Decorations and Dinners in Tullamore in 1873 for the coming of age of the fourth earl of Charleville and the marriage of his sister Katherine Bury. No 7 in the Tullamore 400th series. The oldest surviving wedding photograph of an Offaly family?  By Michael Byrne

Charles William Francis Bury, the fourth Earl of Charleville, came of age on the 16th of May 1873. Celebrations were delayed to the end of May so as to confine the party and the guests staying at the castle to one week and ending with the marriage of the earl’s sister to Captain Edmund Hutton on 5 June 1873. As stated in article no. 5 in this series the young earl died in New York on 3 November 1874 without marrying and was succeeded as fifth earl by his uncle Alfred. The latter died childless on 28 June 1875 and so the Charleville title died with him. The fourth earl’s sister, Lady Emily, succeeded to the estate while yet a minor. She married in 1881 but was a widow by 1885. Lady Emily died in 1931 having spent much of her widowed life abroad and was succeeded by her only surviving child Lt Col. Howard Bury (died 1963 aged 80). He inherited Belvedere, Mullingar from his cousin Brinsley Marlay in 1912 and sold the contents of Charleville Castle in 1948. As Lt Colonel Bury died childless the estate went back up the line to the children of Lady Katherine Hutton née Bury (died 1901). The celebrations of 1873 were poignant and the speeches full of irony. That the family had an excellent relationship with the Tullamore townspeople is clear from the speech of the parish priest Fr McAlroy who had succeeded O’Rafferty in 1857. Alas so little material has survived by way of letters or diaries of the speech makers of that exciting week in the history of Tullamore. As noted in the no. 5 blog the original address of Dr Moorhead on behalf of the town commissioners was donated by Professor Brian Walker to Offaly History. The late Brigadier Magan donated an important photograph of the 1873 wedding and pictures of the Hastings of Sharavogue in what we now call the Biddulph Collection in Offaly Archive.

The Hastings and Westenras of Sharavogue were among the guests at the Charleville wedding as also was Lord Rosse (the fourth earl) and the Bernards. Lords Digby and Downshire, the other big landowners in the county were absentees. This copy from Rathrobin and the two Irelands (Tullamore, 2021) available from Offaly History.

It was an occasion when the merchants of Tullamore outdid one another in the lavishness of the decorations. The press reported as follows:

