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Cappard House, Peterswell, Co. Galway

 

Submitted by Fergus O’Donnell from “The Galbraith’s of Cappard”

Cappard House was the ancestral home for generations of the Galbraith family who came to Ireland from Stirlingshire in Scotland in the seventeenth century with William III (otherwise known as William of Orange).  They were granted lands in Cappard and the surrounding areas, which were originally O’Fahy property and the estate, comprised a total of 4,636 acres by 1878.

Cappard Demesne is the actual name of the townland and this is derived from the fact that the farm or parkland around the ‘Big House’ was called the demesne and farmed or used directly by the family in the house.  The reasoning is that the views from all of the windows of the house would have a ‘vista’ or view unimpeded by tenants miserable holdings and dwellings or so that no unpleasantness like evictions would occur in the locality of the house.

The house no longer exists but the Gate Lodge is still the home of John & Margaret Kelleher and their ancestors were gatekeepers to his estate.  You will note that the gate lodge is on the opposite side of the road to the entrance and this was the case in the most impressive estates to show that they owned lands on both sides of the road.

Cappard Demesne is situated in the civil parish of Kilthomas, catholic parish of Peterswell, in the Poor Law Union of Gort, Barony of Loughrea in the county of Galway.

Major Hugh Galbraith who was the first to live in Cappard was stationed in Loughrea and he took a fancy to the daughter of the Very Rev. Dudley Persse (Dean of Kilmacduagh 1662-1700 and Archdeacon of Tuam 1662-1670 Persse’s wife was the youngest daughter of John Crofton of Lissadorn Castle, Co. Roscommon.  However Dean Persse would not give consent to the marriage so the Major surrounded Roxboro House with a troop of Dragoons and demanded the lady’s hand.  The lady agreed whereupon the Dean (her father) yielded to necessity and performed the marriage ceremony.

There were eight children born to this marriage of which the oldest male Andrew inherited the estate.  He married Rose the daughter of Edward Dowdall and they had a son and heir Andrew Galbraith who died in 1770. His wife predeceased him in 1758.

Their son and heir also named Andrew married a Miss Runner from Athlone by whom he had a son and heir.  This son was called James and he was High Sheriff for Co. Galway in 1778 and Major in the Gort Light Dragoons.  He married in 1770 Rose daughter of Richard Trench, M.P., of Garbally, Co. Galway and a sister of William 1st Earl of Clancarty.  James Galbraith died in Athlone in 1793.  He had two sons Richard and John.  The latter John was born 1787 educated in T.C.D and was Provost of Tuam from 1844 –1850.

Richard who was born c. 1759 was married at least four times and one of his wives was a Roman Catholic.  His third wife was Maria, daughter of John Wade, they married in 1818.  She died in 1819.  He married for the fourth time in 1820 to Lavinia daughter of Thomas Seymour of Ballymore Castle, Laurencetown Co. Galway.  She was born in 1803 and died in 1832.

They had five sons and three daughters – Andrew, James, Thomas, Richard, Hugh, Rose, Jane and Lavinia.  The oldest son Andrew died unmarried. The next son in line was James who was born in 1822 educated,  in T.C.D., and inherited Cappard estate.  He was High Sheriff of Co. Galway in 1857.  He married his cousin Dora Frances daughter of Thomas Lancaster J.P, of Fortwilliam, Co. Roscommon and had four children, Richard Hugh, Thomas, James and Sarah.

This James barred his oldest son Richard Hugh from inheriting Cappard because of ‘misalliance’ with a peasant girl on the estate, for it went against the grain to have such a ‘chatelaine’ for the "Big House".  (It is known that a child was produced from this alliance and their ancestors are still probably in Peterswell).

The property was devised to the issue of his sister Lavinia who had married her cousin James Galbraith.  It is not clear what happened to the property after this but it may have been returned to the elder son Richard Hugh, as he is the last mentioned in the Galbraith pedigree.  He was born in 1846 and he was married in 1890 to Margaret Pollok eldest daughter of John Gardiner of Lisbeg, Eyrecourt, Co. Galway and Barbara daughter of Allan Pollok, D.L., J.P., of Lismany, Laurencetown, Co. Galway.  He died in 1908 and his wife died in 1922.  So ended the Galbraiths in Cappard.

Cappard house was burned during the troubles in 1922. The land was later acquired by the land commission and the estate divided.

Little is know of the date of construction of the house as it has not been mentioned or described in any of the standard books on Big Houses or Landed Gentry Houses.

The best judgement on the date of the house is late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century.