luncheon I would admire the loveliness of the beautiful and varied tints of the trees that surround the shore and the brilliant green of the arbutus trees which bear such rich crimson fruit that warmth is given to the view even on-a winter’s day.

After lunch we strolled down to our boats and quickly embarked on our return trip to see the Lakes of Killarney by water — the most beautiful part of the excursion. The Upper Lake, though quite small, is generally considered the most beautiful of the three, owing to the nearby mountains and the numerous little islands that jut out of the water here and there. It is only two and one-half miles long, but all of it is so interesting. After passing Stag Island you enter the little river that connects Upper Lake with Muckross Lake, and then on to Eagle’s Nest. Where the eagles have gone, I do not know! As the Old Weir Bridge is reached, the current gets very swift, and the boatmen only need to guide the boats through one of the arches. We used to think that this was the most exciting part of the trip. But as we were now in the Middle Lake with Dinis Island close by, and the prospect of eats and tea at Lord Ardilaun’s cottage, the excitement was soon forgotten.

Mucross Abbey By Daviddphotos – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34993617

At the time of which I write, Lord Ardilaun owned the Lakes of Killarney and was a very popular and highly esteemed landlord. Although Middle Lake is also called Muckross Lake, Muckross Abbey is on the shores of Lough Leane, or Lower Lake. Since some of the party wanted to see Muckross Abbey, we hurried over the tea and got started on our trip again. Lough Leane, the largest of the three lakes, is strewn with pretty little islands, of which I think Innisfallen is the most delightful. The ruins of Innisfallen Abbey, built by St. Finian in the 7th Century, are just near the quay. After passing Lamb Island we would begin to think of our hotel and the good dinner waiting for us there. We also notice that the seats of our boat seem to have become much harder than they were when we embarked at the head of the lakes.

Before landing we would still have time to discuss a couple of incidents or fairy tales associated with the lakes. One of these is as follows: Once every seven years on a fine morning, before the rays of the sun have begun to disperse the mists over the lake, The O’Donoghue comes riding over it on a beautiful white horse with fairies hovering before him and strewing his path with flowers. As he approaches his ancient residence, everything turns to its former magnificence; all is reproduced as in olden times. Those who have the courage to follow him over the lake may cross even the deepest parts dry-footed – like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea – and ride with him into the opposite mountains, where his treasures lie concealed and the daring visitor will receive a gift in return for his company. But before the sun has risen, The O’Donoghue re-crosses the lake and vanishes amidst the ruins of his castle.

Is it any wonder that these beautiful lakes with all their folklore, fairy tales, lovely vistas and charming nooks, impress themselves indelibly on our memories to be enjoyed in after-years?

Speaking of Killarney, who has not heard of the Colleen Baun Rock, from which, so the story says, the jealous Danny Man threw the fair Lilly of Killarney to her doom in the waters below? Of course, we would all get the creeps when passing this spot of such evil repute, and conjure up in our minds the picture of a beautiful maiden floating just under the surface of the water, with her face turned up and tranquil in the sleep of death. The legend says that on moonlight nights her ghost can be seen with her hair gently waving all about her.

A party of us visited the spot late one evening in the hope of seeing this weird spectre. It was a beautiful moonlight night and the lake was like a sheet of glass, with not a ripple on it except that made by the dipping of the oars. The Rock was there all right, cold and bleak, but the only one who fancied he saw the ghost was my Uncle Arthur Blake who had taken a little more than his share of the “good old Irish.” He swore that he had just seen the fairy Lilly float by, her lovely face upturned, just beneath the surface of the water. Now, although this miserable event is supposed to have taken place in the Lakes of Killarney, it was near the little village of Glin that it really happened. The unfortunate girl, Eileen O’Connor, was thrown from a rock on the County Clare side of the River Shannon, just opposite the residence of the Knights of Glin. They have a piece of the rope with which her hands were tied together.

Feature Photo: A bird’s-eye view of the lakes of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland; the mountains in the background are identified across the top of the print as (from left to right): “Mangerton Mtn., Torc Mtn., Drooping Mtn., Cromaglan Mtn., Eagle’s Nest, Glena Mtn., Tomies Mtn., Gap of Dunloe, Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, [and] Geraun Tuel.” Many of the features shown are numbered with a corresponding key printed below.

