Castlane Dowley History
Joseph Dowley & Kathleen Hickey
Kathleen Hickey, my grand-mother, lived at 15 Castle Avenue, Clontarf in Dublin. She was born on the 7th of April 1887 as the third child in the family. The fact that we both shared the same birthday, seemed to create a certain bond between us, as well as insuring that my grand-father never forgot my birthday.
Kathleen’s grand-mother was Catherine Marks who married a William Kelly. Catherine’s sister, Margaret Marks, married a Richard Whitty. Their daughter Bridget Whitty married Thomas Cleary of Carrick-on-Suir. This couple were the parents of Richard Cleary of Bridge St. and grand-parents of Helen, Tom, Fr. John, Michael and Gerard Cleary. This means that Kathleen Dowley and Dick Cleary were second cousins. The full relationship between the Castlane Dowleys and the Clearys of Bridge St. is given in the following diagram.
The Hickeys were in the drapery business in Dublin and Kathleen had five brothers and two sisters. All the boys attended Castleknock College, Dublin while the girls attended Mount Anville.
Fr. Tommy Hickey was a Vincentian Priest and spent most of his life as the Burser in Castleknock College. He retired to St. Pauls College in Raheny where he died in 1963. He is buried in the Vincentian graveyard in Castleknock College. Willie Hickey became a doctor and worked mainly in India. He eventually returned to Ireland and spent his last few years in the Spa Hotel in Lucan. The remaining brothers John, James and Matthew, having attended Castleknock, continued in the drapery business in Dublin. Molly Hickey was married to Ned Kelly and they lived in Fortwilliam Cottage on the Stillorgan Rd. Her youngest sister Ina, by a second marriage, was married to Igor Peterson and they lived in Kings Lyngby outside Copenhagen.
My grand-father, Joseph Ignatius Dowley was born on April 21st 1887 as the 5th child of Edward and Mary Ursula (nee Walsh). His godparents were his uncle Fr. Tom Dowley and Alice Power. Alice was a daughter of Honora Dowley of Ballyknock and this would suggest some connection between the Tinvane and Ballyknock Dowleys.
Joe was one of twelve children, nine boys and three girls. He would have been only 4 years of age when his father purchased Tinvane House in 1891. His early childhood would have been spent at the Mill House beside the mill on the Lingaun river. As was usual at that time his initial education would have been at home before he was sent for his secondary education to St. Edmunds in Cambridgeshire. He later moved to the Brompton Oratory, a Beneditictine school in London.
On his return from the UK he spent some time in the Bank in Roscrea before joining his father and brother Milo in the family business. Following his experience in the bank, his initial responsibility was for the accounts but later in his career he concentred mainly on the farming side of the business. His austere appearance together with his ruthless adherence to discipline earned him the name of the “Fuhrer”.
Joseph Ignatius Dowley (aka JID) married Kathleen Mary Hickey in Clontarf in 1912. They initially lived in rented accommodation in Fiddown before eventually moving to Castlane in Whitechurch, Co. Kilkenny. Castlane had been originally built for a Mr. Stephenson, the protestant vicar of the adjacent church. His instruction was to build a small house and a large church but apparently he misinterpreted these instructions and did it the other way around.
The house was built on 15 acres of which one acre was a fruit and vegetable garden while there was a further acre of formal gardens including a tennis court. The vegetable garden contained every conceivable variety of common and exotic vegetable while the fruit included many varieties of damsons, plumbs, pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, gooseberries and wine berries. The wine berries were the duel in the crown and I have never been able to find them growing anywhere else since. Mid to late summer was an absolute gastronomic delight for a young teenager with a sweet tooth.
The remaining land was used mainly for non-intensive farming including horses, pigs, hens, sheep, cows and their followers. The farm produced eggs, milk, butter and cream while the garden produced most of the fresh fruit and vegetables used in the house. One full time farm hand (Willie Connolly) looked after the livestock and tended the gardens.
The out-houses included a hay-barn, a hand milking parlour, pig houses, a mushroom house, a bridle-house, various garages and horse stables. The pig houses were used to rear pedigree pigs to be eventually used in the pig farm in Killonerry while the stables housed the horses and ponies for hunting and transport. As late as the early 1950’s my grandmother, Kathleen, who did not drive a car, went to Carrick in a pony and trap to do her shopping and social rounds. The two equines in my memory were a horse named “Hoocum” and a pony called “Gypsey”. The former was used for hunting and the odd Point-to-Point while Gypsey was for the “granny-trap” and the grand-children.
