Bryan Bertram Bellew

I have re-read my grandfather’s obituary, published in The Irish Times.

Lord Bellew, MC, died on September 7th 1981 at the age of 91 at Barmeath Castle, County Louth. Bryan Bertram Bellew was born at Jenkinstown Park, County Kilkenny, on June 11th 1890. He was educated at Stubbington and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and served in the First World War in the South Irish Horse in a trench mortar battery, notably at Ypres and the Somme, where he was seriously wounded in the neck by a sniper’s bullet. In 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross. During the last years of the war he served in the Middle East, taking part in Field Marshal Allenby’s campaign in Palestine.

He married in 1918 Jeanie Ellen Agnes Jameson who like himself was a keen angler. They formed a devoted partnership until her death in 1973. They had one son, the Hon James Bryan Bellew, who now succeeds his father. For eighteen years between the First and Second World Wars they lived in Gloucestershire before returning to Ireland in January 1939 to live at Barmeath Castle, the home of the Bellew family for more than 300 years. In 1975 he succeeded to the Barony upon the death of his elder brother.

However, in Ireland he will not only be remembered as a courageous soldier, but as an outstanding sportsman in many spheres. He was a noted horseman, riding in steeplechases and show-jumping. Perhaps the achievement of which he was most proud was winning the Conyngham Cup at Punchestown in 1915 on his own mare, Minden Rose, when on leave. In 1913/14 he was Master of the Queen’s County Hounds and in 1917/18 of the Cahir Harriers, both of which packs he hunted himself.

One interesting incident in a long and active life occurred just prior to the outbreak of the First World War when at Brooklands in Surrey he was a passenger in a Sopwith 80 hp tractor biplane which flew to a height of between 8,500 and 8,700 ft. This set a world altitude record for a machine carrying four persons.

At one time or another during his life he fished every major salmon river in the British Isles. The largest salmon he landed was a 41 1/4 lb fish from the Grove Pool on the river Wye. He was on the committee of the British Fly and Bait Casting Association, and at a tournament in the early 1930s produced a most remarkable performance in the 1 1/4 oz bait casting event. He made three casts, all of which broke the previous record, the best of which was no less than 22 ft better than the previous best. Since his return to Ireland in 1939 he was a well known figure on the banks of County Louth rivers and also the Boyne.

He was no less accomplished with a gun, choosing to shoot with an “over and under” shotgun for most of his life. Whether in the field or clay pigeon shooting, he was invariably a reliable shot. He represented Ireland on several occasions and at various times won every major open clay pigeon shoot in Ireland, including the sporting, down-the-line and skeet championships,

Looking back over his long life it reflects a bygone age in which he had both the ability and time to perform most competently in a number of field sports. He will be greatly missed by his many friends, spanning every age group, whose affection and respect he commanded. A particular gift for which many will remember him was his ability to communicate his own enthusiasm and excitement in a subject to those whom he was teaching, whether it was fishing, shooting or riding. Most of all his loss will be felt by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom he was known as “Grandpa” and with whom he spent so many happy years.


5 thoughts on “Bryan Bertram Bellew”

  1. Christopher,
    I have paid a visit to Barmeath. What a truly enchanted (and unexpected surprise). The walled garden was the highlight of our visit. I have encountered your relative Bru in matters ecclesiastical: he is master of the 3 minute sermon!

    1. You know my brother was second Whip for the Louth foxhounds? I’m told that he always blows “gone to ground” on Good Friday.

  2. I met Bryan in 1980 during a visit
    my son was photographing Dublin for the National Geographic and my aunt was married to Patrick Bellew and suggested that we meet Bryan and see Barmeath.
    I was much taken with the peacocks roosting in the elegant guest rooms
    and the lovely natural beauty of the countryside surrounding.

    1. I would be interested in any memories you have of Patrick Bellew, my grandfather’s half-brother. I never met him and I don’t think my grandfather saw him after he moved to America in the 1930s.

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