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Celebrating 200 Years of The Argory

View of the east side of The Argory, County Armagh
The Argory seen in low sunlight, County Armagh | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Completed in 1824, The Argory mansion proudly celebrates its bicentennial milestone this year. As we commemorate this significant occasion, the National Trust is honoured to share the captivating stories of the four generations of the MacGeough Bond family who called this estate home.

Celebrating 200 years

In honour of this milestone, we've organised events reminiscent of those cherished by the MacGeough Bond family in the 19th and 20th centuries, preserving the essence of our heritage. We invite you to join us in commemorating 200 years of The Argory.

The Argory MacGeough-Bond
The Argory MacGeough-Bond | © National Trust

200 Years of The Argory

Walter McGeough (1790-1866) built The Argory following a unique stipulation in his father Joshua's will. Originally living at Drumsill near Armagh, Walter's father disinherited his eldest son, William, in favour of Walter and his sisters. However, Walter was prohibited from bringing a wife to Drumsill as long as his sisters remained unmarried. Seeking independence, Walter constructed a house on his land at Derrycaw, completing it in 1824. Renaming it The Argory, he adorned it with opulent interiors, reflecting his wealth and status.

In 1826, Walter married Mary Isabella Joy, but tragedy struck when she passed away in 1829, leaving behind a daughter, Mary Isabella MacGeough Bond. Walter remarried in 1830 to Anne Smyth, and the couple had six children, making The Argory their permanent home.

Walter's second son, Captain Ralph MacGeough Bond Selton, inherited The Argory after his father's death in 1866. Known for his heroism in surviving The Birkenhead shipwreck and subsequent military service, Captain Shelton's ownership, dubbed The Argory's 'heyday,' was marked by lavish parties and connections with aristocracy.

In 1898, The Argory suffered a significant fire, leading Captain Shelton to rebuild and modernize parts of the mansion. He introduced Acetylene gas, a cutting-edge technology, in 1906.

Upon Captain Shelton's death in 1916, his nephew, Sir Walter MacGeough, inherited The Argory. A distinguished figure, Sir Walter made significant contributions to the estate, before passing it to his son Walter Albert Neville MacGeough Bond, known as Mr Bond.

During Mr Bond’s time he continued to live at The Argory as his permanent home, amassing one of the largest Modern Art Collections in Ulster. Mr Bond travelled frequently and spent many winters in Jamaica.

It was Mr Bond who made the decision to donate The Argory to the National Trust in 1979. Working alongside National Trust Curators, Mr Bond placed the mansion back to how it looked in his childhood. The Argory opened to the public in 1981, preserving its rich heritage. Mr. Bond's decision to be buried on the estate reflects his deep connection to The Argory, which endures today as a cherished historical landmark.

MacGeough Bond Family
MacGeough Bond Family | © National Trust Image

Join us for a special celebration

Specialist House Tour

Friday, June 14

Join our Collections and House Manager , Ana Copeland on an exclusive behind the scenes experience within the Argory Mansion.

Find out more

10k Run at the Argory

Saturday, June 29 from 9am to 12pm

At The Argory, sports like running have a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. Historical records document regular games such as racing and hurdles, often held by the tenants and servants on the estate before major family occasions like weddings and summer fetes. In celebration of this historical tradition, we're excited to organise a special 10k run as part of The Argory's 200th anniversary festivities. Join us for this commemorative event!

Get ready to lace up your running shoes and soak in the breathtaking views of the estate and the beautiful Blackwater River.

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Celebration Day

Sunday June 30, 2024, from 11 am to 5 pm.

The MacGeough Bonds maintained the tradition of a summer fete throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, throwing open the demesne to the local community to enjoy games, food and entertainment. As a testament to this truly unique family, we think it is only fitting to resurrect the summer fete and celebrate in the same way.

Activities include:
- Boat Trips in partnership with Blackwater Community Barge (pre-booked)
- Traditional Lawn Games, Swing Boats, Carousel and Vintage Chair O Planes
- Living History Sketches
- Estate and Garden Tours
- BBQ and Ice Cream
- Free Face Painting

Don't miss out on this memorable event!

Find out more

Donation to the National Trust 1979

For 45 years, the National Trust has been stewarding this remarkable property and its original contents, a privilege made possible by our members and visitors. The dedicated staff, some residing right here at The Argory, have tirelessly preserved and animated this historic site for the enjoyment of all, ensuring its legacy lives on for generations to come.

Clock Tower
Clock Tower | © Brian Morrison
Exterior of The Argory, Northern Ireland

Discover more at The Argory

Find out when The Argory is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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