Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Property      Kells Lodge, Kerry

Kells Lodge
Kells, Killinane, near Cahirciveen, Co.Kerry
Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett, Q.C., J.P., M.P.  (1850-1913)
sub-tropical garden designer

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 1st Baronet of Blennerville in Co.Kerry (b.c1740/41 d.1821) was an enterprising man and founder of a successful family of Kerry merchants and businessmen.  He built a fine new house for himself at Churchtown and was responsible for constructing Blennerville Windmill and Blennerville Quay. The quay, intended for unloading of grain for the windmill and subsequent loading of flour as well as an improved port for the town of Tralee, was soon to become the point of departure for large numbers of Kerry people who, in the early and mid 19th century, departed Blennerville Quay to create a new life in North America.
A younger son, Rowland Blennerhassett Jr (b.1780 d.1854) of Day Place, Tralee,  in 1837 purchased at Killinane, near Cahirciveen, on the northern coast of the Ring of Kerry, and there built a small hunting lodge named "Holly Mount". This is the land that became the Kells estate.


Rowland Jr's grandson, Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett (b.22-Jul-1850 at Kells, Co.Kerry; d.7-Apr-1913 Monte Carlo) was Politician, Barrister-at-Law, Magistrate and a successful man in his own right. One of a group of ascendancy protestants who became active supporters of Isaac Butt's "Home Rule" party, in 1871 aged 22 years he stood as a "Home Rule" candidate to represent the county of Kerry in parliament at Westminster. A highly popular candidate in a controversial election, about whom many stories are told, he was elected 6-Feb-1872, serving as M.P. for Kerry until 1885.
Loose tea, delivered to grocers such as Edward Duggan's shop in Waterford in large square tea-chests, was subsequently measured into individual paper bags for retail sale. 

Illustrated below are paper grocery bags intended for packing loose-leaf tea, the bags printed with the 'Home Rule" slogan and with portraits of successful candidates, elected for Isaac Butt's "Home Rule" party in elections of 1871-72.
The bags were hand-made, of green, white or blue paper, 10ins x 6ins. They are part of of a series of illustrated paper bags of varying themes, usually Irish but usually non-political (the Home Rule theme being an exception), used at the grocery shop of Edward Duggan in Ballybricken, Co.Waterford. 

One of the bags celebrates a youthful Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett (1850-1913), in 1872 elected Home Rule MP for Co.Kerry, shown alongside the more experienced John Martin (1812-1875), a veteran of the 1848 Young Ireland rising, in 1871 elected as the first Home Rule MP for Co.Meath.

A second bag depicts Patrick James "Nicaragua" Smyth (c1823-1885), in 1871 elected Home Rule M.P. for Co.Westmeath. A third bag, not illustrated here, celebrates Isaac Butt QC (1813-1879), founder of the party, in 1871 re-elected Home Rule MP for Youghall, alongside Smyth.

Eight examples of Edward Duggan tea bags or receipts are held at [NLI Ref. DUG/1 - DUG/8], the Butt - Smith design being [NLI DUG/1]. The [NLI] appears not to have the Blennerhassett-Martin design in its collection.
click on either image for further information






Family Grocer Wine & Spirit Stores
Tobacco, Soap and Candle Warehouse,


Rowland extended and rebuilt Holly Mount to become "Kells Lodge", known today as "Kells House". Around the house he began to create extensive and beautiful gardens with rare and unusual sub-tropical plants. He personally completed the Ladies' Walled Garden, the Tree-fern Forest, the Long Drive and some of the paths that wander through the garden. His seat was always Kells but he had a London house at Hans Place, Chelsea.
Over recent years the gardens became a little overgrown but in 2006 the house was sold to Billy Alexander, enthusiastic pteridologist who is busy with an extensive program of garden restoration, somewhat in the tradition of The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, open to the public as Kells Bay Gardens.  Kells is known for its ferns, boasting one of the largest collections of mature tree-ferns you will find outside of New Zealand or Australia and proudly displaying a new accquisition, the tallest palm tree in Ireland. The tree ferns are believed to have arrived in Ireland in a similar way to those planted at Heligan, which are known to have arrived at nearby Falmouth as ballast in empty sailing ships returning after shipping manufactured goods (and people) to New Zealand and Australia, to be unloaded and dumped on Falmouth docks unloved and unwanted by most people, but thankfully not by all...
 more is waiting to be added here...

