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  Lough Fea




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History of Lough Fea

Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan came into existence as a plantation town. It belonged to an area called the Barony of Farney. The Barony of Farney was given by Queen Elizabeth I of England to the First Earl of Essex, Walter Deveraux in 1576. He planned to ‘plant’ the area with settlers and build a walled town around a nearby area called Donaghmoyne. He died, however, in September 1576 and never achieved this.

During the following years Ulster was in a state of rebellion. The 2nd Earl of Essex Robert Deveraux asked Queen Elizabeth if he could crush the rebellion. He achieved little, however, and was seen to have displeased the Queen. In 1601 he lost his head and the estate of Farney was taken from the Deveraux family. Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and James I took the throne. He returned the estate of Farney to the Deveraux family.

The Deveraux family faced the problem of local opposition in the area of Farney. The McMahons were the Gaelic Lords of the area and they posed a possible threat to the Deveraux family’s hold on Farney. The family therefore decided to build a stronghold in the area of Farney. They chose Carrickmacross as the place in which they would build a castle. This castle, known as Essex Castle was completed in 1630.

Before the castle was built the town did not exist. When the castle was built a street ran northwards from it and became the main street of the town. A survey of the estate carried out by Thomas Raven around that time reveals that before the building of the castle, there was only one properly constructed house. This was an inn belonging to William Ceasar. Beside it were a few hovels. With the arrival of the settlers, plots of land were distributed and fine houses were built. These houses, together with the castle, shaped the foundation of Carrickmacross Town.

Essex castle no longer exists. The site on which it was located was acquired by the order of St Louis nuns who came to Carrickmacross in 1888. They started a girl’s secondary school and also took charge of the girls’ national school. Both remain today. The St Louis nuns also started the famous Carrickmacross lace industry.

The Deveraux Estate passes to the Shirley family

In 1646 Robert Deveraux, a later Earl of Essex died leaving no heir. His estate was then passed on to his two sisters Dorothy and Francis. Lady Dorothy was married to Sir Henry Shirley and they had a son Robert who became co-heir. Francis was married to Sir William Seymour. In 1655 the Barony of Farney appears to have been surveyed. This survey shows the contents of every townland and it divides the land into profitable and waste ground. The survey that the whole estate was made up of 47,734 English acres equal to 29, 468 Irish acres and 36, 965 Scottish acres.

The Shirley family were absentee landlords, i.e. they did not live on their estates but occasionally visited. About 1750 the Shirley family erected a house adjoining the town of Carrickmacross. This became the occasional residence of the Shirley family.

It was located in an area now known as Ivy Lane. There are modern houses located there today. In 1777 the Hon. George Shirley made preparations to erect a castle on the high grounds of an area called the Lurgans. The design of this castle was abandoned and it was not until 1826 that the Hon. George Shirley’s grandson, Evelyn John Shirley Esq. laid the foundation of a mansion worthy of the estate near Lough Fea. This house still remains today.

The house is erected entirely of free stone found on the estate and built in the manner of a college. The ground floor holds a Great Hall, a chapel and in the centre are the principal living rooms.

At the end of the 19th century the estate had approximately 25,000 acres but these lands had to be sold due to the Land Acts before the First World War. The estate now has less than 1,000 acres of grass and woodland. After the sale of the land, which had been rented to tenants, large mansions such as Shirley’s House became white elephants with little revenue coming in.

In 1904 when the present Major Shirley’s grandfather died his father moved from his Ettington Park home in England to Carrickmacross. Between 1904 – 1977 Major Shirley’s father and his family lived there permanently. There was a serious fire at the house in 1966, which did quite a lot of damage. In 1977 the family moved to the Isle of Man and thus reverted to its 19th Century role of absenteeism. But because Major Shirley and his sons were brought up on the estate they have a great love of the place and they do their best to keep the main parts of the building waterproof.


Text taken from:

Sketch of Essex Castle, Carrickmacross is taken from 'The Monaghan Story', by Peadar Livingstone.

County Monaghan - Baronies, taken from 'The Monaghan Story', by Peadar Livingstone.


View from the front as you approach the manor house.

View from the rear of the manor house




Pedigree of the Shirleys of Lough Fea, Lords of the Manor of Ettington

1. Robert Shirley, 1st Earl Ferrers - died Dec 25, 1717

married 2nd: Selina, daughter of George Finch, of London esq. (note: children of Robert Shirley's first wife inherited the title of Earl Ferrers)

2. Robert Shirley - born May 27 1700 Lord of the Manor of Ettington
2. Selina Shirley - m. Peter Bathurst
2. Mary Shirley - m. Charles Tryon
2. George Shirley - b. 1704 d. 1704
2. George Shirley - born Oct 23 1705 Lord of the Manor of Ettington

married Mary, daughter of Humphry Sturt of Horton, Co Dorset

3. George Shirley - b. Nov 6 1750
3. Selina Shirley - m. Sir Thomas George Skipwith
3. Mary Shirley - m. John Smith
3. Evelyn Shirley - b Dec 17 1756 Lord of the Manor of Ettington

married Phillis Byam, daughter of Charleton Wollaston esq.


