Loughlynn House, County Roscommon
Loughlynn is a little lake set in the heart of an ancient forest midway between the towns of Castlerea and Ballaghadereen in the north of County Roscommon, Ireland. It is a place of dreams, a place of primeval pence and idyllic beauty, far from the haunts of men and the hives of modern mechanised materialism. Loughlynn House was fomerly owned by Lord Dillion, now owned by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mercy.
The Lord Dillon Estate
Lord Dillon, an Englishman, owned the Parish of Loughlynn, three of four parishes in Mayo, – Ballyhaunis, Kiltimagh, Charlestown, Tibohine, Fairymount, Ballaghadereen, Frenchpark, Cloonarrow and Errit. At this time he lived in the Old Castle at the farmyard in Loughlynn, where two towers stood beside an old church. One of the towers still stands; the other was taken down. It was he who built the House at Loughlynn as it stands today.
Every Saturday, mass was celebrated by either the parish priest or the curate and Lord Dillon attended this mass. Had the British government known that Lord Dillon was a Roman Catholic, the property would have been taken from him. Eventually this information did leak out and the British government sent two detectives to find out if it were true. All the neighbours would tell them of Lord Dillon’s presence at mass was that they could hear his footsteps coming into the chapel but they never saw him, the reason being that a screen separated Lord Dillon from the people.
The cold castle at the farmyard was burned and while the new house was being built, Lord Dillon lived in Dublin, coming now and again to see the work All the out-offices left intact were turned into a national school and afterwards into a cavalry barracks by the yeoman, Lord Dillon’s bodyguard. One of Lord Dillon’s sons married a Miss Burke, a Roman Catholic from Castlemagarrett, three miles outside Claremorris. His father was very displeased with this marriage, and in disgust sold half his property (Frenchpark). Lord Dillon lived in Loughlynn until his death. He is buried in Ballyhaunis.
The property was given to the next heir, another Lord Dillon who was not a catholic. He continued his father’s business, taking rents from the tenants. This Lord Dillon had an agent named Whyte – an Englishman. He planted the demesne of Loughlynn in the year of the Union (1801). The demesne consisted of all the avenues and stables around the present house of Loughlynn. Whyte was an old man so he shortly retired and returned to England.
His successor was Strickland, another Englishman, who made the lake. Strickland lived in the house at Loughlynn with his wife and family. One of his sons became a priest, Fr. William, and celebrated Mass in the old church at Loughlynn. The second son, W. Strickland, a sea captain, married a Maltese Lady who owned a big property in Malta. He later became Governor of Malta. The third son, Thomas Strickland, lived in Castlemore House in Ballaghadereen. He owned a large flax mill in Castlemore and married a girl from Dublin. When he retired he went to live there. The fourth son, Charlie Strickland, obtained the agency after his father’s death. He also married a girl from Dublin and after his term of office, retired to Dublin to live. He is buried in Glasnevin.
The agency was next taken up by Hussey, an Irishman whose father was an agent for several landlords in Ireland. He was married to an English girl, Miss Smyth, daughter of Captain Smyth. He continued the agency until Loughlynn House was burned on the 5th November 1896. Hussey had five clerks, Jackson, from Birmingham, Thomas O’Connor, later paymaster from County Development Board, from Dingle and Tralee. Feeley, whose family now lives in Ballaghadereen, from Kerry, Dyar from Roscommon, Doran a land steward, who later became Sir Henry Doran head of the County Development Board, from Tralee. Hussey was a kind-hearted man, a great sportsman who loved racehorses and he was liked by all the people. He was manager of all the schools on the Dillon Estate and when he gave them up the clergy took them over. He lived in Loughlynn until the property was sold in May 1899. He then went back to his father’s house in Tralee, Co Kerry and his wife went to England.
The property was sold by Lord Dillon to the County Development Board. The land was divided up among the tenants having smallholdings. The house was repaired by a contractor name Beckett. He demolished one storey and left it as it stands today with three storeys. His Lordship, Most Reverend Dr. Clancy, Bishop of Elphin then bought it for the Diocese. When the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary came to Ireland in 1903, Dr. Clancy offered them the Estate as their first convent and it has belonged to the institute since.
There is a blue lake far away
Set ’round with honeyed meads,
Where little breezes laugh and play
Among the lisping reeds.
A jewel of turquoise lake
Blue as pigeon’s wing
Where little waves in music break
And shadowy waters sing.
And in the midst a flowery isle
Enchantment’s fairy home
Where shy wood blossoms sweetly smile
And shy wood creatures roam
A place to soothe a poet’s heart
With balm of leaf and sod;
From tumult of the world apart
A place to dream of God.
The iris lifts a purple plume
In oozy marsh and pool;
The flame-bright marigolds illume
The birchen shadows cool
The gold bees hum the meadows through;
The darting dragon-fly
In brilliant mail of burnished blue
On quazy wings flits by.
The water-hen has there her home
‘Mid lily-pads and reeds;
The heron wades the creamy foam
That laps the fringing meads.
The skylark hangs on flickering wing
And pours from heaven his lay;
And finch and linnet flute and sing
For joy the live -long day.
The hazels whisper to the moon
The birches to the sun;
The flaggers shiver as they croon
Where vagrant breezes run.
The blossom of the sloe is white
And pink the wild-rose bloom;
And azure day and purple night
Are filled with mild perfume.
There to the fortress of the wave
For peace of soul divine
Fled ancient prince and warrior brave
Of Connaught’s kingly line.
From royal court and castle rude
Brehon and bard and chief
Beneath the woods’ beatitude
Found refuge and relief.
(P.J. Coleman, M.A.)