The Last Letter

The Irish Heritage Trust which manages Fota House in Cork is proud to be the gatekeeper of many stories.  We know this one is all too common and many families safeguarded those last letters from the front as precious mementos.  This letter dated April 1917 is 100 years old this year and it was sent from Charlie Beswick, son of Mr Beswick, who was the head Gardner on the Fota Estate from about 1899 to 1914.

The Beswicks had three boys and you can see in the family photograph. Willie, Arthur (who took many of the family pictures), and Charlie, the youngest.  Charlie grew up on the estate and later followed in his father’s footsteps: he trained in botany at Kew Gardens in London. At the outbreak of WW1 Charlie joined up, and we have a selection of postcards that he dutifully sent to his parents from the front.  The address he uses is ‘The Gardens’ Fota House, Cork.  No postcodes needed!   Charlie commence his service as a private he later progressed to became an officer in  the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and this image of him smiling and handsome in his lieutenant’s uniform belies the sadness that war brought to families such as the Beswicks.

The Trust was lent this letter written by Charlie to his parents dated the 19th of April 1917 and it is one of the most poignant and thoughtful messages from a young man to his family. His words are laden with significance and convey an outcome that he must have sensed was imminent and inevitable.  Charlie sustained fatal wounds after leading his platoon into action in Cambrai in France and died three days after writing the letter on the 22nd of April – 100 years ago.

The letter reads:

Dear Father and Mother

I am just about to go into action leading my platoon. With God’s help I will return safely – then if not I shall do my duty to the best of my ability. If anything should happen please tell Willie and Arthur and all, also Ernie Mills that I thought of them and you all and thank God he has thought fit to make me of some use to my King and Country.

Your loving son Charlie

By the end of the War William and Eliza had moved to Bath, but their memory and that of their boys still lingers at Fota through their family album and especially through the house they once lived in, tucked away in a corner of ‘The Gardens’.  Today visitors can see where he played as a boy in the orchard and kitchen gardens at Fota House.  When we walk the paths where he walked and look at the family home it is hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to leave the leafy tranquillity of Fota to face the horrors of the trenches.

Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, Co Cork, Ireland

Open from spring to September and by appointment at other times

Michelle and Allan’s Wedding in Fota House & Arboretum

Alan and dickiebow
From the start Michelle and Alan wanted something different for their special day.  Initially they toyed with Doctor Who and Superheroes.   Their special day was always going to be fun and light-hearted, and potentially a little bit mad. You could say getting married is the beginning of a new adventure together, or even a trip down the rabbit hole!  They hit upon the Mad Hatter Party and the rest, as they say, is history.

The theme also allowed their daughter Eimear to get involved and enjoy the day.
Alan & Michelle 2

Alan's hat belonged to Michelle's Granddad who passed away April before the wedding, he was a hat sales man.

The hat was was very fitting for the chosen theme.

Alan 3

Time Piece
Tome Pieces

Those shoes


Michelle's earrings belonged to her Grandmother.

Hats 1
Hats 2

The Bride, Bridesmaids and Flowergirl all wore hats from Little Miss Hattitude.


Fota Entry
The Hall

The ring cushion was made by Alan's Mum Agnes.

Wedding 1
Wedding 2
The Vows
Fingers and rings
After Signing
Reception in the hall
Group On Steps
Black & White
Eimear Crying
Eimear Happy
The Woods
Against the Pillar

"Fota House was a fantastic backdrop for us as it has a real magical feel to it.  Roaming such and incredible

house in our wedding attire was so much fun".

Amazing roof

Beautiful pictures from the Fota House, Gardens and Arboretum.

In the kitchen


The reception was held at the Cork International Hotel, where the theme continued.

This Way
Down the Rabbit Hole

Mad Hatter

ChattyBoo Productions provided the actors for the evening, Queen of Hearts, Alice and the Mad Hatter.

Drink me

The Cake

The Wedding Suppliers

All the profits made in Irish Heritage Trust properties are reinvested into care and conservation, ensuring these beautiful properties will be here for future generations to enjoy.

The Barrys Come to Ireland

Mavricivs FitzGerald from the National Library of Ireland's copy of Giraldus Cambrensis Expugnatio Hibernica., Ms 700 f.71r, Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland. Maurice was Philip de Barri's uncle

Mavricivs FitzGerald from the National Library of Ireland’s copy of Giraldus Cambrensis Expugnatio Hibernica., Ms 700 f.71r, Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

Anagreth de Barri was related to many of the men who set out to conquer Ireland in 1169, among them were Robert Fitzstephen and Maurice Fitzgerald (pictured above), the progenitor of both the earls of Desmond and the earls of Kildare …


The Early History of the Barry Family

Beautiful Manorbier Castle. You can visit!

Beautiful Manorbier Castle. You can visit!

The Norman family of de Barri took part in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and as a result were granted territories in South Wales (from here they take their name). Their family seat was Manorbier Castle near Tenby. William de Barri was born here in 1110. He married Anagreth who was granddaughter of Rese Gruffydth, Prince of South Wales. Anagreth’s grandmother was Nest, who was mistress of King Henry I of England. Nest’s children founded the Fitzstephen, Fitzgerald and Fitzhenry families.

William and Anagreth had four sons: Philip, Edmund, Robert and Gerald. Gerald later wrote very fondly of his birthplace, Manorbier Castle, which he called ‘the pleasantest spot in Wales’ …