Turtle Bunbury

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Above: Colonel Kane Bunbury of Moyle (1777-1874). I have what I
believe to be his medical case, with recipes suggesting a little pinch
of arsenic for a bad cough and such like, although most of it has long
since crystalized.



Col. Kane Bunbury was the second son of William Bunbury of Lisnavagh, MP for Carlow, and his wife, the Dublin-born heiress Catherine Kane. He served twenty nine years in the British Army with the Princess Royals, a time not without controversy. Dismissed in 1823, he spent the rest of his life as a cattle farmer at Moyle, Kellistown, Co. Carlow. From 1865 until his death aged 97 in 1874, he lived at Rathmore Park between Tullow and Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.

Kane’s grandfathers were Thomas Bunbury of Kill and Redmond Kane of Swords. Kane was a small boy when his father died, leaving the family estate at Lisnavagh to his elder brother Thomas. In 1797, their sister Jane married John McClintock of Drumcar, and she was mother to the 1st Baron Rathdonnell and Captain William McClintock Bunbury of Lisnavagh. Kane’s aunt Letitia Bunbury married George Gough and was mother to Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough, an icon of the Napoleonic, Opium and Sikh Wars who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in British India during the 1840s. Kane and Sir Hugh were close friends as well as first cousins.

When Colonel Bunbury died in 1874, he left no legitimate heir. However, it is believed that he was the father of Kane James Smith, who was raised as the son of James Smith, the Colonel's steward at Little Moyle and one of the most remarkable cattle breeders in Ireland during the 1860s and 1870s. At least, I am assuming it was Kane and not James who was Kane's son. Perhaps I am wrong! Also into this colourful mix can be added Willie Wilde, brother of Oscar, who was a friend of Colonel Bunbury’s granddaughter, the Kane-Smith family, and Vera, Countess of Rosslyn.


Kane Bunbury was born in 1777, probably while staying with his mother’s father, Redmond Kane at Mantua in Swords. His father William Bunbury of Lisnavagh, County Carlow, then aged 33, had been elected MP for Carlow the previous year and was almost certainly in Dublin on parliamentary business at the time of Kane’s birth. William had married Katherine Kane four years earlier and they already had one son, Thomas. As Sir Bernard Burke said of Kane’s cousin and direct contemporary Hugh Gough: “When he was born, the independence of the United States of America had yet to be achieved. Napoleon and Wellington were then schoolboys. George III and Queen Caroline, both still young, were holding their stately receptions at St. James’s, and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, their gay and fascinating Court of the ancien regime at Versailles. The Queen of France was ‘just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she began to move in, glittering like the morning star, fl of life and splendour and joy’. Edmund Burke and William Pitt and Charles Fox were the names on every politicians’ mouth; and Goldsmith and Johnson and Gibbon reigned supreme in literature. Frederick the great was still alive and Voltaire had only been a few months dead’.”


Kane was less than two years old when his father William Bunbury was thrown from his horse and killed while hunting near Leighlinbridge in Co. Carlow. Plans to build a new house at Lisnavagh were abruptly cancelled. When Redmond Kane, Kane’s wealthy grandfather, died in 1778, he left his estates to be held in trust by the Hon. Barry Barry, Sir James Nugent and Charles King for the use of Kane (then aged two) and his heirs, or otherwise to Thomas Bunbury (then aged four) and his heirs. According to Kane’s obituary in The Carlow Sentinel from 1874, “the youthful family, however, enjoyed the blessings of a prudent and loving mother, as well as the counsel and protection of their uncles, Messrs. George and Benjamin Bunbury, and the affectionate solicitude of their aunt, the wife of Colonel Gough, and of other relatives and friends - With such advantages, the sons were well and early trained for the position they were destined to occupy in future life.”

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Above: This is believed to be
Kane Bunbury in the uniform
of the Princess Royal’s.


On 1st January 1794, sixteen-year-old Kane was gazetted to a Cornetcy in the 7th (or Princess Royal’s) Regiment of Dragoon Guards. (I think the Dragoons were originally named for the small fire-spitting, dragon-like muskets they carried. It looks like he may have been encamped at Southampton at about this time, as two cavalry troops of the 7th Dragoons were garrisoned there in September 1794.[i] First raised as Lord Cavendish's Regiment of Horse to meet Princess Anne in 1685, the regiment had been stationed in Ireland from 1745 to 1788 when transferred back to the British establishment for Princess Charlotte, eldest daughter of George III, who was officially designated as Princess Royal on 22 June 1789. The regiment had last seen action with a heroic and battle winning cavalry charge at the battle of Warburg in the Seven Years War, but it would not actively participate in any further conflict until the outbreak of the Second Kaffir War in 1846. Their motto was ‘Quo fata vocant’ (Where fate calls).

The regiment also possessed a Military Lodge under Warrant No. 305, issued by the Grand Lodge of Ireland on 2nd November 1758. As such there was a strong Masonic connection to the regiment and at least 114 brethren were registered up to 11th August 1806 – and, by 28th September 1822, a further 115 brethren registered.[ii] Kane continued his association with the Princess Royal’s until his final retirement from the services in 1823. In August 1794, his cousin Hugh Gough – the future Field Marshal – commenced his career as an Ensign in his father’s regiment.


On 26th December 1795, three troops of the 7th Dragoons arrived in Limerick from Mallow.[iii] These were heady times in Georgian Ireland and, just four days later, the regiment went on high alert and began patrolling the streets after three members of the Antrim Militia, also stationed in Limerick, were ‘most inhumanely stabbed’ by ‘some unknown ruffians’ in Irishtown, leaving one man ‘at the point of death’. [iv] Just over a year later, on 1st January 1797, Kane “obtained his troop” and was gazetted as Captain. Five months later, the Princess Royal married The Hereditary Prince Frederick of Württemberg, the eldest son and heir apparent of Duke Frederick II of Württemberg. And on 11th July, Kane’s sister Jane Bunbury married John McClintock.


However, while he “witnessed the deplorable campaign of 1798, in the miserable and abortive Irish rebellion of that year, when his regiment was in active service”, Kane seems to have “happily escaped the bloody scenes in which so many of his companions in arms were necessarily engaged”. (Carlow Sentinel). On 1st August 1799, the 7th Dragoons arrived in Liverpool from Dublin and, the following day, marched for Worcester.[v] On November 18th 1799, the regiment’s Major General Dunne was transferred to become Colonel of the Pembroke Fencible Cavalry in the place of ‘Davies, who is removed from service by the sentence of a court martial’. In December 1800, a troop of the 7th Dragoons were stationed at Stourbridge to help support local militia at a time when there seems to have been much unrest in the English Midlands.[vi] Tension was still high on 21 March 1801 when the 7th Dragoons helped arrest sixty rioters at Bolton in Manchester. Just one month later, on 29th April 1801, Kane’s sister Jane McClintock was killed in a hunting accident in Bath, just as his father had been 23 years earlier. Kane would take a lifelong interest in her three small McClintock children, John, William and Catherine.


On 22nd November 1802 Captain Kane Bunbury of the 7th or Princess Royal's Regiment of Dragoon Guards appeared before a General Court Martial held at the Royal Hospital at Chelsea to face three charges, namely (1) Disobedience of Orders, (2) Unofficerlike Conduct and (3) 'Disrespectful and unofficerlike language towards his Commanding Officer', Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Mahon. This was connected to the case of Zacharia Jones, one of his troopers, who Kane had seemingly permitted to ride a horse not belonging to the regiment, with a pair of saddle bags behind him, on 30 September and 1 October 1802 whilst on a march from Leicester to Birmingham. The details of this heinous crime appear in a book with the catchy title of 'A Collection of the Charges, Opinions, and Sentences of General Courts Martial: As Published by Authority; from the Year 1795 to the Present Time; Intended to Serve as an Appendix to Tytler's Treatise on Military Law, and Forming a Book of Cases and References; with a Copious Index’, edited by Charles James (T. Egerton, 1820). Kane was aquitted of the first two charges but found guilty of the third, for which he was obliged to pen an aplogy to Mahon, as well being 'suspended from Rank and Pay for three calendar months'. Evidently Kane had lost his cool in the mess-room on 3rd October. His letter was written in Birmingham on 6th October 1802 and read:

'SIR, The late event which took place in the mess-room, on the 3d instant, is of that nature that it is impossible to justify, and I cannot, on reflection, imagine what could induce me to have been led to such an unwarrantable length. To say that I am sorry, perhap, is but little; but if apologizing to you can lead to an oblivion of the business, I shall be happy to do so. I have &c. K. BUNBURY, Captain, 7th Dr. Guards.'

By the time of his death aged 60 in 1828, Mahon - a brother of Lord Hartland - had been Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Dragoons for over 30 years.


Kane Bunbury was promoted to the rank of Major on 25th October 1809, a year after the birth of his friend and future steward James Smith. In 1811, the 7th Dragoon Guards were stationed at the Barracks in Great Brook Street, Birmingham. During their stay in Birmingham, the members of the regiment’s Irish Military Lodge initiated at least six Birmingham citizens who were joined by three other Birmingham Brethren in applying to the Antients' Grand Lodge for a Warrant. It is worth looking at the Archives to see how much Major Kane Bunbury was involved in all of this. On 21st October 1811, The Times announced that the 7th Dragoons were to form part of the reinforcements being sent to Portugal during a stalemate that had evolved in the Peninsula War.[vii]


On 4th June 1815, eleven days before the conclusive battle of Waterloo, Kane Bunbury was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. It appears the 7th Dragoons were stationed in Belturbet, Monaghan and Dundalk earlier in May when inspected by Major-General Burnett who applauded the good condition of both men and horses. There were also inspections in Clonmel in May 1816 and May 1817 by Major-General Doyle who bestowed similar praise.

The regiment does not appear to have seen any action at this time and they were back in the English Midlands by October 1819 when involved in escorting prisoners to the gaol in Preston.[viii] (In 1819, Kane learned that his uncle George Bunbury of Rathmore had passed away and he inherited lands at Phrumplestown.) The following spring there was something of a rumpus when five Privates went for an afternoon drink at the Bull’s Head public-house in Oldham. Here they encountered other drinkers who commenced ‘singing disloyal songs [one called Peterloo], giving disloyal toasts, throwing about the beer, which fell on the soldiers, and further conducting themselves in a manner the most likely to incur their displeasure’. Things came to a head when one of the citizens, by name of Samuel Cheetham, eloquently burst out: “Those are the last clothes you shall wear. You will never proclaim another King George. Damn the King. May the skins be torn off the backs of the bastard butchers and made up into parchment for Reformers to beat to arms”. According to a letter from their commander, Major W.M. Morrison, dated April 26th 1820 and published in The Times, the soldiers were making their way to a different room when Cheetham and the crowd attacked them with every weapon they could find. It was a nasty business and when a newly arrived Corporal attempted to intervene, he was slashed on the forehead with a carving knife. Nobody sustained fatal injuries. The incident, possibly connected to another the night before, became the subject of a trial at the Manchester Sessions in July. Cheetham received an 18 month sentence for his seditious words and the assault. One wonders what Kane made of all this.[ix]

In 1820 the 7th Dragoonswere sent to Piershill, Edinburgh. During this time, their commanding officer, the mild and easy-going Colonel Francis Dunne, a brother of General Edward Dunne (see Finlay of Corkagh), wrote a detailed set of Standing Orders, laying out the duties of every specialist officer in the regiment.

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Above: The lands at Moyle circa 1847.


On May 27th 1823, The Times reported that the 7th Dragoons, who had been stationed in Glasgow, had left for Ireland three days earlier.[x] Although based in Dundalk, they were split up to cover a large area and some of the men were sent 50 miles west to Enniskillen where they spent the summer raiding illicit stills and hunting down smugglers and dealers of contraband. On 4 October 1823, Colonel Francis Dunne received a message from Major-General Sir Colquhoun Grant stating that there would be an inspection of the regiment on the 10th Oct. This was shocking news to Dunne who knew that it would be nearly impossible to bring in all his scattered men, smarten them up and rehearse a parade within six days. The regiment had not paraded in such a manner for 16 months. Nonetheless, the various Troops had gathered by 9th October and Grant duly inspected them the next day, first in Watering Order, then in Full Dress. They performed drill movements for him on Dundalk Sands but he left them standing in the wind and rain for four hours while he went off to meet with Lord Combermere, the Commander-in-Chief of the army in Ireland, who wished to inspect them himself. The regiment was inevitably unable to put on a good show and a very unfavourable report was sent to the Duke of York. The regiment was sent to Newbridge to be drilled to a high standard while the unfortunate Lieutenant-Colonel Dunne was dismissed, along with Major (and Brevet Lieut. Col) Kane Bunbury, Captains Younghusband, Power, Smyth and Bennet, and Lieutenant and Adjutant Dunwoody. This news came ina letter dated 15 November 1823 from Major J. Finch at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, and written on behalf of the Duke of York. Finch advised Kane and his fellow officers that he would be "laying your names before the king, in order that you should be removed from the regiment." He left them with "the option ... whether you will retire on half-pay, or by the sale of your commissions." Hence, at a stroke, seven of the regiment's most senior officers were retired on half pay. This prompted General Dunne to write to Lord Cobermere on his brother's behalf from Brittas Castle on 20 November, but the damage had by then been done. [With huge thanks to Kevin Akers for unearthing this].


Dimissed from the army, 46-year-old Kane Bunbury evidently called it a day and retired from the service at half-pay with the rank of colonel. The timing was reasonably serendipitous. On 10 October 1823, Kane’s 72-year-old uncle Benjamin Bunbury had passed away, leaving him the 520 acre cattle farm at Moyle, as well as estates at Corredeven, Clonkeen and Trillickatemple, County Longford. The inheritance included the house at Little Moyle where the Kane-Smiths would later live. [Colonel Bunbury is listed as an Inmmediate Lessor at Cloonkeen (Ballymacormick Civil Parish) and at Trillickatemple Townlands in the 1854 GPV index book for County Longford.]

Judging by his subsequent attitude, I suspect he was the Mr Bunbury referred to here:

"Carlow Landlords.— A Carlow correspondent, under date April 25, writes thus :—"There is some report of Mr. Bunbury giving an abatement to his tenants in my neighbourhood here. There is an act of this gentleman's which I wish to record. A Mr. Kehoe of Garmana was ejected, and a Mr Maher (brother of Mr. James Maher, of Jordanstown) agreed with him for his good will of the land. He paid the rent due by Kehoe on Friday, and Mr. Bunbury gave him an abatement of 2s. per acre, and did not charge him the costs of the law proceedings against Kehoe. To many other tenants he gave an abatement of from three to four shillings per acre. The tenants ot Slyguff, all Protestants as they are, have sent a petition to Lord Beresford for a reduction of their rents. But their chance of success is extremely slight.”
Cork Examiner - Wednesday 03 May 1843

When I think of Moyle, I think of Roger Mortimer, Richard II’s designated heir, who was killed in a skirmish with the Kavanagh’s at nearby Kellistown in 1398. His death prompted a second invasion of Ireland by Richard, who returned with 3,000 men, including three dukes, three earls and all five captains of his bodyguard. It was assumed that his mission was to avenge his cousin’s death but there is a theory that he planned to crown his own nephew Thomas Holand – one of the three dukes – as King of Ireland. In any event, the mission was aborted and Richard was destined to be overthrown by Henry Bolingbroke, subsequently Henry IV, later that year. He died in captivity in 1400.

