Turtle Bunbury

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During the 18th and 19th century, some of the lands at Lisnavagh and Tobinstown in County Carlow were rented by the Germaines, a family of Huguenot extraction who came north from Clonegal. They are said to have built several houses on the land and it is for them that Germaine’s Hill (also known as Kinsellagh’s Hill) was named. A rather unsettling story from 1886 claims that, some forty years earlier, Philip Germaine was evicted by the Bunburys and that his houses were later razed to the ground to make way for the new house at Lisnavagh. The story takes place against the backdrop of the Tithe Wars, an often-deadly campaign in which Catholic tenant farmers sought to bring an end to the collection of a tenth of their annual income to pay the clergy of the Church of Ireland. While some doubt must be cast on this fiery version of events, not least because of the story-tellers evident antipathy to the Rathdonnells, there must be some smoke here also. For much of the background on the Germaine family, I am indebted to Kaye Coyle, author of 'The Germaines – A Huguenot Family from the Irish Midlands' (Melbourne, 2004).


The lands at Lisnavagh came into the family in the late 17th century. According to a note above the main stairs in Lisnavagh today, a house was built at Lisnavagh in 1696 which may have been where William Bunbury I and his son, William Bunbury II lived between 1696 and 1755. I believe the land was then held in trust for William II’s nephew, later William Bunbury 'of Lisnavagh', who was killed in a horse fall in 1778. At the time of his death, William III was planning to build a new house at Lisnavagh, the plans of which we hold in the Lisnavagh archive. William III’s father Thomas Bunbury lived at Kill (probably the farmhouse beside where the sugar beet is often piled up on the bend in the Carlow-Hacketstown Road) so one assumes this is where William also lived between Thomas’s death in 1774 and his own in 1778. From 1778 until 1823, Lisnavagh was effectively managed by William III's younger brother, Benjamin Bunbury, the Magistrate of Carlow, who lived at Moyle (or possibly Killerig), on behalf of William III's eldest son, Thomas. This younger Thomas was mostly based in Bath and rarely, I believe, lived in Carlow, despite being MP for the county in the 1840s



The Germaine family were Huguenot refugees who moved to Ireland from France (La Rochelle perhaps), possibly via the Netherlands and England, in about 1700. A Philip Germain was naturalized in the UK in 1720. The earliest record of a family member in Ireland is a Thomas Jarman [sic] who was leasing land in Coolinarrig, near Baltinglass, County Wicklow, from Anderson Saunders in 1737; the Jarman family were still leasing the Coolinarrig land in 1757. St Fiac’s graveyard in Clonegal on the carlow-Wexford border holds the grave of Thomas Germaine (c. 1716-1793), who may feasibly be the Thomas Jarman who rented Coolinarrig. His grave is described thus: 'On the grave to which the last upright relates, is a flat stone bearing the following inscription':— He lieth the body of Thomas Germai |ne who departed this life July 25th 1793 Aged |76 years May he rest in pace Amen.'

Thomas's grave stands close to that of Phillip Germain (c. 1753-1819), believed to be his son, whose upright headstone, erected by his widow Eleanor [Einor], describes him as “late of Lisnevagh” [sic] and states that he died in 1819 age 66. Both graves are Protestant in style leading Kaye Coyle to propose that these were ‘the last Non-Catholic members of the Germaine family in this part of Ireland.’ According to Patrick Whelan's last Will & Testament (dated July 8, 1833), Eleanor Germaine was almost certainly his sister Helen.

According to the Freeman’s Journal, the Germaine family were renting land at Lisnavagh from at least the 1730s although there is no mention of them in Thomas Bunbury’s journals of 1754-1774. It is worth noting that in the Lisnavagh rent books, the Germaine surname is also spelt Germans, Jermyns and Jermaine. One wonders whether the name O’Gorman might also derive from this.

In 1798, Philip was implicated in the United Irishman rebellion when he came before magistrate Edward Whitty. Although there is no reference to the Germaine’s in the bicentennial book, ‘Clonegal in 1798’ (Duffy Press, 1998), this tallies with a double-sided recognizance document in the Pat Purcell Papers, in the hand writing of Benjamin Bunbury [i] :

Recognizance Ireland to wit ~~~~
Philip Germain maketh Oath that he usually resides at Lisnavagh in the Townland of Lisnavagh in the Parish of Rathvilly in the Barony of Rathvilly and in the County of Carlow. [ signed ] Philip Germain.
Michael Germaine maketh Oath that he is a Householder, and actually resides at Tobinstown in the Townland of Tobinstown in the Parish of Rathvilly in the Barony of Rathvilly in the County of Carlow.
Thomas Germaine [ same details as above ]
[ signed ] Michael Germaine and
Thomas Germaine.
Philip Germain bound in the Sum of one thousand pounds.
Michael and Thomas Germaine, bondsmen, in the Sum of one thousand pounds each.
The above bounded on Condition that Philip Germaine shall appear on the First Day of the next General Assizes and General Gaol Delivery to answer all such Matters and Things as TREASON against him on behalf of our Most Sovereign Lord George the Third, of Great Britain, France and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith and so forth. Against the Peace of the Liege Subjects of his Majesty the King, and the Peace, Crown and Dignity of our Sovereign Lord, George the Third, King, aforesaid.
Sworn respectively before me this 5th Day of July 1798.
[ signed ] Tankerville Chamberlian.
Taken and Acknowledged in open Court, the Day and Year aforesaid.
[ signed ] W. Downes.
Benjamin Bunbury, Clerk.

Whether Philip was harbouring rebels or not is unclear. He seems to have survived the examinations intact for in 1800, the Magistrate Bunbury's account books for Lisnavagh indicate that Philip was paid for the airing (heating?) of the house at Lisnavagh, as well as for supplying turf, harrowing and improving the estate. The Widow Germaine was simultaneously paid £5-2 for ‘repairing’ Lisnavagh that year. The implication is that Philip was acting in the role of Steward at Lisnavagh, which would make sense in terms of Germaine's house being the Lisnavagh Steward's house. But was Philip paid again in 1801 or was he in disgrace by then?

In 1808, Philip was centre stage of an embarassing incident concerning the theft of cattle from Lisnavagh. The story first comes to light with a front page article in the Freemans Journal of Thursday, January 21, 1808"

'STOLEN, on the 18th Inftant, off LISNEVAUGH, in the County of Carlow: ELEVEN BULLOCKS in condition, marked on the horn with the latters L. A. Whoever gives information of the above Cattle that may lead to a difcovery, fhall receive FIVE GUINEAS REWARD and no queftions afked, or TWENTY GUINEAS by profecuting the Thief or Thieves to conviction, by applying to Mr Phillip Germain, of the above place, or Meffrs. Byrne, Byrne and Whelan, Smithfield Dublin. 20th Jan. 1808."

The case was solved, up to a point, when Phillip appeared before the Commission of Oyer and Terminer on 11 July 1808 - with his own nephews, the McCabe brothers, standing in the dock accused of stealing the oxen. Saunders's News-Letter of 13 July 1808 carried this account:

‘Thomas M’Cabe and Cor. M’Cabe stood indicted for having stolen 11 oxen laid as the property of Phillip Germain of the County of Carlow , who proved that a few months since those oxen were stolen from off his lands - many of them were branded, but not exactly, with his initials - he traced hides with marks on the horns, and exactly the number of the oxen he had lost, but the marks not so perfect as to enable him to prove his property. Major Swan received intimation of this theft, and used his accustomed exertions to trace it to its source, which he accomplished, by the apprehension of the prisoners, and a specis of equivocal confession from the prisoner, Thomas, who said, that in case they had taken those animals, they never stole from strangers and only took their own, alluding, as he afterwards understood, to the intimate degree of relationship in which they stood with the prosecutor, who acknowledged himself to be their uncle, but denied any truth for them by legacy, or otherwise, or any description of dealing which could authorize claim on him.’

In other words, Major Swan beat the holy bejesus out of the McCabe brothers until they coughed up and said they had nabbed the cows off Uncle Phil.

