Talbots of Coole


Benjamin Talbot, Robin’s great grandfather, was the first Talbot to live in Coole. In July 1863, he took on the rent of 160 acres from the Right Hon John Fitzpatrick, 1st Baron of Upper Ossory. 

With Benjamin dying aged 45 just a year after the birth of his youngest child (in 1881) it was left to his widow Jane (nee Wellwood) to raise their family and run the farm, which she did for the next thirty years (she was still Head of the Household in the 1911 census, the other inhabitants at the time being daughter Frances and 36-y-old son Peter).

Innovative

Their eldest son Benjamin (Robin’s grand uncle) was an engineer who emigrated early in the 20th century to South Africa and he exhibited one of the traits which has defined this branch of the family, innovativeness. There is a family story of how, during this passage, the ship broke down and their own mechanic was unable to sort out the problem so Benjamin offered his services and was able to make a replacement part in the ship’s workshop which allowed them to complete their journey. Apparently he was subsequently feted as something of a hero and was highly sought-after subsequently.

Religious Life

Another trait which is long associated with the Talbot name in general and this branch in particular is a connection to religious life and their second son Joseph became  a clergyman, eventually the Right Rev Dean of Cashel. Having married Dorothy Sophia White, the daughter of a wealthy Quaker merchant, he (according to their grandson Patrick Nicholson) seems to have distanced himself from the family, perhaps feeling that his farming roots didn’t match his perceived status of himself.

The farm was eventually bought out (through a loan with the Land Commission) for £300 by Benjamin and Jane’s third son Peter in 1912, the year that Jane died and he married Harriet Melbourne. The 1911 census shows that the house was thatched and they built a new house in 1913, in which we now live.

Peter and Bob

Friend and cousin Bobby Hovenden says that Peter was happiest when he was making something in his workshop and most of the expansion of the area of the farm took place when it was taken over by Bob, Robin’s dad. 165 acres in Tentore was bought in the late 1940s, followed by 63acres at the back of Ballacolla village which we call “Briggs”, 101 acres in Ballygeehan in the very late 1950s and then some fields in Coolderry and further 17 acres adjacent to Briggs which we call “the Quarry" in the early 1970s`(this last named by Robin and his mum Pam).

Incidentally, Pam tells a story of how one of these purchases was an anniversary present. Probably an expensive present but also a fairly pragmatic one where a farm/er is concerned. Robin had never heard this story until I relayed it to him last year (with an obvious hint that he might like to do something similar as it was our tenth anniversary), his response was a sarcastic “ha, ha.”