Ards House and demesne, County Donegal

Samuel Gamble Bayne
Port Salon to Dunfanaghy (5) | Start of Section

A little to the north, but separated by a prolongation of the marsh at the head of Sheephaven, is Ards House, owned by Alexander J. R. Stewart. This demesne is fenced with a cut-stone wall which we skirted for many miles. It is a great show place, with its extensive mansion, fine gardens, and beautiful woods, fronting on the bay where the Lackagh River runs into it. We drew rein on the Lackagh bridge to see Mr. Stewart's men draw a net with eight hundred pounds of salmon in it; there were about eighty in the haul. William Wray, the old master of Ards in the eighteenth century, had a strange history. He lived here in luxurious state and "dispensed hospitality with true regal splendor." His ambition, indeed, appeared to be to see daily as much eaten as possible; and to facilitate the arrival of guests, he engineered a road over Salt Mountain. Extravagance, however, at last told its tale, and the old man, broken down, went over to France, where he died, "poor, unfriended, and forgotten."

After crossing the bridge, we took up the road to Creeslough, where Balfour is building a narrow-gauge railroad for the purpose of giving employment to the poor; and by driving till quite late we reached Dunfanaghy. "A great day's work," as John put it, while cracking his whip during the last half mile.

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On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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