This is the start of the story of Kitty Pope-Hennessy. There’s way too much to put into one post, so this is the start of a series. It is tangential to the main families, but gives an interesting twist to the circles they move in, and also how inter-related they were.
Kitty Pope-Hennessy married Edward Thackwell early in 1894 at Rostellan Castle in Cork. She was a forty-four year old widow, and he was twenty six. He was a year older than her eldest son who died young, and three, and seven, years older than his step-sons.
Kitty and Edward had almost certainly met at the wedding of his sister Catherine at Aghada Hall in 1891. She became a widow that year when John Pope-Hennessey died in October 1891. Lady Pope Hennessy’s wedding present to the bride was an Astrakhan wrap.
Edward was the only son of a second son, William de Wilton Roche Thackwell (1834–1910), who served in the Crimean War and in Egypt in 1882. All three of his uncles also served in the army, as did most of his cousins, but he certainly doesn’t join the army, and doesn’t appear to have worked much at all..
To paraphrase Mrs Merton ” So Edward, what attracted you to the wealthy neighbour with the castle?”
Edward’s grandfather had bought Agahada House in 1853, though by the time of the wedding, it had almost certainly been inherited by his uncle Joseph Edward Lucas Thackwell, and then passed on to Edward, and Katherine’s younger first cousin, Walter Joseph, (b. 1876).
The sale of the house was the end of John Roche‘s dream of creating a Roche dynasty, based on the male (Roche) sons of either of his nephews. The only male heirs John Roche had left after the death of James Joseph Roche in 1847 were John Roche O’Bryen, and his brothers. Lieut.-Gen. Sir Joseph Thackwell, who bought the estate, was a veteran of the Peninsular War, and Waterloo, as well as the First Anglo-Afghan War, and the First Anglo-Sikh War. Maria, his wife, was from the branch of the Roche family that owned Trabolgan House, which makes her a first cousin five times removed of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Kitty’s husband, Sir John Pope-Hennessy had bought Rostellan Castle on his retirement from the Colonial Service. It had been in the hands of the O’Brien/O’Bryens since 1645 until the death of the 3rd, and last, Marquess of Thomond in 1855, when it was bought by Dr T. A. Wise, followed by Sir John. The house was demolished in 1944. There is a description of the house by Samuel Lewis in 1837.
“Rostellan Castle, the seat of the Marquess of Thomond, is an elegant mansion on the margin of the harbour, over which it commands extensive and pleasing views, and in a highly cultivated and extensive demesne, comprehending one – third of the parish, and richly embellished with woods and plantations. The grounds are arranged with great taste, and for nearly two miles skirted by the waters of Rostellan bay, and diversified with the rural and picturesque houses of the farming steward, gardeners, and others connected with the management of the farm. The gardens are extensive and tastefully arranged; the flower gardens contain a fine selection of the choicest plants and flowers.“(A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837)
All three of the houses are within a five mile radius of each other on the south eastern edge of Cork harbour, though none have survived to the present day. There are no clear apparent links between our O’Bryens and Roches to either of the Rostellan or Trabolgan families, apart from shared surnames, and any speculation is for another time.