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Visiting the Rossmore Memorial, Monaghan Town, Republic of Ireland: remembering the transient nature of patronage?

Updated on February 17, 2016
Flag of the Republic of Ireland
Flag of the Republic of Ireland | Source
Rossmore Memorial, Monaghan, built in 1876 in memory of the 4th Baron Rossmore
Rossmore Memorial, Monaghan, built in 1876 in memory of the 4th Baron Rossmore | Source
Map location of County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland
Map location of County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland | Source

Real estate and geography outliving systems of patronage

Henry Westenra (1), 4th Baron Rossmore, seemed to have everything going for him. From an old Dutch family which was conveniently Protestant and which had been settled in Ireland since the 17th century, holding title to the Rossmore Barony and owner of Rossmore Castle, near Monaghan Town (Irish: Muineachán ), Ireland, he had, since the age of 21, enjoyed the right to sit in the House of Lords, was a Guards officer and (so it was thought) an accomplished horseman who was pleased to associate with a hub of the British Empire, Windsor, England.

But at Windsor, on a fateful day in early 1874, the 4th Baron Rossmore's life was taken from him suddenly, victim of a riding accident. He was aged 22 at the time of his death.

The story of the 4th Baron's brief life (1851-1874) is thus almost a catalogue of privilege and patronage. The manner and timing of his death are arguably a lesson in the uncertain and transient nature of such patronage.

There were other Barons Rossmore, before and after the 4th Baron who departed this scene in 1874. But it was the sudden manner of the 4th Baron's death and his youth which probably provided the catalyst for the 4th Baron to be commemorated by a Memorial, at The Diamond (Irish: An Diamant ), in Monaghan Town.

The domed, octagonal structure has eight, lower columns with upper columns topped by a spire. The Memorial harbours a fountain. The structure was built in 1876.

The Memorial stands today, a familiar landmark in the town centre of the county town of Monaghan, the borders of which extend deeply into Northern Ireland: a strongly Republican town with a long history of the former rule of a privileged minority under the Ascendency. The Castle, near Monaghan Town, to which the 4th and other Barons Rossmore held title, fell to ruin from the 1940s and was eventually demolished (2). Sic transit gloria mundi .


(1) The Westenra name lives on locally in the name of a hotel — where I have stayed — which faces the Rossmore Monument on The Diamond.

(2) The name of the Barony is still evidenced near Monaghan Town in Rossmore Forest Park, in which I have enjoyed walking.

Also worth seeing

In Monaghan Town itself, there are several fine structures of architectural note. These include: St. Macartan's Cathedral dating from 1861-1892, St. Patrick's Church and Monaghan Courthouse. Monaghan County Museum, which I found absorbing, is located in Hill Street.

Clones (distance: 21 kilometres) has a number of Medieval structures, including the High Cross, a Celtic Round Tower and the ruins of Clones Abbey.


How to get there: Aer Lingus flies from New York and Boston to Dublin Airport , from where car rental is available. Distance from Dublin by road to Monaghan Town is 125 kilometres; Bus Éireann maintains a service on this route. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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