Henry Blake

Life
?-1856; Owner of Irish estate incl. Renvyle and Freilaun (Heather Island), on Tully Lough; Blake moved to Ireland to take up Irish estates in 1810; settled in Renvyle House in 1816; lost estate in wake of Famine; Renvyle later owned by Oliver St. Gogarty and subsequently burned during the Civil War.

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Works
[Henry Blake], Letters from the Irish Highlands of Cunnemarra, by a Family Party [2nd edn.] (London: Longmans 1825), 414pp.; rep. as Letters from the Irish Highlands of Connemara By the Blake Family of Renvyle House 1823-1824, intro. Kevin Whelan (Clifden: Gibbons Publications 1995). 195pp., ills.

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Commentary
Guy St. John Williams, A Sea-Grey House [Renvyle House Hotel] (Connemara: Clódóidí Lurgan Teo. 1995), narrates that Edmond Flaherty built Renvyle House on land leased from the owner Henry Blake, who had bought it around 1677-78; Blake visited his porperty 1811 and was entertained by Anthony O'Flaherty in a low, single storey thatched house of sixty by twenty feet, which Blake refashioned as a gentleman’s residence with six-foot walls, taking up residence there with his family. Further, ‘Blake, like most Victorians, took a scientific interest in agriculture, reclaiming wate land and introducing new breeds of cattle and sheep. In 1825 he and other members of his family published “Letters from the Irish Highlands”, which gives a fascinating picture of Connemara in the early nineteenth century.’ Further, Blake owned Feilaun, or Heather Island, on Tully Lough; donated Tullycross to build a new church in 1841; stained glass by Harry Clarke later donated by Martha, wife of Oliver St. John Gogarty. Caroline Johanna, widow of Blake’s son Edgar (d.1872), commenced taking paying guests; house opened as hotel in 1883; visited by Somerville and Ros in c1890; noted for good library; sold in 1917 and acquired by Gogarty as holiday home; burnt to ground in Civil War [1923], and reopened as hotel in 1930 following government compensation; purchased by John Allen, Donny Coyle and Michael O'Malley, 1953. (pp.6-8.)

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