Turtle Bunbury

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Above: Colonel Meade Dennis, grandfather of the late
Captain Piers Dennis of Fortgranite.
Photograph: Walter Stoneman, 1917.

DenNis of Fort Granite, Co. Wicklow

"Suaviter sed Fortiter" (Mildly but Firmly)

The Dennis family descends in the male line from the Swifts of Herefordshire, kinsfolk of both Jonathan Swift and John Dryden. In the late 18th century, a prudent marriage to the sole heiress of the Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer brought the extensive Dennis estates in Kerry, Cork and Dublin to the family. A similarly lucrative marriage settlement in 1810 introduced Thomas Dennis to West Wicklow when he succeeded to the Pendred estate at Fortgranite outside Baltinglass. Further marriages to the Bakers of Tipperary, the Crosbies of Kerry and the Handcocks of Westmeath further increased their social network. Amongst the dramatis personae of relatives were the Shakespearian scholar Edgar Flower, the artist Kathleen Marescaux, the Crimean War veteran Major John FitzThomas Dennis and the Indian tea magnate Maurice FitzGerald Sandes. In the early 20th century, the inventive Colonel Meade Dennis pioneered the concepts of radio-transmission and submarine detection at his office in Fortgranite. His son and heir, General Meade Dennis, served as principal artillery commander in Montgomery's successful campaign against Rommel's army in North Africa. Fortgranite was sold by the Dennis family in 2019.

Godwin Swift & the Literary Connections

The Dennis family of Fortgranite descends directly from the Swifts of Lynn, Co. Westmeath. As such, the family can lay claim to not one but two of the great literary geniuses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The poet John Dryden is connected through his great-aunt Elizabeth Dryden who married Godwin Swift, the first of the Swifts to settle in Ireland. Godwin, a barrister, made the move from Herefordshire early in the reign of Charles II and was Attorney General to the Duke of Ormonde for the County Palatine of Tipperary. By way of payment for his service, he received a residence on Ormonde Quay in Dublin and an estate at Swift's Heath, Jenkinstown, just outside Kilkenny City. Jonathan Swift, the celebrated Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral and author of Gulliver's Travels, was Godwin's cousin and lived at Swift's Heath while studying in Kilkenny. Godwin's fourth wife, Elinor Meade, was a daughter of Colonel William Meade of Kinsale. They had five sons. Their eldest son, Meade Swift, studied at Trinity College Dublin, relocated to Lynn on the banks of Lough Ennell in Co. Westmeath. He married Mary L'Estrange of nearby Keoltown. (1) Meade's cousin Jonathan Swift was a frequent visitor and his memory is now encapsulated in Jonathan Swift Park and the Lilliput Adventure Centre.

Lord Tracton & the Dennis Connection

Meade and Mary Swift's second son, Thomas Swift, was born in 1711. His wife Frances was the only daughter of John Dennis, a timber merchant from of Kinsale, Co. Cork, and his wife Anne Bullen, the scion of another prominent Kinsale family. (2)

It is here that the Dennis surname starts to become apparent for Frances bore Thomas two sons, subsequently known as the Rev. Meade Swift-Dennis and John Swift-Dennis.

Frances's brother, James Dennis, was a barrister of much consequence in Georgian Ireland. Born in 1721 and educated at Trinity College, he qualified as a Barrister in 1746. His political career kicked into gear when he became Recorder of Youghal in 1755, giving him considerable influece on the Town Council. In 1757 he was promoted to King's Counsel, aka taking silk, which meant he was henceforth recognised as a lawyer by the Crown. He entered the Irish House of Commons as MP for Rathcormack in 1761, attending Parliament in College Green. In 1765, he was agent to the election campaign of Agmondisham Vesey in a Kinsale by-election caused by the death of John Folliott. Vese defeated his rival Richard Meade by 64 votes to 48. The electors appear to have been won over by booze and bribery. William Dennis, vintner - presumably a brother or cousin of James - received £80 for Mr Vesey’s entertainment, while another three innkeepers received a total of £76 3s 6d for providing ‘drink for Mr Vesey’s health’ and a further £14 9s for beer to the populace. James Dennis himself spent £46 12s 2d of his own money on sending a coach and post-chaise to Dublin to collect voters. James Kearney (a future MP for Kinsale) also spent £16 4s 3d to bring voters to Kinsale on Vesey’s behalf, which covered the price of a post-chaise and hospitality on the four-day journey. Vesey spent a further £12 7s 10d on ‘a notice to disqualify John O’Grady as a Papist from voting’. Ben Hayes, fiddler, was paid £5 13s 9d. Vesey’s election breakages bill amounted to £7 8s, exclusive of fines for ‘a crowd of broke heads and crakt limbs’.

In 1768 James Dennis switched constituencies and became MP for Youghal. He rose to become Prime Serjeant of Ireland in 1774, one of the seniormost legal positions in Ireland. He was also legal advisor to the influential Henry Boyle, 1st Earl of Shannon, and Chief Whip to Shannon's party in Parliament. Some of Lord Tracton's letters can be found within the Shannon papers at the PRONI archive. In 1777 he became Chief Baron of the Exchequer. He was married to the Cork heiress, Elizabeth Piggott.

In 1767, he built a mansion, Neptune (subsequently Temple Hill House) in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. (3) He was a founding father of "The Monks of the Screw" who often met at his house. John Philpott Curran, father to Robert Emmett's beloved Sarah, was Grand Prior of the Order which counted Flood, Grattan, Lord Charlemont and Bowes Daly among its impressive list of members. In later years, wringing tears from his aged eyes, Curran recalled the club's hey-day as a time "which we can remember with no other regret than that they can return no more … we spent them not in toys, or lust, or wine, but in search of deep philosophy, wit, eloquence and poetry."

On 13th December 1780, James Dennis was created ‘Baron Tracton of Tracton Abbey’, a curious choice given that the lands of Tracton Abbey belonged to the Daunt family who had lived within the remains of the abbey for at least 100 years. The wider lands around Tracton formed part of Lord Shannon's estate. Lord Tracton died suddenly in June 1782 and with him expired his title. (3a) He was buried in the Piggot vault of the old St Finbarr’s Cathedral where his widow erected a grandiose monument by John Bacon to his memory. When the cathedral was demolished and rebuilt in the mid 19th Century, the monument was moved to St. Nicholas’ Church in Cork City – and when that closed it moved to the Crawford Art Gallery, where it can still be seen today.

In the absence of any children, he bequeathed his estates in Co. Kerry to his nephew the Rev. Meade Swift and those in Counties Cork and Dublin to his other nephew John Swift. In return the brothers were obliged to adopt the surname and arms of Dennis and to pay the widowed Lady Tracton a substantial annual jointure of £1800 (approx. €200,000 in 2005).

