Lismullen parish in the barony of Skryne, five miles south south east of Navan. The estate is based on the old territorial divisions of parish and townland. The core of Lismullen estate had roots going back to medieval times with the foundation of an Augustinian nunnery in 1240.
The buildings and estates were granted to Thomas Cusack on the dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. Thomas Cusack, Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice, was buried at Trevet. Thomas was succeeded by his son, Edward, who was followed by his son Richard. Lismullen was sold to Edward Malone, alderman Dublin, by Richard in 1624.[i] Many country houses in England originated as confiscated monasteries.
The Dillons were a prominent family of the Pale. Sir James Dillon of Proudstown, the youngest son of Robert Dillon, Lord of Drumraney, was the ancestor of the earls of Roscommon, the Lords of Cronbrock and the Dillon baronets of Lismullen. James Dillon and his third wife Catherine D’Alton had a son Bartholomew of Riverstown who was the ancestor of the Dillons of Lismullen.[ii]
Lodge’s Peerage states that the Dillons of Lismullen were descendants of Thomas, the third son of Sir Robert of Riverstown. Thomas was the father of Sergeant Major Arthur Dillon whose son was Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Dillon of Lismullen and Dillonstown, Co. Louth.[iii]
In the Civil survey of 1654-56 Lismullen is recorded as having one castle, one abbey, one mill, one stone house and a few ash timber trees.[iv] According to the Books of Survey and Distribution the lands of William Mallone, Irish Papist, at Lismullen, were confiscated and allocated to Arthur Dillon. Mallone was in possession in 1640 and the entire parish of Lismullen (577 acres) and 172 acres at Clonarden in the neighbouring parish of Templekeran parish were allocated to Arthur Dillon.[v] In 1666 Arthur Dillon claimed 259 acres in the second Court of Claims as a ‘supposed adventurer and soldier’. [vi] An alternative view of how the Dillons came into possession of Lismullen is that a Dillon of Riverston married a Cusack lady, heiress of Lismullen and so the property passed to Dillons.[vii]
In 1663 Arthur Dillon of Lismullen became M.P. for Trim in the place of Alexander Jephson, who was executed for treason.[viii] Arthur married Mary Caulfield and had three sons, John, Arthur (who established an estate at Quartersown, Co. Cork) and George (who died 16 September 1676 and was buried at Tara) and a daughter who married Dillon Newman Esq.[ix] Arthur’s daughter Elizabeth married Walter Pollard and had a daughter and a son, Dillon Pollard of Castle Pollard. In 1680 Mrs. Mary Dillon donated a chalice and paten to the church of Skryne.[x]Another source gives Arthur’s wife as Littice St. George, daughter of Sir George St. George of Carrickdrumrusk. Arthur Dillon died 4 December 1684.
The Anglo-Irish inherited the tradition for hospitality and Irish music from the Gaelic Irish. O’Carolan composed a tune in honour of Lady Blaney, widow of Arthur Dillon of Lismullen who married the sixth Baron Blaney in 1686.[xi] O’Carolan played at Lismullen for the marriage of Grace Dillon, grand-daughter of Sir Arthur, to Charles Massey, later Dean of Limerick, in the late 1720s and composed a tune in honour of Mrs. Massey.[xii]
Sir John Dillon
In 1677 John Dillon, eldest son of Lt. Col. Arthur Dillon of Lismullen, was knighted by James Butler, first Duke of Ormond.[xiii] John Dillon was made captain-lieutenant in the regiment of Richard, Earl of Arran, second son of the Duke of Ormond.[xiv] Sir John Dillon’s close connection to Ormond may have resulted in William of Orange spending a night at Lismullen after the Battle of the Boyne. A number of personal items were said to have been given to the Dillons by William of Orange in 1690, two days after the Battle of the Boyne. The items included a glass decanter, a glass posset bowl, a bed-coverlet and two pairs of gauntlets. According to family tradition, King William slept at Lismullen on the 2July 1690.[xv] Other local traditions conflict with this suggestion.[xvi]
In 1692 Sir John Dillon of Lismullen became M.P. for Kells and served until 1695.[xvii] In 1695 he became M.P. for Meath and served until 1699 and again 1703-08.[xviii] He was burgess of Navan 1689 and Lieutenant in the king’s Regiment of Foot guards 1685.[xix] He fought a duel with the Earl of Anglesey on 10 December 1695.[xx]
In December 1684 Sir John Dillon married Mary Boyle, daughter of Murrough Boyle, 1st Viscount Blessington.[xxi] Mary Boyle was born c. 1648, died 26 April 1718. They had one child, Mary, who married Capt. David Dunbar in 1708. Sir John Dillon’s marriage to Mary Boyle was dissolved by a private Act of Parliament passed in the House of Lords on 8 April 1701.[xxii] In February 1702 Sir John married his second wife Grace, daughter of Thomas Tilson of Dublin.[xxiii]
In 1702 Sir John Dillon of Lismullen, bought the estate of Richard, earl of Tyrconnell, attainted, for the sum of £4907 10s 0d, which had been granted to Henry, Lord Sidney by King William.[xxiv] This included lands at Newtown, Trim. Sir John had purchased the estates from Lord Sidney who had received them from William but such was the discontent raised by William’s grants to his close followers that the English parliament forced a cancellation of all his land grants. Those who had bought lands from the king’s grantees were offered special terms to purchase the lands. Sir John was credited with two thirds of what he had paid Lord Sidney but had to make up the difference between that sum and the full market value. Sir John paid the Earl of Romney, Commissioner of Forfeited Estates for 1509 acres in Co. Meath worth £1,623 19s. Sir John purchased 105 acres in the parish of Tara and 131 acres in the townland of Mooretown, parish of Athlumney.[xxv]
Sir John Dillon, who became a Deputy Governor for Meath and Louth, died 22 February 1707/8.[xxvi] He was survived by his second wife Grace, who later married James Whitehead, and their two young daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.[xxvii] Their eldest son, Thomas Dillon, born 1704 died without issue. Their second son, Arthur, married Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Ralph Lambert, bishop of Meath, 1727-32, on 11 June 1730.[xxviii] Elizabeth was a celebrated beauty being known as ‘Beauty Divine’ in the 1730s.[xxix] They had children: John, Susanna, (who died unmarried), Alice (who married Nathaniel Preston), Arthur and Elizabeth.[xxx] Lismullen house was described as ‘might neat’ but ‘a very antique edifice’ in 1732 with ‘a vast deal of wood and wild gardens about it’. [xxxi] There seems to have been extensive remains of the old monastery at that time.[xxxii] Arthur died in 1745 and was buried at the family burial place at Skryne.
Rev. Nathaniel Preston of Swainstown, born c. 1695, died 1796, married his first cousin Alice Dillon, daughter of Sir John Dillon of Lismullen and they had two children, Nathaniel born c. 1730 and Arthur John Preston born c. 1735 who became Dean of Limerick. Nathaniel married secondly in 1763 so it is presumed that Alice was dead by then. Alice’s mother and Nathaniel’s mother were sisters.
A suggested date for the construction of the house is 1720 –1740 when there was an optimistic period after the Boyne. Lismullen is a typical gentlemans’ residence, nothing unique about its design, sited to maximise the use of local scenery. The landed gentry felt secure in their holdings to build new houses. It was a prosperous period for landlord and tenant. This was during the high period of construction of big houses in Ireland.[xxxiii] Rents went up steeply in Ireland and England from the 1740s right up to the end of the Napoleaonic Wars. The size of the estate dictated the size of the house.[xxxiv]
Sir John Talbot Dillon
There appear to have been two Sir John Talbot Dillons living at approximately the same period in the nineteenth century and the lives of both having some common events are often confused by writers.[xxxv]
Sir John Talbot Dillon, born 1740, was the son of Arthur Dillon of Lismullen. In 1767 he married Millicent (died in 1788), daughter of George Drake of Fernhill, Berkshire and they had six sons and three daughters. Dillon sat in the Irish parliament representing co. Wicklow from 1771 and then Blessington 1776-83.[xxxvi] Dillon purchased his Wicklow seat in parliament and at the 1776 election he was returned by his uncle, Charles Dunbar for Blessington. In Parliament he was an independent but generally supported the government. He requested and secured a living of £300 for his friend, Mr. Preston, who was married to a sister of Jack Hamilton. Entering Oxford on 25 November 1756 aged seventeen, he did not graduate. He was major of horse 1786 and lieutenant colonel of the Dragoon Guards 1789-92.[xxxvii] He was listed in attorneys of the courts of the King’s Bench, Commissioner of the Tillage Act of Connaught 1779-84; commissioner for the Paving of the Streets of Dublin 1779-80, supervisor to whom complaints of nuisances may be made 1787-8; inspector of nuisances and Supervisor of Complaints in the Office of Paving and cleansing, Dublin, 1799; Trustee of the Linen Board 1789-1800; Governor of the Charitable Musical Society 1780; governor of the Charitable Loan Society 1781.[xxxviii] He was a member of the R.D.S. from 1764 and a Junior Grand Warden of the Grand lodge of Irish Freemasons 1791-95.[xxxix] He was also a member of the Royal Irish Academy. In 1800 Baron Dillon served on the Grand Jury of Meath which met at Trim 26 August.[xl]
John Dillon M.P. introduced a successful bill for some relief of Catholic in 1782 on behalf of its framer, Luke Gardiner. However in 1783 the reforming convention of the Volunteers ignored the paper prepared by John Dillon on behalf of Meath Catholics.[xli] He may have resided for some time in Vienna and in 1782 Emperor Joseph II created Dillon Baron of the Holy Roman Empire by imperial Letters Patent dated 4 July 1782 in recognition of his exertions in Parliament to serve his country, by granting liberty to Roman Catholics to realize property in their own land.’[xlii] John Dillon, received Royal License to use the title 22 February 1783 and was created baronet by George II on 31 July 1801.[xliii] The king recognised ‘the liberal sentiments’ of Mr. Dillon in his letter authorising the use of the foreign title.[xliv] This was a rare honour for an Irishman who lived in Ireland.
