Portobello House and the townland of Portobello near Elphin was owned by Lord Lorton of Rockingham, Boyle. It was long associated with the Stafford family who were known partons of the arts.
O'Carolan's "Receipt for Drinking" aka "Planxty Stafford" aka ‘Dr. Stafford’ was composed at the house of Dr. Stafford, of Portobello, near Elphin. This tune is widely known as one of his greats. When the famous Irish Harpist Turlough O’Carolan was depressed and neglected himself and his harp, Dr. Stafford took the talented harpist under his wing and rescued him from the darkness while reviving his love for composition and music. O’Carolan composed a tune in Stafford’s honour as recognition for his help.
In the early 19th-century, Portobello was the residence of landlord Thomas Stafford Esq. (d.1831) who was a close relative and confidant of Irish poet George Nugent Reynolds (1770?–1802):
THE EXILE OF ERIN ... It is vouched by a man as high character and unsullied honour, as any in the empire—Thomas Stafford, Esq., of Portobello. This gentleman was the near relative Mr Reynolds. He was a man of taste and education and enjoyed much of his affection and confidence. At a time that Mr Reynolds laboured under some severe indisposition, he was visited by Mr. Stafford. He was in the habit of communicating to him all his literary secrets—(Mr Reynolds dealt much in personal satire) —and dictating to him, being seldom able or willing to write himself, copies of his shorter compositions. Upon this occasion, told him that be had lately composed a song, whose plaintive sweetness thought would please him ; and he immediately recited 'The Exile.' 'In some time after himself wrote part of this beautiful song for Mr Stafford, at the house of Mr. Ffrench, of Lodge, and being much affected with the asthma, and distressed by writing, employed Miss Stafford to add the remaining stanzas. This copy, which Mr Stafford thinks has the date annexed, is now, and has been some years, in the possession of his nephew, Sir John Lillie... [Dublin Weekly Register - 6 September 1845].
Thomas Stafford Sr. acted as an agent for his Catholic peer, Andrew Comyn, on the letting of Ryefield House in 1808. Stafford himself was a Catholic magistrate and naturally, a strong supporter of Catholic Emancipation (along with his eldest son, Hugh Thomas Stafford Esq. of Clogher, Elphin (1795-1858). In 1826, Thomas was a headline subscriber to the new Catholic Association.
At a Meeting of the ROMAN CATHOLIC INHABITANTS of the Union of ELPHIN and SHANKILL, held in the CHAPEL of ELPHIN on SUNDAY, the 13th inst. The Rev. M. FAHY, P.P. in the Chair. The following Resolutions were unanimously passed; Resolved That by birthright and the acknowledged constitution of society, Man is entitled to an equal participation in the protection, and equal community in the benefits of a Government to which they contribute an equal support. Resolved – That notwithstanding this natural right and fundamental law, the Catholics of Ireland are the operations of unsocial, unjust, and bigoted enactments constrained to live as Aliens and outcasts in their native land, debarred from the privileges of freemen, while, with a spirit of resignation almost suicidal, they squander their blood and their treasure to uphold the men and the measures that oppress them. Resolved—That while a portion of the Empire coalesced for the purpose of obtaining its just rights, and the other unjustly leagued opposition to its legitimate demands, the worst feelings are excited, the ties of fellowship and friendship severed, the national interests overlooked, and the very structure of the State endangered the unnatural collision. Resolved—That common sense and the history of Nations prove that a Government so poised cannot long retain its balance ; and that the repeal of those laws, (oppressive to a large portion of the community,) is calculated to allay discontent, sooth dissensions, which unhappily prevail, and restore social order, their abrogation is, therefore, necessary to the welfare of the Empire—probably indispensable to its existence. Resolved—That fully entertaining this conviction, we are determined to do our duty by our Country & ourselves and until our rights are unconditionally ceded to us never to cease from presenting our Petitions to the Imperial Parliament, for their restoration—and that we shall adopt every other justifiable and constitutional measure within our power promote that end. Resolved—That the petition now read be adopted as the petition of the Catholics of this Union, and that Arthur French, Esq, be requested to present the same to the House of Commons, upon as early a day as possible, in the ensuing Session of Parliament. Resolved—That the tribute of our gratitude, as it justly due, is as freely and sincerely offered to Daniel O'Connell, the steady assertor of our rights—the constitutional adviser of our measures—the able and enlightened advocate of our claims. Resolved—That the Thanks of this Meeting are eminently due and hereby given to the Marquis Wellesley, for his upright administration of the laws during his Lieutenancy and that we look with confidence to him for a true and impartial statement in his place in Parliament of the miseries of Ireland. Resolved—That the foregoing Resolutions be printed in the Dublin Evening Post. The Rev. Mr Fahy having left the Chair, Thos. Stafford, Esq. of Portobello, was requested to take it. Resolved—That the sincere Thanks of this Meeting are hereby tendered the Rev. M. Fahy, not only for his conduct this day, but for his undeviating care of those placed under his charge, and his uniform attention to the wishes of his Parishioners. [Dublin Evening Post - 29 January 1828 ]
In 1821, Dominick A. Stafford Esq. of Portobello, Elphin was acting as agent for the letting of the Viscount Lorton's Demesne of Drumdo near Lough Arrow.
