here to see his family tree)
Mr Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison
was born on 9th September 1908 in Kent. His father was Col Cholmeley
Edward Carl Branfill Harrison CMG CBE from Bearsted in Kent, who was in the
British army, and his mother was Mary Evelyn Bazley-White. Col Cholmeley Harrison
was related to the Dering family and the Earls of Strathmore (or Bowes-Lyon
family) through his mother, and through this link Mr Cholmeley-Harrison can
claim relationship with the royal family in England.
he was granted Irish citizenship, and in 1975 assumed by deed poll the additional
surname of Cholmeley.
Harrison attended school at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. The school is housed
in a very beautiful neo-classical building surrounded by famous landscaped
gardens. This may have been an influence in the purchase and restoration of
Emo Court. J F Roxburgh, the first headmaster
of Stowe who was well-known for his enlightened attitudes towards public schooling,
became a good friend for later years. At Stowe also Mr Cholmeley-Harrison’s
life-long interest in cricket was initiated.
and Subsequent Life
to Cambridge, where he read Classics at Trinity College, graduating in 1931. He became
a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1938, only relinquishing this in
1970. He served in the Royal Marines during the Second World War, attaining
the rank of Major.
and Woodstown House
he married the adopted daughter of Lord Bellew, Barbara Mary Corisande, and
for five years they resided in Barmeath Castle in Co Louth. When that castle
became part of the inheritance of Lord Bellew’s brother, Cholmeley Harrison
bought Woodstown House in Co Waterford. The couple lived there with their
three daughters, Caroline, Sarah and Charlotte. They were divorced in 1947.
Woodstown House Co Waterford
marriage, to Mary Elizabeth Roberts, took place in 1948. They continued to
live at Woodstown House, and it was only in the 1960s that Cholmeley Harrison
considered moving elsewhere. An invitation to Jackie Kennedy - the wife of
the late John F Kennedy, President of the United States – to visit at Woodstown was followed
by the intrusive presence of media and tourists who wished to see where she
had stayed, and it became difficult to have privacy at Woodstown.
Mr Cholmeley-Harrison himself tells the story
that he saw a sale advertisement for Emo Court in a newspaper on his way to the
Irish Derby at The Curragh in 1969. He
diverted to see it, and fell in love with the place. A friend who was with
him said, “Only a lunatic would buy it!” but the idea of purchase did not
go away and in time he was able to acquire the property from the Jesuits
for around £40,000.
Jesuits had extensively altered Emo Court to suit their purposes. Marble
columns, mantlepieces and statues had been removed and stored. The library
and the rotunda were converted into a chapel, knockingdown a wall in between,
and dormitories and showers installed. Mr Cholmeley-Harrison immediately initiated
a multi-million pound restoration project with the help of the English architectural
firm of Sir Albert Richardson. Over the years, the house was restored to more
than its former glory, and the gardens were tamed through the planting of
specimen trees and shrubs such as davidia, azaleas and rhododendrons. Mr Cholmeley-Harrison
commented: “It was lovely work. I enjoyed it enormously.” He and his third
wife Cynthia (whom he had married in 1972 following divorce from Mary Elizabeth
Roberts) enjoyed living at Emo and frequently entertained guests in the beautifully
redecorated and refurnished rooms. However, there was also sadness – Sarah,
his middle daughter, died in 1987.
to the State
Emo Court came into State ownership. Mr Cholmeley-Harrison explained why he
made the decision to hand over the house and estate: “I have no son and my
daughters and their children have other hopes and homes. They would never
come here so I thought it would be better to give it while I am still compos
mentis. The place takes quite a lot of running, one way or the other. The
future of the house is safer this way. It can’t be sold or turned into a country
continued to live at Emo Court until his death in July 2008.
On 9th September 2008 (which would have been his 100th birthday)
a Memorial Service was held in Coolbanagher Church, during which his ashes were interred
in one of the urns that he had donated to the church. A cherry tree was planted
at Emo Court in his memory.