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A History of Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan

Built as a rectory for the Church of Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars, Bishopscourt was considered such a fine abode that two Bishops of Clogher opted to use it as their main place of residence during the first decades of the 20th century. This tale takes in the Lennard family, scions of a natural daughter of Charles II, as well as the Clones motte; Cassandra Hand, champion of Clones Lace; the dairying enterprise of the Mealiff family; the fabulously named Baldwin Murphy; and the enigmatic Archie Moore, Consultant Surgeon at Monaghan General Hospital.




Bishopscourt is located in the townland of Altartate Glebe, near Clones, County Monaghan, just 3km east of the border with County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland In the 1851 census, the  townland of Altartate Glebe comprised 228.2.26 acres. At its heart stands Bishopscourt, a magnificent pile which my late father-in-law, Archie Moore, purchased in the early 1980s. The house was in a ruinous condition at the time; the ‘Clones Cyclone’ Barry McGuigan confessed to my wife Ally (née Moore), who grew up there, that he frequently played amid the abandoned ruins as a child.

The building dates to the early 19th century, probably circa 1810-1820, and was built for the Roper family, descendants of Charles II, who were Rectors of Clones until  1847 and who were intermarried with the Lennard family of the Earl of Sussex, for whom the Lennard Arms in Clones is named. It then became home to the Rev. Thomas Hand whose wife Cassandra pioneered the Clones Lace movement, followed by Rev. George Finlay, who lived there for nearly forty years.

The house has strong claims to be the biggest rectory in Ireland. [1] Indeed, it caught the eye of Dr Charles Frederick d’Arcy, Bishop of Clogher. In 1905, he and his wife Harriet moved into the house and renamed it ‘Bishopscourt’. Dr D’Arcy would go on to become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Meanwhile, Bishopscourt became home to a second Bishop of Clogher, Maurice Day, who came from Valentia Island in County Kerry and who lived in the house from 1908 until his death in 1923.

The house then passed to the Mealiff family (who leased the top flat to Baldwin and Judith Murphy from about 1928 to 1932) and went through several owners before Archie and Miriam Moore moved in with their four daughters and eighty seven pets and made it, very much, their own family home. We’d love to hear any further information or tales about this marvellous home, where Ally and I celebrated our wedding in 2006.

The Altartate Cauldron in the Prehistoric Ireland exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. The find suggests the continuation of certain Later Bronze Age traditions into the Early Iron Age although its form differs from that of Later Bronze Age cauldrons. See also image on this page of William Mealiff. (With thanks to Matthew Gallagher).

Iron Age Origins


In 1933 the National Museum of Ireland acquired the fragments of an ornamented Iron Age wooden cauldron. Laurence Clarke made the discovery while cutting turf in the bog beside Bishopscourt. Buried deep in the bog, the cauldron was in poor condition when found but was carefully restored. It was made from a single piece of poplar with two ribbed lugs, one still containing a D-shaped handle of yew wood.

A band of ornament below the rim, closely comparable to that found on certain Early Iron Age spears, suggests that the wooden cauldron may have been carved during the 2nd century BC, but there are indications that it could be as old as the 4th century BC. The cauldron is now on display in the National Museum in Dublin, while there is a fibre-glass reproduction on view in Monaghan County Museum. [2]

Who knows how long people have been in the Clones neighbourhood? The Black Pig’s Dyke is certainly an Iron Age phenomenon, but the story almost certainly goes back much further than that. On 21 December 2019, local historian George Knight (a former Newgrange guide, and a pal of mine) was coming out of his daughter’s cafe on Fermanagh Street in Clones at 8:45am when the sun unexpectedly belted him in the face … at which moment he realised for the first time in his life that Fermanagh Street is aligned with the Winter Solstice and wondered whether there might even have been a passage grave there once. George wrote a poem about it that was promptly published in the Northern Standard.

The ringfort near Bishopscourt is said to have been built for the McMahons.

Not far from the house is a steep-sided drumlin capped with a fabulous ringfort, said to have been a base of the MacMahons. One wonders when this was last occupied, who lived, loved and died within that grassy embankment. It overlooks the reed-filled ‘Bishop’s Lake’ where swan continue to glide and a network of waterways connected to the Ulster Canal. A second ringfort is located up behind The Lodge on Annalore Road, the house just east of Largy College and west of the houses now occupied by Gerry Kelly and Pauric Geoghegan the butcher.




21 DECEMBER 2019



The Diamond in Clones, by H. Allison and Sons, 1910. The brilliant high cross that stands on the Diamond in Clones (about where this picture is taken from) used to be located behind the blue building [name?] below the Diamond but had been relocated to its present position by 1741. During the transition, the Celtic top of the cross seems to have gone missing. They also put it together back to front as the New Testament should be facing the other way. Its’ positioning in the Diamond was arguably to make those manning the stalls on market day behave better, being placed underneath a holy cross with the spirit of the Lord surveying all.

The crowds at Newgrange gathered in the misty morning light,
They swayed and called and chanted but all to no effect.
No shaft of sunlight parted the hard midwinter gloom.
Expectant group within the tomb looked out with no avail.
The spirit path stayed grim and grey, no sign of light was seen this day.

In Clones town far to the north I headed up Fermanagh Street
And as I broached the hilltop’s crest the sun shone out in all its grandeur.
My eyes were blind in golden glow.
Town Hall and Credit Union Building became the roof-box of the tomb.
Stunned in my very steps I stopped.
Did this mean in ancient times a passage tomb had once stood here?
When men were made to take it down, had they laid out the cabins of their town
To line a long lost passage where the dead looked for eternity.

In my youth at Solstice Time this street was thronged with people.
From all around the countryside they gathered in the town.
The twenty pubs were crowded with merriment and fun.
The cheery greetings echoed and were repeated one by one.
Almost all are spirits now their laughter does not linger.

Our little town has changed so much and now we change it more.
The tiny shops are gone forever.
New buildings take their place.
The country men and women are a different dying race.
Still the sun lights up the street for these few midwinter days
To remind us of a different time as the old Ireland fades away.


A postcard of ‘The Old Fort’ in Clones, published by William Joseph Warren, Bookseller, Fermanagh Street, in about 1910. As the brilliant Séan Slowey observes: “It shows the western approach to the fort, or Motte part of the Norman Motte & Bailey. Some unofficial excavations appear to have been dug at the summit of the fort in recent years and are now partially overgrown and pose a danger to any unwary visitor to the site.” During a sort of gold rush in the early summer of  1959, an ornamental dagger (modern) and bronze gold-plated wedding ring (probably 19th century) were found on the site, along with other coins, silver buttons and ancient objects such as what the Northern Standard (15 May 1959) described as ‘a miniature ornamented figure of a female, about one inch in height and made from a white chalk material.’ One wonders how much was lost or otherwise vanished during these impromptu occasions. An old sword and a dagger were found on the west side of the fort in the 1920s. The Northern Standard added these details about the three-tier fort: “This ancient mound overlooking the town, bears many legends and stories of the past. It dates back to Pre-Christian times and is said to be one of the old Celtic forts. In the 12th century it was again used as a fort by John De Gray who had similar forts at Beleek and Warrenpoint. These were to be used for the completion of the Norman Invasion of Ulster. However in the year 1212 the Clones fort was attacked by the Irish and after twelve months of bitter fighting, was over-run by the Irish. The Beleek and Warrenpoint forts also fell to the Irish. The attack on the Clones fort came from the western approach (side nearest Newtownbutler), hence the belief now that any historical finds will be made on that side.”


What’s in a name? Altartate Glebe was known as Kilhailteragh in 1655.


By his mistress Barbara Castlemaine, Charles II was ancestor of the Rectors of Clones. Their daughter Lady Anne Lennard was grandmother to the Rev. Richard Roper who became Rector in 1754. His son
Henry is believed to have built the present house of Bishopscourt.

The Lennard Family, Barons Dacre and Earls of Sussex


The history of Bishopscourt is intrinsically linked to the history of the Lennard family, not least because the Very Rev. Henry Roper who most likely built the house circa 1810 was a grandson of the Lennard heiress, Lady Anne Lennard, Baroness Dacre (who was herself a granddaughter of King Charles II). Although the Dacre story and the Lennard story roll back through the centuries, it might make sense to begin this tale with Lady Anne’s gambling-addicted, cricket-loving father, Thomas, 15th Lord Dacre. He had come to Court as a young man and was Lord of the Bed-Chamber to Charles II who, in 1674, elevated him in the peerage as the Earl of Sussex. The Earl had secured a £20,000 fortune when he married the King’s ‘natural’ daughter, Lady Anne Palmer (alias FitzRoy), a daughter of Barbara, Countess of Castlemain (and Duchess of Cleveland in her own right).

However, as with many of his class and generation, the Earl of Sussex ‘fell into the expensive way of living’ and ‘through this unlucky setting out, and by great losses at play, to which he was for the great part of his life addicted’, blew the family fortune. Careless and ill-tempered he also ‘neglected to take a proper care of his affairs’. As such, the Earl became ‘so much entangled that he was obliged to sell several of his estates, including the family seat at Herstmonceaux, East Sussex. By the 1680s, all that remained of his fortune was Chevening in Kent, along with his other Kentish estates and some manors in Cumberland and Westmoreland. He lived his latter years quietly at Chevening and was among the aristocrats to sign the invitation bidding William of Orange to take up the British throne. The Earl died in 1715 and his Countess in 1721. Their two sons died in infancy and that left them with two daughters, Lady Barbara and Lady Anne.

Lord Sussex’s sister Elizabeth married the 3rd Earl of Meath on whose watch the French-style gardens at Kilruddery were laid out.

While in France, Lady Barbara became acquainted with her future husband Charles Skelton, a lieutenant general in the French service. As the Skeltons had supported James II, the Earl of Sussex was slow to give his consent to the marriage.

The Earl’ second daughter, the thrice married Lady Anne Lennard (1684-1755) provides us with a direct link to Bishopscourt. Born on 17 August 1684, her first husband Richard Barrett Lennard was her cousin. His grandfather, Richard Lennard, a son of Lord Dacre, was a well-travelled intellect, patron of the arts and intimate friend of the Great Duke of Ormonde (who would stay with him at Belhouse, Essex, for a week every summer). In 1644, this young man succeeded to the wealth and estates of Sir Edward Barrett, Lord Newburgh, sometime Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Richard’s wife Anne was the daughter and heir of Sir Robert Loftus, eldest son of Adam, Viscount Loftus of Ely, Lord Chancellor of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth. Rather more relevantly, her mother was the eldest daughter and co-heir of the military commander Sir Francis Rushe, an Irish Privy Councillor with substantial lands in Co Monaghan. When Richard Lennard married Anne Loftus, the Lennards thus acquired a considerable estate at Clones, Co Monaghan. That said, George Knight also suggests that the Lennards had a kinship with Sir Henry Duke, a Tudor knight, who made the initial discovery of the monastic settlement at Clones and who received the first Elizabethan land grant on the property as a reward for his efforts. When in Ireland, the Barrett Lennards are assumed to have occupied the castle to the north of the Diamond, which was “discovered” with such a merry fanfare in 2017

Richard Lennard died at Belhouse in 1696 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Dacre Barrett Lennard, Sheriff of Essex in 1706. He was married three times. [3] Like his father, he was a man of learning, being particularly interested in astrology and physics. He suffered a shock in his early life when his only brother Richard, a bachelor, was killed by a fall from his horse in the park at Belhouse. Dacre was an ‘active and avowed advocate’ of Protestantism ‘in the most difficult times’. He died at Belhouse in 1723.


A View of Clones from 1741, when Richard Henry Roper, was eighteen years old. George Knight’s house dates to 1725. In 2019 I discovered that my McClintock ancestors had acquired some or part of the lands of Clontaverin, Clonmackan and Galloon (plus others perhaps) in the parishes of Clones and Drummully in 1743, which lends an extra spring to my stride when I journey through these parts. For more see here.

Richard Barrett Lennard


Dacre’s eldest son Richard Barrett Lennard (born from his first wife, Lady Jane, eldest daughter of the 2nd Earl of Donegal), predeceased him. Richard was the husband of the aforementioned Lady Anne Lennard, Baroness Dacre, and had lived at Chevening for the short 8-month tenure of their marriage. As it happens, he managed to produce a posthumous heir in the form of Thomas, 17th Lord Dacre. When Richard died, his widow and her sister, Lady Barbara Skelton, sold Chevening, the old seat of the Lennards, to Earl Stanhope, and Dacre Castle, with the lands in Cumberland, to Sir Christopher Musgrave. The sale was controversial at the time as Richard was engaged in negotiations to keep the estate in the Lennard family at the time of his premature death. It appears he was in bad books with his father over ‘some unlucky misunderstandings’ that took place before the marriage. [4]  It should be noted that the Barret Lennards were absentee, apart from a few years in the early 1690’s.[5]


The Roper Marriage


In 1718, the widowed Lady Anne Lennard married Henry Roper, 8th Lord Teynham (1676 – 16 May 1723), being his third wife. Their sons included Captain Charles Roper (father of the 18th Lord Dacre) and the Rev Richard Henry Roper, Rector of Clones [see below]. [6]  After Lord Teynham’s death in 1723, Lady Anne married thirdly the Hon. Robert Moore of West Lodge upon Enfield Chase, a younger son of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, by whom she had one son, Henry. [7]  When her sister Lady Barbara died in 1741, Lady Anne sister became sole heir to the Dacre fortune, and as such became Baroness Dacre.

Lady Anne died on 26 June 1755 and was succeeded by her eldest son Thomas Barrett-Lennard, 17th Lord Dacre, (d.1786), whose wife Anna Maria was a daughter of Sir John Pratt, Lord Chief Justice of England. When Lord Dacre was presented at court soon after his succession, it propelled his Roper half-brothers forward also. Richard Roper duly became Rector of Clones.

When Lord Dacre died, he was succeeded as 18th Lord Dacre by his half-nephew, Charles Trevor Roper. However, the living in Clones remained the gift of the 17th Lord’s illegitimate son Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard, 1st Bart (1761-1857) and it was he who would bring Thomas and Cassandra Hand to Bishopscourt in 1847. As Anthony Malcomson put it in a email of 1 March 2018, ‘This practice of blatantly selling livings was an English way of doing things. Basically, it was advertising simony.’


The 1798 Rising took place during the Roper era.  Typifying the complexity of the period, the Crown forces included an Irish-speaking Monaghan militia.

Rev. Hon. Richard Henry Roper, Rector of Clones.