A volunteer defence force was raised locally in response to the American revolution and local agrarian violence. The militia was sponsored by the local landowner with the arms supplied by the government. Col John Dillon, baronet, was colonel in the volunteer Skreen Corps of Dragoons, Skreen Grenadiers and Skreen Dragoons, which were founded at various dates between 1779 and 1784.[xlv]
John Talbot Dillon died in Dublin in August 1805. The ‘other’ Sir John Dillon was distant relative but lived a similar life span 1734-1806 and was also a baron of the Holy Roman Empire. He joined the Royal Navy at an early age and later travelled extensively in Spain and France. As an author his main contributions include: Travels through Spain, with a view to illustrate the natural history and physical geography of that kingdom, in series of letters (1780) and Memoirs of the French revolution, (1790).[xlvi]
Sir John Talbot Dillon of Lismullen had six sons and three daughters: John, Charles Drake, Arthur Richard, William, Ralph, Robert, Elizabeth, Anne Grace and Millicent. Charles Drake, Arthur Richard and William held the title of baronet in succession to their father. Sir John’s wife Millicent died 1788.[xlvii]
John, born 1768, appears to have died young and without issue.[xlviii]
Ralph was born 18 December 1779 and was rector of Ballymacward. Ralph entered Trinity College in 1793 aged 15 and received a B.A. in 1798 and an M.A. in 1804.[xlix] In 1798 Ralph Dillon, as first lieutenant in the Skreen cavalry fought on the Hill of Tara.[l] The captain of the Skreen cavalry was the neighbouring Earl of Fingall who as leader of the pro-government forces crushed the rebels at the Battle of Tara in 1798. Ralph Dillon was instituted as prebendary of Castropetri, diocese of Kildare on 19 February 1801, a position he held until 1817. He was second canon of Kildare from 1802 until his death in 1834.He may also have been rector of Croghan in the diocese of Kildare.[li] Ralph Dillon married Miss Corry, a sister of Thomas Corry Esq., who had earlier married Ralph’s sister, by special licence at Lismullen in March 1806.[lii] Rev. Dillon died in 1831 leaving two daughters and two sons: John and Charles.[liii] John succeeded to the title on the death of his cousin, Arthur Richard, in 1852.Robert was born in 1787 and as a Major 32nd Regiment married Eliza, daughter of John Sweny K.C. on 4 March 1814 and had issue, Robert, captain in the 30th regiment and three daughters.[liv] Robert served in the Penninsular War and was twice mentioned in dispatches. He died aged 77, on 27 January 1864 at Valetta, Malta. His son, Robert, a Lt. Colonel 30th Regiment, married 19 August 1862 Minerva Margaretta, second daughter of Hon. Stuart Mills, U.E. of Stafford House and Westlawn, Hamilton, Ontario, Senator of the Dominion of Canada. Stuart Mills was one of the initial 24 senators named by Royal Proclamation on 23 October 1867. The 30th Regiment served in Canada from 1860-70 and were involved in repelling the Fenian raids on Canada in 1866. Minerva died 10 February 1924 and Robert died 20 January 1916 leaving issue: Robert Arthur, lieutenant Royal Navy, born 1865, married 21 May 1913, Laura Maud Reese, widow of J. Lachlin McCliver of New Zealand. Laura Maud died 11 May 1915 and Robert Arthur died 6 October 1925. Their eldest child, Robert William Charlier, succeeded to the title.
Elizabeth married William Mills, barrister at law.[lv] Anne Grace married Thomas Charles Stuart Corry of Rockcorry, co. Monaghan, second daughter of Sir John of Lismullen in September 1804.[lvi] William McGhie composed a song ‘Be thou happy’ and dedicated it to the ‘Misses Dillon of Lismullen Park’ date not ascertained, published by Mc Cullagh and Mc Cullagh, Dublin and Power London.
Charles Drake Dillon
Charles Drake Dillon was born 8 June 1770.[lvii] He succeeded his father John Talbot Dillon in 1805. Sir Charles married Charlotte, daughter of John William Hamilton, Under Secretary of War for Ireland on 29 June 1792. Charlotte died on 23 June 1793 without any children. He married secondly Sarah, (nee Paget), relict of the late Rev. John C. Miller, rector of Milton, Northamptonshire in October 1828. Sarah died aged seventy-four at Smithstown House, Julianstown on 27 January 1853.[lviii]
Sir Charles took an active role in local affairs being High Sheriff of Meath for the year 1800 and served on the Grand Jury.[lix] As an active church member Sir Charles is recorded as churchwarden in the earliest surviving vestry book for Skryne (Lismullen) dating from 1803.[lx] Both he and his father were active in promoting local improvements. Sir John Dillon, his son, Charles and Nathaniel Preston formed a company to exploit a vein of copper ore on the Walterstown lands of Nathaniel Preston.[lxi] Charles Drake Dillon was a supporter of the new turnpike road from Dublin to Navan.[lxii]
Sir Charles died 12 January 1840 and as he left no issue he was succeeded by his younger brother, Arthur Richard.[lxiii]
Sir Arthur Dillon
Sir Arthur Richard Dillon, born 1771, General in the army, succeeded his brother Charles in 1840. Like his older brother he served as churchwarden of Lismullen and also on the Grand Jury.[lxiv] He married in 1814 Letitia Elizabeth, second daughter of the late W. Knox Esq. In 1814 and died 3 July 1845.[lxv] As he left no issue he was succeeded by his younger brother, William.
Sir William Dillon
Sir William was born 1 July 1774 and was married 22 June 1813 to Eleanor, daughter of Richard Webb Esq. and they had children: Arthur Henry and two daughters, Ellen Susanna and Lousia Wilhelmina. Ellen Susanna married on 2 March 1848 to Richard Denis Kelly Esq, major 34th regiment, (later General Sir of Mucklon) eldest son of Lieut. Col. Kelly of Weston, Duleek, co. Meath.[lxvi] On 28 May 1850 Ellen gave birth to a daughter at Lismullen.[lxvii] In 1857 Lousia Wilhelmina married Captain (later Major General) John Prevost Battersby of the 69th Royal Rifles, only son of the late Lieut.-Colonel F. Battersby of Listoke, Co. Louth on 8 September in St. Peter’s Church, Dublin.[lxviii]
In March 1847 the stables of Sir William Dillon of Lismullen were rented as extra accommodation for paupers by the Dunshaughlin Board of Guardians as the work house at Dunshaughlin was at full capacity.[lxix] This would have been unusual because Lismullen was located in Navan Union.
Sir William died 31 March 1851 aged 76 and was succeeded by his son, Arthur Henry.
Arthur Henry Dillon
Sir Arthur Henry Dillon, born 7 January 1828, was an officer in the 46th (South Devonshire) regiment.[lxx] Sir Arthur Dillon was returned as High Sheriff of Meath for the following year at Dublin castle on 5th November 1852.[lxxi] Arthur died 30 December 1852 aged 24 and was succeeded by his cousin, John.
Sir John Dillon
Sir John Dillon was born 1 December 1806 and died 28 November 1875.He was captain 32nd Light Infantry and colonel Royal Meath Militia. The 32nd were based in Ireland from 1834-37. He married 30 April 1840 Fanny Fox, daughter of Thomas Fox of Beaminister, Dorset. She died 5 January 1898 at Eversleigh, Donnington, Newbury and was buried at Skryne.[lxxii] They had four children: Ralph Arthur born 1841 and died 1854; John Fox who succeeded to the title; Frederick Baines, Lieutenant 66th regiment born 1846 and died unmarried 8 April 1901; and Arthur Stuart Corry, born 1852 and was killed accidentally at Colchester on his 22nd birthday in 1874. Frederick Baines was buried on Tara but later removed to the new burying ground at Lismullen.
He was a major of the old 5th Battalion of the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Meaths) and a Deputy Lieutenant and ex-High Sheriff of Meath.[lxxiii] The Leinster regiment were in England in the early 1870s and moved to Ireland in 1874. In 1881 their home depot became Birr. In 1875 he was succeeded by his son Sir John Fox Dillon who lived to 1925.
The Dillons were typical small landlords who resided in Ireland and took an interest in their local political system and also were involved in improving their own estates and the local industries. Their support of the establishment included military service and
Dillons of Lismullen
Sir John Fox Dillon (1843-1925) of Lismullen
Sir John Fox Dillon was born into a long established land-owning family based at Lismullen, Co. Meath. Sir John lived through changing and challenging times for the Irish landlord. Born before the Famine he maintained his estate through the Land War and the introduction of a number of land acts. His family had held prominent roles throughout their ownership of Lismullen. Sir John was to be the last holder of these roles in the military, judicial and political establishment as society was transformed due to developing democracy and increasing nationalism.
The destruction of his home, Lismullen House, in April 1923 is a significant event in Meath and Irish history as it was one of the last of the big houses to be burned during the Civil War. There are a number of possible motives for the burning and although the house was subsequently re-built, life for the ascendancy was never the same again.
The papers relating to the family and the estate were destroyed in the burning of 1923, and the last member of the family who resided at Lismullen died in 2005.
This essay traces the changes which occurred in Sir John’s lifetime and examines how they impacted on him and other members of his class.
