Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Black Jack Adair

Just outside the crossroads at Ballybrittas in Laois lies Rathdaire House (Belgrove/Bellegrove) which was the family home of John George Adair, AKA "Black Jack" Adair. It was burned in 1887 but the remains are still standing and serve as a reminder of what a beautiful building it must have been in it's heyday.


Adair died in 1885, presumed from dysentery in St. Louis, U.S.A. He commissioned the building of Glenveagh Castle in Donegal and was a shrewd investor and businessman building and conglomerating a huge ranch in Texas (The JA Ranch) of over 1 million acres which today is listed as an historic site.


He is most remembered for the Derryveagh evictions from his property in Donegal where over 200 tenants were dispossessed. He was also sometimes referred to as "the most hated man in Donegal".


Adair married a wealthy American widow, Cornelia Ritchie, who built the nearby (and stunning) Church of the Ascension in his memory. John George Adair is buried nearby at Lea Church of Ireland midway between Ballybrittas and Killanard. 

Rathdaire - Church of the Ascension.


Located just a little further from Rathdaire House is the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart. 

The Church was built on lands donated by one Edmund Dease M.P. and of which Adair initially opposed construction, sending several letters of objection in correspondence.

He seemed concerned that the view from his home would be disturbed but from his letters I can't seem to grasp the logic of his arguments as the Church is at least a mile away.

Edmund Dease M.P. is buried here in the Church grounds.

Rath - Church of the Sacred Heart.

John George Adair, Final Resting Place - Lea Church.

Lea Church

Google Maps Coordinates Rathdaire House : 
53.102331 - 7.124833 

Adair was also involved in Irelands first Sugar Beet processing factory at Mountmellick alongside famed railway engineer William Dargan in the 1850's. It only remained in operation for about 10 years.