by mariocorrigan on February 10, 2012

Carton Observed: References to Carton House
in the pages of the Kildare Observer 1880-1935
Mario Corrigan

 There are tiny little nuggets of interesting facts that appear from time to time such as a cornice piece (possibly 13th century) from Woodstock Castle which had been removed to Carton for sake-keeping.[1] An Ogham stone found by Lord Walter FitzGerald at Donaghmore/Grangewilliam graveyard was also removed to Carton for safe-keeping with the permission of the Celbridge Board of Guardians in October 1902 and a proviso that it should be available to the public for viewing.[2] In a later article it was reported that the stone was subsequently taken to the Dublin Museum.[3] At a visit of the Kildare Archaeological Society in September of 1893 the members were entertained to a luncheon and tour of the house where a handsome portrait of Lord Edward FitzGerald the rebel leader of 1798 and a bust of his wife Lady Pamela were examined as was the stone rent table from Maynooth Castle, then in the grounds of Carton.[4] Apparently the pouch, powder-horn, sword and pistol of Lord Edward were kept in the picturesque Shell House for a time.[5] One of the most unusual little treasures at Kilkea Castle was a plastic cast of the inscription cut into the stone in the Tower of London by Silken Thomas which read, ‘Thomas Fitzger.’[6] A description of a visit to Maynooth College in June 1899 described ‘one very good picture’ in the Sacristy of the college chapel was the gift of the late Duke of Leinster (5th?).[7]
When reporting the death of the Duchess of Leinster, the Observer mentioned that the 4th Duke who created the cemetery at Carton around 11 years previous had transferred some of the remains of family members from the traditional family burial vault in Maynooth Protestant Church to Carton.[8] The throwaway mention that the cemetery mound at Carton was known as ‘Hollyhill’ is also interesting.[9] A somewhat long-winded story on the change of the position of viceroy led to a story about how when the retiring Lord Lieutenant, Earl Talbot, in 1821, could not leave Ireland before the new viceroy arrived, he went on that occasion to Carton to avoid a meeting with the new Lord.[10]
We get minor insights into the running of the estate from time to time. Some of the workers on the estate had rather important roles in the local community and at a time when the death of common folk was only recorded through crime or accident unless they were sporting heroes or of some other renown, a small notice in the Observer of 1 April announced the death on 26 March of Jane Hariette Knowldin at Carton Gardens beloved wife of Edward who according to the references elsewhere was probably the gardener at Carton at the time.[11] Mr. Alexander Black from Carton Gardens was appointed as a regular judge for the North Kildare Horticultural Society garden competition at their Annual Show.[12] Other names from Carton show up in the lists of prize winners, Bain, Geraghty, Kenny, Kelly, Lovely, Hume and Ingles for example.[13] At a Petty Sessions case in Celbridge in December 1898 against a poacher on the lands at Railpark, Maynooth, the Carton gamekeeper at the time, John Scott gave evidence against the accused (Lord Frederick, one of the magistrates, excused himself from that particular case).[14] Michael Boyd a (night?) watchman on the estate brought a case against the local midwife before the Celbridge Board of Guardians in Oct. 1910.[15]
Another former labourer on the estate was John Flaherty who sadly perished by falling through ice while a patient at Peamount Sanatorium.[16] In 1914 Lord Frederick gave the use of Carton demesne to the Maynooth National Volunteer Corps for drilling purposes.[17] A case before the District Court in Kilcock in August was bound over to the Naas Circuit Court in December of 1929. Georgina Inglis had written threatening letters to Lady Nesta and Alexander Black, gardener and Steward at Carton and George Hamilton, agent to the estate because her father, who she lived with, had been moved from one house to another on the estate. He had worked the Leinster estate for over forty years, first at Kilkea and latterly at Carton and her mother was dead. She pleaded guilty and all was bound to the peace and discharged, Lady Nesta, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Black speaking on her behalf. She had threatened violence against their persons should Mr. Cusker be installed as gamekeeper.[18] Mr. P. Cusker was installed and he made headlines in November 1930 by catching a young poacher on the demesne.[19] In May of 1933 Mr. Willie Cusker landed a 15½ lb. pike at Carton Lake which made the news in fishing circles.[20] It was Wm. Cusker who had tracked two young poachers on the preserved lands at Carton in Oct. 1934.[21] Evidence was given by David Cusker in a similar case in December that year.[22] Excursions could obviously still be arranged with permission and in early August 1931 a parochial visit from Dublin met with tragedy when a child of fourteen months was accidentally drowned in a lake on the estate.[23]