Lismullen parish, in the barony of Skryne, is located eight kilometres south south-east of Navan. The estate was based on the territorial divisions of parish and townland which are the identical in the case of Lismullen. The core of Lismullen estate had roots going back to medieval times with the foundation of an Augustinian nunnery there in 1240. This monastery and its holdings were confiscated in the sixteenth century and became the centre of an estate held by the Cusack family.[lxxiv] [lxxv]
In the mid-seventeenth century Lismullen had one castle, one abbey, one mill, one stone house and a few ash timber trees.[lxxvi] The castle probably provided the basis for Lismullen house which in 1732 was described as ‘mighty neat’ but ‘a very antique edifice.’[lxxvii]
A new Lismullen House was erected in the early to mid eighteenth century when a prosperous and secure period existed in Ireland.[lxxviii] This was during the high period of construction of big houses in Ireland.[lxxix] Lismullen is a typical gentleman’s residence with nothing unique about its design. The size of the estate dictated the size of the house and was sited to maximise the use of local scenery.[lxxx]
At the turn of the twentieth century the mansion had 21 rooms and 34 out offices. There were 3 stables, 4 coach houses, 12 cow houses, 3 calf houses, one dairy, two piggeries, one boiling houses, one barn and one workshop.[lxxxi] The stables were linked to the house. Larger estates such as Slane had more than 70 out-offices.[lxxxii] During the height of the Famine the stables and outbuildings at Lismullen were rented out as extra accommodation for paupers as the workhouse at Dunshaughlin was at full capacity.[lxxxiii] This was unusual, as Lismullen was in Navan Union not Dunshaughlin Union.
The house had an entrance hall, study, dining room, drawing room, back hall, principal staircase, butler’s pantry, two lavatories and bathrooms, eleven bedrooms, dressing rooms and strong room. The house was decorated with many paintings including a Gainsborough, a Reynolds and portraits of family members and family connections. A door from the main house led into a kitchen, with a scullery and larder.[lxxxiv] The out offices included a larder, dairy, tiled laundry, apple loft, storerooms and stables. There were three coach houses and a motor house. These out offices were entered through an archway from the back avenue.[lxxxv] At the back of these buildings was a large farmyard, hay barn, walled in garden, pleasure ground, conservatory and tennis court.[lxxxvi]
The demesne in the early eighteenth century included ‘a vast deal of wood and wild gardens about’ the house.[lxxxvii] The ‘handsome demesne’ had two small ponds and a mound in the 1830s.[lxxxviii] The richly wooded landscape and fine timber were noted by writers at this time.[lxxxix] The plantation and woodlands supplied timber for repairs and construction. In the nineteenth century an area for making brick was created within the estate and a small river was dammed to allow for boating.[xc]
The estate at Lismullen was located on the better lands and became a centre of excellence in farm husbandry and landscape management.[xci]
The Dillon Family
The Dillons were an Anglo-Norman family. Henry le Dillon arrived in 1185 with Prince John.[xcii] The Dillons established themselves at Kilkenny West and Drumrany in County Westmeath. From this family a number of branches were established including Viscounts Dillon of Costello-Gallen, Counts Dillon of France, Lords Clonbrock and Dillons of Lismullen (Baronets of Lismullen). Sir James Dillon of Proudstown, the youngest son of Robert Dillon, Lord of Drumraney, was the ancestor of the earls of Roscommon, the Lords of Cronbrock and the Dillon baronets of Lismullen. [xciii]
William Mallone, Irish papist, was in possession of Lismullen in 1640 but during the Cromwellian confiscation the entire parish of Lismullen (577 acres) and 172 acres at Clonarden in the neighbouring parish of Templekeran parish were allocated to Arthur Dillon.[xciv] Arthur’s son, John, added further lands to the estate in the Williamite confiscations.[xcv]
John was succeeded by his grandson, John Talbot Dillon who as Member of Parliament for Wicklow introduced a successful bill for some relief of Catholics from the penal laws in 1782.[xcvi] For this support of the Catholic cause Sir John Dillon was created a baron of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Joseph II of Austria.[xcvii] On 22 February 1783 John Dillon received Royal License to use the title and was created baronet by George III on 31 July 1801.[xcviii]
Sir John Talbot Dillon had six sons and three daughters. His eldest son died before his father. His three remaining older sons, Charles Drake, Arthur Richard and William, held the title of baronet in succession following his death. The fifth son, Rev. Ralph Dillon, left a son, John, who succeeded on the death of his cousin, in 1852. This John was the father of Sir John Fox Dillon.
The sixth son, Robert, was the ancestor of Robert Dillon, the successor of Sir John Fox Dillon in 1925.
Sir John Fox Dillon was born in 1843 in Yorkshire, England, the second son of Sir John Dillon, the sixth baronet of Lismullen, and his mother was the daughter of Thomas Fox, Reaminster, Dorset. His father and a number of his ancestors had borne the name John previously. His father succeeded to the title in 1852 on the death of his cousin. John Fox Dillon’s older brother, Ralph Arthur, died in 1854 aged thirteen. A younger brother, Frederick Baines Dillon, became a Lieutenant in the 66th regiment while his youngest brother, Arthur Stuart Corry Dillon, died in 1874 aged twenty-two. Sir John Fox Dillon succeeded to the title on the death of his father on 28 November 1875.
Born in England Sir John Fox Dillon, was educated in England at Magdalene College, Cambridge.[xcix] In 1870 only 40% of a sample of one hundred landlords had a university education.[c] The Dillons were connected to England by family ties, education and service in the forces and shared many of the loyalties and prejudices of their English equivalents as did other landed families in Ireland.[ci]
From the establishment of the family at Lismullen the members of the Dillon family married members of local landed families such as the Prestons of Swainstown, the Kellys of Weston, Duleek and the Battersbys of Listoke, Louth and members of landed families in Ireland such as Mary Boyle, daughter of the 1st Viscount Blessington and the Corrys of Rockcorry, Co. Monaghan or members of the landed gentry of England such as the Drake family of Berkshire or the Fox family of Dorset.[cii] These marriage patterns were replicated by other members of the landed class in Ireland and Britain and succeeded in creating a self perpetuating and limited class of landowners. Sir John married Marion Louisa Dykes (daughter of Robert Stewart Dykes and step-daughter of James Fyfe Jameson of Queen’s Gate) on 18h November 1878.[ciii] Marion was born in Glasgow, Scotland about 1855.[civ]
The couple had only one child, a daughter, Millicent, born on 15 July 1895 in Sussex, England and baptised at Lismullen on 18 September 1895.[cv] The name Millicent had entered the family when Sir John Talbot Dillon of Lismullen married Millicent Drake in 1767. Girls usually received their education at home, and Millicent was tutored at home by a governess.[cvi] This governess came from England, as did most governesses in big houses.[cvii]
Sir John’s mother retired to England and died 5 January 1898 at Eversleigh, Donnington, Newbury and was buried at Skryne.[cviii] His younger brother, Frederick Baines, died unmarried on 8 April 1901; and was buried on Tara but later removed to the new burying ground at Lismullen. [cix]
Sir John enjoyed hunting and was a member of the Meath Hunt and the Norfolk Hunt. He and his family enjoyed tennis, archery, croquet and golf.[cx]
Position and Influence
When Sir John succeeded to the title in 1875 it was ‘still possible to think of the Ascendancy as the ruling class.’[cxi] The ownership of land provided wealth which gave this class influence in local and national politics and administration. As a member of this class Sir John took a prominent role on the local political, judicial and social stage. Sir John described himself as ‘Baron of the Holy Roman Empire, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant and Honorary Major’ in the 1901 census.
From 1890 Sir John Dillon was a deputy lieutenant for County Meath.[cxii] From 1870 he was a magistrate and sat at the petty sessions in Navan.[cxiii] Thom’s Directory lists him as a Justice of the Peace from 1917 to 1925 but this position lost its function in 1923.[cxiv]
In undertaking these positions he was following the family’s traditional role of leadership in society. Positions held by the family previously included: High Sheriff, Burgess of Navan, Deputy Governor of Meath and Louth, Commissioner in Parliament and member of the grand jury.
A wider social network extended to Dublin where Sir John was a member of the Kildare Street Club which by 1880 was the centre for landlords in Dublin with 90% of its members being landlords in the 1880s.[cxv] The Kildare Street Club was the centre of male ascendancy life in Dublin from 1880 onwards.[cxvi] The seven or eight hundred members came from a similar background with the majority from landowning families. Sir John was also a member of the Junior United Services Club in London.
Land reform resulted in landlords being deprived of their wealth and at the same time they were also losing their political power and influence due to reforms at a national and local level with regard to franchise and organisation of local government.[cxvii] The 1898 Local Government Act removed the power of the landowners at a local level by removing the local government functions of the grand juries. Sir John was a member of the Grand Jury and this body held its last meeting in the spring of 1899.[cxviii] Sir John was on a sub committee of the Grand Jury which researched the erection of a new courthouse in Navan, a project still under consideration when the grand Jury was disbanded. Sir John was a candidate in the first Meath County Council elections, running in Tara district. He received twenty-seven votes but failed to get elected.[cxix] Not one member of the Grand Jury managed to be returned through election.[cxx] The 1898 Act stipulated that three seats on the new council were reserved for outgoing members of the Grand Jury and sir John Dillon was one of the three selected. His friend, Lieutenant-colonel Nugent Everard, was co-opted as an additional member by the Council at its first meeting at Trim in April 1899.[cxxi] The first meeting of the Meath County Council passed a resolution reaffirming the claim of Ireland to her inalienable right of self-government, with one dissenter, Sir John Fox Dillon.[cxxii]
The legal system of grand juries continued to function until the early part of the War of Independence, with Sir John Dillon sitting at the last meeting of the Grand Jury of Meath at the Spring Assizes at Trim in March 1920.[cxxiii] A landed gentleman could still become a justice of the peace but they were now meeting the chairmen of the local councils who were also ex-officio Justices of the Peace. Public–spirited landlords and former landlords, such as Sir John, saw a role for themselves in the future as a cultural and improving influence.[cxxiv]
The Lady Vicereine, Lady Aberdeen, visited Navan to view a Tuberculosis Exhibition. Sir John attended the luncheon in her honour at the Russell Arms Hotel and seconded a vote of thanks to the organiser of the exhibition, Mrs. Everard.[cxxv]
As the leaders in society landlords took the lead in new organisations. The Irish Volunteers were founded in November 1913 as a response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers. The movement had no clear political objective at the outset but the Irish Volunteers swore to ‘secure and maintain the rights of all the people of Ireland’.[cxxvi] The local newspaper, the Meath Chronicle, published Eoin MacNeill’s article ‘The North Began’ in November 1913.[cxxvii] Sir John Dillon became patron of the Skryne corps of the Irish Volunteers in early 1914 but resigned when it became a political body with the takeover by Redmond in June 1914.[cxxviii] From its inception it was heavily influenced by the Irish Republican Brotherhood but John Redmond effectively took control of the organisation. Sir John probably felt that he was doing something for his country, Ireland, by supporting this popular movement. His neighbour, Lord Fingall, was also briefly involved in the Volunteers.
