Being asked recently to give a talk about Tashinny Church prompted me to take another look at some of the artefacts around the church. A study of the site by Dúchas in the 1990s was far more extensive than I had realised, documenting two pre-Norman cross-slabs, as well as a stone perforated with an ancient triskele symbol which may be a fragment of the original church on the site. This stone has since been moved from the graveyard for safekeeping, as has another intriguing piece – a large marble slab with the elaborate but weathered embossed carving of a coat-of-arms. This slab first caught my attention some years ago but it was only through renewed efforts that I think I have identified its origin. The arms are common to all Irish branches of the Gore family, but the coronet (indicating nobility – it’s a coronet rather than a crown), the motto (“In Hoc Signo Vinces”) and the supporting figures of a horse and a knight carrying a shield (baring what’s supposed to be the face of a lion) all indicate that this is a memorial to one of the two Lords Annaly who came from the Gore family: brothers John and Henry.
Although the background of this family has already been touched on in an earlier post, it’s probably worth recapping here. First of all, Tenelick is reputed to be the site where, in ancient times, a princess named Eithne drowned in the River Inny which is named after her. Officially, the name of the townland comes from Tigh na Leice (house of the broad stone), but a local tradition says that the name actually comes from Tine na Leice (fire of the broad stone), relating to the events around the drowning of Eithne. In 1621 an area of 2,500 acres across 2 baronies and 17 townlands, including ‘Drombardoons’ or ‘Drombarden, alias Taghseny’ and a castle at Tenelick, was surrendered and regranted by King James I to James McConnell Farrall and his heirs, or to those of his brother Faghny McConnell Farrell. ‘James McConnell Farrall of Tenelik’ subsequently turned up as a local leader of the Rebellion of 1641, when the county was cleared of both English soldiers and Protestant inhabitants, and with the re-conquest of Ireland by the army of Oliver Cromwell a decade later they were dealt with severely. James Ferrall of Tinilike was among the Catholic landowners to have his estates confiscated, and his home and some of his lands were given to Captain Henry Sankey in September 1654. Aidan Clarke’s 1999 book Prelude to Restoration in Ireland: The End of the Commonwealth, 1659–1660 tells us that at the time of the 1641 rebellion Henry Sankey was an eighteen year old from Edenderry in King’s County (Offaly), but living in England. He later claimed compensation to the value of £300 for losses in the uprising (some years later Nicholas Sankey of Ballylaken, King’s County, was also seeking compensation for lost estates and thought it worth mentioning his “near relation” Captain Henry Sankey). By 1644 Sankey was a captain in the regiment of Colonel Theophilus Jones, and went on to take part in Cromwell’s notorious actions at Drogheda. He became a Commissioner for the Survey of King’s County and Longford County, a solicitor to the Court of Claims and Qualifications in Athlone, Escheator for the Province of Leinster and a Justice of the Peace, and was richly rewarded for his loyalty to the Commonwealth with grants of confiscated land (and not just at Tenelick). In September 1654 Sankey was granted 1,357 acres within the south Longford baronies of Rathcline and Shrule. 400 ‘Certificates of Debenture’ granting land (generally between 30 and 60 acres) were also offered to Sankey’s troopers in lieu of payment in the same districts, with the locations selected by lot. Sixteen of these certificates survive in the National Library, namely (as best as can be made out): John Browne, Thomas Currans, Humphrey Edwards, Patrick Garnon, Anthony Groghogan, John Gill, Robert Hayes, Thomas Hinkman, Lawrence Hooper, Edmond Kelly, Edmond Kersons, Hugh Lalar, Peter Lee, John Manypenny, Thomas Paris or Pallis, and Peirs Pettit. Another certificate is held at Trinity College for trooper Edward Allen. The Landsdown Census showed the population of Tenelick townland by 1659 was 17.
Like many prominent Commonwealth figures, Captain Sankey adapted quite well to the Restoration, being elected an MP in 1661 and having most of his Tenelick estate confirmed by the Act of Settlement in 1666. Henry Sankey died in 1675 and was succeeded by his son John. A 1682 report noted that “All the lands belonging to the fferalls was seized and sequestred in this late War … and such other lands as was antiently theirs, were given to soldiers and adventurers. … Tineleeke, Englished the House of Broad Stone, where was formeriy an old castle, it is now the Estate of Mr John Sankey, whose father Henry Sankey Esqr. did much improve & built a large house on it.” John Sankey died in 1692 and the estate then passed to his daughter Bridget and, through her 1703 marriage, to George Gore. Gore was a lawyer and his new source of income helped him climb the social ladder to become MP for Longford Borough in 1709 and Attorney General for Ireland under King George I in 1714. In 1718 he began adding to ‘Sankey Manor’ at Tenelick, but in 1720 his health problems prompted him to step down to the position of Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He was denied the role of Chief Justice, probably because of his lack of legal skills, and he retired in 1745 only on the condition that his unskilled and highly unpopular nephew take his place on the Court. Bridget died in 1727, leaving four surviving children. Their most used residence was at number 50 St. Stephen’s Green, now incorporated into the OPW’s headquarters at number 51. The house at Tenelick was complemented by the construction of a ‘Long Avenue’ and massive gates opening onto the Tashinny-Abbeyshrule road at Colehill (now a public road). There’s a suggestion that the townland named Deerpark was literally a private deer park accessed by the extension of that avenue that leads to the junction known locally as the ‘Blue Doors’ (anyone know where that name originated?). George died in 1753, followed by his eldest son and heir Arthur in 1758. The estate then passed to Arthur’s younger brother John.
John Gore was a Doctor of Law and, like his father and brothers, sat as an MP in the Irish House of Commons. In partnership with Anthony Malone (from Ballinacarrigy, Chancellor of the Exchequer and sponsor of the church at Kilbixy) and Nathaniel Clements, John Gore opened a bank in 1759 which very publicly became insolvent within 13 months. However, he became Solicitor-General for Ireland in 1760, Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in 1764, and was created Baron Annaly of Tenelick in 1766, the title in reference to an ancient name for County Longford. He was also a stand-in Speaker of the Irish House of Lords during the late 1760s. Sometime during this period John commissioned the impressive Annaly Monument inside Tashinny Church, sculpted by Van Nost the younger and dedicated to the extended Sankey and Gore family. The inscription also hints at Lord Annaly’s strongly loyalist politics. He was married to Frances Wingfield but they had no children and when he died in 1784 his title became extinct.
Next to inherit Tenelick was Colonel Henry Gore (listed as born in 1728, but it seems unlikely he was born a year after his mother’s death!). Following a military career, Henry became Collector of Customs and an MP, and was himself created Lord Annaly in 1789. He married Mary Smyth but likewise left no heirs upon his death in 1793. There’s a suggestion that the estate was sold in that year to a John Nowlan of Dublin, but the earliest document I have been able to find in the Registry of Deeds is from March 1805 (577/331/387188), when ‘Mary, Lady Annally, widow and sole executrix of Lord Annally, deceased’, sold the Manor of Sankey and adjoining lands of Tenelick to Luke White of Woodlands, County Dublin. Lady Annaly herself died in 1812, and the Vestry Minutes of Tashinny Church explain that in 1813 “the seat on the south side of the church next to the communion table, formerly known by the name of the Tenelick seat, [is] now vacant by the removal of this family by death and several other causes”.
Luke White was an altogether different type of landlord. His exact origins are unclear but modest, beginning as a clerk and salesman for a bookseller. By the 1780s he was a publisher in his own right and the operator of a lottery scheme which made him an extremely wealthy entrepreneur. In 1800 White supposedly supplied loans to British authorities with which to persuade Irish MPs to support the Act of Union. His political beliefs after he became an MP himself were decidedly liberal and in favour of Catholic Emancipation, but the Irish Catholic Church itself supported the Act of Union as a means to an end. White bought Luttrellstown Castle from Henry Luttrell in 1800 and renamed it Woodlands, but struggled to win the approval of the traditional aristocracy because of his background. He was High Sheriff of County Dublin in 1804 and – after buying Tenelick – High Sheriff of County Longford in 1806. He became an MP for County Leitrim in 1812. His sons Samuel, Luke and Henry were all elected MPs too, Luke junior being elected for County Longford on three occasions but disqualified on appeal each time. Henry White was ennobled as ‘Baron Annaly of Annaly and Rathcline’ in 1863, and his son Luke was both a Longford MP and the second Lord Anally. The title survives today in the person of the sixth Lord, Luke Richard White, but the connection to Tenelick is long since broken.
In fact, it appears the Whites never resided in Tenelick, despite their political links to County Longford. The demesne was leased to the company of John McCann & Sons of Drogheda, who built a mill among the ruins of the old castle and were one of the reasons why the Royal Canal diverted so far off its original course to Tenelick in 1817. McCann’s also reputedly used the ground floor of the Manor House to stable their canal barge dray-horses (notwithstanding the substantial out-houses already on the site), with the upper floor used to store animal feed, and Lewis reported in 1837 that “Tenelick, once the residence of Lord Annally has long since been in ruins”. McCann’s, however, were also crucial in transporting Indian meal to the district during the Great Famine and easing the plight of the local population. The company left Tenelick in 1879 and the manor house was once again inhabited until the 1970s. The ruins of the castle and mill, and of the Gore/Sankey Manor, are today hidden on private property and largely forgotten.
An ornate map drawn in 1823 (NLI Ms 16 H 27 (6)) shows the Tenelick Estate as owned by Luke White, covering 17 townlands and 2,050 acres (plus another 6 townlands not connected to the estate). The area covers an elongated stretch either side of the roads leading from Tashinny to Tenelick to Colehill and beyond Carrickboy, and the map was copied from an earlier one which pre-dated the Royal Canal. Samuel (of Killikee, Dublin), Thomas (of Woodlands), Luke (of Rathcline) and Henry White (of Woodlands) were all registered as Freeholders of Tenelick – and therefore as voters in County Longford – in July 1817. Col. Henry White reappears as a substantial landlord in the Freeholders Register of 1831, the Griffith’s Primary Valuation of 1854 and (as Lord Annally) the Land Owners in Ireland of 1876, where he held over 12,000 acres. In the same list were Henry W. White with over 3,000 acres, Luke White with over 1,000 acres and Peter White with over 300 acres, all in County Longford. The NAI has a batch of documents from around 1948/1949 concerning the Martin / White family genealogy (2000/46), but I’d suggest caution in using it as a source. It seems the authors of the documents are descendants of Samuel White, who operated an ‘English Grammar School’ in Grafton Street in the 1750s, but they recount a story of Samuel witnessing the hanging of his former pupil Theobald Wolfe Tone when in fact Tone was not hanged. They then decide, rather summarily, that Luke White was another ancestor and was the son of Samuel White, despite there being as little as seven years in age difference between them. They also change the name of a further ancestor, Henry White, to Samuel, in order to make it fit with published accounts of the Peerage, and assume that later generations of their family were omitted from such publications because of a religious bias against their ‘Walkerite’ faith.
But to return to the marble memorial tablet at Tashinny, the front of the panel measures 24 inches in height and 21½ inches in width, with the edges all tapering towards the back. Each edge also has three dowel holes drilled, but they are at irregularly spaced intervals (along the top edge these are spaced at 5⅛ inches, 10¾ inches, and 19 inches from the left corner of the tablet). At the top of the front of the panel is a strip of rust staining, which suggests some sort of metal brace was used to hold it in place. The weathering and the traces of ivy on the surface indicate that it was outside for many years. In the graveyard of Tashinny, on the southern side of the church, is a small railed grave with lots of pieces of stonework scattered around. The grave is unmarked and unidentified. Outside the railing is a very large stone block with recesses cut into four sides, one of which seems to correspond with the dimensions of the tablet, and a few surviving holes likewise seem to match the dowel holes of the top edge. Alongside the block is a metal brace of roughly the same span as the block and roughly the same width as the rust stain, though it is probably no more than 100 years old. The top of the block (as it lies today, at least) has a hole filled with melted lead. Inside the railing are the parts of a large stone pedestal containing more lead, but not appearing to fit together properly. Nearby are the remains of a large stone pillar and of a finial, also with their lead and iron skeletons visible. I recall the pillar was still standing in the 1980s, but cannot figure out if all of these parts formed one large memorial, or whether it was inside or outside the railings – any photos or recollections would be very helpful. I am convinced that the tablet and the block originally marked the burial vault of the Gore family, and it seems a fair guess that that vault was within the railed-off area.