At Christmas 2017 we had a competition to guess the age of a beloved and venerable beech on the Bishopscourt avenue known as the Dwarf Tree. Its girth was measured and its age was adjudged on the basis that every inch meant a year. Faenia won the contest: the tree came in at just shy of 234 inches, suggesting it was planted in 1783, just as Grattan’s Parliament was taking shape. At the time the beech was planted, Bishopscourt – or Altartate Glebe, as it was then – belonged to the Roper family, descendants of Charles II through Lady Anne Lennard.

The Ropers seem to have been based at Bishopscourt for at least two generations. The first of these was the Rev. Hon. Richard Henry Roper, Rector of Clones. He was born in November 1723, the fifth and youngest son of Henry Roper, 8th Baron Teynham by his marriage to Lady Anne Lennard. He married firstly, on 20 May 1755, the Hon. Mary Chetwynd, a daughter of William Richard Chetwynd, 3rd Viscount Chetwynd of Bearhaven, by his wife, Honora Baker. The following year, the death of his mother elevated his half-brother Thomas in the peerage as Baron Dacre.

On 12 October 1754, the Archdeacon of Clogher was relieved of his duties as Rector of Clones and Richard Roper was appointed the new Rector in his place, and he continued ‘as rector of that opulent and extensive parish for upwards of sixty years.’ [8] Clones was at the heart of the large Lennard-Rush estate in Monaghan. [9] It is notable that in the letters below, dated circa 1854, Cassandra Hand refers to ‘the sewed muslin work, which my and your friend Lady Lennard introduced some years ago’.

Richard and Mary apparently had children but it is unclear what happened as Debrett’s claims she died in January 1780, which indicates a divorce along the way, but a premature death seems more likely. At any rate, in October 1759, Mrs Delaney recorded a visit by Richard in her diary, saying he had married secondly, another Mary, a daughter of Captain Thomas Tennison, just two months earlier. [10] Mary died on 16 February 1795. [11]

Clones appears as ‘Clownish’ on Robert Wilkinson’s map of Ireland from 1794.

In 1810, Nicholas Carlisle observed that Clones had ‘two Churches in good condition’ as well as a Glebe House ‘in indifferent order’, with ‘about 700 acres of Glebe near the church’. It also noted how ‘the Hon and Rev Richard Henry Roper, the Incumbent (in 1806) who has cure of souls, and is resident, but being infirm, the duties are discharged by two Curates.’ [12]

When the Hon. and Rev. Richard Roper died in Clones ‘at the advanced age of 87’ on 15 October 1810, The Gentleman’s Magazine noted that the clergyman was the brother of the late Lord Dacre. Saunder’s Newsletter observed that he had been in Clones for 56 years. It is said that Bishopscourt was built, or possibly rebuilt, in about 1810 which would tie in with his passing.


‘An empty coach with four horses and two postilions, leaves Dublin on Monday next the 18th inst. at farthest, for Knockballymore; will pass through Kells, Cootehill and Clones. Any passengers wanting to go to any of those places may be reasonably accommodated, by applying to James Reilly, No. 32, Aungier-street.’ Saunder’s News-Letter, 15 November 1793

The Roper Children


By his marriage to Mary Tenison, the Rev. Richard Roper had three sons and at least two daughters. The eldest son, the Very Rev. Henry Roper, succeeded to Bishopscourt and was also Rector of Clones and later Dean of Clonmacnois.

The second son, Cadwallader Blayney Roper was born on 8th February 1765 and married twice, firstly in 1796 to Elizabeth Anne Reveley (d. June 1816), daughter of Henry Reveley, by whom he is forbear of the Trevor-Roper family. He was married secondly on 24 September 1817 to Eliza Agnes Gayton, daughter of Rev. Clerk Gayton, and died six years later on 20 October 1823 at age 58.

The third son, William Roper (1768-16 July 1832) was a barrister and married Elizabeth Fish of Castle Fish, County Kildare. William lived in Rathfarnham and was father to three daughters and two sons, including Sir Henry Roper (1800-1863). [13]

The Rev. Richard and Mary Roper’s eldest daughter, who may have called Jenny, who died ‘at Cara, County Fermanagh’ in 1783, which was around the time the Little People’s Beech at Bishopscourt was planted.[14] Another daughter Caroline Roper (1787-1867) was married in the spring of 1803 to the Rev. Richard Walwyn, Vicar of Holme Doll of Towers, Herts, second son of James Walwyn, MP, of Longworth, Hereford. [15] She died at her home in Bath in her 95th year on 11 February 1867.[16] Burke’s names a third Ropers’ daughter as Anna Maria Roper (1773-1810).


Known as ‘Dean Roper’, the Very. Rev Henry Roper succeeded his father as
Rector of Clones in 1812. He may have built Bishopscourt; he certainly did a good deal to enlarge the house. Born in 1761, he was 85  when he died in the pivotal year of 1847. He was succeeded as rector by Thomas Hand whose wife Cassandra established Clones Lace. (Thanks to George Knight and Raymond Stronge.)

Dean Roper (1761-1847)


The Very Rev. Henry Roper, DD, Rector of Clones and Dean of Clonmacnois, was born on 19 March 1761. He was married in Charlton, Kent, on 19 December 1796, to Mary Chamberlayne, eldest daughter of the Rev. T. Chamberlayne of Charlton, Rector of Charlton. [17]  She would remain his wife until her death 47 years later. They had four sons and a daughter.

Upon the Rev. Richard Roper’s death in November 1810, he was succeeded as Rector of Clones by the astronomer John Brinkley, DD, Archdeacon of Clogher since October 1808. Dr Brinkley was an Englishman educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and became a Prebendary of Elphin in 1806. However, the Rev Henry Roper successfully contested Dr Brinkley’s appointment and was himself made Rector of Clones by the Primate in 1812. [18]  Dr Brinkley went on to become Bishop of Cloyne, as well as President of the Royal Irish Academy (1822–35) and President of the Royal Astronomical Society (1831–33).

Henry had also been Dean of Clonmacnois  since 6 December 6 1811, when he succeeded Thomas Vesey Dawson, an uncle of Richard Thomas, Baron Cremone, who had been the Dean since 1806. The house at Bishopscourt was apparently dated to 1804 although, writing in 1837, Lewis states that ‘the glebe house [in Clones] of the Very Rev. H. Roper, Rector of the parish and Dean of Clonmacnois‘ was ‘rebuilt in 18l6‘.

It makes sense that, with at least five children, the new Rector of Clones wanted to increase the size of his fathers’ house. Lewis adds that the Board of First Fruits granted Roper ‘a gift of £100 and a loan of £1500 … towards defraying the expense‘. In 1837, ‘the glebe comprises 700 acres‘.

Gossip was at highest volume in 1822 when Percy JocelynBishop of Clogher, was caught with is trousers down with a Grenadier Guarsdman, having already been involved in a sex scandal nine years earlier. That same years, Dean Roper commissioned a new church in Clones. Presumably some of those involved in its construction had previously worked on Bishopscourt. A notice regarding the new church appeared in Saunders’s News-Letter of 11 April 1822:

John Mortimer Brinkley (c. 1763-1835), Rector of Clones from 1810-1812 went on to be Bishop of Cloyne.

“TO BUILDERS. THE Committee appointed for the erection of a New Church at Clones, in the County of Monaghan, are ready to receive Proposals from competent Builders, for the execution of the same, according to Plans and Specifications which may seen at the House of John Bradshaw, Esq. in Clones, or at the Office of William Farrell, Esq, No. 12, Kildare-street. Each Proposal to be sealed and directed to the Very Rev. Dean Roper, Rector of Clones, post paid, on or before the 1st day of May.
Security will be required for the due execution of the Contract.
April 10, 1822.”

The dean was no fool. On 13 December 1826, the Dublin Morning Register published an article under the heading ‘WORKINGS THE FACTION IN CLONES’ that ran as follows:

‘An Anti-Catholic Petition has been got up in Clones, the instrumentality of a Mr. MacVitty, a half-pay officer, and a Mr, Thetford, ditto, ditto, Ex- Secretary to the County of Monaghan Orange Lodge. It has been signed, it is said, by many from the County Fermanagh, which borders that town, although it purports to be for Monaghan only! The names of children on the breast, and others who could not sign themselves, have been affixed, in order to swell the list and to impose on the Legislature. It is but justice to add, that the Very Rev. Dean Roper, the Rector of Clones, Mr. Ellis, Sir Thomas Leonard’s highly respectable Agent, and several other respectable Protestants, refused their signatures.’

In 1820, Percy Jocelyn, third son of the 1st Earl of Roden, became Bishop of Clogher, despite his involvement in a sex scandal nine years earlier. In 1822, the bishop was caught with is trousers down in the back room of a London pub with a Grenadier Guarsdman, for which he was defrocked. In the 1920s, Archbishop D’Arcy (who lived at Bishopscourt) ordered that the papers relating to the Bishop’s subsequent trial be burnt. His order was not complied with and the files were finally released in the 1990s to enable Matthew Parris to research his book ‘The Great Unfrocked: 2000 Years of Church Scandal’ (London: Robson Books, 1998).

On 14 January 1836, the Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet published this notice by Dean Roper:

Clones Rectory, Jan. 7, 1836.
I thankfully acknowledge the receipt of eight pounds for the poor of the Fermanagh part of the Parish of Clones, being the share that falls to them of the two hundred pounds given by the Right Hon. Lord Cole and Mervyn Archdall, Esq. at the last election in lieu of the usual dinner.
Rector, Clones.

Mary Roper died at Clones Rectory [aka Bishopscourt] aged 68 on 25 October 1843. [19] The Dean survived her by three years, passing away on 18 April 1847, at the age of 85. [20]

Dean Roper’s firstborn son William Lennard Roper did not long survive him, passing away on 13 August 1849. The second son was John Henry Roper (8 Nov 1803 – 15 July 1890). The third son was Major Henry Welladvice Roper (25 October 1806 – Oct 1833). The fourth son was Blayney Tenison Roper (10 Feb 1811 – 30 March 1886). The daughter, Caroline Roper, died on 23 May 1864.




The death of the 85-year-old Dean Roper on 18 April 1847 created two vacancies for the Church of Ireland as he was not only Dean of Clonmacnois but also Rector of Clones. His place at Clonmacnois would be filled in December 1847 by the Rev. Richard Butler, BA, Vicar of Trim, who was a great-uncle of my grandfather, Gilbert Butler.[21]

The living of Clones was worth about £1000 a year in 1857 and still belonged to Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard, 1st Bart, illegitimate son of the 17th Lord Dacre and Elizabeth FitzThomas. Sir Thomas would live for another ten years, being the oldest baronet in Britain at the time of his passing on 25 June 1857. He had seven sons and four daughters by his first wife, and another son by his second wife. He was succeeded as 2nd baronet by his grandson Thomas, as his oldest son, also Thomas, had predeceased him. Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard, 2nd Bart (1826-1919) was married to Emma Wood, whose older sister Katherine (known, much to her distaste, as Kitty O’Shea) married the Irish nationalist politician Charles Stewart Parnell. Sir Thomas and Lady Emma seem to have lived between Brighton, Belhus and London.

The Rev. Thomas Hand. (Courtesy of Pat Tubb)

Sir Thomas, a kinsman of the Ropers, owned a large estate at Bulphan in the Orsett ward of Essex. Since 1830, the Rector of Bulphan had been the Rev. Thomas Hand. Educated at Eton, he had married Cassandra More-Molyneux; her surname may indicate a link to the Maddens of Roslea who were closely related to the Molyneaux [sic] family in the 17th and early 18th century. While In Essex, the Hands had at least seven children, five boys, Thomas (1834-1857), John Sidney (b. 1833), George Molyneux (1838-1859), Henry (d. 1889) and William, and two daughters, Mary Adelaide (b. 1841) and Cassandra Caroline (b. 1843). Further children would follow, including at least one born at Bishopscourt. (See below)

In August 1847, Sir Thomas bestowed the Clones living on the Rev Hand, who was duly instituted as Rector of Clones on 15 September 1847. [22] As the Northern Standard remarked, ‘The Rev. Mr. Hand, an English gentleman, has been appointed to the living of Clones, worth about £1,100 a year, by Sir Thomas Barrett Lennard.’ [23] That same month, the Clones Poor Law Union advertised for a medical officer, offering a salary of £40 per annum, while the government also amended the Poor Law with a view to winding down the soup kitchens. The idea was to boost harvest employment through a law that meant relief could only be obtained from the workhouse.

A long article in the Chelmsford Chronicle of 15 October 1847 reveals how Sir Thomas Lennard attended a banquet given ten days earlier in Bulphan , held to honour the Rev. Thomas Hand, Rector of Bulphan for the previous 17 years. The event was ‘very fully attended by the gentry and yeomanry of the neighbourhood, the three learned professions, Medicine, Divinity, and Law, each furnishing several representatives.’ It involved a huge number of toasts and much cheering, with 87-year-old Sir Thomas leading the charge. He began by asking everyone present ‘to fill a bumper to the health of Mr. Hand, who is about leaving us for a highly respectable station in Ireland.’

‘Most of you are aware the patronage of Clones is in my gift,’ he continued. ‘When it became vacant there were many clergymen with whom I was more intimate and personally acquainted with than Mr. Hand, and it is on public grounds alone that the living was offered to him. For 17 years I knew of the mode in which he had conducted himself as a clergyman in Bulphan. I had heard him occasionally preach his sermons, ever displaying the most enlightened Christianity. I had known him as a magistrate remarkable for his extensive knowledge, his great impartiality and firmness in administering justice, always disposed to temper mercy with justice. I knew well that as chairman of the board of guardians in the Orsett Union, he had administered the new poor law in so humane and temperate a manner that whilst the rate-payers were satisfied the poor were greatly so. For these reasons I pressed the acceptance of the parish of Clones, with 20,000 inhabitants, on Mr. Hand and I am most happy to say he has accepted it. I am well aware we all in this neighbourhood sustain a loss, but I think I have conferred an inestimable boon on Ireland. I am now satisfied – and the more I Think of it I am the more satisfied – that presenting the living of Clones to Mr. Hand has been the best act in my life.’ And with that he raised his glass, shouted ‘Mr. Hand’s good health and God bless him’ and downed the contents.

The Rev. Hand spoke next and declared that he ‘never rose under greater embarrassment’. He bestowed manifold thanks on all present and explained how the honour was all the greater because he was not one ‘possessed of any adventitious aid from birth or fortune’. (That said, he was at Eton!!) He also told of how much he would miss the community and expressed that he was under no illusions about the land to which he was now moving. ‘My future country is still writhing under the afflictive dispensations which have beset her (ie: the famine), and still press heavily upon her, but I do not despair; nay, I look forward with hopeful confidence to the future. I feel that Ireland shall arise from her present intense difficulties, and I look to that law which we have been so long engaged together in carrying out [ie: the Poor Law??], as the means of her regeneration; I look to it, if honestly, humanely and discreetly carried out, as the means by which better habits will by degrees be promoted among the labouring population – more industry, better farming, and all the good which usually follows in such a train. At all events, let me assure Sir Thomas and the present meeting, that no exertion on my part shall be found wanting to promote both the spiritual and temporal welfare of the inhabitants of the parish to which I have been so handsomely appointed.’ When he finished his speech, he sat down ‘evidently under considerable emotion, amidst long and long-continued cheers.’

