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La Touche Family

I was reared in a small village in Co. Kildare called Ballymore Eustace. Yesterday I was reading about some of the “gentry” in that area, especially about the La Touche family.

After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 the Hugenot La Touche family fled to Holland in search of religious freedom.  David La Touche later came to Ireland as a Williamite army officer and fought against King James at the battle of the Boyne (1690). In 1768 his son, John, settled in Harristown, part of the old Eustace estate which had got its charter from Charles II (1681). John La Touche enclosed the estate and built a boundary wall and a bridge (1788) which is the oldest surviving bridge on the Liffey.

His son, John, was a very committed member of the established church and helped re-build St. Patrick's church on the edge of the estate but he later caused quite a stir in Kildare high society when, after coming under the influence of the Victorian evangelist Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, he became a member of the Baptist community. In 1882 he had a Baptist church, manse and school built at the other end of the estate.

John’s daughter Rose’s romance with the Victorian writer John Ruskin, a frequent visitor to Harristown, was very much discouraged by her parents. They were not happy with Ruskin’s scepticism, his divorce, or the disparity in the ages of the pair. Rose died in 1875 and is buried in St. Patrick’s Church.

John himself died in 1904. His son Percy was the last of the family to live in Harristown. The estate was then acquired by the Beaumont family in 1946, the year I left Ballymore Eustace for boarding school.

Harristown Hse Brannockstown, Co. Kildare