Irish at Heart: On the Trail of James Reynolds, Horseman, Artist, Author, Folklorist

There can be little doubt that Castleisland’s historic First of November Horse Fair would have attracted horseman James Reynolds, whose early years were devoted to a round of hunting, race meetings and horse fairs.[1]


Horse at the Door: Scenes from Castleisland Horse Fair, a famous attraction to the town for generations


This much is learned from his writing, a career that commenced later in his life (in his 50s) and which revealed a man very widely travelled.  His subject matter was broad – horses, ghosts, European travel, Palladian architecture – each book a treasure-trove of history and art combined.


Ireland, the land of his fathers (perhaps), had a particular value, and he left five books devoted to the country, Ghosts in Irish Houses (1947), The Grand Wide Way A Novel (1951), Maeve the Huntress, A Novel (1952), James Reynolds’ Ireland (1953) and More Ghosts in Irish Houses (1956).


When James Reynolds died in 1957, there was some confusion about his background.  His birth place was given as New York, Virginia, and Ireland, creating not a little difficulty in attempting a biographical sketch.  His death occurred in Bellagio, Italy, where in 1954 he had obtained an Italian passport.[2]


An obituary in the New York Times described him as of Irish descent, American by birth:


James Reynolds, author and artist, died on Sunday at Bellagio, Italy, according to word received here yesterday by his publishers, Farrar, Straus & Cudahy Inc.  His age was 65.  Mr Reynolds had a studio at 154 East Fifty-Fourth Street which he considered as home but he was seldom there.  He spent most of his time travelling about the world.  Last spring he suffered severe injuries in an automobile accident from which he had never completely recovered.  He was best known for his flair for the whimsical, the supernatural and the romantic.  Born in Warrenton, Virginia, of Irish descent, he had inherited the Irish love of the strange and inexplicable.  His book Ghosts in Irish Houses was published here – with an introduction by Padraic Colum.  It was followed by More Ghosts in Irish Houses and eventually, by Ghosts in American Houses.[3]


The notice described how Reynolds had been an artist of considerable accomplishment before he became a writer, and that all of his books were illustrated by himself:


He had also written considerably on horses, was known as a painter of them, and at one time has bred race horses himself.[4] Among the murals executed by Mr Reynolds are those at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington.  He also did the stage settings for a number of theatrical productions and did textile designing.  He had lectured widely in this country and abroad.[5]


It is supposed his career began as a Broadway costume and set designer in the 1920s:


He was especially sought after for musicals, operettas and revues, including the 1921-1923 editions of Ziegfeld Follies, Dearest Enemy (1925) and The Vagabond King (1925).  He was also involved in a number of non-musical works, including These Charming People (1925), The Royal Family (1927) and Coming of Age (1934).[6]


In a recent publication about early American theatre, Reynolds was described as a ‘red-haired Irishman from Warrenton, Virginia, the only contemporary whose flair and talent Robert Edmond Jones ever feared’:


Always popular because of his boyish charm and wit, he created elaborate decors and costumes for John Murray Anderson’s Greenwich Village Follies as well as Flo Ziegfeld’s Follies.  His disarming talent added a panache to revues and musicals during the twenties that even Erte did not achieve … An interest in his Irish heritage generated several books by him on Ireland.[7]


The following anecdote relates to 1930, from which it is clear that the designation of architect may be added to his accomplishments:


I designed a country house for a Norwegian friend who lived near Stavanger.  The house was built without so much as a door-handle in my original plan being changed.  I painted two rooms, a music room and a large entrance hall.  For design I fused a Palladian villa at Caldogno, near Padova, with the style of a big simple Norwegian manor-house … just before the owner and his two young boys took the front door off its hinges and ate their first meal on it (an ancient Norse custom), the Nazi Messerschmitts blew this house and all in it to hell.[8]


Reynolds seems to have pursued with vigour his career as designer-artist for more than fifteen years.  An article in Harper’s Bazaar, 1932, placed him in Majorca seeking design material:


Majorca may not be peaceful for long as its attractions are being broadcast by returning voyagers, such as George Copeland who took a house there last summer, entertaining many amusing people including James Reynolds who acquired new ideas – especially for colors – to use for his stage sets and décor.[9]


Reynolds abandoned this all-consuming career in favour of full time writing and painting.  As he put it himself, ‘the theatre in New York nearly drawing and quartering my interests.’[10]


Career in Literature


His career as author and travel writer can be traced by his literature, which seems to have commenced in 1937, in Ireland.  Indeed, an obituary in the St Louis Post-Dispatch placed his birth there:


James Reynolds, American author and artist, died of a heart attack Monday at a resort in Bellagio, Italy, where he had spent his summers for the last 20 years … Born in Ireland, he was 65 years old and divided his time between Ballykillen and New York City.[11]


The obituary revealed that his book, Ghosts in Irish Houses, led to a series of books on the supernatural.  Ghosts in Irish Houses, published in 1947 and inscribed to his Norwegian friend, Count Frederick Eric Von L, was, according to the book, commenced in ‘Ballykileen, Co Kildare’ on 9 October 1937 and completed at Laurel Hill, Province of Quebec, on 22 October 1946, a period straddling the Second World War.


The dust jacket stated that Ghosts in Irish Houses had followed his first book, Paddy Finucane A Memoir (1942), dedicated to Aviation-Cadet Gurdon Woods ‘for days spent roaming the American continent,’[12] and A World of Horses (1947), dedicated to ‘a young sportsman, Melville Church III.’[13]


The author was described as stemming from ‘the ancient Gaelic story-tellers,’ an apt description, for Ghosts in Irish Houses is as much a book about Irish folklore as it is ghosts,  and is full of cryptic, often tantalising, clues about the houses and people he visited in search of material.  An artistic ‘ghost map’ drawn by the author pinpoints the location of the tales, the county of Cork featuring greatly in this work.[14]


Reynolds also used maps to illustrate his books


Reynolds’ travels are recorded here and there by way of anecdote.  In a tale about Co Sligo, he describes how he was crossing the Atlantic from New York to Galway in 1932 when he met on board the steamer Charles Tyrell, Professor of History at Notre Dame.  In a tale about Kerrigan’s Keep, he took the Queen of Galway from Cobh to Ballyvaughan where he stayed in Mrs Anna Grogan’s Mariner Hotel.  He obtained the tale of Drumnacrogha from ‘Mr Coney’ who he met in Drogheda in the house of Gaelic scholar, ‘Sir Teague Gorland.’


In 1936, Reynolds was introduced to ‘Patrick Gaisford,’ a descendant of Moyvore, who agreed to meet him at Baldoyle the following week, where Reynolds’ ‘big rangy gray chaser, Dragonstown’ was running in The Luttrellstown Stakes.[15]

Ghosts in Irish Houses was followed by Andrea Palladio (1948), Gallery of Ghosts (1949) and Baroque Splendour (1950).  In 1951, 1952 and 1953, Reynolds returned to the subject of Ireland with The Grand Wide Way, A Novel; Maeve, the Huntress A Novel and James Reynolds’ Ireland.


In 1954, he published Pageant of Italy for which he won an award.[16]  A review of the book described it as a tonic to ‘forget our gloomy skies’:


It would be difficult to imagine a more companionable guide than this writer.  He has studied the history of Italy so minutely for so many years that it pours from him in an effortless stream, always the right anecdote for the right occasion.  He has made the Italian language his own.  He is intimately familiar with the country since childhood.  His mother was a friend of Queen Elena and as a small boy he stayed for two nights in the Palazzo Reale in Naples as the Queen’s guest.  His family owned a villa outside Lucca at one time and his boyhood hero was Glover dei Medici.[17]


A review of his next book, Fabulous Spain, published in 1955, suggested the work was funded by the Spanish Tourist Department.[18]  Sovereign Britain appeared in the same year and included a chapter about ‘The Coastline of Wales and Northern Ireland deeply carved by the Irish Sea.’  It was dedicated to ‘Robert and Thebe Bell my cherished friends, who are inveterate travellers of the wide world.’  Reynolds was writing then from Mellerstaine, Firth of Forth.  He described, in the introduction, a compulsion behind his writing and travels, an awareness or sense that he was accompanied always by the ghost of history, and was ‘part of a pageant of the centuries.’  As he eloquently puts it:


These preserved or fragmentary castles, cathedrals, abbeys, fortresses, manor houses, even the little, shy villages where cottages hug each other closely under thatch or slate, are the voice of the country.  They are its heartbeat, the ancient clos-rolls of its history.


Reynolds also remarked on his education, evidently received in Ireland, and the impression made upon him on one occasion by a question from his tutor:


My schoolmaster in Ireland once surprised me into action by asking point blank, ‘Reynolds, who were the Picts?’  I was floored.  Then and there I vowed not only to find out all I could about the mysterious Picts, but what there was to know about those who came before the Picts.


A review of his next book, Ghosts in American Houses (1955) offered a glimpse of his lifestyle:


The Laurel Room at Rich’s Store in Knoxville was the scene of an autograph tea given Wednesday afternoon by Mr and Mrs Thomas Berry of Fairfax in honor of their Yuletide house guest, James Reynolds, Irish artist, author and lecturer.  This is the twelfth volume from the pen of Mr Reynolds whose brush created the charming murals on the walls of the spacious dining room at Fairfax … of especial interest to East Tennessee is the fact that this most recent book was brought to fruition at Fairfax where the intimate and charming introduction was penned on November 1, 1954.[19]


The review also added a little biography:


An only child, Mr Reynolds inherited the palatial estate of his grandfather in Ireland where he keeps vast stables of pedigreed horses and to which he returns frequently for brief visits after flying trips to all parts of the world.  Most interesting of his recent appointments was the series of lectures given at the University of Tehran, Persia, where the chair of Romance Languages was endowed many years ago by his grandfather.[20]


Another return to Irish subject matter, More Ghosts in Irish Houses, appeared in 1956, inscribed to Hal Vursell, its foreword written at ‘The Endless Mountains Lodge, Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, April 14, 1956.’[21]  A ‘ghost map’ accompanied stories from around Ireland – including a number from County Kerry – and a note on the dust jacket described ‘a profusion of tempting stories … a collection for connoisseurs of the fine things of the book world.’[22]  On the back of the dust jacket appeared a photograph of a man standing at ease beside a wall, identified from photographs in A World of Horses as the author.


James Reynolds, racing man and folklorist. On the left, a young Reynolds with actress Margaret Mower from the George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.  The self-portrait in the centre at ‘Raggfinney Castle County Donegal with hunters Blanreagal and Harp of Tyre’


Panorama of Austria would be his last book.  It appeared posthumously in late 1957; reviewers in England and Ireland appeared to be unaware of the author’s death:


One either takes to Mr Reynolds in a few pages or one will never like him as a writer of travel books … he is a widely travelled man, a painter, a keen theatre-goer and a historian.  He is a pleasant if talkative companion for an armchair tour of the Continent … Above all, Mr Reynolds is an expert at unearthing the unusual … English travel writers may omit any reference to Irish connections with Austria; Mr Reynolds does not.  Even in his introduction he pays tribute to the work of the Irish monks in our golden age … Elsewhere we get the story of an Irish bishop of Salzburg, Virgilius O’Farrell, who, long before Columbus, proclaimed that the world was round and not flat.[23]


Almost a decade later, his Irish writings perplexed a journalist:


I have just finished a rather curious book, Ghosts in Irish Houses by James Reynolds, which was published in the United States in 1947 and may be purchased in nearly every leading Irish bookshop at the present time for a fraction of its original price of 12 dollars.  The book is curious in that not only have I never heard of the majority of stories, but some of the places named are also unknown to me.[24]


A Wild ‘Ghost’ Chase


Ultimately, a biography of sorts can be formed from a closer study of Reynolds’ literature because as shown above, during the period 1947 to 1957 inclusive, he issued at least one book annually.


He was working on Ghosts in Irish Houses from 1937 as well as, it seems, the war effort when, in 1942, his friend, RAF fighter pilot and Wing Commander, Paddy Finucane, lost his life.  As he wrote in his book about the pilot:


Well do I remember the last time I saw him.  We had dinner together in a Greek restaurant, came out into the shadows of Soho Square under a London street lamp, said good-by, I off to Dublin, he to Richmond in Surrey where his family lives.


Reynolds recalled how on that occasion Paddy had remarked:


Do you know, even the big green shamrock – my fighting shamrock I paint on my plane – probably won’t save me for long.  All I ask of St Kevin is that I’m cut off clean – no ragged ends.


‘I am glad he plunged into the waters of the English Channel and never appeared again,’ wrote Reynolds, ‘it was a hero’s death, sharp and clean … may the thousand sons of Poseidon, who are the waves of the sea, bear him gently to the shores of Ireland, and lay him in a gleaming cave in the Bay of Kinsale.’[25]


In 1943, Reynolds was ‘working in hospitals for war wounded throughout America’[26] and at one period during the Second World War, gave a series of talks – ‘Chalk Talks’ – which came at the request of Mrs Suydam Cutting (at whose hospital for the Merchant Marine he was working).  Mrs Cutting asked what was to be his subject and he replied, ‘Horses-Horses-Horses’ – which turned out to be the most popular talk.[27]


An Art Exhibition in New York in 1943 put his paintings to good use:


St Paul’s Guild, 115 East 57th Street, a collection of recent paintings by James Reynolds has been installed for the benefit of the Cathedral Canteen.  Mr Reynold’s Irish allegiance manifests itself in a series of dashing studies of Irish horses and horsemanship; and his equal loyalty to America shows itself in a long record of color and typical American barns, stretching from Vermont to Louisiana, and with of course, an especial enthusiasm for the barns of the fox-hunting people of Virginia.  Mr Reynolds is an inveterate decorator and his designs have a bravura that is irresistible.[28]


The end of the Second World War was the beginning of a golden decade of literary output for Reynolds, his works offering a glimpse of 1930s Ireland and indeed his travels during that decade.  At the time of his residence in Co Kildare, he was deeply involved with horses.  As his book on the subject reveals, ‘Reynoldstown was bred at Major Furlong’s demesne, not far from where I lived, Ballykileen in County Kildare.’  A description of the dual Grand National winner of 1935 and 1936 shows intimate knowledge:


I had always been very fond of this dark-brown horse.  He had a witty eye, a grand way of moving across country, and a miraculous way of flying his jumps.  At one time, I fully believe Reynoldstown and Shannon Power, an Irish Free State cavalry horse, were the most perfect jumpers in Ireland.[29]


He sketched the Irish steeplechaser, Newtownmountkennedy at Tramore Races in 1936[30] and threw a dinner party for friends from America, Italy and Austria who had travelled to Ireland for the Dublin Horse Show.  After dinner, his friends were incredulous when he suggested that the stallion join them ‘for sugar’:


What followed had been carefully rehearsed by Bingo Lacey and myself.  I whistled, waited a moment, then whistled again … a patter of little hooves along the marble of the terrace drew nearer and nearer out of the darkness.  There, blinking a little in the lights from the drawing-room, his big, liquid eyes peering out from behind a ridiculously bushy forelock, stood Thunderer, a Shetland-Orkney Island pony stallion, all 8 hands of him … no larger than a good-sized St Bernard.[31]


In 1936, he was also in India, for he describes a scene witnessed in Udaipur when a flock of hungry eagles and falcons fed on pomegranates, and he vowed to one day paint the scene:


Suddenly, like all good things in my life, a chance conversation with a friend from California brought this dream of painting a ceiling of falcons and pomegranates instantly into focus.  In the house of Richard Hanna, in Burlingame, California, it is now an accomplished fact, and most surely the most exciting decoration I have ever painted.[32]


Though not published until 1948, Andrea Palladio And the Winged Device was ‘Started Vicenze, Italy, April 12, 1946’ and ‘Finished Castle Davan, County Donegal, October 20, 1947.’[33]  It was dedicated to ‘Russborough, Blessington, County Wicklow, Ireland, the First House in the Palladian Style to Capture my Imagination.  All the years of my Life it has held First Place in my Interest.’[34]


It is a work of exceptional interest in terms of its history of architecture in Europe and America, but also for its intimate content, explained by Reynolds thus: ‘Over a period of twenty years or more, I have had access to many diaries, letters, and notes written by persons of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.  Many are in the possession of my own family.  Others have been shown me by friends, from private collections.’[35]


The book is divided into five parts, the first to an inspired biography of Palladio, followed by sketches of architecture in Ireland, England, Europe and America.[36]  Indeed, Reynolds steps well beyond the bounds of Palladian, and Palladian-influence, to cover a vast amount of architectural ground.


His section on Ireland is in some respects a lament for the demise of the Great Houses in Ireland.  It opens with ‘Palladio’s Spirit in Ireland’ and includes such buildings as Ballyscullion, Co Antrim, Pallas Hill, Tipperary (with photographs of both) and Castlecoole, Co Fermanagh, ‘more Hellenic museum than dwelling house.’


Incognito: Reynolds’ depictions of (l-r) Dundandle, Co Galway, Pallis Hill, Co Tipperary, racehorse Falconsbridge at Russborough House and Ranfurly, Co Tipperary


A chapter is devoted to architect Richard Castle, disciple of Palladio, how he went to Dublin, and his influence on the city and beyond.  Another chapter on the townhouses of Dublin is an historical and architectural tour of the city.  As he concludes himself, ‘Now we might all in the lovely spring weather take a walk around Dublin.’


Reynolds veers well off subject in a chapter about Irish country houses (and often their owners) – like Mount Pallas in Co Limerick – to the utter benefit of the architectural historian.  Here he describes Pallas Hill in Co Tipperary:


A house of infinite moods crowning the ridge of a sloping rise which is in reality the first foothill of Slievnamon, the Gaelic ‘Mountain of the Sleeping Woman,’ this gracious house commands one of the most spellbinding views in all Ireland.  The house has many features which ally it closely with the pavilion farmhouse type of building so often designed by Palladio when he was left to his own devices.


A remark about Captain William George ‘Bay’ Middleton (1846-1892), equerry to Earl Spencer, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, suggests the house under his observation was associated with ‘Bay’s’ parents, George Crawford Middleton and Mary Margaret Hamilton:


In the black and yellow marble hall a magnificent bust of Pallas Athena, helmeted and wearing her scaled aegis, tops a black marble pillar at the foot of the stairs.  This was sent to the mother of Bay Middleton by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria on one of her Italian visits and gave the house its name.[37]


‘In Russborough,’ he writes, ‘we have everything.  All the best of Vitruvius, Palladio, and Richard Castle’:


In 1751, Joseph Leeson of Dublin was in Rome, later Venice.  He drove in a huge painted coach along the Brenta Canal as guest of the Mocenigo.  Here he saw for himself the same inspiring Palladian villas that had so captured the imagination of his friend Leinster, ten years before.  If Leinster could build a vast Dublin house and extravagant Carton at Maynooth, he could top the two by building on his gently undulating fields near Blessington in County Wicklow such a spellbinder of a house that it would be the talk of Ireland, and farther, for years to come.[38]


Another chapter, ‘Fires of Beltaine,’ describes the ‘lonely, dishevelled, forgotten houses built in the ‘grand wide days’ of Ireland’s prosperity, roughly between 1700 and 1808’:


Often one comes upon these hidden houses, crouching in the midst of demesnes so choked by rhododendron thickets, fifty feet in height, that the once whitewashed walls are frescoed by damp and mold, streaked in yellow, brown, and green, a veritable temple to mildew.


‘To find out why the houses were ever built in such inaccessible places,’ he continues, ‘even from the owners, is to draw blank’:


County Sligo; lovely Donegal of wide valleys and green pastured hills; Connemara, stark, like some Attic kingdom; County Galway, ever loved by me, having spent enchanted years among its beech groves and turf-crowned headlands; Little Mayo, reaching farther than one thinks.  All harbor lost houses.[39]


Here and there, the author’s dialogue is punctuated with anecdote:


In my New York flat I have a tall Venetian mirror … Ever since I bought it in Venice many years ago.  It has virtually governed my life.  The wall it hangs on must be at least sixteen feet in height.  I raised the roof of the room where this mirror hangs – literally raised it – five feet when I designed the alternations of the flat from scratch.  Greyhounds of sette-cento Venice crouch upon the fern-wreathed pediment of this mirror.  What gives it distinction, a delightful Commedia dell’Arte touch, is the fact that the tails of the greyhound are floriated and cascade down the sides of the mirror in garlands.[40]


In his chapter about European architecture, Reynolds makes a rare reference to his father:


I first saw the gigantic hunting-lodge, Caserta, when I was ten years old … I was so flabbergasted by the overpowering barracks of this pink and yellow Palazzo del Re that I shouted, ‘What is it?’  My father told me it was the largest house in the world.  I believed him.[41]


Discoursing on Caserta, he writes:


An Irish traveler named Darley wrote to Horace Walpole: ‘Descending from my coach at the Gate of Royal Caserta, I was instantly choked by the white dust of the vile Neapolitan roads, churned to clouds by lackeys, foot-boys, postilions, and the wheels of every class of horse-drawn vehicle which from dawn to dawn dash to and fro between Naples and this Bedlam in Marble.’[42]


Though many houses feature in Reynolds’ chapter on America, he described as ‘impossible’ the task of cataloguing the hundreds of Palladian or Palladian-influence houses scattered about the Southern and Northern states.  One house he does include is Windsor Lodge, no doubt because of its near location to North Cliff, Rixeyville, Virginia – which as will be seen was the home of his godchild.[43] A chapter on Thomas Jefferson is another included:


Until three years ago, Poplar Forest, a few miles from Lynchburg, Virginia, was owned by Mr Hutter.  One day his son Christian Hutter drove me from Charlottesville to Poplar Forest to show me the house … When Thomas Jefferson and his family lived there in its full flower, it was as near Utopia as will ever be seen in this world, according to his letters to his wife when he was forced to be in Washington.[44]


Reynolds was in Ashintully, Tyringham, Massachusetts – destroyed by fire in 1952 – when his World of Horses was published in 1947.  Indeed, he included this ‘one real Palladian house in the North,’ a ‘sheer Irish Palladian house,’ in Andrea Palladio:


It has a Gaelic name as well: Ashintully, the House on the Hill … Ashintully is owned by John McLennan.[45]


In his acknowledgments, especial thanks were extended to the late Lady Helen McCalmont of Thomastown, Kilkenny, to Mrs Bushnell Cheney, Mrs Melville Church II, and the Contessa Zano, to Courtland Smith Esq, and to Daniel Lavezzo, Jr.[46]


His love for his grandfather in Ireland is openly expressed:


A cool and bracing breeze from off the sea a mile off and a half away to the West, an elderly man and a boy of about ten walked swiftly along the ridge of an upland pasture in the County of Limerick in Ireland.  At a glance, the most casual observer could see that there was a deep affection and understanding between the two.  Had the observer hazarded to guess the relationship between the man and the young boy he would probably have said that they were grandfather and grandson … The guess would have been right.


