Turtle Bunbury

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In 1879, over a third of Lord Rathdonnell’s 18,923 acres lay in the province of Ulster: 2886 acres in County Tyrone, 2600 acres in County Fermanagh and 1006 acres in County Monaghan. Much of this estate was sold off in the wake of Wyndham’s Land Act of 1903. Having observed the covers of several weighty tomes on the Fermanagh estates on the doors of the Lisnavagh Library – I am as yet unsure where the contents themselves might be – it never occurred to me that some of these lands would be located right outside my wife Ally’s hometown of Clones, which straddles the border between Counties Monaghan and Fermanagh.

The McClintock family connections to the area have long been strong and run back to the early 18th century.[i] John ‘Bumper Jack’ McClintock of Drumcar was High Sheriff of County Tyrone in 1781, the eve of Grattan’s Parliament. The following year, using an address at Galloon, Co Fermanagh, he was appointed high sheriff of County Fermanagh. From 1783 to 1790, he was MP for Enniskillen, the capital of County Fermanagh, in Grattan's Parliament, while from 1790 to 1797 he held the seat as MP for Belturbet. Bumper Jack’s grandson, Captain William McClintock Bunbury, who built Lisnavagh, moved to the area after he retired from the navy. During the early 1840s, he lived at Manor Highgate, between Clones and Magheraveely, close to Knockballymore and a chunk of the Black Pig’s Dyke. The captain’s wife Pauline, who lived with him at Manor Highgate before Lisnavagh was built, was a member of the Stronge family of Tynan Abbey, County Armagh, near the Fermanagh and Monaghan border. The captain’s half-brother George McClintock lived at Fellow’s Hall, Killylea, County Armagh (and also married a Stronge) while other McClintock cousins lived at Seskinore in County Tyrone, Dunmore in County Derry and Kilwarlin .

My father even found a letter in the archives written by Tom Rathdonnell to Bishop Day from Bishopscourt, where Ally grew up:

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

image title

Above: The OS map shows several places connected to the family - Highgate Manor, Knockballymore, Clontivrin, Galloon - but there is curiously no record of Bishopscourt.



An index to the Rathdonnell papers compiled by Anthony Malcomson in about 1995, includes a reference to two boxes of deeds, leases, correspondence, etc, relating to the McClintock estate in Co. Fermanagh [which was producing £2,700 a year in the 1870s], consisting of the lands of Clontaverin, Clonmackan, Galloon, etc, all or most of them in the parishes of Clones and Drummully, baronies of Clankelly and Coole, and all or most of them held under the bishops of Clogher. The lands are connected to a Deed of settlement made on 10 Feb. 1743 by Daniel and Charles Eccles, involving John McClintock of Trintaugh, Co. Donegal, and Alexander McClintock of Dublin, of Rathmoran (alias Ardmagh), barony of Clankelly, Co. Fermanagh. The Sampson, Noble, Nixon and Pilkington families are also tied in with this. Rathmoran is located on the B36 between Donagh and Roslea.

In February 1820, Lord John George, Bishop of Clogher, granted a 21-year lease to John McClintock of Drumcar of the lands of Galloon, Co. Fermanagh, a 211-acre townland on the border, just south-west of Crom Caste. Samuel ‘Premium' Madden of nearby Hilton Park was appointed Vicar of Galloon in 1727.

The Fermanagh estate memorandum book in the Rathdonnell archives (D 3/10) is of particular interest; it appears to be a survey of each farm, dwelling particularly on the reliability or otherwise of the tenants, made over the period 1873-1886 by Frederick Wrench, and apparently basing itself on a model taken from Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard's nearby Clones estates. Most of the letters relate to the purchase of the head rent of Clontaverin (aka Clontivrin) from the see of Clogher, and of another head rent from Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard. You’ll find an outline of the townland of Clontivrin here; if you head west from Clones on the A34 and turn right at McEntee's Off Licence, the next cross is Clontivrin cross while on the northern side of it (on the road to Knockballymore) is a sign saying Clonmackan; the townlands appears to be either side of the Clones to Newtownbutler road. One local farmer advised me: 'I always think the land round that area looks rather good.’

