Harry McDowell (b. 1933)
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Harry McDowell (b. 1933)


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Track 1: Harry McDowell recalls R. B. McDowell, historian and Junior Dean of Trinity College Dublin, who was his second cousin. Harry grew up in Heynestown Cottage, part of the Fortescue estate at Clermont Park in Co. Louth. His paternal uncle, Ernest Victor McDowell, fought in WWI and his maternal uncle, Trevor Tempest, was in the Royal Flying Corps. He was shot down and taken prisoner but survived to a good age. Harry explains that his mother was one of the Tempests of Dundalgan Press, and he recalls a time when Ernest was home on leave. Ernest lost his life in France. His father bred hunters and Ernest had ridden to the hunt to sell the hunters to the Army. Harry’s own father farmed and Harry recalls hearing about the tough times in farming in the 1930s. His mother, a keen gardener, came from an urban merchant family based in Dundalk. Harry talks about his maternal grandparents and their lives, lived in Dublin and London. During WWI his mother was a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at a hospital for wounded soldiers in Dundalk and he remarks that one of her colleagues was Dorothy Macardle, who later became a revolutionary. He recalls soldiers on leave during WWII who were friends and relatives who had changed out of uniform so as to visit his family home across the border in Co. Louth. He remembers hearing about Royal Air Force men who would use a network of safe houses to get back to Northern Ireland from the Free State. He says that he does not remember any tension in his area during his childhood. He talks about his parents’ marriage. His maternal great-grandfather was an Englishman who settled in Ireland when he retired from the Revenue Service, and Harry recalls his working life in Dublin and London. Following his marriage, he returned to Ireland with his English wife. Harry talks about the history of his present home, a former Church of Ireland rectory and originally a miller’s house. Track 2: The outings he made with his mother in the pony and trap are recalled, during which she talked about the houses in the surrounding area that had been burned a decade or more before. He remarks that some of the glass-plate photographs taken by his uncle, Harry Tempest, are now in the National Library. He says that Dundalk Grammar School was used as a hospital during WWI and this would have been where his mother was a VAD nurse. The Macardle family of the Dundalk brewery are discussed and the fact that Thomas Macardle was knighted due to his success in recruiting is mentioned. Harry tells an anecdote about a cousin in the ATS during WWII, stationed at Windsor Castle, who met the King while carrying out her duties. He remembers the outbreak of WWII and several of his cousins who joined up. A story relating to two brothers who shared a gun during the Civil War is told. The visits of R. B. McDowell to his home are remembered as is the close relationship between them at the end of his cousin’s life. Northern Ireland felt like a different country to Harry, and he tells some anecdotes illustrating this. He remarks on the change in attitude today in relation to discussing family who participated in the wars. The differences between his father’s rural background and his mother’s urban family is illustrated in the relating of some stories. Track 3: The burning of Clermont Park is recalled from diary entries written by one of the former Guinness inhabitants. Dorothea Conyers’ memoir, Sporting Reminiscences, is mentioned and Harry explains that the house in which he was brought up was formerly used for shooting lunches at the estate. He recall Mrs Pyke-Fortescue who lived in Stephenstown House, Co. Louth whom he met. and he describes her as a formidable woman. She also had a hospital at Stephenstown for wounded soldiers. His interest in genealogy is discussed as is the development of his career.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

8.34 MB, 10.50 MB, 9.67 MB, 10.79 MB, 7.51 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The McDowell and the Tempest families of Co. Louth

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore