History of the House / 1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough

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Earlscliffe Residents 1949 to 1950

The next person to own Earlscliffe was Lily Margaret Graham Gough.

Lily Margaret Graham Gough

Family History

Parry / Gregory / Gough Family Tree
Parry / Gregory / Gough family tree

Lily Margaret Graham Parry was the daughter of Graham Parry from Cheltenham, England and later of Cobham, Virginia, USA. [1]

Watercolour by Margaret Gregory
Watercolour by Margaret Gregory for
Lady Gregory's book "The Kiltartan Wonder Book [16]".

Margaret was born on Dec 10th 1884 in Cheltenham. She studied at the Slade School of Art in London (one of her watercolours is shown on the left [16]). It was at Slade that she met Robert Gregory.

Marriage to Robert Gregory

Robert was the only son of Sir William and Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory of Coole Park, near Gort, County Galway.

Lady Augusta Gregory was a well-known dramatist and writer on Irish folklore. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. [2]

Robert's father, Sir William, who was 35 years older than Augusta, died in 1892. On his death, the house and estate at Coole were left to Robert to inherit when he reached the age of 21. However, Robert was not that interested and left the house under his mothers' care.

Margarat and Richard Gregory
Margaret Gregory with her son, Richard, possibly taken by Robert in 1910. Courtesy of the Colin Smythe collection.

Robert became an accomplished artist and a renowned Irish Cricketer. [5]  After meeting at the Slade School of Art, Margaret Parry and Robert married on Sept 26 1907 in Paddington, London and they had three children, Catherine, Anne, and Richard.

As a wedding gift, Lady Gregory gave Robert a house in the Burren, County Clare, called Mount Vernon.[3] Margaret and Robert used to spend their summers at Mount Vernon, often with bohemian artist friends. However, their children chose to summer at Coole with their grandmother, Lady Gregory, whom they all adored.[4]

A regular guest of Lady Gregory's at Coole was William Butler Yeats. Robert was not fond of Yeats and the way he lived when he stayed at Coole. He thought that Yeats exploited the good nature of his mother by staying in the best room in the house and drinking the best wines. Margaret agreed with Robert, resulting in regular arguments with Yeats.

The affair and the first World War

In January 1915, Robert confessed to Margaret that he was having an affair with Nora Summers, another artist he had met from Slade. Margaret was devastated, and although she did eventually meet up with Nora and her husband to discuss the affair, it didn't look like a reconciliation was on the cards.

In an attempt to end the affair, Robert decided to enlist and join the army in the first World War. At his age of 34, and with his family connections, he could have sought an easy commission, but instead chose to join the Connaught Rangers as a second lieutenant in September 1915. He then swiftly moved to the Royal Flying Corps where he showed himself to be an exceptional pilot and was awarded the Military Cross and the Legion of Honour for "many acts of conspicuous bravery". [6]

Unfortunately he was shot down and killed on January 23rd 1918 over Padua, Italy. The original story was that it was by 'friendly fire'. However, subsequently it is reported that he had had a Spanish 'Flu inoculation jab that morning and it may have caused him to black out and crash his plane.  [17]

Lady Gregory received the telegram on Feb 2nd 1918 informing her of her son's death. She later wrote to Yeats:

The long dreaded telegram has come - Robert killed in action...It is very hard to bear.

She also added:

If you feel like it sometime write something down that we may keep - you understood him better than many.[13]

Yeats, who by now was married to Georgie Hyde-Lees, decided to waste no time in putting pen to paper. He eventually wrote four poems inspired by this tragic event. [7] [8]

The first, "Shepherd and Goatherd" was a long poem and, to some, seems a little pedantic. [13]

In his second poem, "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory", Yeats describes Robert's talents whilst also writing of the deaths of other friends of his.

However, his third poem, "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"  soon became one of Yeats's best known pieces of work. This sixteen line poem about an anonymous airman, shows Yeats's critical views on war in general, and on British rule over Ireland.