‘In all our nineteen years together,’ adds Reynolds, ‘during which he meant more to me than did anyone else alive, I never knew him to suggest a plan that, when he fulfilled it, was not even more satisfying than it was in anticipation.’[47]


Elsewhere, he informs his readers that:


I was brought up with Irish jumpers, steeplechasers, and hunters, and I have for many years bred these horses.  I know every fibre and tendon in their big, rangy bodies.  As we Irish say, they are ‘my heart of corn.’[48]


He discourses on hunting in Ireland, describing it as ‘no namby-pamby sport’:


One gets plenty of all kinds of hazards.  I always feel the same way about fox-hunting in Ireland, which I have done in every Irish county where there is a pack, as I used to feel about parties in Rome in the great wide days before 1939.  Contessa Zano would give a ball with a band and an orchestra from Vienna to play the waltzes.  The food was straight from Olympus … Legion are the fox-hunts across the green and springy turf of Irish counties that I shall remember all the days of my life.[49]


In late 1947 and into 1948, Reynolds was in Italy and England, as revealed in Gallery of Ghosts ‘Started at Castello di Bracciano, Lago di Bracciano, April 15, 1947 … Finished at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, October 9, 1948.’  ‘In telling my Irish ghost stories,’ he writes, ‘I tried to paint a cool, silvery-gray atmosphere, for they are legends of an ancient race, highlighted by emerald stretches of sea and mountain, with a bright stain of blood upon white marble stairs or lichen-covered stone.’


In this work, dedicated to ‘Emily North Church (Mrs Melville Church II), Virginian, whose interest in the history and secrets of old houses marches with my own,’ with a foreword by Lon Chaney, his selections were gathered from further afield:


Having spent most of my life, both boyhood and adult, traveling to the farthest reaches of the world, I have had many extraordinary opportunities to add to my folios of ghostly lore.  Out of those folios I have chosen nineteen, from ten countries spread over the world: England, France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Saxony, India, Norway, Hungary, and America.


He adds, ‘Because I was schooled at an early age in the excitement, triumphant color, and pageantry of the ghost story, as told by my paternal grandmother, a very priestess of the art of storytelling, the theme has always held my interest, flexibly, but nonetheless strongly.’[50]


Baroque Splendour, ‘a compendium of an opulent century’ and dedicated to Edna James Chappell ‘For Years of Graceful Friendship,’ was published in 1950.[51]  It was ‘Started at Schloss Moritzburg, Forest Moritzburg-Dentel, Saxony, May 29, 1948’ and ‘Finished at Villa Serbelloni, Lago di Como, Italy, October 10, 1949.’  A chapter devoted to Ireland 1720-1787 describes three prevailing styles of architecture:


As one drives past country houses in any of the Irish counties, it becomes apparent that only three styles of architecture prevail: feudal castles (Killeen Castle and Malahide are ancient strongholds), Palladian, and Georgian. There are a few scattered Regency (1800), and in Cork there are one or two Charles II houses.[52]


A run of Irish titles occupied Reynolds in the early 1950s, the first two of which were novels: The Grand Wide Way, published in 1951, was dedicated to Alice Keating Cheney, ‘whose ancestor, Baron Keating, of Moorestown Castle, County Waterford, lived notably in the Grand, Wide Way.’[53]


It was described as a novel of manner – a manner of living, of thinking, or giving and taking:


This is a book of characters …and the people in this book live in the Grand Wide Way.  They are the Irish sporting gentry, hunting, shooting, fishing and riding, living on the land – if not the fat of it – in gracious white country houses or half-ruined houses.


Maeve The Huntress was a continuation of the above, published in 1952, and dedicated to Mary Margaret Church of North Cliffe, Rixeyville, Virginia, ‘I lift a stirrup cup to good hunting with the Warrenton, or in any country where she follows hounds.’[54]


Rixeyville, as already noticed, was the home of his godchild:


If I were asked to name the house in America that has given me the warmest welcome … it would unhesitatingly be North Cliff, near Rixeyvllle, Virginia … Not the least of the charms of North Cliff is that Mrs Melville Church II, the renowned horsewoman Emily North King to her legion friends, runs a singularly well-appointed breeding stable.


‘The son of the house,’ Reynolds continues, ‘the bright and shining Chucky, now in his middle teens, is my godson, and young Mary Margaret Church is a budding Diana huntress, so North Cliff has special meaning for me.’[55]


One of his most revealing titles, James Reynolds’ Ireland (1953) offers clues about his background.  It is evident from this work, dedicated to Dorothy Quick, ‘a kindred spirit in the writing of romantic tales and ghostly lore,’ that Reynolds moved in high circles.[56]


Its foreword places Reynolds at ‘Ballygaltee House, County Galway, 1952’ (a name which appears to be fictional) and describes a childhood in Ireland, and love and admiration for his paternal grandfather ‘so great … he constituted my whole universe.’


According to the ‘ghost map’ illustrated in the book, his grandfather, John Reynolds, lived somewhere between Inchigeelagh in Co Cork and Adare, Co Limerick, in a residence Reynolds called ‘Croghangeela, Rathgannonstown.’[57]


One day, at the age of eleven and with his grandfather’s approval, Reynolds ventured out alone to explore the countryside and rest the night at ‘Clareville Castle.’  This first solitary walk, during which he sketched a Co Limerick farmhouse, was a defining moment in his life, and gave him the taste for solitude to develop his artistic talents.  His choice of subject, a building, was his first in this category for until then he had only sketched horses, notably thoroughbreds, his first love:


Long ago I decided that the three things I like best in this world are horses, houses and people and in that order.[58]


Horses First: Illustrations from James Reynolds’ Ireland includes a self portrait


His first horse, Defender, was a gift from his grandfather when he ten years old.  Indeed, his childhood seems to have been occupied with his parents and grandparents at race meetings and horse fairs.


At age sixteen, he found he was unwittingly ‘married’ to a Romany girl and though he made a quick getaway, he encountered the girl a number of times over the years during his rambles in Ireland.[59]


On his twenty-first birthday, he was presented with an elaborate sketchbook decorated in his established racing colours to record race horsing incidents.  Instead, he used the book to write about Dublin, and the Wide Street Commission promoted by William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster.  This however he abandoned:


My reason for not continuing was not the one that thwarted the duke.  His was a dissolute, ruthlessly profligate son who, though promising his father on his deathbed to carry on his idea to remodel Dublin, did not do so.  In my case it was ghosts, Irish and otherwise, and the theatre in New York, nearly drawing and quartering my interests.[60]


By way of redress, Reynolds devotes a chapter of his book to Dublin, drawing in Maude Gonne, Lady Wilde and her son Oscar, and Lady Gregory, as well as buildings like Smock Alley and other Irish playhouses.[61]


Reynolds was commissioned by various people to paint for them, and on one occasion stayed at Parknasilla, Co Kerry en route to Valencia Island where he was to paint two horses belonging to a friend.[62]


Pageant of Italy appeared in 1954, dedicated to Robert and Margalo Gillmore Ross, ‘Remembering the times we have met in Italy and watched its pageantry pass by.’[63]  In his acknowledgments, penned at Manor House of Issogne, Val d’Aosta, Reynolds paid tribute to Daniel Lavezzo for ‘driving me about the Liguria, to see villas and castellos, frescoed and jammed with furniture representing all the notable Italian periods.’


Of Italy he writes:


I have lived in Italy for varying lengths of time since early boyhood.  Italy is in my blood.  My senses as a painter and a writer respond …I come to Italy because the daily round, the grace of living here, appeals to me.


Remarking on mosaics at Pompeii:


My favourite is a large rectangular panel featuring a brace of gorgeously plumaged cocks … I made a painting of this mosaic for my bedroom of Ireland where the exciting sport of ‘Cocking’ is followed with enthusiasm.[64]


Fabulous Spain, inscribed to Margaret Mower, ‘Traveler in Spain, whose interest in all that is Spanish marches with my own,’ followed the Italian compendium, in 1955.[65]  In this lavish travel guide, which concluded in Fuentarrabia, Reynolds gives a rare anecdote about his mother:


I remember once, after a tour of El Escorial, when I was about twelve years old, my mother asked me what I thought of the riches I had seen and why I had glowered so at the broody canvases covering the walls.  I answered her, ‘Acres and acres and acres of canvas, but all so dark I couldn’t make out what the pictures were.’  In her usual crisp manner she replied, ‘The pictures are dark, surely, but look closely next time, exert your imagination.  It will surprise you.’[66]


The subject matter did not deter him from referring to Ireland:


In Dublin I once picked up a small, tattered book on a stall in front of a musty old second-hand shop in Ashton Quay.  Bound in leather, the book had once been brilliant red.  That was probably what first caught my notice.  Flipping over the pages, my eye was caught by the opening words of a chapter.  ‘And so we came to Ronda, on its stupendous gorge.’[67]


Once again, Reynolds found space to mention his grandfather.  His remarks were made in a chapter on Madrid to where he had first travelled at age twelve:


Of all my remembrances, what has remained clearest in my memory is the answer to a question I received from my grandfather Reynolds, whose opinion on anything under the sun I considered unassailable.  The evening before I was to leave Rathgannonstown in Ireland to journey with my mother to the Spanish capital, I asked, ‘Shall I like Madrid?’  My grandfather lifted a small magnifying glass which he habitually wore on a black moiré ribbon around his neck.  Using it as a quizzing glass he looked sharply at me and delivered, straight thrust, ‘Why wouldn’t you now?  Madrid has everything.’[68]


Panorama of Austria was Reynolds’ last book, issued in 1957, the year of his death.  It was completed at Schloss Rabenstein, Frohnleiten, Styria, and dedicated to Sally Jones Sexton, ‘of Bryn du Farm, Widely Traveled Friend, Notable Horsewoman.’[69]


Barely two pages into the book, Reynolds turns to Irish history:


In the golden age of Irish faith and learning, monks from the monasteries of the Western Isles traveled into Austria and along the Danube to Switzerland and Bavaria, bringing the light of faith with them.  All over Austria, in remote mountain villages or the busy market towns of the valleys … the work of these Irish monks survives.[70]


The following captures his style.  The island of Herrenchiemsee ‘is a dream of surpassing richness that literally stuns the mind’:


The State Bedchamber baffles description.  It surpasses magnificence.  The great four-post bed raised as on an altar is surrounded by a heavily carved golden balustrade, an ‘impassable’ barrier.  The bed stands on a purple velvet carpet embroidered with great brio, in a pattern of golden sunbeams.  The curtains weigh three tons, so heavy is the padded velvet ablaze with gold thread embroidery.  Frau Jörres, an embroideress with twenty women to assist her, worked for nine years on the embroidered bed curtains and spread alone.[71]


‘In all the world,’ he writes, ‘there is no sight to compare with the open-face, terraced iron mines of Erzberg.’  In the village of Mönchshof, he witnesses a mother reprimanding her six year old son, and was particularly taken by the boy’s attire:


The coat-of-arms of Burgenland Province was emblazoned on the back of his jacket.  Against a yellow shield, a fiery red eagle, tongue protruding in defiance, wore a crown of gold Crusaders’ crosses.  The wings outstretched, each pinion alert, this was a ponderous amount of heraldry, it seemed to me, to plaster on the back of so small a boy, no matter what his mischief.


