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
continued 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
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
second 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
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, knocking down 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
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 club.”
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.