Susan Kellett (b. 1941)
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Susan Kellett (b. 1941)


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Track 1: Susan Kellett’s father, Jack Nicholson, from Balrath near Kells, Co. Meath, inherited Enniscoe House in County Mayo from his cousin, Mervyn Pratt, in 1950. Susan’s mother, Patricia (Patita) Bourke, came from Heathfield, Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, and thus had a strong connection with the place. Susan initially speaks about the difficulties of keeping such a house as Enniscoe as a family home. The Pratt family, originally from Cabra Castle, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, came to Enniscoe through marriage in the 1830s. Two members of the family, Mervyn and Audley, had military careers, serving in the Boer War during which both suffered injury. Susan details their service in WWI and Audley Pratt’s death in 1917. He had served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. In 1919, Mervyn took over the running of the property from their father Joseph. As far as Susan knows there were no disturbances at Enniscoe in the early part of the 20th century, and she has discovered that it had been a ‘safe house’ during the revolutionary period. She speaks about Mervyn Pratt’s interest in gardening and fishing and explains that as a child she remembers him as being a somewhat grumpy individual, but she now believes that he had been badly affected by the war. The family archive contains material dating from the Boer War and some items from the WWI period. Track 2: Susan discusses the early history of the Bourke family, which was written up by her mother Patita Bourke. Her maternal grandfather, Bertram (Bertie) Bourke, was killed in May 1915 before Patita was born. He had served in the 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers after a career as a tea planter in Ceylon. The family left Mayo in the 1920s and resettled in Meath, but a holiday cottage was kept near Pontoon and all the family spent summers there. Her grandmother Billie’s second husband, Captain Kong Newsom, and his background is discussed. An anecdote is related about a meeting between Michael Collins and her grandmother, following the family’s ejection from their home by the Irregulars. The move to County Meath and the foundation of Navan Carpets by Captain Newsom is described, and Susan explains that his Scottish business partner, Robert Maclean, later married Patita’s older sister, Binkie. Track 3: Susan looks through some family letters written during WWI, and she reads a letter addressed to her grandmother Billie (Patita’s mother), in Ireland from Bertie in the training camp at Sittingbourne. The official letter from Bertie’s commanding officer, informing Billie of her husband’s death, is read. Susan says that generally people felt that the fighting was all in a good cause and there was little apparent anger towards those in control of the war. An anecdote relating to the selling of poppies for remembrance in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, in the 1920s is told. The content of the diaries in the family archive, written by various family members from the 1890s onwards, is discussed. The business of running the property and the difficulties of keeping Irish historic houses alive today is considered, and Susan speaks about her interest in the history of her family and of the house.

Additional information



Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

14.99 MB, 15.70 MB, 19.48 MB

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Product ID:



A tradition of military service in the Bourke and Pratt families

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore