Three Rivers of Ireland: History and Culture

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Dunluce Castle


Glenveagh Castle is a large Mansion house built in the Scottish Baronial style within Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal, Ireland. The castle was built between 1870 and 1873 and consists of a four story rectangular keep surrounded by a garden. It has as its backdrop 40,873 acres of mountains, lakes, glens and woods complete with a herd of red deer. The gardens and castle were left to the Irish nation in 1981 by Henry Plumer McIlhenny of Philadelphia, who had purchased the estate in 1937.

The castle was built by Captain John George Adair (1823-1885), a native of County Leix, and a member of the minor gentry. Adair had made his fortune by land speculation in the United States, and he returned to Ireland and bought up vast tracts of land in Donegal. He purchased Glenveagh in 1859 making an estate of 28,000 acres.

Adair had married in 1869, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie, a daughter of James S. Wadsworth, a Union General in the American Civil War. Together they set about the creation of the Gardens and Castle. Adair's ambition was to create an estate and castle that surpassed Balmoral, Queen Victoria's Scottish retreat.

In 1869 the first part of the Castle was constructed. The site occupied by the Castle and Gardens was wild mountain moorland chosen for its commanding view of Lough Veagh and early photographs show the Castle dominating the Glen. Later, Mrs. Adair decided that the lands around the Castle should be landscaped into gardens.

John Adair is remembered with no affection in Donegal. On the heels of the Great Irish Famine, John Adair evicted 224 tenants from their houses on his land. This was not for financial gain, but merely to improve the esthetic aspect from the castle. These tenant clearances are known as the "Derryveagh Evictions".

His troubles with the tenants began almost immediately. A row between them and Adair over shooting rights and trespassing sheep culminated in the murder of his Scottish steward James Murrog. Consequently Adair carried out his threat to evict the tenancy. On April 3, 1861, a considerable cortege of 200 police, three sub officers, the resident magistrate and the sub-sheriff set out from Letterkenny to undertake their duties. The evictions began at Lough Barra where a widow, Mrs. Hanna McAward and her six daughters and one son were the first to suffer. The work of destruction continued for three days. In all, 44 families were evicted making a total of 244 persons.

Many of the evicted went to the work house in Letterkenny, others were helped by locals and the clergy also raised money. In Australia, the Donegal Relief Fund made arrangements to help the young people aged between 16 and 28 years to emigrate. Many took advantage of the scheme. As they settled in Sydney a strong oral tradition ensured that the descendants remembered their family’s bitter memories.

After the death of George Adair, Mrs. Adair spent considerable time and money in restitution to the victims of the Derryveagh Eviction.

In 1929 Lucy and Arthur Kingsley-Porter (a Harvard Art professor) became the new owners. They were also keen gardeners. In 1933, he went out for a walk along the beach on Inishbofin Island Co. Donegal where he owned a holiday home and vanished. An inquest was inconclusive, but drowning was assumed to have been the most likely explanation for his disappearance.

The last private owner, Henry P McIlhenny, bought the property in 1937 and began to develop the gardens in the late 1940's. McIlhenny was a descendant of an Irish immigrant who invented the gas meter, making his family wealthy. McIlhenny was a famous art collector from Philadelphia and left an art collection valued at $100 million upon his death. He was well known for throwing lavish parties at the Castle. Famous Hollywood guests, including Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, stayed at the castle while McIlhenny owned it.

Glenveagh Castle and Gardens Glenveagh National Park


Bushmills is a small village on the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, with a population of somewhat over 1,000 people. The village owes its name to the River Bush and to a large watermill that was built there in the early 17th century.

The village is best known as the location of the Old Bushmills Distillery. Founded in 1608, Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

The area has a long tradition with distillation. According to one story, as far back as 1276, an early settler named Sir Robert Savage of Ards, fortified his troops with "a mighty drop of acqua vitae". In 1608, a license was granted to Sir Thomas Phillipps by King James I to distill whiskey. The Bushmills Old Distillery Company itself was not established until 1784 by Hugh Anderson. The 1608 date is printed on the labels of the Bushmills brand whiskey.

Bushmills suffered many lean years with numerous periods of time when the distillery did not operate. In 1860 Belfast spirit merchants named James McColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery. In 1885, the original Bushmills buildings were destroyed by fire but the distillery was swiftly rebuilt. In 1890, a steamship owned and operated by the distillery, the S.S. Bushmills, made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to deliver Bushmills whiskey to America. It called at Philadelphia and New York before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama.

In the early 1900’s, the USA was a very important market for Bushmills. Prohibition in 1920 came as a large blow to the Irish Whiskey industry, but Bushmills managed to survive. After the Second World War, the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson, and, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was bought by French liquor group Pernod Ricard, and in June 2005, the distillery was bought by Diageo.

file:old bushmills distillery.jpg

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