When Sir Thomas was obliged to speak again later, he explained that while he was entitled to be reclusive at his age ‘and certainly had any nobleman of the land asked him to dine with him he would have declined, but he could not resist the invitation to meet so many excellent neighbours, and to testify his respect for Mr. Hand.’

Cassandra Hand, founder of Clones Lace. (Courtesy of Pat Tubb).

At the same banquet of 1847, the Rev. James Bloomfield raised a toast to Mrs. Hand – Cassandra – applauding ‘the exemplary way in which she performed all her duties’ and her ‘great support’ for her husband. The Rev. Hand evidently loved his wife. To the Bulphan diners, her confessed that when his mind was ‘harassed’ or his body ‘suffering’, Cassandra ‘never failed to be the ministering angel’ and he felt ‘convinced she would ever cheer him on in the right course, if he faltered’. She was, he said, ‘deeply sensible’ to the importance of their impending mission and that she ‘carried with her a good heart and an anxious desire to be useful.’ [24] He also took the opportunity to quote these lines from Walter Scott:

‘O, Woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!’

All this prompted old Sir Thomas to quip that any bachelors present must have just ‘fall[en] in love with matrimony’.

That same evening, the inmates of the Bulphan workhouse enjoyed ‘a substantial dinner’ of roast beef, plum pudding and ale ‘at Mr. Hand’s expense’. The article also mentioned that the officers of the Orsett Union had commissioned a portrait of Mr. Hand which was hung in their boardroom. I wonder where this portrait is now?

The Rev. Hand was undoubtedly a kind man who viewed the Poor Law as a positive force. As he told his fellow diners during his farewell night in Bulphan, ‘I look to that law which we have been so long engaged together in carrying out as the means of her regeneration; I look to it, if honestly, humanely and discreetly carried out, as the means by which better habits will by degrees be promoted among the labouring population – more industry, better farming, and all the good which usually follows in such a train.’ [25] Indeed, that same evening, the inmates of the Bulphan workhouse enjoyed ‘a substantial dinner’ of roast beef, plum pudding and ale ‘at Mr. Hand’s expense’. [26]

£1100 a year promised a reasonably good living but the incoming Rector of Clones was under no illusions about the land to which he was now moving. ‘My future country is still writhing under the afflictive dispensations which have beset her,’ he said at his farewell dinner in Bulphan on 5 October, ‘and still press heavily upon her, but I do not despair; nay, I look forward with hopeful confidence to the future. I feel that Ireland shall arise from her present intense difficulties.’ [27]

For him the solution was the Poor Law, a series of parliamentary acts initiated by Britain’s Whig, or liberal, government, which had sought to reorganize the very nature of poor relief. The most dramatic impact of the Poor Law Act was to create a system by which such relief would only be available in workhouses, but conditions in workhouses were simultaneously and deliberately reworked to become so strict that it would deter all but the genuinely destitute from seeking relief. Inevitably there was a wide disparity in how the poor law should be interpreted, which left it very much to the decision of the local Board of Guardians who, under the terms of the Irish Poor Law of 1837, ran each workhouse.


I wonder if my ancestor Captain William McClintock Bunbury, father of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, walked through Bishopscourt in the 1840s. He lived at Manor Highgate, between Clones and Magheraveely, and would surely have known the Rev Roper, and perhaps the Hands too. I’m hopeful his diary will reveal a clue.

The Hands Move To Bishopscourt


With a population of close on 20,000, the town of Clones on the border between Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan was enjoying something of a boom on the eve of the famine, with the construction of the new Market House and a new court house. The Great Hunger would bite hard into Clones from 1845 onwards and the Market House was converted into a soup kitchen.

Just days before the Hands arrival in Clones the Ropers held an unreserved auction at the Rectory (now Bishopscourt) on Tuesday 14 September 1847, and again the following day. The Northern Standard reported:

The subscriber is favoured with instructions to sell without reserve, as above the furniture, cattle, horses, vehicles, crops, farming utensils, etc. etc.’

There then follows a comprehensive list of items but, given that that potato blight was raging in the country at the time, perhaps the most interesting section came in under the heading of ‘Crops’. On offer were twenty acres of oats, seven acres of barley, five acres of rye, four acres of bere (?), fifty cocks of hay, two and a half acres of Swedish turnips, three roods of parsnips and carrots etc. etc. There was no mention of the potato. A second advertisement for the auction included a bath chair suggesting that the late Dean Roper had experienced some mobility problems prior to his death.

When the Rev. Thomas and Cassandra Hand moved into Bishopscourt in the autumn of 1847, the house was called the Rectory but I assume this is the same as ‘Altartate Glebe‘ (Táite na hAltórach)? (‘Never assume!’ I hear my grandmother scold!) Griffith’s Evaluations of the late 1840s lists the tenants at Altartate Glebe as including Thomas Aull [sic], Philip Brady, Thomas Browne, John Cole, Pierce Cullen, John Forker, Joshua T. Hoskins, Samuel Johnston, Bernard Lynch, Henry McAtee, John Purvis, John Swift, William Thompson and, most importantly for this purpose, the Rev. Thomas Hand.

Following the move to Clones, Cassandra introduced the making of crochet lace to the area. She worked in conjunction with a crochet teacher from Co. Kildare; their technique was a less time-consuming variation of Venetian Point Lace. The lace-making tradition became particularly popular in the Roslea area of South Fermanagh during the post famine period of the 1850’s. In a few years about 1,500 people were employed through crochet work and a cottage industry was born. Cassandra is buried at Clogh Church of Ireland, Roslea, Co. Fermanagh, where her husband is also buried.

‘Clones Lace’ by Máire Treanor is available here.


Pat Tubb kindly directed me to the following exchange of letters between the lace workers and Cassandra Hand which appeared in a book by Susanna Meredith called ‘The Lacemakers; Sketches of Irish Characters with Sound Accounts of the Effort to Establish Lacemaking in Ireland’ (pages 19-23) published by the British Library in their Historical Collection.

“The wife of the rector of the parish of Clones taught crochet-making to some little girls, and it soon spread over the whole neighbourhood. After a time, the number employed in it became so great that it assumed the formidable proportions of a large mercantile concern. At this stage, Mrs Hand, the foundress of the business, did not desert it, though, overwhelmed by the extent of the undertaking, she was about to do so in 1854. But her lacemakers made a brave struggle to retain the direction under which they had commenced to work; and they addressed Mrs Hand on the subject, in an interesting letter, which tells the history of the school so completely, that we must give it place in our summary of the movement.

ADDRESS TO MRS. HAND. Rectory, Clones. [ie Bishopscourt]

We, the undersigned, beg your acceptance of the accompanying Piece of Plate as a small token of the very sincere respect and gratitude we feel towards you for your unremitting kindness. On your coming to Clones, you found us in a state of the deepest distress, utterly destitute of any employment, unskilled in any art. By your unaided personal exertions you introduced, and had us instructed in, the manufacture of crochet lace – a work before then unheard of in this neighbourhood. You patiently bore with our ignorance, kindly encouraged our efforts, liberally rewarded us for our labour, and now you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have been the means, under God, of enabling 1500 individuals (at least) in this parish to earn a respectable living. Dear madam, we are not skilled in writing addresses, but we beg you will accept this effort on our part, to evidence in some manner that we are conscious of your goodness. We entreat you not to retire from the work you have so successfully carried on, though others are engaging in it, when all the difficulties attending its establishment are overcome. We feel assured that we will be the losers if you do so. Praying that He who will not overlook ‘even a drop of cold water’ given in His name may abundantly reward you,
We remain, your obliged and grateful workers,
Signed on behalf of the rest of the workers by a good many of the girls.


I have received your kind address with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, conveying me your grateful sense of the exertions which God has enabled me, successfully, to make in your behalf since I came to reside among you. ‘To Him be all the glory and all the praise’. To have received such an expression if your esteem and gratitude would have amply repaid me for all the trouble and anxiety which I have had, and I cannot help feeling sorry that you should have thought it necessary to accompany those expressions with so handsome a proof of their sincerity.
But believe me, I gladly accept it as a token of the warmth of the Irish heart, which, unless misdirected, always beats in concert with kindly feelings; and your beautiful and costly flower-stand will be a happy emblem, I trust, of our continued regard and mutual love to Him who is the ‘Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley’. I need scarcely add that I shall bequeath it to my children as a memento of my residence among you, when I and their father have run our course.
Too true it is, that I found you in deep distress, and am only thankful that God devised means in some measure to remove it in this parish, and made me the happy instrument in that removal. Indeed, had it not been for the sewed muslin work, which my and your friend Lady Lennard introduced some years ago, and the employment I have been able to afford, the fearful visitation of famine would have been still more severe and more disastrous.
Permit me to add, in answer to your requisition, that I shall continue, if health and strength be given me, to carry on the work, and I trust that you, by increased diligence and attention, will feel no difficulty in keeping up the credit of the Clones lace, and preventing its falling into disrepute among the higher classes, in consequence of competition and the production of an inferior style of work.
Praying that the Lord will prosper your handiwork, and enable you to derive all the good, and as little of the evil which is incident to every human undertaking, I remain, your sincere Friend,

Letter written from Bishopscourt by the Rev. Thomas Hand.

In compliance with this request, Mrs Hand retained her position, although it entailed much tiresome exertion of mind and body, and no little worry of spirit. Some four or five years after this, she was compelled to withdraw, but she induced an accomplished lady, who had been trained in the best schools of art, to settle in Clones, and to undertake the business for her own benefit. The effects of this were admirable. Good designs and correctness of finished continued to characterise Clones lace long after others had lost their celebrity. This district is still leavened by the skilled instruction of this lady, and a standard of merit is kept up. Even at its reduced price, the work provides a respectable livelihood for many women in the locality, and the fruits of the steadiness of their trade is seen in their improved domestic tradition. Mrs Roberts of Kilcullen, and Mrs Tottenham of New Ross, and many other ladies, made goods of a very superior sort, which were known in the London market by their names. Their skill, and that exhibited at Clones, was the result of peculiar culture; and it is only to be deplored that it had not the element of perpetuity…’.

On 2 October 1849, Thomas Hand attended a meeting of the Church Education Society at the Court-house in Clones, with the Hon. Samuel Crichton in the chair. The Fermanagh Mail (18 Oct 1849) commended his ‘frank and candid statement’ in which he admitted his determination when he first arrived ‘to carry out the views of the government and join the National Board’ but ‘when he became aware of the nature of the system and saw the necessary consequences of its operation, he could not have anything to do with it.’ The Fermanagh Mail was impressed: ‘Such would be the result in every instance if the real principles of the National Board were examined into and understood. Would that the eyes of all honest Englishmen were so opened to this vital question.’

Cassandra Hand’s re-dedicated grave in Clogh.

On 8 January 1852, the Anglo-Celt reported:

‘Mrs Hand, the lady of the Rev. Thomas Hand, rector of the parish of Clones, has shown her liberal, charitable and Christian feeling towards the poor inmates of Clones workhouse by giving bread and tea on Christmas Eve, to the female paupers and children. This is not the only kind act she has done, for she has at present between 200 and 300 females at different kinds of work, by which they can support themselves comfortably, and even save money, most of whom would have been in the workhouse but for her. She has also induced Sir Thomas B. Lennard, proprietor of Clones, to re-open an infant school which has long been closed. It would be well for our country if our ladies generally would follow the noble example.’

The inscription on a tablet in Clones Church of Ireland, dedicated to Cassandra Hand reads:

‘This tablet is erected by the parishioners of Clones, to the memory of Cassandra, the beloved wife of the Revd. Thomas Hand, Rector of this parish who died the 21st day of October 1868. During the Famine of 1847, and subsequent years she contributed largely to relieve the distress then prevalent, and was the means under God of bringing comfort to many families. To posterity she has left enduring monuments which testify to her zeal and self-sacrifice, in promoting the moral and spiritual well-being of the people of this district, by whom she was held in high estimation, and who now deeply deplore her loss.’

Clones Lace supplied markets in Dublin, London, Paris Rome and New York. By 1910 Clones was the most important centre of crochet lace-making in Ireland, its produce worn by royalty and gentry throughout the world The coronation dress worn by Queen Mary in the 1940’s was made by local women of Clones. As a recent marketing note put it: “This beautiful and intricate hand craft has been passed on from mother to daughter and from generation to generation since then“. [28]


The Glear Lockkeeper’s House at Lock 23-24 was a pretty a standard style of lock-keepers house along the Ulster Canal, with windows facing both directions so that it could see all oncoming canal traffic. Another stands at the rear of the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan and another just off the road beside Gortacarrow Tyres on the Clones-Cavan Road.
The lock-keeper’s house in Glear was occupied, at the time of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, by John Watson, the Glasgow-born lock-keeper, and his wife Margaret Jane Watson. Margaret, who was ten years his senior, died aged 84 in December 1914.
My thanks to Clones historian Sean Slowey who advised that the house was last occupied by the Rehill family. In 1925 Joseph Rehill of Rathmoy, Smithboro married Alice Maguire of Tanderagee, Clones. By 1934 they were living at Glear with seven children aged between 7 and eight months.
Joseph died in February 1978. His son John Rehill, who also lived in this house, died in June 1994 and was acclaimed as a character locally, as were his brothers Donald and Desmond, and their sister Mary (who later resided at Oriel House Welfare Home in the St. Davnet’s Campus, Monaghan). Another brother Gerry Rehill of O’Neill Park was featured in the Northern Standard for his hobby of fashioning Christmas cribs, bird boxes, small tables, flower baskets from sally rods. Gerry also appeared at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Clones in traditional attire as ‘The Turf Man from Ardee’ pushing a turf barrow, or with a goat etc.I am full of hope that the cottage, although very battered today, will see glorious days again in the future.

The Ulster Canal


Inspired by the pioneering Newry Canal, and the canal-building boom in England, the short-lived Ulster Canal was one of three major waterways constructed in Ireland between the 1750s and 1840s, along with more than a dozen smaller ones. Like the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal, its ultimate destination was the River Shannon by way of the Irish Midlands. Surveyors and engineers produced the paperwork before the navvies set to work with spade and barrow to build all the canals, locks and bridges.

Completed in 1842, and running for 74km, it was accompanied by a series of lock-keepers houses, such as the one pictured here at Lock 23-24 in the townland of Glear, County Monaghan. The navvies carved a path for the canal right through the neighbourhood of Bishopscourt, running along the south east side of the Bishop’s land and past the Bishop’s Lake, overlooked by the MacMahon fort.

