Our seven times great grandparents on our mothers’ side were John Lysaght, Lord Lisle and his wife, Catherine Deane. (Explanation: their daughter was Mary Lysaght who married Kingsmill Pennefather. They had the Rev. John Pennefather who was the father of Edward Pennefather who was the father of John Pennefather. He had Isabella Pennefather who married Charles Jones. Their daughter was Tennie who married Joseph Edwards Dickson - one of their daughters was our maternal grandmother, Vera Dickson.)
Lord Lisle descended from the ancient house of O’Brien of Clare - his surname, Lysaght, was a derivation of the Irish ‘Giolla-Iosa’ meaning ‘hired men’, and was conferred upon one of the early members of his family on account of his prowess displayed in the Irish provincial wars, in other words, he supported the winning Protestant side.
Lord Lisle’s grandfather was the earlier John Lysaght of Mountnorth, Co. Cork, who was active in the suppression of the 1641 rebellion when the Irish Catholic gentry tried to seize control of the country and to force concessions for Catholics living under English rule. The rising was prompted by Catholic fears of an impending invasion of Ireland by the anti-Catholic forces of the English Parliament who were defying the authority of the King, Charles I. The ensuing suspected alliance between the Irish rebels and King Charles I helped to spark the English Civil War of the 1640’s. The Irish rebellion broke out in 1641 and continued on until the 1650s when Oliver Cromwell - a figure much despised in Irish history, yet considered a hero in England - decisively defeated the Irish Catholics and Royalists, and re-conquered the country.
John Lysaght was a cornet of horse under the command of Lord Inchiquin and distinguished himself at the Battle of Knockinoss, near Mallow in Co. Cork. The battle took place on 13th November 1647. The English forces, under Lord Inchiquin routed the greater Irish forces who were under the command of Lord Taaffe and the Scot Alasdair McDonnell. As a reward, Lord Inchiquin who was a member of the O’Brien family, was given a reward by the English parliament of £1000.
One of John Lysaght’s sons, James Lysaght, entered into the service of the Protestant William of Orange and was killed at the Battle of Steenkerque, on August 3rd 1692, in southern Holland. This battle, which the French army won, formed part of the Nine Years War on continental Europe when France attempted to extend its influence and found itself pitted against a joint English-Scottish-Dutch-German alliance under the command of Prince William of Orange.
John Lysaght’s eldest son was Nicholas Lysaght who commanded a troop of dragoons in the King’s own regiment in many parts of Flanders, England, Scotland and Ireland and fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. This battle was the culmination of the struggle for the English throne between the Catholic James II and the Protestant William of Orange. William’s victory cemented Protestant administrative supremacy in Ireland and laid the foundations for centuries of sectarian mistrust between the two traditions in Ireland.
Nicholas Lysaght married Grace, the daughter of Colonel Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock; their son, John Lysaght, was created Lord Lisle of Mountnorth on August 22nd 1758.
From ‘Irish and Scottish-Irish Ancestral Research’ by Margaret Dickson Falley:
‘The said John on the Happy Accession of his present Majesty was chosen Member of Parliament for the Borough of Charleville, and in 1725 Married Catherine, the third daughter and Co-Heiress, of Joseph Deane of Crumlin, Lord Chief Baron of His Majesty’s Exchequer in Ireland, by Margaret, Sister to the Earl of Shannon, and by the said Catherine, hath issue, John, who is Member of Parliament for Castlemartyr, Joseph and James, both of the Inner Temple, Margaret unmarried, and Mary Married Kingsmill, the Son of Colonel Richard Pennefather, both Members of Parliament for the City of Cashel, who, by her, hath three sons, Richard, John and Kingsmill and one Daughter.’
The principal seats of the Lysaght family were Mountnorth and Curraglass near Mallow in Cork, Lisle near Cork Harbour, Brickfield near Kilmallock on the Limerick/Cork border, and Crumlin in south Dublin. Later, our 4 times great-grandfather, Edward Pennefather, lived at Wellington in Templeogue/Crumlin, and I wonder did he inherit land there from his grandparents who were Lord Lisle and his wife Catherine Deane of Crumlin?
From ‘A Topographical History of Ireland’, 1840, under the heading for Ballyclough Parish north of Mallow :
‘The church…was erected in 1830, partly by subscription, towards which the late Lord Lisle contributed £100...A bequest of £4 per ann.late currency, from Nicholas Lysaght, Esq., is regularly paid by Lord Lisle and distributed among the poor…Mount North, a fine old mansion of the Lysaght family, has been deserted for many years, and is now in a very dilapidated state. Near the high road was an obelisk, erected on four arches by the first Lord Lisle, which was destroyed by lightning in the winter of 1834, and the stones were thrown to a great distance…the churchyard is the burial-place of the family of Lysaght, ennobled in the person of John, created Baron Lisle of Mount North, Sept.18th 1758, and also of the Longfields of Longueville.’
And from ‘Ireland and Its Rulers, since 1829’, published in 1844:
‘About four miles to the north-west of Mallow there stands an enormous, desolate house, which none of the present generation remembers to have been inhabited. It is built in the style of an old Italian Palace, in front is a large courtyard, enclosed by the wings of the mansion. Before the gates are the vestiges of a large oval pond, without water, and to the right of the house lies a long canal, intended for ornament, now choked up by weeds and dirt. The house was so placed that every wind except the South could play upon it…The very birds as they approach it seem to whirl away instinctively from its neighbourhood. There is the appearance of supernatural wretchedness stamped on the whole house. In the sultriest day of July, it wuld chill you to look at its crumbling roofs, its huge, tottering chimneys, and its black melancholy walls…
…Yet it is the misery of magnificence in decay for the house itself must have been one of the most superb edifices in Ireland. Between the middle and end of the last century, an Italian artist of great ability erected in the south of Ireland five or six edifices of much architectural beauty, and Mount North was the finest of them…
….In the middle of the last century (and later) the family of Lysaght possessed some parliamentary influence. They had an estate with a good rent-roll - were very ambitious and not unskilful courtiers. They got a Peerage by their politics - and determined to build a mansion suitable to their new dignity.’
The writer goes on to describe the squalor of the neighbouring village of Ballyclough - this was written one or two years before the onset of the Great Famine and ominously describes the appalling poverty of the Irish population at the time:
‘…Ballyclough begins exactly where Mount North ends on the west…at each side of the road, which is ridiculously wide, are groups of the smuttiest of imaginable urchins - some of them with their hands in their mouth, and most of them with their hands in the mud, many of them sprawling about on their half naked little bellies…There was something poetical about the wretchedness of Mount North in which noone resides, but in Ballyclough there is a swarming population of a neglected and forlorn peasantry that makes one miserable to think of…’
‘..And here, standing on this rising ground over Mount North, we see the history of the country depicted in dismantled castles, in ruined religious edifices, in deserted parks, and the dilapidated residences of an absentee, and alien aristocracy. Nor is that all: we see depicted in poetical symbols, the follies, miseries, and horrors of civil wars, and the futile fury of all the Irish factions that have during six centuries risen against the British power…’