Reynolds later learned that the boy’s name was Stani, a notorious runaway ‘whose wanderlust overtook him.’  On this most recent occasion, the boy had been found by a lorry driver in the middle of the night wandering in a village in Lower Austria:


In desperation his mother had recently taken a festival banner bearing the arms of Burgenland, embroidered on it Stani’s name and village and his proclivities for wandering, then stitched it to the only jacket the boy possessed.[72]


The reader is left to wonder about Stani, and also to ponder on where the author might next have taken his readers.  Death, however, put an end to a decade of informed and informative reading of the most cultivated and lavish style in the post war years.


Raising Ghosts


Reynolds certainly dined with the great and good, though many identities are masked by fiction.  However, some are not, like Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), with whom he dined in Galway during Mrs Woolf’s summer holiday there.  She was the first to tell him the legend of ‘Mad Mag of the Sorrows’ of Achillbeg Castle, whose six brothers were entombed on Achillbeg Island:


A long retaining wall still in fair state of preservation runs for five hundred yards along the side of Achillbeg Island facing the mainland.  At one end is a tall square tower, now a gigantic aviary in effect, for thousands upon thousands of sea birds make nests in the craggy stone work.  Inside one of the walls stands one of the glories of twelfth century Irish architecture: a unique multiple sarcophagus in carved stone … Each brother is walled up beside an effigy of himself.[73]


Another friend was Edith Anna OEnone Somerville (1858-1949), co-author (with her cousin, Violet Florence Martin) of Reminiscences of an Irish R.M. (1899).  Reynolds enjoyed various outings to her home, Drishane House, Skibbereen, Co Cork (which in his book he gave the fictional name of ‘Tally-Ho House’) and found one particular story by Edith, The Cherry Bird, entrancing.  Edith later sent him the story, but before his letter of thanks had a chance to reach her, ‘my dear friend was dead’:


The recent death of E OE Sommerville not only removed from the Irish scene a woman whose magic tongue for witty narrative simply floored her listeners, but left a niche in the hearts of her countless friends never to be filled.[74]


In 1952, Reynolds attended a coming-of-age party at Luggala House for national hunt jockey, Gay Kindersley, son of Lady Oranmore and Browne, thrown by Mr Kindersley’s grandfather.[75]  He describes how the Spanish Consul got lost on the way and ‘ended up at dawn in Rathdrum twenty miles away.’


On another occasion Reynolds spent the night on a heap of flour bags in the loft of a cotteen in Connemara.  The next day, he watched, fascinated, as the man of the house packed butter into lugghs to be sunk into the bog for refrigeration.


His artistic eye was, he said, trained to register detail at a glance, which he called upon to paint the ghost of Stella Dunn who he encountered in Grafton Street, Dublin.  Reynolds learned more about the ghost of Stella Dunn a few years later while staying with friends during the summer race meeting at Kenmare.[76]  Stella, wife of an officer of the Irish Fusiliers, was a successful opera singer who toured the world until she settled in ‘Cartymore Abbey’ in Kerry to have her first child, a son.  Tragically, she became addicted to drugs and was found murdered in Soho.[77]  Her body was returned to Cartymore and buried in a crypt under an old chapel, ‘as are all the Dunns of Cartymore,’ since when her ghost had haunted the building.


James Reynolds’ Ireland concludes with recollections of old racehorses, like his cousin’s chance find (and purchase of) a long coveted original sketch in oils of Isinglass (great-grandsire of Blandford) out of Oslet.[78]  He also remarks that he was once the owner of the stallion, Old Radnor, which at the time of his writing was at Castletown Stud, Ballylinan, Co Kildare.[79]


A description of his room at ‘Ballyshilty Stud,’ in which his grandfather was once part owner, includes a self-portrait with one of his racehorses.  Writing about this stud, Reynolds quotes from an old stud book in the tack room:


This day Gandaro’s ship arrived from Cadiz.  We brought ashore a Spanish Barb stallion sired by our great Barcaldino.  Named Canto, he will stand at Ballyshilty and enrich the strain.[80]


The Ghost of James Reynolds


The dialogue of James Reynolds’ literature suggests that in the period he was writing, he was relatively well known.  He dined well, put up in smart hotels, or the homes of his countless hosts, and seems to have had extraordinary access to what might be considered the out-of-bounds.  A sense of luxury, privilege and ease pervades the whole, yet the production of fourteen self-illustrated books and other writings in one decade is a breath-taking undertaking accomplished only by hard work.  And yet more than sixty years on from his death, he seems to be almost unknown, as elusive as the ghosts he loved to write about.  His many references to Ireland suggest an intimate acquaintance with the country, particularly in his references to his grandfather:


Mary Moriarity, an old retainer at my Grandfather Reynolds’ house Rathgannonstown, remarked coldly when asked if she would like to take a short spin in his claret-red Renault, the first motorcar of its kind in Ireland, ‘I’d not at all, thank yer honour; sir, I’d meet death at the crossroads surely in that divil’s velocipede.’[81]


More than once he mentions his grandfather’s demesne at Croghangeela, Rathgannonstown, but the location of this fictional address in his accompanying ‘ghost map’ points to a house without a name in Cork, Limerick or perhaps Tipperary.


His Kildare residence was ‘Ballykileen’ which he mentions frequently, with different spellings.  It is anyone’s guess if the name is authentic.  ‘Reynoldstown,’ he remarks in World of Horses, ‘was bred at Major Furlong’s demesne, not far from where I lived, Ballykileen in County Kildare.’[82]  On a few occasions, he describes Ballykileen as near Castledermot.  ‘When in Ireland, I go very often to Galway, motoring from my own house near Castledermot in County Kildare.’[83]


In James Reynolds’ Ireland, he describes the manner in which he opens his post, and adds:


This elaborate procedure went on twice a day at Ballykilleen when the yard boy had returned with the post from Castledermott, the nearest village.


This suggests a residence closer to Carlow than Kildare but as it stands, it is a residence unidentified.[84]


The Ghost of History


Fortunately, the search has been narrowed a little with the help of Tralee genealogist, Marie Huxtable Wilson, who has carried out extensive research.  The report of Reynolds’ death in Italy identified a number of his intimates.


Those informed of his death by telegram were Harold Vursell, his publisher, and Daniel Lavezzo, 154 East 54th Street, New York City, where Reynolds kept his home-cum-studio.  In 1950, a few paragraphs in Baroque Splendour described how he had taken up occupation there:


Many years ago I was asked to do the stage settings for Charles Dillingham’s production of the Lonsale comedy The Last of Mrs Cheney.  I wished to show on the stage, to set off properly the radiance of Ina Claire in the same part, a great Palladian house in England, the like of Hackwood Park, Holkham, or Heveningham Hall.


Pondering on where in New York he would find the proper furniture, a friend introduced him to Daniel Lavezzo:


Mr Lavezzo, whose extraordinary perception in all regarding the beauties of Italian sette cento decoration is equalled, I have found, only by his friendliness, motioned to the stairs.  ‘Many more rooms above.’


Finding what he needed for the production, Reynolds ‘promptly asked Mr Lavezzo if I could have a studio in the building’:


I spend a great deal of time in Europe traveling, painting, writing, and with my horses.  But each time I return to New York I bring masses of document on the myriad matters of the daily round that interest me … Yearly the room has grown in dishevelment and interest, a kind of kaleidoscope of loot.  The room is awash with memories of years of work, completed, and stacked with plans for more to come.


The death certificate also identified a relative, Margaret Reynolds, sister-in-law, 28 Cambridge Street, Huntington Station, Long Island, New York.[85]  Margaret Reynolds was Margaret Pauline Cerney (or Cserney), wife of Gerald Ahira Reynolds.[86]


Gerald, son of John J W Reynolds and Carrie Sophia Eldredge, was born in New Jersey on 8 October 1896.[87]  His brother was Harold Warren or Harold Warner Reynolds, born in New York on 22 October 1891 – otherwise known as ‘James.’[88]


It is probably worth noting here that an illustrator named James Warren Reynolds of 618 N142d St, New York, born 22 October 1894 at Warrenton, Virginia, seems to have been confused with the above.


The father and mother of Harold and Gerald Reynolds were born in Kentucky and Pitcher, Chenango, New York, respectively, and had been living in New Jersey and New York before their premature deaths in 1903 and 1907.[89]


This would explain Reynolds’ frequent references to the influence of his grandfather in his childhood.  But it does not lend to an Irish background because American Census records indicate that his grandparents – John is the only name Reynolds gives in his literature – were also natives of Kentucky.[90]


Harold Warner/Warren Reynolds, otherwise James, died at the Grand Hotel, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Como, Italy from ‘Cerebral Ictus’ on 21 July 1957.  He was buried at Cimitero Comunale di Bellagio, Bellagio, Provincia de Como, Lombardia, Italy.


So much is known about Mr Reynolds, the ‘Irishman.’  It may be that he was, after all, a first class storyteller who subsumed stories about Ireland into a fictional guise.  If this was so, he did it remarkably well.  And yet there is an authenticity in his relationship with his grandfather and an almost inherent knowledge of the country that suggests otherwise.


When I was about twelve years old, I used to have long talks with my grandfather about horse breeding, the thousand and one points which must be kept always in mind, a clear, sound circle of planned thought.  He would say …’[91]


His access to private correspondence written ‘by persons of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries,’ much of which was in the possession of his own family, and even his frequent references to English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, raise interesting questions about his background.  The distance between truth and fiction in his claims to Irish ancestry, however, will only be narrowed with more detailed research of American records.


