The Thomas Mc Donald
Hore, the famous nineteenth century historian of the Co. Wexford, stated without citing his source that the first Carew mansion at Castleboro was built in 1775. The Carews had another mansion at Woodstown on their estate in Co. Waterford; so, like somebody else whose name evades me, they had more than one house to maintain. Woodstown House came to international notice when Jackie Kennedy, the widow of the iconic President Jack Kennedy, came to holiday there in June 1967. Most people then did not have a house at all or at least they did not have a proper house. The Rev. James Bentley Gordon the rector of Killegney in his jaundiced account of the parish in 1915 for the Shaw-Mason Statistical Account wrote that apart from Mr Carew's mansion there was no gentleman's residence in his parish. The Rev. Gordon wrote of people dressed in rags, living on potatoes, almost exclusively subsisting on agricultural employment, tilling land with spades and eager to break out again in insurrection if they got the chance. As the English clergyman the Rev. Atkinson later conclusively demonstrated the Rev. Gordon told lies in his article to demonise Robert Carew; the latter made representations about the article and it was promised that a new account of the parish would be written but I have not found it.
Valentine Gill published a map of the Co. Wexford in 1811 concentrating very much on showing the location of people connected with the rebellion of 1798. Carew's mansion at Castleboro is depicted but I have no way of knowing if the depiction is realistic or if Mr Gill used a conventional template to mark all mansion houses.
The sheer paucity of houses in that era made a big house a remarkable feature of a locality and hence such houses were named usually after the place of their location. There was no map of the Killegney parish as is proven by the absence of a map of it in the Shaw-Mason book in 1815.
O'Neill-Daunt wrote of Bob Carew in 1800 ordering Lord Castlereagh off the steps at Castleboro after the latter sought to induce him with a bribe to vote for the Act of Union. His son, the future first Lord Robert Carew, wrote to the local newspapers stating that this story was untrue and added that Lord Castlereagh knew his father's integrity too well to offer him a bribe. This is the text of Lord Carew's letter from Woodstown dated June 23rd 1846:
"I have this day seen a statement in your paper, respecting my father, and Lord Castlereagh's conduct, at the time the Union was enacted, which is only a repetition of a story which was in some newspaper about ten years ago and which I believe to be utterly unfounded in the detail. That peers, judges, bishops were offered to be made and in many instances the offer accepted there can be no doubt; but I do not believe that Lord Castlereagh ever had such a conversation with my father. He knew my father's character too well to offer such a disgraceful bribe or to expect that it would escape the consequences due to such an insult."
Lady Jane Carew (formerly Jane Cliffe of Bellevue) the wife of the first Lord Carew agreed in a letter to her son Bob at Eton with his theory that the novelist Samuel Lover had in one of his novels based his narrative upon the life at the mansion at Castleboro but I have failed to find that book. In her letter dated May 21st 1833 to her son Robert (the future 2nd Lord Carew), then at Eton College in England, Jane Carew wrote:
"Do you remember Lover's story of -and that you said the scene was Castle Boro-well you were right. We had a letter this morning from your aunt Ellen and she sent the story and said that it really took place. Your aunt Power was Miss Crosbie and Nickey was a farmer's son living near Chapple&ldots;.the plan originated in Lover's comical brain."
Castleboro was originally a part of the townsland of Ballyboro but I believe that it was so renamed after the old Butler Castle in which the Carews may have lived before the building of the first mansion. The Carew ledgers refer to goods been brought up to the Castle. The first Carew mansion was a house and not a castle.
Excerpts from the letters of Lady Jane Carew to her son Robert at Eton give glimpses of the interior of the first mansion but are hard to place in proper context.
On March 7th 1834 she related to her son:
"First the chimney piece for the hall is finished and it is very shortly to be --.It is of Borohill's marble and altogether very handsome. It is to be put up on the study side of the hall and a marble table on the opposite side of the hall will make the hall complete. The table is not yet finished. We have chosen a chimney piece for the oval room-it is a lovely one of fine white marble, the sculpture admirably well executed. For a long while Papa had determined to put it up where the door going into the hall is but I disliked greatly the idea of shutting up that door and while he was at the Assizes I got Mr Day to put up a wooden chimney in the side of the room where the piano stands, that we might judge of the effect; it looked extremely well. I am now glad to say the chimney is now to be placed there."