The Tithe Applotment Books show Col Kane Bunbury with 200 acres and Captain McClintock Bunbury with 185.11.8 acres in what I think is Ballyoliver.


Mrs Katherine Bunbury, widow of William III and mother of Kane, died in Bath aged 81 on 29 November 1834. Kane subsequently inherited half of her estate, namely the Meath estate, at a rental of £584, the Co. Kildare estate, at a rental of £442, the Co. Monaghan estate, at a rental of £166, the rest of the Co. Dublin estate, at a rental of £305, and the rest of the Co. Tyrone estate, at a rental of £196.[xi] On the death of Thomas Bunbury in 1846, his share of the Kane estates also passed to Kane.


When his elder brother Thomas Bunbury died unmarried and without issue in 1846, he gave, devised and bequeathed all his estates, freehold, copyhold and leasehold, to trustees named therein ..., upon trust for his 70-year-old cattle farmer brother, Kane Bunbury, for life, with two-thirds remainder falling to his nephew, Captain William Bunbury McClintock and his heirs, and one-third remainder to his other nephew, John McClintock. The seventy-year-old Colonel Bunbury thus inherited the Carlow family estates, “and from that time to the period of his demise he was a constant resident on his property”. It seems he gifted his nephew William at least £10,0000 towards the building of Lisnavagh in 1847.[xiii] William’s brother John (later 1st Lord Rathdonnell) was quick to insist that he be gifted a like sum. ‘Kane is an easy-going man, and he may not have thought of the effect of his apparent partiality, but it is for you to point out to him, and insist upon his taking, the just and impartial course. ...', he wrote to William.

February 1849.
Colonel Bunbury, of Moyle, has presented the Rev. J.B. Magennis, the Rector of Rathvilly, with the sum of £500, as his subscription towards the repairs and improvement of the Parochial Church of Rathvilly. This munificent donation reflects credit on the kind and generous donor, who thus secures encreased accommodation in the Parochial Church of his ancestors.
(Thanks to PPP)

Sep 22, 1849
On Sunday night last, about ten o'clock, a body of about 300 men, many of them armed, followed by 130 horses and cars, proceeded to Rathmore, where a man named Fenlon holds a farm of sixty acres from John Leonard, Esq., of Newtownmountkennedy. This formidable body carried off the produce of twenty acres of corn, in the presence of the agent, who lives on the spot, and his assistants, and also of a party of police. On the following morning it was ascertained that the corn was stacked at Ardristan and on a farm near Kilbrid; the agent seized on it, and place it in the charge of bailiffs.
(Thanks to Susi Warren)


Operations of the Poor Law. —The Carlow Sentinel has the following remarkable case: - “The townland of Tobinstown, in this county, is the property of Colonel Bunbury, upon which there is not even a single pauper. Adjoining the river Dereen, on the same townland, there are about three roods of land, partly rock, the property of John J. Bagot, Esq., upon which there are no less than 11 cabins, containing a population of about 60 persons. In spring, and during the autum, these poor people obtain employment from the neighboring gentry and farmers and, when out of employment, they are thrown on the workhouse for out-door relief. Now, although this small patch of land belongs to Mr. Bagot, who, we believe, receives very little rent from it, the burden of their support falls on Colonel Bunbury and the ratepayers of the neighborhood within the Carlow- union, for the remainder of Mr. Bagot's property in another locality is situate within the Baltinglass union!! (Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser - 7 February 1849)


On 10th November 1849, The Carlow Sentinel carried the following report from the Monaghan Standard: 'REDUCTION OF RENTS – THE BUNBURY ESTATES – Joseph St. Clair Mayne Esq, agent to Colonel Bunbury, has intimated to that gentleman’s tenantry in the county of Monaghan that he has received directions from his principal to reduce their rent 25 per cent. Mr Mayne has also determined to wipe away all old arrears, and to suffer the tenants to start in a new race for life, without the burdens of bygone rents, which weighed them down. This is beginning at the right end.' The same article concluded: ‘Mr Greer visited his estate in the parish of Tydavnet, in this county, lat week, and allowed his tenants a reduction of 25% on the rent in course of payment’.


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Above: The house at Little Moyle, circa 1801.


Little Moyle is a lovely house, surrounded by chestnut trees, with big windows that reach down to the floor. It stands on a hill above the River Burrin, once filled with trout, close to the farmyard. This is good fertile tillage land with sturdy sheaves of wheat.

The house was built in the 18th century and is believed to have originally been an eight room farmhouse. Some work may have been done on the house when Colonel Kane succeeded to his share of the Kane family fortune on the death of his mother in the 1830s.

Jeremy Williams, a kinsman of the Kane Smiths, believes the house was remodelled in 1867 by John McCurdy who was simultaneously working on the Shelbourne Hotel. The contractor was Joseph F. Lynch. As steward to Colonel Bunbury, he appears to have moved into Little Moyle at this time. The house included an ‘atmospheric drawing room that retained its original decoration until 1993’ and a fine stained glass window. [xii]


TO BE LET, from the 29th SEPTEMBER, instant, 127 Acres of the Lands of LISNAVAGH, lately in the occupation of Mr BOURKE. The Land is prime quality, and has been lately thorough drained. Immediate possession can to given, and the crop, &c., had at a valuation.
Application to be made to Col. KANE BUNBURY, Moyle, Carlow ; or to the Agent, Mr WILLIAM JOHNSON, Prumplestown House. Cartledermot.
Carlow Sentinel - Saturday 13 November 1852


On November 5, 1852, the Anglo-Celt published news from Dublin Castle announcing that Colonel Kane Bunbury, Moyle, would be High Sheriff of Carlow, along with Peter Fitzgerald, Esq., Knight of Kerry, of Ballinruddery, Valentia Island, and William Duckett, jun., Esq. of Duckett's Grove.


Among those leasing land from the Colonel was Joseph Malone who had 24 acres, including the mill, at Rathmore. Bill Webster notes: 'In the Griffith’s Survey done in 1852 in those parts, he leased 6 parcels of land from 3 landlords and they totalled just over 335 acres, namely:
* Ballyhacket Lower in Kineagh parish he leased from Henry Bruen – 44 acres
* Raheendaw and Rathdaniel, also in Kineagh, totalled just under 200 acres leased from John Dawson Duckett of Duckett's Grove. (His daughter Anne married Captain Hardy Eustace (b. 1827) of Castlemore and Hardymountt; their son John James Hardy Rowland Eustace of Castlemore and Hardymount assumed the surname Eustace-Duckett in 1909 after his Uncle Wiliiam Duckett died without heir, leaving his nephew the family name and little else. With thanks to Belinda Sibly).
* Straboe, in Straboe parish, he also leased from Duckett – 45½ acres
* Rathmore, in Rathmore parish, he leased 20 acres from Rev John B Magennis (part of the living?), plus the 24 acres including house and mill from Kane Bunbury
Six years prior to this survey, Rev Megennis (sic) had officiated at the marriage of Joseph Malone’s eldest daughter Mary to Bartholomew Watters of Tinryland.
This was all prime farming country bordering the Slaney. Adding in his mill, Bill rightly proposes that old Joe must have quite a prosperous man. And that mill would have been quite a specimen of its kind, you would think.
Joseph Malone's brother was farm manager at Lisnavagh during the 1850s and early 1860s.


Kane Bunbury was proposed for membership of the RDS by Henry Kemmis and W. E. Steele, and elected an annual member on 28 April 1853. He remained an annual member up to the time of his death in 1874. Henry Kemmis had proposed Kane's nephew William McClintock Bunbury for RDS membership back in 1848.


On the 1841 census, the Irish-born Henry Linway [sic] was recorded as Bunbury's servant at Westminster, suggesting that he worked for Thomas Bunbury, MP for Carlow and elder brother of Colonel Kane Bunbury. Born in Ireland circa 1820-1822, Henry was a son of Thomas Lurway (1793-1858), a man who appears to have simultaneously operated as a forester, a Hackney Fly Proprietor and a Licensed Victualler, owning the Adam & Eve Tavern in Hotwells, Bristol. In 1820, Thomas was married in St Mary's Parish Church, Henbury, to Mary Ann Smith (c.1796-1874), daughter of John Smith (1760-1839) and Alice Smith (1766-1845) of Burnett, Somerset. If Henry was born in Ireland in 1822, as the census suggests, Thomas must have been based in Ireland at the time. Mary Ann may have been a kinswoman of James Smith, future steward of Moyle. The Lurways lived in Lime Kiln Lane, Bristol, also Windsor Terrace and later in Power Street. Thomas had a brother James Lurway.

Henry was the second of Thomas and Mary Ann Lurway's six children - Thomas (1820-39), Henry (1822-95), Frederick (1825-87), Louisa (1830-93), Mary Ann (1832-1910) and Julia Ann Lurway (1838-41). Thomas went bankrupt in 1848 and does not appear in the 1851 census. He died whilst living with his wife at 31 North Gardens, Hove, Brighton, in January 1858.

Henry and Mary Ann moved to Ireland shortly after their marriage in 1849, presumably to work for William McClintock Bunbury, MP, or his uncle Kane. Henry was based at Moyle until 1861 when, following the death of his wife, he returned to Bristol with his three children who were all born at Moyle, namely William in 1851, Francis in 1852 and Marion in 1854. By 1870 he had remarried, found work as a coachman and had an address at 45 Chester Square, London. The McClintocks had a house at 80 Chester Square which may suggest a link. There were only 8 people in the UK with the name Lurway in 2010.

Henry’s sister Louisa married a man called George Steer and lived in a large, six bedroom house (now gone) on Stanley Park Road in Wallington, Croydon, which they called Rathmore, presumably after the Colonel’s home in Carlow. She had apparently amassed a fortune of around £40,000 by 1880's.

The above information was provided by George and Louisa’s great-great grandson Andrew Bennett of Hove, Sussex, and Jennie Polyblank. Andrew's grandfather Cyril Leslie Isted was a son of George and Louisa’s daughter Florence Louisa Steer and her husband Walter William Isted. Another contact for this is Graham Isted, a great-great-grandson of Cyril Leslie's brother.


The 1876 Registry for the "Owners of Land of One acre and Upwards" suggests that the Moyle estate comprised of 3,098 acres. The Lisnavagh Archives contain (G/21) a number of personal letters written to Colonel Kane Bunbury by an old friend, W. Power, from Paris between 1843 and 1850. He mentions, amid social and personal news, the good reports he receives of Colonel Bunbury's record as a landlord and ponders the importance of being an improving landlord if you live in Ireland. Between 1872 and 1874, for instance, he paid Messrs McCurdy & Mitchell [the architects of the wings added to Oak Park, Co. Carlow] for 'Mr Corrigan's house on the estate of Colonel Kane Bunbury', for Rathvilly cottages, for Rathvilly glebe-house, for Rathvilly police barracks, etc, and for repairs to the roof of Lisnavagh.

The Carlow Sentinel evidently agreed on his generosity, as this from his Obituary suggests: “How well he discharged the duties of his position it is needless to repeat. He never aspired however to any territorial or official honours. From his advanced years, he declined the Shrievality, and the same reason forbade the acceptance of a Deputy Lieutenancy and the Magistracy. The more quiet and unobtrusive engagements of private and domestic life, the improvement of his estates, the comfort of his tenantry and dependents, the amelioration of their condition, and the exercise of innumerable offices of charity and good will, are the traits which signalise the character and hallow the career of the departed worthy.”


In later life, he and Lord Gough relived “the days of “auld lang syne”, when they were striplings together, and mutual visits of courtesy and affection were interchanged by the veteran friends”. (Sentinel) He alsio wrote a diary, mainly about the weather and his illness, from 1866 until his death in 1874. He continued to sponsor the family. In December 1871, for instance, he sent Pauline McClintock Bunbury (widow of his nephew Captain William McClintock Bunbury) £1,000 which purchased her son Jack Bunbury a commission as a sub-lieutenant in the 2nd Dragoons.

In October 1865, Saunders Newsletter noted that the Colonel had just moved into Rathmore Park, presumably leaving the house at Little Moyle to the Smiths who had apparently just had a baby son, Kane Smith. The article, which was also published in The Times, described ‘one of those happy reunions – the friendly mingling together of an excellent and esteemed landowner and his happy, prosperous tenantry took place on Monday last at Rathmore Park, Tullow, the new residence of Colonel Kane Bunbury, on the occasion of his taking up abode there for the first time. ‘ To mark the occasion, his tenantry presented him with ‘a suitable address, beautifully got up in vellum, in book form, with richly-coloured illuminated borders, crest & c’.[xiv] This was the same week former Prime Minister Lord Palmerston died.

NB: A local Carlow publication called 'History of Our Area - Past and Present' details accounts of Rathmore and the surrounding areas. It was compiled by members of Rathmore Foroige. With thanks to Cathy Goss.

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Above: James Smith of Little Moyle (1808-1892)


James J. Smith was born in 1808 and died on 30th September 1892 aged 84 years. His future mentor Colonel Kane Bunbury was a 31-year-old Captain in the British Army at the time of James’s birth which certainly leaves room to speculate that it was he and not his son Kane James Smith that was the Colonel's illegitimate son.

James Smith’s acknowleded connection to the Bunbury family dates to at least 1851 as the Lisnavagh archives hold correspondence (one letter each way) between George Philips, a tenant who had emigrated to New York, and his landlord, Colonel Kane Bunbury. In these letters, Philips complains of the behaviour of the steward at Moyle, James Smith, and Colonel Bunbury defends James Smith. The gables of the two-storey steward’s house where James Smith originally lived still stand amid the ruins of the farmyard at Moyle today.

On January 28th 1854, The Carlow Sentinel gave the following report from the Carlow Petty Sessions, which appears courtesy of Michael Purcell and the Pat Purcell Papers:

'Michael Clowry summoned Mr James Smith, steward to Colonel Bunbury of Moyle, for the recovery of 14 shillings for work done by him in his capacity of stonemason on the lands of Moyle. Mr Mulhall appeared on behalf of Clowry.
Michael Clowry on being sworn stated that he built 26 perches of mason work, at 1/6 pence per perch, he was paid 25 shillings but there is still a balance of 14 shillings due. Clowry stated he was employed the entire summer at Moyle, he had a man named Sheean working with him and had a man named Tallon to measure the work.
[Michael Purcell added a note in 2013 stating how, after much debate, the case was dismissed but Clowry was allowed 2 shillings and 6 pence for his attendance at court. Mr Mulhall told the court he would appeal]. Michael Clowry is third great grandfather to Trevor Clowry, the genius who designed and maintains the History Festial of Ireland website (www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com)!