Over the course of Christmas 2019, I went for a spin around the townlands of Clonmackan and Clontivrin, inhaling the view of verdant green drumlins, accessible by a skinny, hedge-lined, stream-crossed road between McEntee’s Off Licence and KC Tyres. I drove up Knockballymore Road, through the stone stumps of a fine old railway bridge, to Clontivrin House, a modest early Victorian house, but the owner had not heard of the McClintock family. According to history books, this area was once known as Clankelly, and was literally the home to the Kelly clan. A church at Cluain-Tibhrinne, now Clontivrin, was dedicated either to St Lonan or St Coleman but was completely obliterated by a farmer named Stephenson ‘who tilled the spot and removed every trace of its sanctity.’[ii]

The oldest part of Knockballymore House, one of the principal houses in the area, was an early Plantation dwelling dated to about 1610. It may have been built for the Higginsons. Originally from Warwickshire, this family rose to prominence when the Rev. John Higginson was appointed the second headmaster of the Merchant Taylor’s School in London in 1568. During the early 17th century, his oldest son Nathaniel Higginson was granted Knockballymore Castle, only to be cast out during the 1641 Ulster Rebellion when he was ‘despoiled of his goods and means worth £1126 and he, his wife and family stripped of all their clothes’.[Deposition, State Papers, 7 Jan 1641. Quoted in Burke’s IFR (1976), p. 590.] Another son Nicholas was similarly treated at his residence in Belturbet, County Cavan, from where he walked eighty miles to Dublin with his wife and seven children, all stripped. A third son John fared better as a ‘gentleman who kept high company’. The present lakeside house of Knockballymore is said to have been built in around 1740 for one of the Ward family of Castleward, County Down. It may have later served as a house for the Earl of Erne's stewards while the Ernes occupied it when Crom Castle burned down in 1764 and it remained a Crichton stronghold for at least a century afterwards. (That said, it was described as the residence of the late John King in 1833). William McClintock Bunbury became close pals with the Crichtons when he lived at Manor Highgate; Lady Erne was godmother to his son. On 26 November 1849, Jane Crichton, relict of Lieutenant Colonel the Hon. John Crichton, and mother of the Earl of Erne, died at Knockballymore. I believe the house was also home to the Bishop of Clogher before they moved to Bishopscourt. George Knight mentioned a big party that took place there while the bishop was away! It also hosted a drill by the Ulster Volunteer Force drill in 1914. The house was later home to the Rusks before the Pattons bought it in 1987. Other prominent families in the locality were the Bamfords and the Jacksons; the shell of the Jackson home still stands. (With thanks to Robert Patton and George Knight).

The Rathdonnell papers at G/31 contain two letters to John McClintock, later 1st Lord Rathdonnell, from his father, John McClintock Junior of Drumcar, about the McClintock estate in Co. Fermanagh (Cleenagh, Clontaverin, etc) and the in-roads made upon it in connection with the Ulster Canal, 1838, the difficulties attendant upon its being held under a lease from the Bishops of Clogher, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland and others. The townland of Cleenagh referred to lies just beyond Agnews sawmill on the banks of the River Finn, and forms the base of what the British army referred to as the Monaghan re-entry, a bulge of Monaghan that inconvenienced them greatly because it pressed up into Fermanagh but which they couldn't enter and it hindered operations. Captain McClintock Bunbury of Lisnavagh may have cashed in when the Ballybay to Enniskillen line was constructed by the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway Company; certainly a line planned in the 1850s was scheduled to pass through the townlands of Clontivrin and Clonmackan, and the remnants of a bridge survive yet. On the other hand, Tom Rathdonnell, the captain’s son, would be embroiled in matters such as the "Lough Erne Drainage District” during the 1870s and 1880s.[iii] Mingling with familiar Monaghan names such as Madden, Crichton, Shirley, Leslie, Guthrie, Lennard and Rossmore, he was also a vice-president of the Clones Union Farming Society in 1880.[iv]