The estate featured regularly at the Royal Dublin Shows and County Shows and the Duke was often listed as a prize winner, especially in the livestock categories. The Duke was particularly successful for a time in the Spring Show Challenge Cup which he won for the first time in 1900 (also in 1910). The names of some of the prize winning Kerry Heifers – Alice II, Orchid III and Delphinium III – testify to a systematic breeding regimen.[24] This is also demonstrated also by a prize for a Dexter-Hereford cross in 1910 at Ballsbridge.[25] The Leinster Cup was presented in 1908 as a perpetual trophy.[26] The Duke was also successful in the Ulster Show in 1909 and 1910.[27] This competitive spirit also provided a catalyst for improvements in animal husbandry and agriculture in the north Kildare area and indeed the county and nation as a whole and culminated locally with the inaugural North Kildare Farming Society Ltd. Show in November 1904 and the estate now also witnessed success in the farm produce categories such as mangels, turnips, swedes, potatoes and butter. Success was also forthcoming for the oats crops at Carton.[28] By 1910 the Duke had won the Brown Cup on two successive occasions with his Kerry cow Thyme VI and a wonderful battle of the old and new worlds ensued as Stephen Brown won his own trophy in 1911 and 1913 – cattle being excluded in 1912 because of foot and mouth disease. Brown won again in the years 1914-196, losing to the Duke in 1917 before winning it back in 1919 (the show being abandoned in 1918 due to the ‘Flu’). It was again won outright by Brown in 1923.[29] This rivalry carried over to the Dublin Shows.[30]
In 1904 the celebrated Shell House Gardens at Carton were the location of the North Kildare Horticultural Society’s fifth annual flower show and Lord Frederick was listed as one of the Society’s Vice-Presidents (he also served on the County Kildare Committee of Agriculture and County Kildare Technical Committee).[31] Lord Frederick entertained a large party to lunch with Lord George, Lady Eva and Lady Nesta also present, but the Duke was at Eton.[32] The Show was held again at Carton in 1908 – a ‘brilliant success;’ and again in 1911- a ‘brilliant re-union.’[33] The estate also featured successfully at the local Naas Shows.[34] The paper ran a feature on the gardens at Carton in August 1904, taken from ‘The Irish Farming World,’ which recounted a visit to the Gardens by a large party of Dublin Seed and Nursery Employees.[35] A further feature on the Carton herd of Kerry cattle appeared in June 1908.[36] The family supported other industries and Lord Frederick, Lady Mabel and Lady Eva all bought shares in the Naas Rug and Carpet Industry which was being re-vamped in 1904.[37]
There is a sense of great sadness as the story of the passing of the demesne from the family in 1922 to Sir Harry Mallaby-Deely, M.P. Lord Edward FitzGerald became seventh Duke of Leinster almost by default. He had ‘disposed of his reversionary’ rights to the estate to Mallaby-Deely in 1919 because he was in financial difficulties and with little chance of becoming duke as his two elder brothers lived. Lord Desmond FitzGerald however was killed in the War and the sixth Duke died in Edinburgh, on 2 February 1922 aged 35 years.[38] His sale apparently ‘…had long been a secret sorrow to the Leinster family.’ Almost immediately orders were given to reduce the cost of the Carton household and demesne, though much of the FitzGerald estates had been sold off under the terms of the Wyndham Land Acts of 1903. Lord Frederick admitted that some of the labourers had been discharged owing to the enormous death duties. The new Duke told the Press he had received £67,500 and £1,00 a year as a loan for ten years and he had since offered £150,00 for the repurchase.[39]