  1. The fronts of the habitations of the poorer classes were clad in foliage, and carefully cleaned and trimmed. From the windows of the houses, of such as could afford the expense, floated gay emblems bearing tastefully embroidered words of salutation; relieved with gorgeous devices and scroll work.
  2. On Wednesday night [28 May 1873] the full blaze of glory glittered from ten thousand gas burners. There were Chinese lamps incalculable, candles in windows counted by the hundreds, lanterns suspended from triumphal arches, fires revolving in queer fashioned apparatus, stars, rockets, comets, chequered fringes of lights, showing every colour in the rainbow. Photographs and time-worn castles were illuminated.
  3. The main artery from the railway bridge to the workhouse was one long dazzling line, presenting a scene of magic grandeur.
  4. Mr Andrew Connolly, JP., [ a large-scale tea merchant] regardless of expense, unroofed part of his house to erect a flagstaff. This gentleman also had a magnificent star six feet in diameter illuminated by over ten hundred twinkling lights, which had to be fed from the main pipe in the street, the ordinary gas pipe being found inadequate. Mr Connolly’s lavish outlay was so noticeable that he was honoured with a cardinal cheer as he rode down the street.
  5. The Messrs Egan, besides what we may call for the sake of distinction their ordinary decoration, put up an artistic triumphal arch, spanning the street at the Bridge from their own door [at Bridge House].
  6. Arches bearing appropriate mottoes and suitable sentences spanned the railway. Bridge, High Street, Pound Street, Church Street, Barrack Street, and Harbour Street.
  7. Brown’s Hotel [later Colton’s in High Street -Sambadino etc] blazed forth prettily at night; and in the noon time displayed floating streamers.
  8. Over Mr Lumley’s door in Pound Street [now incorporated in Galvin Menswear] hung but a silk flag with “Welcome young nobleman to a contented tenantry” inscribed on it.
  9. Mr Postmaster Bradley [AIB] exhibited a varihued stripe which, when illuminated, looked uniquely grand. It exhibited the words “Long live the Earl of Charleville”,
  10. Mr Poole, Watchmaker [later part of Scally’s], displayed a neat device.
  11. Elegant bunting waved from the houses of Mr Graham, Barrack Street, Mr James Wallace, High Street, Mr Willis.
  12. In the Square ingenuity was tared to death. Mr Kekewich put up an arch in Barrack Street. From Mr Peirce’s floated gaily in the breeze chaste assortment of colours from which the eye was led along a straight palisading of flaglets extending beyond the County Court-house, on the top of which towered a large Union Jack.
  13. Mr P. O’Loghlen hung out as Irish round tower and wolf dog, which was universally admired. It was procured specially from Dublin by Mr O’Loghlen, who displayed no little taste in thus hitting on a novelty which must needs excite the pleasing interest of the beholder.
  14. Mr O’Neill’s establishment in High Street bore a beautiful shield with the Charleville escutcheons.
  15. Nor were the Bank of Ireland and Hibernian Bank behind.
  16. Mr. P.B. Lumley’s house High Street was a centre of attraction, his exhibition having been nothing less than an illuminated photograph of the Earl, and a life-like one too.
  17. Messrs Adams and Daly unfolded from an arch, the wise advice, “Live and let live.”
  18. The Square was decorated by Mr Aylward. Mr M. Moynan exhibited from his front wall [now the arts centre] a representation of Charleville Castle, and underneath the sentiment, which was inscribed in every bosom, “Long may he live to enjoy it.”
  19. Mr C.W. Atkins lighted a nice star, and Mr Sterling the initial C. embracing an Irish harp. Mr. James Wallace covered his signboard with a “Welcome,” while as to what Messrs Goodbody and the rest did it is unnecessary to say more than this, that every gentleman who had a house in the town come out with flying colours.
  20. Though hearing it at the last moment it would be a pity to omit to mention that the design of the illumination in Charleville Square was suggested by Dr Nash [house on site of town library] who also otherwise took an energetic part in carrying out the external ornamentation.
  21. Nor should the potential exercise of Mr. J.P. Aylward’s open hand and heart be cursorily passed over, this gentleman having with many other fellow townsman of the good old stock spent night and day in devising and planning – not how the money was to be raised, for money come pouring in literally from the lowliest room-keeper to the most opulent Goodbody in a whole town full of goodbodies – but devising and planning how the lofty thoughts that swelled the vital energy could be made to assume their truest illustration. Among other gentlemen who lent their help in bringing out the symbols of the all – prevailing rapture, there might be mentioned the names of the Messrs Byrne, Barrack Street; Mr Adams, Mr Cronly, Captain Peirce, J.P., Mr Norris, Mr Clear, and the proprietors of the hotel on the bridge, who had not time to give a fresh touch of the brush to the patron arms that have for so many years hung on one of the three oldest houses of the town – the whole town, save the lucky three, having fallen a prey to the memorable fire before referred to. Mr F. Henshall cabinetmaker, was supplied a good opportunity for showing off his decorative skill; and he ably realised the expectations formed by the most sanguine who looked with delight on the nice festooning that come out of his hands in the Castle, Court-house, and elsewhere.

Banquet in the court house

The banquet took place in the Hall of the County Court-house, which was very beautifully ornamented. The grand hall, staircase, avenues and grounds were brilliantly illuminated. The dinner was supplied by Mr. W. Brown in a most credible manner. The decorations of the banquet were also done under his superintendence. More than 200 gentlemen, the principal inhabitants of the town and country, were present.

Dr Moorhead, J.P., Chairman of the Town Commissioners, presided.

The scroll of honour presented to the fourth earl by the Tullamore Town Commissioners in 1873 and to Offaly History by Professor Brian Walker in 2021. The original is now in Offaly Archives and a high quality copy in a fine frame is to be seen in Offaly History Centre.

On his right were the Hon, Mrs Bury, Lord Charleville, Lady Hasting, the Hon. Colonel Westenra, Hon. Mrs. Arbuthnot, Colonel the Hon. Alfred Bury, Major Stephens. Rifle Brigade; Miss Brooke. On his left were Lady Katherine Bury. Captains Cox, High Sheriff; Lady Emily Bury, Lord Hasting, the Hon. Mrs Westenra, Colonel Bernard, L.L., Miss Arbuthnot, Colonel Hutton. [The Hastings and Westenras were leading aristocracy in the county with a hunting lodge at Sharavogue.]

Dinner guests comprised mainly on Tullamore merchants, clergy and estate tenants

The banquet for the Tullamore dignitaries was held in the old county courthouse

Amongst there who attended the banquet, together with his Lordship and the visitors at the Castle, were: – William Adams, Dr Atkins, Robert Atkins, D.A. Bradly, Christopher Bailey, Thomas Berry, Dublin; the Rev. J.V. Brabazon, Rahan; Rev. R. Bourke, Philipstown; Thomas Bateman, J.A. Bradley, James Bolger, County Inspector R.I.C., James Browne, Royal, Arms Hotel; John Brereton, Richard Bermingham, Michael Conroy, Killeigh; Andrew Connolly, J.P., Clunagh; Richard Coffey. New Castle, John Crawley, Rev James Corcoran, PP. Clara; Dr Clarke, Phillipstown, Edward Cantwell, Daniel Carroll, Rev. Graham Craig. Rev. Michael Colgan, N.M. Delamere, Thomas Dunne, John Doorley, Owen Donoher, W.D. Dowling, Solicitor; F.B Denning, Bank of Ireland Agent; R.W. Duggan, Joseph Dunne, Peter Daly, Ardeir; Rev. W. Delany, Rector of St. Stanislaus; Reginald Digby, J.P; Rev. J. Doyle, P.P Philipstown: John Dunne, Patrick Dunne, William Dunne, Rev. M. Dowling. P.P Killeigh: Peter Daly, Tullamore; Nicholas Egan, William Elcoate. Thomas Elcoate, Henry Egan, Patrick Egan, junior, John Egan, Michael Egan, James Egan, Robert English, Capt. H. Fetherston, William Fetherstonhaugh, J.P Carrick; Dawson French, J.P; J.R. Goodbody, William Goodbody, R. James Goodbody, T. Pim Goodbody, R.H. Goodbody; Joseph Grogan, James Grogan, Michael Grogan, Robert Gunning, M Gainer; Patrick Gilligan, Peter Gonnoude, Samuel W. Handy; A.K Handy, J.P. Park House; W. Orme, William Higgins. David Heaton, Dr. Hornridge, Tyrrellspass. W.S Heckett. W. Heines, T.P. Jackson. T.P. Kennedy, Major Kekewich. Thomas Kelly, Mathew Kelly, Peter Keaveny. William Lumley, Peter B. Lumley, Rev John Low. F.H. Love, J. Lynch, Michael Moynan, Rev E. Mulhall, C.C. Patrick Morris, Dr Moorhead, J.P. Chairman Town Commissioners; Richard Magill, William Murphy, James Mathews, Rev D. Monahan. C.C, Rahan; Michael Mohan, Rev. M. McAlroy. P.P.V.G, Rev. D.D, McCormick, Geashill; Joseph McCabe, T.M.C. McKean (Bank of Ireland); John McGusty, (Bank of Ireland); John Noble, W.J. Norris Joseph Nolan, Surgeon Major Nash, Patrick O’Loghlen, J. Walter O’Neill, Rev. T. O’Neill, R.C.C. Richard Odium, Ballyduff; H. Odlum, Ballyteague; James O’Brien, Andrew J. Flanagan, Captain Peirce, J.P.; John Peirce, W.D. Pattison, A.S. Poole, Constantine Quirk, Dr John Ridley. Tullamore; Dr James Ridley, Frankford; George Ridley J.P; Thomas Ridgeway, J.P; Henry Ridgeway; George Burke, Michael Ryan, Patrick Ridley, Mathew Rigney, Andrew Rigney, John Ryan, Peter Ryan, Michael Roan, James Scully, W.A. Scott (Bank of Ireland, Kilbeggan, Agent); James Sullivan, Joseph Sullivan, T. Seagan, Hibernian Bank; T.F. Sterling, E. Scully, D. Smith (Bank of Ireland); T.F. Slater WilliamTomasson, A. Tarleton. John Tarleton, R.W. Tarleton. Newtown; D.B. Tarleton. Hunstanton; J.W. Tarleton. J.P. Killeigh; Dr Tabuteau. J.P Portarlington; Rev. P. Turner, P.P. Rhode; H.L. Tottenham, (Bank of Ireland); Robert Tong. David D. Urquhart, Richard Willis, Robert Willis, Christopher Woods, Robert Whelan, (Solicitor): William Whelan, (Solicitor), Archibald Warren. E. Wharton. Dublin; James Wallace, Thomas Walsh. John Dyas.