Saunder’s continues: ‘Major Swan, in the course of 14 hours indefatigable peregrination among all the tanners and butchers in the metropolis, at length found out the hides and carcasses, which he retained, particularly the flesh, which he offered to sell at one penny per pound, at which the House of Industry rejected it, being then not very remote from a state of putrification. The prisoners were acquitted.’

It seems extraordinary that they were acquitted but perhaps Philip dropped the charges?

Philip died on 30 January 1819, aged 66, and was buried in Clonegal near to Thomas Germaine, believed to be his father, who had died in 1793. His grave was described as 'an upright stone, surmounted by an elaborate device, almost obliterated, under which is inscribed "Gloria in excelsis Deo"'— Erected by Eleanor Germaine in | memory of her husband Philip Germaine | late of Lisnuvagh who departed this life | Janry 30 1819 Aged 66 years | May he rest in Peace Amen.'

On 2 March 1820, Saunders's News-Letter published a notice regarding Philip's will:

THE several Relatives of the late Philip Germaine, of Lisnevagh, in the County of Carlow, Esq, deceased, are required by his Administratrix, to apply at the Office of his Agent, Mr. Ryan, 21, Old Dominick-street, where a statement of the Assetts of said Philip Germaine can be seen, preparatory to a division of same, which will made on Friday, the 10th day of March inst.

Philip is believed to have been a younger brother of another Thomas Germaine (c. 1740-1802), who settled at Prumplestown in the mid-1770s and was buried in Kilkea. The Lisnavagh Archives also refer to two leases, both missing, dated 1 April 1807 from George Bunbury (uncle of Thomas) to Thomas Germaine on (1) ' the demesne lands of Phrumplestown containing 50 acres for 3 lives or 30 years at a rent of £150’ and (2) '51 acres of Phrumplestown at a rent of £87.’

Another of Philip's sibling was John Germaine (c. 1760-1798), who moved from Lisnavagh to Grangecon, Co. Wicklow. and whose son Philip would later return to Lisnavagh.



The connection between the family and the Lisnavagh area also leads to James Germaine (c. 1732-1799) and Thomas Germaine (c. 1740-1820), who were based at nearby Tobinstown and who are both buried in Rathvilly. They are thought to have been nephews of Thomas Germaine who died in 1793 and first cousins of Philip the steward.

On 28 September 1801, Thomas Bunbury of Lisnavagh agreed leases with another generation of Germaines at Tobinstown, namely James Germaine (c. 1760-1832) and Thomas Germaine (born c. 1765), presumably sons of an earlier namesake. By 1826, James held 151 acres at Tobinstown while Thomas held 149 acres 'of part of Tobinstown for 3 lives at a rent of £92.14s.0d.’. The above-named Michael Germaine of Tobinstown must have been a brother or cousin, while 1801 is also the year of a missing proposal by Patrick Germaine for ‘part of Lisnavagh’. although I am unsure what this proposal was.

In 1974, P.J. Kavanagh, M.A., wrote an article entitled ‘Rathvilly's Contribution to the Tithe War’ for The Carolviana, Vol. 2, No. 23. He reported on various incidents involving police and tithe resisters in 1836 and 1837 in Carlow. He particularly refers to an incident on 23rd August 1837 where cattle belonging to Thomas Germaine (c. 1791-1872) of Tobinstown were seized in lieu of tithes owing, amidst still more blowing of horns. The article read as follows:

A crowd of two hundred gathered at the house of Thomas Germaine at Tobinstown, Rathvilly…where seven bailiffs had been placed in charge of said Germaine’s property which had been seized… for tithes due Rev. John Whitty…..The bailiffs were turned out of the house and put on the Public Road…(and) threatened with death….The people took Germaine’s property for safe keeping.” All this even though “Germaine is a man not universally liked in this neighbourhood…

It was noted that he had voted for Thomas Bunbury, his landlord, at a recent by-election. By his wife Margaret, he had a daughter Elizabeth who is thought to have been the Eliza Germaine of Tobinstown who married James Gahan of Kilguigan. Could she connect to the present day Gahan's in Ballybit just below Knocknagann?



James Germaine is thought to have been the father of Philip Germaine, who became steward of Lisnavagh. It is notable that the steward’s house at Lisnavagh is known as Germaine’s to this day. On 20 December 1828, the Dublin Evening Post reported that Mr. J. H. Curran had successfully proposed the admission of Messrs. William Lalor and Philip Germain as Churchwardens of Rathvilly. The Lisnavagh Archives includes a bundle of receipts and vouchers, dated 1830, addressed to Thomas Bunbury of Lisnavagh or 'Mr' [Philip?] Germaine [the steward?] in respect of personal, household, home farm and estate expenditure. The papers are in a numbered series, which clearly relates to an account book. This seems to be replicated in another numbered bundle of receipts/vouchers to Thomas Bunbury and Philip Germaine for personal, household, home farm and estate expenditure dated 1845-1846. Also of note, another item referred to as 'Philip Germaine's proposal for Lisnavagh’, dated 24 Mar. 1831 (7/12). Philip was married in 1839, late in life, to Alicia Hayden of Kilkenny – no children have yet been recorded.



John Germaine (c. 1768-1825) was probably a son of Thomas Germaine (c. 1740-1820) of Tobinstown. In about 1790, he married Margaret Byrne (c. 1771-1849) with whom he had eleven children. In 1808, he took a lease for the life of Philip Germaine or 31 years, although it is not clear which Philip this refers to. On 17 May 1816, he signed a new lease with Thomas Bunbury on 63 acres at Lisnavagh to run ‘during the natural lives of John Germaine, aged 45 years, Michael Germaine second son of the before aged about 21, and Thomas Germaine, third son aged about 20.’ (7/7A) (It is unclear why the eldest son was left out, or who that might have been.)

On Tuesday 4 February 1823, Saunders's News-Letter carried a story headlined 'ROBBERY OF MISS GERMAINE OF LISNEVAGH IN THIS COUNTY':

Further particulars - On Tuesday evening, as mentioned in our last, the house was attacked: Mrs Germaine's bedroom window in the upper story was forcibly dashed in when five men entered, four of whom had their faces blacked. They broke open a desk and some drawers, in the room, from which they took, in money, about 20s [shillings], some house linen, wearing apparel, a blunderbuss, a pistol and 30 rounds of ball cartridge; They threatened to roast Mrs Germain if she did not give them more money or confess where it was and were about to carry their diabolical threats into execution but the neighborhood was alarmed by a boy who escaped through one of the windows, and the villains made their retreat . Carlow Paper.

John's gruesome death two years later was recorded in the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of Saturday 20 August 1825:

On Monday morning last, Mr. John Germain, of Lisnavagh, in the County Carlow. While about his usual business, he was attacked by a bull of his own, and, by the horns of the animal, wounds were inflicted, so serious as to terminate in mortification and death. This very worthy man has left a family of ten children to lament the melancholy fate of an affectionate father. The casualty is a source of poignant regret to all who knew him.

After John died intestate, his freehold property passed to his ‘eldest son and heir-at-law’ Michael Germaine (1796-1843), so Michael’s oldest brother must have died by then. In 1826, Michael was listed with 63 acres in Lisnevagh in the Title Applotment Books. In 1836, Michael teamed up with his younger brothers Thomas and Patrick to register a deed guaranteeing financial support for their widowed mother and sisters from the rental of land leased from Thomas Bunbury. That same year, Michael Jermaine [sic] was listed as one of five judges at the Carlow Farming Society’s first livestock show on 13 October 1836. Michael married Eliza Hyland in about 1835 and was at Knocknegan by then. A map in the back hall at Lisnavagh shows 'the Lands of Lisnavagh and Tobinstown called Knocknagan in the County of Carlow, held by Michael Germaine, the estate of Thomas Bunbury Esq.’ and surveyed by William Marshall in April 1835. As Kaye Cole relates, this branch of the Germaine family had an especially sad time - Michael's wife Eliza (nee Hyland) died in 1841, followed by his sons John and Edward in 1842 and Michael himself, aged 47, in 1843. He was survived by 6-year-old Margaret (who may have married John McMahon of Lisnavagh) and 4-year-old Michael (who went to Australia and became known as Jack Hyland). Knocknegan passed to the Salter family.