Sir John’s ancestor, John Talbot Dillon, baronet, was colonel in the volunteer Skreen Corps of Dragoons, Skreen Grenadiers and Skreen Dragoons, which were founded at various dates between 1779 and 1784.[cxxix] So here too Sir John was continuing to maintain a leading role for his family and class. Rev.. Ralph Dillon fought at the Hill of Tara and a momento of that battle in 1798, a flag belong to the Rea Fencibles, was preserved by Sir John at Lismullen until 1923.
Sir John held a military position as did the majority of landlords in 1879.[cxxx] This involvement in the military field firmly attached their class to the empire and also provided local military security for the existing ruling elite. Sir John was appointed captain in the Royal Meath Militia in 1872 and was later appointed honorary Major of the 5th Battalion of the Prince of Wales Leinster regiment (Royal Canadians).[cxxxi] The Royal Meath Militia quartered at Navan were the fifth battalion of the Prince of Wales’s Leinster regiment (Royal Canadians). The first battalion of the regiment was founded in 1760 and was disbanded as a regiment at the end of July 1922. The Leinster regiment were in England in the early 1870s and moved to Ireland in 1874. In 1881 Birr became their home depot.
Sir John’s father was a captain in the 32nd Light Infantry and a colonel in the Royal Meath Militia. Previous military positions held by members of the family included lieutenant colonel, colonel, captain lieutenant, major of the horse, major and general.
Sir John took an active role in his religious observation. His branch of the Dillon family became members of the Established Church in Elizabethan times. The Church of Ireland was associated with the ascendancy. The Dillons at Lismullen were committed to their local church which was variously known as Lismullen, Skryne and Templekeeran church.
Sir John Fox Dillon also served as churchwarden. Templekeernan church had served the Protestant community for nearly a hundred years and Sir John decided on replacing it. The death of his mother and brother at the turn of the century released him from his obligation of their financial support and so may have provided some accessible funding.
After disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869 few new churches were built in Ireland.[cxxxii] Many churches closed but in Meath no less than nine new churches were built, including a new one at Lismullen, dedicated to St. Columba.[cxxxiii] Sir John had donated ‘a picturesque portion of his property and within a short distance of his own stately residence’ as a site for the new church, which was designed to accommodate 250.[cxxxiv] Sir John chaired the meetings of the building committee and contributed more than £800 toward the £1380 cost of erection of the church.[cxxxv]
The foundation stone of the new church was laid by Lady Millicent Dillon on 18 July 1902. The church was consecrated by the bishop of Meath, Dr. Keane, on 9 August 1904. Sir John Dillon as churchwarden welcomed the bishop at the door of the church before the ceremony.[cxxxvi] Sir John entertained the clergy and congregation to luncheon following the consecration.[cxxxvii] Sir John was linking his estate and his family firmly to the Church of Ireland and thus religion created a gulf between the Protestant landlord and Catholic tenant. Sir John was creating a Protestant world of his own within the demesne.
Other landlords too replaced old churches such as Cooke-Trench at Millicent who sold his hunters, shut up half his house and reduced the garden staff to supply the funding necessary for the new church.[cxxxviii] Donaghpatrick church was erected by Thomas Gerrard and consecrated in 1897.[cxxxix] Lismullen church was one of the last of the new churches erected in Meath diocese.
Sir John remained as churchwarden until his death in 1925. Lady Dillon commissioned a window from Harry Clarke in February 1929 as a memorial to her husband for the new church at Lismullen.[cxl] The window The Ascension was installed above the altar in March 1930. Lismullen church was demolished in 1964 as a result of declining attendance.[cxli] The Clarke window was removed to storage in Trim and sold by the church authorities in the 1990s.[cxlii]
Like other Protestant employers Sir John employed Protestants in preference to Catholics. Just one of the ten servants resident in Lismullen in 1901 was Roman Catholic, one was Presbyterian and the rest were Anglican. In 1911 71% of servants in big houses in Ireland were Protestant.[cxliii] Twenty-one per cent of all males working in domestic service in Meath in 1911 were Protestant.[cxliv]
The Big House and Estate
A house of Lismullen’s size required an adequate number of servants. In 1901 staff living in the house included a governess, butler, coachman, footman, lady’s maid, cook, housemaid, laundry maid, kitchen maid and a number of domestic servants. By 1911 Sir John must have purchased a motor, as there is now a chauffeur in residence.[cxlv] The house had five bedrooms for servants and a servant’s hall.[cxlvi]
In 1901 there were ten servants residing within the house. The domestic servants came from various areas of Ireland: Tipperary, Dublin, Antrim and Cavan while the high-status positions of lady’s maid, coachman and governess were English. All the live in servants were un-married.[cxlvii] In 1911 only a very small percentage of live in servants in Ireland were married.[cxlviii] In 1911 there are ten servants living in the house all unmarried and not one of the servants who worked at Lismullen in 1901 were present in 1911. This rapid turnover of servants may be attributed to the isolation of Lismullen in comparison to Dublin or London or to the great distance from their homes.[cxlix] Servants tended to be continually on the move.[cl] There was an outdoor staff of about twenty men working on the estate. There were four gardeners, a carpenter, a herd, a game-keeper, two stablemen, a mason, a yard boy and a number of general workers.[cli] In 1911 the cook and coachman lived outside the house. Also resident outside the house was the head gardener, again a member of the Church of Ireland and from Co. Wicklow. The land steward was also a member of the Church of Ireland from Co. Wexford. In 1911 only 14% of domestic servants in Ireland were born in the county in which they worked, 47% were born elsewhere in Ireland and 39% born in England.[clii] An argument put forward for using English-born servants is that they would adapt better to regular visits to London but this would not be the case for Sir John.[cliii]
Sir John described his rank or occupation in the 1911 census as ‘farmer.’ Landlords were the leaders in agricultural practice. Sir John grew tobacco to support Sir Nugent Everard in his efforts to introduce the industry on a commercial basis in Meath at the turn of the century. He also supported Everard’s experimentation with the growing of hemp to provide the raw material for cordage and as shelter for the tobacco crop. Sir John invented a machine to scotch the hemp and proposed that the 10,000 tons of hemp imported annually from Russia and Poland be produced in Ireland.[cliv] In this interest in improvement he was following the role played by his family in previous generations. At the turn of the nineteenth century Sir John Dillon, his son, Charles, and Nathaniel Preston formed a company to exploit a vein of copper ore on the Walterstown lands of Nathaniel Preston.[clv]
The Meath Agricultural Society Ltd. was established in the late 1890s to promote and improve cattle and horse breeding, agriculture in all its branches, cottage and other industries.[clvi] Sir John was involved in the foundation of the society and took twenty shares in the new society as did his wife.[clvii] He was a member of the committee on one occasion. The new showgrounds opened at Brewshill, Navan in 1899. Sir John was also a breeder of Aberdeen Angus pedigree cattle and exhibited his cattler at the Meath shows and at the R.D.S.[clviii]
In 1883 36% of the larger estates in Meath had resident owners so Dillon was in the minority as he actually lived on his estate.[clix] Sir John had no holdings outside Meath county, his estate concentrated near his home at Lismullen, not scattered like many other landed estates.
The Land Act of 1870 began to change the role of the landlord and this was to continue to change with each succeeding land act. Charles Stewart Parnell, who was elected as Member of Parliament for Meath in 1875, played a leading role in changing the land ownership of Ireland and yet he was a member of the same class as Dillon, that of small Protestant landlords. In 1880 Sir John’s tenants expressed their congratulations on his marriage and looked forward to a ‘continuation of a long and well tried family of good landlords, resident gentlemen, and good employers.’[clx]
While the fortunes of other families were decimated by spendthrifts and a rapid turnover of heirs the Dillon estate was stable over the period with Sir John in charge from 1874 to 1925.
Sir John’s acquaintance, Colonel Nugent Everard, was one of the landlord representatives at the Land Conference which met in December 1902 to prepare a voluntary purchase bill agreeable to landlords and tenants. The Wyndham land act of 1903, that resulted, enabled 228,938 tenants to purchase their holding.[clxi] The act provided payment of the entire purchase money in cash, with a bonus of 12%, which made the average purchase price the equivalent of 25.4 years rent.[clxii] The payment for the land and the bonus was often spent unwisely.[clxiii]
Those whose main interest was in Ireland stayed on. Sir John was comfortable enough not to have to sell his estate in the immediate aftermath of the introduction of the act. Sir Nugent Everard sold none of his estate under the act.