The late sixth Duke had left unsettled property to the value of £24,602. Probate of his will was granted to Lord Frederick. While the family members were provided for he apparently also made provision for his former nurse, his former governess and also his valet if not under notice at his death. The Duke had also made a request that his successor would make adequate provision for all employees or other dependents not kept on in service of the family after his death.[40] When Lord Walter died on 31 July 1923, leaving a personal estate of £10, 178 12s. 6d., the probate of his will was also granted to Lord Frederick.[41] The long-time custodian of Carton, Lieut-Colonel Lord Frederick died on 8 March 1924 at the age of 67 years. His rather short obituary in the Observer, gave some indication of his military career – ‘He served in the Afghan war of 1878-80, and gained a medal with two clasps, and also a bronze star. He saw service in South Africa in 1881, and took part in the Egyptian campaign in 1882. For his service in the Nile expedition, 1884-85, he was awarded a medal with two clasps, and a bronze star.’ He had also been a Commissioner of National Education in Ireland and at the time of his death was Chairman of the County Kildare Committee of Agriculture.[42] His heroic return in 1882 must have been short-lived and necessitated a return to service![43] His will provided for members of the family and bequests to some of the employees of the estate and Carton household.[44]
            This is a major blow for modern researchers in terms of the coverage of the estate in the newspaper and much is given over to hunts over the demesne and other mundane references.[45] The estate was however again represented at the R.D.S. Spring Show in 1925 when the pre-war attendance figures were doubled.[46] The prizes were awarded to the Executor of the Duke of Leinster though the following year only the Duke is mentioned in the prize listings.[47] By early 1930 rumours of a Jubilee Nurses Fête offered promise of a return to former glories at Carton. It was finally set for Monday 9 June when the gardens were open to the public.[48] It was August 1932 when the Duke visited Carton again, this time with his son, the Marquis of Kildare and he suggested at the time he might return for a lengthy stay.[49] His son, Lord Kildare, returned for the Dublin Horse Show, in August 1934 and stayed at Carton, but was hospitalised after he hit a street lamp in Dublin, though neither he or his companion were too seriously injured.[50] Lord Henry FitzGerald and his wife, Lady Mabel stayed at Carton with Lady Nesta, his sister, in September of that year though it seems he seldom missed an annual visit to the demesne.[51] Lord Kildare who had just left Sandhurst visited his grand aunts at Kilkea and possibly Carton in December/January of 1935.[52]

[1] Visit of Archaeological Society to Athy in Sept. 1892, K.O. 24 Sept. 1892.
[2] Celbridge Union, K.O. 11 Oct. 1902 and 18 Oct. 1902.
[3] North Kildare – Ogham Stones at Maynooth, K.O. 22 Dec. 1934
[4] Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 23 Sept. 1893.
[5] Gardens at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 13 Aug. 1904.
[6] The Leinster Family – Lords Walter & Frederick Fitzgerald, K.O. 24 Dec. 1898.
[7] The College of Maynooth, K.O. 24 June 1899.
[8] Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895; Death of the daughter of Lord Edward FitzGerald, K.O. 2 May 1896.
[9] Funeral of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 19 Feb. 1887
[10] The Kildare Observer (editorial), K.O. 29 Oct. 1898.
[11] Deaths, K.O. 1 April 1882.
[12] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 22 June 1901, 6 July 1901 and 17 Aug. 1901; North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 14 June 1902; K.O. 5 Aug. 1905; K.O. 10 Aug. 1907; K.O. 13 Aug. 1910.
[13] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904; North Kildare Horticultural Society’s Show, K.O. 25 July 1914; K.O. 2 Oct. 1915.
[14] Celbridge Petty Sessions, K.O. 17 Dec. 1898.
[15] Celbridge Board of Guardians, K.O. 22 Oct 1910.
[16] Sannatorium Patients Drowned, K.O. 23 Dec. 1916.
[17] Maynooth Volunteers – K.O. Supplement, 1 Aug. 1914.
[18] Kilcock District Sessions, K.O. 10 Aug. 1929; Threatening Letters, K.O. 7 Dec. 1929.
[19] Carton Poaching Prosecution, K.O. 8 Nov. 1930.
[20] North Kildare – Pike Fishing, K.O. 27 May 1933.
[21]Kilcock Court – Trespass in Pursuit of game, K.O. 13 Oct. 1934.
[22] Fined for Trespass, K.O. 15 Dec. 1934.
[23] Drowning at Maynooth, K.O. 8 Aug. 1931.
[24] E.g. The Royal Dublin Society’s Winter Show, K.O. 9 Dec 1899; Spring Cattle Show, K.O. 21 April 1900; The Dublin Society’s Winter Show, K.O. 14 Dec. 1901; The Royal Dublin Society’s Winter Show, 13 Dec. 1902; Royal Dublin Society Spring Show, K.O. 29 April 1905; The Spring Show, K.O. 20 April 1907; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 25 April 1908; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 24 April 1909; Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 23 April 1910; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 22 April 1911
[25] Winter Show at Ballsbridge, K.O. 10 Dec. 1910; Royal Dublin Society Show, K.O. 13 May 1916; Royal Dublin Society’s Summer Show, K.O. 21 June 1919; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 15 May 1920; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 20 May 1922; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 19 May 1923.