John’s next son Thomas Germaine moved to Tullow and set up as a linen and woollen draper on The Square.

John's son Patrick Germaine (1799-1856) married Mary Kelly in about 1845, with whom he had five children, and was renting 104 acres at Lisnavagh in 1852. Patrick Germaine ‘of Lisnavagh’ was also named in a lease from Colonel Kane Bunbury (brother of Thomas, resident of Moyle and Rathmore) dated 9 July 1855. When Griffith’s Valuation for Co. Carlow was published in 1852/1853, Patrick Germaine was listed as a tenant of Captain McClintock Bunbury at Lisnavagh where he still occupied 104 acres and buildings valued at 5 guineas. Patrick and Mary's son John (1845-1885) became a customs officer and settled in London; Kaye Cole's book has more.

In her 2004 booklet on the Germaine family booklet, Melbourne researcher Kaye Cole notes that John Germaine's daughter Alice married John / Michael Hanlon of Grangeford [sometimes Grangeforth], between Moyle and Tullow, County Carlow. [This may connect to the story of Jane O'Hanlon/ Hanlon, reputedly the natural daughter of the Duke of Wellington, and Erindale.] The Bunbury interest in Grangeford [commonly called Rathnashinnick] runs back to at least 17 Sep. 1790 when Benjamin Bunbury leased Thomas and Patrick Hanlan 'part of Grangeford.' The archives contain a bond, dated 1 May 1797, from Hugh Dunn to Benjamin Bunbury relating to the letting of Grangeford. There is also a bundle of correspondence relating to George or Benjamin Bunbury's wish for a lease of Rahinashinra in the 1890s, as well as a new lease signed by Benjamin with Patrick Hannan 'of part of Grangeford’ on 1 April 1802. There is also reference to a missing lease, dated 20 May 1805, from Frederick, Earl of Bessborough, to Benjamin Bunbury of part of the lands of Grangeford, commonly called Rathnashinnick, Co. Carlow, containing 101a. 1r. 9p. for 3 lives at a rent of £162. On 26 Mar. 1807, Benjamin agreed a lease with Robert Samuel Dowse on Grangeford for 40 years at a rent of £195.

As to John’s other known daughters, Anne married William Kelly/O’Kelly of Baltinglass, Margaret married Richard Lawlor went to Australia); Sally married Patrick Doyle; and there was also Sally [?] and Bridget.

NB: The Tithe Applotment Book, Tullowphelim (1825/8), lists a Peter Germain who rented 23.2 acres and was due to pay an annual tithe of £2, 19 shillings and 10 ½ pence.[iv]


In 1796, another John Germaine – thought to be a son of Thomas of Clonegal – moved from Lisnavagh to Grangecon, with his wife Anne and their two small sons Philip and John. The Registry of Deeds contains documents showing he leased land there from 1792. [Kaye Cole research, Source Registry of Deeds 716/489874, 1817.] A daughter Anne was born in Grangecon but John himself died in 1798, perhaps in connection with the rebellion. Born in about 1793, Philip was described as ‘of Grange Con’ when he was married in 1817 to Mary Ann Ryan (nee Whelan), a widow. His uncle Philip Germaine ‘of Lisnavagh’ was the guarantor of the marriage while Philip’s brother John and Thomas Germaine of Tobinstown were among the witnesses.

Mary Ann was a daughter of Patrick Whelan, salesmaster, of the Smithfield horse fair in Dublin and son of James Whelan I of Porter's Size, Timolin, County Kildare. [This may be relevant in that the fields directly north-east of Knocknagan at Lisnavagh were called 'Matt Whelan's Bog and 'Matt Whelan's Bank' since at least my father's childhood.] Patrick Whelan and his brother-in-law Joseph Byrne ran Byrne, Byrne and Whelan of Smithfield (also connected to the above mentioned 1808 cattle theft from Lisnavagh). I think Patrick's sister Helen / Eleanor Germaine was married to the Philip Germaine of Lisnavagh who died in 1819.

Mary Ann's sister Helen Whelan was married to Michael Cullen, a brother of the Right Rev. Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin and Ireland’s first Cardinal. Patrick’s sister Helen / Eleanor Germaine granted the young Helen some money on the occasion. Michael Cullen's uncle Paul Cullen, a member of Sir Richard Butler's Garyhundon yeomanry corps, was executed in 1798 in a dark incident allegedly involving Sir Richard's desire to own the young Cullen's horse. Helen Whelan was also a sister of Hugh Cullen.

[I can't recall the connection now but James Whelan and his wife Mary (nee Muldoon) has one son John, who died a bachelor, and two daughters, Maria (who married John Nolan, former Justice of Peace of Kilballyhue, County Kildare) and Clara Mary (who was married in 1857 at St Paul's church, Dublin to Emile Joseph Leplat, Spinner, of TOURCOING (Nord Department), France, with Paul Cullen giving the benediction). These details were provided by Claude-Régis Pollet (born 1940), the French great-grandson of Clara Mary and Emile Joseph Leplat. Spread across France and Australia, the wider LePlat / Whelan family includes the late well-known writer and historian Jacqueline Dwyer (née Playoust) and Joseph Halpin (b. 1946) who was born in Monkstown, County Dublin, in 1946, and later lived at Wells, Bagenalstown, County Calrow).

With multiple daughters in every generation and often only one son, the "Tail-Male" devolution of the Whelan's landed estates eventually died out, leading to a change in name as Dublin-born James Valentine Joseph NOLAN (1880-1950) changed his surname by deed poll 'NOLAN-WHELAN’ aged twenty. This man was better known as Jim Nolan-Whelan and was a celebrated footballer, being amongst the youngest ever to be capped for Ireland when he was goalkeeper in 1901. He played for the Dublin Freebooters (an amateur gentlemen’s club) and was capped five times for Ireland, only winning once, in his final cap against Scotland, a benefit match to raise funds for the Ibrox Disaster Fund. Educated at Oxford, where he was a double blue, he became a barrister in 1904 and Senior Counsel in 1937. He was most notably involved in the trial of Harry Gleeson, defending the man (with Seán MacBride as junior counsel) who was wrongly convicted and executed for the murder of his neighbour Moll McCarthy, an unmarried mother, at Holycross, County Tipperary. According to his Law Library colleague Richard Cooke, SC, Jim spent his way through two family fortunes (much of it to satiate his addiction to gambling on horses) and sold all the Whelan estates before his death in 1950. ]

When Philip ‘of Lisnavagh’ died in 1819, young Philip, a Roman Catholic, was his designated heir. His wife Mary Ann had died, without any known children, by 1825 when he was married secondly to her cousin Maria Byrne, daughter of the aforementioned Smithfield salesmaster Joseph Byrne. Her brother Mark Byrne was also a Salesmaster of Smithfield. Both of Philip's marriages are documented with Settlements held in the Registry of Deeds. The latter marriage settlement deed is between Joseph Whelan, Philip, Maria, James Whelan of Smithfield, salesmaster, and John Germaine of Grange Con. (R. of Deeds 809/545601, 1825). [James Whelan the salesmaster, was the only son of Patrick, so a grandson of James I, of Porter's Size, and a brother of Helen who married Michael Cullen. There were thus family relationships between Byrnes and Whelans. See earlier references.] Between 1830 and 1837 Philip and Maria had five children, including Daniel Germaine who later moved to Australia.

The Lisnavagh Archives refer to a missing lease, dated 17 June 1820, from Thomas Bunbury to Philip Germaine 'of part of the lands of Lisnavagh containing 20a. 3r. 23p. for 12 years at a rent of £36.10s.6d.’ Philip continued to rent land at ‘Lisnevagh’ and was considered a wealthy farmer by March 1831 when he signed another agreement with Thomas Bunbury by which he agreed to pay £2 sterling “over and above all Tithes and taxes... for the lands of Lisnavagh with the dwelling house, officers and gardens called the demesne, containing 94 acres... to start on 25 March 1831 and to expire on 25 March 1832, on which last named day I will give up the possession if required to do so by the said Thomas Bunbury.”