Built in 1844, St Mary's Church, Drumully (or Drummully) Parish, County Monaghan, in the townland of Clonooney, serves a small Church of Ireland congregation of about 30 people (primarily from Fermanagh) and is located on the Cavan-Clones concession road in a tiny parish that is almost completely surrounded by County Fermanagh. At its southern point, the parish is only 200 yards wide. Known as the Drummully Salient, the only way in by road is through Northern Ireland; from the Republic, it is only accessible on foot through fields. The Maddens are thought to have had the living of Drumully and to have exchanged it for an unspecified favour in the 19th century; Kieran Coffey of KC Tyres farms much of the land adjacent to that cross. Saint Marys Church in Drummully celebrated its 175 anniversary in 2019, as did Saint Alphonsus’s, the adjacent Roman Catholic chapel in the Connons. A joint commemoration was held in Saint Mary's packed-out hall at which, in the interest of ecumenism, George Knight spoke on the history of the Catholic place of worship and a gentleman named Seamus McCaffrey spoke on the Protestant church. Saint Alphonsus's was erected at the time of the construction of the Ulster Canal when William Dargan, the civil engineer in charge of the canal project, became friendly with the Parish Priest in the Connons who persuaded him to design the new chapel. Dargan had worked in England with Thomas Telford who was responsible for the design of the infrastructure of the canal and, while Telford was dead by the time work on the Ulster Canal commenced, his architectural heritage lives on in the surviving canal buildings, bridges, locks and at least one aqueduct. Telford also designed many churches in the United Kingdom. One wonders if any of them look like the chapel in Connons. (Thanks to George Knight)

On 2 October 1903, James McManus sold a 55 acre grass and tillage farm at Derrybeg East, just outside Newtownbutler, which he held from Lord Rathdonnell.[v] The passage of the ground-breaking Wyndham's Act, that same year, lead to a radical change in Irish land ownership. Named for George Wyndham, Chief Secretary of Ireland at the time, this act helped to solve the contentious Irish land question by offering landlords an extra 12% bonus payment, paid by the British government, for any lands they sold to their tenants. The 4th Earl of Dunraven, who chaired the Land Conference, which paved the way for the ground-breaking act, described it as ‘a lasting monument to what the spirit can accomplish for Ireland.’ Over the next five years, nearly quarter of a million tenants bought their holding.

The sale of the Fermanagh estates inevitably involved a good deal of negotiation over the prices, and the inclusion of sporting and turbary rights.[vi] In January 1904, the tenants on the estate of Lord Rathdonnell in Newtownbutler met at Wattlebridge on the back of which the Clones solicitor W. A. Parke (a brother-in-law of Rick Pringle's great-grandfather, John Pringle, butter merchant of Clones) pitched an offer to Tom Rathdonnell. Walter Butler (of the Ballintemple family), acting as Tom’s agent, came back with a counter-offer which was, in turn, rejected by the tenants.[vii] Further negotiations ensued and, shortly before Christmas 1905, the Newtownbutler tenants were informed that Lord Rathdonnell was willing to sell his property to them.[viii] The sale was completed in Fermanagh 1906, at which point all of the evicted tenants were reinstated.[ix]

Not all the lands were sold outright. In February 1909, for instance, Michael E. Knight, the Clones solicitor (and grandfather of George Knight) supervised the auction of a small 8 acre farm on the fertile banks of Lough Erne at Galloon held by James Tummin from Lord Rathdonnell. [xi]

The family were also connected to two townlands in our Fermanagh estate, Knocknastackan (between Fivemiletown and Clabby) and Tatentagart (which i can't find) - confusingly they came to the Rathdonnells from the Kane family where the others seem to be McClintock.


I will add to this later but the terms of the 1906 sale above, which I can’t pretend to understand, evidently appealed to the tenants of the Rathdonnell estate at Errigal Truagh near Augnacloy in northern Monaghan (north-west of the Tynan / Caledon / Glaslough triangle) who met ‘at Master McCann's in the townland of Mullacor’ shortly afterwards and proposed a similar arrangement for the purchase of their holdings.[x] The Monaghan estates also included the lake at Drumsnatt.


I will upload details on this also.


With thanks to George Knight, Johnny Madden and Anthony Malcomson.


[i] In 1862, there were 13 McClintock households spread across six Fermanagh parishes, namely Aghalurcher (6), Aghavea (1), Clones (1), Derryvullan (1), Drummully (1), Enniskillen (2) and Galloon (1).

