On a wet Saturday morning on November 2nd 2013, a group of Hazelwood Heritage Society supporters, Breatrice and Tam MacDonald, Paul and Irene Allen, Michael Kirby, Wendy Lyons and Kate Bell, travelled to Charlestown, County Tyrone to visit Lissan House. The story of this wonderful residence begins in the 17th century, when the Staples family, came to this area of woodlands and forests and made it their home. Within the 250 acre demesne they built Lissan House and resided there for almost 400 years. Unfortuantely as with many families of large houses and estates over the centuries, their fortunes wavered and their homes detoriated. The same situation that befell Hazelwood House and the Wynnes.Fortunately for Lissan House there was no plans to build a housing estate within its demense. It was also fortunate that a group of people recognised that the house could easily suffer the fate of so many beautiful, important and historic, ruin and even demolition. A charitable group was formed to save it from such a disaterous and irrecovable futurfe. The Lissan House Charitable Trust under the new name of the ‘ Friends of Lissan Trust’ was formed in 2004. Two years later Lissan House owner Hazel Radclyffe-Dolling died. Under the Terms of her will, the entire estate was bequeathed to the Charitable Trust, provided they secured restoration of the house.2007 saw the house being opened to the public and has since become a popular visitor attraction in Ulster. However since then renovation and structural restoration is continually being carried out to the building, with still much to do. Such work has not been restricted to the house, forest trails have been laid out in the demense too. Work inside and out continues but today Lissan House is a good place to visit as the HHS group discovered on that bleak wet day. Fortunately, the welcome from the Friends of Lissan House, the house they gave us and the beautiful, historic and fascinating house itself, warmed up every member and made it a most memorable day.Paul J Allen
HHS Recieves ‘GATHERING’ Certificate Signed By Iris PresidentAt a reception held in the Sligo Park Hotel on Nov 25th HHS Hon.Sec Irene Allen and Committee Member Kate Bell joined representatives from many and varied Sligo societies, groups and individuals as ‘The Gathering’ officially came to a close. On behalf of the Hazelwocod Heritage Society they received a certificate, signed by President Michael D. Higgins, stating that the HHS had taken part in the Irish Gathering endeavour of 2013.
On a dull, dreary evening, with another heavy shower imminent, members and friends of the Hazelwood Heritage Society gathered at Parke’s Castle on Thurs Aug 23rd for a Lough Gill cruise on board the ‘Rose of Innisfree’. However, expectations were not dampened as this hardy group were soon rewarded with a wonderful and informative tour on Sligo’s beautiful lake. Proceedings began with a narrative on the locations and beauty of the lough, and the history and importance of the Wynne family of Hazelwood and their connections with this picturesque part of Sligo.Fortunately, the rain must have known we were on board and kept away, as everyone began enjoying themselves as we travelled through the waters, to our first point of interest, the Isle of Innisfree, immortalized by W.B Yeats. There, we were treated to a reading of this famous and inspiring poem by Damian Brennan. Passing Church Island we were soon arriving at ‘Cottage Island’, where tales of Beezie Gallagher were relayed. Soon we were passing the shoreline of Hazelwood Forest and travelling down the Garavogue. Beatrice Macdonald, HHS Chairman, imparted the history of the Wynnes of Hazelwood House, how they planted the magnificent forest, as well as their involvement in the rowing and sailing regattas taking place annually on the lough. With the dismal light being taken over by the night sky, we headed back, entertained by two young ladies delightfully playing on the fiddle and accordion. A wonderful evening, on a wonderful lake filled with memories, history, beauty and music, a perfect conclusion to a wet and showery day.
