Tullig House, Castleisland: ‘The Small Mansion’

Tullig, a townland a few miles outside Castleisland, was part of the extensive Herbert estate.[1] The building of Tullig House in 1750 is attributed to the landlord’s agents, the Saunders family.  In 1786, Tullig was the seat of ‘Mr Sandes.’  Thomas Saunders was in residence in 1814.[2]


The genealogy of the Tullig branch of the Saunders family is given in Burke’s Landed Gentry[3] where it is found that one Robert Saunders, who died in 1708, married Barbara, daughter of William Meredith of Dicksgrove.[4]  They had four sons, William (born 1690), Thomas, Edward and Robert.[5]


Eldest son William Saunders of Tullig, married Margaret, fourth daughter of Arthur Herbert Esq of Currens, third son of Thomas Herbert and Mary Kenny.[6]  William and Margaret had Arthur Saunders Esq (died 1788) of Currens, who had Rev William Herbert Saunders (born 1748) who had three sons, Arthur of Tullig,[7]William Herbert Saunders, MD[8] and John Saunders of Cork.[9]


Richard Saunders of Tullig


The death of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Saunders of Tullig, brother of William of Carker House, Scartaglen, was recorded in 1878.[10]  He was described as a descendant of Colonel Robert Saunders (1628-1672) who accompanied Cromwell to Ireland and became Governor of Kinsale.


Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Saunders had five sons, three of whom were Major Henry Frederick Saunders (1819-1899), 70th Regiment and later (1880) Military Knight of Windsor on the Lower Foundation, and of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms[11]; Dr George Saunders (1823-1913), Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, who served as surgeon with the 47th Regiment in Ireland during the Famine, and later served in the Crimea[12] and Lieutenant Frederick John Gothleipe Saunders (1826-1857), who was killed at Cawnpore on or about 27 June 1857.


An account of the military career of the last named was reported at the time of his horrific death:


A heart-thrilling and terrible interest belongs to the story of Lt Saunders who was at once the hero and martyr of one of the bloodiest scenes of the Indian mutiny.  Lieutenant Frederick J G Saunders, late of the 84th Regiment, entered the army in 1847, and in 1848, joined his regiment in the East Indies.  On the breaking out of the Russian war several Indian officers joined the Turkish contingent, Lieutenant Saunders among them.  He bore the rank of Captain, serving with his regiment in the Crimea until the peace … Upon quitting the Crimea he proceeded to Madras, and, finding that we were at war with the Persians, volunteered to serve against them in any capacity.  The mutiny in the Bengal army breaking out soon afterwards, he joined his regiment at Rangoon, proceeded with his corps to Calcutta, and was with the first detachment that moved towards Cawnpore, where he was left with his company under General Wheeler.


During the hostilities that followed, Lt Saunders was seized by the rebels and taken before the Nana Sahib:


Upon getting near the Nana he dashed forward through the guards by whom he was surrounded, shooting down five of them with his revolver, and firing the sixth round at the Nana, but unfortunately without effect.  A few moments later and he was stretched upon the ground and crucified; his nose, ears, hands, and feet were cut off, a body of cavalry then charged over him each man of which cut at him as he passed, until he was literally hewed into pieces.  Then followed that hideous massacre which will make the name of Cawnpore a word of horror to the end of time.[13]


Military Men, l-r: Major Henry Frederick Saunders, Dr George Saunders and Lieutenant Frederick John Gothleipe Saunders


Chute Association


The widow Chute was in residence in the 1830s and 1840.  The Elliott family also appear in Tullig at this period. [14]  In 1846, Eusebius Chute of Tulligarron (Chute Hall) – also associated with Maglass – was recorded as resident gentry.  The transition from Saunders to Chute seems to have been through family links:


Eusebius Chute.  The grandson of the first settler at Tulligarron [Chute Hall].  He married the sister of Mr Justice Bernard of the Court of Common Pleas, and left, with other children, a son and heir, who married Charity, daughter of Arthur Herbert of Currens, brother of the Edward Herbert who obtained protection from Lord Powis.  Richard Chute and Charity Herbert had several children and, as the lady had no less than eight brothers, the blood of the old Lords of beautiful Raglan is pretty widely distributed in Kerry.  According to the Herald’s Office their lineal male representative of the present day is to be found in the county.[15]


Agnes, daughter of Richard and Charity Chute, married John Sealy of Maglass, son of John or Samuel Sealy and Alice Babington.[16]  John Sealy was known as Bahr vee ‘n Erin – the best man in Ireland.[17]  Castleisland historian, T M Donovan, remarked on the Chute association:


Very few nowadays know that the Tullig lands at one time belonged to the Chute family of Chutehall … This house in the olden days was such a grand mansion that it had two entrances from the main roads.[18]


Young Family


The Young family appears next in occupation at Tullig House, probably by a Young/Sealy marriage.[19]  In 1850, William England Young Esq of Nenagh was in residence.[20]  In that year, on 20 March, his youngest daughter, 16-year-old Anne Letitia Young, died at Tullig House from inflammation of the lungs.  A few years later, on 19 December 1852, Gertrude Ann, ‘the exemplary wife of William England Young Esq and eldest daughter of the late Richard Taylor Esq of Rock Abbey, Askeaton, County Limerick’ died at Tullig House from ‘decline.’[21]


Their son and namesake, William England Young (1835-1879) resided at Mount Rivers, Killorglin, where he died from congestion of the lungs on 30 October 1879.  He left a daughter, Agnes Isabella Wilhelmina Young (born 1874) from his marriage in 1872 to Margaret Clementina Weekes, daughter of Captain John Weekes of Tralee.[22]


Brosnan Family


By 1860, the house was in the occupation of the Brosnan family, who were associated with the area from before 1827.[23]  As Donovan recalled in 1930:


Seventy years ago this big house was owned by Mr Patrick Brosnan, a brother of Canon Thade Brosnan’s, one time PP of Caherciveen.[24]


The house was purchased for Patrick by his parents, Thomas and Ellen, who resided at the Dairy.[25]  Patrick Brosnan died in 1884, and his reverend brother Timothy (1823-1898) raised a memorial over the grave at Killeentierna, where their parents were also interred.  Indeed, it was Timothy who commenced the building of the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church in Caherciveen.[26]


The following attests to his labours:


Very Rev Canon Timothy Brosnan was educated for the priesthood in Maynooth College and promoted to the Dunboyne establishment in the year 1852.  In that year the Rev Dr Callan, Professor of Natural Philosophy, got a twelve months’ vacation and Rev Brosnan was appointed as lecturer in his absence.  The following year he was placed in charge of the Irish Class, the Professor of Irish having got a year’s leave of absence.  In 1854, Canon Brosnan got his first mission as curate in Killorglin, in his native diocese, and subsequently served as curate in Lixnaw, Millstreet, and Ballyferriter, on the shores of the Atlantic west of Dingle.  Here Father Brosnan, with the full sanction of the Most Rev Dr Moriarty, then Bishop of Kerry, celebrated mass in St Brendan’s Oratory on the summit of Brandon Mountain … this mass, which was attended by large numbers of the faithful in that romantic district, was followed by similar celebrations the three following years, the pious pilgrims increasing in vast numbers especially on the third occasion, June 30th 1868, when the Most Rev Dr Moriarty and three other priests of whom two were Franciscans and one a Dominican, celebrated masses on the holy mount whilst Father Brosnan celebrated High Mass on the very summit, the numbers attending on this occasion being upwards of 15,000.[27]


In 1868 Father Brosnan was appointed to the pastoral charge of Ballymacelligott, a parish adjoining that of Tralee, where he laboured for eleven years until 1879, when he was appointed parish priest of Caherciveen and at the same time, the dignities of V F (Vicar Forane) and Canon were conferred upon him.


His successful exertions in promoting the recently opened railway from Killorglin to Caherciveen, and Valentia Harbour, and of which the Right Hon Judge Madden (then Attorney-General for Ireland) has given testimony in a letter enclosing a subscription for the Memorial Church which has gained for him a reputation such as any priest might well be proud of … Canon Brosnan has almost completed one of the neatest and most commodious country chapels in Kerry, at Filemore, about four miles distant from Caherciveen, and has built several beautiful schools and is now building some new residences for teachers.  Shortly after his appointment to the parish of Caherciveen the indefatigable Canon built a very pretty and commodious presbytery designed by Mr Ashlin, architecturally in keeping with the Memorial Church beside which it stands.[28]


