The Bone House was close to the river in
one of the fields to the right
and above (North of) the Blackwater in this aerial photograph.
believed to have been built of the bones of cattle slaughtered
by the victorious army of Owen Roe O'Neill (Eoghan Rúadh
Uí Níall) in 1646, over the Puritan English and
Scottish troops (6000 foot and 800 horse) of General Monro[e]
not far from Caledon, during the 'Ulster Rebellion',The Hermitage,
however, was built as a folly or belvedere by the Earl of Cork
and Orrery. His wife was Margaret Hamilton. heiress to the Caledon
Demesne (Estate), part of Owen Roe's territory which, after the
collapse of the Ulster Rebellion and the Cromwellian victories
in Ireland, was granted to Scottish Lowlander Captain William
Hamilton in 1660.
was then that the townland of Kinard/Kennard (Ceann Árd)
was renamed and the village of Caledon (a poetic name for Scotland)
was 'planted' on the site of an O'Neill castle.
Papers, under the date of June 24th 1747, the following
letter from the fifth
Earl of Cork and Orrery (Fellow of the Royal Society and a
friend of Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson) to
the 'Rev. Mr. F.' appears, referring first to a Bonery ordered
to be built by Mary Assheton,Lady
Curzon, (about which I can find no web-reference) :
then desired you, and I again desire it, that you will, if possible,
obtain from Mr. Poole, or by whatever other method you think proper,
an exact description of that ossified edifice. Let me know the
size of it. The sort of bones.
method of putting them together.
short, all particulars relating to ossification."
came to the resolution of building a Bonery, to strike the Caledonians
with wonder and amazement by fixing an Ivory Palace before their
view. We have already gathered great numbers of bones, and our
friends the butchers and tanners of Tyrone have promised to increase
the number" [the number of dogs notwithstanding].
have built, at the expence of five pounds, a root house, or hermitage,
to which on Sunday the country people resort, as the Londoners
to Westm[inste]r Abbey. For gayer scenes, I have a lodge near
a mile distant from the hermitage, and large enough to contain
a good number of friends at dinner or supper, or to entertain
eight couple with a country dance. Behind this room are three
little rooms, a kitchen, a bedchamber, and another room, besides
a cellar. buildings are in the form of Buckingham House."
the county, is in Irish Tír Eoghain - the Territory
of Owen. The Caledon Estate on the southern edge was later bought
by the Alexander family who were bestowed the Earldom of Caledon,
and had built a Georgian mansion a mile down the Blackwater River
from "The Bone House", which was beside the river on
the county Tyrone side - the other side being county Monaghan
in the Irish Republic.
1775-6 the 9,000 acre Caledon Estate was bought by the Right.
Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Alexander
who became Earl of Caledon in 1800. Between 1806 and 1811 this
first Earl (appointed Governor of South Africa) spent over £17,000
(£600,000 at today's value) when he employed the celebrated
English architect, John Nash, to repair Caledon House and extend
it. His colonnade is much admired.
I lived for a year at the beginning of Northern Ireland's little
(and greatly over-reported) local difficulty, with my dog, in
the beautiful Head Gardener's house, pruning greenhouse peaches,
vines, outdoor plum-, pear- and nectarine-trees grown against
high brick walls, painting pictures on wood and translating Rimbaud
and Old Irish poetry.
even then somewhat beyond-the-pale, I was once invited to The
Big House to make a spinach soufflé for the Countess...
There are no pictures of the Bone House available on the web,
but perhaps some drawings exist in Armagh County Museum...or in
the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy...
are (probably) the last sad remnants of Orrery's Ossuary and Ivory
Palace (actually a single room) : a chunk of cemented bones which
fell further apart, despite my care in moving them.