retreat, when there was "war in the cabin" at Ramsfort.
||In addition the Ramsfort grounds has a medieval holy well named
"Lady Charlotte's Well." This was housed within a stone structure in the
late 1700's at the request of Lady Ram. 17 gardeners were employed at Ramsfort
to maintain the grounds. The stables held 17 carriage and riding horses.
The home itself had the staff of 17 house servants.
The Ram Chapel.
||Lady Charlotte's Well.
The Ram Family's Beginnings and
The Ram family has been traced back to Roger and Robert De Ram in 1135.
These men were the founders of the ancient English Ram family. There are
sketchy family records in existence from that time until 1599, when Dr. Thomas
Ram D. D., was made the Lord Bishop of Ferns. Dr. Ram was the descendant
of this old English family. He was born at Windsor and spent his youth there.
He was made chaplain to Robert Devereux. The descendants of Robert Devereux
were said to be informants to Dublin Castle during the "Rising" of 1798.
Dr. Ram built the first Ramsfort in the year 1630. It was located in
the middle of the town of Gorey. The Ram family coat of arms was carved onto
this mansion and had the following inscription.
"Let all thy thoughts, thy words, thy deeds, be such onto thy
As thou would this should be and let them be none other."
However, this location proved to be too "town like" for the family
and they deserted it and it came to "baser" uses. Dr. Ram also built the
Episcopal palace and the Prelates residence at Gorey In 1630. Construction
of the second Ramsfort on the site of the present day mansion was begun shortly
The 1885 edition of "Wexford County Guide and Directory" has the following
history of the town of Gorey. "The history of Gorey is very much bound up
with that of the Ram family. Thomas Ram was Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin
in 1612 and was buried in a chapel on his own estate at Gorey.
|He obtained a charter for Gorey under the name of Newborough. Provision
was made in this for parliamentary representation and for a corporation,
composed of a sovereign, burgesses, and free commons. A second charter was
granted by James II, but never went into effect. The inhabitants did not
take kindly to the name chosen for the town by Bishop Ram and his descendants
evidently did not try to popularize it. In 1641 the Parliamentarians burned
the palace that he had built. During the rebellion of 1798, Ramsfort and
Clonatin residences of the Rams were destroyed. It is supposed that St. Edan
had a cell near the latter place and that Clonatin was originally called
Clauin-Edan. At the time of the Union, Gorey was disenfranchised, the then
Stephen Ram receiving £15,000 as a solatium.
The Ramsfort Grand Staircase.
| There is a good a water supply and first-rate sewage system [in
the town of Gorey], provided by the liberality of Mr. Stephen
Ram, D.L., during the day is of his proprietorship and for which he
has held in kindly remembrance by the people."
Ramsfort and the
In 1641, Able Ram, the son of Dr. Thomas Ram, was living in the new
Ramsfort. In that year there was in the Irish rebellion and Ramsfort came
under siege by Eneas Kavanagh. The Ram Family was driven from their home
in a "most tyrannous and barbarous manner", and the Ramsfort library was
burned. Enas Kavanagh lived at Ramsfort until the coming of the Lord General
Cromwell. Being Protestant, the Ram Family had the their lands restored to
them under Cromwell, after his victory at Drogheda in 1649. On the 13th of
November 1684, the Duke of Ormond, who was the Lord Lieutenant, knighted
Able Ram, who was then the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
| In the early months of 1689, there was a considerable exodus of
Protestants from Ireland. The books of Alderman Able Ram were taken and all
of his money and goods were confiscated. His two old aunts were in danger
of starving because their money had been sized. Able Ram fled from Dublin
and was "attained".
With the exception of the 8 year Kavanagh hiatus mentioned above, the
tenure of the Ram family at
|Ramsfort, was to last for over 220 years.
Ramsfort From the Pleasure Gardens.
The Ram family was granted their coat of arms and Crest in 1683.
The Ram Family Accommodates the Palatines
at Old Ross.
The most propitious event for the Old Ross Palatines, was the 1709
selection of the 7 families that were to live on the properties of Ram estate.