Very Rev Timothy Canon Brosnan, author of Illustrated Sketch of O’Connell Memorial Church (1895), died on 21 December 1898.[29]  An obituary outlines this great work of this parish priest in honour of O’Connell:


The shops of Caherciveen are closely shuttered, and expressions of sorrow may be heard wherever one turns at the loss of the Very Rev Canon Brosnan who for nigh on twenty years had ministered to the spiritual and material interests of his parishioners with untiring zeal … The general opinion is that his end was hastened by the cares and anxieties incidental to the building of the O’Connell Memorial Church, a project to which it may be said he devoted his life.  Sad to say, the noble building remains unfinished, and the Canon died with the dearest wish of his heart unfulfilled, namely, to see its completion, and to offer the Holy Sacrifice within its walls.  On Friday his remains, as is befitting, will be laid to rest in the vault he long ago prepared within the walls of the beautiful edifice.  The Canon was of powerful physique, and until recently showed every appearance of vigorous health.  He was a man of great determination and tenacity of purpose, ever unsparing in his efforts for the advancement of his people, and above all with a heart full of sympathy for the poor and afflicted, and a purse never closed to the appeal of misery … Few priests are so well known throughout Ireland and among our exiled countrymen in foreign lands through his frequent appeals on behalf of the O’Connell Memorial Church.[30]


A Powerful Man


Denis, son of Patrick, brother of Timothy, was described by Donovan as ‘a big powerful athletic man’ who married Miss Keane, ‘the handsomest woman in all East Kerry … In this generation the handsome Brosnan ladies of Tullig carried all before them.’[31]


Another of the Brosnan family, Dr Hugh Brosnan (1855-1906),[32] one of the nine children of Patrick and Catherine Brosnan of Tullig, and a nephew of Canon Timothy Brosnan, was tried for agrarian disturbances in 1886.  He was found not guilty. ‘The full story of this incident may never be known.  In the Brosnan family there is a tradition that Hugh was involved with the agrarian agitators only in that he attended them professionally.’[33]


Tullig House remains in the Brosnan family.  Castleisland District Chairman John Roche recalls a humorous incident with the late Francie Brosnan of Tullig House during the farmer’s march to Dublin in 1966:


Francie Brosnan, the most recent owner of Tullig House now occupied by his widow Mary, was active in local farm organisations from an early age.  A contemporary of mine, actually separated at birth by only five days, Francie served at different times as chairman of Castleisland Macra, Castleisland Mart and Kerry IFA.  A memorable incident from the famous IFA farmer’s march from Kerry to Dublin which I led as Kerry County Chairman and Francie was one of the Kerry fifteen.  After marching from Listowel we were joined on the third day in Limerick by teams from Limerick and Clare.  We were automatically the lead team and for devilment we set a very fast pace on the road towards Nenagh.  Next morning there was a bit of a revolution by the other teams amd it was decided that one from each county should lead, and the three tall Kerrymen who had been leading should be replaced.  I knew that Francie, though short in stature, was a champion walker and so nominated him as our representative.  I told him to ‘give it welly!’  The pace the second day was, if anything, faster and from my place ‘down the ranks’ I heard a Limerickman complain after a few hours; “I thought when we removed the tall fellows from the front the pace would slow, but there’s a small f**ck*r up there now and every step he takes is two yards!”


Tullig House, Castleisland.  Left and right of centre, John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, photographed with Mary Brosnan, widow of the late Francie, beside the staircase and in the grounds of Tullig House,   On the left, John appears with Mary’s son James


[1] A memorial tablet to Edward Lord Herbert Baron of Cherbury in England and Castle Island in Ireland who died on 9th December 1678 in the 46th year of his age is erected in Westminster Abbey.  An image of same can be viewed on https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-commemorations/commemorations/edward-lord-herbert-of-cherbury

[2] A burial vault at the rear of St Stephen’s Church, Castleisland, recalls members of the Breahig Saunders: This is the Burying/Place of the Saunders/Family of Breahigg/Anno Domini 1696.

[3] ‘Saunders of Tullig’ Burke’s Landed Gentry (1912). 

[4] ‘William Saunders.  He was probably the son of a ‘Robertus Saunders Insula de Kerry, gent’ on the list of Kerry grand jurors in 1679’ (‘Kerry Notes Historical and Genealogical,’ Kerry Evening Post, 27 May 1908).