On the 10th instant, at Birchill, in the County of Galway, of a few hours’ illness, in the 18th year her age, Anne, second daughter of Thomas Stafford, of Portobello, in the County of Roscommon, Esq. [Dublin Morning Register - 13 December 1826 ]
In 1828, both Thomas Stafford Esq. and son Thomas Stafford Jr. are recorded at Portobello.
In March 1831, Thomas Stafford Esq. of Portobello died [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette 5 March 1831]. The month previous, Mr Stafford at Portobello scared off the attackers of Michael Ford's House at Estersnow. In March 1833, in Portobello near Elphin, the house of Serjeant Major Wallace, Roscommon Militia staff, was attacked. [Boyle Gazette]. His widow, Mrs Dorothea Stafford, died 8 Jan 1847.
In 1837, Lewis also records Portobello as the seat of T. Stafford Esq. This was Thomas Stafford Jr. who appears on Grand Jury listings for the Barony of Roscommon in the 1830s and 40s. Thomas Stafford Jr. had married an English lady and subsequent to his father's death, the conveyance of his marriage-settlement deeds wound up in litigation:
DUBLIN: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1842. LAW INTELLIGENCE COURT OF QUEEN’S BENCH — Yesterday. (Before the Lord Chief Justice and a special Jury.) Stafford and others v. Stafford. This case, which was adjourned from the previous day, was resumed at the sitting of the court. Mr Henry Corr was the first witness examined. He stated that he was long and intimately acquainted with the late Thomas Stafford, of Portobello, the county of Roscommon ; and that some time after his son was married to the English lady they dined together at his (Mr Corr’s) house, and after dinner the subject of the marriage was introduced, when Mr Stafford said that the English people were not very exact; that in making the settlement the lady’s friends were of opinion that the lands conveyed by him were in perpetuity and that he took care not to undeceive them. He then asked his opinion if he had not acted rightly; but, although he could not approve in his conscience of the principle upon which his friend acted, he did not make any reply; was the only time he ever heard or knew of Mr Stafford having been guilty of anything dishonourable or disreputable; afterwards when the proceedings were instituted he went to the defendant and told him it would save great expense and some odium upon the memory of his deceased father ; but be said that the law should take its course.
Henry McConnell, an attorney’s clerk, deposed that the deed in question was kept in a cupboard in Mr Stafford's house and that a quantity of bottled porter and wine were spilled upon it which accounted for its defaced appearance. Mr Robert Wilson, the sub-sheriff of Longford, deposed that he took possession under a habere of a portion of the lands and tenements conveyed by Mr Stafford to the trustees of his son’s marriage settlement. Mr Kinkade, the agent of Lord Longford, deposed to the value of the lands out of which Mr Stafford had been evicted. Mr Tarrant, a surveyor and valuator, was examined to the same point. He stated that the property in question was at present worth £697 a year. Several documents were given in evidence. Mr. Keatinge rose to address the jury for the defendants. He submitted that the plaintiff should be put out of court, on the ground that the deed in question was fraudulently altered and tampered with whilst in the possession of Mr. Hugh Thomas Stafford, the real promoter of the present action, who thought to take out of the pockets of his younger brothers and sisters any remnant of property that was left them by their father. At six o’clock the case was further adjourned to ten on Thursday morning. [Dublin Morning Register - 7 December 1842].
