The 1930s National Folklore Project, which collected stories from school children, includes an account of a Wexford farmer named Mulligan who was attacked at night by a mounted apparition alleged to be Hunter Gowan’s ghost and tells how he was after the description of the shock of a shock died incident.
The dreaded Gowan was a volunteer militia captain, judge, and bounty hunter. He hunted down priests, thieves and political refugees and received an annual grant of £ 100 a year for his services. His Black Mob of Yeomen appears to have been given a free hand in burning houses and torturing suspects. Among other heinous acts attributed to them was a penchant for beating prisoners to death and using pitch caps – burning pitch in a paper or cloth hat attached to the victim’s scalp.
In one famous story, Hunter Gowan is overseeing the eviction of a family outside of Gorey when an elderly man confronted him at the crime scene. He pointed his finger at Gowan and announced that the captain was destined for Hellfire. Gowan struck his sword, cut off the offending finger, attached it to the tip of the sword, and waved back at the mutilated man. Gowan then walked up and down the main street of Gorey, waving his finger at the townspeople, telling them to behave. When he stopped at his favorite pub, he and his cohort ordered a bowl of whiskey punch and stirred it with their removed finger. After the failed 1798 uprising, Gowan was responsible for killing captured rebels in Shillelagh, Carnew, and Clonegal.
The property has equestrian buildings, the largest stone barn in the country and a courtyard
After the death of his own wife, Frances Norton, who died of exhaustion (after having 16 children), Gowan proclaimed “she was worn out like an old ewe from too many births” and promptly married the young governess of his children. He was 61 years old.
But in Aughrim, Co Wicklow, Gowan and his Black Mob met their match in 1798 when they were attacked by a disciplined rebel force commanded by General Joseph Holt of Redcross. Holt’s troops fell to the ground avoiding the Black Mob’s first fusillade, and then worked deftly across the river to drive Gowan and his mob away.
After fighting in Vinegar Hill, Holt’s troops stayed in the Wicklow Hills for a period before surrendering to be deported to Australia around 1800.
The best view of the Battle of Rednagh Bridge that day was from Upper Aughrim House, built on the hill just above town as the base of the vast Meath estates in the area. The Earl of Meath, who lived in Kilruddery, had Aughrim built as an estate town. Unlike many country nobility, the Brabazons were generally popular with their tenants, so the house was not threatened from any side that day. The Meath Estate continued to establish the Meath and Coombe Hospitals, and during the next uprising in 1867 their tenants pledged to defend their holdings.
Upper Aughrim House was long occupied by the estate’s agents, the Fogarty family, who also ran the Aughrim mills for the Meaths. The house dates back to the 1760s and, like many of the city’s historic buildings, was likely built from the famous locally mined granite.
When the great Irish estates were dissolved, the Fogartys acquired possession of the house and part of the farmland. One son emigrated to the United States and returned wealthy. He set about expanding the house and adding its pretty stone front section. Fogarty junior spared no expense with elaborate cornices and decorations that are intact to this day.
After the last Fogarty died, one of the Meaths bought him back in a stroke of fate. Lady Romaine Brabazon, the Count’s sister, bought it with her husband, Neil Pike. They also invested in the house, gardens, and most of the yard. The stone barn at Aughrim Upper is believed to be the largest in Ireland.
The whole thing was then bought three years ago by a Dublin-based businessman as a proposed retirement plan. However, when he found he was more connected to his business than he thought, he is now selling it instead of stopping using it.
The result of the high spending by two groups of owners is that this house looks remarkably low-key from the front, but is dazzling inside. It’s also two and a half times deeper than it’s wide. The main entrance through a portico leads you into the hall with a remarkable floor mosaic and decorative plasterwork around the door arch and on the ceilings. To the right is the main salon and to the left is the living room. The double doors from the drawing room lead into the formal dining room. Perhaps a modern concession is that the living room now runs openly into the kitchen.
At the back, entered from the inner courtyard, there is another kitchen / living room, a bedroom, a bathroom and in the middle there are storage rooms and ancillary rooms. To the right of the house next to the salon is the winter garden, from which you can enjoy the view. Upstairs there are six more bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The current owners have lightly decorated the interior so that it can speak for itself in a clean and bright way. There is great potential outside in the courtyard equipped with a number of high quality stone farms and equestrian buildings, including the aforementioned barn.
The entrance hall with floor mosaic and stucco works on the ceilings and the door arch
This home is 93.5 acres so it would be of interest to home buyers looking for pocket lots, farmers looking for a great home and business, and the hospitality sector that could certainly develop the essential courtyard buildings in the way Many other boutique country house hotels have done this.
The house itself extends over almost 6,000 m² and the adjoining house at the back is another 775 m². The outbuildings are a whopping 8,000 square meters and for those looking for a home and hotel business, this huge barn with its wooden beamed ceiling is a remarkable event space for weddings.
The 93.5 hectares are laid out in productive tillage, forests and grasslands. The property is being sold by Savills in four lots, but Lot 1 is the home, cabin, outbuildings and 93.5 acres. The agents expect € 1.8 million. These days, when the Derry and Ow Rivers meet, Aughrim is a far more peaceful postcard town.
Hunter Gowan somehow evaded 39 “looting and slaughter” charges and lived to be 97 years old. It is said that his grave in Gorey needs extra security after local residents were reportedly found with their heads playing football.
For his part, Joe Holt secured a job as a farm manager on the boat to Australia and made it a great success. In 1804 there was a convict riot on Castle Hill and hundreds of rebels were mobilized. They lined up on a New South Wales landmark called Vinegar Hill. Holt stayed out of it.
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