The Twiss Family of Ballahantouragh, Scartaglin and Their Connections

Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project Manager, Janet Murphy presenting the documents to support a pardon for John Twiss to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, TD with committee Chairman, Johnnie Roche at the Old Carnegie Building in Castleisland in August of last year. ©Photograph: John Reidy 23-8-2019
Tom Culloty pictured outside Rockbrook in Scartaglen. Photograph: Janet Murphy.

‘Has justice been done? Well, a day shall come, When a different judge shall try …’

Ballahantouragh, a townland in Kerry, lies near the village of Scartaglen, a few miles outside Castleisland.

By Janet Murphy*

John Twiss of Cordal, Castleisland, hanged in 1895 for the murder, in 1894, of James Donovan, was descended from a branch of the Twiss family of Ballahantouragh.

His ancestors had three residences in this place, Summerhill, Haremount and Rockbrook and all were occupied by members of the Twiss family.

As the outcome of the application for the Presidential Pardon of John Twiss is awaited, we, the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project, present a cursory glance at the Twiss family of Ballahantouragh.

Summerhill House

Summerhill House was the oldest of the properties, dating to the early eighteenth century.

It was associated with William Twiss who in 1856, was on the committee of the Castleisland District Dispensary.

The known children of William were: Frances Jane, born 1840; George, 1843-1899 who settled in Australia and William, born in 1849.

In 1882, the house of William Twiss, Summerhill, was attacked by moonlighters. Some years later, in December 1885, two policemen were attacked at Ballahantouragh hut and Caungilla protection post.

Carkar House Scartaglin

William Twiss married Jane, daughter of William Marshall Saunders of nearby Carker House, Scartaglin. The wedding took place on 2 June 1874 at Killeentierna Church, Currow.

William Twiss was described as third son of the ‘late’ William Twiss Esq of ‘Ballinatragh.’

William and Jane had a large family including Robert Dudley Twiss, commemorated on the Canadian Vimy Memorial in France.

Edward William Hickson

In 1901, the family lived at Curragraigue, Blennerville. In 1910, William Twiss attended the funeral of his son-in-law, Edward William Hickson.

In 1911, William and Jane Twiss were living at 18 Cowper Road, Rathmines, Dublin with daughters Elizabeth Frances Twiss, Marion Ellen Twiss and the widowed Letitia Lucinda Hickson.

It would seem that the family retained

until about 1919 when it was bought by the O’Connor family.

Rockbrook House

Rockbrook was built by Francis Twiss in 1837. His sister, Frances, died at Rockbrook on 1 July 1865 aged 72.

On 31 July 1865, Edward Day Twiss, 1839-1925, son of Edward, married Ellen, daughter of James Thompson of Cragg, Castleisland.

A daughter, Sarah Helena, was born at Rockbrook on 11 May 1866. More children followed.

During the period of the Land War, the family emigrated to Canada.

Haremount House

Haremount was built by John Twiss in 1838. In 1847, John Twiss of Ballintauraugh applied, as a freeholder, to vote.

John Twiss of Haremount married, in 1840, Mary Anne Wellstead. A son, John Richard Twiss, was born in 1848.

Powell’s of Sandville, Castleisland

Two daughters were also born, one of whom married into the Powell family of Sandville, Castleisland.

Mrs. Twiss was known throughout the district as a charitable lady who dispensed herbal remedies to the poor people. She died in 1900.

John Richard Twiss did not marry. He died at Haremount on 4 December 1924 aged 76, which severed the association of the Twiss family with Ballahantouragh.

Stand By – Justice Awaits

When John Twiss was hanged in 1895, a verse appeared in the United Irishman. It was written by his namesake, John Twiss, Castleisland and asked, ‘Has justice been done?

It is hoped that this question may be answered, to some degree, in the near future.

*Janet Murphy is the archivist and manager of the Castleisland based Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project.

Please note that the variations in spellings of the townlands mentioned are as found in the historical documents from which the information was taken.

To read the post Twiss hanging verse from 1895, please Click on the link here: