Barons Court, near Omagh in County Tyrone, is Ulster’s finest home. It is the private residence of the Duke of Abercorn and his family. It is not normally open to the public and for delegates at the Summer School this will be a rare opportunity to see inside this fascinating house.
In the early 17th century three brothers from Scotland – James, Claud and George – were granted estates in Ulster. They were the sons of Lord Claud Hamilton of Paisley, near Glasgow, who had been a prominent supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The oldest of three brothers, James was a leading Scottish courtier and close friend of the King. In 1606 he was created Earl of Abercorn. It is from him that the present Duke of Abercorn descends.
In the 17th century the Irish estates were confiscated on a number of occasions on account of the support given to the Stuart royal family by a number of family members, some of whom were also Catholic. However, under the 6th Earl of Abercorn the estate was enlarged to some 76,000 acres in counties Donegal and Tyrone.
The 8th Earl was the great consolidator of the estate. He was known as ‘His Taciturnity’ on account of his reserved nature. This was in contrast to his flamboyant nephew and heir, the 1st Marquess of Abercorn, who was known as ‘Don Magnifico’.
In 1868 the Marquess’s grandson was created the 1st Duke of Abercorn. The magnificent stately home of the Abercorns at Barons Court was first constructed c.1780 and has been remodelled several times since then. Today it remains the private home of the 5th Duke of Abercorn and his family.