The Hazelwood Heritage Society AGMThe Hazelwood Heritage Society who are actively directed towards the preservation, restoration and upkeep of Hazelwood House and its environs, ensuring it remains a recreational and cultural asset for the wider community, held its first AGM at St Joseph’s Clubhouse, on Tues March 19th at 8pm.The group reflected their achievements over the year, as well as looked forward to their plans for the coming year. Highlights of last year’s events included an ‘Evening Cruise’ on Lough Gill with a wonderful and informative tour on Sligo’s beautiful lake. A narrative on the locations and beauty of the lough, and the history and importance of the Wynne family and their connections with this picturesque part of Sligo enthralled the delighted guests. On another occasion the Hazelwood Heritage Society gathered again in Hazelwood Forest for a stroll around the shrubs and trees of the former Hazelwood Demense with occasional Yeats poetry readings.But the HHS AGM was not purely about the past. They have many events lined up for the coming year and are participating in Ireland’s ‘Gathering’ incentive. They have invited descendants of the Wynne family from all around the world to gather in Sligo and be shown around the former home and estate of their ancestors as well as being taken around some of Sligo’s highlights.These and many other items, were discussed as well as the elections of officers and committee members. Paul Allen, one of the founder members of the HHS resigned from the Committee but will continue designing and updating the society’s website. However a new member, Michael Kirby was added to the committee line up. News on the future of Hazelwood House and its Demense, was also discussed and explored at the AGM which proved to be an interesting evening
Gathering of the WynnesEnjoyed by Family Members to HazelwoodA successful Gathering weekend was enjoyed September 6th – 8th by descendants of the Hazelwood Wynnes from far and wide, hosted by the Hazelwood Heritage Society (HHS) as part of Ireland’s national tourism initiative to bring the Diaspora back ‘home.’ The event started with an evening launch and a warm welcome by both Mayor Councillor Marcella McGarry and Cathaoirleach Councillor Pat McGrath. Graham Wynne of Calgary, Canada, thanked the HHS for organising the w.end and the group was also treated to a photo montage complied by Aidan Mannion and Gerry Foley. Guests poured over extensive family trees and chatted throughout the evening.Beatrice Macdonald, HHS chair, in her speech reminded the audience that “almost three hundred years ago Lt Gen Owen Wynne II, when he built his house at Hazelwood, made a huge statement to the people of Sligo and beyond to the effect that The Wynnes had arrived in Sligo and were an important family and a force to be reckoned with. In a similar way the Hazelwood Heritage Society were sending out the message that they are intent on protecting the House and overseeing its eventual renovation. With careful planning this renovation programme would provide huge employment for the area, and a welcome boost to the local economy.”The next day the family was treated to a tour of parts of Hazelwood House by architectural conservation expert Wendy Lyons. Wendy told those present that Hazelwood House, built by the Wynnes to the design of Richard Cassells in 1727, was the first Palladian villa built by him in Ireland, and was used as a model for all subsequent houses later, i.e. Castletown and Powerscourt etc.
LISSAN HOUSE VISIT
“The architectural importance of this house cannot be over stressed, and it is vital that this great house is not allowed to deteriorate any further”. “The Irish Georgian Society are monitoring the situation closely”, said Wendy.Lunch followed in the ‘Morning Room,’ bringing the house to life again. A cruise on Lough Gill on the Rose of Innisfree then dinner at the Model rounded out the big day. The weekend series of events was then brought to a close with an outing to Lurganboy, the original family seat, where the group was treated to its historical background and generous hospitality at Lurganboy church, finishing with a drive through lovely Leitrim, including spectacular rain-swollen ‘wandering water gushing, from the hills above Glencar.’ Participants exchanged contact information, with many planning to return to Sligo, bringing cousins unable to attend the first time! Many thanks to all of those who assisted in making this Gathering a great success: County Sligo Heritage Office, Mark MacSharry & Jackie McMahon, Sligo Leader Partnership’s TÚS scheme, Sligo Field Club, and other volunteers.
(boat cruise photos left) Committee Members, Crew and Poetry Reader Damian Brennanon board the ‘Rose of Innisfree’ (right) Passengers settle down in thecabin for a delightful and enjoyable cruise on Lough Gill. (top left) A passenger takes on the role of Captain as the ‘Rose of Innisfree’ travels through the night.