The Lisnavagh archives also refer to a lease, dated 28th May 1857 and described as ‘missing’, from Colonel Kane Bunbury to James Smith, hotel keeper, of Kildare Street, Dublin, of part of ‘Phrumplestown’ [sic]. Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory for the Year 1862 lists James Smith of Little Moyle as the proprietor of Kearn’s Hotel, 43 Kildare Street, with Colonel Kane Bunbury, William La Touche of Harristown and Edward George Barton also named as residents. Henry Grattan stayed at Kearns Hotel the previous century, it being perfectly situated for proximity to Parliament House, Trinity College, Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square. Thackeray dined here in the 1840s when Edward Kearns was proprietor. In the late 1870s, after Colonel Bunbury’s death, Parnell addressed a meeting of the National Land League here. Carriages and hackney coaches from the hotel often waited by the waterside at the Pigeon House to escort passengers directly when the ships had landed.No. 43 was occupied by the Language Centre of Ireland in 2011. A list of Bankers Returns filed by the Inland Revenue in 1870 also lists James Smith as a hotel-keeper. [xv] (It may be relevant that Mary Anne Lurway, the mother of Colonel Bunbury’s coachman Henry, was seemingly born Mary Anne Smith).

The Moyle servants' wages book, which are also at Lisnavagh, show particular regard to the wage paid to the steward, James Smith, by Colonel Bunbury from 1857 until the Colonel’s death in 1874. There is also a weekly household account book for Moyle, 1872-1874 and a ‘bundle of account books and vouchers relating to James Smith's accounts with the Colonel dated circa 1874.


James Smith's wife was called Matilda. As such, it seems they were almost certainly the James Smith and Matilda Hardman who were married at the Parish Church in Kellistown on 17 January 1854. James’s occupation was given as ‘steward’ and his father was listed as William Smith, farmer. Matilda was described as a ‘servant’ while her father William Hardman was a 'furniturer'. The witnesses were F. Johnson and Mark Croft.

James and Matilda Smith had two daughters, Alice Courtney Smith and Mary Maud Smith, born in 1856 and 1857 respectively. Young Alice did not live long. In 2008, I was contacted by Geraldine Murphy, a great-granddaughter of Mary Maud Smith of Moyle, who lives in New Zealand. Geraldine is the owner of Mary’s christening mug, dated 1857 and she alerted me a reference in the Kellistown Journals of the Memorials of the Dead which read:

“Just Known And Lost – This is the resting place of ALICE COURTNEY the beloved child of JAMES and MATILDA SMITH Who died 3rd of April 1857 aged 9 months Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God Also of JAMES SMITH, Little Moyle Who died 30th September 1892 aged 84 years So he giveth His beloved sleep.”


During the 1860s and 1870s, James Smith, tenant farmer, of Little Moyle was one of the most remarkable cattle breeders in Ireland, often operating on behalf of Colonel Kane Bunbury.[xvi] Starting in about 1862, he bred everything from prize Alderney cows to Kerry heifers, and the annual auction of his purebred shorthorns at Little Moyle was one of the big events on the calendar for cattlemen across Leinster. On Thursday August 27th 1863, The Irish Times noted that James Smith of Little Moyle had won five sovereigns for a short horned roan cow called Poplin, winner of Section 25 which was 'for the best cow, in calf or in milk, of any age' and which was open to 'bone fide Tenant Farmers of Ireland not paying more than £160 a year of rent.' He also won a further five sovereigns for Section 26, 'the best heifer, in calf or milk, calved in 1860', with a roan heifer called Kitty.

On 30th August 1864, the Freeman’s Journal ran a story originally published in the Carlow Sentinel under the heading ‘LAMBING EXTRAORDINARY’. It described how some ewes, the property of James Smith, had just dropped a number of lambs. The “new arrivals” are from pure Dorset ewes of a superior description and Mr. Smith expects a large addition to his flock before the expiration of the coming month. It is scarcely necessary to say that in this country at this season of the year, we very rarely hear of lambs dropping.’[xvii] The story was picked up by the Nenagh Guardian the next day and both it and the Freeman’s Journal ran the story again in mid-September.


(Via the Carlow Post - Saturday 24 October 1863)
This auction, which came off on Saturday last, was conducted by Mr. Thomas Dowse, the highly respectable auctioneer, and gave universal satisfaction. The weather was favourable and the attendance was very large.
Several of the gentry from the neighbourhood were present, amongst whom we noticed the following:- Sir John R. Wolseley, Bart.; General Johnson, Mr. Devon, agent to Captain M‘C. Bunbury the Messrs. Fishbourne,Mr. T. G. Mosse, the Messrs. Humphrys, Ardristan; Mr. Brangan, Carton, Co Kildare; Mr. Phipps, Athy; Mr. D. Campion; Mr. O’Donnell, Kyle; Mr. Edward Birch, Dublin ; Mr. Nolan, Tineclash; Mr. Cummins; Mr. Furney ; Mr. Curran. Blackcastle, &c., &c.
At one o’clock the company were invited to a splendid dejeuner, served out in a spacious room, tastefully deco- rated for the occasion with evergreens, &c.
The chair was taken by Sir John R. Wolseley, Bart., and the vice-chair by Frederick Devon, Esq.
After all had partaken of a sumptuous luncheon, the Chairman proposed the usual loyal toasts, which were duly honoured.
The Chairman next proposed the health of ‘the Lord Lieutenant, and prosperity to Ireland”, which was warmly received.
The Chairman in proposing the next toast, said he felt entirely inadequate to the pleaaing task of pointing out the many amiable and excellent qualities of Colonel Kane Bunbury (loud cheers). They had only to look around to see what the noble-minded Colonel had done for his tenantry, and for the promotion of agriculture, and he could only wish that every other Irish landlord would follow such a worthy example. They saw how that example was followed by his worthy manager, Mr. Smith, of whose noble hospitality they were partaking. In conclusion, he would give the health of Colonel Bunbury, the universally respected proprietor of the soil.
The toast was received with deafening outbursts of applause, which were kept up for several minutes.
Mr. Branagan, a tenant on Colonel Kane Bunbury'sproperty at Swords, county Dublin, said that the many good qualities displayed by Col. Bunbury were hereditary in the family, as his good mother, the late Madam Bunbury, stood equally high in the estimation of the county Dublin tenantry (cheers), and he felt proud to say that she was a Swords woman, and he (Mr. Branagan) being a Swords man, he took pride in bearing testimony to the good acts of the Bunbury family for the last century (renewed cheers). With reference to Colonel Bunbury, he wished to mention an incident which would serve to illustrate the manner in which he acted towards those resident upon his property. On one occasion he (Mr. Branagan) accompanied him when visiting his tenantry at Swords, and a poor woman, to whom he had given a house and bit of ground rent free, came to speak to him knowing that he was kind and familiar to all. "What do you want, mv good woman," said he "sure you don’t want anything?’’ "Your honour,” said she, "my house is tumbling down, and I want it to be thatched;" and, although she held it rent free, the generous-hearted Colonel replied, "Well I’ll give directions to have it repaired" (loud cheers). From that incident alone they could see that there was not a better family in Ireland (applause).
Mr. James Smith, in responding to the toast, said he felt at loss what to say for the kind and cordial manner in which Colonel Bunbury's health had been recieved, and also for what had been said on his behalf by the Chairman, and his esteemed friend. Mr. Brannagan, who like himself, was a tenant of Colonel Bunbury’s. He had proposed to be amongst them that day, but he regretted very much not being able do so, although he had fully intended to have met and mingled amongst his happy tenantry, and those kind friends of his (Mr. Smith’s) who were present on that occasion. Hewould, however, communicate to Colonel Bunbury the warm and enthusiastic manner in which his health had been received, for which he (Mr. Smith) again begged to return his best thanks, on the part of Colonel Bunbury (renewed applause).
Mr. David Campion proposed the health of their host Mr James Smith (cheers). His name and character spoke volumes, and they were all prepared to bear evidence to the princely hospitality which they had received from him on more than one occasion (hear, hear). They had only to look at his farm —at his house, and at everything connected with it, and they would freely admit that there was not a man in England or Ireland but might well proud of such an establishment (cheers).
The toast having been received with enthusiastic applause, Mr. Smith rose to respond, and was greeted with renewed applause. He said he felt at a loss to give expressions to his feelings for the way in which Mr. Campion had proposed his health, and also for the manner in which it had been received. If his exertions met with approval, and were in any way beneficial to the cause of agriculture, he felt satisfied with the result, for although he was not obliged to work hard with his hand yet he had an immensity of hard work (cheers). By goingfrom one exhibition to another he gleaned much valuable information and by that means was enabled to adopt the most advanced system of agriculture. Last year he accompanied a gentleman who was present to Battersea park, and although that appeared a rather hazardous undertaking, he felt that without perseverance it was impossible to succeed (renewed applause).
Mr. Devon, Vice-chairman, proposed the next toast. They would all agree that their chairman fully expressed their opinions in proposing the toasts and far as he (Mr. Devon) was concerned, he was delighted he had no toast to propose On the last occasion they met there it was his pleasing privilege to propose the health of Colonel Bunbury, and he was glad to hear another proposehis health that day. That was the second time they had assembled to partake of Mr Smith's hospitality, and he did not really know how they could make upfor it except by their bids. He would now call upon them to drink the health of their worthy chairman and return him thanks for the manner in which he had presided.The toast was drank with loud and hearty cheers.
The Chairman begged to return his sincere and heartfelt thanks for the manner in which his health had been received. The duties he had undertaken with great temerity, as he had no intimation whatever that hewould be called upon to act as such. He might say, however, that as long as he was permitted to reside in this, peaceable and prosperous county, he would, as alandlord, alwavs endeavour to fulfil his duties; and it had always afforded him pleasure to attend such meetings, and to promote the interests of the tenant farmers of the county Carlow (cheers).
He then proposed the toast of their late respected county representative, Captain M‘Clintook Bunbury, of Lisnevagh (cheers). His noble qualities needed no comment, and he (Chairrnan) could not say how much pleased the people were with the worthy gentleman (Mr. Devon) who represented Captain Bunbury in the side the county where he (Chairman) had the pleasnre of possessing property adjoining his good, kind neighbour—Captain Bunbury. The toast was drunk amidst a round of hearty cheers.
Mr Devon briefly responded, after which the company adjourned to the auction mart.
Click here for a list of the prices obtained for the different species of stock during the day - you may need to pay to view!


Saunders's News-Letter of Wednesday 12 October 1864 reports: ‘SALE AT LITTLE MOYLE. COUNTY CARLOW. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) On Monday an auction of short-horns, fat cattle, sheep. &c., took place Little Moyle, County Carlow, the residence of Mr. James Smith. An excellent luncheon was prepared in one of the new granaries, and after the repast a number of toasts were proposed by the chairman, Mr. William Johnson (agent to Colonel K. Bunbury), and by Mr. Frederick Devon (agent to Captain M’Clintock Buubury). Mr. Thomas Dowse conducted the sale with entire satisfaction. Some fat bullocks went as high as £l9 10s. each, and heifers brought as much as £19, but these were top prices.' The Carlow Post provided further details on it all as follows:

On Monday last the third annual sale of stock held at Little Moyle, the residence of Mr. James Smith, by Mr. Thomas Dowse, auctioneer. The attendance was large, and the competition animated throughout.— Luncheon commenced at one o’clock. In the earlier puli of the day Colonel Bunbury visited the place, and was loudly cheered by those assembled. The Colonel acknowledged the compliment paid him, and inspected the arrangements for the sale. On entering the refreshment room, Mr. William Johnson was moved to the chair, and those present drank health and happiness to the generous and noble-minded lord of the soil. Colonel Bunbury, in returning thanks, expressed the gratification it afforded him to see everyone about him happy and contented. He regretted very much not being able to remain, as he had to leave for Dublin, but trusted that Mr. Smith would have as good a sale as he could wish.

Colonel Bunbury then left amidst renewed cheers. About two hundred persons sat down to luncheon, the Chair being occupied by Mr. William Johnson, and the Vice Chair by Mr. Frederick Devon. Luncheon having concluded, The Chairman proposed the usual loyal toasts. The Vice-Chairman then proposed in very appropriate terms the health of Colonel Bunbury, and referred to his many inestimable qualities as a resident and improving landlord, an excellent employer, and generous benefactor to the poor and destitute. In all the relations of life he was performing his part nobly, and in wishing him a long career of health and happiness, he hoped every other landed proprietor in Ireland might be induced to follow his example. The toast was enthusiastically received.

Mr. Smith returned thanks for the cordial manner in which the toast had been received. He could not possibly find words to express his feelings on hearing Colonel Bunbury spoken of in such complimentary terms by their esteemed vice-chairman (cheers). Colonel Bunbury came amongst them that morning, and expressed his regret that he could not remain with them, owing to his being obliged to leave for Dublin, to fulfil an engagement. For the manner in which they had received the toast, and their kindness in listening to the few words he had said on behalf of Colonel Bunbury, he felt very thankful, and highly complimented (cheers).

Mr. David Campion said he wished to propose the health of a gentleman with whom they were all well acquainted, and whose kind hospitality they had all so freely partaken of (cheers). Independent of the good things which Mr. Smith had set before them, he did not spare expense in producing some of the best stock in the country, and afforded them opportunities of selecting from those animals. Both he and Colonel Bunbury had done much towards improving the stock of the tenant farmers of the county, and he had much pleasure in proposing the health of their host, Mr. James Smith. The toast was warmly received. Mr. Smith responded. He begged to return his sincere thanks for the kind manner in which his health had been proposed Mr. Campion, and received by the company.

Mr. William Burgess proposed the health of Mr. William Johnson (cheers). Without a good agent tenant never could get on, no matter how indulgent considerate the landlord. Mr. Johnson they had gentleman who acted fairly between landlord and tenant, and who could not be surpassed as an agent, always ready to promote the interests of the farmers, and cariy out to the fullest extent the wishes a liberal and generous landlord (cheers). Mr. Johnson briefly returned thanks. He said he felt extremely obliged for the compliment paid him, particularly as his health was proposed by one of Colonel Bunbury’s tenants. It was highly satisfactory to him to know that the tenantry with whom he had dealings in connection with that gentleman’s property, were perfectly satisfied with him as an agent (cheers) He always endeavoured to act fairly towards them as well as towards their landlord; but with regard to Colonel Bunbury's property his task was a very easy one indeed, as his instructions were to give every facility to tenants and not to act harshly towards any man, but to help those who were at all likely to succeed (cheers). The result was that the rents were paid regularly, as a glance at Colonel Bunbury's rent roll would show, and even during the bad times, and since he became agent to Colonel Bunbury in '52, there was not a tenant ejected from the estate. If other landlords in Ireland followed his example, they would not have emigration, or anything else of the kind to complain of. For his own part he had always metwith the greatest kindnes* from his tenant farmers, andfor the kind manner in which his health had been proposed byone of them, he begged to return his best thanks.

At half-past one o'clock, Mr. Thomas Dowse of Naas, proceeded to dispose of the following lots at the prices affixed to each.

1. Softly, light roan, calved 20th March, 1860; got Cornet—Mr. Michael Neill, £l7 10s.
2. Stella, roan, calved May, I860; got Cornet —Mr. Michael Neill, £l7.
3. Poplin, roan, calved 29th January, 1853; got by Tomboy—Mr. Michael Neill, £l7.
4. Fanny Chaloner, roan, calved 11th March, 1853, got by Druid—Mr. Lacey, £2O.
6. Fairy Queen, light roan, calved 12th May, 1831; got by Cornet—Mr. (Drogheda), £42.

(Carlow Post, Saturday 15 October 1864)


James Smith also regularly exhibited at the RDS’s Spring Show (such as April 21-23 1867 [xviii]) and the Royal Agricultural Show. On Wednesday 9th December 1868, James Smith was noted in The Irish Times as a tenant farmer 'whose success deserves more than honourable mention' having been 'awarded a good many prizes, not merely for indoor, but also for out-fed stock.' The Kane-Smith family owned a silver tray which was made in Sheffield with Sheffield mark 1909. Gerry said the silver was melted down from nine medals which James Smith (7) and Colonel Bunbury (2) had won.


'Four houses are in course of erection at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, for Col. Bunbury. Mr. John M'Curdy, architect; Mr. J. F. Lynch, Carlow, builder.' (The Dublin Builder - Monday 1 April 1867, p. 16)



The following glowing review of Moyle and Rathmore appeared in the Irish Times in December 1867 and was printed by the Carlow Post on Saturday 14 December 1867.

During our recent travellings through the interior of the country, we availed ourselves of the pleasing opportunity of visiting the major portion of the County of Carlow, and of noting some features of interest to our general readers. The county of Carlow is essentially agricultural in character. Its broad acres are exclusively devoted to arable husbandry, and the feeding and rearing of stock. Its opulent resident proprietors have manifested in the most convincing manner the peculiar fitness of the soil for the display of agricultural enterprise.
The county would measure 29 miles in length by 20 ½ in width, and gives an area of 228,342 acres of land, of which 184,059 are arable, and 31,249 uncultivated, 4,927 acres plantations, 602 acres occupied by towns and villages, and 503 under water. The surface throughout is, generally speaking, level, except where it adjoins the county of Wicklow, where it partakes of a hilly character. On the western side of the river Barrow the colliery range extends to a considerable distance, exploring the baronies into which the county is subdivided. The irrigation of the county consists in the filtering streams of the rivers Slaney, Barrow, and Burren, on which latter the arterial process has been much resorted to by the Board of Works.
Perhaps there is not in Ireland a county so peculiarly suited or better adapted for general agricultural purposes as the county of Carlow. It enjoys the patronage of some of the wealthiest aristocracy, whoso names are conspicuous by being the most popular class of proprietors in any part of Ireland. The rental of the county becomes the more enhanced by reason of the fact that the tenants meet their engagements as punctual as the clock strikes twelve. Throughout the county there is scarcely a square foot of waste, and hence it is that the rental is sovaluable. In all directions the amplest proof of industry amongst the holders of the soil prevails. Their farm steadings are tidy, their homesteads neatly kept, and their farm equipments of a very superior order. The rent, considering all circumstances, is moderate, ranging from 30s. per acre upwards. The occupiers enjoy the happy reputation of being prosperous and perfectly secure in their occupancy. Tullow, which is rather a subordinate town in the county, is peculiarly constructed on undulating grounds. Some few and respectable houses present themselves here and there, and their general renovation and reconstruction denote care and supervision the part of the proprietor of the town.
Convenient to the town, and occupying a most prominent position, we find Rathmore Park, the modernised winter residence of Colonel Bunbury, who is, without exception, one of the most popular landlords in Ireland. His seat here covers 1,000 acres of land, which is beautifully situated over the river Slaney, and of the care extended to the demesne and premises it may indeed be truly said:
"Oh, woodman, spare that tree,
Touch not a single bough;
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now."
The estate attached to the Bunbury property is more than considerable. The rental, though, numerically speaking, is beyond the average of our baronial receipts, yet we find the most unmistakable traces of mutual reciprocity existing between the owner and the occupier of the land.
Not only does Colonel Bunbury exhibit every desideratum towards the advancement of his tenantry, but he keeps, in addition, the purest descriptions of stock to help them homewards. Again, he farms to a degree practical, a fact which must be appreciated by his numerous tenantry, who periodically visit his beautiful demesne farm. Of the general character of the stock he keeps we have only to mention that during the last year he was, through his agriculturist, Mr. Manly, the winner of upwards of £100 in cup prizes and otherwise. This is what may be expected, in view of the fact that his short-horn bulls (all of thoroughbred descent), have been kept on the premises, not merely for home use, but for the benefit of the estate. Apart, also, from the superior stock-producing nature of the concerns, we have, in a collateral issue, the samples of his roots, grain, and pulse, taking the leading prizes at the Royal Dublin Society, at which recent show he was a conspicuous exhibitor.
The farm attached to the mansion covers an area of nearly four hundred acres, every inch of which is cropped, grazed, and cultivated to the best account. Out of this area 15 acres have been devoted to oat culture, and about the same extent to the growth of roots. The farmyard is detached from the establishment. The farmery is exquisitely built of native granite, in which the soil abounds. The most economical and tasty arrangements prevail throughout. From cookhouse to barn and from barn to dairy and aviary the neatest and most economic arrangements are observed. Conspicuous in the demesne we observed the elevated mound, from the summit of which Mount Leinster, the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, together with the Queen’s and Kildare, become in sight. At this mansion, the present Lord Gough was entertained on the occasion of his return from campaigns Egypt, India, and other quarters, in all of which his lordship gained such military celebrity, not merely as a soldier, a military officer, but also as an Irishman.
Convenient to Moyle proper we found ourselves introduced to Little Moyle, the neat and handsomely renovated residence of Mr. James Smith, who for years has acted as the local manager to Colonel Bunbury.
Mr. Smith is an enterprising farmer. His success is creditable, and he deserves it. For years he has been a conspicuous exhibitor at our national shows, and his laurels have been the best attested when his sideboard is consulted. At the recent show of the Royal Agricultural Society, held in Stephen’s-green, we find his cattle taking all in the section in which he competed. We had the opportunity of examining some of these prize-taking animals on the recent occasion of our visit, and we refer now to our note-book for particulars:
Lady Bell, calved 15th January, 1863, was bred by Loftus H. Bland, Q.C., Blandsfort, the Queen’s County, was got by Lord John Russell (16,417), by Lord Raglan (13,244), dam Belle of Blandsfort, by Beau of Kilbogget (14,145), g. d. Princess, by Hamlet, grand dam Daisy by Second Cleveland.
One of the shorthorn cows, Rose May, calved January 1, 1863, out of Miss Mary, by Young Noble, and whose pedigree dates back to seven generations.
Letitia, third, calved in November 1864, is bred by Mr. Smith himself, and is extracted from the blood of Dr. M‘Hale, dam Strawberry, g.d. Lady Alice by Young Hamlet.
Princess Maude, calved April 13th, 1864, also of Dr. M‘Hale’s extraction, and amply maintains the reputation of thoroughbred descent.
Miss Matilda, the terror of show grounds, and which is partly thoroughbred, is perhaps one of the handsomest animals in this or the sister country. Although grazed up to this date, her shapes, size, and symmetry are as proportionate as the criticisms of the most witty could discern; grand, mellow hide well-proportioned ribs, neat head, well-formed loins, beautifully set on bead and tail, set her off to advantage. According to the published facts, she was calved on the 6th of January, 1866, and was got by Dr. M‘Hale, out of Lady Alice Third, by Hindoo (14,707), grand dam Lady Alice Second, by Young Hamlet (10,296), g. g. d. Lady Alice First, by Stockburne.
Mr. Smith has earned a reputation for himself as stock breeder. His success is not confined under a bushel, and his annual sales are of no meagre importance.
Outside of the bovine tribe he has been equally successful. His growth of Border Leicester sheep is more than significant, and this we had an opportunity of vouching from the fact of participating in a dinner of lamb, which, considering the season, is rather a rara avis.
The houses of the labouring classes are not neglected either by Colonel Bunbury or Mr. Smith. We were gratified to see the comforts of the labouring classes so much looked after. Domiciles providing distinct sleeping apartments for both sexes of the family have been substantially built from the native granite stone, quarried from the bowels of the adjacent fields. These cottages we have carefully inspected, and shall await our criticism till comparison takes place.
The farm-yard at Little Moyle is a picture of perfection combined with simplicity. No obtuse architectural arrangement has been attempted. It is singularly devised and admirably built. The approaches from one apartment to the other are economically laid out and easy of approach. The central yard is chiefly devoted to drinking troughs for the farm horses and poultry.
Speaking of poultry we may, en passant, remark that there are as many specimens of the feathered tribe in Little Moyle farm-yard as would count the thousands in a numerical sense.
On the whole, we must say that any party anxious to see arable husbandry, stock breeding, economic management, exquisite arrangement, profitable culture, and the general results of farm management, that Moyle Great and Little are both well worth more than a casual notice from the connoisseur, and doubtless would be found a lexicon of information for the practical. Special Correspondent of Irish Times.


On Saturday 21st August 1869, The Irish Times carried notice that James Smith, Esq, had 'favoured the Auctioneers [Ganly, Son, Parker & Bennett] with instructions to announce his Annual Sale', being 'some Valuable Short-horns, Fat and Store Cattle and Sheep, Horses, and Fancy Poultry.' Further details were published on Saturday 28th August 1869, indicating 36 fat aged bullocks, 16 fat heifers a fat Brahmin heifer, 33 Leicester ewes, 34 finished Wethers, 16 fat ewes and miscellaneous Spanish Spas, Seabright Fowls and Mauevy ducks. The sale took place on Monday 27th September.

Between the announcement of the sale and the sale itself, both James and the Colonel were to earn some excellent column inches in The Irish Times (Thursday 2nd September 1869) which reported on the 24th Annual County Carlow Agricultural Society's Cattle Show, held on Tuesday 31 August 1869. Colonel Bunbury and James Smith seem to have dominated the short-horn class. James Smith was described as 'perhaps one of the most successful and enterprising breeders of short-horn stock' and noted hat he had been 'as usual singularly successful. In every section which he exhibits he obtains a prize. He won the Bruen and the Kavanagh Challenge Cup, value £20, for the best breeding animal in the show yard, and also the Challenge Cup presented by William Johnson, Esq., for the best brood mare, in addition to first prizes in heifers, yearlings, poultry, &c. the general excellence of his cattle formed the subject of general remark amongst visitors to the show grounds. Mr Smith had those valuable animals entered for the recent Royal Show at Tralee but, owing to the local show coming off so very soon after the closing of the former, Mr. Smith deemed it more advisable to reserve his stock for the county show and exhibit them in the fullness of their bloom. Mr. Smith, as well as other exhibitors, attach much of his success to the fact of his having amongst his breeding animals some of the blood of the late Mr. Anderson, Grace Dieu, County Waterford. To those who did not witness the exhibition of stock sent forward, it may be difficult to convey a true outline of the superiority of the cattle. In almost every instance the cows displayed a beautiful roan colour, with well-proportioned points. That they have been carefully bred and systematically cared will appear self-evident to any ordinary amateur. Much of this gratifying fact is to be ascribed to the fact of the gentry in the district importing thoroughbred short-horn bulls for breeding purposes, and which have been freely placed at the command of the stock owners of the locality.'

Mr. Smith was also applauded for his contribution to the 'exceedingly creditable display of sheep, swine and horses,' specifically a three-quarter bred mare with foal at foot, out of Steppigstone, which won the Challenge Cup. The report continued by acclaiming Mr Manley, agriculturalist to Colonel Kane Bunbury, for a 'highly creditable' exhibition of agricultural produce. 'Moyle sends forward no fewer than 24 distinct samples of cereals and roots, all grown in the ordinary course of rotation. The lot embraces all the favourite varieties of green crops, together with samples of wheat, oats, barely, and home-saved flax seed. This collection was justly awarded the Purdon prize, as being the best grown by an exhibitor.'

At the Spring Show in 1870, James Smith of Little Moyle won second prize in the Breeding cattle (Class 1, Section 7) for best shorthorned cow of any age, either having a living calf within 12 months preceding the date of the show, or producing a live calf within six months subsequent to the date of the show. (Eh, how do you judge that one then!?)

When the Earl of Meath held the fifth annual sale of stock at his farm in Kilruddery, Co. Wicklow in August 1871, James Smith was noted amongst the intending purchasers.[xix]


For the neatest and best kept Cottage, £2 10s — John Byrne.
For the second best, £2 —James Morran.
For the third best, £1 10s —Widow Donohoe.
For the fourth best, £l — William Myers.
For the fifth best, 10s — John Fitzpatrick.
Paulville, Sept 13, 1870.
Having been called to assist Mr Campion in the inspection of Cottages, I feel pleasure in giving the following statement:
- I saw two cottages on the farm of Mr William Burgess, Tobinstown, and they were beautifully situated, with fine spacious approaches at front, neatly gravelled, also at angles of the roads leading to the scenery at Lisnevagh, Rathvilly, Tullow, &c; were supplied with convenient piggeries; also a plot of ground to each cottage, which is well planted with vegetables. These cottages are lofty and well ventilated, elegantly cleaned up ; the beds, furniture, and other requisites neatly arranged, and the appearance of the cottagers gave full evidence of comfort and domestic happiness. Mr Burgess has the advantage of the services of these industrious cottiers, and I have no doubt, in return, he cheerfully administers to their requirements. Such considerations are very satisfactory.
These cottages were erected by Colonel Bunbury, and the materials are of most costly description, and neatly finished in every department. I had the pleasure, not only of inspecting these cottages at Tobinstown, but also at Moyle, for some years past, and always found them in beautiful order, and the occupants fully supplied with all the necessaries of life. Much credit is due to the fostering hand of Mr Smyth, and also Mr Manley, who is local steward, who knows these cottagers are well supplied; and I have reason to believe, from these and all the other kind acts on record, not only to the poor, but to his tenantry in general, the Colonel has justly merited that reward which must attend such acts.
I also inspected four cottages in picturesque Ballintemple. These cottages seem to have been erected by the predecessors of the present Sir Thomas Butler. In a word, they were clean and creditable in every department. The beds and furniture were good and plentiful, the rooms in general tastefully ornamented with several pictures, all necessary requisites in the kitchens, and several little cupboards bending with weight of china, delft, and glass, and clocks were alsopretty general. The occupants also told me they have frequent visits from Sir Thomas and his good mother, Lady Butler, both of whom are always prepared not to think, but toknow the cottagers have everything to make them happy. Everything was so arranged that Mr Campion and I were much puzzled to form our distinctions.
On my return from these cottages. I met a fine, respectable-looking old man, with whom I had a conversation. Amongst other things, he told me he was upwards of forty-eight years steward tothe Butler family, and when retiring was allowed a very handsome annual remuneration for past service, which he ispunctually paid, and also well paid for any daily services he is now capable of rendering the property. These kind acts, as well as those to the cottagers, give convincing proofs, that the indulgent hand of Sir Thomas is extended to his honest and trustworthy people; and it is to be hoped that Sir Thomas and Lady Butler may long survive to nourish that good feeling which at present exists, and for which these good people give every expression of gratitude in return. Such a state of things is very satisfactory, and ifsuch was made generally practicable, the country would, in a short time, be seen in a state of domestic happiness. Philip Nolan. Assistant-Inspector."
Carlow Post - Saturday 24 September 1870


In September 1871, The Nation marveled at a locomotive owned by James Smith which was exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Show in Pembroke Park. Weighing less than five tons, the 8-horsepower machine was made by R. Garret & Sons of Leiston Works in Suffolk and comprised of a self moving or traction engine, designed for traveling on common roads and conveying a combined Threshing, Straw-Shaking and Finishing Dressing Machine. Its charm was that it would save ‘time and the enormous expense and difficulty of moving such ponderous engines and machines with horses.’ Smith’s machine was revolutionary because it did not require horses and The Nation hailed it as ‘a gem in scientific construction and arrangement’ while the Freeman’s Journal claimed it was ‘capable of threshing and finishing 100 barrels of oats or barley per day’.[xx] ‘It is steered by a man in front, or can be draw by a horse’. Its cost was estimated at £345 and this one was made to order, via Garret & Son’s agent Mr O’Neill, for Mr. Smith ‘who will hire it out, and it to be hoped without loss to himself, as he deserves support for the spirit with which he has invested so much of his capital.’ This steam traction engine may have been called "The Pride of Little Moyle'. (Thanks to Maurice O'Neill).

On Thursday, October 1, 1874, The Irish Times reported on the Kildare Agricultural Society Exhibition in Athy at which Nymph, Colonel Bunbury's short horn white heifer, took first prize to win a first class silver medal for the best heifer calved in 1873, while James Smith was actually runner up in the same section. In the next section, or the best heifer calved in 1872, Smith took both first and second place, while he also secured second place with Duchess, a short horn cow, in the best heifer calved in 1871. Colonel Bunbury's red and white cow Fanny was third in the same contest so James won the day with a 1st and three 2nds to the Colonel's 1st and 3rd.


In 1866, Kane buried his nephew, Captain McClintock Bunbury, and, in 1869, he followed the remains of his old friend Lord Gough to the grave. ‘That these losses affected and chastened, if not saddened, the old man’s heart, we may readily suppose if we ventured to pry into the secrets of a sensitive nature … With undiminished health and a vigour of body and mind rarely enjoyed, the patriarch survived many of his race, and lived to see others, the sons of his departed friends, rise into youth and enter into manhood with all the promises that can render their lives estimable, honourable and useful. Without a pang of suffering, in a gentle effort of exhausted nature, his spirit returned to its Maker, on the 2nd of November 1874 in the 98th year of his mortality.” His death received a short obituary in the Illustrated London News of November 14th 1874:

"COLONEL BUNBURY. Kane Bunbury, Esq., of Moyle, in the county of Carlow, retired Colonel in the Army, a great landed proprietor, and one of the most popular landlords in Ireland, died at his seat, near Carlow, on the 4th inst., in his ninety-eighth year. He was second son of William Bunbury, Esq , of Lisnevagh, M. P. for the county of Carlow, by Katherine, his wife, daughter of, Redmond Kane, Esq., and succeeded to his estates the death of his brother, Thomas Bunbury, Esq., of Lisnevagh and Moyle, M.P., who died unmarried in 1846. It is curious to remark that the marriage of Colonel Kane Bunbury’s parents dates back more than one hundred years. The Bunburys of Moyle and Lisnevagh are a branch of the ancient Cheshire house of Buubury of Stanny. By the death of Colonel Bunbury, a considerable portion of his property devolves on his nephew, Lord Rathdonnell, and another part passes to Viscount Gough, who descends, in the female line, from the Bunburys."


The Carlow Sentinel marvelled at his lifespan: “Ninety eight years – a century almost! What a space in the history of the world, much less of an individual, do a hundred years embrace … The remains of this universally esteemed gentleman, whose lamented demise we recorded in our last issue, were interred on Thursday last, in the family vault at Rathvilly Church. Notwithstanding the early hour announced for the funeral to leave Moyle (nine o’clock), it was one of the largest that has taken place in this country for many years past, all sections of the community being numerously represented in the morning cortege. Between three and four hundred scarfs and hatbands were distributed amongst the tenantry and employees on the Bunbury estate, most of whom walked in procession before the hearse from Moyle House to the high road, where they filed off and joined the large concourse who followed the remains (which were enclosed in a suit of three coffins) to the Churchyard, a distance of some ten miles by the Tullow Road.

The outer coffin was covered with black cloth and bore on plated shield the simple inscription, “COLONEL KANE BUNBURY, died November 4, 1874, aged 97 years”. The Chief mourners were Lord Rathdonnell, Lord Viscount Gough, Mr Thomas M’Clintock Bunbury, Mr John Bunbury, Captain Bunbury (Lisbryan), Mr William Johnson and Mr James Smith. On reaching Rathvilly, the coffin was carried into the church by the tenantry, when the opening portion of this solemn burial service was read by the Rev. Samuel Quinton. It was then borne to the entrance of the family vault, and the remainder of the burial service having been read by the Rev. James P. Garrett, it was lowered to its last resting place. The funeral arrangements were most satisfactorily carried out by Mr. Boake of this town.’


Extract from the will of Colonel Kane Bunbury of Moyle County Carlow, approved on 11th February 1875.

"I also direct my Executors to invest £1000 in Government new 3% stock for the Poor of the Parish of Rathvilly in the said County of Carlow and I direct my Executors to pay one moiety of the annual interest or dividends on said sum of £1000 stock as same from time to time becomes due to the Rector for the time being of the said parish to be distributed by him every Christmas among the poor Protestant Inhabitants of said parish (except those receiving workhouse relief) and, as to the other moiety of the annual interest on the said sum of £1000 stock, I direct my Executors as from time to time it becomes due to pay same to the Roman Catholic Parish Priest of the said parish to be distributed by him every Christmas among the poor Roman Catholic inhabitants of said parish (except those receiving workhouse relief).

The first payment of £15 18 s for poor Catholics in accordance with Kane’s will was handed over to Patrick C Nolan, PP, by the Commissioners of Charitable Requests on December 7, 1876.

Catholic Parish Registers at NLI, Microfilm 04189 / 07 | Page 3: Rathvilly; Counties of Carlow, Wicklow; Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Baptisms. With thanks to Mick Byrne.

My father adds that the moieties continued until about 2008 when the Charitable Commissioners abolished any dividends below about €20 p.a. Dad thinks they paid it off with a small (capital) sum to save 'ridiculous' administration costs.



In his will, Colonel Bunbury left Big Moyle and the 520 acres that went with it to his cousin, George Stephen, 2nd Viscount Gough, who sold it in 1875 for £20,000 to Colonel Kane Bunbury's great-nephew, John William McClintock Bunbury, known as Jack Bunbury, brother of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell. After 1874, the Kane and Bunbury estates merged in the person of Thomas Kane McClintock-Bunbury, and following the death of John McClintock, 1st Lord Rathdonnell, he succeeded to the McClintock estates as well and to the barony of Rathdonnell, with the result that from the 1870s the Bunbury, Kane and McClintock estates became vested in one man.

Although he died unmarried, it seems that Colonel Bunbury did not die without issue. For many years I heard whispers that he had sired a child. In 2008, I made my first visit to Moyle and began to unravel the truth.



On Saturday 7th October 1876, the backpage of The Irish Times carried notice that James Smith was 'retiring from exhibiting' and that 'satiated with his many laurels" he had instructed Ganly, Sons & Parker, Auctioneers, to hold a sale at Little Moyle at 1pm ('after luncheon') on 11th October, comprising 37 head of first class cows, bulls and heifers of various ages (including many prize takers, of the most fashionable body of the day), as well as 19 one and a half and 2-year-old store bullocks 'in capital condition', two half-bred brood mares, two 3-year-old fillies 'partly trained' and some prize poultry. 'All biddings for shorthorns to be in guineas, and no bid less than a quarter of a guinea. All other transactions subject to the usual auction fees'. The sale went ahead as planned, with the highest prize being 40 guineas for a splendid shorthorn roan heifer, Lady Alice, by Prince of Rocklands. (she was purchased by Mr. Ganly for the Rev. P. J. Gaughran of Philipstown). 'Generally speaking', reported the Irish times on October 13th, 'the prize cows ranged from 15 to 31 guineas, half-bred milchers and heifers bringing from 10 1/2 to 15 1/2 guineas. the bull Knight of Windsor sold for 12 guineas and some young bulls £11 to £14. A fine lot of 19 two and a half year old bullocks went from £7 2s 6d to £8 17s 6d.

In 1877, James Smith was appointed a director of the Wicklow Copper Mining Company.


The Carlow Sentinel, October 8th 1892.


We regret to announce the death of Mr. James Smith, which occurred at his residence, Little Moyle, in this county, after an illness of some month's duration, at the ripe old age of 84. The deceased gentleman was closely identified with the agricultural interests of the county.
During the existence of the Carlow Agricultural Society he was one of the most successful exhibitors at its annual shows, and rendered good service by introducing the best breeds of stock into the district. His remains were interred in Kellistown churchyard on Monday, the funeral being attended by a very large number of friends. The coffin was borne from the house to the hearse by employees at Little Moyle, and into and from the Church by Freemasons, deceased being an old and respected member of the order. His son, Mr Kane Smith, and his son-in-law, Mr Kennedy, were chief mourners. The Rev. T. H. Hatchell, rector of the parish, officiated at the Burial Service.


This photo reputedly shows Kane Smith with his sister
Mary and and another unknown younger sister,
possibly the Mrs Kennedy whose husband was one
of the mourners at James Smith’s funeral. However
Kane Smith was some eight years younger than
Mary and in this photo there certainly doesn’t
appear to be that much difference in their ages.


Funeral of the Late Mr. James Smith ------ We have been requested to state that Mr. Breslin, son-in-law of the late Mr. Smith, who was to have been one of the chief mourners, was unable to reach Carlow in time for the funeral, having been on the Continent when he received intelligence of the death.[xxi] The funeral took place on 3rd October in Staplestown.

image title

Above: Matilda J. Smith, wife of James, with their
son, Kane J. Smith, circa 1880.


It is worth noting here that Geoffrey Bunbury, 10-year-old son of Jack, died just four days after James Smith. Jack Bunbury went on to purchase Moyle but was himself dead aged 42 from a heart attack a little over a year later.


Kane Smith’s half-sister Mary Maud Smith married Eric Edward William Bayley, born in Dublin in 1853. It is thought he was a son of Edward Breslin, JP, an influential hotel proprietor who was, for many years, Chariman of the Bray Township Commissioners in Co. Wicklow. It was perhaps through mutual interest in hotels that he and James Smith knew one another.

In 1908, The Times described him as ‘late of the 17th Lancers’ but his attachment to this regiment has been questioned.[xxii] In the Census of 31st March 1891, he was described as a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers.

The Bayleys were living in London by 1875 when their son George Henry Wyndham Bayley was born. Their elder daughter Viola Hope Mignon was christened at Staplestown in October 1885 under the surname 'Breslin', although her birth was registered in England as 'Bayley'. Thus it seems the family went under the name of 'Breslin' in Ireland until at least 1892 when, as mentione above, Edward Breslin was recorded in James Smith’s funeral notice. No other Bayleys or Breslins in Carlow have yet arisen.

The Bayleys' younger daughter Edith Vera Mary was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1887. The 1891 UK Census has Edward, aged 38, and Mary, aged 33, living in Lingfield Surrey with George (15), Viola (5) and Vera (4). Also in the house on census night was a visitor William Charles Kingsbury Wilde - Oscar Wilde’s brother - a barrister at law aged 38, born in Dublin. (See below).

image title

Above: George Bayley,
of Colonel Kane Bunbury.

By 1901 Captain Edward Bayley had retired from the army and was living at 102 Philbeach Gardens in West London with Mary and their two teenaged daughters. Mary died in late 1901, aged 45, of long standing heart disease. Her two daughters seem to have gone to Little Moyle to live with their uncle Kane Smith. George was in the army by then. Edward seems to have vanished after this and his death record has yet to be found. There is no evidence he ever lived at Little Moyle. The Bayley family believes he may have emigrated to the USA after his wife’s death and remarried. He did not attend either of his daughters’ weddings in 1908 and 1909. At the time of the 1911 census he was living in a boarding house in Brighton and by 1915, seemingly abnadoned by his family, he had had moved to another boarding house in Hammersmith, London where he died of cirrhosis of the liver, which suggests he might have had a fondness for alcohol. His death was registered by his landlady who was present when he died. He had no estate to leave.


Better known as Willie, William Wilde (1852-1899) was Oscar Wilde’s older brother, a once successful journalist whose alcholic excesses ultimately destroyed his life. At Portora School in Enniskillen, Willie was known for his good-humour and friendliness, later being described by a classmate as "clever, erratic and full of vitality" and "an accomplished pianist and an artist of little talent’. Oscar Wilde later recalled that the headmaster, Dr Steele, had told him that “If I went on studying as I had been during the last year I might yet do as well as my brother Willie, and be an honour to the school and everyone connected with it.” Willie was already a student at Trinity College, Dublin when Oscar joined him in 1871. The brothers shared rooms during their second and third years there. Given that Edward Bayley and William were the same age it seems likely that they were at school or Trinity College together.

Willie studied law but turned to journalism instead of the bar and, after his father’s death in 1876, he served as drama critic for Punch and Vanity Fair, as well as being the leader writer for The Daily Telegraph. By the time of Oscar's marriage in 1884, Willie was seriously in debt and drinking heavily. On 4 October 1891, five months after he stayed with the Bayleys in Lingfield, 39-year-old Willie married a wealthy widow, Mrs. Frank Leslie, (1836-1914), the owner of the Frank Leslie Publishing Co. in New York. The marriage fell apart with Willie’s excessive drinking, gossiping and growing jealousy about Oscar’s success. Mrs Leslie starting divorce proceedings within a year of the marriage on the grounds of Willie's drunkenness and adultery. They divorced on 10 June 1893. Willie died of drink-related illnesses in March 1899 and was survived by his only daughter, Dolly Wilde (by his second wife Sophie Lily Lees (1859-1922). Dolly became an iconic lesbian socialite on the Parisian scene in the 1920s and 1930s.

At any rate, it is to be noted that Kane Bunbury’s granddaughter was hosting Oscar Wilde’s brother to dinner in 1891, just as Oscar was about to launch ‘Lady Windemere’s Fan’. Was this the connection that prompted Oscar to borrow the name ‘Bunbury’ for The Importance of Being Ernest’? Also of note is that Kane Bunbury’s ultimate heir at Little Moyle was Jack Bunbury, who was at Oxford at the same time as Oscar. And perhaps also relevant is that Sir William Wilde's illegitimate daughters Emily and Mary "Wylie” perished in a fire at Drumaconner House, Drumsnatt, Co Monaghan, in 1871, and Kane Bunbury owned the land at Drumsnatt right beside where they died. Who knows where the connection came from but I certainly like to think that when Oscar decided upon the name ‘Bunbury’, he had Kane or Jack in mind.

image title

Above: Vera Bayley, niece of
Kane Smith, who married the
5th Earl of Rosslyn.


In October 1908, The Times referred to Little Moyle as the address of Eric Edward Bayley when his daughter Vera Mary Bayley married the 'high spirited and reckless' James St Clair-Erskine, 5th Earl of Rosslyn, in the registry office for the parish of St George's, Hanover Square, to which the couple drove together in a motor car. They afterwards left for Peebles Court, Holyport, Berkshire.[xxiii]

Lord Rosslyn was born in March 1869 and was a very colourful character. It was the third marriage for the famously good-looking Earl, and renowned as 'an extremely happy marriage' at the time of his obituary in The Times in August 1939. However, other reports suggest it was far from happy and that the Earl – known as “that dreadful Uncle Harry” – blew his fortune on drink, gambling and chasing other women.

During the First World War, Vera – known as “Tommy” – served with an ambulance unit on the Western Front, for which she earned the Belgian Medal of Princess Elizabeth. She is also said to have been the mistress of Robert Bruce Lockhart, converting him to Catholicism and inspiring his move into writing such classics as British Agent, which in turn inspired his son Robin to write Reilly, Ace of Spies.

The Rosslyns’ eldest son, James St. Clair Erskine (or Hamish) was born in 1909 and engaged to the author Nancy Mitford for about five years until he converted to homosexuality and called the wedding off. He died unmarried in December 1973.A second son, Major David Simon St. Clair Erskine was born in 1917.

They also had a daughter, Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair Erskine, born in 1912, who was called Mary after Mary Bayley, nee Smith. She famously married the same man twice, Sir Phillip Dunn, with a second husband, Captain Robin Campbell in between) Upon her first marriage to Dunn at the Brompton Oratory on July 19th 1933, her great-uncle ‘Mr Kane Smith’ sent her a cheque.[xxiv] Lady Mary’s daughter Serena (nee Dunn) is the wife of Jacob, Baron Rothschild.

Vera, Countess of Rosslyn, died in March 1975. Converted to Catholicism by her aunt , she was always religious and spent the last twenty or so years of her life living in a convent.


KANE JAMES SMITH (1864-1956)

It is believed that Colonel Kane Bunbury had a son with James Smith’s wife Matilda and that this boy was Kane James Smith, born in 1864. The boy certainly grew up to bear a strong physical resemblance to the Colonel and was surely no coincidence that the old man’s portrait hung in the dining room at Little Moyle when the Smith’s were resident. James Kane-Smith, grandson of Kane James Smith, attests to family lore that “despite the age differences, [the Colonel and Kane] were great friends.” Gerry Kane-Smith “always maintained” that Colonel Bunbury was Kane J. Smith’s godfather. It remains a mystery how or why James Smith accepted a boy who was evidently the son of his elderly employer, but perhaps further clues will come to light in due course.

Kane James Smith was born in Carlow in 1864 and raised in the Church of Ireland. He remained a steadfast Church of Ireland man and, many years later, his grandson James recalled how the family, by then Catholic, would drop him off at the Church of Ireland church on their way to Mass each Sunday, and that he had many visits from the local Vicar Canon Nelson.

It is notable that Kane’s reputed father, Colonel Bunbury, moved into Rathmore Park at about the time of his birth, presumably leaving Moyle to the Smiths. On July 3rd 1883, it was noted in The Irish Times that Mr James Smith, Miss Smith and Mr Kane J Smith were amongst those who had arrived back at Kingstown from England on the mail steamer.

By the 1890s, Kane was a committed Unionist and is frequently listed in the Carlow papers as attending meetings etc. although ‘did I tell you that Kane Smith spent six weeks at Downside as a postulant’, writes John Dillon in ‘The Correspondence of Myles Dillon, 1922-1925’.

On 24th August 1893, The Irish Times notes that one of Kane’s horses called Dan competed at the Horse Show, just six weeks before his father died. Kane’s 6-year-old chestnut mare Kitty (by Tommy Tyler, dam by Roman Bec) beat eight others to win the County Carlow Hunt Light-Weight Race in 1894. She was noted in The Irish Times as up for sale on 29 August 1894, described as ‘a great jumper, and perfect stayer, has been ridden by a lady’. In the same ad, Kane was selling Hunter, a five-year-old bay gelding (by Hunstman, dam by Chit-Chat), ‘a very safe jumper [who] has been driven all the summer in single harnesses’.[xxv]

In 1894, Kane married Emily Conroy, whom he called Emmie. Born in Dublin, she was a Catholic ten years his junior. She may have had Waterford connections and her brother, Father Conroy, was a parish priest somewhere in east Wicklow, possibly Redcross. When the Carlow & Island Hunt met at Tullow on 8 Feb 1895, Mr and Mrs Kane Smith were amongst the high turn out. As it happens that meet fetched up following the fox all the way to Lisnavagh.[xxvi]

On Wednesday 22 April 1896, The Irish Times carried a front page ad for two more of Kane’s horses, a pair of five year old bay geldings, one 16 hands, the other 15, and both ‘well known with the Carlow & Island Hounds, and the Carlow & Athy Harriers’. (The first horse was a ‘good hunter [and] wonderfully bold jumper’ by Huntsman, dam by Selim. The second was a ‘good hack’, by Tommy Tyler, dam by Chut Chat. Huntsman, Tommy Tyler and Chit Chat may have been stabled at Kellistown). On August 26th 1897, he put up another two horses for sale. One was a seven year old black mare by Runnymeade (by King John, dam by Selim) described as ‘a perfect lady’s hunter [who] last carried a lady for two years with Carlow & Island Hounds, and goes in single harness’. The second was a seven year old bay gelding by Greenfield who weighed up to 14 stone and was described as ‘a wonderful jumper over any country’.

On Wednesday June 1st 1898, The Irish Times carried an advertisement from Kane J Smith Esq, Benekerry, Carlow, seeking a ‘good plain Gardener (flowers and vegetables) and a dairymaid. ‘Married couple preferred: good home, coals and milk supplied.’

On Tuesday April 17th 1900, Kane was appointed – alongside Sir Charles Burton, Bart, and Captain Jocelyn Thomas, as a synodsman for the United Parish of Carlow and Painstown. The Rt. Hon. Henry Bruen was simultaneously elected to fill the seat of treasurer.

One of Kane Smith’s employees at Little Moyle at this point may have been William Breen. An advertisement in The Irish Times from 3rd May 1901 reads: ‘Man Wants situation as Herd or caretaker, with grown up son able to work; wife would mind dairy if required, can be well recommended. Apply to William Breen, Little Moyle, Carlow.’

A seven year old brood mare called Everton (by Monte Cristo, dam by Bad Times) came third in the Best Brood mares (hunters or hardness horses) class at the Carlow Agricultural and Horticultural Show held at the Green Dragon, Carlow, which took place in the first week of August 1906.[xxvii]

On 15 November 1912, Kane J Smith of Little Moyle was one of three men declared elected at the triennial election of three conservators for Electoral Division B (River Barrow and tributaries – fresh waters) held in the Courthouse, Bagenalstown. The other two were Robert Thorp of Kilgreaney, Bagelanstown, and Edward A Hughes of Graiguenamanagh. Mr Thomas Fenelon was appointed returning [missing word].[xxviii]

Kane and Emmie Smith had three sons, raised as Church of Ireland, and a daughter, raised as a Catholic. By the time of the 1911 Census, the couple were living at Little Moyle with their eight-year-old third son Gerard, while their elder sons were at Clongowes. Also living at Little Moyle were three servants – the cook Naunie Connor (26), the groom James Kelly (20) and the domestic servant Martha Connor (18). A number of Kane Smith’s diaries and accounts were found in the cellar at Little Moyle, along with a lot of receipts for whiskey. Emmie’s death on 8th July 1930 was recorded in The Times.

TAKE NOTICE that the final schedule of Incumbrances affecting the proceeds of the sale of the lands of Moyle Big (part of) containing 106a 0r 3p, situated in the Barony and County of Carlow, which has been sold under the above Acts (ie: Land Purchase Act), in fee simple, has been lodged in the Registrar’s Office of this Court at 24 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin; and any persons having any claim not therein inserted, or objecting thereto, either on account of the amount or the priority of any charge therein reported as due to him, or any other person, or for any other reason, is required to lodge an object in thereto, stating the particulars of his demand and duly verified, with the Registrar of this Court on or before the seventh day of July, 1915, and to appear on Thursday, the 15th day of July, 1915, at 11 o’clock before the Judicial Commission are at his Court at the Four Courts, Dublin, when he will adjudicate upon the several claims appearing on such schedule and upon any objections lodged there too.
And Take Notice that any demand reported by such Schedule is liable to be objected to within the time aforesaid.
And further take notice that I have fixed Monday the 12th day of July 1915, at my chamber, at 26 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin, at 12 o’clock, noon, for the vouching of the several claims appearing on the said Schedule, and all parties interested should attend before me on that day with the necessary proofs to vouch their respective claims with a view to the funds being distributed on the said 15th day of July, 1915.
Dated this 21st day of June, 1915.
Henry J Monahan, examiner
SS and E Reeves and Sons,
Solicitors for Vendors, 51 Merrion Square Dublin
[The Nationalist and Leinster Times, Saturday 26th June 1915, with thanks to Michael Purcell]

On March 8th 1919, The Carlow Sentinel gave an update on the Women's National Health Association as follows: ‘Meetings were held in the Town Hall in February and March. Present---Miss Alexander, in the chair ; Mrs Paul Brown, Mrs Kane Smith, Mrs J. Mc Donnell, Nurse Mrs Valentine, and Miss Gough. Bills were paid for one pound, two shillings and three pence for two months for clothing and nourishment for the sick poor.

In June 1920, The Nationalist ran the following advertisement:

Little Moyle, Carlow.
New Meadows for Sale.
Robert Bell, Auctioneer , Carlow, has been instructed by Kane J. Smyth, Esq., to sell by Public Auction on Monday 21st June 1920.
At 12 o'clock (summer time) 8 Acres of heavy 2nd crop meadows.

NB: By 1919, Moyle was given as the address of WF Grogan.

On Tuesday 20 June 1939, Kane Smith attended the wedding at Coughton of Baron Ludwig von Twickel of Ettal, Upper Bavaria, and Miss Anne Throckmorton of Coughton Court, daughter of the late Lt Col Courtenay Throckmorton. The bride was given away by her brother Sir Robert Throckmorton. It is to be noted that future British Prime Minister Anthony Eden was amongst those who attended.[xxix]

Kane J Smith died circa 1956. On Monday 25th June 1956, his daughter, Mrs S. Roche of Benekerry House wrote an Acknowledgement in The Irish Times, thanking "all those who so kindly write her letters of sympathy after the death of her father, Mr. Kane Smith, of Little Moyle, Carlow". Presumably she was writing this within a month or two of his death but strangely there is no record of his death in the Carlow Nationalist from January - June 1956.


One of Kane Smith’s best friends was Michael Webster, a Lock-Keeper employed by the Grand Canal Company at Carlow-Graigue. In July 1897, the Royal Humane Society awarded Mick a medal for his bravery in rescuing life from drowning. By then he had already saved 30 people from drowning in the river Barrow. For instance, William Connor, a lad of 13 years, who ‘while sailing on a raft as left by workmen fell into the river.’ A man of small stature, the Nationalist described him as ‘physically a gladiator, with the courage of a lion and the gentleness of a lamb’. Mick was ‘asleep in a boat at the time , having been up the previous night on duty, but the instant he was awakened by his daughter he took off his coat and plunged into the river, he got hold of the lad as he was sinking under for the third time and then rose with him to the wall where were assisted by his wife, Mrs Webster.’ Mick’s many admirers further honoured the ‘Hero of the Barrow’ with ‘a purse of sovereigns’, to which Kane Smith contributed £1. Mick would go on to rescue some 50 people by the time of his death, aged 93, on 8th December 1938. Mick was also a noted sportsman, particularly with a cricket bat, and was immortalized in ‘The Skipper's Oath and How He Kept It" written by Paul A. Brown in collaboration with District Inspector Hyde, (brother of Dr. Douglas Hyde, President of Ireland) who was then living in Carlow. After Mick’s death, the Nationalist asked Kane Smith to write a eulogy to his friend by publishing the following in the edition which followed Mick Webster’s death:

‘Mr Kane-Smyth, who is still happily with us, played every game and was without rival as a Horseman at the tail of hounds or between the flags and was adept with rod and gun. We hope to induce Mr Smyth to write his reminiscences of the men of yesterday, of their deeds in the chase and piscatorial pursuits. Should he ever undertake this task - Mick Webster, his friend, will have an unique interesting and humorous chapter -- "On The Banks of the Barrow".
A day on the river with both men was a treat. Kane's flow of wit and Mick's reminiscences made an inimitable combination of good things, which must remain unrecorded, as they are of the past and hard to recall. But here is one story worthy of a place in a book of Irish Wit and Humour.
Mick Hayden, whom God Rest his soul, was as keen a piscator as ever cast a fly on the waters of the Barrow -- Kane an admirer of Hayden said to Mick Webster with great solemnity: "Mick, fishing on the Barrow always reminds me of the late Mick Hayden, we should erect a monument to his memory bearing the inscription “Mick Hayden, Born 1828 - Died 1894.”
Ah ! , Mick Webster replied, and add, "He is waiting for the Rise".
"Good Mick the Grand Old Patriarch is Dead”. And of him truly it can be said : An honest man - A Diamond in the rough, "He fought the fight" -- says Kane -- Ain't that enough”.

Kane Smith duly published the following eulogy to his friend:

"Mick" as his friends used to call him, was a most kind and honourable man, in fact a true nature's gentleman. I do not know if I have ever heard a man spoken of by his own countrymen with such respect. A great fisherman, who worked nearly all his life as Head Water Bailiff on the River Barrow, on the banks of which he lived. He was most courageous, as the many lives he saved from drowning can testify. Few realised the kind of man he was until his death.
"I knew that ancient fisherman, I have him in my eye ;
I'll throw it a foot in front of him, And I'll be with him bye and bye"
Kane- Smyth.

With special thanks to Michael Purcell for the above details.


Kane and Emmie Smith had three sons – James, Bernard and Gerard – and a daughter, Doris. The two older boys were educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes from 1909-1911. This was unusual as they were both Protestant but their mother, as previously stated, was a Catholic. Their father gave his address as ‘Little Moyle, Ervington, Co. Carlow’ and described himself as a ‘Gentleman Farmer’. It was believed they were amongst the 95 former Clongowes boys (out of 600 who served) killed in the Great War but, according to the Clongowes archivist, this is not so and both survived. While I was at Moyle in 2008, Lar Doyle produced a well-worn war diary which he had found in the basement. Although I only had an all-too quick look at this, it transpired to have been written in the trenches of the Somme and I saw the date August 26th 1916.