William Thomas Mulvanny, the Dublin engineer who masterminded the arterial drainage along the Ulster Canal, went on to open the first deep coal mine in Germany’s Ruhr Valley, as well as developing the region’s canals, railways and shipping.

There was some black comedy for the canal when it emerged that its 26 locks, scaled on those of the Royal Canal, transpired to be a foot too narrow to accommodate the average boat operating on waterways linked to the Ulster Canal. The need for a canal was much reduced when the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway opened the station at Clones on 26 June 1858. The railway would lead to a new golden age for Clones.

After periodic decline, the canal finally closed in 1931. The waterway remains completely impassable in 2022 although plans are afoot to restore a 2 km section running east from Clones.


A Whirlwind Tour


The skull and crossbones are symbols that appear over graves all around Clones and Kileevan. Popular in the 18th century, the symbol is a memento mori, reminding us that we all die.

In June 2021, John McDermot kindly took me on a whirlwind tour of the area. He told me that Tunney Meats is situated on the site of an old Fitzgerald house called Clonavilla and that the railway used to run a course from the stubs straight through where the fine 2015-built house by Bishopscourt. We turned up by the church of Killeevan, where Ally and I were wed, and onwards to a graveyard that I never knew existed, complete with an old ruined church. As far as I could tell, the vast majority of the headstones had skull and crossbones carved on them, and many were memento mori from the 18th century. In the field across from the church was what looked like a folly but, as George Knight informed me:

“This structure is a mortuary house built by the Rev. Thomas Campbell for his own use. He was responsible for building Shanco church which lies in the valley below it. Only the tower still standing but a Latin inscription on it crediting Rev. Campbell with its construction in 1790. Did you get a chance to visit this old church and graveyard during your recent tour around. It is accessed via a narrow laneway at the side of the late Eileen Halls shop. This church at Shanco replaced Drumswords church which was the earliest post Reformation church in the area. Rev. Campbell died in London in 1795 and his mortuary house remained unoccupied. It is quite amazing that it has survived. Rev Campbell was a friend of the eminent Dr. Johnson and he is mentioned by Boswell in one of his biographical pieces.”

Next we headed towards the Catholic Church of Ture, past the abandoned shells of numerous Monaghan mushroom greenhouses, to another fine graveyard at Drumswords. The ____ family of Glynch are buried within the substantial ruined church The graves seemed to be widely dispersed, unless the centuries of rain have swallowed a bunch into the lumpy ground. Among those I noted were those of the Alford family of Rawdeerpark. (See Mulligan, Patrick, and Theo McMahon. “Gravestone Inscriptions in Drumswords Cemetery, County Monaghan: (O.S. Monaghan, 17:9:2. Nat., Grid H 5231, 2161).” Clogher Record, vol. 12, no. 1, 1985, pp. 18–22.)


A Clergyman’s Life


Memorial to Rev. Thomas Hand. Photo: Pat Tubb

In September 1860 the Rev. Thomas Hand visited the annual Lisnaskea cattle and agricultural slow. He broke his leg in 1867. Dr Hoskins of Clones attended him, with Mr. Collis of Dublin coming to visit. By 18 September, the Irish Times was reporting the ‘happy’ news that ‘Mr. Hand will very shortly be able to take carriage exercise, and at no distant point to resume his important duties’. [29] When the Primate visited Clones in September 1868, the Rev. Hand read the lesson.

Among those baptised in Clones by Rev Thomas Hand was the grandfather of George Knight. In January 2018, George remarked:

“I find it quite amazing that I knew an old gentleman who lived until I was fifteen and was baptised by Rev. Thomas Hand. His sister was my great aunt Molly who lived to be a hundred and who I also regularly visited. She told me she postponed her marriage around 1900 due to the death of her maternal grandmother who was aged over the century and would have been a teenager at the time of the battle of Waterloo.”

The Rev Thomas Hand resigned his post in Clones on 1st November 1872 and returned to England to become Rector of St Nicholas, Compton, Guildford, Surrey, where he died on 4 August 1874. This parish included Loseley Park, Cassandra’s childhood home, and he succeeded her brother as Rector.


News breaks of the death of Thomas More Hand, eldest son of the Rev Thomas and Cassandra Hand, Chelmsford Chronicle, 27 March 1857.

Children Of The Hands


The Hands had at least seven children, all of whom must have been familiar with Bishopscourt. The family was said to have a particularly close bond with the Maddens of Hilton Park, which is rather lovely given that the Moores of Bishopscourt have continued this link between these two houses into the 21st century. Indeed, the Hands are buried in a plot very close to the Madden mausoleum in Clogh graveyard. Miss Isobel Madden appears to have had an interest in the Hand children and some of the younger ones were her contemporaries.

Thomas and Cassandra Hand’s eldest son Lieut. Thomas More Hand was born in Guildford in October 1832 so he would have been 15 when they moved to Bishopscourt. At the time of the the 1851 census, he was a student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. However, he then joined the army and served as a Lieutenant with the 51st Bengal Native Infantry. On 27 January 1857, just a few months after his 24th birthday, he was murdered in the Khyber Pass. He was buried at Jamrud Road Cemetery, Peshawar, where his gravestone reads:

“In memory of Lieutenant Thomas More Hand of the 51st Regt N.I. who was shot by an assassin near the Khyber pass on the 27th January 1856 & died the same day deeply regretted by his brother officers aged 22 years & 3 months”.

It appears that he was lured “to see the Kyhber Pass” by some British Indian officers affiliated with a local hill tribe. [30] In a lucid account of British Policy in Central Asia published in The Times on 10 April 1857, the newspaper’s Lahore correspondent wrote (letter dated 23 Feb):

‘Poor young Hand’s murderer is, it is said, well known, but it is difficult to get hold of him. The hill tribe to which he belongs is put under the usual ban. Every soul who stirs out of the mountains belonging to the tribe is seized and imprisoned. As the hill people depend on the plain for subsistence, they will be starved out at last, give up the criminal and pay a heavy fine. This is the way in which our wild frontier neighbours are kept in order’.

Thomas and Cassandra Hand’s second son Colonel John Sidney Hand, CB, was born and baptised in Bulphan, Essex, in 1833. According to his obituary in The Times (6 Jan 1890):

‘… he entered the 82nd Regiment in 1853 and served with his regiment in the Crimea, being awarded the Crimean medal with clasp and the Turkish medal. He also served in the North-West Provinces of India in suppressing the Mutiny of 1857-8, at the relief of Lucknow by Lord Clive, the defence of Cawnpore (where his brother George was also present) and the defeat of the Gwalior contingent, the action of Kala Nuddee, and the occupation of Futtehghur. He likewise served with the Royal Artillery at the action of Khankhur during the Rohilcund campaign, the defence of the gaol of Shahjehanpore, the affairs of Mahomdee and Shahabad, and the action of Bunkagaon, and was in receipt of a medal with clasp for these services. He served with the 1st Sikh Cavalry as commander of a squadron throughout the campaign in China in 1860, including the action of Sinho, the capture of Tangku, the capture of the Takoo forts, the actions at Chunkiawhan and Tongehow, the destruction of the Emperor’s palace and the surrender of Pekin. As a reward for his services in the last-mentioned actions he was given a medal with two clasps. He subsequently served throughout the Abyssinian campaign of 1868. He was attached to the headquarters staff as director of the Highland transport train, and was present at the storming and capture of Magdala, for which he was twice thanked by Lord Napier, mentioned in despatches, breveted Major, as well as given a medal. from November 1868 til February 1869 he was commandant of the Deolali dept in the East Indies, and was transferred to the 44th Foot in December 1872. He became a Lieutenant Colonel in September 1876, and Colonel in July 1881. Since 1882, he had been lieutenant-colonel commanding the 44th Regimental District.’ He died at Norwood in early January 1890, aged 56.’

Thomas and Cassandra Hand’s third son, Captain Henry Hand, RN, was born in Bulpham in 1833 and baptised in Guildford on October 11th that year. He joined the Royal Navy in 1854 and rose to the rank of Captain before his death in 1889. [31]  On 8 June 1893, The Times noted how WPL Hand, Vicar of Taynton (see below) and Barrington, conducted the wedding service at St John’s Church, Blackheath, on June 6th, of his niece Cassandra Mabel Molyneux Hand, second daughter of the late Captain Henry Hand, RN, to Lt Harold Charles Scroggs, RNWhitaker’s Almanac for 1894 states that Lt Scroggs was then serving on board Retribution, although he appears to have been transferred to the Spartan at about this time. In September 1902, The Times noted that Lt HC Scroggs had been appointed to the Vernon. He retired as a Commander and settled in Celden Common, Winchester.

Cassandra and Harold Scroggs’s only son Henry Sydney Scroggs was born in 1896 and entered school at Osborne in 1909, being in the same class as George VI (then Prince Albert of Wales). From September 1913, he was a midshipman in the Monarch, in which he served in the Grand Fleet in 1914 and 1915. While still a midshipman he was selected for airship training and afterwards was a sub-lieutenant and lieutenant in naval airships working from Anglesey, Howden, Capel and Pulham during the war. On the formation of the RAF he was graded a captain and played on the RAF rugby team in 1919 and 1920. From 1921 to 1924, he served in Egypt. In 1926, while a Flight Lieutenant, he married Margaret “Peggy” Fray, only daughter of Mr and Mrs EE Powell of Shawford, Winchester, late of Ceylon. He settled in Britain with a home bomber squadron and on the staff of the RAF College. He was promoted to squadron leader in 1929. From 1934 to 1936 he was navigation staff officer at the headquarters of the Far East Command. He was appointed wing commander in 1936 and group captain on 1 June 1940, which he served in the Battle of Britain. However, Group Captain Scroggs, known as Scroggy, was killed on active service, aged 45, during the Second World War on 29 September 1941. He was in command of the RAF station on Thorney Island at the time. He left a widow and two sons.

Report on death of Lieut. George Molyneux Hand, son of the Rev Thomas and Cassandra Hand, Belfast Mercury, 16 December 1859.

Lieutenant George Molyneux Hand, Thomas and Cassandra Hand’s fourth son, was born and baptised in Bulpham in 1838. He attended the Military College in Addiscombe, training for the East India Company service, and was one of thirteen cadets who graduated into the infantry on 12th June 1857. According to the Belfast Daily Mercury (16 Dec 1859), ‘he served with her Majesty’s 82nd Regiment throughout the Bengal campaigns of 1857-8, from Cawnpore to Shahjehanpore and Bareilly’. He later served with the 9th Bengal Infantry, with whom he was listed on his death certificate. He died in Bath, Somerset, during 1859, having ‘recently proceeded [to Bath] with his family.’ The certificate says he died from ‘an abscess on his liver and apoplexy’ at just 21 years of age. According to The Irish Times (Saturday, 17 December 1859), he ‘contracted disease from over-exertion and exposure to the sun, from which he never recovered’.

News reports birth of William Patrick Lennard Hand at Bishopscourt, 5 January 1849.

The Anglo Celt reports on the death of Rev. William Hand in 1900. He was born at Bishopscourt.

Thomas and Cassandra Hand’s fifth and youngest son, William Patrick Lennard Hand was born at Bishopscourt on New Year’s Day 1849. (It is named as ‘Clones Rectory’ in The Essex Standard of 5 January 1849). He was given the Lennard name in honour of Sir Thomas Lennard, his father’s patron. He entered Trinity College Dublin on July 1st 1867 and graduated with a BA in 1871, He sailed with his brother, Henry, at the time of the 1881 census on HMS Euphrates. He became a clergyman and, by 1882, was Vicar of the parish Church in Taynton, Oxfordshire. On 6th Dec 1882, The Times noted that the wife of the Rev. WPL Hand of Taynton Vicarage had given birth to a son two days earlier. However, the child does not seem to have survived as the census records only name their four daughters. He was still Vicar of Taynton when his niece married Lieutenant Scroggs in 1893. In 1896, he was moved from the Vicarage of Great Barrington to become Vicar of Coln St Aldwyn’s in the Cotswolds of Gloucestershire, where he died of pneumonia following a bout of influenza in March 1900. [32] He was buried on St. Patrick’s Eve in the churchyard at Coln St Aldwyn, alongside his sister Mary Adelaide. He was survived by his widow and four daughters.

Their daughters Mary Adelaide Hand and Cassanadra Caroline Hand were born in 1841 and 1843. During the late 1890s, Mary appears to have moved to Coln St Aldwyn in Gloucestershire to nurse her brother William when he contracted flu and then also succumbed to it herself. They both died in March 1900. Mary was married at St. Paul’s Church, Cannes, France, on 13 February 1875 to Richard Edward Creswell, Esq., of Ravenstone, Leicestershire; their daughter gave her birthplace as Cannes in the UK census returns.[33]


Drumcar House near Dunleer, County Louth, seat of the 1st Baron Rathdonnell, was built by Alexander McClintock. George Finlay was Rector of Drumcar for twelve years before moving to Bishopscourt to become Rector of Clones.

George Finlay (1828-1905), Rector of Clones, Archdeacon of Clogher


In 1873, Thomas Hand was succeeded as Rector of Clones by the Venerable George Finlay, DD, later Archdeacon of Clogher. Born in Dublin in 1828, he was the son of Dr James Finlay.[34] In November 1844 he entered Trinity College Dublin, obtaining a BA and Divinity Testimonium in 1852 and an MA in 1856. Ordained in 1852, he spent his first year in the Diocese of Down. He was subsequently Parson of the Diocese of Meath (1853), Curate of Fahan (1852-3), Curate of Templeport (1853-4), Curate of Lower Langfield (1855-7, where he met his first wife Isabella), Canon of Collon (1857-61, a replica of Christs College Cambridge, built by Rev. Daniel Beaufort, the fourth and final father-in-law of Richard Lovell Edgeworth), Rector of Drumcar (1861-73, home of the McClintock family whose head was Lord Rathdonnell) and, following the Thomas Hand’s resignation on 1st November 1872, he served as Rector of Clones from 1873 until December 1903.

When Dr Charles Maurice Stack became Bishop of Clogher in 1886, George – who became Canon of Clogher in 1875 – succeeded him in the vacated post of Archdeacon of Clogher, an office he retained for the next seventeen years. It appears there was no Bishop’s Palace for the Bishop of Clogher at this time but Dr Stack and his wife instead lived at Knockballymore, later home to the Patton family. It was Dr Stack’s successor, Dr D’Arcy, who opted to live at Bishopscourt instead.

