Clogher House, Clogher in Co. Mayo

Clogher House was built in 1770 and was known as Clogher Lynch, after the Lynch family who had been landlords for the area. It was set in 640 acres of land and was a 28 roomed dwelling incorporating a library and chapel.

The Lynches were popular landlords. The last of the Lynches Marcella married Major Crean in the 1840’s.

Major Crean, who came from Hollybrook outside Claremorris, was a ruthless landlord and was hated by his tenants unlike his predecessors.

The original house was a three story building and was roofed with flags called Greek flags and was situated on an elevated site.

In January 1829, on a night known as the night of the big wind the house was damaged in a ferocious storm and was left roofless.

This disaster came as a blessing in disguise giving the Creans the excuse to remodel the house. They added another story to the house and had it roofed with more modern slates.

Helena Mary Crean who had inherited the estate from her father married James Fitzgerald Kenny around 1870. He had come from Kiltyclogher in Co. Galway, but much is not known about him as he died prematurely after only seven years of marriage.

The Fitzgerald Kenny’s had five children, the eldest being Henry. Master Harry as he was known inherited the house and estate. Having been orphaned at an early age he grew up wild and conceited. Like most of the aristocracy he was fond of horses and loved hunting and racing.

On one occasion while he was returning from the Ballinrobe races Master Harry called into Higgin’s public house in Carnacon. While there he met with Captain Blake from Towerhill and some of his friends.

After several rounds of drinks Captain Blake asked Master Harry if he would allow his eldest sister marry him. A row ensued as master Harry did not regard the Blakes to be in the same class as he.

Blakes supporters attacked harry but following the intervention of Blake, he was persuaded to return home. Two hours later Master Harry was found dead under suspicious circumstances. The cause of his death was never established. Some say it was due to a fall from his horse, while others maintain that it was related to the incident earlier in Carnacon. He was only 23yrs of age.

James, the youngest of the family, was a brilliant lawyer and the most famous of the family. At times after winning a difficult court case Fitzgerald Kenny (or Master James as he preferred to be called) would go on the beer.

He was well liked by his neighbours and loved to argue the toss with them. He was held in high regard by all and would do anything to help out his neighbours.

On one occasion a man was caught by the guards and fined £ 25 for stealing timber from his estate. Though this was a considerable amount of money in those days, when Kenny heard of it he had the case quashed.

On another occasion some locals were brought before Castlebar District Court for stealing firewood from Land Commission property. Fitzgerald Kenny appealed to the Justice on their behalf even though he had not been solicited and had the case dismissed.

James Fitzgerald was elected to Dail Eireann as a Cumann na nGaedheal candidate in 1927. He was soon to be appointed Minister for Justice replacing Kevin O Higgins who had been shot. He was delighted with his victory and held a big celebration. He was disgusted with the outcome as the party turned into a drunken brawl.

Later in that same year there was another election and he was re-elected and he held another big party to the surprise of many.

This time however it was run on different lines with the chairmen of the different Cumann na nGaegheal clubs taking responsibility for the supporters from their own electoral division. He spent 16years as a public representative from 1927 to 1943.

Joe Blowick from Belcarra, who would became Minister for Lands, eventually defeated him.

Fitzgerald Kenny died in 1956 and was buried in the family plot in Drum Graveyard. Though Fitzgerald Kenny was perceived to be well off, he never made much money on land or politics, and on his death his liquid assets were few. All his wealth was in property.

The house and estate were sold to a timber merchant in the late 1960's.In 1970, it sadly caught fire and was burnt down,thus ending and era in history.The Land Commission took over the estate and it was divided locally.

By Brian Hoban. Updated by Heather and Corine Kelly October 2005