Author Archives: englishcountryhouses

Don Alonso and the Devil’s Hook 4/4

By the afternoon of 23 September 1588, Tullaghan Bay was quiet again. The remains of the Rata Santa Maria Encoronada lay smouldering on its side by the shore. Don Alonso and his men had boarded the Duquesa, taking with them … Continue reading

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Don Alonso and the Devil’s Hook 3/4

I crossed over the bay to Doona Castle one day in early April. I say ‘crossed’: but the little ferry that once carried travellers over the four hundred yards of water from Tullaghanbaun to the sand hills of Ballycroy no … Continue reading

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Don Alonso and the Devil’s Hook 2/4

In 1588 the English government’s hold on Erris was recent and fragile. It was only nineteen years since Mayo’s boundaries as a county had been laid out, along with those of Galway, Clare, Roscommon and Sligo, by Elizabeth I’s first … Continue reading

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Don Alonso and the Devil’s Hook 1/4

G.M. Trevelyan maintained that the poetry of history lies in the fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed … Continue reading

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The way that we went

We weren’t talking much now. I was driving, and I needed to concentrate on the road which snaked, bending and dipping, keeping pace with the rushing black waters of the Owenmore. Helen had the map and the details of the … Continue reading

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A strange equation

‘The history of Erris is a blank until the close of the sixteenth century,’ declared the Edwardian historian Hubert Knox in his 1908 History of the County of Mayo, the first scholarly account of this hinterland. That’s not quite true. There … Continue reading

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The musical effect will be obtained

‘You’ll never find the place yourself’, the agent had insisted on the phone. ‘I’ll take you.’ Now a battered Range Rover pulled up in the layby behind us, late, and an unshaven man in a leatherette car coat leaned out … Continue reading

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A word of explanation

On one level, this blog is a memoir, an autobiography of a slight adventure which took me from the polite society of Bath to one of the last great wildernesses in the British Isles, an empty corner of an empty … Continue reading

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In Erris

The dawn was grey October, full of bleak promise. I sat up in bed reading, too idle to get up, too restless for sleep. Through a gap in the curtains I could see the mist creeping along the half-light slope … Continue reading

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Shine more light on the country house

Have you ever thought you’d like to explore the strange creature that is the English country house in a little more depth? Do you want to investigate the career of a particular architect or craftsman? Or the story of an … Continue reading

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