On April 27th 1877, the Rev. Canon Finlay, assisted by the Rev. Samuel H. Simpson, incumbent of Drumakilly, brother of the bride oversaw the wedding at St. George’s Church, Dublin, between Francis Fitzgerald, Esq., of Cloncorn House, Clones, and Lucinda Margaret, youngest daughter of the late Rev. J. E. H. Simpson, vicar of Drumsnat, County Monaghan.

Two years later, the Dublin University Magazine (Volume 89) applauded ‘the worthy rector of the parish’ for his ‘kindness’ in letting them look at parish register to examine the entries of births and marriages which began in 1682. ‘Few parishes in Ireland can boast of parochial records like those of Clones,’ they concluded.

In 1879, The Achill Missionary Herald also noted that Canon Finlay ‘had a very successful Sunday-school examination in Clones, over 300 children were present. The answering gave proof of much thoughtful preparation.’

George Finlay was married twice. In 1856, he married Isabella King, daughter of the Rev. Gilbert King, Rector of Langfield, Co. Tyrone (where he was curate). Gilbert was a son of James King, by Lady Elizabeth Creighton, daughter of John, 1st Earl of Erne. Isabella’s mother Anne was a daughter of Lt.-Col. Samuel Madden, of Hilton Park, Co. Monaghan. Isabella died on 9th March 1888, possibly at Bishopscourt. She left her husband an only son, Rev. George Alexander King Finlay, MA, British Chaplain at Dusseldorf, of whom more below.

He became a Doctor of Divinity in 1875 and the following year, with an address at Drumcar, Dunleer, Co. Louth, he was named in a list of County Cavan’s landowners as the owner of 573 acres in that county. What is potentially extraordinary to this author is that Drumcar, where George Finlay was Rector for twelve years before moving to Clones, was then the home of John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell, from whose family I descend.

On 5 September 1889, eighteen months after his first wife’s death, George Finlay was married secondly to Carlow-born wife Helen Chapman, youngest daughter of the Rev. Joseph Chapman, of Wykeham, Co. Carlow, and by her had no issue. At the time of the 1901 Census, the 72-year-old Archdeacon of Clogher and his 60-year-old wife (described as the ‘Lady’ of the house) were living in Altartate Glebe, aka Bishopscourt, along with their 45-year-old Kildare-born Catholic cook Margaret Lawlor, their 35-year-old Tyrone born Protestant parlour maid Sarah King, and their 24-year-old Down born Presbyterian housemaid Elizabeth McCullough.

In December 1903, the 75-year-old resigned both as Archdeacon and Rector of Clones, greatly disappointed that he had not been elected Bishop of Clogher. His name had been sent up with that of Dr D’Arcy, the Primate, on the death of Dr Stack to the Bench of Bishops. However, they elected Dr D’Arcy to the vacant Bishopric on 21st January 1903.

On pages 130 and 131 of ‘The Adventures of Bishop D’Arcy’, the sad finale of Archdeacon Finlay was explained further by (then) Archbishop D’Arcy:

‘At age 44 in Jan 1903, I was appointed Bishop of Clogher. It was a bolt from the blue. No thought of such an event had occurred to me until, after the resignation of Bishop Stack, a rumour reached me that some members of the Synod of Clogher had mentioned me, among others, as possible. To this rumour I attached no importance. All I knew was that it was said to be a practical certainty that Archdeacon Finlay, a clergyman of very leading position in the diocese, would be elected by the synod. It was also said that he was so deeply respected and had been so influential I the life of the diocese that no other result could be anticipated. I had no knowledge at all of him. My surprise therefore was great when, at the meeting of the Synod of Clogher, his name and mine were sent up to the Bishops for their decision. It was still greater when a telegram came informing me of my election.’

‘I was sorry for Archdeacon Finlay’ continues Archbishop D’Arcy, ‘whose many friends were much disappointed; but I had no part in bringing about the disappointment and I very soon realised that the turn things had taken was due, in the main, to his advanced age and growing infirmity. The younger men in the diocese were of opinion, and the bishops had decided, that a man with the activity of youth was demanded by the circumstances.’

In hindsight the proper decision was probably made as twelve months later Archdeacon Finlay resigned and died two years later at Hughenden, Glenageary, Co. Dublin, on 9 September 1905. He was buried at Kildallon in Co. Cavan. By 1911, his 71-year-old widow Helen was living at 19 Vesey Place in Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) with a County Down cook and an English housemaid.

George Alexander King Finlay, the Archdeacon’s only son, was born in 1858 and would have been 15 years old when his parents moved to Bishopscourt. He studied at Trinity College and obtained a BA in 1879 and an MA in 1884. Ordained in 1885, he was a Curate at St. John’s in Birkenhead when appointed Rector of Currin in January 1887. On 21st September 1898, George junior married Isabell Cundell, fifth daughter of A. N. Dare, of West Lodge, Mortlake. He died in Dublin on 25th April 1916, aged 58. He also appears to have been in charge of St. Luke’s, Bermondsey (1888), the Dusseldorf Chaplaincy (1897-1900) and Vicar of Dunmow (1903-4).

One wonders how the spirit of the Rev. George Finlay felt that the young Dubliner who had beaten him to become Bishop was soon to move into Bishopscourt, the house where he had lived for thirty years.


The Bishop of Bishopscourt: A studio portrait of the Most Rev Charles Frederick D’Arcy. the future Archbishop of Armagh, who lived at Bishopscourt from 1905 until 1908. After a distinguished career at Trinity College, Dublin, C.F. D’Arcy entered the ministry of the Church of Ireland, becoming Dean of Belfast in 1900. He became Bishop of Clogher in 1903 and moved to Altartate Glebe, which he renamed Bishopscourt, two years later. He remained there until 1911 when elevated to Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore in 1911. He later became Archbishop of Dublin and was enthroned in Armagh in 1920, remaining Primate of All Ireland until his death in 1938.

Charles Frederick D’Arcy, Bishop Of Clogher (1859-1938)


In about 1905, Bishopscourt became home to by Charles Frederick D’Arcy, Bishop of Clogher from 1903-1907 and subsequently Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh. He was born in Dublin on 2nd January, 1859, the only son of John Charles d’Arcy (1828-1902) of Mount Tallant, County Dublin, a grandson of John d’Arcy of Hydepark, County Westmeath. As such, he was a direct descendant of John d’Arcy, first Lord d’Arcy de Knayth who fought at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he was first mathematical scholar of his year and senior moderator and gold medallist in Moral Philosophy. He graduated BA in 1882 with a first-class Divinity Testimonium and proceeded to the degree of MA in 1892. In 1898 he qualified as BD and two years later was granted the degree of DD. He was ordained to the curacy of Saint Thomas’s, Belfast, in 1884.

In 1890 he was appointed Rector of Billy in County Antrim. Three years later he was elected Rector of the united parishes of Ballymena and Ballyclug. On the election of Dean O’Hara to the See of Cashel, Dr d’Arcy was chosen to succeed him as Vicar of Belfast and was appointed Dean of Saint Anne’s at which time he resigned a canonry in Connor Cathedral. He was also examining chaplain to Bishop Welland and served as chaplain to both Earl Cadogan and the Earl of Dudley during their respective tenures as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Shortly after his father’s death in September 1902, Dr D’Arcy was elected to succeed Dr Stack who had just retired from the Bishopric of Clogher. As mentioned in the above story of Dr. Finlay, this appointment came as a surprise to Dr D’Arcy but he was nonetheless consecrated to the office in Armagh cathedral on 24 February 1903.


‘Bishopscourt, As We Named It’


In his autobiography, The Adventures of a Bishop (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1934), Dr D’Arcy explains how there was no see house when he was elected Bishop, the original Bishop’s palace at Clogher having been sold when the diocese was united with Armagh in 1850. The see of Clogher had been re-established in 1886 (with Bishop Stack at the helm), after 36 years of union with Armagh, due in no small part to the generosity of ‘Mr. Porter of Belle Isle, grandson of a former bishop of the diocese’. For the first year and a half of his tenure as Bishop, Dr D’Arcy and his wife Harriet (nee Lewis) lived at Ballynure House, near Newbliss, the home of the Rev. Arthur Haire-Forster, then Rector of Clogher parish. With his duties in Clogher, Haire-Forster was obliged to live closer to that parish and was thus ‘glad to get a tenant for his old family place‘.[35]

However when the Rev. Finlay resigned as Rector of Clones, Bishopscourt became available.

‘There was a strong feeling among both clergy and laity’, wrote Dr D’Arcy, ‘that a permanent residence should be provided for the bishop, and the large old Rectory of Clones was secured for this purpose, a smaller house having been obtained for the rector’. And so, they moved from Ballynure to ‘Bishopscourt, as we named it‘. ‘The place had the advantage of nearness to Clones, and was therefore much more convenient for all diocesan purposes. Here we also rejoiced in our country life; for Bishopscourt proved a real country house, with spacious grounds, a very fine old garden, and best of all, a large bog. The bog lay behind a high ridge, secluded from all roads, a place of infinite delight. Here we spent many a long summer day, and here we pursued our researches in natural history. Here on summer evenings we could hear the whirring of the nightjar, and in springtime the bleating of the snipe. Here were wild duck, teal, widgeon, shovellers, and even rarer creatures. In a little lake close by, the crested glebe made a home. In this same lake we found the rare cladophora, with its perfect spheres of moss-like growth; and in the bog a number of rare plants, especially the beautiful Andromeda polyfolia. My old friend , Nathaniale Colgan, hearing of these discoveries, came on a visit, and, within a radius of a mile from the house, we catalogued six species never before recorded from County Monaghan. All this was pure delight, and afforded endless interest to our younger people’. (p. 137)


Bishop D’Arcy painted by Sir John Lavery.

Onwards To The Primacy


Dr. D’Arcy remained in the diocese of Clogher for four years when he was then elected to succeed Dr Crozier as Bishop of Ossory, Crozier having been appointed Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore. Coincidentally, D’Arcy then replaced Crozier after an election by the Synod in Clarence Place Hall, Belfast on 28th March 1911. He was consecrated Bishop of Down, Connor & Dromore on 9th May 1911. His enthronement as Bishop took place in Belfast Cathedral on 9th May 1911. Four days later his enthronement as Bishop of Connor took place in Lisburn Cathedral. In August, 1919, Dr D’Arcy was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Glendalough and Kildare and Primate of Ireland Metropolitan. He was succeeded as Bishop by C T P Grierson. In January 1920 he officiated at the marriage of Captain Jack McClintock, son of Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock, to the Hon. Rose O’Neill, at which Lord Rathdonnell was in attendance. The following June Dr D’Arcy was elected to succeed the Most Reverend Dr Crozier as Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan.


Dr D’Arcy’s Family


Dr D’Arcy’s wife was Harriet Le Byrtt Lewis, eldest daughter of Richard Lewis of Comrie, Co. Down. They were married on 12th June 1889 and had one son, John Conyers D’Arcy, and three daughters, Ellinor Marian, Henrietta Grace Lewis and Dorothy FrancesCaptain John Conyers d’Arcy, MC, Royal Artillery, was badly wounded at the Somme on 4 November 1916 (but saved by the quick eye of Lord Dufferin) and he survived to be wounded again on the North-West Frontier of India in 1931. His mother Harriet died from a heart attack while on a cruise to the West Indies in the summer of 1932. That same August, Henrietta married Charles Henry George Mulholland, 3rd Baron Dunleath, son of Henry Lyle Mulholland, 2nd Baron Dunleath and Norah Louisa Fanny Ward. In June 1937 it was announced that Dr D’Arcy would retire due to ill health but he continued until his death at the Palace, Armagh, on 1st February 1938. [36]

Cecil Parke competes in the Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon on 4 May 1921.


Bishopscourt Tennis Courts


There were two tennis courts at Bishopscourt, one high, one low, on the site of where Tom Treanor’s fine house stands today. A glasshouse ran alongside it which Dan Kerr, born circa 1919, recalls from his childhood as being full of tomatoes and strawberries. There also appears to have been some form of walled garden – Tom Treanor recalls a long redbrick wall, perhaps 10 foot high – and some apple trees around about. Miriam Moore recalls some more apple trees up at the top of where the Bishopscourt playground now stands.

Amongst those who played tennis on Bishopscourt must have been the Pringle and Parke families who loved at Clonboy and the hill outside Clones, where the Tunneys now live. And one of those Parkes was Cecil Parke, winner of the 1900 Clones Lawn Tennis championships, who went on to become one of the finest tennis players in the world, winning the Australasian Open and the Davis Cup in 1912 and surviving Gallipoli to be World No. 4 in 1920.


Bishop Maurice Day, from The Sphere, 2 June 1923


Bishop Maurice Day and his wife Charlotte Frances Mary, out for a stroll in the meadows beneath Bishopscourt in 1916. (With thanks to George Knight).

Rt Rev. Maurice Day, Bishop Of Clogher


When Dr D’Arcy moved on to succeed Dr Crozier as Bishop of Ossory in 1908, the see of Clogher was filled by Rt. Rev. Maurice Day, DD, the former Dean of Ossory, who also gave his address as Bishopscourt, Clones. Dr Day remained Bishop of Clogher until 1923, when succeeded by James MacManaway (1923-1943). [37] An account of his enthronement appeared in the Tyrone Constitution on 31 January 1908:

“Bishop of Clogher Enthroned. A large and interested congregation assembled in St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Clogher, on Wednesday. to witness the ceremony of enthroning the Right Rev. Maurice Day, M.A., as Bishop of the Diocese of Clogher in succession to the Right Rev. Dr D’Arcy, translated to the See of Ossory. Mr. M. E. Knight, solicitor. Clones, having read the mandate from the Primate of Ireland to the Dean and Chapter of the Diocese of Clogher authorising them to perform the enthronement ceremony, the Very Rev. the Dean of Clogher took the new Bishop by the hand and led him to the throne, in which the newly elected prelate then took his seat. Hymn and prayer having been conducted by the Rev. Canon MacManaway, the Rev. Precentor Haire-Foster preached an interesting sermon, taking for his text 28th chapter, and verse, St. Matthew. An offertory having been taken in aid of the Church Extension Fund in Belfast, the service concluded with the benediction pronounced by the Bishop.”

