Ardcandrisk House

Ardcandrisk House

Written by Tom and Teresa Wickham

 

Ardcandrisk House and estate

The house, built in 1833 by Cornelius Grogan Morgan, was described as a two storied regency villa. It was designed without any right angled corners, being formed by three polygons of different sizes. A later addition, a billiards room to the rear of the main house, was a more orthodox rectangular structure. The living and reception rooms occupied the ground floor, the bedrooms and dressing rooms were on the first floor. The basement housed the kitchen quarters. The dairy, laundry and female living apartments were close by in the kitchen yard. A tunnel led from the house to the stable yard where the bachelor workers lived. To the rear of the stables, separated from them by a belfry arch were the farm yard and cow byres.

The bell was rung three times daily: 6am to start the day; 12 noon for dinner; 6pm to cease work. Many of the buildings were constructed of bricks manufactured locally at the Polehore brickyard.

 

The gardens

The front of the house had a terraced garden and pleasure grounds with many scenic walks around its manicured lawns. Rhododendrons of many beautiful colours and other exotic flowering shrubs enhanced the walkways. The grounds had three tennis courts, said to be the finest in County Wexford. Archery was also a favourite sport on the lawns, and practiced by the ladies and gentlemen alike. One walk led down a step-way, across a bridge over the railway tracks to Lady Dane’s yacht on the Slaney in which she sailed with her companions to attend religious services at St Iberius Church in Wexford. The walled orchard and vegetable garden provided the produce necessary for the house and kitchen. The flower garden, carefully tended, gave the ladies and visitors a beautiful tranquil area to stroll around or sit and enjoy.

Employees

Members of nearly every family in the area depended on the estate for employment. Although the Ardcandrisk estate contained only eighty four acres, none of which was under tillage, the annual corn threshing is said to have continued for a week. Grain crops were carted by her tenants for the event, from as far afield as Blackwater and Curracloe. Twelve men were employed in the gardens with an additional six men in the stable and farm yard. A further ten house servants were employed under the supervision of Miss Bell. Two fine two-storied houses, situated near the orchard, were occupied by the head steward and head gardener and their families. These two houses are in excellent condition and are still occupied today. Lady Dane was considered to be a good landlady who treated her employees fairly. At Christmas time, her butcher Mr Gaul from Taghmon slaughtered her best animal to provide a stone of beef for each worker. They also received one pound of tea and one stone of sugar each. The female servants were given a red petticoat made by the resident seamstress. The workers, servants, their families and neighbours were invited to a Christmas party at the house held in the billiards room (See Appendix 1 for names and occupations of some employees).

‘Lady Dane’

 Lady Elizabeth Deane Morgan, seated, with Miss Florence Bell

Born Elizabeth Geraldine Grogan in 1830, daughter of Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan of Johnstown Castle. She married Robert Tilson Fitzmaurice Deane son of 3rd Baron Muskerry of Co Cork in 1847. Their only son Hamilton Matthew Tilson Fitzmaurice Deane-Morgan was born in 1854. Her husband Robert died in 1857. Her son on the death of his grandfather in 1868 inherited the title 4th Baron Muskerry. After her husband’s death, the Honourable Elizabeth Deane-Morgan inherited the Morgan estate at Ardcandrisk and became known locally as ‘Lady Dane’. During the second half of the nineteenth and the greater part of the twentieth centuries the name ‘Lady Dane’ was synonymous with Ardcandrisk. Lady Dane’s cousin, Miss Florence Gonne-Bell came from Mayo to Ardcandrisk as lady companion and assisted in the management of the household.

Animal Welfare

Lady Dane was renowned for her love of animals and was rarely seen without her two pet Irish wolfhounds, Rae and Lou and some small Pekinese dogs by her side. She was a superb horsewoman and as patroness of County Wexford Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals she was successful in having drinking troughs strategically placed along the roads in the area. One can be seen on the roadside near Ferrycarrig and another, the famous Swan in the Faythe, in Wexford town.

There is an oral tradition in the neighbourhood of Ardcandrisk that after the death of Hamilton K.G. Morgan his daughters, Elizabeth (Lady Dane) and Jane being co-heirs to the estate at Johnstown agreed to settle ownership of the castle on the result of a horse race from Ardcandrisk. The first rider to enter the castle gates would become the new owner. Lady Dane, being careful of her animal’s welfare stopped to water her horse, while Jane continued on her way arrived first at the gates and claimed the castle and the estate as her prize. This must surely rate as one of the richest races in history!

The Primrose League

Lady Dane socialised with the rich and famous of her time and was a member of numerous organisations, one being the famous Primrose League, founded in honour of Benjamin Disraeli (his favourite flower) to promote Tory Party politics. She was one of the founder members of the League in Wexford. It was a society of the local ascendancy including Knights and Dames. The first meeting was held in Ardcandrisk House in 1886 and named the Wexford Habitation [branch](Ardcandrisk No. 1084). The minutes of the Habitation meeting in 1895 as reported in the Primrose League Gazette of that year:

A meeting of the above Habitation was held on September 11th 1895, by the kind invitation of the Honourable Mrs Deane Morgan, the dame-president, at her residence, Ardcandrisk, near Wexford. About one hundred and fifty members attended and after partaking of a substantial luncheon, provided by the dame-president the party adjourned to the terrace where, on the chair being taken by the ruling councillor, Mr Francis A. Leigh, of Rosegarland, speeches were delivered by Mr Richard Wright, delegate from the Grand Council, Mr Hussey-White, and Mrs Orpen pointed out the advantages of the League. Miss Susie Elgee, the Hon. Secretary and treasurer of the Habitation was presented with special service bars for the years 1893 and 1894, and the resolution was passed requesting Grand Council to grant a distinction of the Grand Star (First Class) to Mrs Deane Morgan and Miss Elgee for their services to the Habitation. The weather was very fine and a most enjoyable afternoon was spent. A vote of thanks was passed to Mrs Deane Morgan for her kindness in giving Ardcandrisk for the meeting, and the National Anthem having been sung, the meeting then dispersed.

The death of Lady Dane

Lady Dane’s health deteriorated in the early twentieth century. She became very frail and was eventually confined to a wheelchair. Two servants pushed her chair around the house and gardens. A lift was installed in the house which was operated by a winch from the attic to give access to the bedroom floor. Lady Dane died in May 1920 in her ninety-first year, leaving an employment crisis in the neighbourhood, with many people unemployed for the first time in their working lives.

 

Obituary notice from the Free Press, May 15 1920:

The death occurred on Thursday, 13th May of the Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Geraldine Deane Morgan at her residence, Ardcandrisk. The deceased lady was the widow of the late Hon. Robert Fitzmaurice Tilson Deane and eldest daughter of the late Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan of Johnstown Castle. For many years she was confined to her residence. She was the owner of extensive estates in county Wexford and many southern counties and was one of the few landlords to maintain a permanent residence in the county. She was possessed of a very benevolent disposition and was a generous contributor towards all projects for charitable purposes. She enjoyed the esteem of the people residing in the neighbourhood of Ardcandrisk who always found her willing to render any assistance in her power for the advancement of their material welfare. In the management of Wexford County Infirmary, of which she was a life governor, she took a deep interest and frequently sent donations to assist in the alleviation of the lot of its inmates. She contracted a cold which developed into an attack of bronchitis. Her medical advisor, Dr T. J. Dowse was called in attendance but, owing to her advanced years, she never rallied. She passed away peacefully having attained the ripe old age of ninety-one years. She leaves one son, the Earl of Muskerry who resides in Springfield Castle, Dromcollogher, Co. Cork, whilst Lady Maurice Fitzgerald, Johnstown Castle is her niece.

 

Her funeral took place to the family vault at Rathaspeck where the Service at the graveside was conducted by Rev. T.R.G Condell, Kilscoran, Rev. W.L. Shade, Rathaspeck and Rev. Mr Cook, Wexford. The chief mourners were her son Lord Muskerry, Lady Muskerry, daughter-in-law, Mr Cecil Deane-Morgan, grandson, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald, niece and Mrs Massey, wife of the late Hon. Hamilton Deane-Morgan.

 

On the death of Lady Dane, her cousin and life-long companion Miss Florence Gonne-Bell inherited Ardcandrisk house, but survived her benefactor by a mere nine months. Her obituary read:

 

Sunday, February 6th, 1921, at Ardcandrisk Wexford, Florence Gonne Bell in her eighty second year, only surviving daughter of the late Edward de Tour Gonne Bell Esq., of Streamstown Co. Mayo and the Grange Castleconnell Co. Limerick. Funeral from Ardcandrisk at ten-thirty today (Wednesday) morning. Interment at Castleconnell at two o’clock, Thursday.