James (‘Uncle Jim’) Conroy Kane-Smith was born at Benekerry Lodge on 20th November 1895. He was a temporary second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was later awarded the Military Cross ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ near Ypres on 11 August 1917. According to the London Gazette 9th of January 1918, ‘when his battery was being heavily shelled he showed a total disregard for his personal safety in moving from gun-pit to gun-pit encouraging the men. He was in charge of the guns at the time, and although himself wounded, by his fearlessness and determination he rallied the men and maintained the accuracy of the fire of the battery. He also arranged for the wounded to be cleared before allowing his own wound to be dressed’.[xxx]

Confusion surrounds his precise date of death. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission state that 24-year-old Lt James Kane-Smith, MC, was killed while serving with 110th Brigade on 27th May 1918 during the during the final German onslaught, known as the Battles of the Aisne and the Marne. His name is recorded on the Soissons Memorial.[xxxi] Family lore holds that he was killed north of Paris in July 1918. However, the Carlow Sentinel noted his death on May 17th 1918.

We regret to find amongst the official causality list this week the death of this gallant young Carlow soldier, who was eldest son of Mr and Mrs Kane-Smith, Little Moyle. He was attached to the R.F.A., and some months back was reported wounded and missing, but hopes of recovery were entertained up to the last. He was awarded the M.C. for distinguished services, while his kind and genial disposition made him a fast favourite amongst his many friends, who mourn his loss, and sympathise deeply with his bereaved parents.

James Kane-Smith (of the present generation) later found Jim’s name on a war memorial about 30 miles north of Paris, indicating that his body was never found.


Bernard (‘Uncle Bernie’) Conroy Kane-Smith was born on 28 January 1897 at Benekerry Lodge. Co. Carlow. He appears to have served with Canada’s 5th Artillery Brigade and, on 1st April 1915, he joined the Canadian Over-Seas Expedition Force at Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He served with the 7th Battery CFA in England and France during the Great War. He was discharged in Montreal on 23 April 1919. His proposed residence after his discharge was the Clarendon Hotel on Main Street, Winnipeg.[xxxii] Gerry Kane Smith was very proud of his brothers’ medals which he kept on display in the house.


Gerry Kane Smith’s sister Doris, who had been raised as a Catholic, married solicitor Samuel ‘Sammy’ Roche and lived with him at Hardymount. In 1936, the Roches acquired Bennekerry House, a building made from the ruins of Graiguecastle, on the Carlow-Tullow road. They were friends with Prince Milo Petrovic-Njegos, a nephew of the former King Nicholas of Montenegro, who was born in Montenegro in 1889. As a Brigadier-General during the First World War, Milo led his division into Albania in 1916. It was while staying at Benekerry that Milo met Gladys Bruen (nee McClintock) with whom he subsequently eloped.

When the Morrisseys later bought Benekerry House from the Roches, they apparently discovered that Sammy had never actually paid for it, and so they could not register the deeds! The Roches had one daughter, who died lately, who married one of the Tullamore Dew Williams, lived at Graiguenmanagh and was mother of twins (Jeremy and his brother). She passed away under tragic circumstances during the cold snows of 2007 / 2008.

GERARD KANE SMITH (1902 – 1991)

As such Kane Smith was succeeded by his third son, Gerard Kane Smith, the last of the family to own Little Moyle. Gerry was born on 9th October 1902 and educated at Mount St. Benedict. He was an old world gentleman and his daughter Alice recalls him as ‘the Perfect Gentleman’ who always wore Plus Fours, with a rose in his buttonhole and a hat decorated with handmade fly-fishing hooks.

He was a keen sportsman; The Irish Times archives show Kane Smith at regular hunting meets, as well as golf and cricket. His name was sometimes spelled ‘Jerry’ and so, as ‘J Kane-Smith’, he served as President of County Carlow Rugby Club from (at least) 1930-1956.

Kane Smith took out a second mortgage on the farm at the end of 1944 when Gerry was running the farm. These were difficult times but Gerry’s son James says his father remained ‘a very fair employer’ during and after the Second World War. ‘All the staff at Little Moyle stayed for many years,’ he wrote. ‘My father was very well respected by all classes of people, both locally and at a distance.’

Gerry looked after his father at Little Moyle for twelve years between 1944 and his death in 1956. He then began to sell the farm in instalments to Paddy Doyle who purchased the house in 1970, complete with leaking roof. Paddy and his wife Lil lived in a flat in one part of the house, while the Kane-Smiths retained right of residence until their deaths - Alice on 20th June 1990 and Gerry’s, aged 89, on 18th April 1991 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny. He was buried in Rathoe. Paddy Doyle died of cancer in 1995. The house remained vacant until circa 2000 when Paddy’s nephew Lar Doyle and his wife Mary started doing it up. They moved into the house in 2002.

The house at Big Moyle is gone now. Lil Doyle recalls seeing the remains in the 1960s but they were later bulldozed. The yew trees, old avenue, walled garden and crested railing remain, along with some more recent Carlow granite fencing. The house was some distance from Little Moyle, separated by rolling hills and woodland, and one doubts you could ever see Big Moyle from Little Moyle. The site of Moyle House was later owned by the O'Connell family and was purchased by the Howards in 1981. The Carlow Hunt met here in the 1960s and 1970s. The family of the late Tom Purser are said to have lived by the kennels of Big Moyle and kept them for Mrs Alexander. Raised Church of Ireland, Purser’s father was reputedly disinherited for turning Catholic.

image title

Above: Lady Eleanor McGrath,
mother-in-law to Gerry Kane-Smith.


On 4th June 1932, Gerry Kane Smith married Alice ‘Lal’ McGrath of Clyde Road, Dublin.

Born on 1st February 1897, Alice was a daughter of Sir Joseph McGrath and his second wife, Lady Eleanor (nee McAllister, died circa 1946). Born in 1858, Sir Joseph had a degree from London University (unusual for Bagenalstown Catholics at that time). Sir Joseph's first wife Columba (nee Fitzpatrick) died on 27 May 1884, three days after giving birth to a son Joseph. (Thanks to Myles Kavanagh for this information).

Sir Joseph became the First Registrar of the National University of Ireland on 3rd December 1908, a post he held until his death in 1923. For more on Sir Joseph McGrath see the British News Archive. There is a large photo of him in the Rogues Gallery at Clongowes. The McGrath’s were the first - and only - Catholic Tea Merchants in Dublin, based at No. 3 Bachelors' Walk, Dublin, and latterly on Abbey St. Alice had three bachelor uncles – the bachelors of Bachelors’ Walk – namely, Edmund (born 1862), Dan and Pierce.[xxxiii] (There may also have been Matthew (born 1860), Anne Marie, (born 1864), Alicia (died young) and Martha).

Alice's mother Lady Eleanor McGrath was a daughter of Patrick Frederick Mc Allister by his wife Catherine Margaret Morgan, daughter of Francis Morgan (who lived in what is now La Stampa Hotel in Dawson Street). Patrick McAllister was also married to Charlotte Reilly with whom he had a son, Charles Bright McAllister, step-brother to Eleanor.

Pierce McGrath, father of Sir Joseph, was married twice. By his second marriage to Mary Francis Brennan of Wells Mills, he had five children, Mary, Patrick, Francis, John and Kathleen, and possibly a further two children who died young. Kathleen McGrath inherited the Mill and married Edward Drea from Bohermore, Bagnelstown. Edward was a Publican in Kilcarrig st. Bagnelstown. Edward and Kathleen Drea were grandparents of the Irish rowing champion, Sean Drea.[xxxiv]

The McGraths had strong ties with Bagenalstown, not least when Dan McGrath left a large amount of money to the town. This is one reason why, when Bagenalstown was renamed Muine Bheag, it was swiftly nicknamed ‘Moneybags’. As such, there was a McGrath Hall (now renamed) and a McGrath Sportsfield. At one time, every poor, respectable ‘practicing Catholic’ girl from Bagenalstown received a dowry of £25 from the McGrath Trust, which was run by the Bank of Ireland. They should not be confused with the McGrath family who were involved with the Irish Sweepstake. Alice’s brother was Father Fergal McGrath, SJ (18 November 1895 - 2 January 1988) who was born and died in Dublin. (See also here) Her sister was Mary Mercedes Bolger. Their mother was a professor at UCD and her people owned the port at Liverpool.

During the 1940s, Mrs Alice Kane Smith appears to have held the original copy of William Farrell’s manuscript, ‘Carlow in ‘98’, written during the 1830s when Farrell was employed as a gatekeeper in the mental asylum in Carlow, now St Dympna’s Hospital. She enabled historian Robert McHugh to transcribe and edit the work which was published by Browne & Nolan in 1949 as ‘Carlow in ’98 –Autobiography of William Farrell of Carlow’.[xxxv]


Alice Shipp emailed these memories of her childhood with her parents, Gerry and Lal Kane-Smith:

‘Mother was wonderful. Wherever we arrived home, Mother would be sitting in the porch, reading her book, and she was always so interested in what we had been doing. She never got into a "FLAP" and had an expression: ‘Nothing is so bad that could not be worse.’ She never smoked, but Grandpa, and Daddy smoked cigars, pipes, and cigarettes, while we all smoked rolled up news paper up in the hay loft over the stables. Amazing I am here to tell the tale? Mother was always very busy in the mornings, as she sat in the kitchen with the cook and arranged the menu for the day, and the fruit and vegetables to be brought in from the garden by the gardener. The maids wore red dresses and large white aprons in the morning, and changed in the afternoon into black dresses, with very dainty little white aprons for the rest of the day. Mother always changed for dinner - long dresses, and lavender perfume. Lists were made for the store in Carlow (Levrette and Fry), to deliver groceries. Lists of linen to be sent to "THE TERENURE LAUNDRY", and all checked back a week later … so well I remember the great big wicker baskets with leather straps, being carried upstairs to the Linen Cupbord, and checked off the list.
Picnics on the lawn with Mother were "THE ULTIMATE", always with boiled eggs, and a Foxford rug on the grass. Mass on Sunday was great, as we saw lots of people, Mother would dress up wearing a whole FOX, draped round her shoulders, it was complete, snarling teeth, glistening eyes, the brush hanging down her back. She looked so beautiful, and wore the most astonishing hats with pheasant feathers and a serious amount of flower garden - no one had vision of the alter from behind. We always went upstairs to the balcony, it was expected of us.
Funerals were a must, we had to accompany our parents to the funerals of our neighbours, When Grandpa died the people that came to see him told us children that he was damned as he was not of the same religion. I didn’t know how to feel. Guest lists were made out to every guest to give them the opportunity - if they didn’t care for someone on the list they could decline.
Little Moyle was very cosy with open fires in every room. We would go to sleep watching the changing patterns on the ceiling. Late at night, Mother would come upstairs to tuck us up, and kiss us goodnight.
Mother was born in Dublin, and knew little about country living. I remember some lady coming to teach Mother how to get the eggs from under the quite vicious hens, where she would get "PECKED". It didn’t work. Mother was very brave as we went to Carlow by pony trap to do the shopping. The ponies were not very well trained as they were bought from "THE TINKERS", and were used to turning up every avenue selling there wares, Mother would apologize in such a gracious way, as we set off for the next avenue.
Mother was a very kind person, I never heard her say anything bad about anyone, and she was always calm in a situation. At Dinner one night Grandpa described one of the maids serving, as " she always looks like a gypsy". The conversation changed very quickly. She was a tireless worker for our neighbours, as she had a water pump put in near the cottages so they did not have to walk to our stream and carry heavy buckets home. She also worked for the Cheshire homes.
When the frosty icy snow weather closed in, and nearing Christmas, our postman would round the bend to the back door off little Moyle, Mother would find him sprawled across the avenue, tumbled off his bicycle, letters, and parcels every where. Mother would pick him up and explain that the corner was very slippery and gave him a "TIPPLE OR TWO".
When Sheelagh wanted to become independent, and put the money at Mass on the plate herself, 3 pence was what she decided, so she only had 6 pence, and rummaged round trying to find some change. I think it was the noise of the coins being shuffled round that made my father nearly die from embarrassment. A hug from Mother and all was calm.
Mother had wonderful ideas, so we would not loose our gloves, Mother had elastic sewn onto each glove and pushed up one sleeve across our backs, and down the other sleeve, so when we took our overcoats off the gloves stayed in the sleeves ready for next time.
Birthdays were wonderful for us children, Mother for weeks could be heard rustling wrapping paper in her bedroom, then the GREAT DAY, we had to stay up stairs till the dining room was set out with the presents, and Daddy was in charge of the ringing of all the "BELLS" in the hall passage with a broom handle, as we rushed down to open our presents.
Mother made sure there was always soup on the Aga stove when we came in from outside in the frost and snow, home made with pheasant, grouse, snipe, with delicious homemade brown bread. Hot water was brought up stairs, in Brass jugs, and poured into beautiful washbasins with matching jugs. Our shoes were placed outside our rooms, for cleaning, and returned by morning sparkling clean.
Christmas eve was so exciting - there was always the possibility that Santa Claus would break his leg landing on our roof, so Daddy says, but Mother said he was magic. Christmas day was so exciting, stockings at the end of our beds. The snow, and we dressed up into our brown velvet dresses with beautiful lace colors, and black patent shoes with little coffee bean buttons. We all gathered in the Drawing Room, on the floor, beside the big open fire, filled with excitement, and fear of the "BIG RED MAN", It was wonderful, and then dinner, with all the trimmings, brandy butter, “THE PUDDING" and Daddy lightening it with BRANDY on a spoon 'till it all caught fire.
I have the fondest memories of Boxing Day, going hunting, with our saddlebags filled with turkey and ham sandwiches, THE MEET, The Hounds, the Hunting Horn, frost snow, how fortunate I have been.
Grandpa promised James that when he died he would leave his fishing rod to him, as James loved fishing. One day when Daddy was in the strawberry patch, James arrived breathless saying that Grandpa's fishing rod was in the river. Daddy said he would go down when he had finished with the strawberries. On the way down through the field to the bank of the river, Daddy was looking along the bank and could not see grandpa, 'Where is grandpa" he asked. ‘Oh!’, said James. ‘He's in the river too.’ It seems The Rod was more important!
As Grandpa had a "BAD HEART" we as children had to go fishing with him, so we sat on the river bank making baskets out of "RUSHES" so the trout and salmon could be put into the baskets and, with labels attached, sent off to England to Great Aunts and Uncles. The weather must have been very cold for them to arrive in good condition.
Daddy had a wonderful remedy when we were sick, a cold or something. We had to put on our overcoats, pixie caps, scarves and gloves (attached with elastic) and off to "THE BOG" where we would go to breath in the vapours that would cure us. Next morning Daddy would ask: "HOW ARE YOU ALL TODAY?” “OH VERY WELL THANK YOU!’
After a "HAIR WASH", whoever was looking after us was instructed to always put a cotton wool ball to the neck of the "WHISKEY" bottle, then to DAB IT GENTLY BEHIND OUR EARS" That would stop us catching a cold.
My Father and Grandfather were always referred to as "THE MASTER", Mother was "THE MISTRESS", and we as children were Miss Alice, etc: and James was Master James. (
Kellistown Races, Point To Point, was the best day. Actually it wasn’t a DAY - it was weeks, as there was a steady stream of traffic, donkey carts, horse drawn carts, covered wagons, bicycles, people on foot, Tinkers in multitude, goats, sheep, horses, hens, ducks - all to be sold, as so many camped at the bottom of Kellistown hill. We got new overcoats, and wore hats for the occasion. Our cousins came over from the coast. It was a huge time..
As a little girl Mother was always old and wise. She learned to drive a motor car, but was not good at passing anything - other cars, bicycles, asses and carts, so she always had her book with her, as we would pull over to the side of the road, while she read a "CHAPTER" then proceed. I remember the day when my sister was able to read - she was the clever one. Reading the newspaper was not allowed. She quietly pulled the paper from under Mothers front seat and in a loud voice read "MAN CHANGES INTO WOMAN”, or the other way round. Mother got into a terrible wobble as we, at high speed, headed for the "DITCH".
The gardens at Little Moyle were a treat - the lawns, the fruit and vegetables, apples and pears, glass houses with peaches and the like, How privileged we were, but I didn’t notice, I had my PONIES, and was as Free As Air!
I hope this gives some idea of the wonderful Mother we had, always there for us, and a wonderful listener. I hope this will paint some sort of a picture of what life was like in Little Moyle, when I was growing up.


