How did it all begin? The Landed Estate Novel first came about in 2004 when I became familiar with the Anglo Irish, having done extensive research into their lives after conducting my own family history. History has recorded that their golden era spanned two centuries.
The Anglo Irish were descendants of the Protestant Ascendancy from the 17th century and were the ruling class up until the early 20th century Ireland. The Anglo Irish or “New English” replaced the Gaelic Lords and old English aristocracy (Hiberno Normans) as the ruling class in Ireland. Great grand houses rose up throughout the Irish country side where lavish lifestyles were enjoyed on vast estates with many exceeding twenty thousand acres.
The Protestant Ascendancy emerged after the Williamite Wars (1689-91) when much of the Irish land was confiscated by the British Crown and domination politically, socially and economically over Ireland fell into the hands of great landowners. Very rich landlords became members of parliament in the Irish House of Lords. Irish Catholic gentry who swore allegiance to the British Crown were able to retain their holdings and became part of the new ruling class.
Included within the privileged social class were the French Huguenots (French Protestants) that were displaced during the late 17th century and led to a mass exodus from France with many settling in Ireland taking up high positions within Irish society especially in the areas of business, politics, banking, science, brewers, architecture etc.
In 1870 Ireland saw the introduction of the Land Act that sought to transfer the lands to the tenant farmers. This resulted in loss of income and a gradual decline in the operation of the big house. Many of the houses were burned down during the war of independence and civil war in the early 1900s. Today you can visit these magnificent houses and marvel at the wonderful architecture of these fine buildings which are now a part of the Irish heritage. Of those that remain today, many are still maintained as private homes, others as luxury hotels, leisure centres and world class golf courses. It should also be worth noting the great ruins that can be seen around the Irish country side, if you are lucky enough to stumble across one, a testament of a time long gone in Irish history.
My aim for the Landed Estate is to bring alive the imagery of the Irish countryside, mixed with the ever changing Irish weather and the lives of the characters, the houses and the estates. Family, tradition, duty and power all encapsulated the landed gentry and their roles as the ruling class in Irish society.
The Landed Estate novel was originally written in 2004 under the name “A Time Forgotten” and the concept of the story was to follow a passage of time from 1720 to 1970 focussing mainly on three Anglo Irish families, the Villiers, Westby and Southwell families. It was to explore the lives of these families through different generations and how time affected their lives during this period in Irish History. I abandoned it due to busy work life schedules but I had also felt the idea of the story was not workable.
The rework of the original story that I had partly written took two years to complete from the summer of 2013 to 2015, while I was living on the sunny island of Malta situated in the centre of the Mediterranean and revolves around the life of Susanna Westby and her battle to maintain her house and lands and to secure the future for her three sons.
For your pleasure, you can enjoy this fictional story set around a historic period that is now a part of Ireland’s heritage and history and it’s available from all major retailers.
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