Reverend Meade Swift-Dennis (1753 - 1837)

The Rev. Meade Swift-Dennis was born in 1753 and originally settled at Lynnbury and Union Hill in Co. Westmeath. It is notable that Lynnbury, near Mullingar, is exceptionally similar to Fort Granite, right down to its gate lodge! The Rev Swift-Dennis moved to Cork after his inheritance from Lord Tracton and was later Vicar Choral of Cork. His wife Delia was the second daughter of Morley Saunders of Saunder's Grove, Co. Wicklow. Perhaps it was a common connection to Kinsale that united the two families. Delia's forbear had been Governor of Kinsale under Cromwell and the Reverend's younger brother, John Swift-Dennis, was MP for Kinsale in the Irish Parliament. (4) The Reverend died aged 84 in November 1837, having had had five sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas Stratford Dennis. (5)

Flowers & Poetry

Firstly, however, it is worth diverting to the Reverend's other four sons. The second son, the Rev. Paul Meade Dennis, was married in May 1827 to Mary Anne, eldest daughter of Anthony Coane of Higginstown, Ballyshannon, County Donegal. (6) Mary Anne's sister Martha married Christopher Johnston Allingham, a veteran of Waterloo and cousin of the Ballyshannon poet William Allingham. The Rev. Paul died in 1867 leaving a son, Fitzmeade, and two daughters, Delia and Jemima, who all died unmarried. The Reverend's third son, James Aldborough Dennis, married Caroline Wynne, daughter and co-heir of Colonel Topp but died without issue. The fourth son John Morley Dennis succeeded to the family property at Union Hill in County Westmeath, married Elizabeth Mander and left a son, Aldborough (d. 1879), and two daughters, Ellen and Isabella. Aldborough and Ellen died unmarried but Isabella was married in 1850 to the quaintly named Edgar Flower, JP, a well-known art connoisseur and businessman. The Flowers lived between Middle Hill Park, Broadway, Worcester and the Hill in Stratford-upon-Avon where Edgar served as Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust until his death in 1904. (7) The Reverend's youngest son, the Rev. George Morley Dennis was Rector of Enniscoffey, Co. Westmeath, married Captain Joseph McGwire's daughter and heiress, Elizabeth McGwire, and had seven sons and five daughters.

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Above: This man was captioned 'Thomas Stratford Dennis' in the extracts from the original 'Nick Button' album I was sent in May 2014. Could this really be a man born in 1781?

An Orange Magistrate in a Granite Fort

The Reverend's eldest son, Thomas Stratford Dennis, was born on 12th June 1781. He spent the early years of his married life at his Dennis uncle's house in Dublin and was attached to the Moyashell Cavalry under Gustavus Rochfort whilst in Westmeath. On 30 January 1810, he married his cousin Katherine Martha Maria Saunders, eldest daughter of Morley Saunders of Saunder's Grove. As part of his marriage settlement, Thomas received a small estate outside Baltinglass. This had previously belonged to the Pendred family. Indeed, the original house at Fortgranite dates to 1730 when built by George Pendred of Saunder's Grove. (8) George's son assumed the name Saunders. (9) Thomas considerably extended the existing building. In May 1827, The Kilkenny Independent accused Thomas Dennis and eleven other Orange magistrates for taking part in a blatant fraud when putting their names to the Anti-Catholic Petition of that year. As with the other men, Thomas's name appeared on the petition twice - once as "Thomas Dennis, Fort Grant" and then as "Thomas Granite, Fortgranite". (10)

Within 2 months of his marriage in January 1810, Thomas was evidenty in close proximity to Morley Saunders, who was now his father-in-law, as well as his uncle. A commission of 3 March 1810, granted by Dublin Castle and held by the family, states that Thomas Dennis Esquire was to be 2nd Captain of the (predominately Protestant) Imael Corps of Infantry (with Morley Saunders as Captain Commandant, and that he was 'to raise an Armed Corps in the County of Wicklow to be called the Imael Infantry.' Thomas did not permanently move to Fortgranite until sometime around 1815. The Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers (CSORP) references a letter from [Major] Thomas Dennes (sic) of the Imaal Yeomanry Corps in late 1833; the letter itself is held at the National Archives in Dublin.

[NB: During the period of the 1798 Rebellion there were several militia corps in the general area (e.g. Humewood, Saunders Grove, Stratford, Dunlavin). Evidently after that period of unrest a lot of them disappeared or amalgamated and Imaal covered an area much greater than its name suggests. In the late 1820s the unrest concerned the paying of 'tithes' for the upkeep of the Church of Ireland ministers, the C. of I. being the state church at the time. The Roman Catholic majority resented the tax and the campaign became known as the Tithe Wars.]

By Thomas Dennis, Esquire, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for Carlow.
The Information of Elizabeth Neal of Knocklishen, Carlow who came before me this Day and being examined and duly Sworn on the Holy Evaneglists Sayth Augustine Byrne of Knocklishen has at Different times laid Hands on her in an imodest and unchaste manner and Struggled with her and Insisted to act with her as he attempted and wished to do, and endeavoured to tempt her with Pressing her to take cash or Bank Paper from him to get his will of her which offers she always and often refused notwithstanding which he still assaulted her and threw her down but she was able to get away from him. (signed) Elizabeth, herXmark, Neal.
Sworn before this 29th September 1820.(signed) Thomas Dennis.
Informant acknowledges to stand Bound to our Sovereign Lord the King in the sum of £ Ten pounds to Prosceute Agustine Byrne at the next General Quarter Sessions of the peace to be held in Tullow in and for Carlow and not Depart the Court without Licence.
From Pat Purcell Papers.

In 1821, Thomas Stratford Dennis of Fort Granite, Baltinglass, County Wicklow, magistrate, wrote to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, reporting that a 'notorious robber', James Feris [Faris], who was previously sentenced at County Carlow assizes to transportation, has escaped and returned to Ireland, to seek revenge. (National Archives of Ireland. Ref: CSO/RP/SC/1821/432. Thanks to Michael Purcell).

Thomas succeeded his father in 1837 in which year Lewis recorded that the Dennis family ran "a handsome school-house, with apartments for a master and mistress, built and supported entirely by the proprietor and his family, in which more than 80 boys and girls receive a strictly religious education; there is also an infants' school and dwelling-house for the mistress, at which between 20 and 30 children daily attend; and a Sunday school, held in the school-house, is numerously attended both by children and adults". (11) There was also "a constabulary police station" on the demesne. Thomas died during the Winter Solstice of 21st December 1870 at the age of 89. He had six sons and two daughters of whom the eldest son, Meade Caulfield Dennis (1810 - 1891), succeeded to Fortgranite.

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Above: Photos of Lt. Col. Morley Dennis and his wife Anna (nee Baker) courtesy of Lismacue House.


Barraderry House

Thomas and Katherine's second son carried the admirable name of Morley Stratford Tynte Dennis and is of particular interest as he became a Lieutenant Colonel and lived at the former Pendred property of Barraderry House in Kiltegan. Born in 1811, he originally served with the 76th Foot, or "Hindoostans", in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Corfu and Malta. (12) He was second-in-command to Colonel Smyth when the 76th was stationed in Waterford from 1859 to 1861. After the 76th regiments' departure, Waterford's principal magistrates, aldermen and councillors wrote a series of letters congratulating Colonel Smyth for "the very excellent conduct" of his men and "also for the kind liberality with which the splendid band of the Regiment was at all times given for the amusement of the citizens generally". Lieutenant Colonel Dennis retired from the army shortly thereafter and settled at Barraderry, which, by 1876, comprised 433 acres. (13)

The Baker Connection

On 9th May 1866, Morley Dennis married Anne Baker, second daughter of Hugh Baker of Lismacue House in Bansha, Co. Tipperary. Hugh had succeeded to Lismacue following the murder of his uncle, William Baker, in November 1815. Anne's brothers included Hugh Baker, a noted cricketer and horseman "being endowed with more than the average physical strength", William Baker, who took over the Directorship of Dr. Barnardo's Homes on the death of the Founder in 1905, and Sir Augustine FitzGerald Baker, sometime President of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland. Her eldest sister Marion married George Cole Baker of Ballydavid but he too was murdered in a dispute over the impending eviction of a tenant at Ballydavid Wood on 31st December 1868. The murderer was never apprehended. Marion subsequently married Frederick Browne, a wealthy lawyer from the Isle of Douglas. Anne Dennis passed way on 31st January 1902 and Lieutenant Colonel Morley Stratford Tynte Dennis followed her on 19th July 1903 aged 92. They are both buried in Kiltegan. They had no children.

Major JF Dennis (1816 - 1913) - A Crimean War Veteran

Thomas and Katherine's third son, Major John FitzThomas Dennis served with the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot. In May 1854, he married Jane Brown, only daughter of Richard Jebb Brown, Staff Surgeon, of Newry, Co. Down. A month later, his regiment set sail for the Crimea. During the ensuing campaign, they experienced some of the heaviest fighting in the war. At the Battle of the Alma in September the Derbyshires were in the forefront of the attack; casualties amongst the officers were so intense that the carrying of the Regimental Colour fell to a Private Keenan. By the close of the battle of Inkerman, the regiment was down to less than 100 men. Exactly how involved Major Dennis was in this campaigning is unknown. He died at his residence on Mayville Terrace in Dalkey at the grand age of 98.
Jane bore him a son and four daughters and lived in Dalkey, Co. Dublin. The son, Thomas was killed in an accident aged 29 in August 1888. The three elder daughters - Katherine, Ellen and Mary - died unmarried. The youngest daughter, Charlotte, was married twice. A daughter by her first marriage to Robert Jones was one of over 500 citizens killed when the Germans torpedoed the RMS Leinster in 1918. Charlotte's second husband, Rowland Henry Rochfort Wade was in charge of Chinese Customs in Dublin.

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L-R: Eileen Dennis (nee Drury), first wife of Major General J. B. Dennis;
Emma Dennis (nee Salmon(, 2nd wife of Gen. J. B. Dennis.
I thinkEmma looks rather like the Dragon Queen from 'Game of Thrones'.
Photos courtesy of Nick Button, May 2014.




Thomas and Katherine's fourth son Major General James Benjamin Dennis (1817-1912) served with the Royal Artillery. He inherited Ennel Lodge in Co. Westmeath from his first cousin Henry William Harrison in 1845. He also had a residence at Newtown House in Kilkenny.

In the summer of 1859, the 38-year-old artillery expert married Eileen Drury, known as 'Eily', eldest daughter of William Barker Drury, a prominent barrister from Boden Park, Rathfarnham.

Eileen died less than two years later and General Dennis married secondly, 28th June 1866, Emma, third daughter of Lieutenant General William Broome Salmon of the Bombay Staff Corps. (14)

General Dennis died on 27th February 1912, leaving issue four daughters.

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Above: Captioned 'Kathleen Dennis', this is thought to be the artist
Kathleen Marescaux. Photos courtesy of Nick Button, May 2014.

Kathleen Marescaux, RUA, RWS (1868-1944)

General Dennis's second daughter was the artist, Kathleen Marescaux. (15) Kathleen travelled extensively in Europe during her youth and first exhibited at the RHA in 1893 under her maiden name Dennis. In September 1894 she was married in St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny, to a young naval officer, Lieutenant (subsequently Vice-Admiral) Gerald Marescaux, CB, CMG, of Inchiholohan, Co. Kilkenny. She continued to exhibit at the RHA periodically until 1935 and also exhibited with the Dublin Sketching Club, the WCSI, the Fine Art Society (London) and the Ulster Academy of Arts.

The Younger Sons

The fifth son Robert William Dennis (1821 - 1873) was a barrister. The sixth son Edward Albert Dennis (1823 - 1899) was a JP for both Counties Carlow and Wicklow and lived at Eadestown Lodge, Co. Wicklow. In May 1858, he married Mary Woodroffe, second daughter of the Rev. John Nunn Woodroffe, Prebendary of Cahirlag, Co. Cork. She was a cousin of Sir John Woodroffe (pseudonym Arthur Avalon), arguably the most famous Western Tantrik scholar of his day.

The Tea Magnate from Tralee

As to Thomas and Katherine Dennis's two daughters, Katherine, the eldest, was married in 1848 to the Rev. Solomon Donovan, Rector of Horetown and Precentor of the Diocese of Ferns, and died without issue aged 93 in 1907. The younger daughter Ellen Louisa was married in January 1857 to the wealthy Kerry barrister Maurice FitzGerald Sandes, MA, at the Church in Kiltegan. Maurice Sandes enjoyed an influential position in British India during the early 19th century, rising to the post of Registrar General of Bengal. He also made a considerable fortune from his investments in tea plantations and the production of indigo dye. At the time of his marriage, he was Director of the Balijan Tea Company in Assam. While in India the Bateman's ancestral home at Oak Park outside Tralee in Co. Kerry came up for sale and Maurice acquired the property through the Encumbered Estates Court. Following his return to Ireland in 1857, Maurice commissioned the Cork-based architect William Atkins to build a new family mansion on his Kerry estate. Oak Park House (now Collis-Sandes House) was in fact his wedding present to his new wife. It took three years to complete and cost £37,000 (approx. €3 million in 2005) with a further £6000 spent on interior decoration. The house was described by Michael McCarthy, professor of History of Art at University College Dublin in the 1997 Irish Arts Review as "an architectural jewel of the greatest delicacy and of first importance to International and Irish architectural history thanks to the quality of design and execution". Maurice served as Justice of the Peace for Kerry and High Sheriff of Tralee. He lived at Oak Park for 19 years, passing away in his 74th year in 1879. Shortly before his death, his holdings in Kerry were recorded as 11,000 acres, making him one of the largest landowners in the county. He also still held his plantations in India. In the absence of any children, he left both the house and his fortune to his wife for her lifetime and thereafter the balance went to his barrister nephew, Falkiner Sandes Collis. Falkiner's only son Captain Maurice Collis-Sandes was killed at the Somme in February 1917. The estate was subsequently put up for sale and purchased for the Presentation Order of Nuns in 1923. "Colles-Sandes House" is now principally run as an educational and cultural centre. (16)

Meade Dennis (1810-1891) & the Crosbie Connection

Thomas and Katherine Dennis's eldest son, Meade Caulfield Dennis, M.A., was educated at Trinity College Dublin during the great debates over Catholic Emancipation headed up by the Kerry politician Daniel O'Connell. Meade would find himself increasingly drawn to the "Kingdom" over the ensuing decades as not only did his sister Ellen marry Maurice Sandes of Tralee but, in January 1855, he himself married Margaret Katherine Crosbie. She was a daughter of Major Pierse Crosbie of Ballyheigue Castle, patriarch of a family established in Co. Kerry since the 16th century. In 1601 Queen Elizabeth described Margaret's forbear, the Rev. John Crosbie, Bishop of Ardfert, as "a graduate in schools, of English race, skilled in the English tongue and well disposed in religion". Major Pierse Crosbie was seven generations on from the Bishop, the son of Colonel James Crosbie, sometime MP for Co. Kerry, by his wife Elizabeth Bateman of Oak Park. It was Colonel James who built Ballyheigue Castle. Pierse was High Sheriff for Co. Kerry in 1815, the year of Waterloo, and married three times. His first wife Elizabeth was a daughter of General John Mitchell. (17) His second wife - Margaret's mother - was Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas William Sandes, DL, of Sallow Grave, Co. Kerry. Elizabeth died on 25th May 1835, possibly while giving birth to Margaret. Major Pierse's third wife was Margaret Wren, daughter of Leslie Wren of Littur, Co. Kerry, with whom he had a further six sons and two daughters.

[Pierse Crosbie's sister Frances was the wife of Rowland Chute of Leebrook near Tralee, Co. Kerry; Rowland was a
younger son of Richard Chute of Chute Hall, also near Tralee.]

When Major Pierse died in 1849, Ballyheigue passed to Margaret's elder brother Colonel James Crosbie and his wife Rosa, daughter of Sir John Lister-Kaye, 2nd Bart. Their eldest son Piers died at Harrow aged 18 in 1878, perhaps prompting the Colonel's premature demise the following year. Ballyheigue duly passed to the Colonel's second son, Lieutenant James Crosbie who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a young man and was subsequently High Sheriff of Kerry. By his marriage to Maria Leith, he had a daughter Oonah who settled in Fife; Ballyheigue Castle ultimately passed to her cousin Atwell Crosbie and is now a major golf course. Maria's father, Major James Leith, won the Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny for rescuing a fellow officer of the 14th King's Hussars.

Meade Dennis was, for many years, JP for Counties Carlow, Wicklow and Kerry. For the first five years of his married life he lived at Ballybunnion but, after his father's death in December 1870, the 60-year-old moved to West Wicklow and settled at Fortgranite with his wife and seven children. Over the next 21 years, he remodelled the house and planted an arboretum. Nursery receipts in his 1858 diary, for instance, show that he was buying Rhododendron and trees to plant at both Fort Granite and his estate in Kerry. This included some fine California Redwoods; one fell down during Hurrican Ophelia in 2017 but appeared to be only 100 years old.* Among the other trees at Forgranite were a reserve champion Western Red Cedar, an Irish yew that may possibly be the tallest in the country and a stand of Scots pines just off the national record. There is also a Spanish [chestnut?] on the front drivethat is said to be of national importance for its rarity.

Margaret passed away at Fortgranite on 6th February 1886 and Meade on 9th October 1891.

* The text here originally stated that these were regarded as among the finest specimens outside of Northwestern California. However, I was informed in 2019 that these redwoods were not even the tallest in Kildare. The tallest grove outside California is in New Zealand.

Children of Meade & Margaret Dennis

Meade and Margaret's eldest son Lieutenant Stratford Crosbie Thomas Dennis was born in 1862 and served with the Royal Horse Artillery. However, in July 1889, shortly before his 26th birthday, the young officer succumbed to typhoid while stationed at Mhow in central India. The second son, Colonel Meade James Crosbie Dennis, duly succeeded on their father's death two years later. The third son, Captain Maurice Falkiner Dennis succeeded to Barraderry House on the death of his uncle Morley Dennis in July 1903. In 1912, the 40-year-old Maurice married Kathleen, third daughter of the railway baron and fertilizer magnate, Sir William Goulding, 1st Bart, PC, DL and JP. After the First World War, the Barraderry Trust was broken in order to allow Maurice and Kathleen to relocate to Italy.

As to the girls, Annie (the eldest) and Lily (the third) jointly succeeded to the 766-acre estate of Eadestown Lodge on the death of their uncle, Edward Dennis, in September 1899. The sisters were active in the British Legion Relief Fund in West Wicklow during the late 1920s, raising money to relieve distress among ex-Servicemen and their families in the area. Lily died aged 66 in 1927 and Anne at the grand old age of 96 in 1951. On 1st December 1928, the Nationalist and Leinster Times recorded that "a party of men [from the Baltinglass Branch of the British Legion] placed a magnificent wreath of poppies on the grave of the late Miss. Lily Dennis of Kiltegan on Remembrance Day. At 11am, the party observed a two-minute silence by the graveside. Miss. Dennis was a great friend to every man in the Branch without exception".

The second daughter Ellen was born in January 1857 and married in June 1876 to Francis Metcalfe of Metcalfe Park, Co. Kildare. After Francis's death in January 1942, Ellen and her two daughters lived at 5 Earlsfort Mansions in Dublin. In June 1886, the youngest daughter Frances was married, aged 26, to Algernon Aylmer of Rathmore and Kerdiffstown, Co. Kildare. Frances Aylmer died in January 1937.

Among the staff at Barraderry House in this era was Lizzie Byrne (1904-1983) of Bough. According to her granddaughter Laura Delaney, Lizzie spent two months in Slaney Park with Mrs Grogan in 1919 aged 15 training to be a parlourmaid. She then left to go to Captain and Mrs Dennis in Barraderry, Kiltegan. She cannot have stayed there long as she has had a reference from Mrs Grogan for 2 years service in Feb 1922, as well as a letter from Mrs Grogan's daughter-in-law Evelyn, the wife of John Hubert Grogan. Lizzie seems to have gone to Germaines, home to the Lisnavagh agent, by 1924. The agent at the time was Leonard Hutcheson Poe (1888-1929), who was married on on 30 April 1919 to Kathleen Gladys Grogan, daughter of William Edward Grogan of Slaney Park. Laura also has have postcards addressed to Lizzie in 1926 in Hardymount House, Tullow, and in 1927 /28 at Kilknock House, Ballon. She seems to have ceased working as a maid upon her marriage in 1930.

Colonel Meade Dennis

Colonel Meade (James Crosbie) Dennis, the second son, was born on 25th March 1865. After an education at Haileybury, Meade studied at the Royal Military College in Woolwich. In 1884, the 19-year-old joined the Royal Artillery and went to India. The ensuing years were to be hard on the young officer for, between 1886 and 1891, he lost both parents and his elder brother. By October 1891, the 27 year old had unexpectedly succeeded to the Fortgranite estate. He returned to Ireland early the following year and, in October 1892, married the Hon. Alice Handcock. She was the youngest daughter of the 4th Baron Castlemaine of Moydrum Castle, Athlone. Alice bore him two sons, Meade (1893) and Stratford (1899), and a daughter Margaret.

Colonel Dennis served in the Boer War, during which he had a minor row with Winston Churchill, and was decorated and mentioned in despatches. Fortgranite was closed during the war and the family lived between Eadestown, where the Colonel's maiden aunts lived, and Barraderry, home to his uncle Morley. From 1901 he was attached to the Royal Ordnance factories, being Superintendent of the Royal Gun and Carriage Factory from 1917 to 1919. He was on half-pay for most of this period and lived at Fortgranite between the Boer War and the Great War. Fortgranite was again closed down during the latter conflict and the Colonel's wife and children again moved to Eadestown. Barraderry was no longer an option at this point as the Colonel's brother Maurice, now master of Barraderry, was with the Seaforth Highlanders on the Western Front. Colonel Dennis was awarded a CB in 1918 and appointed an Officer of the French Legion of Honour. He was a prominent figure in West Wicklow and, along with such stalwarts as Dr. W.G. Lyons, Col. Christy Mitchell, Violent Tynte, Father Gerry Byrne, Hugh "Soup" Doyle, Harry Mogg, Dermot Gun O'Mahony and others, was a founding father of the Baltinglass Golf Club in 1928.

Ireland's First Radio Transmitter - Marconi & the Australian Connection

For all his military accomplishments, Colonel Dennis will be best recalled for his magnificent endeavours in the pursuit of physics. Fortgranite lies in an area of the Wicklow Mountains with an unusually high density of stone circles, dolmens and other ancient megalithic monuments. At Boleycarrigeen near Fortgranite is a stone circle known as the Griddle Stones while the Castleruddery Stone Circle by Donard is a particularly fine specimen, featuring a pair of sizeable white quartz portal stones. In fact, there were probably a good deal more stone circles across Ireland than exist presently but many were broken up by practical farmers seeking to clear land or by Christians eager to extinguish any festering beliefs in pagan Gods. Nonetheless, there is a continuing sense of magic about stone circles that compels one to sympathise with those who cannot sleep unless they have small quartzite pebbles inserted in every corner of their bedroom. Colonel Dennis would almost certainly have been of this mindset. He was fascinated by the different propensities of rock. One evening, in the earliest days of radio, he attended a lecture in the Royal Dublin Society given by Marconi. (18) He returned to Fortgranite more determined than ever and began experimenting on granite crystals. Piers Dennis, the Colonel's grandson, consequently recalls the Fortgranite of his childhood as "a land of perpendicular wires and haphazard aerials springing across the lawn, rebounding off oak trees and clambering through the windows of my grandfather's study. "Tap-tap-tap" was the prevalent sound". But there was method in the Colonel apparent madness. The experimental station he set up was the first recorded amateur radio station in the world. He mastered the concept of crystal control on radio frequency to such an extent that he effectively created the first radio transmitter in Ireland on the front lawn at Fortgranite. His first call sign was DNX. Following Irish independence he was issued with the call sign GW11B, becoming EI2B in 1928 when the Irish Free State began issuing EI call signs.

[A project to scan and index Colonel Dennis’s papers was completed by the Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) in 2019; they are available for viewing on the IRTS web site at www.irts.ie/ei2b ... These papers, comprising more than 400 pages of correspondence and notes, show the considerable lengths to which early radio experimenters went to understand the theory and practice behind radio transmission and reception. They should be of great interest to all radio amateurs and experimenters, and also represent a valuable resource for anyone researching the history of radiocommunications. With thanks to Robert Brandon, Hon. Sec. IRTS]

A particular triumph was when he managed to establish contact with somebody in Australia. He also developed an early form of echo-sounder for submarine detection. This was a device for measuring water depth by sending pressure waves down from the surface and recording the time lapse before the echo's return from the bottom. Unfortunately for his descendents, he failed to patent this latter invention. As the shadow of Hitler's Germany spread across Europe in 1937, the elderly Colonel received a double blow when his wife and sister Frances died within five weeks of one another. The Colonel lived to see the Allies victorious and died on 27th October 1945 at the age of 80. The radio transmitter which he helped pioneer played a vital role in the defeat of the Nazis. The application of his echo-sounding principles to submarine detection simultaneously resulted in the development of equipment to sound out all ocean depths. On a more immediate front, his son and heir, Meade Edward Dennis, became one of the great heroes of El Alamein.

General Meade Dennis, Hero of El Alamein

Major General Meade Edward Dennis, CB (1945), CBE (1943), DSO (1942), MC (1914) was born on 6th August 1893. Like his father, he was educated at Haileybury and the Royal Military College in Woolwich. His life was very nearly terminated with he following accident reported by the Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser on Saturday 17 August 1912.

Serious Accident Near Baltinglass.
A very serious accident occurred at Kyle, near Baltinglass, on Saturday night. About 9 o’clock, as Mr. Meade C. Dennis, aged 19, the son of Major Dennis, Fortgranite, Baltinglass, and nephew of Captain Morris Dennis, who is well known in polo circles, was returning on his motor bicycle to Eadestown, the residence of his aunt, where he was spending part of his vacation, he came into collision with a horse and trap, driven by Mr. Charles Wynne, auctioneer, Kyle, with the result that he was thrown violently to the ground, sustaining very serious injury. The front wheel of the bicycle seems to have dashed between or against the forelegs of the horse, Mr. Dennis coming with terrible impact against the breast of the animal and against the hard leather collar, which was portion of the harness. Mr. Wynne, who fortunately escaped without injury, went immediately to the assistance of the injured man, and found him prostrate on the roadway, and apparently badly hurt. A motor which was passing a few minutes later, and which contained some members of the family of Major Dennis, conveyed the sufferer to Eadestown House. Dr Keane, J.P, Baltinglass, was immediately requisitioned, and travelled to Eadestown, the services of a specialist from Dublin being also requisitioned by motor, both gentlemen doing all in their power for the relief of the sufferer, who lies in a critical condition.
It was found later that a displaced heart, one dislocated lung, and a shattered breast were the principal injuries sustained by the injured gentleman, whose condition is somewhat easier than it has been. He is quite conscious. It is stated that shortly before the sad accident he successfully went through the preliminaries for an army career.

Amazingly he rallied and in 1913, aged 20, he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. He subsequently served in France, Belgium and Palestine. He was mentioned in despatches and wounded and won the Military Cross in January 1916. In April 1918 he was admitted to the Most Honourable Order of Bath. In January 1920, Meade's sister Margaret married a young army officer, John Aldham Aizlewood, MC. Over twenty years later, Brigadier Aizlewood would command the successful mission to equip General Slim with tanks in Persia. (19) Shortly after the wedding, Meade went to the Sudan with the Egyptian Army and served with the Sudan Defence Force. He left just before the assassination of Sir Lee Stack, Governor-General of Sudan, in November 1924. On 17th September 1930, Captain Meade Dennis, Royal Horse Artillery, was married to Joan Graham at St. Mary's Church of Usk in Monmouthshire. He was 37-years-old. Born at Hilston Park in 1904, Joan was the eldest daughter of Douglas William Graham and a half-sister of Major Douglas Kingscote Graham of Brynderwen, Usk. She was a kinswoman of the Grahams of Auchencloich and Tamrawer. The following July, the marriage was blessed with the birth of a son, Piers. Two daughters, Felicity and Joanna, followed in October 1933 and November 1935 respectively.
His son, Piers Dennis, recalls him as "rather a laid-back soldier between the wars and much more interested in racing". After his time in the Sudan, Meade returned to England and became an amateur jockey. He remained in the army largely because the life of a soldier-rider suited him and the army was able to supply the stables and horses he required. By 1927 Meade Dennis had established himself as the second leading amateur jockey in Britain. This was an era of point-to-points and penny-farthings, picnics in sunny meadows, boozy dinners in the clubhouse, pin-striped deck chairs on sultry beaches and war clouds gathering in central Europe.

The Battle of El Alamein

On the outbreak of World War Two, Meade rejoined the army in Persia and, in 1941, was appointed Brigadier CRA of the 6th Indian Division. (20) As such he would have served under his brother-in-law Brigadier Aizlewood, who was then in command of the 2nd Indian Light Armoured Brigade. The Brigade's task was to procure and deliver the only available light tanks in India to Major General William 'Bill' Slim so that his 10th Indian Division could continue with their campaign to counter the growing German influence in Persia. The campaign was ultimately a success, securing vital oil supplies for the remainder of the war and providing the Allies with a direct route through the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. This route eventually saw the movement of a total of 5 million tons of military equipment to Russia.
General Dennis is principally remembered for being Chief Gunner of the 21st Army Group at El Alamein - and for being one of the few officers who didn't fall out with Monty during the campaign. In 1942, he was appointed commander of the 30 Royal Artillery Corps in North Africa, a position that had him in a vital position when the battle of El Alamein burst upon the desert. By August 1942, the Allied position in Europe was looking increasingly bad. The Germans now controlled most of Western Europe and even the Russian army was struggling to stall Hitler's forces along their western frontier. The Royal Navy was fighting a vicious battle against German U-boats in the North Atlantic and Churchill himself faced the prospect of a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons if a break did not come very soon. His focus turned to North Africa where Rommel's Afrika Korps were advancing steadily on the Suez Canal, the Allies principal supply route. If Rommel got to the Suez, the Germans would have secured virtually free access to the Middle East oil fields. Rommel's advance was only checked by a small bottleneck town called El Alamein about 150 miles from Cairo; unless he could break through El Alamein, he would never take the Suez. Churchill duly appointed General Bernard Montgomery (of Co. Down) to hold the town. As the two men pondered the logistics, "Monty" expressed his doubt that he should become too involved in such technical matters. 'After all, you know,' he said, 'they say that familiarity breeds contempt". "Indeed", replied Churchill, "but I would like to remind you that without a degree of familiarity we could not breed anything". Monty's strategy was to await Rommel's inevitable attempt to break through El Alamein and then hit him with everything he had. He claimed that the code-breakers at Bletchley Park were doing such a good job he knew "what the Jerries were having for breakfast". As such, he knew precicely when to summon the airforce and artillery units in to pummel Rommel's supply lines. Sensing the urgency of the occasion, Rommel decided to launch his attack. His Panzer divisions drove straight into a vast minefield and were left sitting ducks for the Allied fighter planes. As the 110,000 strong German army retreated, with their 500 tanks, Montgomery eventually launched a counter-attack with 200,000 soldiers and more than 1000 tanks, 300 of which were state-of-the-art Shermans.
Part of General Dennis's armoury was a six-pound artillery gun, which proved highly effective up to 1500 metres. But Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, was not to be beaten so easily and promptly planted the desert with a vast and devastating field of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. Monty then launched "Operation Bertram", a plan devised to convince Rommel the full might of the British 8th Army was bound for the south while, in fact, the bulk of the army was headed for the north. A variety of tricks, such as dummy tanks and pipelines, paid off handsomely. As Rommel's troops rounded on the southern front, "Operation Lightfoot" kicked off in the north. Some 800 guns of the Royal Artillery began pounding Rommel's lines. In 2005, I met a man in the Beggars Bush Pub in Dublin who was a sapper at El Alamein. He told me the noise was so deafening that the gunners' ears began to bleed. Meanwhile, infantry soldiers skipped lightly across the anti-tank mines of the north and the sappers began to clear paths for the Shermans to advance. Alas they could not manage to clear a path wide enough - each time a tank struck an unseen mine or was hit by one of the German's fearsome 88 artillery guns, it clunked to a halt and blocked the path of those behind it. Forty-eight hours later and the operation was proving so costly to Monty's forces that he called it off and withdrew the tanks. However, at this moment, the Australians arrived on the Mediterranean coast and began attacking the Germans on a new flank, forcing Rommel's beleaguered troops to about turn. This enabled Monty to launch "Operation Supercharge" by which the British and New Zealand artillery charged on the Germans, followed by the armoured tank divisions. It was a desperately bloody final conflict but Rommel knew he was outnumbered and, on November 4th, he ignored Hitler's order that the Africa Korps fight to the last man and sounded the retreat. 25,000 Germans and Italians and 13,000 Allies were killed or wounded in the battle.

Later Life

General Dennis remained in command of 30 Corps until the end of the campaign in Sicily. He was awarded a DSO for his efforts at El Alamein and made CBE for his services in Sicily. From 1944 to 1946, he commanded the Royal Artillery's 21st Army Group in North West Europe. After the war he was appointed Major General of the Royal Artillery in India, which post he retained until his retirement in 1947. In 1945 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre (France), made CB and, like his father before him, became an Officer in the Legion of Honour. In that year he also succeeded to Fortgranite.
General Dennis returned to his West Wicklow estate in 1947. While his father and grandfather had been much interested in trees and gardening, General Dennis took a very keen interest in the farm itself and made a commercial success of it over the otherwise downbeat years of the 1950s. He was President of the West Wicklow Farmers Association. In 1950, the General and other local gentry such as the Grogans, Mitcells and O'Mahonys, were unwittingly drawn into the battle of Baltinglass. James Everett, Minister for Posts & Telegraphs in Sean Costello's inter-party government, nominated a well-respected local man by the name of Mick Farrell to be sub-postmaster of the post office in Baltinglass. The position had been the exclusive demesne of the Cooke family since the 1880s and Helen Cooke was running the office on behalf of her invalid, octogenarian aunt when Farrell's appointment was confirmed. The community then divided between supporters of Cooke and Farrell with all manner of confusing statements and letters supposed to have been written by such and such a priest, curate or gentleman. In due course, Farrell was obliged to step down and Helen Cooke appointed to the office.

Stratford Dennis - Jutland, Hollywood, Bangkok

Meade's younger brother Stratford Hercules Dennis was born on 11th November 1899. He had served as a midshipman at the battle of Jutland but left the Navy immediately after the Great War. He spent the ensuing years living without any visible means of support and had a reputation for being something of a cad. He was a brilliant jockey, a professional amateur, preferring the rough terrain of Ireland to the more orderly hunts of England. He lived on his wits rather than through any military connections and set himself up as a racehorse trainer. Despite his monetary troubles, he somehow managed to maintain a pack of hounds, which he kept down in the Grogan's kennels at Slaney Park. His mother was kept in the dark about this hobby although she was often to be found sniffing the air and wondering "what is that filthy smell?" in relation to the hounds' "dinner", basking in the nearby waters of the River Slaney for preservation. The hounds were later given up although the pack was resurrected in the 1950s by my grandfather, Lord Rathdonnell and moved across the Wicklow-Carlow border to Lisnavagh. In February 1929, The Times declared that "S.H. Dennis - trainer of racehorses" was bankrupt. Stratford swiftly moved from his home at Telscombe, Lewes, East Sussex to Hollywood in California where he recommenced training horses. However, "the coin fell heads when it should have been tails" and Stratford had become embroiled in another economic dilemma by 1938. He was obliged to work his passage home on board a German trans-Atlantic steamer.
Piers Dennis says his father gallantly made excuses and told people Stratford was back on leave from India. 'But my grandfather was furious. Whether anyone accepted his stories of endless "rotten luck" or not, Stratford was in disgrace.'

On Sunday March 18th 1939, Meade Dennis was returning from church in Baltinglass when he encountered Stratford in the gardens at Fortgranite. As the two men talked, a servant girl came running out of the house shouting. She told them that the German army had just marched into Czechoslovakia. Meade later told Piers how "All the awfulness of the first World War passed before my eyes and I turned to my brother and I said 'How very terrible, what are we to do!" But Stratford looked at me and said "Thank God! At least I can now go and enjoy the Navy and salvage my reputation!" Just days later he was appointed lieutenant commander on board HMS Caledonia.
Stratford's subsequent war record is such that he was mentioned in despatches three times, receiving a Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts in relieving the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940. He also won the Polish Cross of Valour in 1941. In May 1944, Commander H.S. Dennis had two bars added to his DSC for his role in the landing of Allied forces at Salerno and the invasion of Normandy. In 1946 he was appointed Naval Attaché at Bangkok and, in 1949, became His Majesty's Consul at Songkhla in Siam. These were heady years for the country now known as Thailand. On February 26th 1949, supporters of former Prime Minister Pridi Panomyong in the Siamese navy and marine forces launched a coup to overthrow the long-standing monarchy. Stratford was almost certainly consulted by the Government forces who swiftly and violently crushed the "Wang Lang Revolt" within three days. (21) On March 3rd 1949, a new constitution was proclaimed and Siam changed its name to Thailand. He married his first wife Sheila Watt on 14th October 1937; she was the second daughter of Major AH Watt, MC of The Grange, Middleton, Co. Cork. They had two daughters but subsequently divorced. Stratford married secondly Betty Helyar and had a son, Shane Patrick, and daughter, Ann Caroline.