In 1840, Thomas Stafford of Portobello, and John Stafford of Clogher, Elphin, petition for Catholic Rights and were both present at the Great Repeal Demonstration in 1843.
URSULINE CONVENT There will be a reception at the Ursuline Convent, Galway, on the 29th inst., when Miss Stafford, a young and interesting girl, daughter of the late Thomas Stafford, Esq., of Portobello, County Roscommon, will become a member of that most excellent religious institution.
February 4, 1843, at Elphin Cathedral, the Very Rev. Dean French, and afterwards by the Rev. J. Brennan. P., Lieutenant Thomas P. H. Fitzmayer, 17th Regiment, to Ellen, youngest daughter of the late Thomas Stafford, of Portobello, Esq. [Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail - 11 February 1843]
In 1844, Hugh Thomas Stafford of Clogher had a decree made against Thomas Staffor Jr of Portobello for the amount of £7,017. That October Thomas Stafford Esq's estate (which included the townlands of Lands of Clonybeirne, Cloonsellan, Clogher Beg and Clogher More, Clooncath, Portobello, and Attlaghygrana, Belrath, and Creeve) auctioned its stock and harvest for sale. [Freeman's Journal - 19 October 1844]. In 1846, Hugh's son, Richard Stephen Stafford Esq. (1823-1864) was appointed sequester to the decree, and took possession of Portobello with Hugh (the plaintiff) also moving in. Thomas Jr removed to Clogher. In 1853, Thomas Jr. was residing at Clogher and acting on behalf of Andrew Comyn in the letting of Ryefield.
By 1845, Hugh Stafford Esq. (previously of Clogher, Elphin) was residing at Portobello, and was shot at by Molly Maguires. [Limerick Chronicle - 5 February 1845 ]. His son John Stafford (1814-1873) was also residing at Portobello that year. Hugh Stafford had another run-in with the Mollys in 1846:
Some nights since a numerous party of Mollys assembled on the lands of Portobello, near Elphin, and levelled a wall which had been recently erected. Mr Stafford had the wall rebuilt, but the Mollys again assembled and levelled it. After posting some notices, and firing several shots, they deliberately marched off. [Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent - 5 May 1846]
When the Rev. J Lloyd of Smith Hill was assassinated, the John Stafford and his nephew Richard Stephen Stafford of Portobello assisted "at the hazard of their lives" in re-apprehending the murder suspect:
STATE OF THE COUNTRY. County Roscommon.—The Murder of the Rev. Mr Lloyd—(From a Correspondent.)— On the night of the 24th inst., John and Richard Stafford, Esqrs., of Portobello, within three miles of Elphin, succeeded in capturing a notorious character named Walsh, who effected his escape from the police barrack, at Elphin, on Saturday, the 18th inst. Walsh is one of the principal persons charged with the murder of the Rev. J. Lloyd, of Smithhill. He had succeeded, up to the moment of his capture by the Messrs. Stafford, in eluding the vigilance of the police. Lord Lorton and the magistrates this district had arranged that all the disposable force in this part of the country should proceed and make a general search for Walsh. His being captured and delivered up to Edmund Blake, Esq., R.M., by the Messrs. Stafford, it is to be hoped, will have a good effect, and aid in putting down crime and outrage in this hitherto disturbed district. [Dublin Evening Post - 28 December 1847 ]
In 1851, Richard S. Stafford Esq. of Portobello was the receiver in the Incumbered Estate of Lyonstown Demesne (letting the lands of Lyonstown and Drumrusk near Ballyfarnon. Henry Barrett was ther herd). In 1852, a Richard Stafford Esq. was quoted as being of Carrick-on-Shannon. However in his receivership of the estate of Edward Lloyd and Elizabeth Campbell (Lyonstown) his address is given as Portobello.
Affair or Honor —An intended meeting between Mr R. Stafford, of Portobello, and Mr O. Corr, of Durham, was fortunately averted by the interposition of their friends, Mr McDonnetl, of Doocastle by whom the message was delivered, and subsequently Mr J. Davis, on the part of Mr Stafford, and Mr. D. H. Irwin, on that of Mr. Corr. The altercation arose from some expressions made use of on Wednesday night at Flynn’s Hotel, a retractation of which, on the following day, led to an amicable arrangement. This affair created some sensation —Roscommon Messenger [26 August 1851 ].
