Halls of Narrow Water

As already recounted here, the original Castle at Narrow Water was probably a small item, built by the first Norman knight to make it into these parts c. 1212, one Hugh de Lacey.

No relic remains, though the site is believed to be a small knoll between the present Keep and Warrenpoint, just beyond the road there!  It would have performed the dual role of protection against sea-borne invasion – and a refuge of last resort, should the garrison need to use that same sea passage for its own flight!

It was towards the close of the Stuart period that the estate here, and nine townlands came into the possession of one Francis Hall, whose family had originated in Holland but had sought sanctuary in England a century before. With his wife Mary Lydon (originally from Galway) and four children Francis settled here, building Mount Hall (an Irish long house) that became the Hall residence for the next century and a half. By astute marriage alliances they acquired much more land: the families they intermarried with included the Fitzgeralds (later Dukes of Leinster), the O’Briens of Thomond, later Lords Inchiquin, the Poyntz of Poyntzpass (soon to feature here!) and the Savages of the Ards Peninsula. The family names also became intermingled!

In the late 1790s (a revolutionary period already alluded to) a Newry Surveyor was instructed by Savage Hall to lay out the adjacent town of Warrenpoint Ironically the port town soon boomed as Ireland exported her people in huge numbers over the following century.  Hall’s son Roger continued the development of Warrenpoint after his father’s death – initially, as he was a minor at the time of his inheritance, under the guardianship of his mentor James Moore of Arno‘s Vale (a merchant and radical supporter of reform).

As an adult Roger was hard-working and dynamic and with his wife Barbara (Savage of Portaferry) he greatly improved his estates and founded schools for the education of three hundred pupils. They had their own sailing vessels plying the route to Britain – the Hercules and the Sea Nymph. Both he and his wife taught Sunday School.

In 1816 the famous Newry architect Thomas Duff was employed to design an Elizabethan revival-style house adjoining Mount Hall. That is still the Hall family home today. Some building materials were imported by their sailing ships but granite too from Mullaghglass was used. The furniture, panelling and carving was the work of Curran & Sons of Lisburn. It took twenty years to complete and Duff did not survive to see it finished. Duff had also designed Newry Cathedral as well as that in Dundalk and Armagh, and lots of other churches and building including Tamnaharry Hall and private homes in Kilbroney.

Roger Hall died in 1865 and willed his estates to his brother Madden, and on Madden’s death, to his nephew William James Hall.  He was the son of the Rev Savage Hall, rector of Loughgall and Anne O’Brien of Dromoland Castle (a relative of the famous William Smith O’Brien of the Young Irelanders [as too were John Mitchel and John Martin]). William joined the Royal Artillery and later developed tea plantations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) leaving his uncle Madden to look after the estates.

In 1863 William married Elizabeth Forde of Seaforde. Before her early death in 1866 she bore him two sons Roger and William Charles. William then married Florence Brooke of Ashbrooke, Co Fermanagh who bore him another son Francis.

The eldest son Roger inherited Narrow Water Castle and estates when his father died in 1896. Roger married Elvira Meade of Norfolk and had two children Roger Toby and Elizabeth. He became involved with the Ulster Volunteers. He died in 1914.

Roger Toby hall served – and suffered – in the Great War and was invalided out to Gibraltar where he met and married Marie Patron, who was a Catholic and for that reason the marriage was much opposed by his mother. Their return was to estates much reduced as a result of the Land Acts of those decades. Roger bred horses and greyhounds and enjoyed riding despite his shrapnel and shell-shock wounds.

In 1929, in an effort to improve his health, he set off to Africa with Marie and their three daughters and son Roger. They remained abroad for two years, exploring, hunting and collecting trophies (many of which still hang on the Castle’s walls!). At his death in 1939 he was survived by six children and his wife.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Castle was commandeered for military billets. Both British and American military personnel were stationed there. Post-War the Castle for a while functioned as a hotel. By 1952 it closed and was converted into twelve flats. One of these was the first married home of your editor’s sister in the early 60s.

Mr Roger Hall inherited the castle in 1951. Today the castle is a venue for conferences, wedding and the like.



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