Saturday 26 March 2016

Mullafarry Rectory
Ballysakeery Glebe

 Mullafarry, Killala, Co. Mayo

The home of Dr. Kathleen Lynn
A Revolutionary Doctor in many ways 

Today a house with a strong connection with Dr. Kathleen Lynn, one of the central figures of the 1916 Rising, lies forlorn and forgotten in Mullafarry near Killala in Co. Mayo. It appears its historical significance is only recognised when it becomes a useful tool, used in objections to wind farms and possible land fill sites nearby. While newspapers and  museums extol the virtues of this heroic individual, Dr. Katheen Lynn, this house languishes in decay and is easily bypassed despite its proximity to a road. Another degradation to the history of this house, is that it is widely and incorrectly reported, that Kathleen was born in Cong instead of this house near Killala. However despite the historical connections this house may have, it is an architectural masterpiece in miniature and should not be allowed fade away like an old photograph. The care, attention and craftsmanship that was employed in building this house is evident in the wonderful detail that still abounds upon its walls.

The beautiful detail of this building that lies hidden was designed in 1815 and remarkably the original architectural drawings survive today.  Picture Copyright ( above) ICHC and ( Below) The Architectural Inventory of Ireland

The childhood home of Dr. Lynn was once an attractive detached two storey over part raised basement residence designed in 1815 and built in 1820.  It was built as a residence to house the Rector of the local parish hence these houses were commonly known as rectories. The house was L shaped in plan and was erected with financial support from the Board of First Fruits. The design of the house received the approval of the Reverend James Verschoyle, the then Bishop of Killala. 

The layout of this country estate in miniature can be seen on this map which dates from 1837 Picture Copyright ( above) OSI 

In the once manicured grounds, that surrounded the house, could be found a handsome stable block or coach house and a substantial walled garden to the rear. A large window overlooked the walled garden but was blocked up, possibly due to the infamous window tax. In the 1860's, the architect, William Edward Martin, an ecclesiastical architect is recorded as carrying out minor alterations to the house which may have included the addition of the porch as it does not appear on the original drawings.

Dr. Kathleen Lynn, shown above in later life, was born in Mullafarry in 1874 and knew this house as her childhood home until 1882. This remarkable woman is not only known for being the Chief Medical Officer in the 1916 Rising but also for her later medical career when she helped the poor of Dublin.
In the 1870's, Mullafarry Rectory became the home of Reverend Robert Young Lynn when he became the rector of the local parish, he had been ordained previously in 1866. Robert Young Lynn is recorded as having being married in 1872 in Rathdown. Kathleen Florence Lynn was born in Mullafarry in January 1874. In her witness statement about her activities in 1916 the place of her birth is mistakenly spelt as 'Mullaghfarry in Mayo, two miles from Killala'. She was the second child to be born to Reverend Lynn and his wife Catherine Wynne, who was from Sligo. The family lived at Mullafarry until 1882 after which they moved to Ballymahon in Longford. In 1886, the Lynns moved to Cong when Kathleen was 12 where her father remained as rector until 1923. In 1892, Kathleen came second in examinations for women at Trinity College, Dublin followed in 1895 when it was reported that she passed her examinations in the Royal College of Surgeons. By 1899 she had qualified as a doctor and by 1904 had set up a practice in Rathmines, Dublin. It must be remembered at this time a woman becoming a doctor was a rare endeavor and some hospitals had a policy of not employing female doctors. 

Mullafarry Church ( Above) which is located not far from the Rectory was where Dr. Lynn's father would have carried out his duties as a rector. The church which lies in ruins since its roof was removed by a committee for Health and Safety concerns which seemingly did not extend to the glass splinters that remain in the rotten windows.
Picture Copyright David Hicks

In around 1912, Kathleen's first encounter with one of the leading figures of the 1916 Rising was with Constance Markievicz, when she asked her to visit a lady who was ill. Kathleen records that Constance Markievicz, formerly Gore Booth of Lissadell, was a distant cousin of hers, through her mothers size of the the family, the Wynne's from Sligo. Over the years leading up to the Rising, Katheen became a great friend of Constance Markievicz and described her as 'a grand soul'. The lady who Kathleen was caring for at this time was Helena Maloney who came to live with her while she recuperated. They often had long conversations and she is credited in converting Kathleen to the National Movement to regain Ireland's freedom. From 1913, she gave lectures to the members of the Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan in First Aid, she says that she never drilled with other volunteers and had 'no time for that sort of thing'. About two weeks before the Rising, James Connolly, asked her to take him to Howth in her car so a suitable place could be found for the Germans to land. As the date for the Rising drew close, Dr. Lynn's car often ferried large quantities guns to Liberty Hall while her house was also used for the storage of guns and ammunition. It amused her that her neighbors had little idea of what was going on in her house. On Holy Thursday, the Citizen Army in gratitude for her help in the preparations for the Rising presented her with a gold brooch and the ladies of Cumann na mBan gave a set of inscribed silver candlesticks....all very civilized.

Constance Markievicz with Dr. Kathleen Lynn 
Picture Copyright The Irish Independent

During the 1916 Rising, Kathleen was the Chief Medical Officer in the City Hall Garrison in
Dublin. After City Hall was captured by the British, Kathleen was taken to Ship St. Barracks and detained which was followed by time spent in Richmond Barracks, Kilmainham Jail and finally Mountjoy. After a number of weeks in Mountjoy, Kathleen states that she was 'deported to England' after representations made by her family. She says at this time that she was ' was supposed to be a sort of lunatic'. In July 1916, a question was put to the House of Commons, when a request was made to the Home Secretary to allow Dr. Lynn to return to Cong in Galway. Kathleen wished return home to care for her sister who was seriously ill due to typhoid fever. It is interesting to note that Dr. Lynn was ' required to reside in this country in Bath' however permission was granted. In 1918 an order was made directing the internment of Dr. Lynn. Representations were made by the Dublin Lord Mayor to allow her to continue to carry out her work due to an influenza epidemic if she abstained from politics. She would be released if she signed an undertaking saying she would not take part in any future political ventures and that she remain in the Dublin area. After caring for her sister she returned to Bath but eventually made her return to Dublin for good. On her return, she started a shirt factory to provide employment for the girls involved in the Rising but this was not a success. She then became vice president of Sinn Fein and was elected a T.D. in 1923 but lost her seat in 1927. She was instrumental in the setting up of St. Ultan's Hospital in Dublin for the care of sick children due to the high mortality rate of young children in the city at this time. She died in 1955 and is buried in the family plot in Deansgrange cemetery in Dublin.

Kathleen Lynn as an elderly woman
Over the years the rectory at Mullafarry became the home for many men who occupied the post of rector for the nearby parish. In 1901, Rev. John Perdue aged 46 and a native of Tipperary is recorded as living in the Rectory at Mullafarry with his wife Mary Isabella, aged 45, born in Armagh. Also resident in the house were their sons Henry and Cecil together with Mary Quigley, a servant. The house at this time is listed as extending to 14 rooms. By 1911, Rev Perdue and his son Ernest are living in the house, with a niece named Elsie Bollard and a servant by the Norah Lowin. In August 1916, Mrs. Perdue sent an invalid chair to the Dublin Castle Red Cross Hospital, which was set up for troops wounded on the front lines during the First World War. In March 1925, an auction of the contents of the house was advertised under the instruction of Rev. Perdue. In the advertisement, the house is described as having a hall, drawing room, dining room,3 bedrooms, together with a kitchen and store room in the basement. Rev. Perdue's wife had died in 1924 and is buried in the nearby churchyard where she was joined by her husband in 1946. In January 1933, Rev. Francis Kenny died at Mullafarry Rectory and had been rector of the Parish since 1929. In that same year, the contents of the house were announced for sale under the instruction of his wife.

When the rectory was designed and built, the attention to detail that was applied to the house also extended to the stable buildings which is high lighted on the original architectural drawing below
Picture Copyright ( above) ICHC and ( Below) The Architectural Inventory of Ireland

The falling Church of Ireland population resulted in the closure of the local church and the rectory passed into private hands. Eventually it formed part of a bank of land purchased by the Asahi plant which was built nearby. This resulted in the building becoming unoccupied and began its decent into disrepair. In April 2000, it looked like a possible saviour had been found for the house when it passed into the ownership of Mayo County Council. In September 2015, the heritage officer with Mayo County Council suggested that it was possible to secure the building for around €70,000 which would arrest further decay and damage. It was also added that a conservation engineer was being appointed to compile a full report on the house. Some supports have been put in place to secure the structure however a better effort could be made to secure window and door opes from curious onlookers. A number of tress and vegetation are attacking the buildings and the walled garden has been decimated by falling trees. While it would be commendable to make this house a museum, the possibility of this happening is remote. Perhaps Mayo County Council should consider putting this house on the market in the hope that a private individual may save this house.

