Bellevue House and Demesne, Co. Wexford

George Ogle and Bellevue

In 1737, a George Ogle bought land at Ballyhogue and built a mansion there overlooking the River Slaney. Because of its magnificent vista, he changed the name of the area from King's Quarter to Bellevue. Little is known about this George Ogle, though rumours about his alleged royal parentage - fuelled by speculation about his given name - were rife during his lifetime. He died at Bellevue in 1746. His son, also named George, was born in 1742 and succeeded to his father's estate. In 1768, he was elected Member of Parliament for Wexford and continued to serve in that position until 1796.

He then took command of the Shelmalier Volunteer force and had his own infantry command. This infantry's exploits before and during the 1798 rebellion earned them the title 'Ogle's Bloody Blues'. After the rebellion, Ogle represented the City of Dublin in Parliament until the Act of Union. Ogle developed the Bellevue demesne, embellishing it with some of the refinements associated with an aristocratic English landscape: a formal garden, orchard, avenue and parkland.

Likewise, he was attentive to agricultural improvement. In 1807 a contemporary wrote: "Mr George Ogle is improving his demesne in a superior style, for which purpose he has procured a husbandman from Scotland, who is introducing the mode of feeding cattle practised there". [Fraser, Statistical survey] According to Samuel Lewis, George Ogle - who owned Bellevue in 1813 - 'was a great promoter of the improved system of agriculture in this country".

Ogle also undertook the building of a jetty a short distance down-river from the mansion. The estates's produce was shipped down the Slaney from this jetty to Wexford harbour and most of what was brought to the estate was also transported by boat.

George Ogle died, without issue, at Bellevue on 10 August 1814. He bequeathed Bellevue to his wife's nephew, George Moore of Dublin, who leased the land for ten years and used the mansion as a summer residence. The demesne was surveyed by Valentine Gill in 1813 and the map was copied in 1822 by Sherrard, Brassington and Greene, prior to the sale of the property to the Cliffe family: some details from this survey can be seen in the gallery below. In 1825 the house and demesne were purchased by Anthony Cliffe of Abbeybraney, whose family held banking interests in New Ross.

Writing in 1837, Samuel Lewis described Bellevue, in the civil parish of Ballyhogue, as follows:

"Bellevue, formerly the residence of the late Rt. Hon. G. Ogle, and now the seat of Anthony Cliffe, Esq., is an elegant mansion, with conservatories and every appendage, beautifully situated in an extensive demesne on the banks of the Slaney; the principal front is towards the river, and consists of a centre with a noble portico of eight Ionic columns and two boldly projecting wings; the grounds are tastefully laid out, and the whole forms an interesting feature in a landscape of great beauty". [Samuel Lewis, A topographical dictionary of Ireland]


Bellevue in its Context

A map accompanying Robert Fraser's Statistical survey of the County of Wexford, published in 1807, shows the location of Bellevue, approximately midway between the towns of Enniscorthy and Wexford. Fraser wrote: "Below Enniscorthy, and from thence to Wexford, the banks of the Slaney are high and sloping, beautifully ornamented by many elegant seats, where art and nature are combined in rendering this part of the country equal to anything in the United Kingdom." According to Professor T. Jones Hughes, Bellevue was part of a substantial gathering of core estates which "had emerged from the seventeenth century along the attractive axis provided by the lower Slaney river basin, between Enniscorthy and the head of Wexford Harbour".

Professor Hughes continues: "Judging by the freshness and variety of its landscape, this was the area in county Wexford which had been most thoroughly exposed to the forces making for improvement and modernisation in the nineteenth century. The lower Slaney complex embraced 26 out of the total of 120 [estate]cores which have been identified for the county in 1876. The more distinguished included those of Power of Edermine and Morgan of Ardcandrisk, each representing estates valued at over £5000.

Among the thirteen whose estates were valued at over £1000 each were Alcock of Wilton Castle, Richards of Macmine, Cliffe of Bellevue and Walker of Tikillin. Not one Irish name was found among the owners of estates valued at £1000 and over in this lower Slaney complex. Together with its urban population of 20,000 in 1851, it represented a concentration of intrusive interests placed in the geographical heart of the county."

[See T Jones Hughes, 'Continuity and change in rural county Wexford' in Kevin Whelan and William Nolan (eds), Wexford: history and society. Interdisciplinary essays on the history of an Irish county, Dublin, 1987.]

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