On October 12th 1834 Lady Carew wrote to her son Robert:
"The book cases are come&ldots;up in the oval room. They are very large and will hold any kind of book you like by putting the large at the bottom and the small at the top. The book case in the study is extremely handsome&ldots;."
Writing on February 16th 1833 Anne Dorothea Carew informed her brother at Eton:
"The Misses Fitzhenry are here now and desire to be remembered to you." I have no doubt that the Misses Fitzhenry were the daughters of Jeremiah Fitzhenry of Boro Hill. The iconic Colonel Fitzhenry of Boro Hill, rebel in 1798 and later an officer in Napoleon's Peninsular Wars adored the Carews and Lady Jane Carew seems to have visited Boro Hill regularly. At Laurence Sweetman of Ballymackessy's funeral in February 1869 Mary Fitzhenry of Boro Hill gave her missal to the 2nd Lord Carew at the funeral Mass. The son Robert that Lady Carew wrote to at Eton was the 2nd Lord Carew to be. Hugh O'Neill the famous teacher and Ned Carroll the Courtnacuddy born agriculturalist and writer likewise adulated and adored the Carews in a manner outside ordinary comprehension.
On May 1, 1841 the renowned architect Martin Day wrote from Dromana to the first Lord Carew acknowledging receipt of £100 from him and added:
"I certainly have every wish to tender every service I can possibly can as far as my ability and breadth will allow me but I assure your Lordship that it was not with a view to pecuniary remuneration that induced me to take the interest I do in the business at Castleboro as it is a feeling of gratitude and friendship to your Lordship and family for the great kindness you have always evinced towards me and it is not for money, for I, already, have more than I shall have life and health to spend and I have not the least intention to leave a large sum of money to persons who would only abuse me for not leaving more; therefore money is no object to me. I intend to take no more business and give up all but your Lordship's and occasional visit to Johnstown and Dromana&ldots;."
So we may deduce that by May 1841 Martin Day had done work on designing Castleboro and that it was effectively retirement work for him and a labour of love.
Alexander Whering wrote from the police barracks at New Ross to his superiors at Dublin Castle on March 3rd 1840 as follows:
"I have to report that on last night, Castleboro, the seat of Lord Carew, situate in the sub-district of Clonroche, was totally consummated by fire, which originated in one of the chimneys accidentally taking fire about the hour of 3 0'clock on yesterday evening. Many exertions were used by the servants and country people who assembled in great numbers to quench the flames, but all proved unavailing; about 5 o'clock the roof fell in and the flames continued raging until 5o'clock am this morning when the entire building was consumed, except the left wing which was preserved. John Howlin J. P. for this county arrived there by 5 o'clock pm and William Russell Farmar Esq., J. P., the agent to Lord Carew and the Constabulary of Clonroche and Killanne and rendered every assistance in saving the furniture and protecting it which I am happy to say was almost totally saved together with most of the valuable books and papers; no accident occurred to any of the servants or people who were assisting to save them. Lord Carew and family are at present in Paris. There is no doubt but the chimney took fire accidentally by one of the workmen putting some brushwood on the fire."
There is a crazy and daft item up on the internet saying that Lady Carew rushed back into the blazing building to retrieve her knitting. She was actually, as the above proves in Paris, and she lived in three centuries finally dying in 1901 aged 103 years. That's the internet for ye!
The account of the fire in The Wexford Independent is informative:
"A large and elegant wing of the building in addition made to the pile within the last few years was fortunately preserved. The work of destruction, the symptoms of which were first discovered by a stone mason working at the entrance gate, commenced in the upper part of the magnificent building and to this providential circumstance was owing that the greater part of the furniture, the library and nearly all the papers were extricated from the rooms before the loft fell in. The doors and other valuable fixtures were, also, brought out and the paintings of the mansion, many of them most valuable, were preserved. It was rumoured at first that the fire had its origin in the circumstance of a spark unfortunately falling among carpenters' wood shavings. A latter and we believe a more correct surmise accounts for the origin of the fire by the bursting of a chimney or by fire from one of the chimneys communicating with the rafters or beams."
