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Overview: The McClintock Bunburys of Lisnavagh

The family connection to Lisnavagh began on 13 March 1669, over 350 years ago, when Benjamin Bunbury (1642-1707) of Killerig, Co Carlow leased 512 acres at Tobinstown in the barony of Rathvilly, County Carlow, from Richard Butler, Earl of Arran, for the lifetime of himself and his family at £68 per year.

Here, Turtle explores the history of the Bunbury family from their arrival in England with the Norman invasion to the exodus from Cheshire to Ireland in the wake of the English Civil War. He also looks at the families earliest association with Ireland – and Virginia – and the generations who occupied Lisnavagh prior to the historic marriage of 1797 between John McClintock, MP, of Drumcar House, Co. Louth, and Jane Bunbury, daughter of the late William Bunbury, MP, of Lisnavagh House, Co. Carlow.

The McClintock’s firstborn son was created Baron Rathdonnell and succeeded to Drumcar. Their second son, Captain William McClintock Bunbury, enjoyed life as an intrepid sailor chasing slavers in the South American seas during the 1830s. In 1847, he was elected MP for Co. Carlow and commissioned American born architect Daniel Robertson to build the new house at Lisnavagh. Happily the family retained the name of Lisnavagh rather than following the Jane Austen-ish vogue for renaming houses with English names, the worst culprit being the McClintock’s cousin Speaker John Foster who named his home Rosy Park.

The Captain is ancestor to the present day McClintock Bunbury family. His eldest son Tom Bunbury would go on to become the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell while the younger son, Jack Bunbury, married into one of Ireland’s foremost hunting dynasties. Tom, Jack and Tom’s son Billy were all enthisastic rowers; all seven oars used by the Bunburys in winning the Ladies’ Plate at Henley are now on display in Carlow Rowing Club. When Billy Bunbury died of wounds in the Anglo-Boer War, his brother Tim became heir to Lisnavagh and the Rathdonnell baronetcy. Tim’s grandson Benjamin is the 5th and present Baron Rathdonnell.

Amongst the other families and people who made a mark on the Bunburys in this era were those of Josias Campbell (great-uncle of the British naval hero, Admiral Sir William Rowley), Redmond Kane (one of the wealthiest men in Ireland during the 1780s), Henry Bruen (the quartermaster who became the richest man in the British Army during the American War of Independence), Sir Hugh Gough (Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in India), Sir Leopold McClintock (the Arctic explorer), Charles Paget (nephew of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), the Clancartys of Ballinasloe, the Lefroys of Hampshire, the Stronges of Tynan Abbey, the Bruens of Oak Park, the Ievers of Ceylon, the Drews of Westmoreland and the Finlays & Colleys of Corkagh, Clondalkin, County Dublin.

See also: The Robert Browne-Clayton Collection & The Bunbury Papers which have been transcribed by Michael Purcell and his hard working team for ‘The Pat Purcell Papers’.