County Down is the place where Patrick, the father of the famous Bronte sisters, was born and raised. The family, including the aunts and uncles of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, lived in and near the towns Banbridge and Rathfriland.
The father of these world famous sisters was born Patrick Brunty on March 17, 1777, Saint Patrick’s Day. The buildings and ruins of buildings that figured most prominently in Patrick’s life are included in the area of the Bronte Homeland Interpretative Centre:
•Drumballyroney Church and School – The buildings where Patrick first preached and taught school, they now form the heart of the interpretative centre, featuring displays that focus on the lives of the famous family.
•Bronte Homeland Picnic Site – the place where the family once picnicked remains, and is still used by today’s visitors. It is located near the ruins of a shebeen, or an old clandestine drinking house.
•Alice McClory’s Cottage – the birthplace and early home of Patrick’s mother.
•The birthplace Cottage – the place where Patrick Brunty was born.
•Glascar School – the site of the school where Patrick built his reputation as an innovative teacher in the 1790’s. He was reportedly dismissed from his position after a rumored romantic encounter with a student.
Patrick Brontë's father, Hugh, was living among a happy, if rather large family, somewhere in Ulster though the exact whereabouts of his home remains uncertain. He was visited by an Uncle Walsh and Aunt Mary. Walsh ingratiated himself with the child and the parents, spinning tales of the fine house he lived in and the ponies he kept. He offered to take Hugh and bring him up as his own, giving him a fine education and fitting him out as a gentleman. This seems to have been a common practice at the time. It benefited both parties, the gaining of a child on one hand, and on the other, alleviating the family of another mouth to feed. Money sometimes changed hands. So young Hugh parted from his family never to see them again.
There was no fine house awaiting him, no education or good living, no ponies, and no comfort. His new home proved to be a hovel, his 'kind' uncle a domineering bully, and as long as he remained there he was abused and ill-treated to such an extent that eventually he ran away. Making his way north he arrived in Dundalk where he found work in the lime kilns of Mount Pleasant. Used to hard labour on his uncle's farm he worked hard and prospered, and that Christmas met the love of his life, Eleanor (Alice) McClory of Ballynaskeagh.
It is a romantic tale — an elopement and marriage under the very noses of her family, and against their wishes. Setting up home in a tiny thatched cabin, their first child, Patrick, was born. Hugh and Eleanor were to be the grandparents of the Brontë children. read
PHOTOS old Irish houses