On March 18th 1840 Lord Bob Carew and his family returned to Castleboro and he was phlegmatic, philosophical and comparatively calm about the disaster: he discerned in the dark smoke of the inferno (to use an unfortunate analogy) omens of the affection that his family were held in; this was the theme of his letter to The Wexford Independent:
"it is consoling to my personal feelings and at the same time discharging a debt of gratitude to express through your paper my warmest thanks to my friends, neighbours and tenants, for their unwearied exertions at the fire which has consumed a house to which I was attached by so many associations. The friendship which was proved by so many acts of personal daring and the sympathy which I have experienced from all classes, will go far indeed, to reconcile me to an accident which has been attended by so many alleviating circumstances; and will be a stimulus to me to restore my family residence. The sun has shone brightly on me through life and it would be ungrateful in me to repine unduly when a cloud has crossed my path. So great was the anxiety of my neighbours to preserve my property, that I understand my friend Mr Howlin, &ldots;.was absolutely obliged to drag many from the burning materials; and I believe though the property was out on the lawn during the whole night, not even the smallest article was missing. It was under the protection of friends and neighbours whose proved kindness will bind me, if possible, still more to my native country.
I could not in justice to my own feelings or to their friendship, say less."
The matter of finance would be, of course, crucial to the challenge to restoring Lord Carew's residence. He may have had the place insured but there is no mention of that; if had it insured that could be a perverse reason to deliberately burn it. The other financial consideration is that Lord Bob Carew set out not to build a house on the scale of the burned one but instead to construct a fabulous mansion, a veritable show-piece, awesome in size and overwhelming in grandeur of design. I suspect that another act of God encouraged him in that project. The Gentleman's Magazine reported in April 1840, the death on April 28th of Sir Thomas Carew, Captain Royal Navy at Southampton in the prime of his life; he was of the Irish branch of the family and a cousin of Lord Carew of Castleboro. He had married a widow lady of very large fortune who had died in 1839 and it was anticipated that, by the death of Sir Thomas, Lord Carew would derive a fortune of £40,000, subject to the payment of some legacies. The London Times on May 16th 1840 confirmed that Lord Carew had indeed inherited this amount of money from the estate of his relative. Tom Carew was, of course, the brother of Lord Bob Carew of Castleboro.
The Carews were ever required to make vast financial outlays and ready cash was not always abundantly accessible. Circa 1843 or 1844 Fr Tom Furlong was building the present parochial house at Cloughbawn and he requested £300 of a loan from Lord Carew. This is Carew's undated letter in reply:--
"I should most willingly assist your needs respecting the £300 but I really have no spare money as for the Castle Boro and an addition I am building here will take all my spare cash-to prove, however, my wish to oblige you I will try to spare £100 for you and the interest can be added (as you suggest) to the rent; indeed I think it would be much fairer as it would be hard that you should bear the expense of such an excellent house. I hope, however, you will live long enough to enjoy it in comfort. I can give you the £100 in September when Mr Farmar [his agent] settles his accounts or if you are much pressed I would advance part now but the other would be more convenient to myself."
The building of the great mansion at Castleboro was in train at an unfortunate time: the famine clearly slowed down the completion of the work of ornamenting the new residence. On Michaelmas Day 1863 the three year old heir of the 2nd Lord Carew in some token manner laid the first stone of a new terrace, designed to complete the magnificent series for which Castleboro is so much and justly admired." This was described as but one of a series of improvements that were in progress there, under the superintendence of Messrs Ramsay and Bennett. A magnificent specimen of Carrara marble, 13 feet high, exhibited at London's last World's Great Fair, was to be erected in front of the mansion and to quote the report "another is to play at the end of the new terrace in course of erection at the pond." A pedestal of Portland Stone, wrought by Mr Bennett for the occasion with some coins of 1863, the Wexford Independent placed beneath it, was surmounted by the marble slab laid-in a token manner-by the heir to the Carew estates. I think that the Mr W. Bennett referred to is the man who was step-father of Robert Eugene O'Neill of Courtnacuddy who wrote the letters published in The Past in 1963; a son of Mr Bennett of Castleboro, late owned the Portsmouth Arms Hotel in Enniscorthy. The 2nd Lord Carew told the assembled crowd:--
"About twenty-three years ago an unfortunate occurrence took place here, which resulted in the old family residence being burned down. As a necessary consequence, another had to be built and it is not yet completed. Some short time after it being consumed the famine of 1846 and 1847 came on, devastating and depopulating the country. Of course, there was no great inducement to expand money in building under this state of things until recently." Providence had sent them an unusually bountiful harvest and Lord Carew anticipated returning prosperity.
