Portland House, Portumna, Tipperary

Portland House, now derilict, was owned by the Butler-Stoney family. My great-great-great-grandfather Charles Piper, worked for them, probably as a land steward.

Ruins of Portland House in 2007 Photo circa 1995

Portumna (Port Omna in Irish - meaning port of the oak) is a town in County Galway, Ireland, on the border with County Tipperary, at the point where the River Shannon enters Lough Derg. This historic crossing point over the Shannon river between counties Tipperary and Galway.

Portumna is currently served with a five-span road bridge over the river. This was designed by C. E. Stanier of London, and completed in 1911, with a central section resting on Hayes's Island which divides river into two channels. The steel structure of the main bridge and pivotting swing bridge over the navigation channel are of technical and engineering interest, and it is the largest early-twentieth century swivel bridge in Europe. The Shannon at this point consists of two channels divided by Hayes Island, the one on the North Tipperary side being about 260 ft wide, and that on the Galway side being about 240 ft wide. Each channel is spanned by three pairs of mild-steel plate girders (either 80 ft or 90 ft in length) resting on 9 ft diameter concrete-filled cast-iron cylinders.

Major Stoney records that George Stoney bought Portland from the Earl of Antrim in 1776 but when he left it to his son Thomas it was subject to a rent. Thomas bought the head rent of Portland, but seems to have lived most of the time at Arran Hill.

An 1890 directory of families records :- Stoney, Thos Butler of Portland Park, Co. Tipperary, oldest son of Richard Falkiner Stoney, of Portland Park, by Jane, daughter of James Butler, of Castlecrine, Clare; married 1837, Sarah, daughter and co-heir of Robt. Fannin, of Dublin and has with other issue, Walter Charles, educated at St John's College, Cambridge; born 1846; married 1872 Ellen C, 3rd daughter of Rev Chas. Kemble, and has with other issue, Thomas Butler, born 1875. Mr Stoney was Lieut. 19th Regt, is J.P. for Tipperary and Galway.

The Stoneys had several properties in North Tipperary, including Emell Castle and Portland House as well as an estate in Gortlandroe, Nenagh. George Stoney who may have lived in Greyfort House, Borrisokane, commanded the Borrisokane Volunteers in the year 1779.

There was a fire at Portland Park (now Portland House) on May 10/11 1936 which destroyed the house. A report in the Irish Times tells the tale

"Portland House was destroyed by fire in the early hours of the morning. Major Butler-Stoney has not lived there for 10 years and had given the house to Emanuel Home of Rathgar as a home for Protestant orpans. The house was due to receive its first intake of 17 orphans today. At 2.30 am 24 armed men woke the inmates, ordered them outside and set fire to the house.

Garda arrived but could do nothing to save the house. Last Friday 710 acres belonging to Major Butler Stoney were allocated to tenants

The men were masked and carried revolvers and petrol. It is understood that there was some bad feeling in the district, but assurances had been given that this was not to be a proselysing institution, and that only Protestant children would be sent there. There was no question of land trouble as all the lands had already been divided up.

Thomas Hough was later charged with others unknown"

I think it was rebuilt as the hotel, which was still open in 1995, but had itself burnt down by 2007.

Charles Piper, my great great grandfather