Miss Bell bequeathed the estate to her niece Mrs Florence Harvey (née Irvine) but the Harvey family’s occupation was brief and in December 1921 a two day auction was held to dispose of the lifetime collection of Lady Dane’s goods and chattels. (See appendix 2)

Captain N Cookman

Captain Nathaniel Cookman of Monart, a First World War hero who saw action in Flanders and Ypres, became the next owner of Ardcandrisk estate. He was a first cousin of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless telegraphy, their mothers being sisters, of the Jameson whiskey family of Enniscorthy. Like Marconi, he had a flair of electricals and gadgetry and had the first electrical plant in the area installed. He and his family lived in the house while the land was let to Mr Patrick Broaders. It was rumoured that Captain Cookman witnessed a ghostly apparition on the stairs, the description of which resembled that of the late Miss Bell. His dog became very agitated and attacked his master. After this incident Captain Cookman would not stay overnight in the house but retired nightly to his yacht on the Slaney. This signalled the beginning of the end of Ardcandrisk House as he sold every item of value in numerous auctions. The house declined to the empty shell we see today and is now covered by undergrowth and ivy.

When Captain Cookman departed, Mr Patrick Broaders purchased the estate which is now farmed by his grandson Mr Kevin Curtis.

 

Appendix 1

Some employees on the Ardcandrisk estate:

John Cowan Butler Michael Brennan Groom
Luke Seaver Butler Michael Moore Herdsman
Mr Russel McLean Butler William Huff Herdsman
Harold Stone Rent collector Joseph Moore Assistant Herd
Frank Girling Footman John Sinnott Cowman
William Thorpe Footman John Moore Hall and pantry boy
Sarah Reid Lady’s maid Mary Burnside Laundress
Mary Nolan Cook Johanna Hughes Laundress
Kate Doyle Cook Mrs Ellen Tubbs Laundress
Mrs Elizabeth Byrne Cook and Housekeeper Mary Simmonds Dairy maid
William Martin Steward Mary Morrissey Dairy maid
Mr Copeland Steward Ellen Delaney Parlour maid
Mr Sheil Land Steward Elizabeth Hennison Housemaid
Mr Len Stone Carpenter Margaret Whelan Housemaid
Mr Piper Head Gardener Bridget Brien Kitchen maid
John Moore Head Gardener Alice Doyle Kitchen maid
Patrick Kearns Gardener Mary Byrne Domestic servant
Aidan Moore Gardener Ann Roche Domestic servant
Thomas Curley Gardener Labourer Mrs Ellen Phillips Domestic servant
Peter Reid Gardener Margaret Phillips Domestic servant
Miles Sinnott Gardener Ellen Kavanagh Domestic servant
Denis Moore Garden Supervisor Kitty Bradley Domestic servant
Denis Tubbs Gardener Elizabeth Moore Domestic servant
Brian Murphy Coachman Elizabeth Phillips Domestic servant
Mr O’Brien Coachman Johanna Phillips Domestic servant
James Doyle Groom Matthew Daly Labourer
William Mahoney Groom Martin Phillips Labourer
Michael Fenlon Groom Jack Phillips Labourer

 

Appendix 2

Auction at Ardcandrisk

(From The People, 10 December 1921)

The numerous items on auction give a good indication of the opulence of the ‘big house’ even well into the twentieth-century.

R.H. Shaw has been favoured with instructions from C.F.G. Harvey, Esq to sell by auction at Ardcandrisk on Wednesday and Thursday, 14th December and 15th December 1921, a large surplus of valuable china, glass and superior furnishings of Ardcandrisk, the residence of the late Hon. Mrs Deane-Morgan, comprising principally:

Excellent grand pianoforte by Broadwood in rosewood case; a pair of massive oak armchairs elaborately carved to match; 1 self-propelling invalid chair; 2 pitch pine book cases with fancy glass doors; 2 fancy tables; a very handsomely inlaid Sheraton card table; a very nice inlaid Sheraton bow front chest of drawers, with brass handles; bagatelle table on stand; antique carved oak fire-screen; 4 antique brass fenders and copper coal scuttle;

Music cabinet; a pair of rosewood armchairs in crimson velvet; ½ doz small chairs; couch, and 4 set centre Ottoman; rocking and folding chairs; brass standard lamp; large hall gong on an oak stand; 1 handsome inlaid walnut and 1 mahogany round centre table; writing Davenport; sofa table; mahogany sideboard carved back; quantity of damask and other curtains; large number of steel engravings; a set of sporting prints and some small oil paintings etc;

Very handsome massive 3 door mahogany wardrobe, with plate-glass door, fitted with drawers etc; very fine mahogany wardrobe, with 2 plate-glass doors; several mahogany and other chests of drawers; dressing tables, wash stands, toilet ware; commodes etc; a suite of Wexford-made light wood bedroom furniture, duchesse pedestal dressing table, with glasses; marble-top wash stand; chairs; towel rail; pedestal and bedstead; several iron beds with spring and hair mattresses; antique oak carved frame toilet glass; various presses; very complete medicine cupboard, or would make nice tool press; lot of hip and sponge bath; Singer treadle sewing machine; mahogany drop centre side board on claw feet;