[5] There were also two daughters, one who married into the Eager family, and Mary, who married Fitzmaurice.

[6] The fifth daughter of Arthur Herbert Esq of Currens was Charity Herbert, who married Richard Chute of Chute Hall and had issue.

[7] Arthur Saunders had two sons, Arthur William Saunders of Tullig and George Saunders of Worcester College, and a daughter Jane Warton.

[8] William died unmarried,

[9] John Saunders died in 1845 (having had three sons, Rev William Herbert Saunders, vicar of Carrigtuohill who died unmarried in 1882; Arthur John Saunders, who died without issue; and Henry L’Estrange Saunders (1820-1905) who died without issue. 

[10] Richard’s widow, Annie, died in London on 4 July 1887 aged 84.  The death of namesake, Mr Richard Saunders of Largay,  Co Cavan, and Hawley House, Dartford, Kent, who claimed the same ancestry, was recorded on 15 November 1881: At Lansdowne Mansions, Brighton, in his 83rd year, Richard Saunders, elder son of Mr Owen Saunders of Largay, by Mary Anne, his wife, daughter of Mr Richard Sadleir, of Sadleir’s Wells, in the county of Tipperary.  He was twice married.  His ancestor was Colonel Robert Saunders of Cromwell’s Army, who was appointed Governor of Kinsale and had a large grant of lands in the county of Wexford.

[11] The career of Major Saunders was sketched in Illustrated London News, 5 June 1858.  Lieut-Col H F Saunders, Military Knight of Windsor, and late of the 3rd West India Regiment, died at Windsor Castle on 16 January 1899 at age 79.  He was mentioned in despatches as having distinguished himself and shown devoted and gallant conduct.  For his services he received the brevet of Major and a medal.  His funeral took place at Brompton Cemetery; amongst those present were Deputy Inspector-General George Saunders, CB, Mr Bailey Saunders, Dr Frederick Saunders, and Captain Maloney, Governor of the Military Knights.

[12] Dr George Saunders married in 1852 to Isabella (died 1903), only daughter of Thomas Bailey JP of Co Fermanagh, and had issue including translator and author, Thomas Bailey Saunders (1860-1928), who married Contessa Elena Alberti di Poja, only daughter of Conte Gustavo Alberti di Poja; and Dr Frederick William Saunders (1863-1915) MB Cantab, of Donnington Hurst, Newbury and Assounan, Egypt.

[13] ‘Lieutenant Saunders left a wife and two sons to weep his loss’ (Illustrated London News, 5 June 1858).  Lieutenant Frederick John Gothleipe Saunders was married in London in April 1847 to Sarah Herbert and had two sons including Frederick Herbert Saunders. 

[14] In May 1844, at Tullig, the death of 33-year-old Alexander Elliott Esq, eldest and only surviving son of late Alexander Elliott Esq of Tralee, and grandson of late Alexander Elliott Esq of Tanavalla, Co Kerry, was recorded.  On 7 March 1848, at St George’s Church Dublin, Lucy Hurly Elliott, described as only surviving child of late Alexander Elliott Esq of Tralee, was married to Charles Newburgh Tisdall Esq, Civil Engineer.

[15] ‘Kerry Notes Historical and Genealogical,’ Kerry Evening Post, 27 May 1908.  The sons of Richard Chute (born 1700) and Charity Herbert Chute (1708-1785) were Francis Chute (1730-1782) of Chute Hall and Richard Chute (born in 1732) of Roxborough.  Richard and Charity had three daughters, Margaret, Agnes and Catherine. 

The sister of Charity Herbert, fifth daughter of Arthur Herbert Esq of Currens, who married Richard Chute of Chute Hall and had issue, was Margaret Herbert, married to William Saunders Esq of Tullig.

[16] John Sealy of Ballymalis inherited Maglass from his great grandmother, Alice Babington.

[17] Genealogy of Sealy of Magh and Maglass in the O’Donohoe Collection Catalogue, pp167-169, http://www.odonohoearchive.com/catalogues/.

[18] Kerryman, 11 October 1930, 'English settlers in East Kerry.'  Neither lodge survives.

