1786 - 1814
MacDougall, only child. Dublin: Henrietta street by way of Great Britain Street (where, by the way; it is said the beautiful Miss Gunnings made their debut in Dublin society in. 1750). Henrietta Street," or Primate's' Hill, as' it was originally called (from the fact of four primates having their residence on Boulter's Hill; in its immediate. vicinity), is one of the most interesting haunts of old Dublin. Changed as it is now, in the last century its fine mansions were inhabited by men of the highest' rank and position. The last house, in the street has, perhaps, the most claim to be mentioned first. Blessington House, indeed, teems with memories of the golden period of Dublin society; for here were wont to. assemble the fairest and the wittiest, the highest and the most fashionable belles and beaux of the day. [The ground on which the houses in Henrietta Street now stand, together with the. Site of that street and portion of the site on which the King's Inns Buildings are erected, belonged to the monks of St. Mary's. Abbey, and was the private garden of the abbots or priors of that. monastery. Hence we find it described in old records as the "Anchorite's"Garden,"' "Ankerster's Park," "Ancaster's Park," etc. The Anchorite's Garden contained about seven acres, and was pleasantly situated on a gentle slope on the banks of the little Bradoge River, which watered it on its western boundary.] It was originally built by the Right Hon. Luke Gardiner, who had purchased from Sir Thomas Reynell a large area of property on the north side of Dublin. The names of the streets in this now unfashionable quarter are suggestive of the Mountjoy family: Mountjoy Square, Mountjoy Place, Gardiner Street, Gardiner Place, and Blessington Street. When Luke Gardiner built his family mansion, it was then called The Manor House, for the reason that it stood almost alone, on the opposite side from the Primate's House, having large gardens and park attached to it. This fine old house is so well described in the Irish Builder of July, 1893, that I annex the following: "The reception-rooms are seven in number, and the cornices and ceilings are finished in a rich and antique style. The ball-room is a noble apartment; the architraves of the doors are .adorned with Corinthian columns, fluted and surmounted by pediments. The drawing-room to the left of the ante-room on the first floor possesses a beautifully carved oak cornice, the effect of which is peculiarly striking. The front staircase is spacious and lofty. The walls are panelled and the ceiling handsomely decorated. The principal dining room, looking into the garden, is square, with fine stuccoed ceiling and walls in square panels stuccoed; the square broken off at the angles by curves. The architraves of the parlour doors are as rich as carving could make them. There is a mock key-stone or block of wood that for elegant and elaborate carving in relief cannot be surpassed. The stuccoed ceilings are in panels with enriched fillets, quite palatial; and only in the ball-room are seen arabesques in the centre. The window of the ball-room, which is over the porte-cochŠere, has three opes, the centre one being arched; this is the only architectural adornment externally." Mountjoy House had originally a fine porte-cochŠere, or covered carriage entry, arched with cut stone, on the park side. The park or ornamental ground attached to this mansion was purchased by Luke Gardiner, first Lord Mountjoy, from the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, and was known as Plover Park. The great interest which attaches to Mountjoy House is its association with its last owner, the first Earl of Blessington; The career of this nobleman presents an extraordinary instance of the misuse of all the good things of life that were so lavishly bestowed upon him. Born in 1782, he had early lost his parents, and became his own master at an age when most young men are still under control. [His father was Luke Gardiner, second viscount Mountjoy, a well-known figure in the time in which he lived. .A politician and a soldier, he joined to these pursuits a refined taste for music and the stage. He was a good amateur actor, and had a private theatre at his residence, the Ranger's Cottage in the park, where lie entertained the Viceroy and his circle. His beautiful wife, one of the three lovely Montgomerys immortalized by Sir Joshua's brush, died young, leaving several daughters and one son, who succeeded his father as Lord Mountjoy when only ten years old, and was created Earl of 'Blessington when he was still a youth.] To this fact his friend and biographer Dr. Madden attributes the ruin Lord Blessington brought on himself and his family; and it may be said that with him extravagance amounted to madness. He spent money so recklessly that not twice his noble fortune could suffice to supply his imaginary wants. From the very first his career was a downward one. In 1808, being then 26, he eloped with the beautiful Mary Campbell, wife to Major Browne. As the lady was a Catholic, no divorce could be obtained, and it was not until the death of her husband in 1812 that the guilty pair were legally married. Two years later Lady Blessington died at St. Germain, near Paris. Her death was made the occasion of an extravagant display by the widower. Her body was brought from France to London, and from London to Dublin, accompanied by an army of undertakers, mutes, and watchers. It lay in state at Blessington House, [The Earl changed the name from Mountjoy to Blessington House] where a chapelle ardente had been fitted up with every emblem of the faith she professed. Here censers swung and candles burned night and day for eight days, while all of Dublin streamed in to see the sight. The block of carriages, cabs and chairs in Henrietta Street was equal to a "Drawing-room night." The body lay in a sumptuous coffin under a magnificent pall of black velvet embroidered in gold, which had been made for Marshal Duroc's funeral. On each side of the bier sat the watchers, six female mourners who had accompanied the corpse from London. As each visitor left the room, a gentlemanly man, clothed in deepest mourning, accosted them with a hope that "everything had been satisfactorily done." "This great exhibition of extravagant grief and the enormous outlay made for its manifestation" (it cost £4,000), was," says Dr. Madden, "in the bright and palmy days of Irish landlordism, when potatoes flourished, and people who had land in Ireland lived like princes." Lord Blessington's grief speedily found solace in another frail lady's smiles. A year later we find the disconsolate widower entertaining at dinner in Blessington House a select party of ladies and gentlemen, including the beautiful Mrs. Farmer and her sister Mrs. Purvis. Next year we read of Mrs, Farmer and her sister being his Lordship's guests at Rath, a cottage on the Mountjoy Forest estate in Tyrone. The friendship between them was continued in London; and in 1818, her husband, Captain Farmer, having died meantime, Mrs. Farmer became Countess of Blessington. It does not seem that after her marriage she was much at Blessington House, although on two occasions she accompanied her husband to Mountjoy Forest, which was fitted up in the most sumptuous manner for her reception, her boudoir being hung with Genoa velvet and gold bullion fringe. For some reason (probably social) Lady Blessington never again visited her native country. Blessington House fell into the sear and yellow of a neglected old age. The whole of the Mountjoy estate was sold to Charles Spencer Cowper in the Encumbered Estates Court of 1874, Blessington House being included in the sale. It was resold to Mr. Tristram Kennedy, who turned it into chambers for the accommodation of the barristers attending the King's Inns, a handsome building erected by Gandon (not that much of its beauty can be seen in Henrietta Street, as' the Inns are awkwardly placed, and, as Mr. Prendergast remarked, they should have been called Tanderagee, the Irish for "his back to the wind"). Mr. Kennedy closed tip the porte-cochŠere and made the present hall door in the middle of the mansion, thus spoiling one of the finest dining-rooms ever designed.
|Born: St Germans, Cornwall, , England 19th Sep 1786 ||Baptised: |
|Died: St. Germains, , , France 19th Sep 1814 ||Buried: family vault Church of St Thomas, Dublin, Ireland Oct 1814 |
MacDougall of Russia