In the meantime, the last word might go to one of the author’s English friends, who kept a wooden box containing Reynolds’ postcards and letters from all over the world.  It was engraved, ‘Cache J. R.* He Got Around.’[92]



Paddy Finucane A Memoir (1942)

A World of Horses (1947)

Ghosts in Irish Houses (1947)

Andrea Palladio (1948)

Gallery of Ghosts (1949)

Baroque Splendour (1950)

The Grand Wide Way, A Novel (1951)

Maeve the Huntress, A Novel (1952)

James Reynolds’ Ireland (1953)

Pageant of Italy (1954)

Fabulous Spain (1955)

Sovereign Britain (1955)

Ghosts in American Houses (1955)

More Ghosts in Irish Houses (1956)

Panorama of Austria (1957)


The following articles published in The Atlantic Monthly are also attributed to James Reynolds: The Laughing Laundress February 1951 pp57-60; The Midnight Spinners April 1951 pp42-45; Dublin for the Horse Show August 1951 pp54-56; The Tower A Story January 1952 pp64-68; Slippers that Waltz till Dawn A Story June 1952 pp70-74; Galway Great Week July 1952 pp61-63; The Muted Harp A Story August 1953 pp68-71.


[1] James Reynolds’ Ireland (1953).  ‘When I had hunted and done the usual round of country horse fairs and race meetings …’  A sketch of Castleisland Horse Fair given in ‘Castleisland’s Ancient Horse Fair is Cancelled under Covid-19 Restrictions,’ Maine Valley Post, 31 October 2020.

[2] ‘Passport No 289668 issued to decedent by the Department of State March 10 1954, Cancelled.’ 

[3] The obituary, published in July 1957, continued: ‘The last-named was published in 1955.  According to Mr Reynolds, ghosts are just as numerous in the United States as in Europe.  Among the American ones mentioned by the author were the ghosts of Matt Anthony Wayne, of a horse called Trouble Maker which broke its neck at the seventeenth fence of the Maryland Cup Course, and of ‘the slavering hound of Orbey’s Neck’.’  

In A World of Horses (p170), Reynolds stated, ‘I like going to Virginia … The Piedmont Valley offers grand sport.  Warrenton and around Upperville, Virginia, however, remind me more of Ireland than any other hunting country away from it.’

[4] ‘He painted a picture of Mrs August Busch’s horse, Happy Landing, and a panoramic view of the terrace of the Old Warson Country Club two years ago’  (St Louis Post-Dispatch, 24 July 1957). 

[5] In James Reynolds’ Ireland (p141), he adds to his mural paintings the house of Richard Hanna in California and Villa Torrigiani in Padua.  The following is also relevant: ‘[?] other aspect of war is encountered at the House of Hellas, headquarters of Friends of Greece, Inc, 37 East Forty-seventh Street, where James Reynolds has painted a mural called ‘The Aegis of Clouds.’  Thematically it is related to a legend still treasured on the little island of Syros: a warlike legend in which, in time of dire peril, the Goddess Athena was called upon for help.  James Reynolds has grandly portrayed the goddess high up in the clouds at the top of a mural that is dramatic and moving throughout.  She appears an embodiment of righteous wrath, black as thunder.  And the mood is carried thunderously down to the equestrian scene at the bottom.  It is indeed a striking panel but much too large for the room in which it is placed.  To obtain the full effect one should be able to stand twice the distance away from it that can now be managed.  The artist, when the world is at peace again, intends to paint a mural series, of which this ‘Aegis of Clouds’ will be a part, for a museum dedicated to and housing, he explains, the Sir Arthur Evans excavation treasures from the subterranean palace of King Minor of Crete’ (New York Times, 26 November 1944).  Reference courtesy Beth Owens, Research and Scholarly Communications Librarian, Ingalls Library, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio.

[6]  To this might be added, from the Broadway Database, What’s in a Name? (1920) The Greenwich Village Follies of 1920 (1920) Dear Sir (1924) Louie the 14th (1925) Sunny (1926) These Charming People (1925) The City Chap (1925) Criss Cross (1926) White Eagle (1927) Chee-Chee (1928) Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929) Ripples (1930) Sweet and Low (1930) Radio City Music Hall (1932) Come of Age (1934) Life Begins at 8.40 (1934) Within the Gates (1934) Thumbs Up! (1935) The O’Flynn (1934) Jumbo (1935) Daughters of Atreus (1936).

[7] Scene Design in the American Theatre from 1915 to 1960 by Orville K Larson (1989), pp59-60.

[8] Andrea Palladio, pp271-272.

[9] ‘Islands Are In’ by William B Powell, Harper’s Bazaar, March 1932.

[10] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p165.

[11] St Louis Post-Dispatch, 24 July 1957.  The notice also stated ‘His body will be returned to the United States for burial.’  As will be seen, the notice was in error on all counts.

[12] The book was published in New York by Kilkenny native and book publisher, Edmond Hackett Byrne (1879-1953).  In this book, Reynolds reveals that he met Dublin born Brendan Eamonn Fergus Finucane (1920-1942) on the Hill of Howth in 1936 during a school outing for boys from the Christian Brothers O’Connell School, which Finucane attended.  Their relationship is not clear; Reynolds may have been engaged in a teaching capacity.  Certainly they became good friends.

[13] The dust jacket further stated that a study of the life of the great Italian, Palladio, would follow.  Andrea Palladio And the Winged Device, a book about the ‘Influence of Andrea Palladio, Architect of Vicenza, Italy, 1518-1580, on Architecture all over the world from his own era to the present,’ was published in 1948. 

[14] Truth and fiction go hand-in-hand in Reynolds’ work which may, with proper research, reveal the locations behind the invented names.  The opening story is about the Bannott brothers from the County Monaghan/Louth border which leads the reader to Cork.  It tells of how Corcoran Bannott, the eldest boy, left his ancestral estate at age sixteen to travel to world, and Jason Bannott, the younger brother, sold up and moved to Co Cork to be close to his ‘shipbuilding shares in Ballycotton.’  There he bought a Palladian mansion, ‘Temple Trilla, they call it,’ in the vale of the river Bride, set back ‘a mile from the Ballyvourney Road.’  At ‘Temple Trilla,’  Jason dies from gluttony; hence the house was haunted by ‘a gourmand’s ghost.’  In 1865, Corcoran, now a 39-year-old, returns from his travels to claim his inheritance, much to the annoyance of the housekeeper who knew nothing of his existence.  Some time later, Corcoran finds his servant murdered in his brother’s old room, and so leases the house for five or six years to Colonel Markham, a racing man.  It then stands vacant for ten years until Corcoran, now aged fifty, is killed by a horse.  The house is sold to a Dublin magistrate who is also found dead in the same room:

From one spot along the Ballyvourney road, in particular, one sees the house through a ride cut in the park.  It is a dream house.  No one lived at The Temple when I last saw it a few years ago.  No caretaker lives at the house.  It is a house sinking slowly to ruin. 

It is tempting to identify the house from the description as that of Raleigh House, near Macroom, which in the mid eighteenth century was the home of Art O’Leary and where the lament, Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire was composed.  However, the author’s ‘ghost map’ places ‘Temple Trilla’ beyond ‘Drinshallon Park’ which suggests the Palladian pile was closer to Ballycotton, near Trabolgan or Rostellan.

‘Drinshallon Park’ appears elsewhere in the book, a story about the district of Castle Hyde, and another describes how ‘one night in 1930,’ Reynolds drove along the road from Ballyvourney to Cork.  As his car mounted the brow of a hill, the tower of Belvelly Castle came into view.  Intrigued, he later lunched in the Victoria Hotel near the River Lee with an informed friend to learn about the legends of this castle. 

Another Cork tale appears in James Reynolds’ Ireland (pp260-270) and relates to the ruined tower at Inchygeelagh (Carrignacurra Castle), told by one of the ‘Lissard’ brothers who worked for the author at Ballykilleen.  A sketch of the building, which Reynolds called the ‘Tower of Longing,’ is included.

[15] A reviewer of Ghosts in Irish Houses in the Evening Herald (18 February 1965) was perplexed by ‘Dragonstown’: ‘He mentions that he had a horse, Dragonstown, running at Baldoyle in 1936 but there is no trace of it in the Racing Calendars of the 1930s.  He is an accomplished artist, however, and it is his drawings that make the book worthwhile.’ 

[16] ‘James Reynolds was ‘awarded a gold medal last year by the Italian Ministry of Education for his book, Pageant of Italy’ (St Louis Post-Dispatch, 24 July 1957).  The dust jacket states, ‘The author has been awarded a gold medal by the Italian State Tourist Office for this fine book.’

A review of Pageant of Italy entitled ‘The Beauty That Outlasts Empires’ by Henry C Wolfe, author of The Imperial Soviets, was published in The New Leader, 28 March 1955.  Reference courtesy Kyle Hovious, Special Collections, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Betsey B Creekmore /Ellen McClung Berry Papers) where review is held.  Also an article, ‘An Artist’s Tuscan Villa’ (undated) by James Reynolds which appeared in Harper’s Bazaar.

[17] Irish Press, 13 October 1956.  A review in the Irish Independent, 22 September 1956, stated, ‘No part of Italy has been forgotten by this likeable painter who seems to have plenty of money and time … Mr Reynolds visits places not usually mentioned in English guide-books.  Amongst them are Padua, where we inspect the impressive basilica in honour of Saint Anthony; Viterbo, once the residence of the Popes and the industrial city of Turin, where is preserved the Holy Shroud in which Our Lord’s body was wrapped … Nor does he omit to see places connected with his native land; the unusual tomb of Saint Columban in Bobbio and the Well of Saint Patrick (a grotto where the saint did penance) in Orvieto are two …’

[18] Reviewed in Truth, 20 May 1955: ‘Although Mr Reynolds warmly acknowledges the help of both Don Luis Bolin, a former Director General of the Spanish State Tourist Department, and of senor Jose Coll, its New York representative, there is nothing stating that Fabulous Spain was commissioned by them.  The distance between Spain and this account of it is measurable only in the most depressing terms.  Mr Reynolds, whom I take from his spelling to be American, is described as an ‘artist, sportsman and country gentleman … recognised as a mural painter, a breeder of thoroughbred horses, and as the author of a number of books including Ghosts in Irish Houses.  His knowledge of Spain seems almost exclusively determined by the experience of those who are, like himself, country gentlemen; even these are as insubstantial, in his description, as the ghosts in Irish houses.  His attitude towards the Spanish people as a whole is not unlike that of breeders towards their thoroughbred horses.  His style is a monotonous variation between semi-inexactitude and pointlessness.  He was convinced, he writes, that ‘Poma, Goddess of Plenty, keeps an affectionate eye on Majorca and its great farms which so bountifully produce her fruits of the earth.’  This is a fair example of his method: the ‘cultured’ mythical reference, the vague and incorrect use of ‘great’, the absence of precise statement or the spirit of it.  A more independent observer, or one less lucky in his friends, might have noticed that there is hardly any topsoil left in Majorca.  Omissions such as these whistle like a cold wind through the network of inflated commonplace and crypto-cultural key-words that forms the flimsy lattice of Mr Reynold’s prose.  ‘Spain is the Church and the Church is Spain’ he says at one point.  For Mr Reynolds (and his Spanish friends) it is as simple as that.  Perhaps he has been so dazzled by the warm aid of the Tourist Department that he has never been aware of poverty and oppression in Spain – the existence of which is as apparent to a devout Catholic as it is to a Daily Worker correspondent.’