The visit of the Enniscorthy Philharmonic Band on Thursday the 5th of May, 1864 a Catholic Holiday, was a fine example of a group coming to Castleboro, as a special event in their lives. The rudimentary modes of transport then available meant in effect that a journey, say, from Enniscorthy to Castleboro was, in itself, a form of adventure; as I presume that they did not have television, radio or record players in the nineteenth century, music and song have to be provided by the people themselves-if you like it was a case of do it yourself&ldots;..The coming of a band would be most desired as if evident in this case:
"they proceeded to Castleboro and entered the demesne by the grand entrance. Preceded by hundreds of a well-dressed and happy looking tenantry, they wended their way over the velvet lawn-playing national airs-to the front of the mansion&ldots;.Here the band took their stand and for the amusement and enjoyment of the assembled multitude-performed some choice selections of music, including the Valse, Galop and Quadrille."
I am not sure if it was a matter of genuine kindness or one of an urge to proudly display the interior wonders of their mansion or maybe a mixture of both but the Carews were eager to allow such visitors to enter the mansion:
"the Band and some of their friends, amongst whom I was happily included, were admitted to view the mansion&ldots;.Having frequently heard of the beauties of Castleboro, I was prepared for something magnificent, but my pen fails to convey to you an adequate idea of the grandeur of the place and the astonishment of the beholders as each apartment was thrown open for their inspection; and when they were shown the new library, they were actually entranced. Here the artist's skill appears to have been brought to a climax, for it is impossible to imagine anything more classically chaste and elegant." The rationale of constructing such mansions is not explicated but in an era when it was still assumed that the various forms of earthly authority were deemed a replication of God's power then it may have been considered proper and indeed imperative that the lord of the soil should have an earthly mansions to match the heavenly mansions referred to in Scripture. There were an infinity of lords:--lords of the soil, lords of the law, lords of the realm and lords of the Church, the Established one that is. Conversely the capacity of a landlord to build a fabulous mansion would send out a signal to the people that he was truly a ruler in accordance with Godly or Providential purpose or in latter-day jargon, it would be a form a power play.
To revert back to the laying of the first stone of the new terrace at Castleboro by the three year heir to the Carew estates there is an enigmatic sentence in the report:
"The tiny insignia of the Masonic craft-the hammer and trowel- were then presented by Mr Ramsay and under the superintendence of Mr W. Bennett the youthful heir laid the first stone with as much formality and precision as if he was an adept at the craft, amid the reiterated cheers of the whole assemblage."
The Free Masons were essentially a religious organisation and I suspect that most of the Protestant aristocracy and gentry plus elements of the Catholic gentry were Masons: the resonance of Sacred Scripture is obvious as Christ said that they were many mansions in His heavenly Father's dwelling. Religion was then a matter of enormous import as the letters to her son of Lady Jane Cliffe, the wife of the first Lord Bob Carew prove: these palatial mansions of awesome dimensions, ornamented with intricate architectural motifs and of astronomical cost were intended as replication of heavenly grandeur.
The crowds and especially those admitted into the mansion felt-subconsciously, at least-that they were given a preview of heaven. Hence their elated and ecstatic sensations.
Another great attraction at Castleboro was the gardens and pleasure grounds. The gardens were in summer time a veritable wonder world and the Carews were regular winners at the County Wexford horticultural shows. The famous agriculturalist, Ned Carroll from Courtnacuddy wrote that the initial part of his training was at the horticultural grounds at Castleboro and he claimed that such crops as the mangold wurtzel and sugar beet were sown there in the early years of the nineteenth century.
There are numerous reports of groups going on their annual excursion to Castleboro; the Wexford Catholic Young Men's Society did so in July 1885; the Ballymurphy Choir came on the 29th of June 1900 and the Enniscorthy Cycle Club came in April 1894. The Carews-in a genuinely Christian gesture-brought children from the Workhouse out to Castleboro for a visit on a regular basis and arranged amusements and provided good food for them.