[ii] Cluain-Tibhrinne, now Clontivrin, a town-land in the barony of Clankelly, on the confines of the counties of Monaghan and Fermanagh, and about one Irish mile west of the town of Clones. The ruins of an old church were to be seen in this townland till about forty three years ago when they were destroyed by a farmer of the name of Stephenson who tilled the spot and removed every trace of its sanctity. In O Clery's Irish Calendar, at 24th October, the church of Cluain Tibhrinne is placed in the territory of Clann Ceullaig. [Annals of the kingdom of Ireland, Volume 1, p. 342] The “Martyrology of Donegal,” at October 24th, has St. Lonan [Coleman?] of Clontibrinne,' now Clontivrin.

[iii] WHEREAS, the Right Earl of Erne, the Earl of Enniskillen, and the Earl of Lanesborongh, Lord Rathdonnell, John Madden. Esq., and Thos. Hamilton Jones, Esq., have, in accordance with the provisions of the above-mentioned Acts, presented a Petition to Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland praying that the District bounded and set forth in the Maps accompanying said Petition be incorporated under the style and name of the "Lough Erne Drainage District” and that Inspector might be sent to the said District to make the necessary enquiries into the propriety of constituting the same.
Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet - Thursday 13 November 1873

[More specific details on Rathdonnell’s link to the Lough Erne drainage are in the Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet, 22 December 1884).

[iv] CLONES UNION FARMING SOCIETY'S SHOW (From our Reporter.) Clones, Tuesday. The annual show in connection with the Clones Union Farming Society was held in the Pig Market, close to the railway station, here to-day. The weather was not by any means favourable for an occasion of the kind. Indeed, it was quite the reverse. From an early hour in the morning rain fell copiously, and continued throughout the day witnout a single moment's intermission. The consequence naturally was that, in the first instance, a great many remained at home who would otherwise have been present: and secondly, those who did venture out at all and put in an appearance retired early when they saw there was no sign the rain clearing off.The attendance, owing to these causes, was but small, and was confined in great measure to the exhibitors, with their friends and servants. The ladies, whose presence tends peculiarly to grace such gatherings, were conspicuous by their absence. It might be found worth while for the promoters of the annual shows of this society to consider whether it would not be advisable to choose in future a day somewhat earlier in the season. The president of the society is Sir Thomas Leonard, Bart., the largest landowner the district, and the vice-presidents as follows —The Earl of Dartry, KP; Lord Rathdonnell; the Earl of Lanesborough; Sir Victor A Brooke. Bart.; Mr. S. E. Shirley. D.L. J.P.: Mr. J. Madden. D.L.. J.P.; Lord Rossmore; Sir John Leslie, Bart.; Sir Wm. Tyrone Power. K.C.R.; Mr. A. A. Murray-Ker, D.L. J.P.; Mr. Frederick Wrench, J.P.; and Mr. John Brady. D.L., JP. (Belfast Morning News - Wednesday 15 September 1880)

[v] Robert W. Wilson’s Auction Sales
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2nd —Highly important Sale of Valuable Farm at Derrybeg East, near Newtownbutler, for Mr. James McManus, at 2 o'clock ; also a quantity of prime Hay In rick. This Farm which is one of the best Grass and Tillage Farms in the district, consists of 55a. 2r. 30p. statute measure or thereabouts held as a Judicial Tenancy under Lord Rathdonnell, subject to the yearly rent of £28 10s. The Farm which is most conveniently situated within One mile of Newtownbutler, consists principally of Rich Heavy Loam with a small portion of prime Moss Ground, all well fenced and watered, and producing the most luxuriant fattening pasturage, and Meadows in the Pink of Condition. There is a good Dwelling and extensive out offices on the Farm, and the entire forms a most desirable investment. The Hay consists of 50 prime well saved ricks.
Robert W Wilson. Auctioneer and Property Broker. Enniskillen and Lisnaskea.
Fermanagh Herald, 19 September 1903, p. 4.

[vi] THE LAND ACT. RATHDONNELL'S FERMANAGH ESTATE SOLD. The tenants on the Rathdonnell estate, County Fermanagh, some time ago opened negotiations with their landlord, Lord Rathdonnell, and as a result they received a letter in which it was stated that Lord Rathdonnell would sell his property at 25% reduction on first, and 12% on second term rents, reserving sporting and turbary rights. All rent due up to the 1st November last must be paid. On Friday the tenants agreed to accept the foregoing terms. [From Carlow Sentinel, 16 January 1904, with thanks to Pat Purcell Papers].

