Article & pictures by Joe
Simpson - Vancouver - Oct '05
Below are some photos taken last year when I visited
Tempo Manor, Co. Fermanagh. This was once the "country
residence" of the Belfast MP and author Sir James
Emerson Tennent (1805-1869), with the present house
that he completely rebuilt in the 1860s. Also included
is an illustration from an old book on the Tempo Estate,
of the original house once owned by the Maguires - and
a very lovely winter view of the present house taken
a few years ago.
Above: The old Maguire house at Tempo, Co. Fermanagh,
1853 demolished in about 1863 and replaced by present
structure. The great Charles Dickens, a friend of
Sir James and his wife Letitia, stayed at Tempo Manor
while visiting Ireland in the mid-1860s.
The story of the imprisonment
of Lady Cathcart (in brief):
Brian Maguire was succeeded by his son Cuchonnacht
(pronounced “Cohonny”), who died in 1739,
and he in turn was succeeded by his brother Robert.
Under the penal laws passed by the Protestant Irish
parliament in the early eighteenth century, a Roman
Catholic landowner was forbidden to bequeath his land
by will. When he died, his land had to be divided equally
among all his sons. However, if the eldest son "conformed"
to the Established Church, he inherited the whole estate.
The Maguires of Tempo were no exception. Robert conformed,
and his younger brother, Col. Hugh Maguire, did so a
few years later.
If half the accounts of Hugh Maguire were true, he
was a desperado to out-desperado anything in fiction.
After serving in the Austrian army he returned to England,
and in 1745 married a Lady Cathcart. This was her fifth
The "wicked colonel", as Hugh was known,
was notorious in his own day, and became a legendary
villain for all time, because of his treatment of his
wife. Far from being satisfied with half of her considerable
income, he did his worst to frighten her into handing
over a fortune in jewels, and the title deeds of her
English property, the Manor of Tewin Water in Hertfordshire.
When she refused, he abducted her to Ireland and kept
her locked up for some years at Tempo. The room where
she was kept, in what later became an outbuilding, can
still be seen. There must have been a good deal of talk
among the neighbours about his activities, but no one
dared to interfere. Duelling was common, and Maguire
was a noted shot.
After his death, Lady Cathcart (by then well over seventy),
was released, ragged, half-starved and almost deranged,
and she was able to reveal the details of how her husband
had died. The story was like the climax to a gothic
horror novel. Having eventually forced her to tell him
that the deeds were in a secret compartment behind the
panelling at Tewin, Maguire hurried there, entered the
room and climbed onto the table to reach the hidden
door. The rusty lock resisted all his efforts. Impatient
to get what he wanted, he took out a jack knife and
forced the panel. The knife slipped and cut his hand
badly. Lockjaw followed, and he died in agony shortly
The great late 18th/early 19th century Irish writer
Maria Edgeworth based the character of Sir Kit Rackrent,
in her novel Castle Rackrent, on Col. Hugh Maguire.
Lady Cathcart was said to have had inscribed in her
wedding ring. "If I survive I will have had five"
(i.e. 5 husbands).
by Joe Simpson
Joe Simpson also sent us another article on Tempo
Manor, taken from from an 1862 book that describes
the rebuilding work and landscaping of the restored
estate. It includes an illustration showing how the
architect envisaged the house after completion the
Click here to read it:
also - 'Lady Catchcart' article on this website