The carnage of World War I affected Meath. Many local men died, both Catholics and sons of the gentry, including neighbours such as the eldest son of Baron Dunsany and Arthur Preston of Swainstown. Following the Easter Rebellion of 1916 there was a subsequent rise in nationalism.
In 1918 Sir John Dillon disposed of 1,693 acres of his estate at Lismullen under the 1903-9 land acts. He may have feared that the attractive sale conditions under the land acts would soon be restricted and that changes were on their way with the rising nationalism, or it could simply be that with the lack of an heir that at age seventy-five he decided to reduce his commitments. The Estate Commissioners paid £36,247 to Sir John to allow 31 tenants to purchase their estates in the townlands of Corballis, Gilltown, Odder, Oldtown, Riverstown, Clonardin and Lismullin. The tenants were on a mixture of judicial and non-judicial rents. Sir John took the small cash amount £241 although he was entitled to much more. The number of years the purchase price equivalent in rent was 21.9 years.[clxiv] Under the same acts in July 1918 he disposed of 4 acres for £120 and in June 1919 he disposed of a farm of 138 acres at Gillstown for £3000.
Sir John did not sell the demesne but without his estate he no longer had an income. Sir John used the money he received from the sale of the estate to fund his living expenses.
The Burning of Lismullen
A number of houses belonging to landed families were burned during the War of Independence and during the Civil War. The great mansion at Summerhill was burned on 4 February 1921 during the War of Independence.
In the nineteenth century an R.I.C. barracks had been erected on the main road fronting the estate of Sir John Dillon at Dillon’s Bridge. In 1911 this had an acting sergeant and three constables.[clxv] The attack made on Lismullen/Dillon’s bridge R.I.C. station was one of the first actions of the IRA in Meath on 31 October 1919. An R.I.C. sergeant was seriously wounded.[clxvi] The barracks was evacuated before Easter 1920 thereby removing protection from Lismullen House[clxvii] The barracks was then burned by the IRA.[clxviii]
The Treaty came as a blow to unionists and it took time for a new police force to be established. Isolated houses became more vulnerable to attack. Law enforcement was deteriorated when the R.I.C. were disbanded. During the Civil War a number of large houses were burned so much so that a neighbour of Sir John wrote, ‘country houses lit a chain of bonfires through the nights of late summer and autumn and winter and early spring.’[clxix] The growth of burnings seemed to be linked to the execution of Anti-Treaty prisoners. More houses were burned in the first four months of 1923 than in the whole of the previous year or in the whole of 1920.[clxx]
In early 1923 a renewed outbreak of violence occurred in the area surrounding Lismullen. In February 1923 there were two attempts to burn down the workhouse at Dunshaughlin. Some of these activities may be attributed to the Dunshaughlin Sinn Féin which was the only branch in Meath South constituency to oppose the Treaty.[clxxi]
Despite his military experience Sir John was not prepared for the arrival of the arsonists.
On 5 April 1923 a group of men stole a trap at Knockmark, drove to Dunsany Stores and took petrol which they took to Lismullen.[clxxii] Later that night a large party of men gained entrance to Lismullen house and set the place alight. The furniture, heirlooms and antiques were destroyed. The raiders arrived at 11 o’clock on Friday night and told Sir John through the closed door that they wanted ‘grazing for sheep’. Having gained entrance they gave Sir John and his family a short time to remove any valued possessions. The family had to cut a valuable Reynolds painting from its frame. Locking the family and male servants in a room the raiders assisted the female servants to remove their personal possessions. Petrol was sprinkled all over the mansion and the place set alight. The raiders remained until the place was burning well. The military in Navan were informed and arrived in the early hours of the morning. Attempts to save the house were ineffectual and the house was gutted with the exception of a wing jutting back to the stable.[clxxiii]
The group told Sir John that they had orders to burn the house and added that they were very sorry.[clxxiv] In many cases where houses were burned there appears to have been no personal animosity toward the house owners and the courtesy of the I.R.A. was noted.[clxxv] This was a traumatic experience for the elderly couple with ‘Old Sir John … [spending] the night in the barn.’[clxxvi]
When the house was destroyed by fire very few items were saved. According to family tradition, King William slept at Lismullen two days after the Battle of the Boyne, on the 2July 1690. [clxxvii] William of Orange presented the family with a glass decanter, a glass posset bowl, a bed-coverlet and two pairs of gauntlets. [clxxviii] These precious items were brought to safety but the glass was damaged, the neck of the decanter broken and the posset bowl cracked near one handle. The documents testifying to the king’s stay at Lismullen and family papers were destroyed in the fire.[clxxix] Many Irish landed families preserved treasured relics from the past.[clxxx] A Gainsborough also survived the fire.[clxxxi] Plans of St. Columba’s Church, Lismullen were in Sir John’s safe when Lismullen was burned and were slightly singed in the fire. These are now in the R.C.B. Library.[clxxxii] The fire at the house burned for three weeks.
Sir John found time to send a note to Killeen to warn the Fingalls that the arsonists had said that Killeen was next.[clxxxiii] Sir John may have been mistaken as the raiders headed for another local house owned by a Protestant family rather than Killeen.
The raiders continued to Barronstown house which they also attempted to set to fire using a mine. Informing the Wilkinson family that they had come from Lismullen, the raiders were described as ‘very courteous’ as they assisted the family to remove their prized possessions. The mines were detonated but the family and servants were able to put out the flames before serious damage was done. The arsonists returned later that week and attempted to set fire to the house again.[clxxxiv] Two more houses were burned in Meath the following month before a ceasefire was called on 24 May.
Motive for the Burning
The motive for the burning is not clear with various reasons being put forward at the time. The local newspaper could not provide a reason for the burning of the house as Sir John had not taken an active part in politics, was not a member of a public body, provided good local employment and had disposed of his estate to his tenants early and at good terms.[clxxxv] The Countess of Fingall described him as ‘one of the best landlords and kindest of men in the country’.[clxxxvi] Sir John was described as a very liberal landlord.[clxxxvii]
Agrarian agitation may have been a motive for the burning. As a large farmer Sir John might have been targeted by locals who wanted the estate to be broken up and distributed among themselves.[clxxxviii] By burning the house the demesne lands then became available for disposal to the locals at a low price. Sir John had a dispute with his herd and this may have been the reason for the burning.[clxxxix] Fear of losing their employment on the landed estates had prevented men from joining the Skryne unit of the Irish Volunteers in the aftermath of 1916.[cxc] A branch of the Back to the Land movement was formed in Skryne before the end of 1920. As a result of agrarian agitation the need for land legislation was recognised as early as July 1922 with a new land act being proposed for the spring of 1923.[cxci] Local land hungry people may have supported the burning of Lismullen in the hope of freeing up land for themselves. The executive of the Irish Farmers Union in Meath, which represented landlords and large farmers, condemned the burning of Lismullen.[cxcii]
Although Sir John did not identify with any political side, his position as a former landlord and an active supporter of the local establishment identified him as an enemy of the increasing nationalism.[cxciii] Dillon was not actively anti-Irish but he was viewed by many as a member of a class which was anti-republican. In 1911 he had proposed a motion, supported by his fellow magistrates, welcoming the King and Queen on their visit to Ireland.[cxciv] Sir John was described as a member of the ‘Ascendancy gang’ in a letter by P. de Burca, secretary of the Meath Comhairle Ceanntair of Sinn Féin in 1919. Mr. de Burca asserted that Sir John and the other ascendancy members of the Meath Farmer’s Association were keeping the Sinn Féin prisoners in jail and supporting the ‘castle gang’.[cxcv] These charges were rejected by the February meeting of the farming group, the claims may have been inspired by the demands of farm labourers for better wages. In 1918 the Meath Labour Union had led a strike for a nine hour day at Lismullen., Killeen and Dunsany estates. Three men were dismissed at Lismullen and while the nine hour day was granted the strike continued until the men were re-instated.[cxcvi]
Houses belonging to peers were not targeted particularly as they amounted to 13% of the houses burned between 1919 and 1923. In Meath only one peer’s house (Summerhill) was burned during the War of Independence while two were burned during the Civil War.[cxcvii]
In 1937 Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, attributed the burning to a reprisal for the shooting of an Anti-Treatyite on the road near Lismullen.[cxcviii] In January 1923 republican and Anti-Treaty activist Thomas Murray of Kilcarn, Navan was executed for possession of a revolver and six rounds of ammunition in Dundalk Gaol.[cxcix] Locals do not seem to have been involved in the burning. Sir John did not recognise any of the raiders and the local Skryne company of the I.R.A. took the Treaty side with the exception of two members, one of whom was in prison when Lismullen was burned. The raiders do not seem to have treated their victims roughly and were very courteous – giving their victims a short opportunity to remove their belongings. Lismullen was a soft target, offering the opportunity of a reprisal with little chance of danger.
On 30 November 1922 Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the republican forces, ordered that the houses of senators of the new Free State be burned including the homes of the thirty senators with Ascendancy connections. The homes belonging to ‘imperialists (ex-DL type)’ were also targeted.[cc] Marlfield, Palmerstown, Kilteragh, Moore Hall, Mullaboden and Ballynastragh were the first victims of this republican policy. Lismullen may have been a part of a policy of targeting Protestants who were likely to support the new Free State. Other local house-owners felt under threat in early 1923. Dunsany Castle was threatened in April 1923.[cci] Cecil Briscoe of Bellinter House moved out as much of his valuables as he could from his house and waited up on overnight vigil in case raiders came.[ccii] According to George Briscoe, Bellinter was chosen by the arsonists but they were turned away by the locals.[cciii]
Agrarian agitation, political motives and reprisals are offered as possible reasons for the burning of Lismullen by Sir John’s neighbours at the time and it could have been one of these reasons or a combination of all three.