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Horse Races

Everyone turned out in their best bib and tucker for the Galway races. Each year we would have our “four-in-hand” and numerous other conveyances to take our family, friends and visitors around. The military would entertain all their friends at the various race meetings. They would have a large marquee there and serve luncheons, a little too much champagne and, of course, tea and coffee would sober down some of them for the return drive home. The band of any regiment that happened to be stationed in the district, would provide the music during meal time. We would take part in backing our favourite horse, and money would be exchanged on bets. Even the old ladies would forget everything in their excitement. They even took off their bonnets and flung them in the air if their favourite won. Ringing in our ears would be “two to one bar one” or even money on the field, interspersed with the blowing of horns. We allowed some of the servants a good holiday on every other race day, and provided cars to take them there.

The Tuam races came next and those of us who did not have a horse would sometimes borrow one. My brother Tom used to borrow one from James Browne, a sweetheart of Aunt Tilly. I never heard of him winning anything worthwhile, however. Then we had two days’ racing at the lovely little town of Gort near where I was born. Our friends, the Martins, lived just outside the area in a place called Tullira Castle. The ivy-covered ruins are in the woods near the present mansion, which originally belonged to the Burkes. It seems that the third Earl of Clanricard married a daughter of the Burkes of Tullira, but the castle passed into the hands of the Martin family, presumably through marriage sometime during the 16th Century. Over the door in the courtyard is a stone shield bearing the Martin coat of arms, said to have been presented to Oliver Martin by Richard the First, King of England.

Tullira Castle compliments The Irish Times Thu Oct 3 2013

From Gort we would go to the races in Limerick, where I always enjoyed my stay. ’I was about fourteen years old when I first went there. I thought the old town very beautiful with its splendid residences, charming little cottages, and such a lovely river. A number of steamers still come up the Shannon and stop there. It used to be the capital city of the Kings of Thomond until they were conquered by the English. Thomond bridge, which occupies the site of a very ancient structure, connects English Town, as one part of Limerick is called, with County Clare. In the newer part of the town, called Newtown Pery, is the Shannon Rowing Club, which is certainly quite a credit to the city. I must not forget George Street and also Glentworth Street, with its charming old clock tower and the Glentworth Hotel where we resided during our stay there. It was there that we met friends from all parts of the counties Limerick and Clare.

Some of the buildings here are well worth seeing: the Catholic cathedral, for instance; King John’s Castle, erected by William de Burgh in the reign of King John; and St. Mary’s cathedral which occupies the site of the place of Donald More O’Brien. All around, within a few miles, are places of interest, among which I remember Dromoland Castle, the residence of Lord Limerick, and Glin Castle, for centuries the home of the Knights of Glin, called the Black Knights – FitzGerald was the family name. Many of the people around here were our close friends, who for years used to enjoy hunting, fishing and other sports with us. I could mention a list of names all noted for their prowess in the hunting field. The Galway Blazers, as the members of the County Galway Hunt Club were called, used to join in the chase all over Ireland and of course they always showed up in Limerick for the races.

My Sister Nora, Aunt Addie and The Rock of Cashel

Apropos of Dublin, my sister Nora amused us very much at home one evening when she told us about her calling on Aunt Addie, who was staying at the Gresham Hotel for a few days. Nora, who had just inherited a legacy by the death of her grandmother La Hiff, thought that she and her cousin, Lilly Lambert, would enjoy some of the city life by themselves, and then go to London for a few weeks.

Now, at the period of which I write, what Nora did was considered very improper: First, she had her beautiful brown hair cut off boy fashion; then, what was left of it was curled all over her head by some famous French hair-dresser, a man named Phrost. Then she used cosmetics to make her appearance look smarter; in fact, when she was through with all sorts of makeups, her friends could hardly recognize her. She knew that she had to call on several relations who were in the city, and then came the visit to Aunt Addie.

Aunt Addie, being one of the old school, was very much shocked at her niece’s appearance (which I suppose was not so awful) and her first consideration was to rescue my sister from the snares of wild city life. She induced her to leave town and stay with her in Tipperary where she had a beautiful home called Knockinglass. It was considered one of the finest residences in that part of the county, and was surrounded with trees and lovely rose gardens.

One of Aunt Addie’s greatest pleasures was distilling perfume from roses and verbena. She had a laboratory built and spent a lot of leisure time at this hobby and then gave presents of it to her relations and friends. Her eldest daughter by her first husband died and she was buried in the back garden. Over her grave was erected a beautiful summer-house where Aunt Addie would sit and read the family Bible during the mornings. She would see that this sacred spot was carefully attended to by the gardeners. Although her first husband left her very wealthy when he died, it was not long before she was married again to another rich man, by whom she had three sons. Here death stepped in again and took the eldest son and later her second husband, leaving Mrs. Langley richer than ever.