As the first and second Lord Carews were Co. Lieutenants it was not unusual for the Lord Lieutenant to come to Castleboro. The iconic Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Mulgrave, during his visit to Wexford in 1836 stayed at Castleboro and the Lord Lieutenant came there in 1857. The Earl of Mulgrave was to employ a futuristic analogy Jack Kennedyesque and tens of thousands of people poured onto the roads to follow him on his triumphal tour of the Co. Wexford in the glorious summer weather of 1836. He abolished slavery in Jamaica and he clearly opposed the tithes and the Orange Order in Ireland.
I do not know when the tradition of the "Big Day" at Castleboro on the 29th of June began. This day was, then, a Catholic feast day. I will quote accounts of two such days.
The People on July 5th 1890 reported:
"On Sunday great numbers visited Castleboro, the seat of Lord Carew, for the purpose of enjoying themselves. The gardens and grounds were thrown open to the public and the numbers that patronised them were astonishing. There were people present from the surrounding localities, from Enniscorthy and, even, from Wexford. The public were not allowed to enter the halls on Sunday. At various points through the grounds musicians were placed and around these groups of people assembled who merrily danced during the evening."
I conjecture or maybe assume that the people were not allowed to enter the halls because it was a Sunday or the Sabbath; in Protestant practice this day was maintained in severely restricted mode. My conjecture may be wrong.
The Wexford Independent reported on July 1st 1896:
"On Monday the beautiful grounds of Lord Carew's residence at Castleboro were thrown open to visitors in accordance with the custom which has existed-to use a much worn phrase-"from time immemorial". The heat of the sun was tempered by a smart, refreshing breeze and scarcely ever have the grounds been seen to better advantage. Crowds of people from Enniscorthy and elsewhere availed themselves of the privilege thus kindly afforded them, for indeed-the "Big Day" at Castleboro, as it is called-has come to be recognised as a fete day in the north of the County."
The 29th of June that year was on a Monday but it does not seem as if the crowds were permitted to enter the mansion on that day, either. The sheer volume of people there would create a huge practical problem if they all were allowed to enter the mansion.
An article in "The Gentlewoman" magazine in 1891 was informative with touches of lyricism in its description of Castleboro; I will give some superb extracts:
"The park is lovely, with two separate streams, the Killegney and the Boro, wandering through the grassy woodland and mingling in a shady glade where they fall foaming in a miniature cascade over big rough stones that gleam like metalled ore as the sunlight pierces the overhanging trees. This spot has been christened "the meeting of the waters" and might well inspire another poet. Most of the magnificent trees have been planted by the Lords Carew and there are some very fine evergreens and a large bed of Lilium Auratum growing out of doors&ldots;. The grounds are open to the public and on some times on Saints' days, as many as two thousands visitors are scattered over them; notably on June 29. Then, too, the rhododendrons are in bloom and well worth seeing, including as they do, every kind of hybrid, every shade of red and purple, toned down to heliotrope and pink&ldots;.Last summer there was a large concourse of people. Early in the afternoon the stream of eager visitors began to pour in, some on foot and others, who came from distances in brakes or cars. The place was gay with picnic groups and music was supplied by a tambourine player and a fiddler quite in national style. In the spacious yard placed at their disposal dancing was kept up with spirit until it was time to depart. The gardens are enclosed on one side by glass; there must be over five hundred feet of houses, containing amongst other things some exceedingly fine orchids, of which the head gardener, who learned his trade at Bleinheim, is not unreasonably proud; and on the other side by masonry, while large cast-iron gates open to one of the streams, the Killegney. But from the house you enter the garden by a wicket gate hung between stone piers with vases holding plants; and if it happens to be the autumn, when you will certainly see the Castle at its best, you look down a long vista of Pampas grasses, brightened by a vivid glow of red-hot pokers which flame among them, bordering a narrow path nearly half a mile in length that runs straight through.
Castle Boro, itself, a splendid pile of buildings&ldots;.At the back six terraces, all beautifully laid out with shrubs, lead down to four large artificial lakes. Built in the beginning of this century by the same architect who designed Johnstown Castle and Dromana, the Doric, Corinthian and Ionic styles are all represented in it&ldots;.The best point of approach is from Enniscorthy town&ldots;.An eight mile drive takes you through the most lovely country and brings you to the Enniscorthy Lodge, quite an imposing building with portico and fine stone pillars." The article is wrong on at least two points of fact. The first mansion was built circa 1775 and it was burned in March 1840 and not in 1836 as stated in the article.
