General Palmer had also fought against the Russians in the Crimean war, and he had taken part in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, in 1856. On one of the landings of the house there was a framed drawing of him on his horse, and beside it was the framed verse commemorating the charge of the six hundred cavalrymen.

The General's wife was Lady Millicent Palmer. In the study and the over the fireplace was a full-length portrait in oils of her, done when she was a young woman. She was very beautiful. Many were the times I stood in the study to admire this beautiful portrait. She was a parson's daughter, and her beauty must have influenced the General to seek her hand in marriage, as she was not of his social class at the time.

A couple of farmhands, who knew her since her youth, told me she was haughty and arrogant by tradition. She used to visit the village of Loughshinny once every year, always about mid summer. A runner would precede her arrival to warn the villagers of her coming. My grandmother lived in Loughshinny and she told me the story. Lady Palmer's carriage was an open Landau, and liveried coachmen would guide the horses, while a liveried footman would stand in attendance at the rear of the coach. She would nod graciously to the villagers from beneath her parasol, and the women of the village would kneel at their doorsteps as she passed by.

Once each year, in summer, the gardens were open to the public in aid of the jubilee nurses fund. The gardens were split in two - the upper one beside the lake had an avenue in the centre, which in the summer was a mass of the most beautiful flowers. The glasshouses were filled with peaches and nectarines, while the high walls surrounding the garden were covered with trees laden with plums, greengages, figs and pears.

The centre had apple trees of different kinds, strawberry beds, hedges of raspberries and Logan berries as well as vegetables of all kinds. The lower gardens had lawns with shaped flowerbeds and fountains. Tropical plants abounded throughout these gardens, having been brought home by General Sir Roger Palmer during his travels in the 19th Century. Surrounding these beautiful gardens were tall trees, which kept them free from frost and wind, so the plants were protected as they grew in abundance. While staying at the house, I was given a number of tasks each day by my aunt. These were to collect the fruit for the house each morning at 9 from the gardens, and at 9.30 to collect the newspapers from B.V. Butterly's shop in Rush.

To collect the newspapers, I used by bicycle, and there was one memorable occasion I can never forget, the morning of the 1st of September, 1939.There was no wireless in the house, and so everyone depended on the newspapers for news. On this particular morning, when in B.V. Butterly's shop, I learned that the news had come through the wireless that the Germans had invaded Poland early that morning. It was the start of the Second World War. I was agog with excitement, and I jumped onto my bicycle and pedalled as fast as I could to bring the news.

As I neared the house, I saw the guests playing croquet on the lawn on the south side of the building. The Colonel's friend, Captain Margate, was near the avenue, and I jumped from my bicycle and called to him, "Sir, the Germans have invaded Poland". He appeared stunned by the news, and having questioned me about what I had heard, he called Colonel Palmer to come instantly. The Colonel appeared shocked and called General Lord Gort. Soon, I found myself surrounded by the shocked guests. Needless to say, that was the end of the croquet. That evening, having packed, everyone left to return by the Dun Laoghaire mail boat to England. When I told my aunt the news of what I had done, she was furious with me. Of course, I should have told her first, so that she could have told the Colonel.

A strange thing about my news was that General Lord Gort, who became Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, which went to France in October 1939, (evacuated later from Dunkirk in June 1940), had learned about the outbreak of war from a small boy - myself.

The staff of servants soon departed, apart from three maids who stayed to take care of the house and tend to my aunt's needs. There were no guests during the war years, and I spent my time studying, until I left to return home before taking up my first job in 1941.

Acknowledgement: "Kenure House 1938-1941: Recollections", by George Pratt, from "Fragments of Fingal", published by Fingal County Libraries, 1998.


1) Rush from old picture postcards - a collection of postcards from the 1950s, of Rush village, Rush harbour, Kenure House, and Kenure Church. The collection is part of the Fingal Local Studies postcard collection.

2) A selection of interior and exterior photographs of Kenure House, held in Fingal Local Studies Library, and sourced from the Irish Architectural Archive, Merrion Square, and from the Office of Public Works, St Stephen's Green.

3) "The Story of Kenure House and the Families Who Owned It From Norman Times", by George Pratt, 1998, (a 35 page typescript). This is the original essay on the history of Kenure House, from which the article, entitled "Recollections, 1, Kenure House 1938-1941", published in "Fragments of Fingal", (see item 4), was condensed.

4) "Fragments of Fingal", Fingal County Libraries, 1998. Pages 15-18 contain the above article by George Pratt, entitled "Recollections, 1, Kenure House 1938-1941". (See also item 3).

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