|Adair of Bellegrove|
George's only son, John George Adair (1823-85), originally intended for the Foreign Office, proved to have too fiery a temperament and to restless a spirit for the diplomatic service, and went to America where he made money in brokerage and land speculation. In 1857-59 he bought up land in Co. Donegal to form the Glenveagh estate, from which over 200 tenants were ruthlessly cleared in 1861. Here, between 1867 and 1873 he built Glenveagh Castle in a Scots Baronial style to the design of his cousin, J.T. Trench. He also added a large winter garden to Bellegrove in 1869, to the design of Sir T.N. Deane. In 1869 he married a wealthy widow, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie (1838-1921), and they divided their time between Ireland and America, where they lived first in New York and later in Denver.
In 1874, during a hunting trip, they met a Texas cattleman, Charles Goodnight (1836-1929), who persuaded them to purchase land for cattle ranching on the open range in the beautiful Palo Duro country southeast of Amarillo, Texas, where the cattle had sufficient water, excellent grass in summer and could winter comfortably in the protection afforded by the canyon walls. Adair and Goodnight entered into a partnership, by which Adair put up the money for building a massive ranch in the canyon, and Goodnight would became the manager of the ranch and supplied the initial herd of cattle. Adair financed two thirds of the cost, and Goodnight borrowed his one-third share at 10 percent interest from Adair. Goodnight would also draw a $2,500 annual salary. It was Goodnight’s suggestion that the ranch be named the “JA Ranch” from the initials of his partner. Goodnight had a free hand in managing the ranch and rapidly increased the acreage through shrewd land purchases. As a result the undertaking had made a profit of $510,000 by the end of the first five-year contract. Goodnight continued as manager until 1888, by which time Adair had died and been succeeded by his widow. She was sole owner of the ranch until her death, and it remained in her family, passing to the descendants of her first marriage. Her grandson, Montgomery Harrison Wadsworth “Montie” Ritchie (1910–1999), worked at the ranch and was the manager from 1935 until his retirement in 1993. For the history of the ranch, see here.
|Cornelia Adair (1837-1921)|
Bellegrove, Rath, Leix
|Bellegrove in 2006. The greenery has since been removed from the ruins.|
Glenveagh Castle, Donegal
|Glenveagh Castle from above. © Jen Doyle|
In the mid 20th century, Henry McIlhenny of Philadelphia, whose hospitality was legendary, decorated and furnished the interior of the castle with a mixture of Georgian and Victorian style and modern luxury, in a way that contrasted splendidly with the rugged medievalism of the exterior and the wildness of the surroundings.
|Glenveagh Castle: the library in 1973.|
He also made what is now one of the great gardens of the British Isles: there are terraces with busts and statues, a formal pool by the side of the lough, an Italian garden, and a walled garden containing a Gothic orangery designed by M. Philippe Julian, while the hillside above the castle is planted with a wonderful variety of rare and exotic trees and shrubs.
The Adair family of Bellegrove and Glenveagh Castle
Where are their papers?
Revision & Acknowledgements
This post was first published on 31 March 2013 and was revised 3 April 2015 and 17 February 2017. I am grateful for additional information supplied by Raymond Blair.