At that time a total of 43 landlords agreed to accept 538 German families.
Sir Thomas Southwell of Castle Matrix accepted 10 families and Able Ram of
Ramsfort accepted 7 families. Many of these landlords accepted even larger
numbers of families, with one landlord accepting as many as 56.
However things did not run smoothly for all of the Palatine families.
Many complained of and harsh and unfair treatment by their landlords. By
the following year, only 188 of the original 538 families remained on their
landlord's estates. All 56 of the families assigned to the afore mentioned,
landlord, left during the first year. However, all of the families assigned
to the Southwell and Ram families remained on their farms. In 1716, Abel
Ram was nominated as a Palatine Commissioner.
"A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland", mentions that the Old Ross
property consists of 1792 acres, chiefly under tillage, of which part is
occupied by a colony introduced here from Germany by the late Mrs. Ram.
||It would appear that this sociological experiment of Mrs. Ram's
was similar to her growing a pot of African violets. Being landlords to the
Old Ross Palatines appears to have been a rather minor part of the Ram family's
It was the fair and almost benevolent treatment of the tenants of the
The Ramsfort Mansion in 1996.
|Southwell estate's, as well as the favorable
rents charged ,that contributed to this stability and the prosperity
of their Palatines tenants. I quote, in part, from an 18th. century letter:London
29th. May, 1793.
It is with unfeingn'd pleasure I learn that your health is again
re-established and that Mr. Ram your Landlord proves to be a man of discernment,
humanity and justice and well deserving of that consequence and influence
that his rank and fortune give him in the Community. Happy, very happy would
it be for the whole human race if all men of independence and
influence were to set such worthy examples of equity and justice to the other
order of the people for we are much apter to copy from our superiors than
from any other rank in life - but I have been insensibly led into too moralizing
a strain and must cut it short,by congratulating you on your having now
accomplished a substantial security and independence for yourself during
the remainder of your journey thro' this giddy uncertain life and a very
handsome prospect and introduction for your children, which I hope you will
see them manage and improve, in a manner that will do credit to themselves
and make you happy.
Dear Uncle, Your affectionate h'ble Serv't,
It in 1817 the Ram family had a report and inventory prepared on the
Old Ross portion of the estate. This has given us detailed insight into the
daily lives and the makeup of the Palatines farms. The original of this report
is on file at the National Library in Dublin.
Thanks to the kindness of Mr. King Milne, of Ballymorgan, Ferns, I
was provided with a copy of the following letter:
I received your letter of the 6th inst. yesterday evening. I am really
sorry for your present situation by the unkindness of your relation. It would
be to no purpose for you to come to Clonatin, it would avail you nothing.
I am determined about the tenant, (If we can agree); you cannot get the late
Nick Whitney's farm.
Yet I remain With well wishes
Clonatin 12th. October, 1792
| These ancient documents give us a brief glimpse of the day-to-day
relationship between the Ram family and their tenants. It also shows that
the Ram properties were rigidly controlled and that the mundane tenant-landlord
business was conducted from Clonatin, as opposed to
|the Ramsfort mansion.
||The Ram Seal
Almost continuously from the late 1600s through the 1700s, members
of the Ram family were members of the Irish Parliament, for the borough of
Gorey. The fortunes of the Ram family began to turn with the "Rising" of
1798. Ramsfort was totally destroyed when bombarded from Gorey. Some out
buildings survived and were later used as a Franciscan Monastery.
Like the legendary Phoenix, the present day Ramsfort rose from it's
own ashes and was rebuilt following the "Rising" of 1798.
The Ram Family's
Then in 1855, Arthur Archibald Ram, to use an Irish expression, "Turned
Papish and the family hasn't had a day's luck since." Fifteen years later,
Arthur Ram was forced to sell Ramsfort.
Each year Mr. Phelan sends out personalized Christmas cards. Each of
these contain pictures of Ramsfort's past with a little story of historic
significance. I have paraphrase one of these below.
