© Christopher Earls Brennen


Patricia Bogue of the Donaghmore Historical Society provided me with a transcript of an interview conducted in the 1980s with Mrs Margaret Mary Devlin (nee Carbery) who lived in Donaghmore, County Tyrone, while Bernard and Susan Brennen were living there.


When I was a young child the present convent was known as Lyles Castle. There were two ladies lived there, Miss Elizabeth and Miss Mary Lyle, they had a brother Master Windsor Lyle, there was also a Colonel Lyle and a Major Lyle, Colonel or Major Lyle were never around Donaghmore very much. I remember Master Windsor very well, after the castle was sold he went to live in Wherry's Hotel at the bottom of Scotch Street Dungannon, he had a suite of rooms there. He came to the village of Donaghmore every Monday afternoon and went up to the Convent, he would walk around the grounds and examine the gardens for hours and then he would go in and have Tea with the Reverend Mother who was Mother Hyacinth at the time. He was very fond of drink and you would hear him coming shouting from a long way off. He would always walk out from Dungannon and the children would run for fear of him but he would not harm anyone and when I lived in Barrack Street he would give me twopence if I happened to be outside when he was passing, he knew me well as my father's aunts husband was a gardener at the Castle. He would stay around the convent grounds until about half past eight in the evening and then he would walk down the Caulfield Road to the Station and get the train into Dungannon. I remember he had a lovely bright yellow walking stick with a gold figure of an animal at the top, I remember seeing it shining in the sun as he walked past.

The property belonging to the Castle was known as Lyles Estate in the Townland of Mullygruen, the house where Ann McCourt lives now belonged to the Lyles Estate, a family called Brennan lived in that house. Master and Mrs Brennan were teachers in the Pink School, (Protestant) they also played the Organ in the Church. I remember the Lyles coming down in their Coach with their Coachman, William Kinnear and he all dressed in full livery complete with his Castor Hat, they would turn round the Cross and go straight up to Church. As I said before the house where the Brennans lived belonged to Lyles but in later years Canon O'Niell bought the field behind it and the house. The Brennans were still living there at that time and there was some controversy over the rent. The Brennans being the Teachers and Church Organist got the house free of rent, afterwards when Canon O'Neill bought the ground and the Brennans had to pay something like one penny per week to stay within the law. The field opposite where Joe O'Neill lives nowalso belonged to Lyles and that piece of ground was supposed to be kept for a teachers residence for the Protestant Schoolbut it never materialised. The little piece of ground where Seamus Lynch lives now was also supposed to be kept for a teachers residence for the Catholic School but it was never built.

There were two Gate Lodges at the Castle, William Kinnear lived in the Front Gate Lodge in former years and then Willy Lynch in later years. The two little houses beside the station that is now Joe O'Neill's home were also owned by Lyles. We lived in one of those houses in later years.

The Brennan family, there were three sons, Alfie, who was a Surveyor in Cookstown, I think some of his family are still living there, Cecil worked in Royal Avenue Post Office in Belfast. Herbert Brennan emigrated to America, as far as I know he never came back. Alfie Brennan was a great Comedian, he would be asked to all the concerts around the district and he was also a great singer. All the Brennan family very musical. After the Brennans day, Maeve Brennans daughter Gertie, who was called Grieves and Renee took turns at playing the organ in the Church. Cyril Grieves was a teacher in Donaghmore School and he died quite young. Renee went to Belfast, she was a clerk for Mr Reynolds the attorney in Dungannon for an number of years before going to Belfast where she died. I think Gertie is still alive, she was married to a man called Scott who was a Taxi Driver.

Master Brennan's daughter, Miss Maud Brennan who taught in Granville School, Miss Edie Brennan who taught in the Deaf and Dumb Institute in Belfast and Miss Maeve Brennan who was married to a man called Grieves, she lived most of the time in Belfast, she was very musical and she was a marvellous singer, she was invited to open all the big Orange Balls around the locality. My mother's aunt was a Dressmaker, Anne Hamilton, and she made Maeve Brennans clothes, she would write to her from Belfast when she wanted a gown for one of these big occasions and as she knew her measurements and her taste in clothes she would go into Dungannon and buy the material and make up the gown and post it to Maeve in Belfast. When Miss Brennan would come home she would come over and pay my aunt for her work.

The two little houses beside the Station belonged to the Lyles Estate and a lot of people lived in them over the years. I remember people called Sloan living there, he was a gardener in Lyles. There was also a family called Kinnear and he worked as a Coachman with Lyles, his daughter Winnie was a Clerk in Browns Soapworks before they left to live in Belfast, their son George, he worked on the Railway in Belfast, he was a Porter. Mrs Kinnear's mother lived in a little house in Teapot Row, her name was Mrs Lyttle. I remember old Johnny Cromac and his family living in the Back Gate House on the Pomeroy Road, that was Johnny the great fiddler who had the famous Ceilidh Band in later years, after that there was Mrs Tommy Hamilton and the family living there, after that I can remember Margaret Johnston's mother and father living in that Gate House, that was the village Blacksmith. In later years Willie Lynch moved up from Mrs Burns Gate House to the front Gate House at the Convent.


After Mr and Mrs Brennan retired there was a Master Lee came to teach in the Pink School, he had two children, Isobel and Cecil, they lived at where we called Dick Simmon's Crossroads, it is now known as Baxters or McConvilles corner. Mrs Lee died quite young and after Master Lee retired I think he went to live about Granville or Eglish. There was a Mr Hobsoncame in his place and there was also a lady called Miss Graham and she boarded with the Brennans and taught in that school. I also remember a Miss Emerson teaching there but she only stayed a short time, she boarded with Mr Maguire who was the Printer in Browns Soapworks.

Last updated 1/6/05.

Christopher E. Brennen