A less scathing review appeared in Ireland (Irish Independent, 25 June 1955), which concluded, ‘Visitors to Spain will find the book a most useful guide in deciding where to stay and where to avoid.’

[19] Reference courtesy of Kyle Hovious, Special Collections, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Betsey B Creekmore /Ellen McClung Berry Papers).  A number of reviews of Ghosts in American Houses held there including one published in Time Magazine, 5 December 1955 and another (unreferenced) by Ellen Hart Smith. 

[20] It seems that the wealthy Irishman was horrified, upon a visit to the capital of Persia, to learn that the country’s chief educational institution did not teach the English language.  He asked at once if an endowment to correct that lack would be accepted.  This was cheerfully done and the endowment still cares for the teaching of English at the university.

Correspondence to the University of Tehran in this respect remains, as of the time of writing (May 2021), unanswered.

[21] Hal Vursell and John Farrar, his editor and publisher. 

[22] The Kerry titles: ‘The Shriek of Slaney, Castlegregory, 1536,’ ‘The Lament of Brian Healy, Bray Head Tower, Valencia Island, County Kerry, 1050,’ ‘Lilylight of the Blasket Isles, Great Blasket Island, 1816’ and ‘Kilfaddon’s Reach and the Dark O’Foyles, Dunquin, County Kerry.’

[23] Irish Independent, 25 January 1958.  ‘Mr Reynolds’s holiday was not confined to Austria.  Before reaching that country at all he had explored Upper Bavaria with its castles built for the mad King Ludwig II.  And in the middle of his tour of Austria the writer made some delightful excursions to Switzerland.  Finally, another perpetually neutral State, the pocket principality of Liechtenstein, is visited after a prolonged stay in Vienna.  This is not a book to be skimmed through a month before setting out for Austria; rather should it be taken slowly before any plans are made.’

[24] Evening Herald, 18 February 1965.  ‘Mr Reynolds has also been luckier than myself for he has apparently had many ghostly encounters.  For instance, he says that on three occasions he saw the phantom ‘barge of Aran Roe’ from the transatlantic liner as he sailed into Galway from New York.  He also provides most poetic and colourful characters, such as ‘the White-Hooded Woman of Ballinasloe,’ ‘The Headless Rider of Castle Sheela’ and some delightful titles like ‘The Bloody Stones of Kerrigan’s Keep.’  Here and there he introduces characters who might have stepped from the novels of Lever, such as Mickey Filler, who speak in the stage Irish manner.  Then there is the story, ‘Red Eva’s Lepp,’ in which Eva MacMurrough, the wife of Strongbow, is described as ‘the mightiest woman in Ireland … Her armour ran with blood, for the hearts of men were stuck on prongs of iron.  Iron spears that bristled across her breast.’  She must have been a fearsome woman, indeed, and it was no wonder her ghost walked.  Another story deals with ‘The Black O’Flaherty of Castle Blake.’  The castle is situated in Co Galway on a hill overlooking ‘the Lakes of Menlo.’  A friend of mine from the west says there is no Castle Blake and no lake at Menlough.  Mr Reynolds gives two wrong dates in different places for the Battle of Clontarf – 1100 and 1117 – a fact which could be simply checked.  He also mentions that he had a horse, Dragonstown, running at Baldoyle in 1936 but there is no trace of it in the Racing Calendars of the 1930s.  He is an accomplished artist, however, and it is his drawings that make the book worthwhile.’

[25] Paddy Finucane A Memoir (1942).  Brendan Eamonn Fergus ‘Paddy’ Finucane (1920-1942), son of Thomas and Florence Finucane of Rathmines, Dublin, joined the Royal Air Force in 1938.  He died on 15 July 1942 when his plane was hit and plunged into the sea off Le Touquet on the French coast.  He is remembered on a number of memorials in Dublin and in England.

[26] As remarked in A World of Horses[27] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p194. 

[28] Written by ‘H.  McB,’ 30 April 1943.  Reference courtesy Beth Owens, Research and Scholarly Communications Librarian, Ingalls Library, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio.  A second report of the event, evidently from the New York Times, 5-2-43, is also given: ‘Highly diverse subject matter, freshly and freely presented, characterises the water-colors by [illeg] Reynolds at the Gallery of St Paul’s Guild, 115 East Fifty-seventh Street.  Mr Reynolds seems to be equally at home with Irish houses, American barns, thoroughbred horses and delicate flowers.  The show is being held as a benefit for the Cathedral Canteen, 17 East Fifty-first Street, which Mr Reynolds aided in decorating.’ 

[29] A World of Horses, p140.  Reynoldstown was owned by Major Noel Furlong and rode by his son Frank. 

Charles Noel Bell Furlong (1882-1963) of Hermitage, Glanmire, Cork, of Richmond, Fermoy (which he sold in 1922) and of Skeffington Hall, Billesden, Leics (which he sold in 1938) and of Marston House, Marston St Lawrence, Banbury.  Lieutenant in the South Irish Horse.  Married in 1909 Rosemary St John (1891-1976) daughter of Albert St John Murphy, Tivoli House, Cork.  Had issue Francis ‘Frank’ Charles Furlong (1910-1944), who rode Reynoldstown in his Grand National wins, and Charles Stanley Swithen Furlong (1925-2002).  Major Charles Noel Bell Furlong died at his home at Evenly, Northants on 20 March 1963 leaving a widow and son, Charles.

Major Furlong’s parents were Charles John Furlong (1843-1921) JP, of John Furlong & Sons Ltd Corn & Flour Mills, son of John Furlong of Richmond House, Fermoy, and Susan, daughter of Francis Hodder of Ballea Castle, Carrigaline, Co Cork.  Charles John Furlong married Emily Sarah Jane (1848-1911) daughter of Frederick Bell of The Belfry, Fermoy.

Major Furlong’s eldest son Francis ‘Frank’ Charles Furlong married at the Church of St Marylebone in September 1935 Miss Pamela Gladys Kingsmill (1913-1992), daughter of Colonel Andrew De Portal Kingsmill and of Mrs Redmond McGrath.  Frank, of the 9th Lancers and later Lieut-Commander Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), Fleet Air Arm, was killed in a flying accident near Stockbridge, Hampshire on 13 September 1944: ‘The deceased officer had a gallant fighting record.  He was in the operations against the German battleship Bismarck, was shot down and adrift in the Atlantic in a rubber dinghy for three days and nights, and later took part in the Madagascar invasion.’  Frank Furlong of The Old Hatch, Crawley, Winchester, left a widow and daughter, Grizelda.  His widow remarried in 1944 to William Duncan Baxter, RNVR, and died in Vancouver with the name Ringwall.

[30] World of Horses, p97. 

[31] A World of Horses, pp185-186.  A World of Horses received an unfavourable review in Ireland some three years after its publication: ‘Mr Reynolds, who is an Irishman, a painter and a horseman, calls his book a conversation piece devoted to all aspects of the subject, and he acknowledges the kindness of many distinguished horsemen and horsewomen who contributed ‘to round out this book.’  Amongst these was the late Lady Helen McCaimont of Kilkenny.  The author has lived with thoroughbred horses all his life.  He has a ready brush and pencil, and the book is littered with impressionistic sketches of the horse in all poses and motions.  It also has photographs.  In what is largely a scrap-book of information gathered over a long period the style is desultory.  The author evidently has lived longer in America than in his native country to which scant justice is done.  In a chapter on the Byerley Turk strain, he writes: ‘Troytown, alas, did not live to found the superlative line which he most certainly would have founded.  He was by many standards one of the greatest racehorses that ever lived.  The world seldom sees his like …’  A noted chaser as the founder of a blood line is certainly amusing.  Mr Reynolds tends to the stage-Irish style which is most offensive.  His reference to racing in this country shows much ignorance of the great advances which have been made.  He writes: ‘The Irish Stud Book (sic) has a wildness about its structure that is frightening and downright disconcerting but I, for one, would not change it a jot …’  This is what he was told by an Englishman who lived in Ireland for many years and handled some famous horses.  And Mr Reynolds believed it.  The author writes about the enormous Irish chaser, Newtownmountkennedy, ‘who won consistently any number of classic events.’  Somebody should send the author a copy or two of The Irish Horse to make his realise that he is living in a world of dreams, not horses, as far as this country is concerned.  The Irish Horse is the official year book of the Bloodstock Breeders and Horse Owners’ Association of Ireland’ (Irish Independent, 29 July 1950).

[32] Andrea Palladio, p300.

[33] Castle Davan would appear to be a fictitious name.  ‘Author’s note: A great many of the Italian, the Irish, and the English houses, gardens and interiors, mentioned in the preceding pages, even a few in Virginia such as the Governor’s palace at Williamsburg, have been illustrated in the magazine, English Country Life, over a period of the last ten years.’

[34] The cover illustration of James Reynolds’ Ireland appears to be that of Russborough House, ancestral home of the Earls of Milltown.  See ‘Ballymacadam Castle: Towards a History of a Geraldine Stronghold’ ( for further reference to the Earls of Milltown.

[35] Andrea Palladio, p311.

[36] Reynolds’ chapter on England includes a discourse on Inigo Jones, the Earl of Burlington, Robert Adam, William Adam, and the numerous buildings include Mereworth Castle and Seaton Delaval. 

[37] Andrea Palladio, pp170-171.

[38] Andrea Palladio, p171.  See ‘Ballymacadam Castle: Towards a History of a Geraldine Stronghold’ ( ) for further reference to the Earls of Milltown.

[39] Andrea Palladio, pp182-193.

[40] Andrea Palladio, p249.

[41] Andrea Palladio, p266.

[42] Andrea Palladio, p268.

[43] Leeton Forest, on the outskirts of Warrenton, Virginia, is also discussed. 

[44] Andrea Palladio, p294.  Reynolds included a menu from a birthday dinner party at Poplar Forest in 1787 which included duck, mutton, venison, oxtail, veal, partridge, pig and pigeon.

[45] The Berkshire Eagle, 26 September 2018, carries an article about the destruction of the house and its history.

[46] Courtland Smith Esq, perhaps secretary of Motion Picture Products & Distribution of America Inc, 522 Fifth Avenue, New York.  Reynolds held a gallery/apartment from Daniel Lavezzo of 154 East Fifty-Fourth Street, New York.

‘The Tetrarch was owned and bred by Major Dermott McCalmont of Ballylinch Stud, Thomastown, County Kilkenny’ (World of Horses, p17).   In 1986, the McCalmont family put Mount Juliet, incorporating the Ballylinch Stud, on the market (see historical sketch, ‘Death of a Dynasty,’ Sunday Tribune, 8 June 1986).  Dr Tim Mahony’s Killeen Group was the purchaser.

[47] World of Horses, pp13-15.

[48] World of Horses, p54.

[49] World of Horses, p166.