The valuable glass and china comprising a magnificent Waterford glass 3-tier table centrepiece or epergne, 3 ft high, the dishes being respectively 17ins, 14ins and 9ins in diameter. This is a unique specimen of Waterford glass probably the only one of its kind obtainable; 2 pairs of Waterford decanters, 1 heavily cut ‘Piggin’, cracked; 1 set of 12 Waterford wine glasses and a set of 6 wine glasses; very handsome Waterford butter cooler, stand and cover; 8 pairs of superior cut glass decanters; glass jugs; dishes; finger bowls, and various other glasses; ruby and gilt bohemian glass liqueur set on stand; long frosted glass dessert service, gilt edges with ruby enrichments, decorated handled glass goblets; ice plates; quantity of other table glass; wine glasses; fruit and cake stands etc, etc; some plated ware and a heavy plated tray; a very handsome cut glass 12 light candelabra, complete; and a very fully furnished 16 light candelabra;

A pair of Worcester handled vases about 15ins high, with loose china linings and tops elaborately and delicately decorated in flower design with blue and white ground; a pair of elegant Chamberlain Worcester vases (about 1760) with cover complete, about 18ins high, very beautifully decorated with flowers etc green trellis on white ground –very uncommon; beautifully decorated china punch toureen and cover with groups of figures painted in oval panels; harlequin tea and breakfast sets; odd bowls and jugs; massive stone china jugs and plates; large quantity of white china fruit dishes; glass and china table ornaments; vases; flower stands;

1 very handsome oriental china dinner service of 60 pieces; 1 long dinner service 150 pieces in grey and gold. This handsome service may be divided as there are 2 soup tureens and 4 sauce tureens in the set; dessert service of old green Wedgewood and other dessert services; Other dinner ware, dishes, 2 afternoon tea sets, etc and innumerable oddments and ornaments;

A bordered heavy pile Axminister carpet fresh, as new, 22ft x 16ft; fine Persian-style rug 10ft x 17ft as new; a turkey carpet 15ft x 14ft; brussels carpet 16ft x 16ft; wilton stair carpet 17ins wide as new; other carpets and rugs, large quantity of curtains and trimmings etc;

About 15 doz of fine linen table napkins, some of which were never used; 3 doz new huckback towels; 10 doz other towels; 3 doz pillowcases; 18 pairs linen sheets; about 2 doz assortd table cloths; 2 doz white marseilles and quilts, blankets etc, etc.

Outdoor Effects:

6 2½ year old bullocks; 1 pure bred jersey cow to calf in January; 1 half bred jersey cow; 1 freshly calved cow; 16 18-week-old bonhams; 1 60-egg Hearsons incubator; 1 100-egg Tamlin incubator; 50 fowl; a superior and stylish pair horse open or close Landau, in good condition; 1 do do light running brougham, both carriages are of the very best make; 1 serviceable side car;1 croydon; 2 bath chairs; set double harness; end-over churn; milk pans etc; 1 3ft and 1 4ft close range; 2 hot hearths; croquet sets;3 tennis nets and poles; a netting; kitchen table; fine bright copper stock pot; saucepans; jelly mould dish covers;and other kitchen utensils; 6 garden seats; superior box mangle by Bradford with patent winding gear; travelling baskets; lots of lumber; about 1,000 empty wine and porter bottles; laundry stove for heating irons etc etc.

Terms – strictly cash.

To avoid overcrowding 1 shilling will be charged for admission.

 

Sources

Browne, E and T Wickham. Lewis’ Wexford (1983).

Burke’s Peerage (1888).

Cantwell, Brian J. Memorials of the Dead.

Hore, Philip H. History of the town and county of Wexford (6 vols).

Kehoe, Fr Lory. Glynn 1789-1989.

Lacy, Thomas. Sights and scenes in our Fatherland (1863).

O’Donovan, John. Ordnance Survey Letters (1933).

 

Tithe Applotment Books

Griffith’s Valuation

Census of Ireland. 1901, 1911

Wilton Estate Papers

Diary of Elizabeth Richards 1807

 

The People

The Free Press

 

Wickham, Martin. Irish Times School’s History Project, 1988.

Interview with the late Michael “Bossy” Broaders

Conversations with the late Margaret Wickham

 

Acknowledgements

Our thanks to: Michael Dempsey, Wexford County Library; Jane Wickham Devane; Alice Wickham McIntyre.