One of Northern Ireland’s favourite family-owned hotels, the Beech Hill Country House Hotel, will be the venue for a series of guest lectures this summer, aiming to increase our understanding of the story of the Irish Country House.
The first talk on Monday, May 9 will be delivered by recently retired solicitor and local historian, Denis Mullan.
Denis’s talk will focus on the Skiptons of Ballyshaskey, the family who acquired Ballyshaskey at the start of he Ulster Plantation and who built the present Beech Hill house in the early 18th century. Denis will look at the historical, political, economic and legal events that shaped the lives of the Skiptons, the Beech Hill and the Ballyshaskey Estate.
The talk is entitled: “Place, Persistence & Politics: a family, its growth and its decline” and takes place in the appropriately named Skipton Hall room in the hotel on Monday May 9, at 8pm.
It’s believed that the Skiptons first came to Ardmore in the early 1600s during the Ulster Plantation project, which was ongoing at the time.
According to the local broadcaster, historian and author Ken McCormack, writing a number of years ago, it was around that time an Alderman Skipton had a dispute over land with the O’Cahan family and was shot dead.
“Thirty years later, during the 1641 Rebellion, his son Thomas was compelled to flee from his Ballyshaskey home ‘without shoe or stocking and after narrowly escaping murder by the Irish.’
“During subsequent troubles, including the Siege of Derry, this dwelling was burned to the ground twice, after which the present abode was erected in 1738-39 by Captain Thomas Skipton,” wrote Mr McCormack.
The house was re-named Beech Hill on account of the many beech trees all around.
Over the years the Skiptons provided the city with a number of Mayors and played an important role in civic and industrial life in Londonderry.
In the 1830s the Skiptons were involved in the establishment of Londonderry’s first ever shipyard.
They also were involved in the Londonderry Enniskillen Railway and the Londonderry Coleraine Railway.
To find out more about the family come along to the Beech Hill
The event is being organised by the Beech Hill Association and admission is £5 which includes refreshments provided by the hotel.
Places can be reserved by emailing the hotel reception at firstname.lastname@example.org.