[50] The dust jacket describes how ‘fortunately, James Reynolds had both the means and the leisure for travel.  His life-long interest in authentic supernatural events drew him to many lands, near and far.  His journeys spanned all the continents on earth, brought him to modern cities and to half-forgotten hamlets, to great castles and to ancient ruins.  By profession Reynolds was an artist-illustrator.  His reputation was international; his works were exhibited in the leading galleries of Europe and America.  Yet his interest in things supernatural – an interest first aroused in childhood by his grandmother’s ghostly tales – lured him away from his work.’

Reynolds was informed by Virginia Woolf that she understood his grandmother was ‘a kind of high priestess of ghostlore in Ireland’ (James Reynolds’ Ireland, p57).

[51] ‘This book is largely due to her glowing description of the Baroque Basilica of Einsiedeln.’

[52] Baroque Splendour, pp237-245.

[53] A memorial in West Cemetery, Madison, New Haven County, Connecticut, records the names of Frances Keating Buell (1900-1980) (otherwise Frances Ruth Keating); Mary Carolyn Keating (1898-1972), and Alice Keating Cheney (1894-1981) (otherwise Alice Brayley Keating, spouse of Horace Bushnell Cheney (1899-1930)), daughters of Francis Root Keating (1862-1901) and Grace Brayley (1864-1932).  The ancestors of Francis Root Keating hailed from Co Wexford; see Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York, Vol I (1906-8) pp195-196.

Notes on Moorstown Castle

Located near the county bounds of Waterford and Tipperary, in the townland of Moorstown, Woodrooff Demesne, part of the parish of Inishlounaght, Co Waterford.  Not to be confused with the nearby townland of Moorstown in the parish of Mora, Co Tipperary.

According to Bernard Burke’s A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (1912), Godfrey Greene of Moorestown Castle, Co Tipperary, son of Godfrey of Moorestown, born in 1686, was killed at Clonmel by Baron Keating in a duel on 23 August 1735.  He was unmarried, and by his will dated 19 August 1735, left Moorestown, Co Tipperary, Scart, Co Limerick and Drumgorey, Co Waterford, to his uncle, John Greene, of Old Abbey.  

Further reference, Notes on Moorestown Castle, Co Tipperary, and Kilmanahan Castle, Co Waterford, etc [With pedigrees of the Greene family] (1901) held in the British Library.

The death of a Baron Keating in a duel is also recorded in the next century in the family of Ponsonby:

Ponsonby Earl of Bessborough: ‘This noble family derives its origin from Picardy, and their prime ancestor in these kingdoms accompanying William, Duke of Normandy in his expedition to England, his posterity established their residence at Haugh-Heale near Whitehaven in Cumberland, where they possessed a good estate, and took their name from the lordship of Ponsonby, of which they were owners; and had conferred upon them the office of Barber to the Kings of England, much about the time (as is said) that the Duke of Ormond’s ancestor was appointed to the office of Butler, to which the coat-armour of the family bears an allusion.  John Ponsonby of Haugh-Heale Esq was the father of Simon, his successor there, whose son Henry, by Dorothy, daughter of Mr Sandys of Rottenden in Cumberland, had issue two sons, Sir John and Henry, who both settled in Ireland.  For, in the year 1649, when Oliver Cromwell was appointed by the parliament of England to reduce that kingdom to their obedience, he landed at Dublin 14 August with a considerable army, amongst the officers of which were these two brothers; the elder whereof was ancestor to the Earl of Bessborough; and the younger having lands assigned to him, as a soldier, in the county of Kerry, had the same confirmed by patent under the acts of settlement 16 June 1666, and became seated at Stackstown and Crotto in that county.  He married Rose, daughter of Thomas Weldon of St John’s Bower near Athy in the county of Kildare, and of Raheen in the Queen’s County, Esq, he made his will, and dying in 1681, in the sixty-first year of his age, had issue by her who survived him, seven sons and eleven daughters, whereof three sons and seven daughters lived to maturity, and were …’ (The Peerage of Ireland: Or, A genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom (1789) by John Lodge Esq, Mervyn Archdall A.M., Vol II, pp269-271).

Anne, fifth daughter of above, who was married three times, first to George Brabazon Esq, second to Alerman David Cossart of Dublin and third to George Monck of Stephen’s-green Esq, had issue from her first marriage two daughters, Mary and Rose.  Mary married, as his second wife, on 1 June 1707, John Keating Esq ‘who in 1709 entered into the army and that year going abroad, died at Annapolis-royal in the west indies in 1718, leaving issue by his first wife Honora, daughter of Murtagh O’Brien Esq, whom he married in July 1701, two sons, viz Richard Keating, his heir of Nicholastown, in county of Tipperary, usually styled Baron Keating, who was killed in a duel by Stephen Moore Esq; and Redmond Keating; Mary remarried, 22 January 1720, to William Brabazon Esq, a relation of her father, but left no surviving issue by either.

‘I have a note that a Baron Keating of Moorstown Castle in County Waterford used to be a ‘de Ke’tinge.’  Other information from other sources say that the Keatings were originally O’Ceadfhada or O’Ceathaigh’ (

‘Moorstown Castle is a late 15th-century stone structure consisting of a circular keep and walled courtyard or bawn built by James Keating, an ally of the Earl of Ormond.  The castle and associated lands passed to Robert Cox in 1635 and by marriage to the Greene family.  It was bought by Richard Grubb through the Landed Estates Court in 1855.  It is said that the 17th century Catholic priest, poet and historian, Geoffrey Keating, had family ties with the castle, perhaps third son of James FitzEdmund Keating of Moorstown.’

‘Moorestown Castle: There is an old tradition that William III, upon his march to Clonmel with his troops, halted for one night at Moorestown, and the room which his Majesty is said to have occupied – immediately over the main entrance – is still called by his name.  This castle lies between Cahir and Woodrooff (the seat of S W Perry Esq DL) and is situate about five miles west of Clonmel.  Built upon the side of a low hill, and half concealed in the summer time by the adjacent woods, it forces a more interesting than conspicuous feature in the landscape.  The great central ‘keep’ – dating probably from the twelfth or thirteenth century – is of irregular shape, with its angles strangely rounded off: it towers to a height of some sixty or seventy feet from its rocky basement.  The walls are from ten to twelve feet thick, allowing of the formation of a tolerably broad stone staircase in their thickness.  Entering through a low Gothic doorway, we find ourselves in a bomb-proof chamber, with its dome-like ceiling, and pierced on all sides for musketry.  In the deep embayed recesses, the soldiers had ample protection while defending the castle from attack.  The view from the second storey, through the large double-mullioned window, is singularly beautiful, stretching over a richly-planted and undulating tract of country; hemmed in towards the north-west by the magnificent range of the Galtees.  Around the interior of the uppermost chamber of the tower are rows of curious little pigeon-holes, neatly constructed in masonry, and some two hundred and fifty in number.  It would seem that this portion of the building was used as a dove-cot, intended to husband out the resources of the garrison in times of siege.  This principal fortress stands within an enclosed yard or bawn, covering nearly an acre of ground and surrounded by a parapeted wall, fully twenty feet in height.  The approach to a covered way on the top of this wall, for sentry purposes, must have been by ladders.  On three sides of the quadrangle the wall is nearly perfect; and it was defended by a circular flanking tower at each corner.  Two of them are yet remaining; and inside one of these, near the roof, we found the same pigeon-hole arrangement as already described.  On the north of the great enclosure is a massive two-storeyed building which formed the chief entrance, through a spacious arch, with means of defence on either side: while overhead ran a machicolated gallery.  A huge block of limestone rests on the ground beside the gateway, and formed a king of seat for the soldiers when off guard at the castle.  At one time Moorestown belonged to the Greens of Kilkenny; and perhaps one of that family was in possession during the wars of the Revolution.  Now it forms part of the estate of Richard Grubb Esq, JP, of Caher Abbey; and certainly it is a place well worthy of a visit.  The castle may be approached either from the main line to Caher or from the summit of the hill on the road to the village of Poulmucca, by one of those bye-ways which remind us pleasantly of the green lanes of Devonshire.  Upon the Caher side a rudely-formed passage presents all the appearance of an ancient military road; and it is by no means improbable that it was along this way William and his army came from the Siege of Limerick’ (The Clonmel Chronicle, Tipperary and Waterford Advertiser, 12 August 1880).

It is worth noting here the family of Robert Keating (1800-1893) MP Waterford: ‘The news of the death of Mr Robert Keating (the oldest Tipperary sportsman) which took place at his residence in Dublin on 2 February 1893, was received with regret; although to most of the present generation of foxhunters he was little known, yet his long connection with the Tipperaries, of whom he was one of the most prominent followers as far back as the twenties, cannnot be forgotten by his fellow countrymen.  He died at the age of 93, and in spite of his great age his memory was undimmed as ever, so that his stories of the past often charmed an appreciative circle of listeners, who delighted to hear his graphic descriptions of old times, and his interest in the sport of kings was as keen as ever’ (Irish Society (Dublin), 18 February 1893).

Robert Keating MP Waterford (1800-1893) son of Leonard Keating Esq JP (1772-1856), Garranlea and Lucinda Scully of Kilfeacle, and brother of James Keating Esq, second son, who died at Garranlea-mills, Cashel on 17 June 1852. 

[54] A third title was planned, entitled The Story of Mark.  The Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books of New York Public Library contains material relating to correspondence between Mrs Pat McLaughlin and various publishing houses regarding this work though a copy of the manuscript is not included in their archive.  Information courtesy Cara Dellatte, Reference Archivist.

[55] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p248.  It is not known if a family association exists.  His next novel, Maeve The Huntress (1952), was dedicated to Mary Margaret Church.

‘Chucky’ was Melville Church III (1938-2001), who died on 1 January 2001 and was buried at Warrenton Cemetery.  The headstone of his mother in the same cemetery reveals that his sister, the ‘budding Diana huntress’ married into the family of Littleton: ‘Mother of Melville Church III and Margaret Church Littleton.’

A World of Horses (1947) was also dedicated to this ‘Young Sportsman, Melville Church III of North Cliff, Rixeyville, Virginia, on His Eighth Birthday.’

Melville Church III, son of Melville Church II (1914-1965) and Emily North King Hutchison (1916-2003), who married in 1937.  Emily North King, daughter of Mr and Mrs Edwin Burruss King, remarried to Richard Henry Hutchison (1918-1987), father of the late Mary Southwell Hutchison (1947-2013), and died at her residence in Middleburg, Virginia on 24 April 2003.

Melville Church II was the son of Melville Durant Church (1884-1958) of Washington.  Melville Durant Church was the son of Melville Church (1856-1935) and Sarah Heyliger Durant (1856-1935).  He married first to Margaret (1884-1915) daughter of Samuel Walter Woodward and secondly to Esther Palmer Denny Church (1887-1961).

Church family genealogy appears in Robert Colgate, the immigrant; a genealogy of the New York Colgates and some associated lines (1941) compiled by Truman Abbe and Hubert Abbe Howson.