Gerry and Alice Kane Smith had one son James and four daughters, Dympna, Alice, Matilda and Sheelagh. All five were raised as Catholics by a Governess. By Saturday December 8th 1934, Lal Kane Smith was advertising in The Irish Times for an 'experienced nurse' to 'take baby from month, also child 20 months, end of January'. She placed another ad for a nurse on 20th January 1939.

Their daughter Alice has strong and happy childhood memories. ‘I can remember the wonderful dinner parties, with the butlers and servants. The shooting, fishing and hunting parties, and all the tennis. Afternoon teas, with real cucumber sandwiches. My father was a wonderful "Horse Man" and so followed I. He played wonderful games with us - Hide and Seek behind the stuffed animals in the large hall; bicycle tig all through the Front garden; and lots of card games in the evening.

‘Every year there was a special excursion to Dublin for the Circus and a visit to St. Stephen’s Freen to feed the ducks. We stayed at the Gresham Hotel, with the bellboys carrying our suitcases to our rooms. My parents were wonderful. We lived such a privileged life. They gave us a superb education, and taught us to be compassionate towards others less fortunate. They gave me a most wonderful weddind, complete with "The Carlow Hunt’ meeting at the front gate to "Little Moyle" and riding in front of our car hounds, all the way to the front of Little Moyle and staying for a "tipple or two". They taught us that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’

Gerry’s son James concurred that they had enjoyed ‘the most wonderful life during our childhood’, adding that their parents sent them all to very good schools - Clongowes, Mount Anvil and Sheelagh to the Ursuline Sisters in Waterford.


Their eldest daughter Dympna was born in April 1934 and became Sister Marie Hilary of the Religious Sisters of Charity. Known as ‘Dympie’, she was for many years at St Vincent’s Hospital and she was the first secretary manager of St Vincent’s Private.


Alice Christina, the second daughter, was named for her mother. On Saturday 3rd January 1959, she was married in Carlow Cathedral to Australian-born Leslie K. Shipp, son of Mr and Mrs W. R. Shipp of Camden, New South Wales. She was given away by Gerry and wore a classical brocade gown with a short train and a white tulle veil with an orange-blossom headdress, carrying a bouquet of red roses. Dympna, Matilda and Sheelagh were bridesmaids, wearing gold, lemon and lavender dresses respectively and carrying bouquets of freesia. David Bolger was best man while Joseph O’Connor and Francis Fletcher were ushers. The ceremony was performed by the Most Rev Dr Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, assisted by Alice’s uncle, the Rev Fergal McGrath, SJ. A reception was held at Little Moyle after which the honeymoon was spent in the south.[xxxvi] Alice and Les moved to Australia later that year and set up an equestrian centre in north New South Wales. They had five children – Nigel James, Fergal (b. 7-12-59), Cynthia Christina (b. 5-10-61), Roy Dominic (b. 23-12-63), Joseph Patrick (b. 5-5-67, d. 2-6-67) and Rebecca Consuella (b. 30-9-70). As of February 2011, Alice had 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Alice and Les now live in Cairns, Queensland, where she is kept busy judging dressage with clubs throughout the Cairns and Tablelands area.


James Kane Smith, the third child, was born at Little Moyle on 6th November 1936 and served with the Royal Air Force. He lived for a long time near Winchester. After the RAF, he worked in marketing for French Chemical Company Rhone-Poulenc.[xxxvii] He now lives in Andover, Hampshire. He was married on 7th October 1961 to Sylvia Corless of Suffolk. They had two boys, Adrian (born 16 Dec 1963, died of cancer on 4 Oct 1991 aged 27) and Miles (born 15 Feb 1966). Miles works for DEFRA in London White Hall and, with his wife Amada, has two children – Finnian James Kane-Smith (b. 13.8.2000) and Rose May Kane-Smith 31.8.2003.


Matilda Mary Kane-Smith, the third daughter, was born on 27 December 1939 in Carlow. She married James Lyons O'Keeffe, son of James Lyons O'Keeffe and Ellen Murphy, with whom she has three sons and two daughters.[xxxviii]


Sheelagh, the youngest daughter, was born in 1943 and married Waterford solicitor, Iain Farrell. A frequent visitor to Moyle, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away within a month. Ian now lives in Newtown, Waterford, and has been most helpful in compiling this piece.




With thanks to Geraldine Murphy, Iain Farrell (Nolan, Farrell & Goff Solicitors, Waterford), Ciara Grant, Veronica (Ronnie) Shorten, Alice Shipp, James Kane-Smith, Felicity Casey, Declan McGrath, Lily Purser, George Kane-Smith (no relation), Paul Walsh, Lil Doyle, Maura Hayden, Margaret V B Doyle (Archivist, Clongowes Wood College), Lar and Mary Doyle, Barry Howard, Jeremy Williams, Sean Drea, Liz Shea, Michael Brennan and Michael Purcell.


[i] The Times, Monday, Sep 01, 1794; pg. 3; Issue 940901; col B

[ii] On the 12th June, Edward Harper, the Deputy Grand Secretary wrote to say that a Warrant would be made out 'as soon as a vacant number can be found'. This resulted in the creation of Atholl Lodge (later No. 74) which had its first regular meeting on 12th August 1811 after which several of the Brethren joined the other masonic Lodges in Birmingham in commemorating the birthday of the Premier Grand Lodge's Grand Master, the Prince Regent. The first initiate was William Stone who later became Worshipful Master of the Lodge six times between the years 1825 and 1844. Taken from Bro. R.G. Russell & others. Freemasonry in Warkwickshire1728-1978. Published by The Warwickshire Peace Memorial Temple Ltd. 1978 pp 93-95.
See: http://www.atholl.netfirms.com/History%20-%207th%20Dragoon%20Guards.htm).

[iii] The Times, Friday, Jan 01, 1796; pg. 3; Issue 3480; col C

[iv] The Times, Tuesday, Jan 12, 1796; pg. 4; Issue 3489; col A

[v] The Times, Monday, Aug 05, 1799; pg. 3; Issue 4553; col B

[vi] The Times, Monday, Dec 08, 1800; pg. 3; Issue 4971; col C

[vii] The Times, Monday, Oct 21, 1811; pg. 3; Issue 8426; col D

[viii] The Times, Tuesday, Oct 19, 1819; pg. 2; Issue 10754; col F

[ix] The Times, Tuesday, May 09, 1820; pg. 4; Issue 10928; col A. Outrage At Oldham. Also The Times, Monday, Jul 31, 1820; pg. 3; Issue 10999; col E. Oldham Affray. Manchester Sessions, July 27., The King v. Samuel Cheetham. Also The Times, Tuesday, Aug 01, 1820; pg. 3; Issue 11292; col E

[x] The Times, Tuesday, May 27, 1823; pg. 3; Issue 11882; col G

[xi] In her will, dated 27 June 1834, Katherine Bunbury bequeathed the property ... [under the sees of] Clogher and Dublin to her second son, Kane Bunbury, in accordance with the will of her father, Redmond Kane ... [and] under the limitations and conditions of the settlement reached at William and Katharine's marriage. These lands were at Drumsnaught and Donaghmore in Co. Monaghan; Dromore, Edergole, Mullinacross, Gardrum, Kildrummin, Curley and Omagh, Co. Tyrone; Knocknastackan and Tattinteggart in Co. Fermanagh; Flemingstown and Swords (Chapel Park, Barry's Park) in Co. Dublin; Graney, Churchtown, Brackna, Johnstown South, Possextown and Celbridge in County Kildare; and Lisnavagh, Ballybitt, Rathmore in Co. Carlow.

[xii] p.38, A companion guide to architecture in Ireland, 1837-1921, by Jeremy Williams

[xiii] In 1868, Captain William McClintock Bunbury’s widow Pauline wrote in a letter to Colonel Kane Bunbury that, back in the 1840s, she and William 'had a capital, I think, of between 60 and 70,000 pounds'. She said William had spent between £20 - 30, 000 pounds ('I forget the exact sum') on the purchase of small properties at the Aldborough 'and those near Tullow and Hacketstown'. However, she assured the old man, 'the remainder of his capital he spent on this house, gardens, place, and on our own living, our children, elections & c'.

[xiv] The Times, Friday, Oct 20, 1865; pg. 8; Issue 25321; col C

[xv] Banker's returns made in pursuance of the Act 7th and 8th Victoria, Cap,32. Co Carlow.

[xvi] In the late 1860s, there was a greyhound called Little Moyle who was competing at the Leinster Coursing Club championships in the great age of Master McGrath. The dog was owned by Mr. P. Whyte and competed in the Brownlow Cup, presented by Lord Lurgan. (See The Irish Times, Thursday 10th October 1867, Friday, October 25, 1867).

[xvii] Freemans Journal, Saturday, September 10, 1864, p.3.

[xviii] The Farmer's magazine‎ 1868, p 452.

[xix] The Irish Times, Sale of Stock at Kilruddery - Thursday, August 31, 1871.

[xx] The Nation, Saturday, September 02, 1871, p.17; Freemans Journal, Wednesday, August 02, 1871, p. 6.

[xxi] With regard to Mr Breslin, Geraldine Murphy recalled hearing many years ago that their name Bayley should have been Breslin. ‘Apparently a Mr Breslin, probably Edward Eric’s father married a woman who inherited a large amount of money and one of the conditions of his getting the money was that he take her surname which was Bayley. Depending on when the name change occurred and whether the Breslins were a Carlow family, perhaps Edward Bayley used the Breslin name when in Carlow?’

[xxii] When Geraldine Murphy wrote to the 17th Lancers, they said they had never heard of him.

[xxiii] The Times, Friday, Oct 09, 1908; pg. 11; Issue 38773; col B. There is a full report of Vera Rosslyn wedding in The Irish Times of Saturday, October 17th 1908.

[xxiv] The Times, Wednesday, Jul 19, 1933; pg. 15; Issue 46500; col E – Marriages

[xxv] The Irish Times, Wednesday, August 29, 1894, page 1, column I.

[xxvi] ‘The meet last Saturday was at Tullow, where a goodly gathering of the followers and admires of the Ballydarton pack met the veteran Master with the heartiest of greetings. It was in every sense of the word "a fine hunting day." The word was given for Ballymurphy, which proved worthy of first call, as it provided a rattling good fox. Which, after a "preliminary canter" in the shape of a ring run round the covert, got away at the off end, and after crossing the road, and at a short distance, a big wire fence intervened. Recently a gate to facilitate difficulties like the present had been put up, but it was too narrow, and particularly so when a crowd of excited men on horseback were anxious to get through together. The natural result was that there was a lot of unnecessary danger, but nothing serious occurred. The hounds were now making head at a great pace through Coppenagh and Kill as if the fox had taken a line for Lisnevagh. As he got headed he wheeled across the road and raced forward as if his point were Butlersgrange. The pace continued at the same grand rate, and after a twist to right some big doubles were encountered which, as there were some empty saddles visible along the line, seemed to disorganise the hunt, as they considerably reduced the number of those able to keep up with the hounds. As the fox was keeping his own the pursuit received its first check just at the back of a farmyard – a good twenty-five minutes from the find. After getting on the line again reynard was hunted back to his original quarters at Ballymurphy, where he got to ground after showing some capital sport. Trotted on to Lisnevagh, which was drawn blank. At Butlersgrange the Master was more successful. There were a couple of foxes in the covert, and their presence was immediately discovered. The hounds having made choice he took the line to the top of the road where, as he was headed, he wheeled to right and raced down to the river, thence over the high road and into Lisnevagh, where he got to ground in an old rabbit-hole.’

[xxvii] The Irish Times, Wednesday, August 8, 1906, p.7.

[xxviii] The Irish Times, Saturday, November 16, 1912, p. 3.

[xxix] The Times, Wednesday, Jun 21, 1939; pg. 19; Issue 48337; col E – Marriages.


[xxxi] http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=79400&mode=1

[xxxii] http://www.igp-web.com/Carlow/Carlow_Born_Soldiers.htm

[xxxiii] It is to be noted that Pierce McGrath of Bagenalstown (possibly of an earlier generation) married Alicia Hughes, the second of seven daughters of Edward Hughes (1778-1836) of Ballinabranna House (http://www.colliersjs.com/news180.htm) by his marriage to Mary Conor (1796-1879). Alicia’s sisters included Elizabeth Hughes. (who married James Dowling of Linkardstown in May, 1851); Anne (who married John Browne of Bagenalstown); Julie (who married Laurence Hosey); Margaret (who married John Ryan); Brigid (who married A McKeever?); and one other daughter (who went to California and married a man called Shale or Hal). Alicia also had a brother, Tim, who married Mary Byrne,

[xxxiv] Sean Drea’s son Jack Drea is also a promising rower, rowing for Oxford at Henley. Another grandson was Edward Drea who married Anne Dowling of Rathmore, Tullow, Co. Carlow, in 1969 and whose son Sean helped me with this.

[xxxv] http://www.pgil-eirdata.org/html/pgil_datasets/authors/f/Farrell,William/life.htm

[xxxvi] The Irish Times, Monday, January 5, 1959, p. 5.

[xxxviii] Children of Matilda Mary Kane-Smith and James Lyons O'Keeffe are:

1. +Simon John O'Keeffe, b. 20 February 1962, Bantry, IRL. He married Cornelia Wessel on 10 September 1988 in Frankfurt, D, daughter of Bernhard Wessel and Wilma Dreyer. They have two children - 1. Oonagh Lisa O'Keeffe, b. 09 October 1991, Portland, OR. 2. Carl Liam O'Keeffe, b. 11 June 1992, Friedrichshafen, D.

2. +Susan Mary O'Keeffe, b. 20 March 1963, Bantry, IRL. She married Paul Coffey, son of Michael Coffey and Brona Cusack. They have two children - 1. Matthew Coffey, b. 05 October 1995, Dublin, IRL., and 2. Alice Coffey, b. 24 June 1997, Dublin, IRl.

3. Stephen James O'Keeffe, b. 02 February 1964, Bantry, IRL.

4. +Sarah Alice O'Keeffe, b. 15 August 1965, Bantry, IRL. She married David O'Donnell and has two sons, James and Joseph.

5. James Lyons O'Keeffe, b. 13 December 1971, Cork, IRL.