Except for being a little narrow-minded – when advertising for servants, she was careful to say “No Catholics need apply – she was a very kind mistress and treated all in her service with consideration. She was the same with the tenants. She always encouraged them to keep their cottages nice and helped them in every way. Also, she saw to it that anyone who was ill was well cared for. No matter how many calls she had to make, or visitors to entertain, she never neglected her pet charities, and would keep busy making all sorts of warm clothing for the poor. ‘

County Tipperary

To me, Tipperary is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland and the excellent hunting it afforded brought large crowds of sportsmen and women from all parts of the country. My people seemed to spend half their time coming and going from there. The county is blessed with a very fertile loamy soil, especially in the Golden Vale.

The charming Knockmealdown Mountains in the southwest, and the Galtees a little farther north with picturesque dairy farms nestling in the sheltered valleys, convey an appearance of contentment not found in many other parts of Ireland. No other place can boast of such deliciously flavoured butter. And what lovely corn, oats and barley fields! What crowds of crimson poppies to be seen through the corn fields, and how lovely they looked when a strong wind was blowing, the waving corn making such a contrast to the crimson poppies!

No matter where you go in Ireland, I am sure you have often wondered at the beautiful old ruins of cathedrals, castles and churches to be found in the most unexpected places. Ivy-clad ruins mellowed with age nestling among the trees, or ruins, stark and dreary, resting their towers on some barren hillock. What stories lay enshrouded in their forbidding walls! The Rock of Cashel, crowned with the ruins of a cathedral and chapel is no exception. And while Nora was staying with Aunt Addie at Knockinglass, they decided to pay it a visit. So, in case you have not heard the story of the sexton of Cashel, I will relate it here as best as I can. It seems that a fine-looking lad named Paddy O’Sullivan fell in love with a very sweet-mannered girl called Nora O’Moore, both of County Clare. Now, those two were really in love with each other, and their mothers‘ consent was instantly given. But the girl’s father, a drunken squire, would not hear of it because he had already made plans with a farmer named Murphy to marry his son to Nora.

The Rock of Cashel – Wikipedia

This would relieve the old rascal O’Moore of considerable debt and most-likely save him from prison. So, he and farmer Murphy decided to get the girl to think that her father would take her to Ennis and then she could be married to her sweetheart there. However, he had no such intentions. So, he turned off the road to Ennis and took the way to Tipperary. He intended to hustle her into a church there and get her married to the farmer’s son before anyone could stop them, but this dirty deed did not work out as he had expected. They had only gone a few miles when Nora saw that they were on the road to Tipperary. ‘”I know it,” said her father, “but I just want to call on a friend over here, and then I can turn into the Ennis Road again.”

So, they went on much further when Nora said, “Father we are not on the right road.” “Hold your tongue,” said he, “I am taking you to Tipperary to marry young Murphy.” Poor Nora said, “I do not love young Murphy,” and then she tried to spring out of the trap. Her father held on to her with a grip of steel, and in the confusion, he missed the cross-roads and discovered he was on the wrong road. But he would not stop for fear Nora might try to jump out and at last, on turning a corner, he found he was going into Cashel. He had gone too far to turn back and it was raining hard, so he stopped at a little inn to put up for the night.

Old O’Moore left Nora sitting by the fire while he went out to attend to the horse, but when he came back Nora was gone! The waiting maid saw her hurry out, so the old rascal rushed out after her. He saw her running beside the river as fast as her feet could carry her and, of course, he ran after her. No one knows what happened but they were both found drowned. Her father had her clutched with one hand around her neck and with the other, he was holding on to her clothes which were nearly torn off.

Well, they were both buried in the Cormac Chapel grounds on the Rock of Cashel. When Nora’s sweetheart heard about it, he never spoke again except to tell his mother that Nora had called him to come to Cashel to stay with her. So, he went to Cashel and spent the rest of his life in the graveyard among the tombs or in the church. As he kept himself in hiding all day and only came out at night, the folks of Cashel seldom saw him but they left something for him to eat every day. Because his Nora was buried there, he kept the churchyard lovely and tended to the flowers and grass. At night he would sit by his sweetheart‘s grave and talk to her for hours. He kept this up for sixty years when one morning someone found the poor old man’s body cold and stiff atop Nora’s grave. And now he and Nora rest together in the cemetery on the Rock of Cashel.

Aunt Addie and my sister Nora went to this place for a visit. There must have been a bond of sympathy between my aunt and the poor old sexton. She had lost her daughter and he, his sweetheart. However, Aunt Addie took her grief in great comfort while reading her Bible every day in a beautiful summer-house built over her daughter’s grave, whereas the poor old sexton sat beside his loved one’s grave every night to keep her company, fair weather or foul. What a contrast!