This sets the scene for a showdown in the Tithe Wars. Arguably the most reviled tax of the early 19th century was the tithe, whereby farmers, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, were obliged to submit approximately one tenth of their annual produce for the upkeep of the clergy of the Church of Ireland. The tithe traditionally took the form of corn, eggs and poultry but the Tithe Composition Act of 1823 meant that the clergy could instead demand the monetary equivalent for the produce. Such valuations were notoriously unjust, not least as the price of corn fell by almost 25% between 1820 and 1830. The 1823 Act also greatly increased the amount of land now liable to payment.

The opening salvos of the Tithe War were fired in the Kilkenny parish of Graiguenamanagh in November 1830 when a herd of cattle were seizes in lieu of payment. The following month, the Graiguenamanagh cattle were put on sale. Nobody stepped forward to buy them. The ‘no buyer’ concept fitted well with Daniel O’Connell’s campaign to achieve freedom through non-violence. It spread like wildfire throughout Leinster, with James Doyle, the Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, openly exhorting his flock to ‘that their hatred of tithes [may] be as lasting as their love of justice’. ‘Can Ireland, the poorest nation in Europe, support the most affluent and luxurious priesthood which does not profess the religion of the people, nor minister the wants of the poor?’, he asked.

Anti-tithe meetings were held across Co. Carlow, always under the attentive eye of the authorities. Over a thousand attended a meeting in Bagelalstown. Similar numbers turned out at Newtown, Slyguff, Lourm, Ballyellen and Borris. On 22nd May 1831, police opened fire at a fair in Castlepollard, killing seventeen people. A month later, on 18 June, the Yeomnary shot dead a further fourteen people at a tithe sale in Bunclody (Newtownbarry), Co. Wexford. Shortly before Christmas 1831, the tithe hurlers struck back, ambushing a police force near Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny, resulting in a further fifteen deaths. The meetings grew larger. Over 200,000 were reported to have attended one in Co. Cork, while 120,000 were clocked at one in Co. Longford. The government began to clamp down, imposing heavy fines and police sentences on those they deemed to be leading the campaign. O’Connell played cautiously, condemning the tithes as unjust but urging that violence and intimidation would only serve to harm his greater campaign to repeal the Act of Union.

The Rev. Captain John Whitty, a former 1798 yeoman and incumbent Rector of Rathvilly [or where was he?], was amongst those who were not prepared to tolerate the anti-tithe campaign. Perhaps he had good reason to object as, deprived of their income, many Anglican rectors were now in financial turmoil by the close of 1831. The incumbents of Naas, Co. Kildare, and Golden, Co. Tipperary, had both been murdered. At any rate, Whitty decided to challenge the campaign and initiate a seizure of fourteen cattle belonging to a Catholic famer called Philip Germaine of Lisnavagh. He was said to be the leader of the local resistance movement in County Carlow. In May 1832 Phillip was the principle in a demonstration against tithes, having refused to pay them.

In 1886, the Freeman’s Journal, a nationalist newspaper published in Dublin ran a letter written by the Rev. Father John Phelan, P.P. Rathvilly, which the parish priest also published as part of a ‘newsletter’ to be distributed amongst the faithful flock. The article ran under the heading “Phillip Germaine, A Victim of Landlordism, which concluded: ‘What bitter memories have gone to rest! Phillip Germaine … died on Thursday in the house of a stranger who much admired his unyielding patriotism and did not wish to see him end his days forgotten and neglected.’ Father Phelan's letter throws open the possibility that Lisnavagh House is built on the site of a house previously occupied by Philip Germaine, one of the leaders of the resistance during the Tithe War of 1831-32. It has been suggested that Father Phelan was simply trying to make Germaine a ‘Captain Rock’ like icon for the anti-landlordism cause. However, there was more than little truth in Phelan’s story. It was allegedly based on an interview with Philip Germaine, ‘late of Lisnevagh Manor’, shortly before his death at the age of 93 on January 4th 1886.[vii] The subject matter was Germaine’s prominent role in resisting the ‘despotism’ of the British administration and how, in consequence, he had his farm stock seized and was turned adrift from a few hundred acres of land. The houses he built at Lisnavagh were also apparently seized, without compensation. Father Phelan’s account includes the following statement.

My cattle” he said with great clearness to our representative [ie: Father Phelan], “were seized in 1832 and were driven to the pound in Carlow, the county town, and were there offered for sale. The military and police, with artillery and large cannon, at least five hundred men, were under arms, guarding my cattle to and in Carlow. The seizure was to pay the minister’s tithe charge of 1.100 pounds per year off the parish, which I could not admit was a just debt. That time was like a rebellion, with the army all over my lands and through the country. Immense crowds congregated at the seizure and the sale, but no man would bid. The cattle had to be driven back to my lands. Fully three thousand people assembled on my farm and cheered and blew horns, and the mountains were covered with bonfires to give me encouragement.

image title

Extract from The Times, relating to the seizure of the Lisnavagh herd.

This story is backed up by an account in The Times from Thursday 24 May 1832 (see image right) which reads as follows.

In the county of Carlow, an excursion was made on Saturday last by the Sheriff [Walter Newton] and his bailiffs, to serve an execution issued at the suit of the Rev. Mr. Whitty, rector of Rathvilly, attended by two troops of dragoons, two companies of infantry and 23 policemen, all under the command of Major … [line missing here] … at 3 o’clock in the morning fires were kindled on all the surrounding hills, as far as could be seen; and when the Sheriff and his force arrived, at 9 o’clock, at Lesnavagh [sic], about 20,000 people were collected to watch their progress. [It is notable that Father Phelan’s 1886 account plays down The Times rather staggering suggestion that 20,000 people gathered at Lisnavagh, to a more modest 3,000.] Here the Sheriff seized 14 head of cattle, the property of Mr. Philip Germaine, who lately presided as chairman at the anti-tithe meeting held in that parish. (The cattle are valued at £8 a head, or £112 for the entire; the amount claimed for tithe and expenses, £34 and some shillings). No opposition, or insult, was given to the Sheriff in the discharge of his duty. He offered the cattle for sale on the spot; no purchasers, of course, appeared and finally the party returned to Carlow, driving the cattle along with them, and accompanied by the immense multitude which increased at every step. On the way, several Catholic clergymen addressed the crowd, and earnestly exhorted them to return to their homes. This advice was immediately followed, and the cattle were conducted peaceably to Carlow, where they were lodged in the yard of Mr. M’Dowel, governor of the gaol, as the Sheriff could not procure any other place.

Mr. Germaine has avowed his determination to let the law take its course, but the farmers in the neighbourhood of Graig, Ullard, &c, on the County Kilkenny side acted on a different system. Whenever they expected a seizure, they kept a sharp lookout and on the appearance of the military, alarmed the country by signals, and drove the cattle away. Thus, before a single seizure could be effected, the troops had to make several excursions both by night and day, by which they were so harassed that after six week’s exertion, at an expense of £60 per day, the collection of tithes was largely abandoned.’

The following is taken from “The Carlow Sentinel,” a Conservative newspaper and continues the story.[v]

Yesterday being the day on which the sheriff announced that, if no bidders could be obtained for the cattle, he would have the property returned to Mr. Germain [sic], immense crowds were collected from the neighbouring counties — upwards of 20,000 men. The County Kildare men, amounting to about 7000, entered, led by Jonas Duckett, Esq., in the most regular and orderly manner. This body was preceded by a band of music, and had several banners on which were ‘Kilkea and Moone, Independence for ever,’ ‘No Church Tax,’ ‘No Tithe,’ ‘Liberty,’ &c. The whole body followed six carts, which were prepared in the English style — each drawn by two horses. The rear was brought up by several respectable landholders of Kildare. The barrack-gates were thrown open, and different detachments of infantry took their stations right and left, while the cavalry, after performing sundry evolutions, occupied the passes leading to the place of sale. The cattle were ordered out, when the sheriff, as on the former day, put them up for sale; but no one could be found to bid for the cattle, upon which he announced his intention of returning them to Mr. Germain. The news was instantly conveyed, like electricity, throughout the entire meeting, when the huzzas of the people surpassed anything we ever witnessed. The cattle were instantly liberated and given up to Mr. Germain. At this period a company of grenadiers arrived, in double-quick time, after travelling from Castlecomer, both officers and men fatigued and covered with dust. Thus terminated this extraordinary contest between the Church and the people, the latter having obtained, by their steadiness, a complete victory. The cattle will be given to the poor of the sundry districts.’

According to Catherine Anne Power’s account in ‘Carlow History & Society’ (2008), a thousand people were present at the sale but:

Not one … was prepared to purchase them or ‘give them a drink’. Even the two bailiffs refused to bring the bullocks from the jail yard to the point of sale. In the circumstances Newton wrote to Dublin for Campbell, ‘the notorious cattle driver’, to come and purchase them. On his arrival, Campbell was ‘alarmed’ at the tremendous crowds marching in columns with hats bearing the slogan ‘no tithes’. The crowds, estimated at 40,000 by the Carlow Sentinel, were policed by a heavy infantry and dragoon presence amongst whom was Newton in his role as magistrate. Campbell refused to purchase the stock and returned to Dublin on the earliest coach. Newton’s involbvement in bringing Campbell to Carlow was discovered when the latter showed Newton’s letter to a ‘gentleman of the town’. In its report of the proceedings, the Carlow Morning Post sneered that ‘no one would do the dirty work for Whitty but Master Watty [Newton]’. The paper considered Master Watty’s actions as ‘a betrayal’ and he was lampooned with irreverent greed in the paper’s next two issues s a bullock at the ‘Meeting of the Bullocks of Lisnevagh’. The Carlow Sentinel implied that the ‘worthy quixotic squire’s anxiety about church concerns’ was due to his having married Bishop Jocelyn’s niece. The unsold cattle were distributed amongst the poor.

The following comes from a letter, dated 27 May 1832, written from Edward Dwyer in Dublin to Daniel O’Connell in the House of Commons.[vi]

You will be pleased to hear how well the people of Kildare and Carlow behaved at the late attempt to force a sale of Mr Germain’s cattle for tithes. Dominick Ronayne passed through them on Friday. They were drawn up in close columns in the rere (sic) of the army with the neighbouring clergymen riding in front to preserve order. Not a man tasted spirits. Of course all were sober. When the Sheriff ordered the sale to commence, not a bidder could be found. …Every man had his hat marked with NO TITHES. The Sheriff ordered the cattle home to Mr Germain and the immense multitude gave him and the army three cheers. (Mr R[onayne] says they numbered over 40 to 50,000. They dispersed in the most orderly manner, their clergymen leading the way to their parishes. You may rely upon it that, let the Parliament vote as they may, Tithes are abolished in Ireland.”

In June 1832, Walter Blackney, the newly elected MP for Carlow, presented the anti-tithe petition to the House of Commons in Westminster, urging them to revoke this ‘obnoxious system of excessive tithes’. He referred to the seizure of Philip Germaine’s cattle from Lisnavagh and warned that if the tithe issue was not resolved, loss of life and property would occur. At length, the government reduced the costs of the Established Church by suppressing ten of its bishoprics. The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, believed the anti-tithers had effectively succeeded in abolishing the tithes by force and ensuring the clergy were now compensated directly from ‘the public purse’. Livestock seizures continued but the government had to vote £1 million ‘to make up the shortfall’. With the passage of the Tithe Rentcharge (Ireland) Act on 15th August 1838, O’Connell succeeded in having the tithe scaled down by a quarter and making landlords responsible for their collection, although the tithe continued to be a source of great resentment for many years after.

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It is certainly notable that on an 1840s map of Lisnavagh, there are several buildings of which no trace now exists,
particularly near the house today called Germaine’s. My father believes there was formerly some buildings in
the Pump Field (just left of the entrance gates into Lisnavagh) but these cannot be seen on the 1840s map either.

According to Father Phelan’s article, Philip Germaine was evicted from Lisnavagh sometime between 1837 and the early 1840s. He was still listed as a resident of Tobinstown when the voting registry for the county was compiled on 1st February 1838 (along with Thomas Germaine of Tullow).[vii] When he died in 1886, the Freemans Journal, 18 Jan 1886, published this notice:

Germaine - Jan 14 1886, at 2 Rock Rd, Merrion, Dublin, Phillip Germaine Esq , late of Lisnevagh Manor, County Carlow, after receiving the rights of the Roman Catholic Church, which he loved so dearly, aged 93 years.

And yet the Lisnavagh Archives include a lengthy memorandum addressed to Thomas Bunbury by Phillip Germaine from March 1837 respecting a house (but seemingly not the main house), and demesne lands at Lisnavagh, and their letting to him by Robert Eustace the agent. The lands were evidently held by a verbal agreement made with his father John Germaine before he moved to Grangecon. The memo states: “John Germain had died about 30 years ago, leaving a very large young family, the present Phillip Germaine, his eldest son, being then a boy. Mr Bunbury verbally agreed to let the house and the whole of the lands to Phillip Germaine, the brother of John, upon the same conditions of not tilling Lisenvagh [sic], and at the same yearly rent … The said Phillip Germain the elder held the land under verbal agreement until his death in the year 1819 [keeping] the whole land under grazing stock... Elinor Germaine, his widow [was] permitted to hold the land under the same conditions... the present Phillip is the son of John who first had this land.”

To this, I add an article published in the Carlow Sentinel on 14th December 1839 which challenged a claim by the Reformer, a rival newspaper, which claimed: ‘Mr Germain, a tenant of Mr Bunbury's, was ejected from his farm, though a Catholic, immediately after voting for his landlord and Colonel Bruen at an election.’ [Or is this related to Thomas Germaine of Tobinstown?] The Sentinel declared that the author of this piece ‘knows just as much about Mr Bunbury’s estates as he does about the geographical position of Morocco’ and countered that: ‘Mr Germain having no family, a priest felt anxious to obtain an assignment of the same for the benefit of his nephew. This cunning piece of legerdemain became quite visible to Mr Bunbury's agent, and he obtained the consent of Mr Germain to surrender the farm, on condition of settling on him an ample allowance for life. The arrangement, perfectly satisfactory to both parties took place, and Mr Germain enjoys the happiness of being on good terms with his landlord.’

Father Phelan states that the landlord who evicted Philip was ‘Mr Thomas Kane Bunbury, granduncle of the present Lord Rathdonnell and from whom Lord Rathdonnell has inherited his Carlow estate.’

A couple of quibbles. The landlord was not called Thomas Kane Bunbury. Thomas and Kane Bunbury were brothers. Secondly, the ‘present’ or 2nd Baron Rathdonnell did not inherit Lisnavagh from Thomas Bunbury as such but rather from Thomas’s nephew (and his father), Captain W. McClintock Bunbury.

But back to Father Phelan’s account where, he continues, ‘Mr Bunbury fancied the farm which Germaine rented, to gratify a wish for extending his pleasure-grounds and bullock walks. Several families, by the process of eviction and others by a speedier method, amongst them Germaine, were cleared out of the country for the purpose stated. Germaine had no lease; but he was powerless to resist the imperious demand for possession and as the great famine was settling down upon the land, Germaine walked forth with his wife at the bidding of Mr. Bunbury, a pauper without hope. "I got married twice on the land, "he said to our representative" and had sunk £1,800 in it for improvements, and drainage, and planting; and I never received from him or his agent one penny compensation. I was told to send in my account but I was never paid" His house was leveled to the ground and beside the spot where it stood the mansion was erected in which Lord Rathdonnell now resides. This explains the phrase :- Late of Lisnavagh Manor" .’

‘The name of Philip Germaine is well know still in the County Carlow’, concluded Father Phelan, ‘where his remains were interred yesterday in the family burial place, - Rathvilly R.I.P.’