Joe’s leisure activity consisted mainly of reading, playing bridge and listening to classical music on his very elaborate music centre. In the 1960’s, when television came to Ireland, he invested in a TV but rarely watched anything but the news and current affairs. He felt most of the other programmes were a bit mundane.
Sporting involvement centred around fishing, shooting and hunting. Of the three, fishing seemed to be his greatest interest. When I was a teenager, grandfather insisted that I would spend time with Francie Mullins of Bridge St. to learn the art of fly tying. When I was considered proficient I was presented with a Hardy rod and reel and thaught the art of dry fly fishing by my uncle Brendan who was a recognised expert. When I had completed my apprenticeship we would we would spend the odd evening fishing on the Kings river or the Lignaun. The odd thing was that I can not recall grad-father ever catching a fish. We also when on holidays to Waterville where we spent most of every day on Lough Currane where his luck was a bit better.
Shooting was obviously an important pastime in grand-father’s earlier life as the gun-room contained a wide range of shotguns and rifles. When I knew him, the guns were used regularly but only for shooting pigeons, crows and other pests on the farm.
During my youth, the hunting was confined to my father and grand-fathers only involvement in the hunt was to follow in the car and watch from a distance. The main hunter, Hoocum, would regularly take part in the Kilmoganny Harrier’s Point-to-Point meeting in Black-Bog. The farmlands of Killonerry, Graigue and Castlane which at the time were part of Killonerry Estates Limited were inspected each Sunday on horseback right up to the mid-1950’s. This was supposed to be leisure rather than work and took from breakfast after 8.30 a.m. mass in St. Nicholas’s Church in Carrick until Sunday lunch at exactly 1.30 p.m.
There was a tennis court in Castlane which may have been regularly used before I was born. However, in my youth it was only used by my parents and myself and that was seldom as father hated getting beaten. The court was also used by Carrick Tennis Club for the annual Cleary Cup.
The house was approached by a long avenue part of which was bordered by magnificent flower beds. The top storey consisted of 5 family bedrooms, a linen room, a large airing room together with one bathroom and one toilet together with a large “study” or living room. On the ground floor there was a large entrance porch, large dining room and a sitting room. Heating was from solid fuel fires and I can recall as many as four separate fires on the go at the same time, excluding the AGA in the kitchen.
In my time, breakfast, lunch and dinner were nearly always served in the main dining room, with the most appropriate delph and cutlery. However, I do recall that grand-father (I always called him Daddy Dodie) got annoyed with fish knives and forks and threw them through the dining room window instructing his wife never to produce these impractical implements again. Dinner consisted of a minimum of three courses, starting with soup. This could be followed by a fish course and a joint for the main course, followed by a sweet or pudding as it was normally referred to at the time. The coffee would be served in the study in front of a roaring fire and was made on a fascinating Cona coffee machine. The heat was provided by a methylated spirit lamp which percolated the boiling water up through the ground coffee giving off the most beautiful aroma. It then filtered the coffee back to the heating area. This process was repeated several times until the coffee reached the desired strength. The whole process took about twenty minutes and was regularly watched in silent amazement. The final product was served in designer cups with brown sugar and topped with lightly whipped home produced cream. This divine mixture was normally consumed while listening to some Mozart or Tchaikovsky on grand-father’s new music centre. This was then followed by a joint attempt at the Irish Times crossword and some granny-baiting by Joe which was usually enjoyable but sometimes went terribly wrong.
In later years, protocol was broken and Sunday evening supper was also served in the study, however, it had to be accompanied by some classical music, usually, Tchaikovsky’s trout quintet.
In the utility area of the house there was a kitchen, back kitchen, larder, butter room, coal room, pantry, gun & boot room as well as a children’s dining room and a toilet. It should be remembered that at that time it was unusual for the children to eat with their parents. There was also a school-room and two bedrooms for the cook and the chamber-maid. The school-room was used by the tutor to supply primary education to the children before they were sent away to boarding school.
Similar to Tinvane House, Castlane had its own electricity, but in this case generated from a wind charger with a generator to cover periods of no wind.
When I was a child I spent a lot time in Castlane, but the reason for this is not clear to me. This included a period when I was a toddler and later when I attended the CBS in Carrick-on-Suir. In between, I spent two years with my Cork grand-parents when I attended Christian Brothers Cork. I also spent most summer holidays in Castlane when I worked for Killonerry Estates. In fact, most of my childhood memories are of my grandparents rather than my biological parents. When I got my first driving licence I automatically became the official chauffeur for the Castlane family. As a result I got to know both Dowley grandparents very well.
