Dunmore House January 2013
There is a forthcoming 5k race at Carrigans in Co. Donegal so I decided to go and look at the course on Thursday afternoon. I don't think that I am doing the village a disservice by saying that it is a quiet place. Seventy four years ago, in 1938, that quietude was shattered in the most tragic of circumstances on the afternoon of Saturday 24th September.
The venue for the fatalities was Dunmore House, the ,"Big House," of the village, which belonged to Col. Robert Lyle McClintock, a career soldier and a veteran of the Niger Expeditionary Force; the Boer War and the Great War. He and his wife the former Jennie Margaret Casson-Walker had one child, a son, William. Like his father before him he was educated at Wellington College before being commissioned into the Army.
William was a keen horseman and in April 1938 he took part in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup Race at Sandown Park. He fell and unfortunately his mount fell on top of him. He was paralysed from just below the shoulders.
Shortly before this accident he had become engaged to a Miss Helen Macworth and was to have been married to her in June of that year. Due to the accident this had to be postponed. After a period of convalescence at King Edward VII Hospital William was brought home to Carrigans accompanied by Miss Macworth and two private nurses who had been engaged to look after him.
It was eventually determined that the wedding should occur at Dunmore House on Monday 26th September. On the preceding Saturday William was carried into the garden. His mother took him out his lunch. Shortly before two o'clock his father left the house to take him certain medicines. He was to find his son dead, with the top of his head blown away. One of the nurses, Dorothy Trotter seems to have taken control of the whole ghastly situation. She told the Colonel to have the gardeners come to assist in moving William's body to his bedroom and for him to go to collect the local doctor. She then broke the news to Miss Macworth before starting to search for Mrs McClintock in the company of one of the maids.
They soon found her body. She had shot herself under the chin with the murder weapon. The force of the blast was such that Miss Trotter reports that Mrs McClintock's head had been severed from the torso and was hanging in the tree occupied by the rookery. The birds were pulling at the hair. This macabre vignette unsurprisingly caused the maid to faint. She had just come round when the second housemaid came running with the news that, " Miss Helen has done it now." She was found in Williams room, unconscious and fatally wounded. She had shot herself with William's rifle.
The funeral for the mother, son and bride to be took place on 27th September the day of the intended wedding. Miss Macworth was buried in her wedding dress. The officiating clergyman, Rev David Kelly concluded that,"This was a tragedy. A triumph of love. The bond of love was stronger than the thread of life."