During the hearing of the case for compensation for the burning of Castleboro it was asserted by counsel for the Carews that royalty had visited Castleboro and the presiding justice remarked that so he had heard. The only instance of royalty coming to Castleboro that I have encountered is the visit of the Duke of Clarence in 1891; he was reputed to have lost his way while out hunting in the woods around Castleboro and accepted a lift back in hay cart driven by a labourer on the Carew estate. He died unexpectedly in 1892. The African explorer Henry Morton Stanley and Mrs Stanley visited Castleboro in August 1893.
The writer of the report of the celebrations at Castleboro of the birth of the third Lord Carew to be in October 1860 in superb journalism blended succinct and delicate description and precise information; I presume that he was Tir Own, the pseudonym of a son of the famous schoolmaster Hugh O'Neill. I will quote it:--
"We have not time to spare or space to describe the family mansion-but we have some of the best judges pronounce it, par excellence, the finest private residence in Ireland. It is built in the Venetian Palazzo style in the Corinthian and the wings in the Ionic order and the façade when viewed from the base of the terraces, which run down to the border of the river Boro-that here assumes, from its sudden expansion the appearance of a lake-has a magnificent appearance. We entered the demesne through the "Mulgrave Gap"-a name given to it in commemoration of the Marquis of Normandy's visit to Castleboro during his Viceroyalty of Ireland -and as we passed under the venerable trees that lined the grand avenue at either side, Pope's lines on Windsor Forest forced themselves on our attention:--
"Where shaking groves a chequered scene display
And part admit and part exclude the day;
Like some cloy nymph, whose lover's warm address,
Nor quite indulges, nor quite repress."
I am uncertain why the Republican Irregulars as they were called, during the civil war burned the Carew mansion at Castleboro; other mansions were also burned. They may have been perceived as motifs of imperial rule but if one is thinking of a practical reason it may have been a fear that the Carew mansions as well as the others could be used to billet Free State troops.
Between the hours of nine and ten o'clock on Monday night February 5th 1923 the farm steward Mr Bob Richardson, who lived in the farm-house that was situate about two or three hundred yards from the main building was knocked up at his residence by armed men. When he answered the knocking he was compelled to hand over the keys of a store in which some barrels of paraffin oil were stored. The report in the newspaper continued:
"These the armed men took possession of and rolled them from the farmyard to the main building and brought with them hay which they, also, got in the farm yard. Then it would appear that they soaked the hay in the paraffin and scattering it through the main building set it alight with the result that in a short time the whole place was ablaze. There were only a few farm servants in the farm yard dwelling with Mr Richardson but all these were held up while the work of destruction was being carried out. Entrance to the house was gained through the French bay windows which would appear to have been broken in by the butt end of rifles. The noise of the breaking glass was plainly audible in the farm yard and tongues of flame leaping up to the sky after a short space of time conveyed the first intimation of what the advent of the armed men breaking in on their surroundings meant while they were left powerless to save their master's property. Shortly after Mr Richardson's residence had been entered Mr Coppen, the head gardener, who lives on another part of the estate and at about half a mile from the main residence was knocked up at his residence by two armed men who demanded to be supplied with a lamp. Mr Coppen complied with the request and was told by the men that they wanted to do a bit of work. The men had not long left his residence when he noticed flames issuing from his master's residence and at once concluded that the place had been fried. As soon as was consistent with his safety he proceeded to the house to find it enveloped in flames which had been fanned with the high wind that blew at the time. It was impossible to extinguish the conflagration which had taken a complete hold of the building and which appeared to have been fired in several places. The fire raged furiously for some hours and completely destroyed the fine building. The lamp that had been taken from him (Mr Coppen) was found in the coach-house where it was apparently used to ascertain if there was any petrol in the store where it was usually stored when Lord Carew was in residence in Castleboro."
The scene of the fire was visited on the Tuesday by large numbers of sightseers.