We hear that Lord Lorton has selected out of his Roscommon tenantry two most respectable gentlemen to feel the effects of his displeasure— J. Woulfe Flanagan, Esq., of Drumdoo, late high sheriff of this county, and Richard Stafford, Esq., of Portobello -have been deprived of the abatement of 4s. in the pound, and have been called upon pay the hanging gale of rent, due the Ist of last May, which was the only rent they owed. understand the letters, communicating his lordship’s wishes, state that it, in consequence, the prominent part they thought it necessary to take lately at a public meeting in the town of Boyle, that they lose the abatement; and have been in summary manner, obliged to pay the Mayo rent. We understand that every tenant of Lord Lorton’s, who voted for Mr Smith in Sligo, bus also Itecn deprived of the abatement.—Roscommon Paper [Waterford Mail - 22 September 1852]
The Rt. Rev. Dr Browne, of Elphin, officiated on Sunday at the Ursuline Convent, Sligo at the reception of Miss Mary Jane Stafford of Portobello (Sister Mary Joseph Ignatius). The Rev. Dr Healy, S.J. preached the sermon. [Limerick Chronicle - 25 March 1854 ]
In June 1857, Thomas Stafford Jr of Clogher haveing satisfied the decree order of 1844, sought a court order to be allowed repossess his lands. At the time of Griffith's Valuation, John Stafford Esq. (1814-1873) was leasing a property at Portobello valued at £13 from Lord Lorton's estate. Captain Charles Stafford held 3 townlands in the parish of Kilteevan, barony of Ballintober South. John Stafford Esq. & wife, Mary Elizabeth Gilbert were Catholics. Richard Stafford Esq. of Portobello participated in the honouring of Rev. Fr Peter C. O'Connor for taking on Guy Lloyd Esq. of Croghan.
By 1858, Thomas Stafford Esq. of Portobello has returned home. John Stafford Esq. of Portobello qualified for a Game Certificate that October.
On Oct 28th 1858, after a short illness, Hugh Thomas Stafford Esq (1795-1858) formerly of Portabello and now of Corrigrane Lodge and 30 Hardwicke Street Dublin, died at Currygrane near Ballinalee, Co Longford. [Dublin Evening Mail - Monday 01 November 1858].
On Sep 25th 1859, Miss Mary Stafford of Portobello (1771-1859) died.
In 1860, John Stafford Esq. JP (1814-1873) participated in the honouring of Rev. Dr Peter C. O'Connor RCC on the occasion of his departing Croghan for the parish of Ardcarne. He and his wife Mary Eleanor Gilbert baptised the following at Portobello: Thomas Joseph Stafford (b.1857) Charles? Stafford (b.1862) Mary Eleanor (b. 1864) and Ann Stafford (b.1866).
In 1862, Thomas Stafford Esq of Portobello participated in a deputation to deliver a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant seeking relief for destitution in the west of Ireland.
In 1864, Richard Stephen Stafford Esq. (1823-1864) died suddenly, at Currigrane Lodge, Co Longford, age 41.
SUDDEN DEATH The painful duty devolves on us this day of recording the death of Richard Stephen Stafford, Esq., son of the Hugh Thomas Stafford, Esq., of Portobello, in the county of Roscommon, in his 41st year. Mr, Stafford on Saturday night last retired to his bed, at his residence, Currygrane, near Ballinaloe, in this county, in his usual state of good health. Nothing more was heard or known of him till late hour on Sunday morning when servant went up to his bedroom to look after him. On entering he was fouud in leaning posture resting on bis elbow, and quite dead. inquest was held on the body John Quinn, coroner, and a respectable jnry Monday, and after hearing the evidence and facts as above staled, they returned verdict Died the visitation of God.” [Longford Journal - Saturday 23 April 1864 ]
In the 1870s Charles Stafford of Portobello owned 531 acres in county Roscommon.
By 1901, Sarah Queenan (1832-1906) farmer's widow, occupied Portobello House which had 12 rooms and 7 windows to the front. Her granddaughter of the same name was present at the time of death. By 1911, Thomas Queenan (born in England 1887) occupied Portobello.
In 1915, over 240 acres of the Stafford estate was bought by the Congested Districts' Board.
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