[19] One William England Young was associated with Ballinvariscal House (Mount Prospect), Castleisland, in the 1840s.  Valerie Bary (Houses of Kerry)  ‘mentions that William E. Young was married to Agnes Sealy and lived at Ballinvariscal House in Novahal parish’ (Landed Estates).

[20] Henry Herbert leased Tullig House to William England Young; at the time of Griffith’s Valuation it was valued at £7. 

[21] Kerry Examiner, 4 January 1853.  The couple married at St John’s Church, Limerick, on 19 August 1826.  Three of their known sons were Robert Young and Vere Hunt Young, born in 1840 and 1844 respectively, and William England Young, born in 1835. 

[22] Notes on the Sealy family of Magh and Maglass (O’Donohoe Collection Catalogue, pp167-169, http://www.odonohoearchive.com/catalogues/) record the marriage of Agnes Sealy, daughter of John Sealy of Maglass and Agnes Chute, to Captain John Weekes, an officer in the army.  Margaret Clementina Young died at Kingston College, Mitchelstown, on 31 January 1902 aged 67.  Her daughter, Agnes Isabella Wilhelmina Young, married, on 16 October 1907 at Ballymacelligott Church, Robert Fitzmaurice, youngest son of Francis Cope Peet, Rathanny House, Tralee.

It is worth noting here the marriage in St Werburg’s Church, Dublin in October 1858 of Mary Melian (1836-1904), eldest daughter of Rev Abraham Morris Evanson, Rector of Agnamcastle, Co Tipperary to William England Young.  Mary Melian, widow of W England Young Esq of Lismakeery, Co Limerick, married Ephraim Burroughs Esq, MD, eldest son of Rev W G Burroughs, Rector of Mullinavat, on 17 October 1867.

[23] ‘Thomas Brosnan from Killeentierna settled in Tullig before 1827.’  Ref: ‘Brosnan Family, Tullig, Castle Island,’ A Brosnan Gathering (2013) p20.   See also The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello.

[24] Kerryman, 11 October 1930, 'English settlers in East Kerry.’ 

[25] Reference: Divane’s Calendar (2002).  Historical note therein includes a description of the layout of the house and is accompanied by an illustration of Tullig House by artist Peter Robin Hill.  See also The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello, ‘Patrick Brosnan died in 1884 … Patrick must have had the satisfaction of seeing the Tullig House lands settled on his sons, as in 1886 three of them were living respectively in Tullig House, the dairy, and Knockbane.’

[26] A memorial tablet to his memory is located there near the Nun’s Chapel.  It is inscribed: Sacred to the Memory of/The Rev Rev T Canon Brosnan/PP VF/Who died on 21 Dec. 1898 Aged 75 Years/[Irish inscription]/Devoted to the Interests of Religion/And Who Loved the Poor/He Commenced the Building of this/Church and for many years spent/himself in the continuance of/the great work, a Fit Testimony of/His Noble Zeal for the Beauty/of God’s House/RIP

[27] Excerpt from the Lamp in the Kerry Evening Post, 24 December 1898. 

[28] Excerpt from the Lamp in the Kerry Evening Post, 24 December 1898. 

[29] This publication is referenced in The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello, p38.

[30] Kerry Evening Post, 24 December 1898.  ‘Four years after Canon Brosnan’s death, on Sunday, December 14th 1902, the first Mass was celebrated in the Memorial Church by the Rev Fr J O’Sullivan, a native of the neighbouring Filemore parish’ (The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello, p27).  An image of Very Rev Timothy Canon Brosnan, PP appears on p3 of The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello.

[31] Kerryman, 11 October 1930, 'English settlers in East Kerry.’  Fr Kieran O’Shea’s Castleisland Church and People records that Maurice Brosnan from Tullig was professed in 1923 for Melbourne.

[32] ‘Other members of this family were Fr John, who had been ordained in 1890 and ministered in New York; Hugh, a doctor, in Killarney; Benjamin, a hardware merchant in Castleisland; and Michael, who went to America, but returned home to marry and settle in business in Tralee.  The two girls of the family married farmers’(The O’Connell Memorial Church Cahirciveen (1984) by Con Costello, p2).

[33] ‘A Kerry Moonlighter’ by Con Costello, North Munster Antiquarian Journal, 1981, pp89-92.