The last years of Sir John
When Palmerstown was burned in 1923 Lord Mayo refused to leave Ireland, ‘his own country.’[cciv] Lord Mayo was one of the exceptions with many of those, whose houses had been burned, moving permanently to England including the Earls of Bandon and Desart who left Ireland heartbroken.[ccv]
Sir John had previously had a house at Dolseran Hall, Dolgelly, Wales.[ccvi] In 1923 he and his family left Ireland behind to purchase a property in England. The property, Longworth Hall, Herefordshire, included the mansion house, the lodge cottage, stable buildings, kitchen garden and gardener’s cottage, the pleasure grounds and parkland and part of Tidnor wood, in all 56 acres. The purchase price was £8,000.[ccvii]
Under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act of 1923 Sir John Dillon claimed £24,319 from the new Irish Free State for the damage to his property and received £10,942 to rebuild his house.[ccviii] Sir John received 45% of his claim. The average for the claims of a random sample of fifty houses was 26%.[ccix]
Sir John had to prepare his claim for compensation and a list of household contents was compiled by July 1923. Sir John claimed £10,292 for the contents of the house and received an award of £8964 at the Navan sitting of the Circuit Court in March 1925. This award included compensation of £1,600 for the loss of a coin collection and £44 for a stamp collection but these awards were disputed by the State and disallowed. Sir John had approximately 2000 coins in his collection. Items of furniture, books, clothing, sports equipment and pictures are listed in the contents of the house. The loss of the use of the property, the loss of articles of personal ornament such as jewellery were not covered under the compensation act. Sir John was granted compensation for his coins by the Circuit Court but the Minister for Finance appealed this decision successfully in the Supreme Court.[ccx]
At the Circuit Court in March 1925 Sir John received an award of £8,860 for the damage to the house which was linked to a full reinstatement clause. Sir John was unclear about the re-building of Lismullen. His solicitor wrote ‘He is a very old man over eighty-one years of age , and as you can understand it is difficult for him to grasp the various niceties in connection with re-instatement.’[ccxi] A bill of quantities was completed for the reconstruction by June 1923. An O.P.W. investigator visited Sir John and Lady Dillon in Hereford in late 1924. The final claim was paid 30 August 1929.[ccxii] The contractor, W& J Bolger, Ardee St., Dublin, was paid in instalments as the house was re-built. The Free State created bad feeling when the sums allocated for compensation failed to meet the claims submitted.
Compensation for houses burned offered the opportunity to build a house more suited to the times and this may be what Sir John Dillon intended to do. The new ‘modern residence’ at Lismullen was built on the foundations of the destroyed house which was ‘of a very old fashioned and inconvenient type’.[ccxiii] Lady Fingall dreamed of building a smaller comfortable house if Killeen had been burned.[ccxiv] Those house owners who rebuilt their homes did so on a smaller scale.[ccxv] Lismullen House was re-built without its third storey.[ccxvi] The plans for the new house, as agreed with the O.P.W. contained a lounge, hall, drawing room, dining room, morning room and ‘seven good bedrooms’ and was practically the same floor area as the burned house (8736 sq. feet).[ccxvii] The old house had eleven bedrooms but they were ‘badly shaped and inconvenient’.[ccxviii] The replacement house was as undistinguished as its predecessor being described by one observer as ‘a modern tasteless building’ in 1942.[ccxix]
Sir John Dillon died suddenly on 1 November 1925, at his residence, Longworth Hall, at the age of 82 and the Meath Chronicle recorded that his death was regretted by all sections of the community.[ccxx] His remains were conveyed by hearse to Holyhead accompanied by Major Gerrard, a family friend.[ccxxi] He was buried at Lismullen on 6 November 1925.[ccxxii] He was survived by his widow and daughter. Probate of his estate valued at £24,526 was granted to his widow in 1926.[ccxxiii]
Following the death of Sir John, the lands at Lismullen attracted attention. Mr. Hall T.D. asked the Minister for Lands and Agriculture whether the Land Commission were taking any steps to acquire the estate of Sir John F. Dillon for division among deserving landless men and uneconomic holders, and if he would state when same would be acquired for division. Mr. Hogan, the Minister, replied that the lands on the Dillon Estate referred to were at the time the subject of investigations by the Commissioners.[ccxxiv]
When Sir John died his wife Marion and her daughter lived on at Longworth until the death of Lady Dillon in 1942. Millicent then moved to the north of Wales where she died 13 June 1984.[ccxxv]
Since Sir John had no son a distant cousin, Robert William Charlier Dillon, was the heir. Robert’s father died 6 October 1925, just a month before Sir John’s death so Sir Robert inherited the estate at eleven years of age, although it was not until four years later that he was entered on Official Roll of the Baronetage.[ccxxvi]
The future Sir Robert Dillon and his mother c. 1913
Her father’s partner, Mrs. M.H. Hearne and his aunt, E.A. Dillon, as guardians took control of the estate while Sir Robert was a minor. Robert ‘s guardian, Mrs. Hearne, visited Lismullen and stayed in the servant’s quarters. She supported the re-building of Lismullen and supervised arrangements for the re-build.[ccxxvii] She purchased furniture for the house but clashed with Sir Robert and sold the contents of the house, including items which did not belong to her.[ccxxviii]
According to the terms of Sir John’s will £2000 per annum was to be paid to his widow during her lifetime. Raising this annual sum proved a great strain for Sir Robert in the years to come.[ccxxix]
Educated at Trinity College, Sir Robert was called to the Irish Bar in 1936 but did not practise. He married Synolda, daughter of Cholmondeley Butler Clarke, of the Hermitage, Holycross, Co. Tipperary on 18 February 1947.[ccxxx] Following the sale of Lismullen Sir Robert lived in Dalkey. He died aged 68 on 25 December 1982 without any issue.[ccxxxi] His wife, Lady Elia Synolda Augusta Dillon died on 1 October 2005 at Cavan General Hospital aged 89 years.[ccxxxii]
The Dillon lands at Lismullen were compulsory purchased by the Land Commission in 1963. In a reply to Jimmy Tully T.D., the Minister for Lands, Mr. Moran, said that the Dillon estate of 338 acres had been taken over on 6 December 1963.[ccxxxiii] The allocation of this land was mentioned and discussed on a number of occasions in Dáil Éireann during the following seven years.[ccxxxiv]
After nearly three hundred years occupation by the Dillon family Lismullen was sold destined to never to be a family home again. The house and garden were sold on for charitable and social purposes and became a residential conference centre and a hospitality training centre. It is owned by the Lismullin Educational Foundation, an educational charity, which in 2000 completed a major development of the site and facilities. The house has been renovated and a new purpose built conference centre and a fully-equipped catering and hospitality centre have been added. A variety of activities are organised there, including conferences and seminars, lectures and publications, study courses and retreats. These are inspired by the spirit of the Prelature of Opus Dei and reflect a Christian outlook on life and culture. They are open to people of all creeds and backgrounds and serve people from local, national and international communities.
Sir John was in many ways a typical member of the Ascendancy. As a member of this class Sir John took a prominent role on the local political, judicial and social stage as had his ancestors. Having only limited involvement in politics he did occupy the positions reserved for members of the landed gentry such as deputy lieutenant of the county, member of the grand jury, magistrate, churchwarden and militia officer. Although he was connected to England by birth, family ties, education and service in the forces his home was in Ireland and he took an active part in supporting the development of new farming crops and methods to improve Irish agriculture. Perhaps he saw his role as providing leadership in all sectors of society, politics and economy. In a rising tide of nationalism this leadership role was gradually eroded.
Disposing of his lands under the 1903-9 Land Acts Sir John was regarded by many as a good landlord. He was one of the last landlords to dispose of their lands while Ireland was under British governance and this may have been due to his commitment to Ireland as his home. This commitment was shattered when a group of men gained entrance to Lismullen house and set the place alight in April 1923. The reason for burning is not clear-cut but suggestions put forward include: agrarian agitation, political or sectarian motives or reprisal. The house was re-built but Sir John had fled to England and the house was destined as many others were to be used for other purposes.
Sir John’s lifetime took him from being a member of the long established Ascendancy in power in Ireland to the role of a political refugee, powerless, landless and alone in England.
[i] Hubert Gallwey, ‘The Cusack family of counties Meath and Dublin’ Irish Genealogist vol..5 no. 6 (1979) pp 673-677.
[ii] Liam Cox, ‘The Dillons, Lords of Kilkenny West: part two’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. xii (2001) p.87.
[iii] Lodge, John. Peerage of Ireland, or a Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of That Kingdom, rev. by Merwyn Archdall, 7 vols. (Dublin, 1789) vol. IV pp. 147.
[iv] Civil Survey 1654-56
[v] Books of Survey and Distribution Lismullin parish, Templekernan parish, East Meath County
[vi] ‘A catalogue of the reports and schedules addressed to the Second Court of Claims’ in Irish Record Report viii (Dublin, 1819)
[vii] Catriona MacLeod, ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes of William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange and King of England from Lismullen, Navan, Co. Meath’ in Studies ; an Irish quarterly review, 65 (1976), p. 139.
[viii] Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) p. 277.
[ix] Lodge’s Peerage pp. 147-48
[x] John Healy, History of the Diocese of Meath (Dublin, 1908), ii, p. 259.
[xi] Donal O’Sullivan, Carolan The life, times and music of an Irish harper (London, 1958), vol. i, pp.6-7.
[xii] Donal O’Sullivan, Carolan The life, times and music of an Irish harper (London, 1958), vol. ii, pp. 109; 112.
