Aline Countess of Portarlington

1823 - 1874




The third Countess of Portarlington was born Alexandrine Octavia Maria Vane on 29 July 1823; she was the daughter of the 3rd Marquis of Londonderry and the niece of Viscount Castlereagh. At her christening, the Russian Tsar Alexander I was her godfather, after whom she was named.

In 1843, her sister Frances Anne Emily married the 7th Duke of Marlborough, and thus a link was established with the Dukes of Marlborough and the Churchill family. The Duke later became the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1876 to 1880. Her nephew was Lord Randolph Churchill, and Winston Churchill visited his relations at Emo when he was five years old.


Marriage and Emo

On 2 September 1847, she married the third Earl of Portarlington, and came to live at Emo. Emo Court was the main residence of the third Earl, and he was a benevolent landlord, giving generously during the famine years. Lady Aline (as she was called) is also fondly remembered in the area for her help to the poor and sick of the area, and for her support to the school and the church. They had no children.


She brought with her many works of art to adorn the rooms at Emo Court, as is evidenced in the valuation of 1889: paintings by Canaletto, Bassano, van Dyke, Poussin and others.






“Her powers of conversation gave to her society a charm which fascinated all who had the honour of being admitted into her circle; and in rare attainments and high intellectual gifts she was equal to the most gifted of the distinguished ladies who adorned English society” – Leinster Express 24 Jan1874


Generosity of Lord and Lady Portarlington

In 1862, Lord Portarlington donated land in Emo to build the Roman Catholic church in the village.


In 1867 Lady Aline converted to Roman Catholicism, and subsequently always took a great interest in the Emo church and especially in the music there. She bought the first organ for the church. She also arranged that the parochial house and 16 acres of land should be left to the parish priest, and that the income on the house of one guinea per annum should be given to the poorest parishioner. When Catholic guests were at Emo, word was sent to the village for a cushion to be placed in the front pew for them. Within the house, she had been given permission by the Pope for a private chapel, and she often entertained the Bishop of Meath Dr Nulty and also Dr Delaney, the rector of St Stanislaus College near Tullamore.



Lady Aline died on 15 January 1874 at the early age of 51, and an extensive report of her funeral at the Catholic church in Emo was printed in the Leinster Express of 24 January 1874:

“Many thousand people were assembled to pay the last tribute of respect and affection for the memory of the deceased Countess ... the great loss (the people) have sustained was made manifest by their outward expressions of grief, and they did not forget to show how they sympathised with the noble earl......The procession numbered about 10,000 people, and reached over a mile of the avenue.”  

The interior of the church itself was draped in black for the occasion.


The Countess was buried in the graveyard beside the church, and a memorial to her was also erected in Coolbanagher church by her sister the Duchess of Marlborough.


The tomb in Emo Church was sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm R.A.,an Austrian born in 1834 who came to London in 1848 to study and who rose to become the Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria. He executed many commissions, including the Wellington Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, and also the portrait head of Queen Victoria for the 1887 coinage. He was very friendly with Princess Louise, the Queen’s daughter, who built a studio for him in the grounds of Kensington Palace. He died in 1890.

Click here to see details of her funeral expenses