It is not yet known where Philip Germaine went after his eviction. Paul Gorry has observed that his name does not appear anywhere in Griffith's Valuation. Mr. Gorry suggests that the Valuation Office House Book for Rathvilly parish (National Archives) might throw some light on the situation as it was compiled several years in advance of the final publication of Griffith's. The Tithe Applotment Book which should reveal how many Germaine holdings were in Lisnavagh at the time.

This notice from the Carlow Post of Saturday 10 February 187 is also clearly relevant:

Died Saturday, in her 68th year, Mrs Alica Hanlon, of Fairy Lawn. She was a member an old and respectable Catholic family, who took aprominent part in the political struggles of the County Carlow, and by their heroic devotion to the cause of civil and religious liberty, lost many a broad acre in that memorable contest. The stately mansion of Lisnavah [sic] stands on the site the home of the Germaines. During a long and useful life Mrs Hanlon possesed the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends, and in the sad season of famine her efforts to relieve the sufferings of the poor were generous beyond her means, and secured her their abiding gratitude. She bore with saintlike patience the sufferings of her last illness, and perfectly resigned to God’s holy will, calmly awaited, in the fullness of Christian hope, the summons, we trust, to a happy eternity. At her obsequies, in the chapel of Ratoath, the Rev. James Colgan was celebrant, assisted by the Rev P. Wall and Rev. A. Dwyer asdeacon and sub-deacon, and the Rev. W O’Sea as master of ceremonies. There were also present. Rev. J. Kehoe. P.P., Ballon : Rev. P. J. Mulhall, P.P., Goresbridge; Very Rev. Dr. Kavanagh, Rev. Dean Burke, Carlow College ; Rev. P. Fitzs’mons, Rev. M. J. Murphy. Rev. P. Clowry. Rev. J. Neville. Rev. Richard Coffey, Rev. P. Maher, Rev. P. Ryan, Rev. J. Delaney. -R.I.P.

Also, on 15 April 1880, the marriage took place between James Bolger and Annie Germaine, with witnesses Edward Toole and Eliza Germaine, and the address given was Lisnavagh. (Thanks to Cara Links).

There was also a marriage of 1881 between Elizabeth Germaine, daughter of Patrick Germaine, farmer, of Lisnavagh, and William Dunne of Rathmore (d. 1900) with whom she had at least one son Bernard who m. Mary (unknown) and died in 1973. Bernard and Mary in turn had Bernard (who d. 1983) and Patrick (who m. Mary Anne ***).


Father Phelan evidently had little time for the otherwise popular Lord Rathdonnell, describing him as ‘a man of quality [who] must live at Market Harborough for the hunting season and must spend his income out of Ireland’. One suggestion is that Tom Rathdonnell perhaps did not contribute to the fund the priest was then organzing to build the new parish church in Rathvilly but I will need to look at that closer. A further insight into the parish priests’ opinion can be gauged from "Carlow History and Society" (Editor, Dr. Thomas McGrath]:

'In mid-January 1886, the Freeman's Journal reported that four tenants of Lord Rathdonnell, three of whom had been served with civil bills for six months rent, met land agent Mr. Johnson and offered him the rents less a reduction of 15 per cent and law costs involved in achieving the reductions. Johnson refused to take the rents stating that he could not agree to the reductions. Tenant John Nolan told him cattle were making half what they were getting three years earlier. Johnson had a rather different view of the reasons for their refusal to pay their rents at the normal rates ---------

The times are not so bad at all. There is a little depression to be sure, but if you would drop your leaguing, subscribing to the Land League and other funds, and keep out of the public house, you would be able to pay your rents and be better off. It's the Land League may be blamed for this work.

Fr. John Phelan, parish priest of Rathvilly, took up the tenants' cause in a letter to the Freeman's Journal where he stated that the application by both classes of tenants for the 15% reduction had met with an obstinate determined non possumus. Lord Rathdonnell's conduct in this respect contrasted very unfavourably with the action of Earl Fitzwilliam and Lord Bessborough towards their tenants on almost adjoining estates, those benevolent noblemen having given reductions to their respective tenants of all creeds and classes without any exceptions or reservations whatever of from 20 to 50 per cent. Fr. Phelan was caustic in his criticism of Lord Rathdonnell stating that the paltry abatement of 15 per cent scarcely entitled his lordship to take rank in public estimation among the kind and indulgent landlords of the country. But, sir, it is consoling to know that the days of heartless, unsympathetic landlordism are numbered and it soon will become as extinct as the dodo. Under the fostering care of a paternal Legislature the tenants' interests will be protected and the landlord's power for working evil be effectually destroyed … But, sir, it is consoling to know that the days of heartless, unsympathetic landlordism are numbered and it soon will become as extinct as the dodo.’

Fr. Phelan vs Rathdonnell is also mentioned here, alongside Peter Kelly of Rathmore.



Added to this confusion is the present-day house of Germaine’s, on the lower slopes of Kinsellagh’s Hill, where Barbara Herring now lives. This was built as a Steward's House for Lisnavagh and is marked on the 1840s map, although I thought it was a much later building. According to an article entitled ‘Hedge Schools or Pay Schools of Rathvilly Parish’ by Miss K. OToole, Kinsellagh’s Hill was formerly known as Germaine’s Hill. She writes: ‘About half a mile to the north of Tobinstown Cross Roads, at the foot of "Germaine's Hill" on the road to Rathvilly, a school was conducted by Denis Delany, believed to be the son of Edward Delany The place is still called "Delany's Farm" or "Denny's Twin." Delany was a low-sized man with rather flat feet and he was called "Dinny Heels". When the National Schools were established, his occupation was gone, and he used to drive round in a donkey's trap to teach the children in their homes. Many of the old people up to 50 years ago, remembered him very well, but now "the very spot where many a time he triumphed is forgot".[iii]

In 1816 Denis was married in Ballon parish, probably in the Rathoe church, to Ellen Cummins (1789-1868), the daughter of George and Margaret Cummins. The Cummins were inter-related with the Nowlan family who were also at Lisnavagh at this time which may be the reason why, after their marriage, Denis and Ellen settled in the Tobinstown area of Rathvilly parish, in the townland of Acaun by Lisnavagh. Their eldest daughter Marcella Delany, born about 1820, married Patrick Kelley of Tobinstown in 1863 but had no children. Denis and Ellen's youngest child was born in 1832 but, by the time of Griffith's Valuation, Ellen was a widow and living in Acaun. It is assumed Denis and Ellen were the parents of Edward Delany who, by his wife Mary Doyle, was father to Patrick Delany, a teacher at the National School in Hacketstown according to the 1901 and 1911 census. Patrick was born in Acaun, in Rathvily parish, where he was baptized in 1863. He married Elizabeth Hughes and had at least two children -Margaret Mary (baptized at St. Andrew's in Dublin, 1899) and Edward Joseph (birth recorded in Baltinglass district, 1902).


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Above: Valuation Office Records for Germaine's, as transcribed by Janet Yarwood.


Tom Rathdonnell seems to have purchased Germaine's in 1870. On January 16th and June 4th 1901, the Irish Builder Vols. 43 (p. 601) and 45 (p. 1810) detailed work carried out by Anthony Scott on a new Agent's house at Lisnavagh, recently completed, for Lord Rathdonnell. [I] ‘Faced with ashlar granite; design in harmony with other buildings on estate. Principally carried out by estate workers.’ (illus. in supplement).

On 4 June 1903, The Irish Builder published a picture of Germaine's with this text: 'This house has recently been completed for Lord Rathdonnell, and is intended as a residence for Charles Butler, Esq., the agent for his lordship. The house was built by direct labour, most of the workmen being employees on the estate. The house is faced with hewn ashlar of the fine Carlow granite, and its design is in harmony with the general character of the other buildings on the estate. The work has been carried out from the designs of Messrs Anthony Scott and Sons, architects, of Dublin. Owing to the fact that the work was carried out principally by his own men, Lord Rathdonnell took the keenest personal interest in the progress of the works, visiting them almost daily.' WIth thanks to Mairtin D'Alton.