Following the conversion to Roman Catholicism, the Ram family
regularly attended the service at the parish church. They were half concealed
in their large square curtained pew, which adjoined the communion table.
They entertained the great desire to have the evening service in their own
house at Ramsfort. The courtyard in the center of Ramsfort was roofed over
making a lofty, though narrow Chapel. The owner, who had a good opportunity
for exercising his artistic taste, designed the settings and decorations.
He had furniture and pictures enough in the house without making any additional
purchases. Some oak stalls of the 12th century, which had been bought by
him at the sales of a Mr. Pugin's effects after his death, were fixed at
the sides. At the end wall was hung the well-known picture by Spanielletto,
representing the Nativity, the group of figures included the Holy mother;
the Angels and the Shepherds, was an immense size and reached up to the roof.
On the sidewalls were Gobelin tapestries of the four evangelists and over
the entrance door was a fine specimen of Della Robbia ware, representing
our Blessed Lady adoring her child. The communion table, which was never
used for that purpose, was covered within embroidered silk hangings, according
to the proper color for the day. Spaces were reserved for an organ and carved
oak reading desk. Mr. Ram was the organist and the entire household were
From Riches to
So lavish was the lifestyle of the Ram family in the latter days, that
when Ramsfort was sold in 1870, there was not enough money from the proceeds
to satisfy the family's outstanding debts. During the period of ownership
of Arthur Archibald Ram, the last of the Ram family to occupy Ramsfort, free
admission to all was given to all parts of the demesne.
It is interesting to note that Archibald Ram married Blanche Tottenham.
It was a Charles Tottenham who was a warden of St. Mary's Church (COI), at
Old Ross, County Wexford. He was also the Sovereign of the town of New Ross.
It was he who gave refuge to the 0ld Ross Palatines in several of his newly
constructed homes there, during the "Rising" of 1798.
Generally speaking, during time of the ram family at Ramsfort, there
were two professions opened to the male members of the upper class. They
had a choice of either the joining the military, or becoming a theologian.
Many of the Ram family men chose a career in the Navy. In the 1805, Lieutenant
William Alexander Ram of the Royal Navy was killed in-service on H. M. S.
Victory. He was the son of Colonel Ram M.P., for County Wexford Ireland.
The latter owners of Ramsfort
In 1870, the estate was purchased by, Mr. William Kirk, a Belfast linen
In 1890, the estate was purchased by Mr. Neville of the U.S.A
In 1895, Sir George Errington, High Sheriff of Longford, Tipperary,
and Wexford Counties purchased the estate.
On March 20th, 1920, Ramsfort was left to Lady Errington, Sir George's
In 1935, the property was left to a nephew, More O'Farrall.
In 1936, the property sold for £4250 to the Irish land
In 1936, the estates lands were sold off in 40-acre parcels. As
were the original 500 acres of
the Ramsfort grounds.
In 1936, the estate was purchased by a group promoting the Irish
In 1951, the County Wexford Vocational Education Committee purchased
In 1983 the present owner, Mr. Basil Phelan, purchased the estate.
Like to all good and proper Irish castles and estate homes, Ramsfort
has it's own ghost. Colonel Ram of the 1760's haunts the grounds. He has
been seen marching soldiers up and down the parade grounds at Gorey. This,
before the advent of electric lighting! In 1988 the sound of revelry was
distinctly heard at Ramsfort.
Ramsfort must surely have been the site of the very pinnacle of County
Wexford society. This was especially true during the time that Sir George
Errington and later to Lady Errington. There were a 122 to 140 invitees to
the island Hunt Ball at Ramsfort in the 1920's.
Here ends the story of the Ram family of Ramsfort, Gorey, County Wexford.
To my knowledge, there are no descendants of this venerable old English family
still in Ireland. Yet the effects of this family's honesty, integrity and
sense of fair play live on today. Were at not for these, the descendants
of the original Palatines of Old Ross might not have been economically and
educationally capable of going on to become the successful people that the
family history has shown them to be. County Wexford and the whole world is
just a bit better because of the Rams of Gorey.
Photographs by the Author.