Sunday, 14 August 2011

The return of the Ascendancy

Ever wondered what it would be like to spend a week, an evening or a weekend living like a member of the Irish Ascendancy? Well, The Irish Times has just profiled one of my favourite places in the country - the absolutely beautiful Montalto estate, a few miles from where I live, and currently administered by my childhood Sunday school teacher, David Anderson MVO MBE. The estate, which dates from the early eighteenth century, was originally the home of the earls and countesses of Moira and it represents one of the triumphs of Italianate architecture amongst the homes of the Irish aristocracy. During the rebellion of 1798, there was considerable fighting on the estate between those who supported the rebellion and those who were loyal to the Crown. At that time it was the home of the 2nd earl of Moira, who later became Marquess of Hastings, a hero of the British army during the American War of Independence and later British Governor-General of India. The marquess sold the estate in 1802, four years after the rebellion, whereupon it passed into the hands of the Ker family and later the earls and countesses of Clanwilliam in 1912. In his amusing history of the estate, Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland reports that one countess of Clanwilliam refused to live in the house "because of the regrettable infestation of ghosts."

The house and estate has now lovingly been restored and, believe me, it's absolutely beautiful. With all the modern conveniences, it somehow still manages to feel as if someone magically stopped the clock in 1910.

For The Irish Times article on its restoration, click HERE.

And many congratulations to David, the Wilsons and everyone at Montalto. It's a magnificent place and beautifully restored.


  1. Hi Gareth, I spent the evening at Hillsborough Castle at a military function with David and his better half last Friday! I'd totally forgotten that you knew him.

    I'd hope to visit Montalto in the not too distant future.

    Warmest wishes ever,


  2. Tim,

    How lovely! I hope you had a great time? When you get the chance to visit Montalto, you must. It's really wonderful and I've had some great times down there for supper. It does mean modernity hits you with a real thump when you exit, though!

    Very best wishes and hope you're having a fantastic summer, despite the weather,


  3. You mean you AREN'T a member of the Ascendancy? You mean you DON'T live in a country manor like Montalto? Next you are going to tell me that you are not really descended from the Plantagenets and that you grew up in a cottage in County Cork like my bog Irish Catholic ancestors. Then my illusions will REALLY be shattered!!

  4. Baby steps, Elena Maria. If anything, your ancestry is much more fashionable :)

  5. Fashionable NOW, dear, but not 150 years ago, or I wouldn't be in North America today. ;-)(Actually, I'm descended from the Plantagenets, too, via the Talbots.)

  6. Hahaha, yes. Hmmm... suppose I can't really argue that we didn't have a good run at being fashionable! :)

  7. It wasn't Montalto the 5th Countess of Clanwilliam thought was full of ghosts but the family seat Gill Hall in Dromore that is why the 5th Earl of Clanwilliam moved to Montalto.


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