It must be remembered that the house is a dangerous ruin and should not be entered as it is unsafe
Picture Copyright ( above) ICHC 

Tuesday 22 March 2016

The 1916 Rising

Moyode Castle 
 Co. Galway

Moyode Castle was built in 1820 by Burton de Burgh Persse to replace Persse Lodge, an earlier house that existed on the site in Galway. Burton acted as his own architect drawing on the castles and mansion houses of his contemporaries in the locality. It was described as an imposing castle of three stories surrounded by a collection of battlemented towers and turrets. The demesne alone that surrounded the castle extended to 600 acres which sat at the centre of a 3,000 acre estate. The 16th century tower that existed in the grounds of the new castle was restored as a folly or eye catcher in the landscape. In 1840, a distillery was bought by Burton Persse at Nuns Island in Galway it was said at the time that Burtons already owned two other distilleries. Today in the Kings Head Pub in Galway there are antique mirrors that advertise ‘Persse’s Nuns Island Whiskey’. Burton de Burgh Persse died in 1859 and the castle and estate was inherited by his son, Burton Robert Parsons Persse who was born in 1828. When he died in 1885, the estate was inherited by his son Burton Walter Persse.  In 1877, a visitor to the castle recorded that the it was ‘ magnificently furnished and decorated, reminding one of the ancestral halls of some Italian prince, with heavy marble mantles, the splendid carved mahogany and rosewood furniture, the exceedingly large windows with deep gilt mouldings before you; and behind, the huge covered tables, all odorous with spice and wine’. In 1891 a newspaper notice appeared in The Irish Times advertising the sale of the contents of the castle by auction under the direction of Burton Walter Persse on the 18th November 1891. Mr. Burton W. Persse died in 1935, he was unmarried and was buried in the family burial ground at Moyode. There are portraits of both Burton de Burgh Persse and his son Burton Roberts Parson Persse in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 1904, the Stewards House at Moyode Castle was raided for guns by a group of men known as Moonlighters. It was said at this time that Moyode was owed by Lord Ardilaun of the Guinness Dynasty but had been unoccupied for thirty years except for their caretaker.

A report in The Irish Independent on Friday 5th May 1916 recorded that on the previous Thursday, soldiers who had arrived in the district marched to Athenry, but found that the rebel army had left, and were now encamped 1,200 strong at Moyode Castle. The rebel army had previously marched to Moyode Castle to gain admittance, here they found the caretaker John Shackleton, his wife and daughter Maisie. They took the castle easily and sent out armed scouts to keep watch and give warning of approaching danger. The volunteers were said to be polite and civil and always referred to Liam Mellows as Captain. They even apologised when one of their weapons discharged accidentally in the drawing room. On their way to the castle, telegraph wires were cut, railway lines torn up and foodstuffs were requisitioned from local farmers. Moyode Castle was chosen to be occupied as the rebels could defend a position such as this easily due to their lack of arms. Cumann na mBan were also present in Moyode Castle catering for the volunteers, preparing bandages and acting as dispatch carriers.

The following day it was reported in The Western People that the Irish Volunteers in Moyode Castle had disbanded and that Captain Mellows who was in command had escaped.  Troops and RIC men had arrived at Loughrea with artillery and were advancing on the castle. The command evacuated the castle and marched towards a country house named Lime Park, however only a small group from Moyode made it there. Mellows believed that from Lime Park they could link up with Volunteers from Limerick, but it was here they were  met by Father Fahy who told them that Rising had collapsed in Dublin. Lime Park like Moode were unoccupied and were entered without force. Rumours of the power of the advancing forces of the Crown caused the group of volunteers to melt away despite the efforts of Captain Mellows. Some of the volunteers abandoned their posts and made for the hills finding it impossible to penetrate the wide band of soldiers and police moving towards them, however they were captured over the following days. The Volunteer’s last move was to Tulira Castle where Father Fahy renewed his pressure on Mellows to disband.