The third Lord Carew had left Castleboro to live permanently in London in 1921 due to the unsettled condition of the country and possibly a sense of personal danger as the war of Independence waged. All the furniture was sold off in May 1921 at a public auction "with the exception of portion of the west wing where three rooms were kept furnished ready for Lord Carew should he ever desire to revisit his native place." These rooms were used at times by the agent to the Carew estates the Honourable George Stopford. All this furniture was burned as no time was given for its removal. The furniture in the caretaker's apartment in the basement was, likewise, totally destroyed. The caretaker a Mr Charles had died in July 1922; since then his widow had occupied the apartment during the day but slept in the farm Residence (Mr Robertson's place) in the night.
The report of the fire in February 1923 referred to valuable effects in the mansion before the Carews departed including "some beautiful work done by Lady Carew whose much lamented demise occurred last year in London." The silly story on the internet is that Lady Jane Carew the wife of the first Lord Carew ran back into the blazing building in March 1840 to retrieve her knitting and was immolated in the flames and the superstition is that her ghost haunts the Castleboro mansion or at least the ruins of it ever since, blah, blah, etc.. Lady Jane Carew nee Cliffe-the wife of the first Lord Carew- died in 1901 having lived in three centuries. The Lady Carew who died in London in 1922 was the wife of the third Lord Carew; of her it was written in The People on April 11th 1900:
"Lady Carew's chief talent is needlework. She works most exquisitely and a beautiful panel of embroidery which won a prize at the Amateur Art Exhibition is one of sixteen which are to cover the walls of her drawing room at Castleboro. Working diligently as she can, with so many calls upon her time, it takes nearly nine months to complete every panel, so that the task will last for over ten years." It is not clear but I presume that she took these panels out of Castleboro in 1921 as she left.
In the litigation over compensation for the burning of the mansion it was suggested that the mansion had cost £200,000 to complete; maybe that figure included the extensive outdoor and external features, the artificial lakes, the terraces and gardens etc. Undoubtedly the estimate was exaggerated as a bargaining ploy with the courts but two related factors combined to ensure that the eventual award was a mere £14,050. You would not buy lollipops with that. The first of these factors was the sheer lack of money in the new Free State and paucity of revenue: it would be grotesquely comical for the courts to award large amounts of compensation in that context. The second factor to which the courts gave close attention was the lack of a market for such mansions in the Free State: in 1924 you would struggle to give such a mansion away as the rates, up-keep and maintenance of it would be prohibitive. NAMA would be loath to purchase such mansions in the depressed conditions of that era. It was stated in the courts that about thirty people had been employed on the estate.
Lady Jane A. Cory applied to the Co. Wexford courts in March 1824 seeking £200, 000 compensation in gross terms but allowing for credits for salvage amounting to £60, 538 and presumably the value of the insurance on the place at £26,700 the net amount sought was £73, 990 plus £1,280 for furniture and contents. These figures in simple arithmetical terms do not seem to me to be correct but then in this litigation estimates varied wildly and irrationally. Lady Jane Cory was initially granted £16, 050 but she appealed against that award and the state did likewise. Commissioner Pigott K. C. at the Appeal Court in Wexford remarked on the startling discrepancy between the rival valuations put on the mansion: the valuer for the Carew case put the marketable valuation at £20,000 and the valuer for the state put it at £6,000. Both witnesses were Commissioner Pigott remarked "of the same training" and he reduced the award of the Co. Court by £2,000.
The overwhelming bulk of the estate was by this time transferred to the ownership of the tenants but the Carews retained 439 acres at the mansion and 63 acres at the gate lodge. While their Counsel in court alluded to the presence of family portraits in the mansion at the time of the burning as proof that the Carews intended to return I do not believe that. The Carews lived at 78 Belgrave Square, London, a place they had by lease hold and not in fee simple or full ownership. Lady Jane Carew after the death of her husband the first Lord Carew in 1856 lived in Woodstown House and in the closing years of her life she stayed totally within her apartment in Woodstown House.
In 1860 at the celebrations of the heir to the Carew estates (born after 14 years of his parents' marriage) Ned Carroll of Courtnacuddy the famous agriculturalist remarked to a cheering crowd of local people on hearing the loud cries of the infant that the child had good lungs, a sign of a long life. In reality he was ill-fated-he succeeded to the estates at a mere 21 years of age in 1881 on the death of his father and was confronted by the bitter Land League agitation and the resultant evictions blackened the reputation of the Carews in the general locality.