Kathleen was a slightly built, gentile and very elegant lady, She was normally adorned with noisy but expensive jewellery which earned her the nickname “Jangles”. Her spare time seemed to be largely devoted to playing bridge with Kitty Cleary, Cathy Dowley (her first cousin) and Lilly Dowley, among others. She was also a very organised lady who had everything in its correct place at all times. She depended heavily on her two maids to whom she would issue written instructions at regular intervals. I never recall her doing anything in the kitchen or ever cooking a meal. However, she was a keen reader, knitter and darner. She depended so much on the domestic servants that it was said that if a maid left, another one would be walking down the avenue within five minutes.
For many years, visits to the town of Carrick to do the shopping were by pony and trap. This continued right up to the early 1950’s when I regularly accompanied her to town. Following a few driving lessons in the mid 50’s a small soft top Fiat was purchased to replace the pony and trap. This was affectionally known as the “Flying Flea”. Joe considerd this mode of transport to be less dangerous for an elderly lady than being in charge of an unpredictable and rather flighty pony. For those of us that had to accompany her on her excursions, we would seriously question her husband’s wisdom. Kathleen was either a bad student or had a bad driving instructor. One of her main deficiencies was the lack of any knowledge on the existence of a reverse gear. This necessitated never parking behind anything and only visiting houses which had a full turning circle in front. Excessive speed coupled with a heathy disregard for other road users and an inability to stop suddenly made adventurous journeys even for the bravest of passengers.
Traps parked at the end of Main St. near Kyran Dowleys
Joe was a tall, striking man with an austere appearance. He was a strict disciplinarian, insisting that dinner was at 6.30 p.m. sharp and that everyone was suitably attired for the occasion. He would have one or two glasses of sherry every evening before dinner and one whiskey before retiring at night. That would be the strict limit of his alcohol intake. On one occasion I recall him ordering the bridge party out of the house at 6.25 p.m. as they might delay dinner. On another, he noticed that my nails were dirty, so he carried me to the bathroom were I got a cold bath fully dressed so that I would never ever arrive to dinner again in a similar condition.
Most people seemed to be terrified of him, especially his children. No one would question his instructions or his authority, that is, until I came along. I was the eldest grandchild and disagreed with him and argued with him at every available opportunity. This may be the reason why we got on so well.
While he was certainly austere, he was also very respectful of the staff that worked for him and seemed to be very generous to his friends and relations. He was also very religious and insisted on the family rosary being recited each evening together with the Litany. It always amazed me how he could remember all the Saints and never got them in the wrong order.
He was a product of a generation which was much more reserved than to-day and most people would have considered him to be devoid of a sense of humour. He certainly was not what you would call a “character” or the life and sole of the party. However, I recall him laughing for days when he deliberately set-off the carbide bird banger in my van which frightened the life out of me.
He also got great delight in teasing the granny. She got so annoyed on one occasion that she declared that she was leaving him. She packed two huge suitcases and trundled down the avenue one late summers evening. On telling him that she was heading down the avenue he laughed and said “she regularly did that and to give her half an hour and go and fetch her, she will be delighted to come home”. She did appear very relieved when I collected her a little later, sitting on her suit cases outside Fanny Reid’s house and panting heavily.
While he was certainly austere he could also be emotional. I recall being with him when the news of JFK’s assassination was announced when he wept openly. He could also get very irate and I can recall him throwing a fish fork through the dining-room window when repeated attempts to put food on it failed. Despite all of this I can now say I enjoyed his company and have a lot of fond memories of the man.
Kathleen died on her birthday, April 7th 1967. Shortly after her death, Joe sold Castlane and moved to Greenmount on the Clonmel Road where he lived with Betty and Cecil Tyndall.
By August 2009, Castlane was unoccupied and in a state of major neglect. It is very sad to see what once was such a very fine house and gardens falling into such a dilapidated condition.
Greenmount was originally built for the O’Shea family where Joe O’Shea was the manager of the Miloko chocolate crumb factory nearby. When Joe died the Tyndalls remained on in the house until Betty’s death in 1976. Following her death Cecil moved back to Dublin and my mother moved in to Greenmount until her death in 1994. The house is currently occupied by my brother Peter with his wife and family. When Joe eventually died in St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Waterford in 1971 I remember thinking that he probably had a relatively unhappy and unfulfilled life.