[xiii] William A., Shaw, The Knights of England (London, 1906), vol. II, p. 252 quoted in Catriona MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes of William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange and King of England from Lismullen, Navan, Co. Meath’ p. 138.
[xiv] Historical Manuscripts Commission, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Ormonde (London, 1912), vol. vii, p. 223, quoted in Catrionaq MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes of William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange and King of England from Lismullen, Navan, Co. Meath’
[xv] MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes’ pp 137-38.
[xvi] J.G., Simms, ‘Meath Landowners in the Jacobite war’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. ii, no. 4 (1962) p.56.
[xvii] Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) p. 281.
[xviii] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xix] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xx] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xxi] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xxii] 1700 (12&13 William III) c. 17.
[xxiii] Lodges Peerage p. 147-48
[xxiv] Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) p. 192.
[xxv] Books of Survey and Distribution parish of Taragh, parish of Athlumney
[xxvi] Henry A.S. Tipton, ‘List of governors and deputy Governors in Ireland 1699’ in J.R.S.A.I., vol. 55 (1925) p. 39.
[xxvii] Will of John Dillon, Knt, Bethan’s Genealogical abstracts. Pregorative Wills, vol 17 p. 16, National Archives Dublin
[xxviii] Lodge’s Peerage p. 147-48; John Healy, History of the Diocese of Meath (Dublin, 1908), ii, p. 272.
[xxix] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-68 (ed.) Angélique Day (Belfast, 1991) p. 40.
[xxx] Lodge’s Peerage p. 147-48.
[xxxi] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-68 (ed.) Angélique Day (Belfast, 1991) p. 129; Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xxxii] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-68 (ed.) Angélique Day (Belfast, 1991) p. 129.
[xxxiii] Terence Dooley, The decline of the big house, a study of Irish landed families 1860-1960 (Dublin, 2001), p. 28.
[xxxiv] Terence Dooley, The decline of the big house, a study of Irish landed families 1860-1960 (Dublin, 2001), p. 11.
[xxxv] J. O., ‘Sir John Talbot Dillon (1740?-1805) in Leslie Stephen (ed.) Dictionary of National Biography, (London 1888), vol. xv, pp 84-85; John S. Crone, A Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin, 1937), p. 53: Anne M. Brady & Brian Cleeve, A biographical dictionary of Irish writers (Mullingar, 1985), p. 61; Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59-61.
[xxxvi] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[xxxvii] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 60.
[xxxviii] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 60.
[xxxix] Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 60.
[xl] Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) p. 271.
[xli] P. Rogers, The Irish Volunteers and Catholic Emancipation (London, 1934) pp 76, 126.
[xlii] Meath Chronicle 14 April 1923.
[xliii] Marquis of Ruvigny The Titled Nobility of Europe (London, 1909)
[xliv] Lodge’s peerage p.153
[xlv] O. Snoddy, ‘Notes on the Volunteers, militia, yeomanry and Orangemen of co. Meath’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vi, no. 4 (1978-79) p. 9.
[xlvi] Katherine Turner, ‘John Talbot Dillon (1734-1806)’ in H.C.G. Matthew & Brian Harrison (eds) Oxford Dictionary of Biography (Oxford 2004) vol. 16, pp 217-18.
[xlvii] Lodge’s Peerage p. 154.
[xlviii] Lodge’s Peerage p. 154.
[xlix] Rev. Canon J.B. Leslie Succession lists of the clergy of Kildare diocese, pp. 57-58. R.C.B. Library
[l] O. Snoddy, ‘Notes on the Volunteers, militia, yeomanry and Orangemen of co. Meath’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vi, no. 4 (1978-79) p. 27; Seamus O’Loingsigh The 1798 Rebellion in Meath (Nobber, 1997) p.22.
[li] Rev. Canon J.B. Leslie Succession lists of the clergy of Kildare diocese, pp. 57-58. R.C.B. Library
[lii] Henry Farrar, Being an index to the marriages in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812 (London, 1890), p. 191; Prerogative Licence bonds WW24 NAI.
[liii] Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[liv] Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[lv] Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (London, 1975) p. 810.
[lvi] Henry Farrar, Being an index to the marriages in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812 (London, 1890), p. 575.
[lvii] Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (London, 1975) p. 810.
[lviii] Anglo-Celt 3 February 1853.
[lix] Freeman’s Journal 27 March 1800; Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) pp 271-73; An abstract of the presentments of the Grand Jury of the co. Meath at the Lent assizes 1803 (Dublin 1803) p. 3.
[lx] Skryne Vestry Minutes 1803-70 MFCI 45 National Archives
[lxi] Robert Thompson, Statistical Survey of the county of Meath (Dublin, 1802), pp 24-25.
[lxii] Robert Thompson, Statistical Survey of the county of Meath (Dublin, 1802), p. 359.
[lxiii] Prerogative Licence bonds WW24 NAI; Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[lxiv] Skryne Vestry Minutes 1803-70 MFCI 45 National Archives Ireland; Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim 1854) p. 273.
[lxv] Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[lxvi] Marriage register skryne/Lisamullen, 1845-1938, RCB Library; Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[lxvii] Anglo-Celt 14 June 1850
[lxviii] Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (London, 1975) p. 810; Irish American Sept. 1857
[lxix] Dunshaughlin Board of Guardians minute books, 27Febr uary 1847, 6 March 1847; Oliver Coogan ‘The Workhouse in Dunshaughlin’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vi, no. 4 (1978-79) p. 54.
[lxx] Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland for 1853 (London 1853) p. 304.
[lxxi] Anglo-Celt 11 November 1852.
[lxxii] Skryne/Lismullen Burial Register
[lxxiii] Meath Chronicle 7 November 1925.
[lxxiv] Hubert Gallwey, ‘The Cusack family of counties Meath and Dublin’ Irish Genealogist vol. 5 no. 6 (1979) pp 673-77.
[lxxvi] R. C. Simington, The Civil Survey A.D. 1644-1656 County of Meath (Dublin,1940)
[lxxvii] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-68 (ed.) Angélique Day (Belfast, 1991) p. 129; Edith Mary Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800 Commons, constituencies and statutes (Belfast, 2002) vol. iv p. 59.
[lxxviii] Mark Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish Country Houses (London, 1988), p. 187
[lxxix] Terence Dooley, The decline of the big house, a study of Irish landed families 1860-1960 (Dublin, 2001), p. 28.
[lxxx] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 11.
[lxxxi] 1901 and 1911 census returns
[lxxxii] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 41.
[lxxxiii] Dunshaughlin Board of Guardians minute books, 27February 1847, 6 March 1847; Oliver Coogan ‘The Workhouse in Dunshaughlin’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vi, no. 4 (1978-79) p. 54.
[lxxxiv] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[lxxxv] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[lxxxvi] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[lxxxvii] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731-68 (ed.) Angélique Day (Belfast, 1991) p. 129; Johnston-Lik, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800, vol. iv p. 59.
[lxxxviii] Ordnance Survey Field Name Books of County Meath (1835-1836) Parish of Lismullen p. 909.
[lxxxix] Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London, 1837), vol ii p.285-86;The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (Dublin 1844) sub Lismullen.
[xc] Ordnance Survey Six Inch County Meath, sheet 32, (1909)
[xci] P.J. Duffy, ‘Heritage and history: exploring landscape and place in County Meath’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. xi (2000), p. 210.
[xcii] Liam Cox, ‘The Dillons, Lords of Kilkenny West: part one’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. xi (2000), p.71.
[xciii] Liam Cox, ‘The Dillons, Lords of Kilkenny West: part two’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. xii (2001) p.87.
[xciv] Books of Survey and Distribution Lismullin parish, Templekernan parish, East Meath County
[xcv] Richard Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim (Trim, 1854), p. 192.
[xcvi] P. Rogers, The Irish Volunteers and Catholic Emancipation (London, 1934), pp 76.
[xcvii] Meath Chronicle, 14 April 1923.
[xcviii] Lodge, John. Peerage of Ireland, or a Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of That Kingdom, rev. by Merwyn Archdall, 7 vols. (Dublin, 1789), vol. IV p. 153; Marquis of Ruvigny, The Titled Nobility of Europe (London, 1909)
[xcix] John Bateman, The great landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1883), p. 132.
[c] Dooley, The decline of the big house,p. 73.
[ci] R.B. McDowell, Crisis and decline, the fate of the southern Unionists (Dublin, 1997), p. 9.
[cii] Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (London, 1975), p. 810.
[ciii] Meath Chronicle, 14 November 1925.
[civ] 1901 Census Return, 1911 Census Returns
[cv] Burke’s Peerage (1975), p. 810; 1901 Census Return; Baptismal Register Skryne/Lismullen.
[cvi] Mona Hearn, Below Stairs Domestic Service Remembered in Dublin and beyond 1880-1922 (Dublin, 1993), p. 63.
[cvii] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 71.
[cviii] Burial Register Skryne/Lismullen.
[cix] Burial Register Skryne/Lismullen.
[cx] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[cxi] Mark Bence-Jones, Twilight of the Ascendancy (London, 1987), p. 16.
[cxii] Thom’s Almanac and Official Directory of the United Kingdom and Ireland (Dublin, 1869-1925); Burke’s Peerage (1975) p. 810.
[cxiii] Thom’s Directory (1869-1925); Meath Chronicle, 28 October 1899.
[cxiv] Thom’s Directory (1916-1925); Burke’s Peerage (1975) p. 810.
[cxv] Bateman, The great landowners, p. 132; Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 62.
[cxvi] Bence-Jones, Twilight, p. 54.
[cxvii] McDowell, Crisis and decline, p. 10.
[cxviii] Meath Chronicle 4 March 1899.
[cxix] Meath Chronicle 25 March 1899, 8 April 1899.