Charles (Richard) Butler was the eldest son of James Thomas Butler (1825-1910) of Ardattin, sometime Resident Magistrate of County Kilkenny, a scion of the Butlers of Ballintemple. His wife, Adelaide Maria was a daughter of the peculiarly apostrophe’d G. R. K’eogh of Kilbride, near Tulow, County Carlow. James, who was also a Justice of the Peace for County Carlow, passed away on 20 July 1910. Adelaide died just over a year later on 3 December 1911. Kilbride House, the K’Eogh family home, burned down in 1930s.

Charles Butler was sometime agent to Lord Rathdonnell at Lisnavagh House, circa 1900-1905, as well as High Sheriff of County Carlow during the turbulent year of 1920.
Born on the Summer Solstice of 1860, he was married in 1895 to Ethel Elizabeth Jane, eldest daughter of Captain Philip Charles Newton, J.P., of Mount Leinster, Borris, County Carlow.[ii] In 1905 she inherited the Mount Leinster estate following the premature death of her brother, Henry Philip Newton, Esq., J.P., in a hunting accident. The family duly left Germaine’s and moved into Mount Leinster. [iii] Charles died on 20 October 1932 and his wife Ethel Elizabeth Jane died on 1 April 1943.

Charles and Ethel’s eldest son (James) Humphrey Butler (1897-1979) served with the Royal Irish Rifles during the Great War and on the North West Frontier of India (ie: Pakistan) in 1919 and 1920. He served as a Group Commander in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, based at RAF Catterick in 1945. He left a son John (1927-2012) by his first wife Marguerite Hale and two daughters by his second wife Freda Mary Peto.

Charles and Ethel’s second son Edward Walter Charles Butler (1900-1989) was born in a farmhouse near Lisnavagh in 1900 but moved to Germaine’s shortly afterwards. Always known as Walter by his parents, he became known as Teddy when he moved to Ulster after 1931. His story is taken up by his grandson Edward Ruadh Butler:

‘Teddy was attending an agricultural college at Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire in 1916 when, following his sixteenth birthday in May, he and another boy from Yorkshire ran away from school. Their aim, like so many others, was to join a regiment and perform their ‘duty’ fighting against Germany. As both boys were mad about horses, they decided to approach cavalry regiments and eventually convinced a recruiting sergeant to admit them. At the same time his school contacted his mother in County Carlow to warn them that he had run away and she guessed his aim. She sent a telegram to her husband’s younger brother, James Henry Butler, asking him for help finding her son. James had been a general in the Imperial Egyptian Army and Governor of the White Nile Province in Sudan between 1905 and 1913, but was serving in the War Office in London in 1916. Somehow, using the resources of his office, he found his nephew amongst all the young men who had joined up but was left in no doubt by Teddy that he would try again to find his way into another regiment as soon as possible. Instead of risking that his wayward nephew would succeed, General Butler organised it so that Teddy was posted to guarding ammunition dumps. During this period he almost died of influenza.

However, when he turned eighteen Teddy transferred to the Artists’ Rifles in London. He received two weeks training as a hostilities-only officer before being posted to the Western Front as a second lieutenant with the Royal Irish Hussars. Unlike most of the battalion which fought as infantry, Teddy’s unit remained on horseback though was held largely in reserve. Following the armistice, one of Teddy’s platoon’s duties was to round up survivors, specifically those suffering from shell-shock. Many of these vulnerable men were heavily armed and would defend themselves against anyone who came near them. By the time he was demobbed, he had risen to the rank of captain.

He returned to Mount Leinster with the aim of running the mountain estate for his father who was now in his early sixties. The estate was mostly mountainous and unproductive for anything more than sheep but, according to his son Richard [aka Walter Richard Courtenay Butler], Teddy believed that he could make it viable. However, at some point in the early 1920s, Teddy was accosted by members of the local IRA and tied to a gatepost at Mount Leinster. They told him that it was because of his service in the British Army that they were going to execute him. Fortunately a passing vehicle scared them off and his sister Blanche discovered Teddy and freed him. That night he fled to Dublin and the day after that he was on his way to Australia.

Teddy took a job with Sir Sidney Kidman as a rancher on one of his cattle stations and worked in the Northern Territory and South Australian deserts. At one stage he and an aboriginal worker only survived in the desert by shooting a wild donkey. He contracted dengue fever during his time in Australia and again was lucky to survive. At one stage around 1925, Teddy was in the desert in Australia, his sister Blanche was living in the desert in Western Australia, their younger brother Beauchamp was on secondment from the British Army with a camel troop in the Sudanese desert, and the eldest, Humphrey, was serving with the RAF in desert landscape of the Hindu Kush.

Teddy returned to Ireland at some point before 1931 (there is a picture of him taking part in the Seskinore Races) and was given a job as land agent to the Archdale family of Castle Archdale on Lower Lough Erne in Fermanagh. A keen hunter, Teddy met Iris Moriarty from nearby Omagh through their shared interest and membership of the Seskinore Harriers. [Iris Courtenay Moriarty was the daughter of the Rev. G. Moriarty, Rector of Erganagh, near Omagh.] They married in May 1939, shortly after his older brother Humphrey’s second wedding, and had a son, Walter Richard Courtenay Butler, and a daughter, Maeve, who is the mother of the Divine Comedy singer, Neil Hannon.

In 1939, like so many Ulstermen, Teddy volunteered for the army to fight against the Nazis. He believed his experiences during the first war would make him indispensable to the war effort, but, to his chagrin, they declared him unfit for service due to his medical history of illness and injury. He took a job as agent to the American millionaire Henry McIlhenny who had purchased the 170 square kilometre estate at Glenveagh in Donegal in 1938. McIlhenny – his son Richard’s godfather – spent the war in the US Navy and so overall management of the estate fell to Teddy until his service ended.

In 1946, Teddy became land agent to the Herdman family (factory owners in Sion Mills in Tyrone) at Glenmore on the River Fin again in Donegal. Three years later he left Glenmore having purchased a 25-acre farm at nearby Castlefinn. Known as the manor house, it had been dower house at some point in its history. There he kept dairy cattle as well as horses.

In 1964, Teddy and Iris sold Castlefinn and moved to Springhill House at Moneymore in Derry where Teddy acted as National Trust warden. He later became area warden and oversaw the restoration/renovations at Wellbrook Beetling Mill at Cookstown, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential House in Omagh, Gray’s Printing Press in Strabane, and Mellon House (on behalf of the Mellon Trust) at the Ulster-American Folk Park. In 1979, he left Springhill to oversee the work at Hezlett House on the Downhill demesne at Castlerock. Iris passed away in 1986 and Teddy died at Fivemiletown (where he lived with his daughter Maeve) in February 1989. Springhill House, formerly home to the Lenox-Conyngham family, was used as a film location for the 2018 BBC adaptaion of Eugene McCabe’s book ‘Death and Nightingales’.

Charles and Ethel’s third son Lt. Col. Beauchamp (Henry) Butler, DSO, (1902-1943) served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, during the Second World War but was killed in action in southern Italy on 27 October 1943. His wife Vera Mary was a daughter of Major W. Stewart, MC, JP, of Daisy Hill, Clogher, County Tyrone. He was survived by two sons, one of whom was called Patrick.

Charles and Ethel’s only daughter Blanche Adelaide lived at Lambda, Monkstown Avenue, Dublin, and died in 1975.