Kathleen and Joe had five children Edward (1913), Joan (1914), Betty (1916), Desmond (1920) and Brendan (1922). Edward (Dow) was a boarder in Clongowes Wood College, while Desmond and Brendan were boarders in Castleknock College. Both daughters were boarders at the Ursuline in Waterford. The Castleknock connection was largely through their uncle, Fr. Tommy Hickey, who was a Vincentian and based in the college for many years.
Edward Gordon Dowley (1913-1963): Dow joined the family business of Edward Dowley & Sons. Ltd, and married Elizabeth Roche of Cork and had 5 children (Leslie, Frank, Raymond, Gillian and Peter). They lived initially in “Iverk” opposite the boys National School in Piltown, but later moved to Tower House. Dow died of liver failure in 1963 at the age of 50 and is buried in Faugheen.
Mary Francis Joan Dowley (1914-1991): Joan married Barry Montgomery and lived in 5 Rostrevor Terrace, Rathgar, Dublin. They ran the famous Red Bank restaurant in D’Olier St. in central Dublin. They had five children (Eithne, Mary, Paul, Geraldine and Deirdre). Joan died in 1991 and is buried in Dublin.
Mary Ethna (Betty) Dowley (1916-1976): Betty married Cecil Tyndall in 1939. Cecil was an engineer with the CIE and they initially lived in Dublin. They later moved back to Carrick where Cecil was manager of Feresflex Ltd., a subsidiary of Irish Leathers. They lived in Mount Richard, Grinaune, Castle Park, Castlane and Greenmount. They had no children. Betty died in 1976 and is buried in Faugheen.
Cecil Tyndall was one of 10 children (William, Charlie, Eileen McGrath, Florence Murphy, Eustace, Bertie, Donald & Alec. Another sister die young. Five of the boys, including Cecil attended Castleknock College. After his wife’s death in 1976, Cecil moved back to Dublin to live with his brother Alec. He died in 1977 and is buried in Dublin.
Desmond Dowley (1920-1992): After leaving Castleknock Desmond spent a short period in the British Army, which included a tour of duty in India. He later studied accountancy in Cork and Waterford. He was a very colourful character and his escapades were legendary.
During his accountancy studies he rode a very powerful motor bike and boasted of covering the 78 miles from Castlane to the South Mall in Cork in 55 minutes. On one occasion, without my parent’s knowledge, he brought three small kids (Barney Knox, Tony Roche and myself) for a “spin” on the bike after spending the day drinking in Anthony’s Inn in Piltown. He reached 100 mph on the straight between the Ink Bottle and the Tower while using no hands. On another occasion he shot his two index fingers off with a shot gun in order to win a bet. He also took great pleasure in using the rifle from the guest room of Castlane to shoot holes in the cock on the church spire especially during church service. There are many other similar stories of Desmond which are too numerous to relate here.
However, his father was not unduly impressed with these escapades which were also accompanied by total lack of interest in his academic advancement. As a result his father arranged for his “deportation” to Canada. He emigrated to the Yucon about 1950 where he married Anna Cooney of Carrick-on-Suir in 1954. They later moved to California and eventually returned to Ireland, living for a time in Ashford, Co. Wicklow before settling in Carrick. They had no children together but Anna had a son who was adopted, Victor Fennell (born in 1951 and now living in Cork), before she married Desmond. Des strangely died in 1992 of natural causes at the age of 72 and is buried in Faugheen.
Brendan Joseph Dowley (1922-1985): Brendan joined the Irish army after leaving Castleknock. He married Maureen Shearman and lived in Kilkenny city. They had 4 children (Edward, Yvonne, Brendan and Alan). After leaving the army, Brendan worked in Sherman’s fish shop in Kilkenny. He later worked as farm manager for Killonerry Estates and was later manager of the Callan Branch of Edward Dowley & Sons Ltd. from 1959 to 1974. He was a noted trainer and judge of gun-dogs and was an excellent shot. He was also an expert fisherman and passed on the art of fly fishing to many of the family, including myself. He was also a renowned story teller as well as an accomplished singer. Unfortunately, he became estranged from his wife Maureen in 1968, when he became involved with a Miss Beryl Kelly. He subsequently held a number of positions in the hunting/shooting/fishing area in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Brendan disappeared in October 1985, on his way back to London from Kilkenny, possibly falling overboard from the cross channel ferry. In 2018, an unidentified body, found on the Welch coast in 1985 was exhumed and using DNA technology it was confirmed to be that of Brendan. The remains were repatriated and the ashes interred in the family grave in Faugheen.
Leslie J. Dowley’