Born in Kerry to ruin the vassals

A vanishing society has been brought to life in a new history of some of the most prominent Anglo-Irish families and the grand buildings of their residence.

And the three ghostly retellings of the rise shown in this work were in Carey, as author Robert O’Bern offers a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of gilded splendor—as far as the wealthiest were concerned.

Left Without a Handkerchief is the title of the new history by O’Burne – Apollo Foundation Trustee, author and publisher of the award-winning blog An Irish Aesthet, possibly based on its subtitles for an English readership. It’s Not an Oxymoron.

The title of his latest book refers to Lulu Bagwell’s grief over the burning of his family’s pile in 1923. ‘We didn’t even have a handkerchief… everything’s gone,’ Lulu wrote to her mother-in-law of Marlfield’s destruction. House.

It was a sentiment that could easily have been voiced by one of the Carey families pictured in this charming and vibrant window on our past – the Crosbys in Ardert; The sequence of names for the Blands of Deriquin in Sneem and the living in Darien, not least the fifth of them being Lord Lansdowne.

Ardfurt Abbey, as it was named upon the completion of the original block – in late Baroque style – by Thomas Crosby in the late 17th century, was a case in point.

The family is remembered today as a landowner type, directly from the central casting thanks to the efforts of the post-famine and post-famine era William Talbot-Crosby, known in North Kerry as ‘Billy the Leveller’. Is.

And in August 1922 it was burnt to the ground by the republican forces in his memory.

But included in the wainscotting of its aisles and drawing rooms, as three centuries of Irish history were the fortunes of Crosbys and Talbot-Crosbys (the latter being a descendant of John Talbot, who had inherited the property from his mother, Lady Anne Crosby) wax. It had gone up and down. The tides of social customs, land management practices and political forces.

Today there is no trace of the grand Old Manor home outside the entrance gate in the center of the village of Ardfurt. But O’Burn revived some sense of the local surroundings with flair.

And he also demonstrates how it was destroyed to see the construction of some of the fine properties standing in the capital to this day.

From the beginning in the 1690s it was an impressive place, if deemed too old-fashioned upon its establishment by some architectural critics of that era.

“The main block ran for seven bays and two storeys, the central breakfront crowned by a tall pediment. The building was surrounded by smaller wings, which soon turned at right angles to the front and ensure an impressive arrival for visitors. made a large forecourt for the film,” O’Burne details in an adroit sketch.

Surrounded by formal gardens, the entrance led to equally elegant interiors: “Inside, the reception halls were paneled, with the entrance decorated at some unknown date in the eighteenth century when life-size grisaille figures in classical garb were painted There were walls.

“Ahead of this room were the main stairs, the stairs wide and shallow, as was fashionable at the time, and each baluster was carved like a curved Corinthian column.”

Much of the splendor, like accounts of the estate, had died to rot by the time Billy the Leveller arrived on the scene in the mid-1800s.

For all his cruel, and deserved, infamy among the native population, William Talbot-Crosby single-handedly improved the fortunes of the estate. What seemed great on paper among its peers certainly caused a bit of inconvenience to many local families, as their village houses were demolished for the expansion of Damsen.

Unusually, his son and successor, Lindsay Talbot Crosby, departed completely from the approach of his Plymouth Brethren, known as the ‘liberation landowner’ for his efforts to settle with the United Irish League in the land war. Put. In fact it can be reliably claimed that his efforts helped facilitate the Wyndham Act.

The family had fled to Britain, written on the wall of the freedom struggle. He retained little more than his handkerchief, managing to auction off most of the valuables that came out of the estate in England.

And the £21,024 in compensation they eventually won for the loss of their home from the Irish kingdom turned into a huge pile of cash as conditions forced them to use it to build anew. But one clause allowed them to build anywhere in the Free State – not necessarily on the original site.

“The loss of Ardfurt would be a gain of capital,” O’Bern wrote of the 17 houses in Glengarry and three in Howth, later built by Talbot-Crosby; Which he immediately sold for a price likely to exceed the compensation figure.

An utterly fascinating romp through this vanished society and its grand spaces, Left Without a Handkerchief is the perfect primer for any student of the Protestant ascendancy, as is its ten septs and many of their larger-than-life stories. Told through the prism of the characters.