Saturday, November 07, 2020


Heywood Gardens forms part of the Laois Garden Trail
Photo: Kevin Byrne

I LEFT you last month promising to do a bit of digging in the garden. The garden in question is Heywood, and you will be relieved to know that my digging will not be of the literal kind.

My interest lies with the man behind the gardens at Heywood. I refer not to the renowned Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the gardens at Heywood, but to the man who commissioned the work circa 1906, Lt Colonel Sir William Hutchison Poe.

I knew of the Hutchison Poe connection with Heywood some years back. But, I confess, my interest then was more focussed on the machinations of the Trench family and the ins and outs of their connections to Heywood. The abridged version of the Hutchison Poe connection to Heywood is that he married Mary Adelaide Domvile, great-granddaughter of Michael Frederick Trench, the man who laid the foundation stone for Heywood House in 1773.

So why the sudden interest in Sir William Hutchison Poe now? Well, that can be summed up by that well-worn question … what are the chances? If we track two lives running in parallel, the misfortune of one can be life-changing for both. In this case, Sir William’s life with its ups and downs had the unexpected side-effect of perhaps altering the course of history.

You can read the text of Tom Cox’s column Eye on the Past in this week’s Laois Nationalist, currently on sale in all local stores 

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More Eye on the past

Tom Cox: From A to B

Tom Cox: A cycle of knowledge