The tenants on the estate of Lord Rathdonnell in Newtownbutler district, held a meeting in Wattlebridge schoolroom, when it was decided to make the landlord an offer of purchase at 40 per cent reduction on first and 30 per cent on second term rents, together with turbary rights. The agent had previously informed the tenants that he would sell at 20 and 10 per cent reduction respectively.
Since the tenants' offer has been communicated the following reply has been received by Mr. W. A. Parke, solicitor, Clones, who is acting for them:
"Greenmount, Castle bellingham, December 21st, 1903—Dear Sir— I forwarded your letter relative to the purchase of above to Lord Rathdonnell, and having from him on the subject, write to say that he could not comply with the terms named in your letter of 10th December. Lord Rathdonnell will, however, decrease his terms and allow 25per cent. on first term and 12 1/2 on second term (that is on rents fixed previous to 1896, and subsequent to that date) reserving sporting and turbary rights. All rent due to November 1st, 1903, must be paid and 3 1/2 per cent. on purchase money from November 1st, 1903, provided agreement for purchase is settled before February 1st, 1904. Am I to understand that your offer is on behalf of all Lord Rathdonnell's tenants in Co. Fermanagh? Yours truly,—Walter S. Butler, agent.”
The tenants have since decided not to accept the terms offered in above letter.
Fermanagh Herald - Saturday 09 January 1904, p. 8.

[viii] NEWTOWNBUTLER. The tenants on the estate of Lord Rathdonnell have just been notified that his Lordship is willing to sell his property to the tenants at terms which amount to 5s 6d in the £ reduction on first term rents, and 3s 6d on second term.
Fermanagh Herald - Saturday 23 December 1905, p. 5.

[ix] FERMANAGH ESTATE BOUGHT - The tenants on the estate of Lord Rathdonnell, situate at Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, have completed the condition for purchase of their holdings on the following terms - 4s in the £ off second term rents, 24 1/2 years purchase; 6s on first term rents, 21 1/2 years purchase. All evicted tenants to be reinstated, save where the present occupier refuses to leave, in which case a reasonable compensation will be paid the evicted tenant. Bog, sporting and mineral rights go in full to the tenants. (Fermanagh Herald - Saturday 17 February 1906, p. 6).

[x] RATHDONNELL ESTATE. ERRIGAL TRUAGH - TENANTS WANT TO KNOW PURCHASE TERMS. A meeting of the tenants of the above estate representative of the townlands of Derracoo, Gartaclieve, Gir*n, Mallacor, Mulnacross, Mullinderg was held at Master McCann's in the townland of Mullacor. The meetings was convened for the purpose of considering the advisability of communicating with the landlord in reference to the purchase by the tenants of their holdings under the Land Act, 1903. After some discussion the tenants instructed their solicitor. Mr Joseph Speer of Aughnacloy to communicate with Lord Rathdonnell the decision of the meeting. Fermanagh Herald - Saturday 24 February 1906, p. 8.

[xi] AUCTION OF SMALL FARM I AM instructed by Mr . James Tummin to Sell by Auction on the Premises, at 2 o'clock, on TUESDAY, the 23rd FEBRUARY, 1909 (if not previously disposed of), his Farm in GALLOON, Containing 8 Irish Acres, or thereabouts, held under Lord Rathdonnell, at the Half-Yearly Rent of £2 4s. 4d: the Valuation being £7 5s.
This splendid Farm is well known to be one of the most fertile spots on the banks of Lough Erne, and is all laid down in Grazing and Meadow, with a very fine Orchard, which more than pays the rent, and is well sheltered and fenced, and no where will Cattle fatten in so short a time as those fed in Galloon. There is a good Turf Bog to the Farm. This Farm lies within 3 miles of Belturbet, and 2 miles of Newtownbutler. Immediate possession can be given. All charges paid up to November last. TERMS.
A deposit of £30 must be paid by Purchaser at fall of hammer, with Auction Fees, also Conditions of Sale must be signed at same time.
For all Particulars apply to M. E. KNIGHT, Solicitor, Clones, having Carriage of Sale ; or to THOMAS BEATTY, Auctioneer, and Cattle Salesman, Newtownbutler and Clones.
Fermanagh Herald - Saturday 13 February 1909, p. 5.