[cxx] Denis Boyle, A History of Meath County Council, 1899-1999 (Navan 1999), p. 27.
[cxxi] Denis Boyle, A History of Meath County Council, 1899-1999 (Navan 1999), p. 36.
[cxxii] Denis Boyle, A History of Meath County Council, 1899-1999 (Navan 1999), p. 38.
[cxxiii] Oliver Coogan, Politics and war in Meath 1913-23 (Dublin, 1983), p. 207
[cxxiv] McDowell, Crisis and decline, pp 10-12.
[cxxv] Meath Chronicle 9 May 1908.
[cxxvi] Formation of Irish volunteers, 1913. Announcement at Dublin meeting 26 November 1913 quoted in Arthur Mitchell and Padraig O Snodaigh (eds) Irish political documents 1869-1916 (Dublin, 1989), p. 147.
[cxxvii] Meath Chronicle, 8 November 1913.
[cxxviii] Coogan, Politics and war, pp 3; 26; Denis Boyle, A History of Meath County Council 1899-1999 (Navan, 1999), pp 61-62.
[cxxix] O. Snoddy, ‘Notes on the Volunteers, militia, yeomanry and Orangemen of co. Meath’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vi, no. 4 (1978-79) p. 9.
[cxxx] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 73.
[cxxxi] Thom’s Directory (1870-1925); Meath Chronicle, 7 November 1925.
[cxxxii] R.B. McDowell, The Church of Ireland 1869-1969 (London, 1975), p. 79.
[cxxxiii] Healy, Diocese of Meath, ii, pp 247-48, 298.
[cxxxiv] Healy, Diocese of Meath, ii, pp 247-48, 298.
[cxxxv] Building committee of Lismullen Church 1902-05, RCB Library.
[cxxxvi] Daily Express 10 August 1904
[cxxxvii] Irish Times 10 August 1904.
[cxxxviii] McDowell, The Church of Ireland, p. 79.
[cxxxix] Healy, Diocese of Meath, ii, p. 247-48,
[cxl] Irish Times 29 April 2006.
[cxli] Letter 17 November 1964 Cormac Murray, Ardsallagh to Rev. C.C. Ellison, Navan, RCB Library
[cxlii] Irish Times 29 April 2006.
[cxliii] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 161.
[cxliv] Kim O’Rourke, ‘Descendancy? Meath’s Protestant Gentry’ in David Fitzpatrick (ed) Revolution? Ireland 1917-1923 (Dublin, 1990) p. 100.
[cxlv] 1901 and 1911 census returns
[cxlvi] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[cxlvii] 1901 and 1911 census returns
[cxlviii] Hearn, Below Stairs, p. 14; Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 156.
[cxlix] Hearn, Below Stairs, p. 78.
[cl] Hearn, Below Stairs, p. 84.
[cli] Workmen’s accounts Lismullen Estate 1897-98
[clii] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 160.
[cliii] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 160.
[cliv] Cyril Ellison, The waters of the Boyne and Blackwater (Dublin, 1983), pp 97-98
[clv] Robert Thompson, Statistical Survey of the county of Meath (Dublin, 1802), pp 24-25.
[clvi] National Archives M. 6779
[clvii] National Archives M. 6779 (31); Michael O’Brien, The struggle for Páirc Tailteann, a history of Meath’s and Leinster’s premier G.A.A. Grounds (Navan, 1994), p. 8
[clviii] Meath Chronicle, 22 April 1911, 13 December 1913, 7 November 1925; Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[clix] Thomas Wilson, ‘The great landowners of Meath, 1879’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. vii no. 1 (1980-81), p. 103.
[clx] Irish Times 23 January 1880.
[clxi] Peter Somerville Large, The Irish Country House, a social history (London, 1995), p. 346.
[clxii] Land Purchase (Ireland) Act, 1903 (3 Ed., c. xxxvii (1 November 1903); Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 113.
[clxiii] Somerville Large, The Irish Country House, p. 347.
[clxiv] Return of Advances made under the Irish Land Purchase Acts 1903-09 Parliamentary Paper HC 1920 vol xl, session 10 Feb 1920-23 December 1920 pp 159-60.
[clxv] 1911 census returns
[clxvi] Coogan, Politics and war, pp 108-11.
[clxvii] Coogan, Politics and war, p. 118.
[clxviii] Meath Chronicle 8 May 1920; Coogan, Politics and war, p.118.
[clxix] Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, Seventy Years Young (London, 1937), p. 414.
[clxx] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 286-87
[clxxi] Oliver Coogan, A History of Dunshaughlin, Culmullen and Knockmark (Dunshaughlin, 1989), p.128.
[clxxii] Mark Amory, Biography of Lord Dunsany (London, 1972), p. 193
[clxxiii] Meath Chronicle, 14 April 1923; Irish Times 9 April 1923..
[clxxiv] Irish Times 9 April 1923
[clxxv] Somerville Large, The Irish Country House, p. 352.
[clxxvi] Amory, Lord Dunsany, p. 193.
[clxxvii] Catriona MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes of William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange and King of England from Lismullen, Navan, Co. Meath’
[clxxviii] MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes’ pp 137-38.
[clxxix] MacLeod ‘Some hitherto unrecorded momentoes pp 139-40
[clxxx] Somerville Large, The Irish Country House, pp 344-45.
[clxxxi] Amory, Lord Dunsany, p. 193
[clxxxii] Plans of St. Columba’s church, Lismullen/Skryne, R.C.B. Library.
[clxxxiii] Fingall, Seventy Years Young, p. 435-37
[clxxxiv] Meath Chronicle, 14 April 1923.
[clxxxv] Meath Chronicle, 14 April 1923.
[clxxxvi] Fingall, Seventy Years Young, p. 436.
[clxxxvii] Irish Times 9 April 1923
[clxxxviii] Terence A.M. Dooley ‘”A world turned upside down”: The landed nobility of County Meath – 1875-1945’ in Riocht na Midhe vol. xii (2001) p. 214.
[clxxxix] Amory, Lord Dunsany, p. 193.
[cxc] Coogan, Politics and war, p. 102.
[cxci] Terence Dooley, ‘The Land for the people’ The land question in independent Ireland (Dublin, 2004), p. 52
[cxcii] Meath Chronicle, 14 April 1923.
[cxciii] Irish Times 9 April 1923
[cxciv] Meath Chronicle 3 June 1911.
[cxcv] Meath Chronicle, 25 January 1919.
[cxcvi] Meath Chronicle 23 February 1918
[cxcvii] Peter Martin, ‘Unionism: The Irish Nobility and Revolution, 1919-23’ in Joost Augusteijn (ed) , The Irish Revolution, 1913-1923 (Hampshire 2002) p. 157
[cxcviii] Fingall, Seventy Years Young, pp 435-37
[cxcix] Meath Chronicle, 20 January 1923.
[cc] Donal O’Sullivan, The Irish Free State and its Senate (London, 1940) quoted in Bence-Jones, Twilight, p. 232.
[cci] Amory, Lord Dunsany, p. 192.
[ccii] Art Kavanagh, The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy Meath (Dublin, 2005), i. p. 58.
[cciii] Correspondence to the author from George Briscoe, Craystown House, Navan, 23 June 2006.
[cciv] Bence-Jones, Twilight, p. 233.
[ccv] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 206; Bence-Jones, Twilight, p. 236.
[ccvi] Thom’s Directory (1920).
[ccvii] Corrrespondence from Nancy Smith, Longworth Hall, June 2006.
[ccviii] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923, (No. 15 of 1923 (12 May 1923); Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: register of claims, entry no. 913 (NA, OPW files, I/18/1/5, 2D-62-65).
[ccix] Dooley, The decline of the big house, p. 205.
[ccx] Meath Chronicle 25 June 1927.
[ccxi] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[ccxii] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[ccxiii] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[ccxiv] Fingall, Seventy Years Young, p. 440.
[ccxv] Bence-Jones, Twilight, pp 240-41.
[ccxvi] Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish Country Houses, p. 187
[ccxvii] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[ccxviii] Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923: Claim no. 913 (NA, OPW files I/18/2 2D–62-77).
[ccxix] J.J. O Donoghue, surveyor, I.T.A. Topographical and General Survey Parish of Skreen 6 October 1942
[ccxx] Meath Chronicle, 7 November 1925.
[ccxxi] Hereford Times 7 November 1925
[ccxxii] Burial register Lismullen/Skryne/Tara
[ccxxiii] Calendar of all the grants of Probate and letters of Administration 1926. NAI.
[ccxxiv] Dáil Éireann Debates – Volume 16 – 22 June, 1926
[ccxxv] Burke’s Peerage (1975) p. 810; Daily Telegraph 15 June 1984.
[ccxxvi] National Archives, Kew HO 45/21716
[ccxxvii] Liz Hodgkinson, Michael née Laura (London, 1989), p. 26.
[ccxxviii] Hodgkinson, Michael née Laura, pp 44-45.
[ccxxix] Hodgkinson, Michael née Laura, p. 26.
[ccxxx] Burke’s Peerage, (1975), p. 810.
[ccxxxi] Irish Times 26,27,28 December 1982
[ccxxxii] Irish Times 6 October 2005; Daily Telegraph 5 October 2005.
[ccxxxiii] Dáil Éireann Debates – Volume 215 – 12 May, 1965
[ccxxxiv] Dáil Éireann Debates – Volume 224 – 28 September, 1966; Volume 227 – 15 March, 1967; Volume 231 – 23 November, 1967; Volume 236 – 24 October, 1968; Volume 236 – 31 October, 1968; Volume 240 – 08 May, 1969; Volume 242 – 20 November, 1969; Volume 246 – 05 May, 1970.