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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 – https://app.tt.se/ – 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.

Galway and Its Environs

Galway town was founded by a community of merchants in the 13th and 14th Centuries. Known as the “Fourteen Tribes,” they included the Blakes, Lynches, Bodkins, Brownes, Skerrets, Kirwans Frenches, Martins and others. They did a flourishing trade with Spain and France, and in time became very wealthy and powerful, and dominated the whole of the west country. The Spanish Parade is a fitting reminder of that period. Indeed, the Spanish trait is to be seen to this day in the beautiful Irish girls of that district; the old families had intermarried with the Spanish, leaving us with girls having lovely black wavy hair and dark blue eyes. Celebrated artists frequented that area to paint pictures of these girls, who wore on their shoulders just a little shawl, leaving their hair waving in the breeze.

Within a short distance from the Spanish Parade is a quaint little village near the sea, called the “Claddagh.” Here dwelt the fishermen and their families in little mud cabins that, at a distance, looked like a large bed of mushrooms. When any of their daughters got married, the bride received as a dowery a fishing boat or a share in one, depending on the means of her parents.

The marriage ring passes from mother to daughter and the design on it represents a heart supported by two hands. Of course, like other people, they have their unlucky days when no one would ever think of going fishing; it would be tempting fate. All the boats are blessed by the priest before they start out at the beginning of the fishing season. It is quite a pretty and interesting sight to see the fishermen come back from the sea. The women go down to the boats and take some of the fish and put them in large flat, round baskets, called “skibs,” which they place on their heads. Then they carry the fish uptown to be sold to their customers. The rest are sold by auction to the large fish dealers from the big cities in England and eastern Ireland.

Galway has one of the most magnificent bays in Ireland. On the south side are the majestic Cliffs of Moher, while to the north are the hills of Connemara. At the entrance are the Aran Islands, to which you can take a very enjoyable trip on a little steamer that leaves Galway three times a week.

The Aran Islands are owned by the O’Flahertys, a very fine old Irish family, and contain many interesting ruins of bygone strongholds. The steamer takes you to the largest island, Inishmore, where it stops at the little village called Kilronan. You can make your headquarters at O’Flaherty’s Hotel, from which several trips can be made to different parts of the island, which is only nine miles long. One of the things that struck me most was the short skirts something like Scotch kilties worn by the little boys. It seems that wicked fairies will not molest little girls dressed in skirts, so the boys wear them also until they are able to take care of themselves. Several of the churches that once graced the countryside are now in ruins. St. Enda’s Chapel is still standing, but his church and tomb are no longer there, thanks to the dirty work of the Cromwellian soldiers. Standing at a height of nearly 300 feet above the sea is Dun Aengus, one of the finest prehistoric forts in western Europe. I always enjoyed visiting these old spots, as it made quite a change from social life and seemed restful to think of the past.

Owing to the heavy seas that crash on the rocky shores, I did not visit the other two islands. I understand that living on them is even harder than on Inishmore where I stayed. There is not a tree or bush to be found on any of the islands except for a solitary bush trying to exist outside the hotel. The little fields, surrounded by stone walls, support quite a number of cattle and sheep, which are sold in Galway during the annual fair. The natives, however, are the most cheerful people I have ever met.

In the first place, there is no fuel to be found anywhere on the island and all the turf which is used instead of coal is quite expensive, as it has to be brought from the mainland ten miles away and can only be had from the Connemara men who sell it by auction at a price beyond which the very poor people can afford. Practically all of them make their own clothes from wool shorn from their sheep, and do their spinning, too. Their shoes, or pampooties as they call them, are also home made from strips of hide soaked in sea water.

The family cow is a general provider. She supplies not only milk and butter, but fuel as well. This has to be collected and dried before it can be used, and the odour from it while burning cannot compare with Attar of Roses. The men also build small boats called “curraghs, made of wickerwork and covered with skins of cattle that have been slaughtered. The curragh men, as the boatmen are called, are past masters at rowing through the surf, no matter how stormy it may be. In them, they bring the fuel from the turf boats to the shore where it is carried on donkeys up the steep paths to the road above. That’s what I call Spartan living! –