[i] Born in Easkey, Co. Sligo, circa 1844, Anthony Scott became clerk of works to Thomas Newenham Deane when the latter was appointed Superintendent of National Monuments by the Board of Works in 1875. According to his granddaughter Byrne Costigan, he was the first person to 'cap' an Irish round tower. He subsequently set up a practice in Navan but by the time he began work on the Agent’s House at Lisnavagh, he had relocated to Drogheda and Dublin. He did much work for the Catholic church and to improved housing schemes. According to his obituary in the Irish Builder, he 'probably designed and superintended the building of far more houses for the working classes than any other architect in Ireland'. He was an early member of the Society of Architects and in 1901 was appointed the Society's Honorary Secretary for Ireland. Byrne Costigan remembered her grandfather - a widower by the time she knew him - as an austere and rather distant figure, who corrected his grandchildren's grammar and pronunciation and sometimes told them stories from Irish history. 'Never a jolly, joking sort of man, it seemed to me that he wore solitude like a cloak, that his face was shuttered and remote, though the shutters could fly open, the eyes flash, the rare smile gleam.' He was a frequent visitor to Rome, where a connection of his wife's owned and ran the Pensione Hayden in the Piazza Poli, assisted by one of his daughters. Nationalist in his sympathies, he does not appear to have been actively involved in politics, although he is recorded as designing the platforms for the Home Rule demonstration of the spring of 1912. Scott died on 17 February 1919, aged seventy-four.’ Abridged from his profile in Irish Architectural Archive – Dictionary of Irish Architects, 1720-1940.

[ii] Captain Philip Charles Newton, J.P., died in 1902. Ethel Elizabeth Jane’s mother was his first wife Mary Garrett, who d. 1875, only dau. of John William Bathe, Esq., of Clonmore, co. Carlow.

[iii] p. 57, Walford’s County Families 1919.



At the time of the 1911 Census, Germaine’s was home to Arthur Thomas Bruen, younger brother of Lady Rathdonnell (Kate), who was now the agent at Lisnavagh. The census records the occupants as follows:
Arthur Thomas Bruen, 38, Dublin, Land Agent, Church of Ireland, Read and write, Head of Family, Married.
Lily Bruen, 38, Wexford, Church of Ireland, Read and write, Wife, Married
John Martin Bruen, 0, Dublin, Church of Ireland, Son, Single.
Christina Eubank, 38, Kilkenny, Nurse / Domestic Servant, Church of Ireland, Read and write, Servant, Widow.
Jean Stewart, 24, Scotland, General Servant, United Free Presbyterian, Read and write, Servant, Single.
Arthur was still at Germaine’s when the Great War broke out in 1914. He was ostensibly oo old to fight but nonetheless drove his Clement car (perhaps IC 73, registered to Germaine's in 1914) from his home in Invernesshire to Dover, where he put it on a cross-Channel ferry and embarked for France. Enrolling in the Red Cross, he used it as an ambulance in the front lines for the next six months. He was then inducted as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps and remained at the Front until 1919, being used as 'trouble shooter' wherever there were supply problems. This information comes from the entry for his grandson, the Falklands War poet Bernie Bruen, on www.warpoetry.co.uk



From about 1916 until his premature death in 1929, Germaine's House at Lisnavagh was home to Leonard Hutcheson Poe (1888-1929), the agent at Lisnavagh. He was a grandson of the Tipperary solicitor William Thomas Poe and a son of Captain George Leslie Poe (1846-1934), Royal Navy, of Santry Court, Dublin, and Glen Ban, Abbeyleix. His mother was Mary Caldecott (d.28 Nov 1934), eldest daughter of Edward Charley of Conway House, Dunmurry, Co. Antrim. Leonard’s older brother Captain Charles Vernon Leslie Poe, KRRC, was born in 1880 and served in the Boer War and the Great War but was killed in action with the Expeditionary Force in March 1915. (Reported missing March 8th). Leonard’s older sister Violet Mary Poe (1878-1940) was married in 1902 to Gerald Edward Campbell Maconchy, youngest son of George Maconchy of Rathmore, Co. Longford, and has issue. Leonard’s youngest sister Muriel Gladys Poe was born in 1882, won the MBE in 1920 and died unmarried on 30 August 1942. Leonard’s uncle Sir Hutcheson Poe lived at Heywood Gardens and entertained Empress Sisi of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when she visited. It is worth looking at the profiles of both Sir Hutchison Poe and his brother Admiral Sir Edmund Salmon Poe again, as they were considerable achievers in the military, naval and art worlds of late Victorian and early Edwardian era.

On 30 April 1919, Leonard married Kathleen Gladys Grogan, daughter of William Edward Grogan of Slaney Park, Baltinglass, County Wicklow. Among their staff was Lizzie Byrne (1904-1983) of Bough. According to her granddaughter Laura Delaney, Lizzie spent two months in Slaney Park with Mrs Grogan in 1919 aged 15 training to be a parlourmaid. She then left to go to Captain and Mrs Dennis in Barraderry, Kiltegan. She cannot have stayed there long as she has had a reference from Mrs Grogan for 2 years service in Feb 1922, as well as a letter from Mrs Grogan's daughter-in-law Evelyn, the wife of John Hubert Grogan. Lizzie seems to have gone to Germaines, home to the Lisnavagh agent, by 1924, as Laura has a letter to her from Kathleen Gladys Poe on headed paper for Germaines. Laura also has have postcards addressed to Lizzie in 1926 in Hardymount House, Tullow, and in 1927 /28 at Kilknock House, Ballon. She seems to have ceased working as a maid upon her marriage in 1930.



From 1931 until about 1952, Germaine's was occupied by the Lisnavagh agent John Langham, my father's godfather, and his wife Crystal, who ran the local Brownies pack. In about 1952 he succeeded to the baronetcy, retired from Lisnavagh and moved to his seat, Tempo in Co. Fermanagh.

Germaines was then let to a Mrs. Doyne and her daughter Jolly, from Coollattin or maybe the Abbey in Tullow. That came to an end in 1962 (maybe she died?), and it was let to Mrs. Lenaghan, the mother of Brian and David. They had previously owned or rented Knockanore Castle on the Waterford Blackwater. Brian had met my father at Charterhouse.

In the late 1960s my father needed a new combine, or some cattle or maybe just some whiskey, and the place was sold in 1967 to Mrs. Joan Makin from Newbury, the mother of Barbara and trainer Peter.




With thanks to Michael Purcell, Claude-Régis Pollet, Kaye Cole (Melbourne), Cara Links, Susie Warren, Sue Clement and Paul Gorry.

APPENDIX 1 - 1823 Window broke in Chapel Lane.

Carlow 1823.
Witnessed by William Humprey, Esquire, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for Carlow.
Whereas Roger Hughes of Carlow town, Gentleman, came this day before me and made Oath on the Holy Evangelists Saith that on Tuesday the Sixth Day of May, Thomas German , Late of Ballyh ?, Farmer, came to Francis Hughes Dwelling House in Chapel Lane in the Town of Carlow in a most Riotous and Disorderly Manner, Broke a Window Thereon and Called him and the Inmates of the House ---Several Scandalous and
Indifferent Names and Said that he would be Revenged of Him or Them. Sworn before me this 12th Day of May 1823. (signed) William Humfrey. Roger Hughes.


The Germaine Family and Carlow’s Tithe War, by Kaye Cole, B.A., M.App.Sc.

The Possible Ancestry of Philip Germaine, by Kaye Cole.

‘The Origins and Development of Bagenalstown, c. 1680-1920’, Catherine Anne Power (Carlow History and Society, editor: Thomas McGrath, 2008).

A History of Ireland in 250 Episodes’, Jonathan Bardon (Gill & MacMillan, 2009).

The Times archive.

Carlow Rootsweb - http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/index.htm


[i] The document is unusual in that it is signed by Tankerville Chamberlian and William Lord Downes who, as Pat Purcell adds, had "a bond stronger than normal friendship" and both men, by their own request, were buried in the same plot in Dublin. At the end of document, Pat notes that an illegible scribble mentions Thomas Bunbury and what might be "Dr Thorpe" ?

[ii] See: Mary Jackson (http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Bunbury_documents_005.htm).

[iii] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Hedge_School.htm

[iv] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Tithe_Applotment_Tullowphelim.htm

[v] Quote in The Picket Line - http://sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=10Dec09

[vi] O’Connell, D. Correspondence of Daniel O’Connell the liberator,2 vols.ed. by W.J. Fitzpatrick, London, Murray 1888. Item No. 1894

[vii] His death was recorded in Dublin South (1886/March/2/577/Dublin South) so maybe he was living with a married daughter.

[viii] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/1838_voters20.htm