The Taaffe Family
The Taaffe Family Crest: “In Hoc Signo, Spes Mea.” – In this sign is my hope.
Smarmore Castle has its origins within the history of a leading Irish family, the Taaffe’s. The first authentic mention of Smarmore’s relation to the Taaffe family arose in 1320, when Richard’s brother, William Taaffe, was sued by “the Prior of Kilmainham… for a carucate of Land at Coynstown.” (A carucate refers to a medieval unit of land area, approximate to the land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season – or 120 acres.)
The Taaffe name first appears in Irish annals in the year 1284, where it is recorded that a Lord Nicolas Taaffe, bestowed “in pure alms to God, The Blessed Mary and the Knights Templars in Ireland” his lands in Killergy.
It is said that the Taaffe’s emigrated from modern-day Wales to Ireland around 1196, from an area known as Taff Vale. Interestingly, despite being an influential family, there exists no memorial of the Taaffe family in that area in the present day and this is attributed to the entire family’s resounding decision to leave and move to Ireland at once.
Nicolas Taaffe had two sons, the eldest being Richard FitzNicolas Taaffe and John Taaffe, the Archbishop of Armagh. Richard FitzNicolas Taaffe had two sons, Richard and Nicolas and was seated at Ballybraggan and Castle Lumpnagh.
Richard Taaffe was the founder of the family at the various locations of:
He was also the founder of the Viscounts Taaffe and Earls of Carlingford.
Other notable members of the Taaffe family include:
Sir William Taaffe
Sir William Taaffe could be said to have accrued the greatest degree of notoriety in the Taaffe lineage. He was distinguished for his efforts on the Government side in the O’Neill wars and was knighted for his services at the siege of Kinsale in 1601.
At Kinsale, the Spaniards had landed and had stolen a large number of cattle and sheep. Sir William demonstrated great cunning by capturing the area which held the animals before night, as the result of a decisive skirmish.
He continued this strategy after Kinsale and targeted the cattle which formed the enemy’s sustenance, as well as “capturing and hanging Doctor [Owen] MacEgan, the patriot Bishop of Ross, who still held out and induced all he could to hold out to the bitter end.”
For his service to both Queen Elizabeth and King James I, Sir William Taaffe was granted various confiscated lands between 1592 and 1620.These included large swathes of lands in the counties of Louth, Cork, Longford, Waterford, Mayo, Meath, Westmeath and Tipperary, including the castle of Ballymote and the Abbey and lands of Sligo.
Sir William was granted on the 20th of January 1603, “the Manor of Smarmore in the County of Louth, the town and Loch of Ballinlowre in the County of Dublin.” He died on the 9th of February 1630 and was buried at Ardee.
Sir John Taaffe and Theobald Taaffe
Sir John Taaffe was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Viscount Taaffe of Corren as well as Baron of Ballymote. He fathered fifteen children, of whom the eldest, Theobald succeeded him as the 2nd viscount Taaffe. Theobald Taaffe was involved in the English Civil War (1642–1651) and on the Restoration, was created the Earl of Carlingford. He died on 31 Dec. 1677.
Nicholas Taaffe was the second Earl of Carlingford and was sent as Envoy to the Emperor Leopold in 1689. He also commanded a regiment of foot soldiers under the banner of King James II and lost his life at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Francis Taaffe was the3rd Earl of Carlingford and 4th Viscount Taaffe as well as the 4th Baron of Ballymote. He rose to the rank of Field Marshal, as a result of his efforts at the Battle of Vienna (1683) as well as other feats in the campaigns of the Great Turkish War (14 July 1683 – 26 January 1699).
Francis Taaffe was also a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and spent the end of his life as Chancellor and Chief Minister to Duke Leopold of Lorraine. He died in August 1704.
Nicholas Taaffe was the 6th Viscount Taaffe, lieutenant-general in the Austrian Army and was the son of Francis Taaffe. He succeeded to the title of 6th Viscount Taaffe after the death of his cousin Theobald. Also, after marrying Maria Anna, daughter and heiress to Count Spindler of Lintz he was created a Count by Empress Maria Theresa. He died at the castle of Ellischau in Bohemia on 30 Dec. 1769.
Eduard Taaffe (Eduard Graf von Taaffe)
Eduard Franz Joseph Von Taaffe (1833-1895), the 11th Viscount Taaffe, was the was Minister-President of Cisthelania for two terms, the first term was from 1868 to 1870, with a second term from 1879 to 1893. He is well known for his election reforms made during 1882. He died in Bohemia, on 29th November 1895.
Henry Taaffe (Heinrich Graf Taaffe)
Henry Taaffe (1872-1928) was the 12th and final Viscount Taaffe. He was the son of Eduard Taaffe and held hereditary titles from two different countries.
However, both these titles came to end, as the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 stripped his name from the roll of the Peers of Ireland (28th of March 1919), for bearing arms against Britain in World War I.
Equally, onthe 28th of April 1919, he lost the title of Count of Austria-Hungary following the establishment of the Republic of Austria; which abolished the nobility and the use of noble titles.
Edward Charles Richard Taaffe (1898-1967) was the son of Henry Taaffe, was an Austrian gemologist who is well known for the discovery of the very rare mineral, Taaffeite. Upon his death in 1967 no heir to either title remained, which rendered both the Austrian and Irish titles extinct.
The Taaffe family have spanned many generations, reaching all the way back to the 13th century. The present owners of Smarmore Castle are proud of such a prestigious and diverse history and look forward to adding new chapters in the years to come.
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Last updated & clinically assessed 16 February, 2022