In The Freemans Journal  on the 17th September, 1920 it was reported that Moyode Castle was burned to the ground. In December 1920, a claim was lodged by its then owner Mr. James Walker with Loughrea R.D.C for £40,000 for the burning of the castle .  In July 1921, he was awarded just £4,850.00. The site of the castle was used as a quarry in the years after the fire and as a result very little trace of Moyode Castle exists today. In April 1956, over 200 veterans of the 700 strong force who occupied Moyode Castle gathered there to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the event. The veterans all wore service medals, gathered in front of the ruined castle into which they had marched as young volunteers under William Mellows.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Glena Cottage
 Co. Kerry

The picturesque Glena Cottage Co. Kerry, Ireland
Picture from the collection of The National Library of Ireland

Glena Cottage in Co. Kerry was an example of a Cottage Orne  which was once found at the base of the mountain from which it took its name. A Cottage Orne was a popular building on Irish estates in the 17th and 18th century. Some were designed so that they could  be lived in, but their usual purpose was some where to be visited on a walk during which a meal could be taken and guests entertained.  Glena sat at the edge of the famous lakes of Killarney that afforded it panoramic views and made it one of the more popular cottages owned by the Earls of Kenmare. The picturesque two storey cottage had a thatched roof with overhanging eaves supported by trunks of arbutus trees. Adjacent to the cottage which was a separate structure called the ‘Ballroom’ or banqueting house used for larger occasions. The cottage was built by Lord and Lady Kenmare for the use of family, friends, staff and selected tenants of the estate. It is first mentioned in the 1820’s around the time it was possibly built. In 1823, it was said that the cottage was in an extreme state of neglect with its decoration being poor and dull, and a peasant was living in a hut nearby. Possibly because of its condition it was either rebuilt or extensively renovated around this time. Lewis, in 1837, mentions the elegant cottage of Lady Kenmare, at a short distance from which a banqueting house had been erected by Lord Kenmare for the entertainment of visitors. By 1850 the cottage is now described as being ‘a pretty little building, and tastefully fitted up’.

The site of Glena Cottage Co. Kerry illustrating the proximity of the cottage to the lake and the ballroom which was located to the rear of the cottage
Copyright OSI

The cottage became  known internationally, when in 1861 Queen Victoria visited Killarney and had lunch at the cottage. At Glena Cottage she was presented with a cabinet and desk, on the lid of which was representation of the Glena encircled with shamrocks an example of what is now known as Killarney ware, which is highly collectable. Both articles were designed by James Eagan and executed by three of his workmen Michael Fleming, Thomas Egan and James Lynch. Queen Victoria’s stay at the cottage lasted about an hour and a half while the lake in front of the cottage was crowded with boats. In anticipation of the Royal visit, the cottage had been redecorated with white chintz wall paper with a floral pattern. From here the Queen left on the Royal barge to tour the lakes. Queen Victoria was one of a number of Royals to visit to Killarney and Glena. In 1869, Prince Arthur who took tea at Glena Cottage and in 1885, the Prince and Princess of Wales took a trip on the lake which culminated with lunch at the cottage. Guests who were entertained at the cottage where usually met by a blind piper who played Irish tunes on his bagpipes.

The flotilla of boats gathered on the lake in front of the cottage 
during the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861

It was said that the Earl of Kenmare left the cottage open for public enjoyment and certain groups were given allotted times to use the cottage. In 1885, an excursion of police and young ladies were enjoying a dance in the cottage. Another group consisting of workmen had an allotted time to use the cottage and grew annoyed that the police officers overstayed their time. When it was suggested that it was time they moved on, the party of police officers locked the door and refused to move. As a result the workmen invaded the cottage and removed the officers by force.

 The location of the cottage meant that many people often arrived and departed
by boat which resulted in tragic circumstances in 1889.
Picture from the collection of The National Library of Ireland

Tragedy struck the inhabitants of the cottage in 1889, when a Dr. Finerty rented the cottage from Lord Kenmare. Dr Finerty and his wife, who were married a year previous, had their first child born at Glena. They had a christening party and invited a large number of people to celebrate at the cottage by the lake. A number of young men who attended the party over indulged and left the party by row boat which overturned. Among the five young men drowned, were brothers Joseph and Daniel Riordan who worked in the post office in Killarney.

The end for this building came in April 1920 when Glena Cottage was found to be in flames at 4 o’clock on a Sunday morning. The previous night there was a dance held in the ballroom which was situated near the cottage. The cottage contained some valuable furniture and Lord Kenmare lodged a claim for £5,000. The fire started in the thatched roof and soon spread to the entire cottage, it was believed that the fire was started maliciously. When the caretaker got to the cottage the whole roof was ablaze, he broke into the door to the kitchen but found the interior of the cottage ablaze and beyond rescue.  The furniture in the cottage was valued at  £848 and the building at £2,150 but the Judge who awarded compensation granted £ 1,331. Today the ruins of Glena remain in the faint hope that maybe one day it will rise from the ashes.

A rare image showing the rear of the cottage
Picture from the collection of The National Library of Ireland

An image of what remains of Glena today
This image is from and remains the copyright of