Now, I think it is about time to write a little more about Galway which would have been a wonderful seaport if the shipping had been encouraged, but nothing was done by the government to promote it. In the centre of town is an old building called a castle although it certainly does not look like one, it goes by the name of Lynch’s Castle because it was occupied by a former mayor of that name who lived many years ago. Lynch was a very just man and a good mayor. He was blessed with one son who was in love with a beautiful Spanish girl from the Claddagh. Unfortunately, he found out that the young lady was flirting with a handsome young Spaniard on the sly. So, he challenged the young man to a duel in which the Spaniard lost his life. When his father heard what had happened, he insisted that his son be brought to trial. But everybody was very fond of this young man, and would not agree with the mayor who said he should be hanged. However, the mayor insisted on justice being done and, single-handed, he hanged his son by a rope from a bedroom window facing the front street. The townspeople, of course, were horrified at the spectacle, and the mayor who loved his son dearly, took to his bed and died shortly after of a broken heart. Ever since that time the house has been called Lynch’s Castle. The place was a soap factory, the last time I saw it.

The Bay of Galway is considered by many foreign visitors to be far more attractive than the Bay of Naples. The reason for this, I believe, is the wonderful sunsets to be seen here at certain times of the year, particularly after storms. The native costumes of crimson skirts and dark blue frieze wrappers and cloaks worn by the women also impart a tone of cheerfulness that is not easily forgotten.

There are many beautiful homes around Galway, especially in the Taylor’s Hill district and Salt Hill by the Sea, where Toft’s hobby-horses and shooting galleries entertain the “rustics,” who come with their families to bask in the sun at the seaside. They enjoy the excitement and fun on the merry-go-rounds. My friends and I used to get a great kick out of riding the horses

The old family homes of the Lynches, Joyces, Waitmans and Blakes were located on the other side of the town. They had their estates side by side, and were all friends of each other. And, of course, if anything special was going on in the town, they were all there, and so were we. During the summer months we would arrange picnic parties and visit many places of interest in the neighbourhood, including Cong and Menlo Castle, located about a mile and a half from Galway.

The ruins of Menlo Castle, once the home of Sir Valentine Blake, are situated on the banks of the beautiful River Corrib. Being covered with ivy and facing the river, this quaint old place has a very picturesque appearance. It seems that all the Blake family, with the exception of the eldest daughter, were away in London when one night Nellie Blake, who had the habit of reading in bed, must have fallen asleep with the candle burning. The bedclothes must somehow have become ignited, and she was burned to death. Bill, the coachman who happened to be in the yard at the time, saw smoke coming from the windows and routed out the maids, but it was too late for anything to be done for Nellie. Indeed, one the girls who could not get out in time, went up to the tower and jumped off into the yard below and broke her back. The castle was never rebuilt and, when seen from a boat on the river, the ruins made quite a striking picture.

The first few days in May were kept as a holiday and everyone who could get a boat used to go up the river as far as the castle grounds, stroll through the woods, and picnic there amid the wild flowers which were always lovely at that time of the year.

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A Near Tragedy

Writing about the seaside reminds me of an accident that I was mixed up in. One summer my Uncle Tom Lambert and his family came to see us just for the day. One of his daughters, Annie, was a great chum of mine. She was just my age, 15, and we liked each other so much that I was delighted to have her company. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I thought it would be quite a treat for her to go out boating with me. We strolled down the lawn and through the backwoods, and there tied to the quay, was the very boat I wanted and a glorious high tide, too. I jumped into the boat, pulled up the anchor and got out the oars when Annie made a jump off the quay and, to my horror, missed the boat and plunged into the water. I tried to grab her, but she was sucked under the stern. The water was so clear I could see her being held down by her heavy blue serge dress and also the top of her lovely garden hat which, being tied under her chin Dolly Varden fashion, did not float away. I could see she was coming up again, but I could not reach her. However, on looking around, I saw a man in the distance walking along the shore. I yelled with all my might and, to my surprise, he ran towards me. He understood what had happened, and before I could realize it, he had his coat off and was swimming out to the rescue.

Annie was unconscious when he brought her ashore, and I was afraid she was dead. So, while the young man was doing what he could to restore animation, I ran up to the house, but I was so excited I could hardly explain what had happened. However, several people followed me to the beach with restoratives and, after quite a long while, Annie’s eyes opened and she gave a gasp as a sign of returning consciousness.

As usual, being a tomboy, I got the blame for it before I even had a chance to explain how it all happened. My cheeks began to burn with all the choice remarks I heard: “She’s the beginning and end of everything crazy.” “She’s up to everything with her wild ways.” “She should have been a boy, but what a terrible worry he would have been! But Grandma made me laugh, particularly when she remarked that I had a bee in my bonnet. My brothers, however, always stood up for me and helped me as best they could to smooth things over.

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