Mr. W. Brown, Court-house Keeper, acted as caterer. The band of the King’s County Rifles were in attendance, and performed in an adjoining hall under the direction of Bugle-major Sullivan.

Grace was said by the Rev. Mr Craig, and the Rev. Dr McAlroy returned thanks after.

When the cloths was removed.

The Chairman proposed and the company honoured the usual loyal toasts, the Queen, Prince of Wales, and Royal family.

To that of the Army and Navy Major Stephens spoke and gave a speech better suited to an officers’ mess.

The chairman rose amid breathless pause and said “My lords, ladies, & gentleman with your permission, I will now give you the toast of the evening”. .. “One cheer more” was called by the giant throat of some sturdy well-fed-fellow of the name of Grogan. Dr Moorhead went on to say (with great irony in hindsight)

“May you live longer than I have time to tell to your years –

Peaceable and loving may your life be;

And when old time shall lead you to your end,

Goodness and you fill one monument.”

Lord Charleville rose to his feet,

saying it was really a pleasure to him to return them his cordial thanks …

The next sentiment proposed from the chair was the Ladies Katherine and Emily Bury.

The earliest surviving wedding photograph in King’s County/ Offaly is that of Lady Katharine Bury (d. 1901 and Captain Edmund Bacon Hutton at Charleville Castle, Tullamore on 5 June 1873. Captain Hutton was an ‘extra ADC’ to the Lord Lieutenant, Earl Spencer, 1871–74. She was a sister of the fourth earl of Charleville who came of age on 16 May 1873 but died on 3 November 1874 in New York without marrying. His sister Lady Emily Bury unexpectedly succeeded following a change to his will by the fourth earl and the early death of Alfred the fifth earl without issue. The Huttons had three children, Kathleen, Edgar and Dorothy. Dorothy Hutton married Robert E. MacDonald in Tullamore on 17 April 1909. The photograph is likely by Mr Chancellor of Dublin.

Mr Brinsley Marlay, of Belvedere, Co. Westmeath, returned thanks on their behalf.

The Chairman said the next toast on the list was the health of the Hon Colonel and Mrs Bury (cheers). Those names, he went on to any presented themselves to their attention with a two-fold claim. In the first place, the lady has been intimately identified with the younger days of their noble young guest whom she tenderly cared and watched over and gave to his pliant mind a bent the development of which they all witnessed with so much pleasure applause (applause) Of Col Bury it was unnecessary to that assembly to say a word, because he was personally known to them all, intimately known to some and to others he was connected by very close ties of friendship. ..

The Hon Colonel Bury, on rising on his feet, was again right cordially cheered. . .Therefore, with the leave of the chairman while returning thanks for the cordial way in which our names have been received. I beg to take the opportunity of publicly returning my thanks to one tonight, and that one is Robert Gunning (the Charleville agent in succession to Francis Berry) and here I stand and propose that we all drink his health with a three times three (deafening cheers).

The young earl’s uncle spoke under deep emotions when reciting the closing interview with the late earl and he laid special stress on the name of Mr Gunning inflective of the keenest sense of the gentleman’s valued services; and the reception by the whole company was a no less emphatic record of the popular recognition of which Mr Gunning is the object all over the Charleville estate.

