Robert Wilson-Wright (b. 1956)
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Robert Wilson-Wright (b. 1956)


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Track 1: Robert Wilson-Wright is of the sixth generation of his family to live at Coolcarrigan, Co. Kildare, since the 1830s. He explains that William Wilson, a shipping magnate in Belfast, had four sons, for each of whom he bought a house in four locations in southern Ireland: Coolcarrigan in Kildare, Currygrane in Longford, Dunardagh in Dublin and Daramona in Streete in Westmeath. Robert discusses Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson who was one of William’s grandsons and who spent his whole career in the British Army. He was the only Irish Field Marshal during WWI and Robert explains that a few biographies of the man have been written, the first of which was based on the Field Marshal’s diaries and letters. It would appear that he was very outspoken and undiplomatic individual. Robert further explains that although it seems that Henry was a very good organiser who instituted army reforms before WWI, he was a Unionist, a fact which would not have made him popular in Ireland. In 1918, he served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and in June 1922 he was shot by the IRA in London. Robert has an album of press cuttings relating to his large funeral in London and he recalls his visit to his tomb in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Robert’s father, John Michael, who was born in 1928, did not talk about his connection with the Field Marshal and kept any material relating to him out of sight. Robert mentions a relative, Gordon Wilson, another descendant of William Wilson, who was a mechanical engineer working with Pilcher and others, who eventually developed an early form of the tank. Track 2: Robert explains that his paternal grandfather, Leonard ( Jack) Wilson-Wright, served as a motor dispatch-rider in WWII for a period. He also explains that on his mother’s side, the Blosse-Lynches of Partry House, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, were military men, mainly serving in the Irish Guards. He feels that today there is less consciousness about the differences between the so-called Anglo-Irish and their compatriots, and that this is important. His father, John Michael, had a brief career in WWII, and just after the war, had a short stint in Palestine. He then farmed in County Dublin and inherited Coolcarrigan in 1972. Robert mentions some other relatives, including his aunt who married Sir Richard Colthurst and his great-grandfather Sir Almroth Wright, an eminent physician. Almroth Wright’s mother was Swedish and his father was English, and a description of his great ability and his development of a vaccination for typhoid is provided. Track 3: The difficulties suffered by the Wilson-Wrights at Coolcarrigan in earlier days are described. The house was taken over by the IRA for a week and the story of the flight of his grandfather, Leonard Almroth Wilson-Wright, to England is related. The house remained empty thereafter, with just a caretaker who lived nearby. Over time, Robert’s father and he have added some arable land to their property and have bought back some of the peat bog which had been taken under the Emergency Powers Act. Now, the property is more viable as a business than it was previously, he explains. He discusses Henry Wilson’s house in Currygrane near Edgeworthstown, which was burned down around the time of his murder in London, and he explains that none of the family houses were ‘big houses.’ Track 4: Robert displays and discusses the album that was created using cuttings from newspapers relating to the murder of Field Marshal Henry Wilson and the hunt for his assassins. The two men who shot him were caught, having gone on the run in London. He explains that the Field Marshal spoke fluent French and was the main liaison person between the British and the French during WWI. He has photographs of Henry and Marshal Foch – they appeared to get on very well, he says. Track 5: Some items in the family archives are discussed and Robert talks about his grandfather Jack, whom he describes as a gentle giant. Walter Gordon Wilson and his fine work is again mentioned. Another relative, William Wilson of the Mullingar branch, was an eminent astronomer who determined the temperature of the sun. The newspaper cuttings relating to the capture of Sir Henry Wilson’s murderers are examined, as are those relating to his very large funeral in London. Robert discusses a photograph of Henry’s home in Currygrane, which bears a note as having been burnt down by Sinn Féin in 1921. He remarks on the incredible men produced by each individual branch of the family and he reads the letter from the Kildare Brigade of the IRA, dated July 1922, relating to the commandeering of the house for a week or ten days. Robert then discusses some of the books which have been written about members of the family.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

9.10 MB, 7.47 MB, 3.28 MB, 9.68 MB, 19.14 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Sir Henry Wilson and the Wilson family in Ireland

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore