Historical Aspect of Kilmore House

Vol. 5 No. 3 - 1987

Historical Aspect of Kilmore House

by Helen Fitzpatrick

Sketch: Shows how the doorway of an outbuilding would have looked in 1833.

Kilmore is a Townland, within County Down, situated three miles from the town of Lurgan. It was recorded that the dwelling mentioned [Kilmore House] was built upon the site of an old Rectory building. This building was built in 1750, and it is not known which Parish this dwelling belonged to, probably Maralin or Moira Church of Ireland, both in villages situated nearby.

After this, perhaps the outhouses were built, and would have had some connection with the Corn Mill, situated about four hundred yards away, beside the river which cuts a boundary between County Down and County Armagh. These buildings still exist today, and are still in good condition. One area had been used at one time as a stable and the other as a storage area for horse drawn carriages. Even today, this area is referred to as the "Coach House". These buildings were probably used then to store the grain and also the ground flour that was produced. At a later time they might have been used as offices or workshops.

There was also a stone building standing opposite to these buildings, but this was quite different in design and structure, indicating that they would have been built at a different time.

These buildings were all built of stone, a favoured material for its durability and adaptability to sculptural treatment, and expressive qualities. It would have been difficult to quarry, transport and cut and the builders would have found the weakness in tension limits quite a nuisance requiring the use of beams, lintels and floor supports.

The Corn Mill was still functioning in 1833, and the outhouses were in existence. So with the existence of various outbuildings, an old Rectory building and an area of land containing maturing trees, George Langtry decided to build his house, landscape the house's grounds, and run an estate of three hundred and four acres, three rood, and five perches in Kilmore.

The Estate Under the Ownership of George Langtry

George Langtry, who came from Lurgan appears to have been "a general merchant and ship-owner".

Moving on to live in "Fortwilliam", Belfast, he became "known as the great improver and promoter of our commercial marine, and as the owner of the little fleet of vessels which, before steam navigation was introduced, conveyed the linens and other goods of Belfast to London, Liverpool, or Chester Fair". [The shipping company Langtry and Herdman was one of the first shipping companies to ply between Belfast and Liverpool and the George Langtry who died in 1846 was the pioneer of steam navigation from Belfast. His son Robert was one of the first Belfast harbour commissioners when the new harbour body was established in 1847. There is a portrait of Robert in the Ulster museum.]

He purchased over three hundred acres which covered the former lands of Lurgantacken, Annaghwar and Knockinter which had been owned by Sir John Magill and his Family from 1693. This area of land has been left unbroken from that time.

In 1869 the Estate came into the possession of Mr Brush.

The Brush estate in Kilmore consisted of two hundred and forty acres. Although Mr Brush and his family never actually lived in Kilmore House he did rent the property to Mr John M Reed. On 19th May 1913 George Brush died. The Estate then came under the ownership of Miss Marion Harriet Brush and Miss Ella Constance Brush both spinsters who came to own quite a number of Estates including one at Quilly which was the property belonging to "Gill Hall" in Dromore which covered two hundred and sixty acres. In 1915 the two Brush sisters decided to sell their Estate in Kilmore.

The New Owner was James Fitzpatrick
James Fitzpatrick
A Photograph of James Fitzpatrick and his wife, taken in Australia.

Before living in Kilmore House he had spent a few years in Australia. Having originally came from an area in Castlewellan, where farmers were keen on the modern ways of farming, and had also probably gained a knowledge of Australian farming methods, he became one step ahead of other farmers in Kilmore. Where the farm was concerned, he made many improvements. The land, previously leased to George McKitterick had become neglected due to a misunderstanding between Brush, and McKitterick. The ground-was plagued with scutch, and was hard to work.

It was not surprising to know that the potato crop that James Fitzpatrick set, failed. But this misfortune did not set him back. He built a hayshed, the first to be built in Kilmore, and would have been much talked of in Kilmore, as the people were not accustomed to such new inventions.

It was interesting to know also that he used home produced timber to build this hayshed. Also he had his own threshing machine, run by a stationary engine powered with paraffin oil. His engine also powered elevators, which brought the grain from the ground floor, to the loft, and also grain cleaners and fans.

Land revitalised

Many new implements such as these, greatly helped farming at Kilmore, and the land became revitalised, and soon the arable farm became very successful. Potatoes and cereals were mainly grown. There were a few cows, in all about thirty head of cattle. It was interesting also to know that a bell was installed, which called the workers to lunch. It wasn't actually the workers in the field that heard the sound of the bell, but it was the horse who heard, and responded by neighing.

On the Death of James Fitzpatrick, the ownership of Kilmore House then passed on to his elder son Victor. He was the eldest of three sons. The other two sons Lesley and Tom had other occupations and held little interest in farming life. Victor's ownership marked a change from arable to dairy farming. He installed milking sheds and in 1946 was the first farmer in Kilmore to install a milking machine. Victor was one of the first farmers in the area to introduce a tractor to the lands. He bought a Ford Ferguson in 1944.

Overall, Victor Fitzpatrick increased the farm productivity and was always careful to 'rest the ground that had been used, and in this way he became a successful farmer.

On 31st January 1968, the ownership changed again
Mr Victor Fitzpatrick
Mr Victor Fitzpatrick.

Victor Fitzpatrick was registered as owner of merely a one-third share, Ivor Victor Fitzpatrick was registered as owner of another third share, and John Alva Fitzpatrick was registered as owner of the remaining share.

After the death of Victor Fitzpatrick, Mrs Violet Mary Fitzpatrick was to enjoy the right to use and occupy "the drawing room and the bedroom immediately at the top of the staircase and to the right hand side, the said staircase and the bathroom in the dwelling house on the lands herein."

On 10th June 1971 Mrs Fitzpatrick was registered as a limited owner of the late Mr Victor Fitzpatrick's one third share in the land. After the death of Mrs Mary Violent Fitzpatrick in 1976, Ivor and John Fitzpatrick became registered with one half shares.

The house today has stood for one hundred and thirty three years and although it has undergone a few minor changes, its previous architectural interest has not been taken away from it.