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President Mary Robinson planting a tree in Villierstown, held by James Villiers-Stuart, on 3 March 1992. Photo by Rory Wyley.

‘The historic old house echoed with the sound of merry voices and cheerful laughter’

James Villiers-Stuart Comes of Age - Dungarvan Observer 7 January 1950

The historic house of Dromana…in its long history has seen many festive occasions but few, if any, equaled that seen on New Year’s Night when the old mansion rang to the welcome accorded to Mr James Villiers Stuart at the celebrations held to mark his coming of age and formal taking over of the property.  At 7 o’clock estate employees and many residents of the district to the number of 300 assembled in the vicinity of the house.  A burst of cheering heralded the coming of the ‘young master’ and led by the Villierstown Piper’s Band playing a triumphal march, Mr Villiers Stuart, escorted by his guests, entered Dromana House.

When all were assembled in the library the evening’s proceedings began when a presentation was made to Mr Villiers Stuart by the estate employees…an oak Westminster chiming clock and barometer.  The presentation was made by Mr A. Dawson, estate manager…Mr Thomas Ormond, the oldest employee, also spoke and in well-chosen words referred ‘to the happy associations that had always existed between the owners of Dromana and those who were fortunate enough to serve them. ‘I know’, said Mr Ormond, ‘that this happy state of affairs will long continue’.  Mr Villiers Stuart, replying, thanked the donors for their beautiful gifts.  Referring to the great loss he had sustained through the early deaths of his beloved parents, Mr Stuart said that his loss had been tempered by his great friends in Dromana, and most particularly by Mr Dawson, who had acted towards him with the devotion and generosity of a father, and Mrs Declan Morrissey, his faithful housekeeper who had mothered him with great affection.

Speaking of the many problems and difficulties which faced owners of large properties and the fact that the number of employees was not as great as in bygone days, Mr Stuart said he hoped to extensively develop his property and thus give more employment…To two of the older hands, Mr Thomas Ormond and Mr Michael Morrissey, he paid special thanks, asking each to accept from him a cheque in recognition of their long and faithful service.

Dancing to the strains of the Villierstown String Orchestra, then began, and the historic old house echoed with the sound of merry voices and cheerful laughter…Several of the guests sang, Mrs A O’Connell, Miss B Carroll, Mr M Ronayne, all of Villierstown.  A sumptuous sit-down supper was served.  The catering was supervised by Mrs Reynolds…Dancing continued to the early hours and a memorable night ended with the singing of ‘Old Lang Syne’  and ‘The Soldiers Song’.

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