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The end of a house that nobody wanted.

30-room Ulster mansion to go

“Belfast Telegraph” Reporter. (1952)

The Death Penalty has been passed on another of Ulster’s stately homes-Seskinore Lodge, a 30-apartment mansion formerly the Tyrone seat of the McClintock family. It will soon follow the way of Kilwaughter Castle, Tollymore Park House, Newcastle and Drumbanagher.


The fine old house, set amid 400 acres of beautiful Tyrone scenery - much of it woodland - was visited by the Duke of Gloucester during his stay in Northern Ireland in 1935, and the late Lord Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, was frequently entertained in it.

Seskinore Lodge is the house which nobody wanted.

The Ministry of Agriculture bought it along with 400 acres of land, and hoped that some use might be made of it. Its usefulness as an old people’s home, a hostel and a hospital was considered.

Workers’ flats

At one time it was hoped to divide it up into flats for various workers on the estate, but the cost was prohibitive.

The land is being put to excellent use by the Ministry as an afforestation nursery, but as the house has fallen into disrepair, tenders are now being invited from contractors for its demolition.

The house though empty still breathes an air of refinement. The bright spacious drawing-room looking out over the parklands, the bedrooms, library, billiard room, smoke room and dining-rooms, which once resounded to the footfalls of servants, are silent.

A rat scurried…

I walked along the corridors and hallway of the house, which at present-day prices would cost over £20,000 to build.

A rat scurried away at the back of a skirting – board and cobwebs encompassed the chandeliers. The great front door, which often opened in welcome to huntsmen of the Seskinore Harriers, is locked. The fireplaces are empty; there are bell pushes but no bells.

For many years, up to 1936, the house was occupied by Lieut.-Col. J.K. McClintock, D.L., C.B.E, a leading figure in the public social and administrative life of Tyrone. He was a member of a family which came originally from Argyllshire and settled in Ireland in 1597.

Hospitality

At first the family seat was at Newtown House, Co. Louth, but when they inherited Seskinore from a family named Perry the Louth property was sold. The McClintock family were noted for their hospitality, and it was at Seskinore that many well-known figures in Ulster life were entertained.

The Seskinore Harriers met at “the big house” regularly, Colonel McClintock being for many years the Master of the Hunt.

The house, which has many servants’ apartments, cellars and large kitchen space, had for long its Special Constabulary guard. Colonel McClintock was Commandant of the Special Constabulary, and during the ‘twenties a guard was posted daily. They had their guard-room and living apartments on the first floor.

War footing

Then came the war and Seskinore went on to a war footing. British and American troops were billeted in the grounds, and the house was given over to the officers. Seskinore became one of the largest Supply depots in Northern Ireland. Hundreds of R.A.S.C. trucks daily drove in and out of the spacious courtyard.

Only souvenir of the American occupation is an old rifle rack bearing the names of American Servicemen such as Faber, Bullen, Buffano and Benio.

Only the out offices-the kennels, the loose boxes, the harness rooms, the carriage houses, the lamp room and fodder stores will remain when the house is pulled down. They are in good repair and will serve a useful purpose for the Ministry of Agriculture, in view of the fact that Seskinore estate will take on greater importance from an afforestation standpoint in the years ahead.

Sorry

Down in the village Mr. B. Bratton, who was an intimate friend of the late Colonel said- “We are sorry to see it go. Most of us remember the house in its happier days - the carriages and pairs rolling up to the door, the receptions at the hunts, and the round of hospitality at Christmas and Easter.”

Major C.A.M. Alexander, M.C. D.L., Pomeroy, an old family friend of the McClintock family - “The Colonel loved the old house. There will be general regret that it is to come down.” [sic]

Reproduced by kind permission of the Belfast Telegraph.