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

WB Yeats, 1918

Yeats did write a fourth poem in 1920, "Reprisals" about the Irish Civil war, but Lady Gregory asked him not to publish it. It was only published in 1948 after they had both died. [13]

Life at Coole in 1920s Ireland

In his will, Robert left everything he owned to his wife, Margaret, who remained on at Coole. However, Margaret's time there was not happy, and with the rise of the War of Independence in Ireland, she wondered whether the country was no longer a safe place to bring up her three children.

Ballyturin Ambush

On May 15th 1921, Margaret was the sole survivor of the Ballyturin Ambush in Gort.

On that Sunday afternoon, Margaret was travelling with Captain Blake, the District Inspector of Gort, and Mrs Blake, together with two British Military Officers from Gort. They were on their way to the residence of a local Landlord, Mr Bagott, Ballyturin House, Gort, for a game of tennis.

As they were returning to Gort that evening, they ran into an ambush by the local IRA at the entrance to Mr. Bagott’s residence, and four of the occupants of the car were killed. Margaret, the fifth, was the only one that escaped with her life. [9] [10] 

The shock of seeing her friends killed in front of her was the final straw for Margaret. She decided to sell Coole to the Department of Forestry, with a proviso that Lady Gregory could live there for her lifetime.  [4]

Marriage to Vincent Hugh Gough

Lough Cutra, Gort, Co. Galway, home of Lily Margaret Grahm Gough
Lough Cutra Castle, Gort County Galway

Despite her misgivings about living in Ireland at the time, Margaret did not leave the country, and eventually married for a second time on 8th Sept 1928 to Major Guy Vincent Hugh Gough, a neighbour of hers, who lived in Lough Cutra castle in Gort, County Galway. [4]

Gough was the son of Colonel Hon. George Hugh Gough and Hilda Eve Moffatt.

In the 1920s, the Gough family had moved out of the castle as it had become too expensive to run, and relocated into converted stables on the castle grounds.

However, when Margaret married Guy Vincent Hugh Gough in 1928, they moved into Lough Cutra castle.

Purchase of Earlscliffe

Twenty years later, in March 1949, whilst now living in England but still using Lough Cutra as her Irish residential address, Margaret bought Earlscliffe at auction from William and Norah Martin Murphy for £10,100. [11]  

It is not known why Margaret bought Earlscliffe. At the time she was probably living in Surrey with Major Guy Gough. Her previous home in Ireland, Lough Cutra Castle, had been vacant for a while, and Guy was in the process of selling the property. [15]  Maybe Margaret saw Earlscliffe as a holiday place to visit in Ireland once the castle had been sold?

However, after purchasing Earlscliffe, the story was that Margaret never moved in, [12] and instead put it straight up for sale later in September 1949.

The house didn't sell until May 1950, when it was bought by Brigadier Arthur Christopher Lancelot ("Kit") Stanley-Clarke for his wife Olive.[12] 

Lough Cutra castle was subsequently purchased in late 1952 by Michael Russell from Scotland. [14] 

Margaret and Guy continued to live in England. Sadly, Guy, died on March 26th, 1959. Margaret lived for another 20 years, dying in Exeter, Devonshire, England on November 27, 1979, aged 94. [4]

Further information

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List of Earlscliffe Residents

1844 to 1864 - Cornelius Egan
1864 to 1878 - Bunbury McClintock
1878 to 1896 - The Knox family
1896 to 1901 - John Randal Plunkett
1901 to 1922 - John Pentland Mahaffy
1922 to 1924 - CT Ovenden
1924 to 1927 - Robert Rooney
1927 to 1930 - Dr Ella Webb
1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden
1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy
1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough
1950 to 1952 - Stanley-Clarke
1952 to 1961 - Woods
1961 to 1969 - Knowles
1969 to today - Robinson & Foley family 

Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages are derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the validity and accuracy of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is inaccurate or should not be published on this website, please contact  .


This page was last updated on 27-Jul-2023 .