The Day family of Kerry, like three or four other families of Kerry gentry, gave many ministers to the Reformed Church of Ireland, but the Day family gave more than any at least two score, including three bishops ; and unlike some other families– noble and gentle in other parts of Ireland who are suspected, with some reason, of sending sons into the Ministry for what they could get out of it, the Days entered the Ministry in order to give, not get, and they gave of their best. Maurice Day, of Clogher, was a typical example, who won the affection and respect of all who came in contact with him’. [38]

The Bishop’s father was the Very Rev. John Godfrey Day, Dean of Ardfert. Maurice was born on September 2nd, 1843 on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, and educated at Midlleton School (and Beaumont College, Cork?) from which he obtained a scholarship to Queen’s College, Cork, and the Historical Science School (1860). He graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1865 with a junior moderatorship in Maths and seems to have acquired several BAs and MAs, as well as a BD and a DD. Ordained in 1866, he became Curate of St Luke’s, Cork (1866-1870), curate of his father’s old church, St Mathias, Dublin (1870-73), Vicar of Greystones (1873-76) and Rector of Killiney (1876-1894, in succession to Canon Staveley).In 1896 he returned to St Mathias for a year after which he was promoted to Dean of Ossory (1905-1908) and Rector of Kilkenny. He was elected Bishop of Clogher on December 10th 1907, and consecrated in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on January 25th, 1908, by the Bishop of Meath (Keene), assisted by the Bishops of Killaloe (Archdall), Cashel (O’Hara), Down (Crozier) and Ossory (D’Arcy). He was also elected a Commissioner of the National Education Board (1911-22).

“Scenes of intense enthusiasm characterised the visit of the Right Hon. Sir Edward Carson. K.C., M.P., to Newbliss, County Monaghan, yesterday, when the Ulster Unionist leader inspected and reviewed a large and representative muster of members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and subsequently addressed a large assembly of Loyalists drawn from the countryside for many miles around. The proceedings took place in the demesne attached to Newbliss House, the residence of Miss Murray-Ker, who has done invaluable work in the cause of the Union during the present campaign. The grounds were perfectly suited for a muster such as that arranged—the parade ground was on a broad stretch of level sward, situate at the foot of a steeply-rising hill, and a row of magnificent trees afforded a strikingly effective background. That the occasion had been very eagerly anticipated by the Loyalists of the district was proved by the large dimensions of the gathering. There are no great centres of population in the immediate vicinity of the picturesque little village which was selected for the demonstration, yet the attendance numbered many thousands, the most gratifying feature bring the strength of the muster of drilled men, of whom eighteen hundred were present, drawn from the districts of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Monaghan and Cavan. The arrangements had been admirably made by Mr. George S. Rogers, secretary of the County Committee of the Force. Colonel J. Leslie. D.L., was in commands while under him there were Lord Farnham, in charge of the Cavan force, and Colonel J. C. Madden, D.L., in charge of the Monaghan force …. Sir Edward was met at Clones Station on his arrival at noon by the Lord Bishop of Clogher (Right Rev. Dr. Day) and Rev. Canon Macmanaway, with whom he motored to Newbliss House, being loudly cheered en route by the cottagers, who had been expectantly waiting to see their leader pass.
(Northern Whig, 6 August 1913)

On 29 April, 1873, he married Frances Ottley (aka Charlotte Frances Mary Forbes), daughter of Herbert Taylor Ottley, of 28 York Terrace, Regents Park, London. It was the first marriage celebrated in St. Matthias’s, Dublin. They had issue three sons and a daughter:

(i) Right Rev. John Godfrey FitzMaurice Day, D.D., Bishop of Ossory, b. 12th May, 1874 , who married Oct 1922, Cicely Dorothea Langrishe, in Kilkenny

(ii) Herbert Taylor Ottley Day, B.A., B.A.I., T.C.D., Lt. R.E. and R.A.F. 1917 to 1919, A.M. Inst. C.E., b. 27th May, 1875

(iii) Maurice FitzMaunce Day, M.C., Lt.-Col. 1st K.O. Y.L.I., who served in the S.A. War (Medal and three Clasps) and also at Ypres, etc., in the Great War, P.S.C. G.S.O. at the War Office 1921 to 1926, b. 27th August, 1878, married at Washington, U.S.A., Eleonora Morgan, November 1918);

(iv) Kathleen Mary Agnes Day.

The 1911 Census records that the 67-year-old Bishop was living at ‘Altartate Glebe’ with his wife Charlotte (58 yrs), son Herbert (a 35 year old engineer), daughter Kathleen (30), and five servants, general labourer William Duncan (25), cook Annie Campbell (35), parlour-maid Hannah Greer (28), housemaid Charlotte Sherwood (19) and kitchen-maid Sarah Houston (18). Nineteen rooms of the house were occupied at the time.

Amongst the paintings which hung on the wall at Bishopscourt at this time was apparently one of James Spottisiwoode, Bishop of Clogher from 1621 to 1644. According to a 1862 journal, this portrait formerly hung in the See House of Clogher but, on the suppression of that see, was removed to The Clerical Rooms, Lakeview, Monaghan. How- ED.’ In 1937, this was described as a “painting of James Spottiswoode, Bishop of Clogher, formerly in Bishopscourt, Clones, now in St. Angelo, Ballinamallard, co. Fermanagh.” The Bishop’s portrait was described as: ‘Middle age, stiff suit of ecclesiastical garments, close fitting black cap, with square collar to shirt. A sombre picture and much defaced.’ [39]

For the record, the Rector of Clones by the time of the 1911 Census was the Rev. Joseph Ruddell who, aged 44, was born in County Armagh. His wife Dorothy Maria Ruddell was thirteen years his junior and came from County Fermanagh. They lived at No. 6 on The Diamond in Clones with their two sons, Joseph Frith William Ruddell (aged 4) and John Shegog Ruddell (aged 2), as well as coachman William Robinson (aged 27), cook Margaret Smith (aged 24) and housemaid Minnie Flanagan (aged 20). These Ruddells are not to be confused with the Ruddall family of London and Cornwall from which descended Miriam Moore who moved into Bishopscourt with husband Archie in the 1980s.

My father rather brilliantly found a letter in our archives written by Tom Rathdonnell, the 2nd Baron, to Bishop Day from Bishopscourt:

Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan
29 October 1915
Dear Lord Rathdonnell,
You will kindly permit me informally and personally to thank you most sincerely for your liberal donations to the following Parishes in my Diocese of Clogher.
Drumsnatt – £300.
Errigle Truagh – £100
Galloon – £150
Drummully – £150
which has been invested as you directed in the ‘War Loan’ by R.C.B. Your timely help to these Parishes will be much appreciated.
Yours faithfully,
Maurice Clogher




Clones was very much embroiled in the revolution that swept Ireland in the wake of the Easter Rising. As the blogger Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland recounts: “In mid-January 1922 the Monaghan football team was arrested in the North on their way to play Derry in the final of the Ulster Championship. On 7 February the IRA responded by kidnapping 42 prominent loyalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and held them as hostages. A party of eighteen armed B-Specials, when travelling by train to Enniskillen, were stopped at Clones railway station in Co Monaghan by an IRA group on 11 February in an event known as the Clones Ambush. The B-Specials reacted immediately by shooting Commander Matt Fitzpatrick. His colleagues retaliated by fatally shooting five Specials (Doherty, McMahon, McCullough, Lewis and McFarland) and arresting the survivors. Trouble in the North was at boiling point and in the three days after the Clones incident thirty people were murdered in Belfast.”


In 2018, Miriam Moore of Bishopscourt was on a stroll through St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, when she came upon this memorial to Dr Maurice Day and his son Godfrey leaning against one of the walls!

The Death of Bishop Day, 1923


Maurice Day died suddenly, in the Vestry of Broomfield Church (before Morning Service at which he was to have preached) while conversing with some of the parishioners, on Sunday, May 27th, 1923. The Larne Times published this obituary to him on Saturday 2 June 1923:

The death has occurred the Right Rev. Maurice Day, Bishop of Clogher, which took place with painful suddenness on Sunday morning in the vestry Broomfield Church, near Castleblayney, just before the service commenced. Bishop Day was announced to preach in the morning at Broomfield Church, three miles from Castleblayney, and in the afternoon to dedicate memorial window in Castleblayney Parish Church. On Friday his Lordship motored to Enniskillen. where he attended meetings in his usual good form, afterwards motoring home. On Sunday morning he left Bishopscourt, his Lordship’s residence outside Clones, in magnificent health, and arrived at Broomfield Church. He proceeded to the vestry-room, where he sat chatting with some local people, when suddenly and to the consternation of those around him, he became weak and fell. Two doctors arrived in a few minutes from Castleblayney, but they could only pronounce life extinct. His remains were immediately removed to his late residence at Bishopscourt, Clones, from which he had started only a few hours before, full of life and vigour.

William Mealiff, pictured in 1933, showing the spot where the Altartate Cauldron was found in the raised bog beside Bishopscourt to Professor Seán P. Ó Ríordáin (1903-1957) Professor of Celtic Archaeology at UCD.

The late Right Rev. Maurice Day. when Dean of Ossory, succeeded the Most Rev. D’Arcy, now Lord Primate of All Ireland, in the Bishopric of Clogher in December, 1907, upon the translation the latter to the See of Ossory. A son of the Very Rev. J. S. Day, Dean of Ardfert Dr. Day was born at Valentia Island in 1843, and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with a moderatorship in experimental and natural science in 1865. He was ordained for the Diocese of Cork in 1866, and served for thirty-five years in the united Diocese of Dublin, Glendalough, and Kildare. Greystones was his first incumbency, and for eighteen years he was rector of Killiney, before his appointment to St. Matthias’s, Dublin. As curate of St. Matthias’s, subsequently to the incumbency of his uncle, the late Bishop Day, and as successor of the late Bishop Wynne in that important city church, Dr. Day was intimately identified with Church life in Dublin. He was appointed canon of Christ Church Cathedral in 1901, and in April, 1905, was promoted to the deanery of St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, where he enthroned Dr. D’Arcy.
It is needless to say that as a hardworking, sympathetic and saintly bishop his influence will long be felt in the diocese which he was so well known and universally esteemed by all classes. He was an Irishman to the back bone, who was very fond of his country.
His Lordship is survived by three sons and one daughter, his eldest son being Bishop of Ossory. His second son is chief engineer to the Grand Canal Company, Dunlin, and the youngest, Colonel Day, MC, is general staff officer at the War Office.
When the sad news became known bells were tolled at the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches during the day.”

Dr Day was buried at Dean’s Grange Cemetery, Dublin, on May 31st. The Provost delivered a funeral address in St. Matthias’s and spoke of him as “a truly patriotic Irishman, warm- hearted as became his good Southern blood, always forward to promote the best interests of his country and his Church …. Benignus, humanus, stabilis, certus, securus.


Another perspective of Clones in 1910.

Childhood Memories


Dan Kerr, who was born circa 1919, visited Bishopscourt on the last day of May in 2014 and talked with Miriam Moore, Tom Treanor and I for two hours His memories of the old days in Clones were hugely impressive and laced with much humour. He recalled the woods alongside the Bishopscourt avenue being full of bluebells and primroses where the Mealiff children would play all day, climbing trees and building bracken houses, when they weren’t milking cows or transporting the milk for their father. He also told of the war years – both wars, in fact – when the Bishopscourt bog would be covered in hundreds of men cutting turf.

The Mealiff Family


A relic from the days of the Bishopscourt Dairy. which was run by the Mealiff family in the 1920s . Note the “Tubercluin ” tested motif. Clones historian George Knight writes: ‘I think a connection had been made even as early as this between the killer disease and contaminated milk. Of course it was much later before the authorities brought in a policy of eradicating all cattle found to be infected with TB.”

In about 1924, Bishopscourt came into the ownership of William James Mealiff and his wife Kathleen Jane (nee McConkey) who farmed the surrounding land. [40] William grew up in Bawnboy, County Cavan, and was registered at at Killynaff, Lisanover, (Parish of Templeport) Co. Cavan in the 1901 census. He moved to Clonkirk, Clones, in 1907, where he was registered in the 1911 census.

According to his obituary in the Northern Standard of June 4th 1976, William was a lifelong member of the Clones Co-operative Society and its chairman for many years. ‘He was a founding member of the former Clones Greyhound Racing Co., whose first track was on the land at Bishopscourt, and he was a shareholder of the former Clones Tannery which operated at Annalore Street. He was a member of the Clones Show Committee for about 60 years and took a keen interest in all agricultural affairs … He was a member of Clones Masonic Order and of the Clones Orange Order, now disbanded.’

We’re not quite sure where the greyhound track was but Miriam Moore recalls finding a lot of bovine skulls in the hollow to the right of the back avenue. ‘I thought that there had been an outbreak of Foot and Mouth. It turned out that father Mealiff kept greyhounds and boiled up the heads to feed them.’

He also ran the Bishopscourt Dairy, holding approximately 25 cattle on a farm that I think ran to some 150 acres at this time. In May 2014, his son Jack Mealiff (born 1929) told me how he spent 17 years driving a pony and trap laden with milk from Bishopscourt to Clones, delivering milk to the houses. He also milked the cattle – ‘with these hands’, he chuckled. I have also heard a tale of how Jack was lowered down from the Bishopscourt rooftops on a rope so that he could clear the gutters and wash the windows. It seems to have been a happy childhood – hiding in the tunnel that runs to the back of the house, although there is some talk of being locked in the cellar when one was naughty! Jack left the house upon his marriage circa 1955 but the family remained there for a few years. I think his brother Gordon moved to Lisnaskea about the same time.

William and Kathleen Mealiff had four sons – William James (Jim) Mealiff, Jack Mealiff (of Drumacoon, Newbliss), Gordon Mealiff (of Lisnaskea) and Fred Mealiff (of Strabane) – and three daughters – Gene Rusk (who was in South Africa at the time of her father’s death), Audrey McMurray (of Ballybay) and Merle Eakin (of Claudy, Co. Derry). Merle’s daughter Kathryn was only 8 when she was killed in the Claudy bombings on 31 July 1972, after which Merle moved to Castlerock. I believe all of the children were born at Bishopscourt.

William Mealiff puts Bishopscourt up for sale, Northern Standard, November 8th 1963. (Image courtesy of Sean Slowey).

William Mealiff sold Bishopscourt in 1963, see below, but remained in Clones. He died aged 88 on 28 May 1976. He was interred at the New Cemetery, in Teehill, Clones. His son Jim Mealiff was the former owner of the Lennard Arms Hotel. In 1981, his daughter Sandra married the Clones Cyclone, boxer Barry McGuigan. Jim’s son Ross Mealiff, an independent politician, is a past Mayor of Clones. A former director of Quinn Direct and general manager of the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, he runs the Hotel Kilmore in Cavan.

Sam Mealiff told me of a man from Castleblayney by name of Moses Hamilton who once lodged at Bishopscourt. He had worked for McConkney’s before going to work for the Mealiffs (Sam’s granny was a McConkney). Another man who worked for the Mealiffs at Bishopscourt was Peter Fox who milked the cow; he lived at Fairview Terrace on the Annalore Road.


The Murphy Family


Between about 1928 to 1932, the top flat at Bishopscourt was leased to Baldwin and Judith Murphy for a period of two years. There had been some doubt as to whether the Murphys lived at Bishopscourt with Dan Kerr and one of the Mealiff family amongst those who proposed that Bishopscourt had been confused with Altartate Glebe. However, Norah McDowell, daughter of Baldwin and Judith, confirmed they had been there for two years in November 2014.

