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Leinster Leader April 21st 1962
House Of Famous Authoress Changes Hands
Cornelius Brosnan
Last week the family home of the Lawless family came up for sale. Though originally a seat of the Aylmers, Lyons has been in the possession of the Lawlesses since 1796 – twenty years after the first baron, one of a wealthy brewing family, was created.
From him were descended the Lords Cloncurry, of whom the most famous was Valentine Browne Lawless, who was twice confined in the Tower of London, and of whom there is a statue in the dining room at Lyons.
In the advertisements relating to the sale of this lovely Georgian mansion and its many art treasures, he is mentioned, but there is no reference to the poetess, the Hon. Emily Lawless. Even the oldest retainers at Lyons have no recollection of the gentle Emily, and the pleasant lawns and woods, the steep Hill of Lyons with its deer, or the dark lake, all of which she loved so well, carry no memorial.
Yet, she was by far the most remarkable lady of this old family, and the one member whose name is most likely to be remembered by future generations. Anglo-Irish by birth, and a fervent Unionist, she was regarded by her friends as “Irish first, and all the rest afterwards”, or in her own words – “I am not anti-Gaelic at all, as long as it is only Gaelic enthuse and does not include politics”.
Her novels “Hurrish” and “Grania” may not be in much demand nowadays, and her favourite work “Essex in Ireland” – which Gladstone took to be an original diary – forgotten, put her poems particularly those from the volume “With the Wild Geese” are familiar to every schoolchild, and her name is forever linked with such other great patriotic writers as Davis, de Vere, Mangan, Moore and Rolleston.
 Born During Famine
Born at Lyons in the famine year of 1845, she was the eldest daughter, and one of the eight children, of the third Lord Cloncurry; her mother was a Kirwan from County Galway. It was from the long childhood visits which she made to her mother’s home and the frequent holidays spent in Aran and in County Clare, that Emily developed her love of things Irish.
It has also been believed by her relatives that her mother was a great source of inspiration to her, and that after Lady Cloncurry’s death she did not write so well.
Even as a little child, Emily had a great love of books, and had no difficulty in memorising long poems. A story is told that one evening, when her father was entertaining a distinguished party, he asked her to recite. Not understanding the words, she quoted from an Elizabethan play some passages which were not very delicate. Her father was shocked, but the guests must have been amused!
When a “girl with corn-coloured hair”, Emily loved nature, and collected flowers, birds and animals into the nursery. She was a keen swimmer and a great walker and she delighted in visiting the cottages of the country people to listen to the stories of the old folk, or to spin her own tales for the children.
Though she travelled abroad for long periods, and lived in England after the marriage of her brother, who inherited Lyons, she always spent long holidays in Ireland – in Kildare, Dublin or in the West. Described as a “bold thinker, having a concrete mind with a turn for affairs, and with a man’s business outlook, large and lucid and with a passionate companionship for the Irish earth and sea”, she took a keen interest in science, and was a supporter of the suffragette and other social movements.
Immediate Success
Her earliest writings were about nature, and she did not publish her first novel, “Hurrish”, until she was 41: it was an immediate success. Six years later, “Grania” appeared – and it was even better received. Her history of Ireland was also successful and in 1890 “Essex in Ireland”, which she considered “the only one of my books that gives me personal satisfaction” was published. Cardinal Manning, Merdith, de Vere, Lecky and Swinburne admired her works, and Gladstone called to congratulate her while they were both holidaying at Cannes. She often told of the initial embarrassment of this visit, as she was resting in bed when he came in – and she thought he was the maid with her tea.
It was in later years when her health had disimproved, that she concentrated more on writing verse. Poetry seemed to flow naturally from her, and she once remarked , “it is curious how much easier rhyme is to me when I am weak and disabled”. In 1905 she was awarded an Honorary D. Litt. by Dublin University, and this recognition from Ireland she treasured very highly.
When in her sixties, her doctor ordered her to leave Kildare for good, and to settle in the more agreeable climate of the South of England. At this time one of the people who knew her said, “She made a big mistake in going abroad to England when the pains attacked her, for she surely missed over beyond the birds and flowers of Lyons and her evening walks by the Liffey, and indeed everything Irish”.
Gift Retained  
With her friend Sady Sarah Spencer she built a little house in Gomshall in Surrey and named it after Hazelhatch, the family railway stop near Lyons. There she spent her final years in gardening and entertaining friends, and she did not lose her gift of conversation. She was at that time described as being “tall and almost angular in her shady shapeless gardening hat and long brown coat. She had a long, stately step and true Irish warmth”.
She longed to come nearer to Christ, but could never rid herself of the doubt that “He was only a great man, overstepping all other men”. One of her friends called her “that rare thing, a religious stoic”. This searching for peace is found in some of her poems – “Who am I? Lord, lead me on the night is dark, no stars are in the sky”.
She died on 19th October, 1913, the same year that her sister Mary offered the hospitality of Lyons to the children of the locked-out Dublin workers, and is buried in Surrey, under a Celtic cross similar to those in the family burial place at Lyons.
The following piece is in the centre of the above article
Bought by University
Lyons House was bought by U.C.D for £100,000 at a public auction last week. English, German, American and French buyers were present. Bidding was keen.
The Georgian house, designed by the Architect Grace in 1797 was completed in 1820, stands on 1300 acres of farm land, pasture and timber. On the estate is a deer park holding the only herd of Norwegian fallow deer in the country and a lake which covers about 27 acres is stocked with rainbow trout.
Before he opened the bidding to the estimated 50-60 persons who crowded the drawingroom, the Auctioneer, Mr. Arthur McCabe of Messrs Jackson-Stops and McCabe, said that he rarely had the pleasure of selling an estate of this size which was freehold, so near Dublin.
The Lyons Estate came to the vendor Mr. Mark Winn, through the daughter of the third Lord Cloncurry, his cousin, The Hon. Kathleen Lawless who died in 1957

The Leinster Leader of April 1962 reports on the sale of the Lyons Estate, home to the famous authoress the Hon. Emily Lawless.

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