Mr Gunning responded in these terms – Colonel Bury I did not think you would put me into this fix (laughter), but I will speak to the chair (hear, hear). Mr Chairman, my lords, ladies, and gentlemen, for the way that Colonel Bury has so kindly proposed my health and you have received it I cannot account. It is beyond my comprehension. … And there is another to whom I owe very much too – a gentleman who for a long life bare an honoured name and whom I had the honour of calling both my friend and master. I allude to the late Francis Berry (cheers)… [the former agent c. 1820 until his death in 1864].

I shall give with the toast the names of Dr. McAlroy and the Rev. Mr. Craig, and call upon these reverend gentlemen to respond (cheers). The toast received unbounded and unanimous honours.

The Rev. Mr. McAlroy returned thanks at some length, but the rev. gentlemen was not audibly heard. He was understood to say he apprehended the toast was given and honoured owing to the fact that the clergy of all denomination were regarded in their respective spheres as the guides and directors of their respective peoples (cheers). Personally it gave himself the greatest possible gratification to be permitted by any accident to unite his humble voice with the copious tide of acclamation that was rolling in from all quarters in the only manner that gratitude and respect could be exhibited towards the Earl of Charleville and his family (cheers). It was indeed a proud thing to be permitted to unite in the feelings than so worthily manifested within the walls of the buildings in which they sat that evening and so worthily exhibited outside in their town, whose beautiful decorations were attracting strangers from every part of the county (cheers). He could not describe all what he knew himself was the feeling of the people on that part of the property; and he had no doubt that what he knew of that and of the estate was similar knowledge to that which was known of the other part of it. The same was true of every inch of the extensive property. Speaking for Croghan, he would remark that there was but one thing before the mind of the people for the past fortnight. They were all filled with the greatest joy to see the auspicious 16th of May, 1873, which was so to speak a new link in the chain of a bright future to the Charleville estates connecting the happy future under his lordship with the happy past under his illustrious forefathers (tremendous applause) – those forefather who administered the affairs of their property in a way to justify the conspicious appearance which the town had assumed and drew forth from many a tenant outside the property a weary sigh and the heartfelt wish that it was their lot too to belong to the Charleville property (cheers). Of his own knowledge impressions had been made by those celebrating that he would not there attempt to describe. They were impressions which were the result of seeing emblazoned on the arches what could not be contradicted, and what ought to be known all over the world as to the relationship and cause of the relationship which subsisted between the lord of the soil and the tenantry? The management of that property having been always in accordance with the great principle of eternal justice (great cheering), making a contented tenantry and filling the heart of the young earl with the consciousness that is more precious than material wealth – the consciousness of possessing the strong attachment of the people. It was that management which accounted that day for the wonderful feeling which the event of the earl’s majority had called forth, surrounding the young earl and his connections with such a wonderful welcome – wonderful it was, for he believed it could not be more sincere, more general, more unanimous. He (Dr. McAlroy) had seen the most dismal years of the famine. There was dire distress; but in the years 1848 and 1849 when the traces of the famine were deep and dismal on same other estate there was still on the Charleville estate a happy and comfortable tenantry. There was then in his mind thoughts which he did not think that the place to express, and, therefore, he would pursue the darker view of the subject no farther; but would related a story in illustration of what he meant. Many who were listening to him know virtuous upright Francis Berry, then whom no father over took a deeper interest in the welfare of his children than he did in the welfare of the Charleville tenantry. One day when passing the road in Croghan he (Father McAlroy) looked around and saw the trim and neat cottages and the other signs of comfort within. There happened to be a tenant close by and he asked how it was that those cottages with their beautiful garden survived the famine years and were never covered when elsewhere such cottages and gardens were absorbed into sheep walk for the landlord. The man in a whisper said “This is the Charleville property” (cheers). He (Father McAlroy) said that there are not many cases like those in Croghan to be met with. The man, and he is present to night hearing what I am stating, said in reply, “such things as clearance never happen on the Charleville estate” (renewed cheers). The rev. gentleman having deduced a moral from his story, concluded by returning thanks.

The Rev. G. Craig briefly responded.

