The following by Hardress Jocelyn de Warrenne Waller was published in a local magazine and is reprinted with his permission. The pedigree index code for each name in the text has been added to aid in correlating it with the names in the genealogy.
THE WALLERS OF PRIOR PARK
The lands of Cloughprior on which Prior Park house was built are listed in the Civil Survey of 1654 as being owned by John Grace of Ballylency in Kilkenny, who had inherited them from his grandmother Margaret Butler who was a Grace from Carney. In the Cromwellian settlement, 613 plantation acres were granted to Captain Benjamin Barry and a Captain William Woodward became his tenant, being shown in the 1659 Census as settled at Cloughprior. The Woodwards lived in Cloughprior House until 1838 when Francis Woodward was adopted by his relative Caesar Otway who acquired for him Prospect House, until then owned by the Gardens of Templemore. The family lived on at Prospect until the 1920s.
Around 1778 a William Woodward, whose mother had been an Otway of Castle Otway near Templederry, sold 284 acres to James Otway who was the builder of the Prior Park house, which exists today. The house itself is of great interest, being one of the first large square Georgian houses to be built by a country squire outside the Pale. It was designed by William Leeson and took seven years, from 1779 1786, to build. This same architect was also responsible for Peterfield (later Johnstown and recently demolished), a very similar house which he built for Peter Holmes, at that time the landlord of Nenagh town. He was also the architect of Kilboy and Traverston in Upper Ormond and of Eyrecourt in East Galway.
From the front Prior Park is a five bay, three story house with imposing steps up to the hall door with a further kitchen basement story opening into an area in front and onto the large stable yard behind. The large flagged hall (the flags would have been whitewashed in those days) leads to main and servants staircases and opens right and left to two high ceilinged magnificent rooms, the drawing room and the dining room. Both of these rooms were shortened by one bay in the 1850s.
James Otway, who seems to have been a gay and generous bachelor (he brought up five orphaned cousins) laid out extensive gardens and entertained lavishly, but very soon ran out of money and left to live with relatives in Wales. Prior Park was first let to a Mr. Saunders (presumably from the family who lived nearby at Ballinderry Park in Borrisokane) and later in 1803 sold to George Waller, a relative by marriage, whose descendants have lived there ever since.
George Waller (1740-1833) (1a2d4) came from Newport where an ancestor (Richard Waller (1613-1676) (1), a Lieutenant in Cromwells army), had been granted lands mostly at Cully on the western slopes of Keeper Hill. Living in a tower house erected near the old Ryan Castle at Cully (later to be extended and renamed Castle Waller) the family had become important and prosperous members of the Anglo-Irish who ruled Ireland from Dublin Castle.
George Wallers cousin Richard (1a2d1) owned nearly 3000 acres at Castle Waller. His father Samuel (1705-1762) (1a2d) of Lisbrien, Kings County, was a barrister and married to Anne Jocelyn (1709-1800), who was a sister of Viscount Jocelyn, Lord High Chancellor of Ireland. George Wallers uncle George (1a2f) was Sheriff of Limerick and his elder brother Sir Robert Waller (1738-1780) (1a2d1) was MP for Dundalk from 1761-1780 and Commissioner of Revenue in the Government. George Wallers sister Blanche (1750-1834) (1a2d7) married James Poe of Solsborough, Nenagh; another sister, Elizabeth (1745-1807) (1a2d6) married Cooke Otway of Castle Otway; and the third sister Charlotte (1743-1828) (1a2d5) married John Bloomfield of Newport and was mother of Lord Bloomfield, later to live at Laughton, Moneygall.
By the time he bought Prior Park, George Waller was married for the second time to Elizabeth Studdert (d. 1869) from Kilkishen, Co. Clare, the same family who owned Bunratty Castle. They had three sons. The eldest, George Studdert (b. 1804) (1a2d4), farmed just across the road where he built himself that house at Woodpark.
The house was built of dressed stone taken from the gateway of Prior Park where there had been a semi-circular carriage turning area, matching the opposite entrance as it now exists. No sooner was Woodpark built than the famine struck. It is not always realized how traumatic the famine was for the smaller landlords, as well as for the tenants and peasantry. It certainly all but destroyed the Wallers. At Castle Waller the estate became bankrupt and was sold up in 1851, with the owner emigrating to America. George Studdert left Woodpark and emigrated to Australia, where he later became Curator of the Melbourne Museum and founded a branch of the family which flourishes in Australia to this day. Meanwhile his youngest brother, William Thomas (1811-1898) (1a2d4 f), borrowed money to buy back Woodpark and struggled on at Prior Park where finances were to be extremely tight for the next one hundred years.
The middle brother, Robert (1808-1877) (1a2d4 e), went off to be a soldier in the Bengal Army in India. Very successful he was too. He earned fame commanding the 1st Troop Bengal Horse Artillery (known as the Red Devils because of their Roman type helmets surmounted by a long red horsehair plume) in the 1st Afghan War (1839-1842) and retired as a Colonel. This unit was part of the Kabul garrison which tried to retreat to India and, apart from one wounded and exhausted doctor who alone reached Peshawar, southeast of Kabul, was totally annihilated in the mountains short of the Khyber Pass. Robert himself was very severely wounded in an early action, but his troops particularly distinguished themselves at the battle of Jagdallak (1841) where they acted as rearguard to let the rest of the force get away, fighting and dying to the last man. Robert was lucky; expecting to die, he was surrendered as a hostage together with his heavily pregnant wife and baby daughter, but survived in captivity near Kabul until rescued a year later. On their way back to Kabul a second daughter was born in a tiny fort guarding the gorge of the Tazeena River. The baby was given the name Tazeena, which has been used in the family several times since as a girls name.
The Wallers at Prior Park have been extraordinarily long lived. Both George Waller and his wife lived to 93, their son William Thomas (b. 1811) (1a2d4 f) to 87, his daughter Selena (1a2d4 f4), who managed the estate in her fathers old age, live to 90. The next incumbent, Jocelyn (1a2d4 f1g), died at age 90 and his wife Fairie is still alive at age 92.
William Thomas married Eliza Guinness, a granddaughter of Arthur Guinness, founder of the brewing family. The lady did not meet with the approval of his mother who had been left the contents of the house and she moved out before the wedding to live with her daughter Elizabeth, who had married a Hutchinson of Timoney. She took with her such of the contents of the house including the silver and glass, as had not already gone in the girls dowry. Undeterred, Eliza bred four sons who all became prominent in the neighborhood.
The eldest, George Arthur (1835-1923) (1a2d4 f1) was the ablest and most interesting of the Prior Park Wallers, although neither he nor his brothers ever lived at Prior Park after their youth. Arthur, after graduating at Trinity College, Dublin, joined his cousins firm of Arthur Guinness Ltd. and quickly rose to be both Chief Engineer and Chief Brewer. Knowing that the barley grown along the east bank of the Shannon was particularly suited to make malt for porter, he set up two of his brothers as barley buyers and maltsters; Robert (1837-1915) (1a2d4 f2) at Nenagh, and Francis Albert (1846-1892) (1a2d4 f7) at Banagher. The fourth brother Edmund (1839-1894) (1a2d4 f3) also joined the Guinness Brewery where, for some years, he was in charge of the extensive horse transport department. These ventures were successful and although later on the Nenagh maltings were sold, F.A. Waller Ltd. Of Banagher still exists. Its malting business recently combined with that of D.E. Williams of Tullamore as Williams-Waller Ltd. This firm, the second largest maltster in Ireland, still supplies a sizeable proportion of the Guinness malt requirement.
Who knows where Arthur might have ended up if, in middle age, he had not decided that his religious principles would no longer permit him to take any further part in the production of alcoholic drink. He resigned from Guinness and started up a pottery making venture near Lough Alien in the Co. Leitrim. Unfortunately his source of power ceased to be available and the venture collapsed, forcing him to sell the fine house he had built on Lough Derg at Luska, as well as lands at Carney Castle, and to emigrate to Tasmania. Setting out in 1882 on the long voyage across the world with his heavily pregnant wife (Sarah Atkinson from Cangort, Shinrone) and six living sons (they had 10 sons in all), the family baggage included a cow to provide milk for the children. Setting up as a farmer near Hobart he became both prominent and prosperous in Tasmania before returning to Ireland in old age and repurchasing Luska. His large family spread round the world.
Dick ( 1867-1942) (1a2d4 f1a), an able engineer like his father, built railways in Spain before retiring to Luska where, with his own hands, he constructed out of the then boathouse the pleasant residence lived in currently by Mrs. Felicity Hodson; Guy (1870-1950) (1a2d4 f1c) became a farmer in Australia, and Ned (1882-1956) (1a2d4 f1j) in Saskatchewan, Canada. George (1872-1956) (1a2d4 f1d) was a geologist in Tasmania; Harry (1873-1911) (1a2d4 f1e), a chartered surveyor, died quite young from a fall from his horse in the Argentine; Rob (1879-1963) (1a2d4 f1h) joined the British Army in the Royal Artillery and rose to Colonel; whilst Jim (1884-1968) (1a2d4 f1k) became one of the leading concrete engineers of his age and founded the Dublin firm of Delap & Waller Ltd.
It was the sixth son Jocelyn (1877-1967) (1a2d4 f1g) who came home to Prior Park when he was nineteen, his grandfather being old and blind and his Aunt Selina calling for help. Except for a year in Canada he was to farm at Prior Park almost seven decades, handing over finally to his eldest daughter Sarah Francis (Sally) (1912-).
What of the other three brothers? Robert (1a2d4 f2) married twice, first Georgina Andrews from Ratheny, Clughjordan, and, after her death, Amy Saunders from Ballinderry Park, Borrisokane. His able and popular eldest son De Warrenne (1865-1904) (1a2d4 f2a) ran the maltings in Nenagh, lived first at Yewston and then at Wellington, Nenagh, and at one time kept a pack of staghounds. Unfortunately he died in middle age and his much younger brother Edgar (1887-1961) (1a2d4 f2d) was forced, by his fathers first marriage settlement, to sell the Nenagh maltings. Edgar lived at Summerville, Nenagh, then at Ridgemount, Ballymackey, and later at Rynskaheen, Dromineer. At one time he started up and ran the Ormond Garage and was very well-known and respected in the area.
Edmund (1a2d4 f3) lived in Dublin when he worked at St. Johns Gate, and then for a time as a widower at Crannagh, Monsea, looked after by his daughter Anna Selina (1a2d4 f3a) who then married firstly her cousin De Warrenne and after his death Eddie Bayly of Debsborough. Her daughter, Mary Waller, married Dicky White, a band manager in Nenaghin the 1930s who lived at Lansdowne, Portroe, whilst her son John Bayly lives at Ballinaclough and with his sons farms the Bayly lands beside the Nenagh river. Edmunds eldest son Arthur (1a2d4 f3g) learned to be a maltster and, for a time, managed the Read maltings in Roscrea, living first at Millpartk and later at Inane. He finally moved to England where his family all live. It is of interest that these maltings have now become part of Williams-Waller.
The third brother, Francis (1a2d4 f7), was drowned, with his teenage daughter Georgina, in a yacht capsize on the Shannon near Shannon Grove, Banagher, where he lived. His eldest son Otway (1884-1950) (1a2d4 f7f) was Chairman of F. A. Waller Ltd., living at Inverisk, Banagher, until bought out by his brothers. The next son, Billy (1888-1971) (1a2d4 f7h) served in the Air Corps in the First World War, stayed on in the RAF and lived in England, as does his son Edward (1931-) (1a2d4 f7h1), a Commander in the Royal Navy who is currently Chairman of F. A. Waller. The youngest son, Bertie (1890-1967) (1a2d4 f7i), was quite an exceptional sportsman; Master of the East Galway Hounds and rider of more than 200 point-to-point winners, he was a fine yacht helmsman, renowned snipe shot and a wonderful fly fisherman. He lived first at Bell Isle, Portumna, and later at Beechmount near Rathkeale, Co. Limerick.
The main recreation of the Wallers was always sailing on Lough Derg. The history of the Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer (incidentally the third oldest yacht club in the world, the Royal Cork being the oldest) and of the Shannon One Design dinghy, which has been raced there and on Lough Ree for the past fifty years, is a constant repetition of Wallers. Five of them have been either Commodores or Vice Commodores of the Lough Derg Yacht Club and over fifty Wallers altogether have raced in Shannon One Designs at one time or another. Otway, Bertie, Edgar, the latters son Hardress (1a2d4 f2d1) and grandson Jocelyn (1a2d4 f2d1a) were or are all top class helmsmen and their names bespatter the many perpetual silver cups, which are raced for annually.
Sadly, in the present generation only a very few Wallers remain in North Tipperary. Sally (1a2d4 f1g1) farms on at Prior Park, but large purchases of land by the Land Commission in the twenties and again in 1978 leave her only just over 100 acres. Sallys sister Lucie (1a2d4 f1g2) is co-owner of Prior Park and has recently returned with her husband Rev. Derek Saunders, lately Rector of Stallsbridge in Dorset, to live near Kilbarron. Her cousin Howard (1914-1977) (1a2d4 f1j3) came back from Canada to run F. A. Waller Ltd., which he did very successfully, and was the first chairman of Williams-Waller Ltd. His place on this Board has been taken by Hardress (1917-) who has recently returned to Rynskaheen, Dromineer, after a career in the Royal Artillery. Retiring as a Brigadier he then spent fourteen years in the administration of horse racing in England, first as Secretary of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and then as Director General of the Racecourse Association. His son Jocelyn (1943-) is an ardent Shannon One Design sailor and has two small sons and hopefully the family will stay on at Rynskaheen for several more generations.
de Warrenne Waller