I find it wonderful that the last representative of this family, Diana "Deenagh" Mary Ponsonby Goold-Adams (nee Blennerhassett, b.1916 d.2000) should have continued the horticultural tradition, she being author of:
   "The Cool Greenhouse and Conservatory" 1959, 1985, 1989, 1973
   "The Unheated Greenhouse" 1955, 1960
   "The Cool Greenhouse Today" 1969, 1973
   "A Conservatory Manual" (The Gardener's Library) 1987
   "The Small Greenhouse" (Wisley Gardening Companion Series No.19) 1974, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991
   "Indoor, Conservatory & Greenhouse Gardening" (Wisley Gardening Companion Series) 1995, 1996
                (jointly with Ann Bonar, Alan R. Toogood and Ray Waite)
also of children's books:
   "The Toad in the Greenhouse: A Toad's Eye View of Life" 1961
   "The Tortoise in the Rockery"
To gain a feel of the gardens please look at some photographs, the brochure Kells Bay Gardens: A Sub Tropical experience, an article on Kells by Deenagh's nephew Andrew Main in The Australian of 31-Dec-2009 or another from the Irish Times Magazine of 25-Oct-2010. Kells is also on Facebook.
In 2009 I was fortunate to acquire Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett's personal copy of "A Popular History of the British Ferns and Allied Plants, comprising the Club-Mosses, Pepperworts, and Horsetails" by Thomas Moore, published by Routledge, Warne & Routledge, Farringdon Street, London 1859 when Rowland P. was nine years of age. This book has Rowland's library bookplate with his name and Blennerhassett coat-of-arms, signed "R. P. Blennerhassett, Kells Lodge".
Bill Jehan
photo: copyright © BJ
 photo: copyright © BJJ

photo: copyright © BJ
Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett
Cover, pages, bookplate and signature from his personal copy of
"A Popular History of British Ferns"
by Thomas Moore, Routledge, Warne & Routledge, London 1859
photo: copyright © BJ
photo: copyright © BJ
R. P. Blennerhassett
Kells Lodge 

Portraits from Kells Lodge
Soon after Deenagh Goold-Adams died in 2000, an auction of portrait miniatures by art auctioneers Phillips of London (held November 2001) included eleven lots placed by an art dealer, lots that included several miniatures relating to the Ponsonby Blennerhassett family. In earlier times these items were no doubt at Kells Lodge. They include: 

images: courtesy of Phillips Auctioneers 

Phillips Auctioneers Catalogue Nov.2001, Lot 218, Irish School (18th Century)
6 silhouettes:
                           - his daughter Honoria Ponsonby (b. ??? d.1883/4) - ILLUSTRATED
                           - her son Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett (b.1850 d.1913)
                           - an elderly Lady
                           - a gentleman
                           - Young Lady
                           - another, no description
also a coloured profile of Dr James Barry (2nd husband of Honoria Ponsonby)
(catalogue text unavailable)
Phillips Auctioneers Catalogue Nov.2001, Lot 446
Maj. William Carrique Ponsonby of Crotto (b. ??? d. ???)
Phillips Auctioneers Catalogue Nov.2001, Lot 448
Richard Francis Blennerhassett (b.c1819/20 d.1854),
husband of Honoria Ponsonby 
Phillips Auctioneers Catalogue Nov.2001, Lot 493
Richard Francis Ponsonby Blennerhassett (b.1879 d.1938), framed pencil drawing "done by Sylvia at Kells"
a portrait of Kathleen Crompton 24-June-1912 (by Miss Annie G. Fletcher) - ILLUSTRATED
portrait of a Lady, early 20th century

Bill Jehan is on LinkedIn 

copyright © 2008-2020 Bill Jehan