The Chairman next gave the trade and commerce of Tullamore, in which they all took a personal interest, and the evidences of which were visible to the most casual observer; and at all events so visible to themselves that it would not seem an exaggeration if he pronounced Tullamore as a town occupying an exceptional position (cheers). In his own memory the town had grown into a new town. At all events it had transformed its aspect so marvellously that a man who knew it twenty years ago and did not return till now would scarcely know it (applause).

Mr. W. Pim Goodbody acknowledged the toast on behalf of himself and fellow merchants. He felt grateful at being in a position to reply to the toast in terms of satisfaction. He was one of the men who had worked with his own hands for the support of himself and family (cheers), and arrived by his own and his brother’s industry to the position which he occupied. Having further referred to the importance of self-assertion in the affairs of life, Mr. Goodbody proceeded to say that Tullamore in proportion to its inhabitants, was second to none in the Kingdom (cheers), while in many respects, and in one respect in particular, it was in advance of many others – the population being larger than that of the town ten years ago (loud cheers). Not many towns south of Dublin could make that boast. He also believed that during these ten years the traders of the town had considerably increased which was a matter for great satisfaction; and he would go the length of saying that all the changes which brought about these happy results was in a great degree to be attributed to the family of his lordship (loud cheers). The Charleville tenantry always having money in their pockets, were able to come into town and purchase what they wanted, and to get the best value. It was needless to say more as their town spoke for itself. Anyone who walked through their illuminated streets the night before and saw the manner the people deported themselves, would say that there were very few towns in the Kingdom where the general public were more respectable. And he (Mr. Goodbody) felt confident that his lordship’s hereditary influence in the town and his active interest in the welfare of the people would conduce still more and more to the continued increasing prosperity of Tullamore (hear, hear, and applause). .

The square in about 1910. The 1871 warehouse of Goodbody is on the extreme left.

Mr. Handy, in responding, said a Rip Van Winkle who returned after thirty years would certainly wonder at the change. In all matters of agricultural and stock farming they saw success. Cattle were roaming over rich plains, and corn was springing up under the best improvement (cheers). They all, of course, regretted the loss of their agricultural labourers by emigration, but that regret was modified by the thought that the Irish race were reaping rich harvests in the land of their adoption (cheers), and machinery at home was in some degree compensating for the loss of unskilled labour. With banks and landlords assisting the tenants, and these again reciprocating the assistance, the best results were to be expected. Mr. Handy then referred to the Croghan portion of the Charleville estates, and asserted that having such a landlord the Croghan tenantry assured him that wanted no land laws (great applause).

Mr. Thomas Berry, as the oldest tenant on the estate, also returned thanks. His appearance was the signal for another loud cheer. This venerable gentleman, in the course of the observation, stated that he remembered all the Earls of Charleville from the first to the fourth inclusive. He was, he might say, the companion of the second earl, and speaking from his own knowledge of all the predecessors of the present young earl, he (Mr. Berry) could say that the management of the estates were ever conducted with an eye to the welfare of all the tenantry (renewed cheers). With this personal knowledge, while he admired the glorious appearance which Tullamore presented, he was not at all surprised at it, rather would he be surprised if there was not such a decided proof of the heart-felt and universal respect of an earl who had come of age among them under such splendid circumstances.

Later in the evening a grand and costly pyrotechnic display at the, expense to the inhabitants came off in Mr. Goodbody’s field near the railway. It was witnessed by thousands, including Lord Charleville, ladies Bury, Colonel the Hon and Mrs Bury, the visitors staying at the castle. The immense crowd was most orderly, and through there were in it a large proportion of the class from which rowdy mobs are drawn the greatest order prevailed. ….

 We understand that a feast for the Tullamore workhouse inmates is in contemplation.

High Street Tullamore about 1900. Courtesy of National Library of Ireland

The County Inspector. Mr. Bolger, had in a large party of police from the out stations in charge of Sub Inspector Smith, Edenderry, all of whom had nothing to do but to suffer the inconvenience of travelling and laying their weary limbs down in a heap of straw, the inns and lodging houses being all crowded with civilian strangers who come from faraway places to see a demonstration which, it is no exaggeration to say, has immeasurably surpassed any thing of the kind in Tullamore, and reached a limit of magnitude and magnificence exceeding the most sanguine anticipations.