4(i). Phillis Shirley - b. July 3 1785
4(ii). Selina Shirley - b March 31 1787
4(iii). Evelyn John Shirley - born April 26 1788 died 31 December 1856 Lord of the Manor of Ettington

Evelyn John Shirley
(thanks to Alexander Brooks for this minature image)

married Eliza, daughter and heir of Arthur Stanhope, esq.

5. Evelyn Phillip Shirley - b Jan 22 1812 Lord of the Manor of Ettington

married Mary Clara Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edmund Hungerford Lechmere

6. Sewallis Evelyn Shirley - b July 15 1844 Lord of the Manor of Ettington

married Emily Jean Macdonald

7. Lt. Col. Evelyn Charles Shirley Lord of the Manor of Ettington

married Kathleen Mary Phyllis Cardew

8 Major John Shirley Lord of the Manor of Ettington

Times of London obituary - John Evelyn Shirley, of Ettington and Lough Fea. Major retired 60th Rifles. Died peacefully at home on the Isle of Man on 7th November 2009 aged 86. Husband of Judith and father of Philip, Emily and Hugh.

9. Philip Evelyn Shirley was born on 29 September 1955 - current owner of Lough Fea, Lord of the Manor of Ettington

6. Selina Shirley - b Aug 5 1845
6. Mary Clara Shirley - m. Rev W. K. W. Chafy
6. Katharine Shirley - b Mar 20 1857

5. Arthur Shirley - b Feb 8 1813
5. Selina Shirley - m. Sir William Heathcote of Hursley
5. Sewallis Shirley - b April 17 1816
5. George Edward Shirley - b July 24 1817
5. Louisa Shirley - m. Neil Malcolm of Poltallock, esq
5. Walter Devereaux Shirley b July 20 1829

married Anne Knox dau of W.K. Fawcette, esq.

6. Louisa Shirley - b Nov 27 1857

4(iv). Lt. Henry Robert Shirley - born Mar 27 1789; He died May 1808 during active Naval service at sea, age 19.
4(v). Mary Shirley - She died 17 February 1838; She married George Morant
4(vi). Gen. Charles Shirley - born Nov 15 1792; He died 12 December 1855, age 63 without children

married Anne Charlotte Bridgeman on 7 December 1819, daughter of Rev Hon. George Bridgeman.

4(vii). Maj. William Shirley - b March 23 1794; He fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
4(viii). Frances Shirley - b May 18 1795
4(ix). Frederick Shirley - b June 15 1797
4(x). Emily Harriot Shirley - She died 3 January 1881; She married Edward, Lord Suffield
4(xi). Rev. James Shirley - born Jan 15 1802; He was Rector at Frettenham Norfolk; He died 7 January 1870

married Katherine Dolphin, daughter of the Rev. J. Dolphin

children: (all died unmarried)

5. Horatio Henry Shirley - b Jan 6 1834
5. Katherine Frances Shirley - b Oct 15 1836
5. Georgiana Louisa Shirley - b Nov 13 1837
5. Evelyn William Shirley - b Nov 30 1840
5. Mary Shirley - b Mar 4 1842
5. James Charlton Shirley - b Aug 30 1843
5. Selina Caroline Shirley - b Mar 23 1850

4(xii). Georgiana Shirley - b June 27 1803

4(xiii). General Sir Horatio Shirley - born 8 December1805; Having been nominated a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, he was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle, 5th July 1869. He died 8 April 1879.

4(xiv). Rev. Arthur George Sewallis Shirley - born July 20 1810; MA of Christ Church Oxford; He was the Vicar of Stinsford, Dorset; He died 8 October 1891

married 1) Georgiana Emily Cookson on 24 August 1841 at Sherborne Minster, Dorset, daughter of Rev William Cookson. She died on 8 July 1852 and buried at Stinsford Dorset

married 2) Mary Beadon Turner on 3 September 1853 at Swanage, Dorset, daughter of Edward Turner, esq. of Sherborne, Dorset. She was the widow of Dr Jackson MD of Dorchester; She died 3 April 1877.

married 3) Francesca Vincenzia Edith Money in 1878, daughter of Captain John Ernle Money.

2. Frances Shirley - b May 5 1707
2. Anne Shirley - m. Sir Robert Furnese
2. Sewallis Shirley - b Oct 19 1709. m. Margaret, daughter of Samuel Rolle of Hainton Co Devon, Baroness Clinton and Say.
2. Stuarta Shirley - b Aug 19 1711
2. John Shirley - b. March 1 1712


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