Piers Dennis & the Collins Connection

Piers Dennis was born on 7th July 1931 and educated at Wellington and Sandhurst. The Royal Military College Sandhurst had closed at the onset of World War 2. When the Officer Cadet Colleges reopened in 1947, they combined the Royal Military Academy Woolwich, which had trained Sappers, Gunners and Signallers, with the Royal Military College Sandhurst which trained all other officers. The new combined unit was called the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and remains so to this day.

Piers served with the 12th Lancers. On 14th October 1955, he married Gabrielle Collins, daughter of William Collins of Kirkwood House, Biggar, Lanarkshire and Nancy Hope-Collins of Corbally, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Gaby's grandfather Sir Godfrey Collins was Liberal MP for Greenock and served as Secretary of State for Scotland in the coalition government of Ramsay-MacDonald from 1932 to 1935. The Collins family descend from William Collins, a prominent anti-slavery and temperance campaigner, who founded a publishing house in 1819. The company initially specialized in bibles, religious pamphlets, schoolbooks, atlases, dictionaries and reissued classics but, by the mid 20th century, had expanded to include authors such as H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The business flourished in the 1950s with the introduction of the low-value paperback. In 1989 Collins Publishing was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and amalgamated with the New York based firm of Harper & Row to form the company Harper Collins, one of the world's leading publishers.

Piers and Gaby Dennis returned to Fortgranite on the death of Major General Dennis in 1965. Gaby died peacefully at home on December 5, 2014, followed by Piers on 19th January 2016. They are both buried at St Peter's Church, Kiltegan. They have three daughters. Their eldest daughter Fiona is married to Mark Shirley-Beavan. The second daughter Henrietta is married to Martin Ruttledge. The youngest Sophie is married to Stephen Wallis, managing director of Epsom Downs Racecourse, home of the Derby.


For Granite was sold to the Comer family.


1. Mary's father, Robert L'Estrange, descended from a Norfolk landowner, Sir Thomas L'Estrange of Hunstanton Hall. In about 1540, Sir Thomas's second son, Richard L'Estrange, moved to Ireland and settled on the banks of Lough Ennell in Co. Westmeath. Richard built a house, which he named "Lynn" after Lynn Regis, the district in which Hunstanton Hall was located. The property is situated, some 3 miles south of Mullingar, adjacent to the Rochfort's massive estate of Belvedere. Lynnbury continues to exist as a guest house today.

2. Anne Bullen, wife of John Dennis, was a granddaughter of Joseph Bullen who erected the Bullen grave monument at Ringrone, near Kinsale. This line is decended from Anne Boleyn's great-great-grandfather Geoffrey Boleyn of Salle and Blicking.

There may be a connection with the famous pirate Anne Bonny, who was born at Bullens Cove near Kinsale. Rumour has it that she returned to Kinsale after her pirate days were over. A grave near her reputed birthplace is marked with the name Anne Bullen and the year 1729.

It also seems likely that there is a connection to Nina Elizabeth Bullen Dennis who was born in Kinsale, County Cork, in 1880, and was the daughter of a John Dennis. Nina married William James of Bath, Somerset, England in first quarter on 1900 and gave birth to a son, Dennis James (born November 1900) and a daughter Nina Lavinia James (born 1902). Nina's granddaughter Kathy Hagfors contacted me in July 2014 to say that she believes "Nina left her family in 1905 and returned to Ireland to seek assistance from her family." Kathy's father Dennis James came to the U.S. at the age of 8 years, with a half-sister and her family. He resided in Brooklyn and Queens counties until 1971 when he moved to Cambridge, Minnesota, with his wife to live near Kathy until his death in 1973.

3. The house was later owned by John Scott, 1st Earl of Clonmell (Chief Justice of the King's Bench) and the Duke of Rutland.

3a. There is a suggestion that Lord Tracton had at least two illegitimate children by an unknown woman. One was Major-General Sir James Dennis. The other was Joseph Dennis, a senior barrister from Cork who died in 1822. The names these two brothers later bestowed on their children seem to confirm the theory – Tracton, Bullen and Gabriel are regularly used, but never Piggott or Swifte. Sir James Dennis also had a coat of arms remarkably similar to Lord Tracton with the same motto. Joseph had two sons, James (1811 - 1879) and Joseph, who moved to Australia in 1840. The younger James had ‘some troubles and returned to Ireland in 1843’. He married Catharine and had four children. He later accepted an offer of employment from his cousin Mary Horne (daughter of Major-General Sir James Dennis) and moved to Deloraine in northern Tasmania. After Mary's death he returned to Sydney where he was appointed master of a government benevolent asylum at Parramatta. He held that position from 1862 until his death in 1879, when his wife Catharine took control of the asylum and ran it until her retirement in 1895. (Trevor Edmond).

4. John Swift-Dennis, a barrister and MP for Kinsale, married Emily, daughter of Robert Hamilton. He died in 1830 leaving two sons, James and Robert, and a daughter Mary. The elder son James was also a barrister and died without issue. Mary died unmarried in 1888. The second son Robert served as a Captain in the East India Company Service and married Louisa, younger daughter of General Charles Rumley (1764-1845) by his October 1803 marriage (in Cheltenham) to Mary Tully of Limerick. Charles Rumley was the son of Thomas Rumley (c1736-1793), Surveyor of Scattery, Co. Clare, and grandson of Forward Rumley (c1703 - 1791), Coast Officer at Rehy Hill (near Kilrush) for more than sixty years. Thomas and his wife Mary Rumely (c1725 - 1818) are both buried in Knock cemetery near Kilrush, Co. Clare. Charles's brother, Lt. Thomas Rumley (1764-1798) was killed in the Battle of Collooney during the 1798 Rebellion, while serving in the Limerick Militia. Charles served variously with the 1st, 8th and 7th Madras Light Cavalry, being commissioned Lieutenant in June 1785. He was subsequently made Lt. Col. (1801), Army Maj Gen (1813), Regimental Col. (1820) and Army Lt Gen (1825). In 1820, he built a new residence at Arcot House 'high up amid old trees and sloping lawns' at Sidmouth, Devon. Charles and Mary left a son, Charles and daughters, Amelia Eliza and Louisa.
Robert and Louisa's son, Lieutenant Robert Dennis lived at Laracor, Old Bath Road, Cheltenham and, in 1872, married Catherine Jane, daughter of RJ Browne of Newry.
See: 'A history of the town, parish and manor of Sidmouth, in the county of Devon, compiled from the original charters, inquisitions, subsidy rolls and other ancient documents, preserved in the archives as well in France as in England', Peter Orlando Hutchinson, Vol 4. [1880]. page 164.
'A story of Sidmouth and the villages of Salcombe Regis, Branscombe, Sidbury and Sidford', Anna Sutton(Exeter, James Townsend & Sons Ltd. 1959).

5. Of the Reverend Meade Swift-Dennis's five daughters, Martha died unmarried, Frances married Captain William Harrison, 69th Regt, of Ennel Lodge (formerly Fortwilliam), by Lynn, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath (and left a son, Henry William Harrison who succeeded to the house and died without children in 1845), Anne married Thomas Heron (Surveyor-General of the Post office of Ireland), Louisa married John Gibbs and Eliza married Richard Cane.
Thomas Heron died in 1832 and was buried in St. Peter's Church of Ireland in Drogheda. The grave is marked by a headstone. His widow Anne moved to Lower Dorset Street Dublin, but is buried with her husband at Drogheda. Thomas and Anne Heron had the following children:
a)Meade Dennis Heron,born 1824in Dublin married Marcella Lennon 14/6/1845 in Ireland. They came to Australia on the "Shooting Star" in 1856 along with four children, Meade Edward, Maria, Ferdinand and Charles.
b)Thomas Dennis Stratford Heron born 7/6/1826 in Dublin. He was in Victoria in 1850 when his first Appointment to the Colonial Service was listed in the Statistical records. He eventually became a Police Magistrate in Geelong having served in Castlemaine and Fryerstown. He married Rebecca Jane Miller on 13/1/1855 in St. Peter's Church of England, Melbourne. He died without issue in 1898.
c)Sophia Anne Heron came to Australia in 1858 on the "Albion." She married Frederick Augustus Smith on 15/6/1859. Nothing more known.
d) John Thomas Tracton Heron b Dublin circa 1830 married Anna Mc Donald in Dublin in 1853 and came to Australia in 1856. He was a Bailiff at Castlemaine and died there in 1901 At his death, a daughter Grace Anna was living and married to James William Florence.
e) William Thomas Aldborough Heron was baptised at St. Georges Church in Dublin in 18/11/1832 following his father's death. He came to Australia on the "William Kirk" in 1860,He had married Eliza Quinn daughter of David Quinn in St Thomas' Church Dublin and her address was Spring Garden Parade and his was Clontarf. He had a daughter Eliza who was placed in an orphanage in 1871 as both parents died in difficult circumstances.
f) Anna Frances Heron who went to Australia with her sister Sophia on the Albion in 1858.She married Charles Robert Ninham at Buninyong (near Ballarat) in 1861. She died in 1910 survived by three children. Annie Sophia Amelia, Sophia Grace and Robert Charles. The eldest daughter Annie married Attwood Edmund Greenway in 1881 and had 10 children. She later divorced him (after he left her for another) and married his brother Charles Attwood Greenway in 1906. To extend the Dennis family's intrigue with Marconi, Annie's ninth child Phillip James Raymond Greenway (1900-1991) was nicknamed "Mark" after Marconi because he too was fascinated by radio and was involved in communications as an engineer all his working life. Phillip married Ethel May Byrne in 1920 and had two children, James and Raymonde Annette. Raymonde married Edward Vernon Barrett in 1952 and had one son, Mark Barrett in 1955, with whom I was in communication in May 2007. Mark, a lawyer based in Melbourne, says he loves "boozy dinners and horse racing". In 1982, he married Catherine Mary Keegan. They have 5 children, Bridget Mary(1983-), Teresa Anne(1985-), Timothy Edward(1989-), Daniel Patrick(1991-) and Monica Ellen(1997-).

6. Kilkenny Independent, Wednesday, May 2, 1827

7. Edgar and Isabella's daughter Rosalie married the barrister Henry Barran (1856 - 1942) of Moor Allerton, near Leeds, North Yorkshire. On 16th Jan 1895, Edgar and Isabella's fourth daughter was married at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon to Montagu Erskine, Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle in Cornwall and Lieutenant Commander of the R.N.V.R in the Great War.

8. George was married to Cordelia Saunders, only daughter and sole heiress of Morley Saunders of Saunder's Grove, Co. Wicklow. Morely, a passionate Tory, was Prime Serjeant of Ireland from 1712 until the Whig victory of 1714. After his death, Saunder's Grove passed to George and Cordelia but ultimately it reverted to the Saunders family.

9. M. Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses, London, 1988.

10. Kilkenny Independent, Wednesday, May 30, 1827

11. Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.

12. The 76th Foot, or "Hindoostans", were raised by the East India Company in 1787 for service in India at a time when war with the French was imminent.

13. Barraderry House is now an upmarket guesthouse run by Olive and John Hobson.

14. Emma Dennis's brother Alexander McDonald Salmon was a civil engineer in Bengal, based in Bankipore. In April 1864, her younger sister Matilda married William Mullaly, son of Bombay's Marine Store Keeper.

15. Major General JB Dennis's eldest daughter Emmeline married, in April 1896, Colonel William George Sackville Benson, CB, Essex Regiment, Chief Paymaster of the Army Pay Department. The third daughter Ethel married, in September 1895, Major Lindesay Knox, JP, 5th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment and raised four daughters at Bonnettstown House, Co. Kilkenny. The youngest daughter, Rosalie Margaret Annie (1873 - 1951) died unmarried.

16. A History of Collis-Sandes House, Bernadette Walsh. (Tom Walsh Printing Services, Castleisland, Co. Kerry, 1997).

17. Margaret's half-brothers included Lieutenant Pierse Crosbie, 7th Royal Fusiliers (father of Lt. Col Walter McClelland Crosbie, DSO, Lancashire Fusiliers), Leslie Crosbie (father of Surgeon Rear Admiral Pierce Crosbie) and Francis Crosbie (1847 - 1926, father of Lt. Col. Frank Crosbie, RAMC, and grandfather of Lieutenant Atwell Gordon Frank Crosbie, RN, who ultimately succeeded to Ballyheigue). Margaret's half-sisters Elizabeth and Alice married Captain Lawrence Matthew Malet, RN, and Rev. William Blunt respectively.

18. Guglielmo Marconi was born on April 25th 1874, the son of Guiseppe Marconi and Annie Jameson of the Irish whiskey family.

19. John was the son of George Henry Aizlewood of Whirlow Grange, Parkhead near Sheffield. The Aizlewoods had issue and were living at Paxford Manor in Chipping Campden, Gloucester, in 1952.

20. The staff of an Armoured or Mechanised Division includes a Brigadier of Artillery, known as the Commander Royal Artillery (CRA). The CRA acts as the Offensive Support Advisor to the Divisional Commander, and could normally assign one of his Close Support Regiments to support each of the brigades in the division.

21. Pridi, an intellectual left-leaning Thai who led Thai resistance to the Japanese during the war, fled to China and died in Paris at the age of 83. In 1986, his ashes were spread into the Gulf of Thailand in a state ceremony.

Benjamin O'Neale Stratford, the 6th and last Earl of Aldborough, was styled Viscount Amiens while his disreputable father held the earldom. By the time he inherited the title in 1849 he was eccentric and apparently obsessed with the construction of his own design of a hot air balloon. His house, Stratford Lodge at the edge of Baltinglass, was destroyed by fire in 1858.He may have had Asperger's syndrome. His grandfather (also Benjamin O'Neale Stratford) was the 4th Earl whose sister Martha was the grandmother of both Thomas Stratford Dennis and his wife Katherine Saunders.

With thanks to the late Piers and Gaby Dennis, Beatrice Claire Potter, Paul Gorry, Christopher Bryant, Captain Michael Bolton, Kellie Underwood, Mark Shirley-Beavan, Lady Alicia Clements and others.