• Tommy Hourigan, Raheen, Limerick

Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 16)


Caherguillamore and Rockbarton Houses

In our continuing weekly journey through the many articles published in the Grange Book (2015), we will feature a number of articles on the former 'Great Houses' of Grange, including one magnificent house that has survived since the 1780s and is occupied today.

This week we feature two former great houses - Cahirguillamore House and Rockbarton House. Brian Gallagher compiled the article, which we suggest is a must-read. Brian included much from an excellent earlier article on those great houses and their families, which was written by Mary Sheehan.

The Houses of Cahirguillamore (Caherguillamore) and Rockbarton are intrinsically linked through the O’Grady family. They were built on adjoining estates.

Cahirguillamore House dates from the late seventeenth century. It was approached by two avenues – the ‘front’ avenue leading from the Steeple Road, which connects Holycross with Meanus and the ‘back’ avenue approached from the Rahin-Cahirguillamore Road. Both avenues were lined with stately ash, elm and cedar trees.

Rockbarton House was late eighteenth century, the seat of Viscount Guillamore, who had been raised to Peerage in 1831 by the titles of Baron O’Grady of Rockbarton and Viscount Guillamore of Cahirguillamore. The house was modified during the nineteenth century and came into the possession of the Baring family. Only a shell of some of the remaining walls of this once stately house now remains.

By the 1950s, both of these elegant mansions, which once dominated the townlands of Cahirguillamore and Rockbarton, had fallen into disrepair and eventually became totally derelict. The stones from what remained of the walls of Cahirguillamore House were used in landscaping at Lough Gur in the 1970s.

Inter alia, expect to read about the O'Grady and Baring families, 'The Bloody Judge', the 'Whiteboys' and the archaeology of the locality.

The following are extracts from Brian's article - reference earlier article by Mary Sheehan:

"The Cahirguillamore/Rockbarton estate was a very impressive place in the 1920s when Nigel Baring left Ireland. At that time, it had a sophisticated underground drainage system and a water supply from a reservoir situated above Rockbarton House. The golden age of these houses was from the late 1700s to the early 20th century. In the early 1800s, the First Viscount Guillamore took up residence at Rockbarton and his descendants remained there until 1922.

Cahirguillamore [House] was situated in a valley and surrounded by rising ground. The house was approached by an avenue of ash and elm, which was almost a mile long. This avenue is now known as “Burma Road” and it still retains much of its quaint and ancient atmosphere, although several houses have since been erected there. The parkland contained Cedar of Lebanon trees and was well stocked with deer. The demesne is reputed to have been one of the most interesting in the county for Raths and other remaining antiquities."

"Standish [O'Grady} was a lawyer and a contemporary of Daniel O’Connell. His promotion in the legal profession was rapid and in 1803, he was appointed as Attorney General for Ireland. Subsequently, he was the leading officer for the Crown during the prosecution for treason of Robert Emmet. The government was highly impressed with his conduct of the case and, as a result, promoted him to Chief Baron of His Majesty’s Court of Exchequer. He was again honoured in 1831 when he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Guillamore."

"In local folklore, it is said that Judge O’Grady condemned a priest to death in Clonmel. The condemned priest then cursed O’Grady by saying “May you never die”. Later, he [O’Grady] suffered from paralysis, and it is said that the skin rotted off his body. During this time, his greatest wish was to die, but it was not until a Father O’Grady from Bruff prayed over him that he died. His body lay in state for a week in the spacious library at Rockbarton House, awaiting the nobility of Ireland to assemble at the funeral. The body was interred in the O’Grady vault at Knockainey Churchyard."

"Nigel Baring was known to be generous in nature. The late Major Ged O’Dwyer recalled in his memoirs that when he followed the hunt as a young boy on his donkey, “Bess”, he was looked on with disdain by some of the hunting fraternity, but was encouraged and befriended by Nigel Baring. It is worth noting that he attributed his love of horses and his success on the international stage, to the encouragement he received from Nigel Baring. It is also recorded by Major O’Dwyer how, in the early 1920s, he was part of an IRA unit that raided Rockbarton House for guns and ammunition. He stated his case to Nigel Baring, and the guns and ammunition were handed over. Nigel Baring, while regarded as a member of the landed gentry, was not interested in politics, and no intimation was ever given by him to the authorities as to the identity of the raiders."

Brian's article, Caherguillamore and Rockbarton Houses, may be read in full HERE.

Next week (week 17) we will suggest another article for reading.

Kind Regards to All.

#RockbartonHouse #CahirguillamoreHouse #Caherguillamore #NigelBaring #StandishOGrady #BloodyJudge #Whiteboys #GedODwyer #Bess #MarySheehan #BrianGallagher #ViscountGuillamore #BurmaRoad #archaeology #DanielOConnell #TheLiberator #MajorODwyer

Website Designed and Built by Alice Brennan, Mike Barry and Tommy Hourigan