As a 14-year-old boy, Baldwin partnered Dr F. C. Fitzgerald, a former Newtownbutler medical practitioner, to win the first organised golfing competition ever held at Clones Golf Club. Just as remarkably, he saw off 57 rival competitors to win the same contest – the Golden Jubilee Cup – fifty years later. The cup was presented by Captain L. Carroll on behalf of Ike Geller, ‘a Clones industrialist’ who was unable to attend. Describing the event, the Northern Standard applauded Baldwin’s sporting prowess:

Few people are better known on the Irish sporting scene than Baldwin Murphy, noted as a life-long angler and prominent member of the various angling associations in this country. A patriotic townsman, born and reared in Clones, and member of a family identified with the legal profession for generations. Mr. Murphy has always taken a leading part in the sporting, social and business life in his native town and despite is heavy professional commitments finds time to explore the many waterways in this country on which he is a recognised authority.’

Baldwin Murphy, a sometime resident of Bishopscourt, achieved a remarkable double when he won the Clones golf championship at the age of 14 – and then won it again exactly fifty years later. (Image courtesy of Brian Morgan).

Baldwin Murphy was the eldest of four sons and a daughter born to Mary and Henry Murphy (1867-1948), Crown Solicitor and County Register for Co. Monaghan. Born in Dublin and proficient in both the Irish and English language, Henry descended from a Tipperary / Wexford family who came into their own when Patrick Murphy saved the life of a son of Captain Tudkin, an officer in William of Orange’s entourage. The King rewarded Patrick with a grant of land at Ballymore near the Rock of Cashel. [41]

John Baldwin Murphy, Henry’s father and Baldwin’s grandfather, was a Trinity educated barrister who ‘took a deep and practical interest in all Catholic movements.’ [42] He was called to the bar in 1840 and “took silk” or became a QC (Queen’s Counsel) in 1868. J.B. Murphy married Alice Morrogh of Kilworth House, Co. Cork, with whom he had 13 children. He was vice-president of the St. Vincent de Paul from 1851 to his decease. In August 1893, he resigned as a Commissioner of Charitable Donations and Requests for Ireland; his place was taken by Dr. Walsh, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. [43] He died at his residence of 6, Mountjoy Square, on 14 June 1894, at the age of 77, and was buried in Glasnevin. He merited an obituary in the Irish Law Times on his death.

JB and Alice’s eldest daughter Catherine Murphy married John Stanton, Solicitor, of Cork, and was great-grandmother to Justice Mary Finlay-Geoghegan. They were also the parents of Bob Stanton, a solicitor from Cork City, who died in the Great War. A few years before the war, Bob had fallen out badly with his father, with whom he worked, when the latter refused to permit him to marry the woman he loved because her family were riddled with tuberculosis. Bob abandoned the Stanton practice and in 1912 he moved to Clones, County Monaghan, where – by some accounts – he prospered as the only Catholic solicitor in the area, although the Murphys are also thought to have been Catholic. He was killed during the attempt to capture Scimitar Hill by Suvla Bay during the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. His body was never found because the shelling set fire to the bush where he fell. On 1 July 1916, Bob’s younger brother, George Stanton, a young medical graduate from Trinity College Dublin serving in the R.A.M.C., received fatal stomach wounds during first day of the Battle of the Somme and died the following month. [44] According to Sean Slowey, two Davis brothers from Clonkirk were also killed at the Somme on 1st. July 1914 as were several others from the Killeevan and Newbliss area. They served with the 9th. Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers which was principally formed from U.V.F. Battalions from Monaghan, Cavan and Armagh. As Sean notes, the Somme was a particularly poignant event for the Orange tradition as the Battle of the Boyne actually occurred on 1st July 1690 and not the ‘Twelfth’. The scale of loss was so massive that many weeks passed before families learned whether or not their loved ones were among the dead.

Whitehall Street in Clones as it would have looked like when Henry and Mary Murphy lived there circa 1901. Photo by Robert French.

Another son of JB and Alice Murphy was James Murphy, who also became a solicitor and lived on Mountjoy Square. He was grandfather of Justice Hugh Geoghegan.

Henry was born on 1st December 1867 and married Mary Frances Donnelly, daughter of Peter Donnelly of Farney Hill, Clones. At the time of the 1901 census, they were living on Whitehall Street in Clones with their two-year-old son Baldwin and an 18-year old ‘nurse’ called Mary Rooney. [45]  At the time of the 1911 census they were living at Clontivrin in Clonkeelan, Co. Fermanagh, along with their four younger children, a Governess, a children’s nurse, a housemaid, a cook and a coachman / groom. [46] They subsequently lived in Clones until 1937 when they moved to Dublin. As well as Bishopscourt, Henry and Mary may have rented Altartate Glebe, a charming redbrick house between Bishopscourt and Clones, from the Gunn family. When they moved to Dublin, it seems their son Baldwin took on Altartate Glebe. Henry died on 21 May 1948 and Mary on 15 March 1954.[47]

Baldwin was born in December 1898 and educated at Mount St. Benedict in Gorey. In December 1928, shortly after his 30th birthday, he married Judith Flood, daughter of the late Robert Samuel Flood of Killycreenan House, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, and Mrs. Flood of 47 Cromwell Road, Belfast. Baldwin and Judith then apparently leased the top flat of Bishopscourt from the Mealiff family. Their daughter Nora recalls ‘the top flat everywhere was chilly but that was not a problem – we just wore more clothes!’. Baldwin worked alongside his father, with offices (now Henry Murphy & Sons) at The Diamond in Clones and on Main Street, Lisnakea, Co. Fermanagh. His clients included the celebrated theatre director Tyrone Guthrie of Annaghmakerrig and Minneapolis fame. Baldwin also co-founded the Clogher Historical Society and was president of the Clones Fine Gael party for many years. For more information it is worth contacting the Murphy’s spiritual heirs, Morgan McManus Solicitors who mention the Murphys on their website. Baldwin and Judith had a son Henry Murphy (born in 1934 and educated at Glenstal Abbey and the National University of Ireland) and two daughters Nora (b. 1930, admitted as a solicitor in 1952 and married (1955) to John Lynne McDowell of Dundrum, Co. Dublin) and Anna White (b. 1947).


Clonavilla House was burned down in 1970.

Reginald V Kelly


In 1963, William Mealiff sold Bishopscourt to Mr. Reginald V. Kelly. An advertisement in the Northern Standard of July 23rd 1965 states that Mr. Kelly sold Ivy House and two other buildings on the Main Street in Newbliss. In the autumn of 1969, he sold the house on to Messrs. McMahon Bros. building contractors., of Dernawilt, Roslea Co. Fermanagh, for an undisclosed sum. It reads: ‘Mr. Reginald Kelly, Bishopscourt, Clones, has sold his 26-roomed three-storey country mansion with basement to Messrs. McMahon Bros, building contractors, Dernawilt, Roslea [Co. Fermanagh], for an undisclosed sum. Included in the sale is about 25 acres of land which is attached. About half a century ago, Bishopscourt was the residence of the Protestant Bishop of Clogher. Most of the land comprising the estate was taken over by the Irish Land Commission a few years ago. Bishopscourt is situated in a pleasing setting a mile from Clones on the Newbliss road.’ (Northern Standard, September 29th 1969, courtesy of Sean Slowey).

The sale of Bishopscourt to the McMahon Brothers was closely followed by the sale of nearby Clonavilla House, located directly south of Bishopscourt, which had been occupied by nine generations of the FitzGerald family, descendants of the Knights of Kerry. In 1970, Harford Fitzgerald sold the 240-year-old house to the Tyrone-born businessman Hugh Thomas Tunney (1927–2011) who, according to his entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, “relished burning it down” a year or two later, “to make way for a feeding lot capable of carrying 2,000 cattle on winter silage.” One wonders whether any hint of it remains? [48] The Treanors moved from the Emyvale area to Bishopscourt in 1970.


The Moore Family


Archie Moore came to Monaghan as the Consultant Surgeon to Monaghan General Hospital and was widely acclaimed as a genius with his hands. Archie’s uncle Tommy had worked at Clones Railway Station, which closed on 1 October 1957.

Archie originally lived in a wing of Hilton Park but moved to Bishopscourt with his wife Miriam (née Craigie) and four daughters in about 1985. He purchased the house from Brian and Eugene McMahon. Assisted by the late and much lamented architect Chris Pringle, Archie and Miriam removed a lawn at the front of the house to expose the basement which now includes the perpetually active and sweet-smelling kitchen.

Archie passed away in 2002 and Miriam continues to live at Bishopscourt where life is always busy and bountiful. Her eldest daughter Elizabeth Moore (aka Liz Moore) was married in July 2007 to Andy Cairns. Liz was head chef at the Belle Isle Cookery School. Liz and Andy have a son Jasper and daughter Pippa.

The second daughter Gilly Moore is an animator based in Kilkenny, Ireland. She lives with her Canadian husband Larry Fogg, a writer and artistand their three daughters, Harriet, Robin and Mimi. Gilly directed the Emmy and BAFTA nominated animated mini-series ‘El Deafo.’

The third daughter is the beautiful Ally Moore and became the wife of writer and historian Turtle Bunbury on 20 May 2006, just over ten years after their first meeting at Hilton Park. Ally is a freelance publicist and mother to Jemima Bunbury, born 17th June 2007, and Bay Bunbury, born 4th February 2009. She had published three novels ‘The Inheritance’ (2017), a Top 10 bestseller in Ireland, ‘Infidelity‘ (2018) and ‘All Wrapped Up’ (2022).

The fourth daughter Faenia Moore lives in Bristol where she is one of the UK’s top food stylists, working on shows such as the ‘Great British Bake Off’ and BBC’s ‘Masterchef’.

To be continued …

Miriam Moore, the present chatelaine of Bishopscourt (Photo: Liz Cairns, 2017).


With thanks to Grace Moloney, Henry Skeath, Sean Slowey, Brian Morgan, Ross and Kate Mealiff, William Mealiff, Robin McGrath, Nora McDowell, Pat Tubb, Josephine McKenna (Cassandra Hand Centre), Edward Fenn (, Janet McCheyne, Susan Yates (Chairman, Thurrock Local History Society), the Rev. Ed Hanson, Hugh Geoghegan, Sean McQuillan, Maire Treanor, Matthew Gallagher, Catherine McMahon, Tom Hanchett, George Knight, Kevin Mulligan, James Mealiff, Sam Mealiff, the Rev. Helene Steed, Matthew Gallagher, Ian Elliott and the Moore family.

And a special thanks to Maria O’Brien who sourced much of the detail about the Hand, Murphy and Mealiff families.




DEATH BY DROWNING—SINGULAR INSTANCE OF LONGEVITY. An inquest was held on Saturday, at Magheracornoy, near Smithboro, county of Monaghan, on the body of a child, aged two years, who had been accidentally drowned. The deceased’s father, Owen Duffy, was examined on the inquest, and stated his age to be 119 years. [Owen Duffy was born on the 29th of July] The coroner, Wm. C. Waddell. Esq., doubting the truth of the statement of his having attained this extraordinary age, questioned him closely on the subject, when his answers were of so clear and distinct a character as to leave no room for disbelief, and his testimony as to the paternity of the child was corroborated by the medical gentleman present, who had known him and attended on his family for years. Our informant was told that, a year since, Duffy walked from his own house to the town of Monaghan, a distance of six miles, to give evidence at the petit sessions. To all appearance he may live for years to come. (Derry Standard. Quoted in the Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent – Saturday 31 January 1852.).

Two years later, the Belfast Commercial Chronicle of 8 July 1854 added this detail: ‘A FINE OLD IRISH GENTLEMAN – “ONE OF THE RALE OULD STOCK” —The Freeman says “Owen Duffy, of Monaghan county, is 122 years old. When 116 he lost his second wife, and subsequently married third, by whom he had son and a daughter. His youngest son is two years old—his eldest ninety. He still retains, in much vigour, his mental and corporal faculties, and frequently walks to the county town, a distance of eight miles.’ For more of Mr Waddell’s career, see ‘Melancholy Madness: A Coroner’s Casebook’ (Mercier, 2004) by Michelle McGoff-McCann. (With thanks to Belinda Evangelista.)



Corravahan House, Drung, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. Bishopscourt may have inspired William Farrell (d. 1851), the architect who oversaw the construction of Clones Church, as well as the See House at Kilmore for Bishop George Beresford in c.1835. In about 1840, Farrell was employed to design
Corravahan House, near Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan, for the Bishop’s nephew, the Rev Marcus Gervais Beresford.
Corravahan House, which looks remarkably like Bishopscourt, was a residence of the Leslie family from c.1855-1972, commencing with Rev. (later Bishop) Charles Leslie. Miss Mae Haire-Foster was resident in Corravahan House with the Leslie sisters during the mid-20th century. It has also been mooted that Bishopscourt could have been one of Farrell’s own creations, built before he became the Board of First Fruits architect for the Church of Ireland ecclesiastical Province of Armagh in 1823.
(Photo courtesy of Ian S. Elliott).

[1] That said, a decent challenge for “biggest rectory” was fired my way in 2020 by Seán Browne of East Donegal who alerted me to Ardess House, near Kesh, County Fermanagh, which seems to have been built as a rectory for the Rev William Athill, prebendary of Clogher, who lived there from 1826 (the earliest record I found for the house) until his death in, inevitably, 1847. Seán also pitched a second contender, namely the palatial former Church of Ireland rectory in Donaghmore Glebe, on the western outskirts of Castlefin in the Finn Valley of East Donegal. Donaghmore House was built in the 1880s by a railway company as compensation for running its line right past the church. There are some lovely photos of its interior here but sadly the house was all but destroyed by fire in 2018 and is now largely derelict. A third contender, also via Seán, is Bogay House, near the East Donegal village of Newtowncunningham (known locally as Newtown, pronounced ‘Newton’), just outside Derry City, which was the birthplace and childhood home of Sir George Bowen, a Governor of Hong Kong. It is thought to have been built for for either the 6th or 7th Earl of Abercorn in the early to mid-eighteenth-century, and was apparently donated by the 1st Marquess of Abercorn to the Church of Ireland to be used as a rectory around 1800. Bogay ‘Hoose’, as it is pronounced locally, is close to the Liberly Burn, which separates County Derry from County Donegal, and is now, as such, the mighty frontier of the European Union.

[2] There is a story in the Royal Irish Academy Journal of 1934 referring to this cauldron (“A Wooden Cauldron from Altartate Co. Monaghan”, A. Mahr, III, May 1934).