[26] Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 25 April 1908.
[27] Kildare Prize Winners at the Belfast Show, K.O. 22 May 1909; Ulster Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 28 May 1910.
[28] North Kildare Farming Society – Result of Corn Fields Competitions, K.O. 11 Aug. 1917.
[29] North Kildare Farming Society, Ltd., K.O. 5 Nov. 1904; K.O. 28 Oct. 1905; K.O. 27 Oct. 1906; K.O. 19 Oct. 1907; K.O. 17 Oct. 1908; K.O. 23 Oct 1909; Nth. Kildare Farming Society’s Show, K.O. 22 Oct. 1910; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show, K.O. 28 Oct. 1911; K.O. 18 Oct. 1913; K.O. 3 Oct. 1914; Brown won the trophy again in 1915 but it is unclear who won in 1914 – North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 2 Oct. 1915 though there is a mention in 1917 of the Brown Kerry Cup having been won by Brown for five successive years in the 1917 report in which year it was won by the Duke –  North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 3 Nov. 1917; Abandoned in 1918 because of the Flu – North Kildare Farming Society, K.O. 2 Nov. 1918; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 1 Nov. 1919; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 3 Nov. 1923
[30] Royal Dublin Society’s Summer Show, K.O. 21 June 1919; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 15 May 1920.
[31] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904 and 30 July 1904; Kildare Agricultural Committee, K.O. 18 April 1908; Lord Frederick still Vice-President in 1912 – North Kildare Horticultural Society’s Show at Leixlip, K. O. 27 July 1912; Co. Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 16 Sept 1916; County Kildare Technical Committee, K.O. 16 Sept. 1916 Co. Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 16 Nov. 1918.
[32] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904 and 30 July 1904 see also K.O. 5 Aug. 1905.
[33] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 18 July 1908, 25 July 1908 and 1 Aug. 1908; Show Fixtures, K.O. 22 April 1911 and 29 July 1911.
[34] Naas Show, K.O. 14 Oct. 1916; Naas Show, 16 Oct 1920; K.O. 8 Oct 1921
[35] Gardens at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 13 Aug. 1904.
[36] Kerries at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 27 June 1908.
[37] Correspondence – Naas Carpet Industry – Letter from Lady Mayo to the Editor, K.O. 17 Dec 1904.
[38] Death of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 11 Feb. 1922; Carton Demesne, K.O. 17 June 1922; Late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 17 Feb. 1923.
[39] Items and Ideas, K.O. 22 July 1922.
[40] Late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 17 Feb. 1923.
[41] Lord Walter FitzGerald’s Will, K.O. 29 Sept 1923.
[42] Death of Lord Frederick FitzGerald, K.O. 15 March 1924; County Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 17 May 1924.
[43] Rejoicings in Maynooth, K.O. 21 Jan. 1882.
[44] Lord Frederick Fitzgerald’s Will, K.O. 7 June 1924.
[45] Hunting notices – K.O. 22 Nov. 1924, K.O. 28 March 1925; K.O. 4 April 1925; K.O.7 Nov. 1925; K.O. 26 Dec. 1925; K.O. 13 March 1926; K.O. 16 Oct. 1926; K.O. 12 March 1927; K.O. 29 Oct. 1927; K.O. 24 Dec. 1927; K.O. 3 March 1928; K.O. 22 Dec. 1928; K.O. 16 March 1929; Kilcock Districk Court, K.O. 7 Jan. 1928; Kilcock District Sessions, 11 Aug. 1928; Kildare County Council 17 Oct. 1925.
[46] R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 23 May 1925.
[47] Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 12 May 1928.
[48] Carton Fete, K.O. 19 April 1930; Advert – GARDENS – and – Jubilee Nurses’ Pension Fund, K.O.7 June 1930; Crowds once again descended on the estate in June 1933 in aid of the same cause – North Kildare – Carton Demesne, K.O. 10 June 1933.
[49] North Kildare Notes – Duke’s Visit, K.O. 27 Aug 1932.
[50] Carton Visitor, K.O. 18 Aug. 1934.
[51] Visitors at Carton, K.O. 8 Sept. 1934.
[52] Distinguished Visitor, K.O. 5 Jan. 1935.

The second part of an essay which formed the background to a talk I gave at Carton in late 2010 which focused on references to Carton and the FitzGeralds at Carton in the newspaper, the Kildare Observer 1880-1935. The Kildare Observer is online and is searchable and free to access courtesy of Kildare Library & Arts Services and the British Library.

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