Emily North King was the daughter of Edwin Burruss King (1876-1950) son of Dr Joseph Francis King (1831-1879) and Susan Leroy Neilson.  Edwin Burruss King married Mary Semmes Forbes (1878-1961) in 1905.  Mary Semmes Forbes was the daughter of Murray Forbes (1848-1923) and Emily Klein (North) Forbes (1850-1930).  Murray Forbes was the son of John Murray Forbes (1816-1890) and Mary Elizabeth Semmes (1820-1890).  John Murray Forbes was the son of Murray Forbes (1782-1863).  A headstone at Thornton Forbes Washington Family Cemetery, Virginia, records the following: ‘Murray Forbes, Born Dumfries, VA, July 4 1782 Died Fredericksburg, VA, July 30, 1863, Son of Dr David and Margaret Sterling Forbes, daughter of the last Laird of Herbertshire.’

[56] Miss Dorothy Quick (1896-1962), author of Enchantment: A Little Girl’s Friendship With Mark Twain (1961).

[57] ‘At various times I have asked a bard, one Liam of Connaught as he styles himself, to play and sing runes and legends chanted in narrative meter at parties at Ballykilleen, and when both my grandfather and my grandmother Reynolds died, a bard followed the hearse to the cemetery, chanting the grace and bounty of their life upon earth’ (James Reynolds’ Ireland, p100).  On the same page Reynolds describes an encounter with a bard after the close of the annual Puck Fair in Killorglin.  Reynolds also mentions his cousin, Dominick, ‘the Gaelic scholar of the family,’ on p39.

[58] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p209.  His fourth love was food, and chapter 12 is devoted to the subject.  Three particular meals are recounted by the author, one at the Drover’s Inn, Fermoy, Co Cork, another obtained from the wife of the owner of The Black Oak, Drogheda, and a Gala Dinner at Inishmora, Wicklow.  A menu from Barrakeel House dated 1867 is given on p43. 

[59] James Reynolds’ Ireland, pp112-114.

[60] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p165.

[61] Chapter 10, pp165-191.

[62] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p95. 

[63] An edition was printed in England in 1956, publisher Robert Hale Ltd, 63 Old Brompton Road, London SW7.  Actor and director, Robert Ross, died on 23 February 1954.  He was married to English actress Margalo Gillmore (1897-1986).

[64] Pageant of Italy, p30.

[65] Miss Margaret Mower may have been Margaret Helen Mower, daughter of Charles Hudson Mower and Elsa Durand Mower (née Chamberline), born in Santa Barbara, California 17 February 1896.  Elsa Durand Mower’s collection of French and Italian drawings was donated to Princeton University in 1968 by Miss Margaret Mower.  In the foreword of The Elsa Durand Moore Collection of French and Italian Drawings (1968) it is stated, ‘I should like to add a few words of appreciation of the collector-donor through whose generosity we are able to offer this exhibition ... On the occasion of my first meeting with Miss Mower in the fall of 1961, I was immediately impressed by the clarity with which she had formulated a conception of the scope and quality of the collection she was assembling ... I realized that she was bringing to collecting the standards she had set for herself in her acting career.’ 

The following notice may have some bearing on Miss Mower’s theatrical career: ‘Granville Barker concluded his season of outdoor Greek plays at Princeton last Saturday.  The occasion was marked by a contretemps, since the very early hour at which the proceeding began, just after ten in the morning, prevented Miss Chrystal Herne’s train from making connections, and as she was the Cassandra in The Trojan Women, hers was a most powerful deficiency.  There was no regular understudy for the part, but one of the members of the chorus, Miss Margaret Mower, had made herself thoroughly acquainted with the part and undertook it on the spot, and, what is more, acquitted herself to very great advantage’ (‘American Theatre,’ The Stage, 1 July 1915).

In 1919, Margaret Mower appeared in Lord Dunsany’s The Laughter of the Gods at the Punch and Judy Theatre, New York.  In 1926, the American actress was in London and played the leading role in Dennis Eadie’s production of The Awful Truth by Arthur Richman at the Royalty Theatre. ‘Margaret Mower has now joined the serried ranks of American leading ladies in West End theatres.  We already have Jane Cowl at the Duke of York’s, Vivienne Osborne at the Adelphi, Adele Astaire at the Empire, Tallulah Bankhead at the St Martin’s, Edith Day at Drury Lane, and Peggy O’Neil at the Hippodrome’  (Sporting Times, 31 July 1926).  Another reviewer added to this list Miss Dorothy Dickson.  (Further reference to Peggy O’Neil in The Girl from Gneeveguilla Memoir of Peggy O’Neil, 1920s star of the stage and screen (2017).)

[66] Fabulous Spain, p10.

[67] Reynolds added, ‘That was all I needed.  I bought the book and read a sort of honeymoon travel journal, the kind of stilted phrasing and rhapsody so popular in the early nineteenth century, but full of interesting detail of an older time.  A young Englishman had taken his bride to Spain some time after Waterloo.  I gathered he had been in Wellington’s famous personal guard although he never said in what regiment.  The young officer and his bride had intended only a brief visit in Ronda.  It turned out that they stayed the rest of their lives.  In fact, they were ancestors of the man who first started the Hotel Victoria.  Fronting the gorge, it is a landmark in the countryside for many miles.’

The above quotation also appears in Travel Handbook and Calendar Summer 1910 edited by (Dr) Sir Henry Simpson Lunn.

[68] Fabulous Spain, p255.

[69] Bryn Du Mansion (in the Welsh, ‘Black Hill’), Granville, Ohio, home of Sallie Jones Sexton (1912-1998), founder of Playhouse on the Green.  A series of photographs of Sallie Jones Sexton at Bryn Du, taken in 1967, is held in Columbus Metropolitan Library.

[70] Panorama of Austria, p13.

[71] Panorama of Austria, p133.  During a later foray into Switzerland, he is less concerned with skiing at Klosters as he is about the carving of traditional alpenhorns, observing that the carver ‘is a retired chimney sweep.’

[72] Panorama of Austria, p269.

[73] James Reynolds’ Ireland, pp56-57.

[74] James Reynolds’ Ireland, pp106-108.

[75] James Reynolds’ Ireland, pp144-145.  In 1937, Ernest Guinness brought Luggala as a wedding gift for his daughter, Oonagh, on her marriage to Lord Oranmore and Browne.  ‘Her parties at Luggala were legendary for the audacious mix of artists, musicians, poets, actors and socialites’ (The Irish Times, 27 August 2019, ‘Vast Luggala estate in Wicklow sold at discount to overseas buyer’).

[76] The race meeting at Kenmare may allude to the Kenmare Races that ceased before 1940, in which year an attempt was made ‘to revive the Kenmare Race Meeting, which at one time was one of the most outstanding local events of the years … over the famous Dunkerron Race Course.’  In A World of Horses (p148), in a description of Irish racecourses, ‘Kenmare near the Lakes of Killarney’ is mentioned, therefore the races may have been associated with Lord Kenmare.

[77] James Reynolds’ Ireland, pp151-163.  Reynolds’s description of ‘Cartymore Abbey’ resembles that of Darrynane Abbey, ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell: ‘As the new mistress of the Abbey drove up the tree-shaded driveway, she thought what an oddly shaped house it was: three distinct styles in architecture fought for precedence.  Each seemed buffeting the other aside.  The Abbey was very old, of lichen-spangled stone …’ 

[78] Reynolds had first seen an aquatint of the original in the National Gallery in Dublin and imagined the original was hanging in a museum.  His cousin chanced upon it hanging in the parlour of a small pub in Curryglass near Bantry Bay and she made the publican an offer.  Reynolds described it: ‘The horse stands in a pool of water under overhanging ashlar trees.  The cool green which suffuses the whole picture is very handsome.’

Isinglass (1890-1911) a British thoroughbred racehorse and sire, ran twelve times and won eleven races.  He was bred by owner, Harry McCalmont.

[79] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p251.  ‘When this colt by Blandford made his first appearance on the racecourse at Sandown Park last month he ran quite promisingly but I was not prepared to see him win the Lancashire Breeders’ Produce Stakes quite in the manner in which he did so yesterday … Old Radnor was bred at the Worksop Manor Stud and was purchased by Mr T Lant for 2,000 guineas as a yearling.  I shall be very surprised if that colt does not make a big name for himself’ (Belfast Telegraph, 23 July 1937). 

‘Old Radnor was bred at Worksop Manor Stud and sold as a yearling last September for 2,000 guineas to Mr Frank Butters, purchasing on behalf of Mr T Lant’ (Nottingham Evening Post, 23 July 1937).

[80] James Reynolds’ Ireland, p271.  Reynolds continued: ‘Barcaldino [Barcaldine] was the most famous stallion to be brought from Spain one year before the entry in the Ballyshilty Stud Book.  In the early days when strict attention to pure bloodlines was being watched in Ireland, Spanish Barb stallions were often imported.’

[81] More Ghosts in Irish Houses, p110.

[82] A World of Horses (p140),

[83] Ghosts in Irish Houses, p67. ‘One sparkling day in June 1938 I stopped in Oughterard.’

[84] For the record, there is Ballykillane House near Hacketstown and Ballykillen near Killeshin, both within a radius of Castledermott.  There is also Ballykilleen House near Edenderry (in the townland of Ballykilleen, part of Ballynakill, Co Offaly).

[85] ‘As declared to the Municipal authorities of Bellagio by the local sanitary official.  Disposition of the effects: in custody of the American Consulate General, Milan, Italy.  Remarks – Transmitted to Department: official death certificate issued by Commune of Bellagio, Como, Italy on August 5, 1957.’ 

[86] Gerald Ahira Reynolds (1896-1949) and Margaret Pauline Cerney (c1900-1987) married and had issue Marion Reynolds (1925-1930) and John Warren Reynolds (1928-2007).

[87] John J W Reynolds and Carrie Sophia Eldredge (born in 1862) married on 21 August 1888. 

[88] Official documents contain both names.  A World War II registration card for Harold Warner Reynolds also known as James confirms that he was born on 22 October 1891 in New York.  Registration Number U2945.  Place of Residence: 154 East 54th St, NYC.  Name and address of Person who will always know your address: Daniel Lavezzo, 154 E 54 St.  The middle name Warren appears on a passport application with the same details, and seems to be the more commonly used of the two.

[89] ‘Mr John J W Reynolds, formerly of Metuchen, died at Syracuse, of pneumonia, this week’ (Metuchen Recorder, 9 May 1903).

‘Mrs Reynolds, widow of the late J J W Reynolds, formerly of Metuchen, died after an operation for appendicitis, at the hospital in Yonkers, early on Sunday morning last.  The interment was at Syracuse, on Wednesday’ (Metuchen Recorder, 24 August 1907).

American census records of 1910 record Gerald Ahira Reynolds living with his aunt and uncle, George L and Bessie E Clarkson in Middlesex, New Jersey.

[90] In A World of Horses, Reynolds makes many references to studs in Kentucky, such as High Hope Farm, Lexington.

[91] A World of Horses, p94.

[92] James Reynolds’ Ireland (p141).