[3] Dacre Lennard’s first wife, Lady Jane, was the eldest daughter of Arthur Chichester, 2nd Earl of Donegal. They had a son, Richard, and three daughters, Jane (who, after her father’s death, married John Ranby, Esq, serjeant surgeon to his late Majesty, and died without issue), Dorothy (married in 1 722 to Hugh Smith of Weald Hall in Essex, by whom he left two daughters, his heirs) and Henrietta (died unmarried).
Dacre Lennard’s second wife Elizabeth was a daughter and coheir of Thomas Moor, of Co Monaghan, a younger branch of the Earls of Drogheda. Their only son died in infancy, while their daughter Elizabeth married William Sloane, nephew of Sir Hans Sloane, founder of Sloan Square.
Dacre Lennard’s third wife was Sarah, daughter of Sir Capel Luckin of Messing Hall, Essex, and widow of Richard Saltonstall of Groves, Essex. Their daughter Catherine married Sir Philip Hall of Upton in Essex, by whom she had one son Philip and three daughters.

[4] Arthur Collins, Collins’s peerage of England;: genealogical, biographical, and historical Peergae of England, p. 583, 1812.

Sergeant James Graham, born in Clones, was regarded by contemporaries in 1815 as ‘the bravest man at Waterloo’.

[5] The (Irish) Barrett-Lennard papers are available from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in a microfilm from the Essex RO. PRONI may also have the original of a letter-book. Details can be found in PRONI’s book on its sources for the study of Co. Monaghan. Thanks to Anthony Malcolmson.

[6] Charles Roper, Lord Teynham’s eldest son, was a captain of dragoons and died in 1754, leaving issue by Gertrude, his wife, sister and coheir of John Trevor Esq, of Glynd, in Sussex, two sons: (1) Charles Trevor Roper, 18th Lord Dacre, and (2) Major Henry Roper, 66th Regt of Foot, killed in a duel at Chatham in 1788, and one daughter (3) Gertrude, now Baroness Dacre. Lord Teynham’s daughter Anne Roper married Peter Tyler Esq, a captain in the 52d regiment of foot, by whom she had three sons and two daughters.

[7] By the will of his great uncle, Arthur, Lord Ranelagh, this man was possessed of the manors of West Dean &c in Wiltshire. He died unmarried.

[8] Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal, 23 November 1810.

[9] Shirley’s Monaghan, pp. 310, 327

[10] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, by Augusta Waddington Hall Llanover, p. 568.

[11] Much of this information came from Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes, Charles Mosley, editor, (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 766.

[12] Nicholas Carlisle, ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland’ (W. Miller, 1810)

Bishopscourt, 2009: Front of House.
(Photo: James Fennell)

[13] William and Elizabeth’s other children were Jane Anne Roper (who was married in a widely publicized wedding, conducted ‘according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church’ to Thomas J Fitzgerald of Baollinoarka, Co Waterford, in 1843 and died 9 Feb 1849), Eliza Roper (d. 18 Feb 1881), Isabella Roper (d. 5 Apr 1876) and Sir Henry’s younger brother Charles Roper (1816 – 9th May 1861).

[14] ‘At Cara, Co. Fermanagh, Miss Roper, eldest daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Roper.’ Saunders’s News-Letter of 4 April 1783. An epitaph in the Dublin Evening Post of 20 May 1783 suggests her name was Jenny Roper (Jane perhaps?):

An Epitaph attempted for Miss Roper, daughter of the Hon. and Rev Mr. Roper, of Cara, in the County of Fermanagh, who departed this life the 29th of last March, and was deposited in the family vault at Clones,which is supplied with a constant spring of the purest water; unequal to do justice to her great merits, owned and acknowledged by all, I, with a heart full of affection and regard, pay the following willing, though doleful tribute to truth and to her memory:
WITHIN this vault, whose crystal stream,
Transparent flows, and free from stain
Just emblem of the beaut’ous maid,
Who in this shrine was lately laid.
Ah! mourn with me, the hapless hour,
That cropt and wither’d this fair flower.
Which culture, taste and nature strove,
To form a picture all must love.
But reason cries, despair to find
An emblem for her matchless mind.
Untainted heart, unsullied hands.
Free from the unhallow’d touch of man.
Too good to live, too pure her merits.
She’s fled to dwell with kindred spirits;
In songs seraphic, with saints above,
To sing her great Redeemer’s love.
Why should we grieve that this sweet dove
Has flown to realms of peace and love ;
On angel’s wings our Jenny’s borne.
Then, selfish friends, let’s cease to mourn.
May 13, 1783.

As Miriam remarks: ‘Oh, that we all deserved such an illustrious epitaph!’ One wonders where the vault is? Perhaps in one of the two cemeteries in Abbey Lane?

[15] ‘The Rev. Richard Walwyn, to Miss Roper, daughter to the Hon. and Rev. Richard Henry Roper, rector of Clones, in Ireland.’ Gloucester Journal, 23 May 1803.

[16] London Evening Standard, 25 February 1867.

[17] Oxford Journal, 7 January 1797.

[18] Cotton, 1849.

[19] Drogheda Conservative Journal, 28 October 1843, p. 3

[20] The Anglo-Celt (Cavan), April 23rd 1847.

[21] I add this Monaghan coincidence about Dean Roper being succeeded at Clonmacnois by Richard Butler, my grandfather’s great-uncle, to a long list of others – my father’s ownership of the water at Drumsnatt, the birth of one of my 3rd great-grandmothers at Brandrum, a letter from Lord Rathdonnell to Bishopscourt from 1907, my great-aunt Peggy growing up at Annaghmakerrig, my mother’s friend who grew up at Drumard House by Burdautien, my grandfather’s link to Hilton Park, the Raben-Madden connection, my long-standing friendship with RDS Pringle & the extensive Rathdonnell estate, including lands between McEntees and KC Tyres, details of which can be found here.

[22] Diocesan Register in Leslie’s Clogher Clergy.

[23] On 23 October 1847, the Oxford Chronicle and Berks & Bucks Gazette confirmed that ‘Rev. Thomas Hand, of Bulphan, Essex, [was appointed] to the rectory of Clones in the province of Ulster, Ireland.’

[24] Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 October 1847.

[25] Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 October 1847.

[26] Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 October 1847.

[27] Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 October 1847; Oxford Chronicle and Berks & Bucks Gazette, 23 October 1847.

[28] See an account of the Great Famine in Clones, published in the Clogher Historical Society’s 2000 Clogher Record, which makes some reference to the Hands and includes a photograph of a memorial to Cassandra Hand in Clones Church of Ireland (contact Ivor Lendrum, Clonboy, Clones for records).

[29] The Irish Times, 18 September 1867, p. 2.

[30] It is curious that his headstone in Peshwar should mark down his age erroneously but the parish register in Guildford where he was born apparently states clearly that he was born in 1832, in which case he would have been 24.

[31] The Times (10 Sept 1889, pg 8) refers to the appointment of Captain Rodney M. Lloyd, ‘to the Urgent as Commodore at Jamaica in the place of Captain Henry Hand, whose period of service has expired’.

[32] ‘Ecclesiastical Appointments’, The Times, Thursday, Jan 30, 1896; The Anglo-Celt, 31 March 1900.

[33] 1875 marriage recorded in Leicester Chronicle, 13 February 1875).

[34] J. B. Leslie’s ‘Clogher Clergy & Parishes’, published privately in 1929, I suspect that George Finlay of Bishopscourt was a relation, if not an older brother of John Finlay, Dean of Leighlin, who was, as Edward Carson put it to the House of Lords, ‘foully murdered in his residence in the City of Cavan’ on Sunday 21st June 1921. Born in Carlow in 1843, John Finlay graduated from Trinity College Dublin and was ordained in 1867 and officiated at Clonenagh from 1867 to 1873. In 1872, he married Isabella Anne, a daughter of the Very Rev. W. Smyth-King, Dean of Leighlin. Between 1873 and 1890 John Finlay was Rural Dean of Carlow and Rector of Lorum. In 1890 he became Rector of Carlow and in 1895 Dean of Leighlin. He retired in 1913 and went to live in Bawnboy, Co. Cavan. He also served as Chaplain to the Lord-Lieutenant in Ireland.
Dean Finlay was living at Bracken House, Bawnboy, when the assassins struck. It is possible that his death was accidental and that the gang who attacked simply planned to his house which was about to be handed over to the Auxiliaries as a headquarters. The Lord Chancellor later gave the following facts: ‘About 2 a.m. on the morning of June 12 of last year, Dean Finlay was murdered on the lawn outside his house. More than one witness stated at the Military inquiry that about forty men broke into the house, which they set on fire. Afterwards, the Dean was found on the lawn. He was dead. A few days later nine men were arrested on suspicion and were identified by different witnesses as strangers who had been present on that occasion, and some of them were stated to have carried short iron bars, with which Dean Finlay might have been struck down. No witness came forward who was able to say that he saw the blow delivered. These nine men were in custody awaiting trial at the time of the General Amnesty which followed the signing of the Treaty. They were never brought to trial, and were released from custody in pursuance of the Amnesty extended to persons convicted of, or suspected of having committed, offences from political motives in Ireland. No person has since been brought to justice by the Provisional Government for the murder. As regards the last part of the Question, the restoration and maintenance of law and order in Southern Ireland is now a matter for that Government.’
According to Carson, Dean Finlay was ‘always a man entirely removed from politics and much beloved by everybody who had ever come across him, had retired some little time before to this small property which he had in the County of Cavan, and was leading with his aged wife an ordinary simple life of retirement, having done his work in the Church of which he was a great ornament.’
In Carson’s account, the Dean’s house “was raided by gunmen, not for any political reason so far as one can make out, not at a time when the Provisional Government had been set up, but when the country was under the control of His Majesty’s Government. Coming downstairs, with his wife following him, he was pulled out on to the steps, riddled with bullets, and after he had been shot dead his head was battered in by a blunt instrument. That was not all. These scoundrels then proceeded into the house, where his wife was, set fire to the house, and burnt the whole place to the ground. That is the case of the very rev. John Finlay.’

Carson was deploring the fact that nobody had been arrested for his murder, and wondering whether his widow had been compensated following his execution and the burning of their home.

[35] His eldest son and heir to Ballynure was Captain Harry Haire Forster (1878-1936), a Royal Navy officer whose ship was sunk at Gallipoli in 1915, but he survived. Another son Arthur Haire Forster (1879-1965) emigrated to the United States via Canada in about 1920.

[36] Details of his distinguished Church career are contained in ‘Clogher Clergy and Parishes’ by Rev J. B. Leslie, 1929, the updated edition of which has been published recently. A more detailed account of his time in Belfast Cathedral is available on their website. For those who are interested, Amazon also lists an Obituary of Charles Frederick D’Arcy (1859 – 1938), paperback offprint, Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol 24.

[37] When MacManway took over in 1923, St Anne’s Parish Church, Enniskillen was designated St Macartin’s Cathedral with the intention of replacing the cathedral at Clogher. (His brother was then rector of Enniskillen). However Clogher cathedral was never reduced to parish church status, and so Clogher diocese has the unique distinction of having two diocesan cathedrals, yet with a single dean and chapter‘. (MACARTAN 1500).

[38] Clogher clergy and parishes [microform] : being an account of the clergy of the Church of Ireland in the Diocese of Clogher, from the earliest period, with historical notices of the several parishes, churches, etc.”, by REV. CANON J. B. LESLIE, Kilsaran Rectory, Castlebellingham.

[39] “Register of Historical Portraits-, James Graves, “The Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society”, New Series, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1862), pp. 138-140. (Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland; Another interesting snippet asks for help in identifying a portrait representing ‘a divine in costume or the first half of the seventeenth century, has the above motto [Ut Potiar Patior] painted in white letters above the head… The picture was found some years ago in an old farmhouse in the Vale of Berks, and is supposed to have some connection with the old family of Fettyplace. The person represented has the mustachios, pointed beard and falling collars of the period; and his hands hold a copy of Vincentius Lirinensis.’ The enquriy is from T.W.W. of Speen Vicarage. A reply on page 445 suggests that it might be Spottiswoode. Thanks to Grace Moloney and Richard Hodgson).

[40] Sean Slowey writes: ‘I think he came to Bishopscourt about 1924 as from notes I compiled from Index Books in Registry of Deeds, Dublin;- Clones, Benefice etc. Representative Church Body to Wm. Mealiff, 1924. also Legarhill, Representative Church Body to Wm. Mealiff, 1924.’

[41] The head of the Ballymore branch, Major John Moran Murphy, was living at the Ridges, Woodbury Salterton in Devon in 1959.

[42] Henry’s grandmother, Bridget Murphy, was a sister of Lieutenant John Charles Baldwin who fought at the battle of Salamanca and later became a Colonel in the Colombian army.

[43] Lincolnshire Echo, 19 August 1893.

[44] Further details of the Stanton family can be found here and here.

[45] See their 1901 form here.

[46] See their 1911 form here.

[47] Henry and Mary’s second son Gerard Murphy was born in May 1901 and married, aged 23, to Mary O’Neill, daughter of David O’Neill of Drombana, Co. Limerick. They had a son, Daniel Lonan (b. 25 March 1941) and daughter Ann Barbara (b. 26 March 1934). Gerard was Professor of the History of Celtic Studies at the National University of Ireland. Perhaps his career was inspired by the discovery of the Altatate cauldron?
Henry and Mary’s third son Dermot Murphy was born in February 1903 and educated at UCD where he obtained an MB, BCh and BAO in 1927). In September 1933 he married Kitty Taunton, daughter of Henry Grosvenor Taunton. They had three sons – Brain (1934), Kevin (1937) and Philip (1947) and a daughter Elaine (1935).
Henry and Mary’s fourth son, Lonan Murphy, was born in March 1907 and worked as a solicitor. He died prematurely in September 1947, eight months before his father

[48] See also ‘What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son’s Quest to Redeem the Past’ by James FitzGerald (Random House of Canada, 2010)

Irish Independent – Friday 30 April 1993: For sale by private treaty (in one or more lots). 435 ACRES OF QUALITY LAND WITH EXCEPTIONAL CATTLE WINTERING FACILITIES at: CLONAVILLA, CLONES, CO. MONAGHAN The lands, which have excellent road frontage, are all in pasture and are in a high state of fertility. With the Finn river flowing through the centre of the farm, year round of water is assured. The substantial farm can accommodate up to 1200 head of cattle and comprise slatted houses, three covered silage pits together with machinery workshop, ancillary stores and other cattl handling facilities. Situated about one mile from Clones on the Ballybay Road, this is without doubt one of the most superior dry stock farms in the country and must be viewed to be appreciated.
There was a public auction of the same property by Gunne, at their Monaghan office, on Thursday 23rd November 1995 at 5 p.m..