Big Houses

Greenisland c 1949 Greenisland c 1949. The photograph is taken from the Knockagh looking towards Belfast Lough. The Station Road is to the left of Faunoran

According to the Griffith’s Valuation of 1861, the strip of land to the western side of the Station Road was owned by the Marquis of Donegall. During the 1840s and 1850s substantial residences were built on this land. These houses were Faunoran, Gortalee, Rathmore and Seaview. Of these houses only Rathmore still exists, the others having been demolished for subsequent housing development. Other large houses in the area are Rosemount and Longfield.


The entrance to Faunoran was from Station Road and corresponds to the current Glassillan Grove entrance into Greenisland Estate. The gatehouse was situated at the entrance and the driveway curved to the front of the house (located where the library now stands). The front of the house faced Station Road and could be seen clearly from the road.

“We had often heard that after a prolonged spell of dry weather the outline of the driveway was clearly visible in the field in front of the library. It was only one Tuesday evening in the summer of 2006, when the staff were locking up that the outline of the driveway curving across the field was visible. It was startlingly obvious and it seemed impossible that it had not been possible to locate the position of the driveway during our normal weather conditions. The next day it rained and the outline disappeared.”

“Faunoran was a very large grand house. It had a big front door and pillars with many outbuildings and the obligatory tennis courts, orchard and vegetable gardens. It was painted a bluish grey colour similar to that used by the Royal Navy.”

The Allens

WJC Allen WJC Allen

Faunoran was built by William John Campbell (WJC)Allen in 1854. WJC Allen was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Inst) and went on to practise law in Dublin. However, he had little success and moved into business. He married Isabella Marshall in 1838 and they had three children, two daughters, Isabella and Jane, and a son, Andrew James who was Senior Wrangler at Cambridge in 1879 and became a Church of England clergyman. They moved into Faunoran in 1854 and remained there for the rest of their lives. The neighbouring houses of Rathmore and Gortalee were sub-let to Isabella’s parents and brother.

Isabella Allen Isabella Allen

WJC Allen had close connections with the United States and visited it in 1831 and again in 1838 on honeymoon with his wife. These American links were useful during the famine years as WJC arranged for the shipment of corn to Ireland for free distribution. His business career was divided between the Ulster Railway Company and the Ulster Bank.

Rev Andrew Allen Rev Andrew Allen

In 1838 he was appointed secretary to the Joint Board of Managers and Visitors of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He held this position for 40 years and was so highly thought of that his portrait was painted on his retirement to be hung in the school. Inst still has this portrait though unfortunately it is now in a state of disrepair.

Isabella Allen was the daughter of Andrew Marshall M.D. and Isabella Drummond. Isabella had a host of friends and relatives worthy of Dictionary of National Biography entries. These include: her maternal uncle, William Hamilton Drummond (non-subscribing Presbyterian minister and poet); her governess, Frances Knowles, sister of James Sheridan Knowles (playwright); her sister Margaret who married John Scott Porter (non-subscribing Presbyterian minister and biblical scholar) and her sister, Rosa, who married the famous portrait painter Richard Rothwell.

During the famine years, Isabella was involved in the Belfast Ladies Association for the Relief of Irish Destitution and worked as treasurer to the Industrial Committee which helped finance and sell locally made linen and knitwear.

After his death Faunoran passed to WJC Allen’s daughters.

The Wilsons

On 19 February 1900 John Wilson JP owner of Wilson & Son (Belfast) Ltd (linen manufacturer), Whitewell, Dyeing, Finishing and Laundry Works bought Faunoran. John was originally from Ballymena and lived in May Street, Belfast. He moved into Faunoran with his wife Sarah Gelston Wilson, two daughters Minnie (who became wife of solicitor John H. Peden) and Gladys Evelyn along with sons John, Bob, William, Andrew Caldwell and Fred.

John Wilson died on 13 May 1913 leaving the house, land and businesses to his sons William, Andrew and Fred. Sarah remained living in the house after her husband’s death. Andrew married the daughter of Sir Crawford McCullough (former Lord Mayor of Belfast) from Lismara, Whiteabbey and lived in Annaghmore on the Upper Road, Greenisland. Their daughter Maureen rode and kept horses at Faunoran. William lived in Gortalee.

Victoria Homes

Playing tennis at Faunoran Helen Evans playing tennis at Faunoran

In 1881 the Belfast Women’s Temperance Association decided to open a home for ‘destitute little girls’. In 1893 with the development of further homes the name Victoria Homes was adopted.

Shortly after the outbreak of the war in 1939 the children living in the Victoria Homes were evacuated from Belfast to Faunoran. The young girls in this home were mainly from broken homes or those who failed to attend school regularly. There were approximately 15-30 girls in this home aged from 6 to 16 year old, with 4 full-time staff.

The first matron in Greenisland was Miss Jones, who resigned in order to join the army. Unfortunately she was taken prisoner and was sent to the notorious Belsen Concentration Camp where she remained until the end of hostilities. Her successor was Miss Anderson with assistant Matron Anna Knox (now Mrs Johnston).

Whilst in Greenisland the girls attended Greenisland School and were accompanied there by Miss Knox wearing their distinctive blue uniforms. The local children referred to the girls as the ‘homers’. On Sunday mornings the girls were taken to their respective churches. The Church of Ireland members walked along the railway path to St Patrick’s Church in Jordanstown and the Presbyterians to the church on Upper Road, Greenisland. The large drawing room was used as a dining hall and another large room was used for games. The girls from the home also had use of the tennis courts. Those girls who still had parents were allowed a visit by them one Saturday a month.

Greenisland Horse Show Greenisland Horse Show

Some of the local residents and the choir from Greenisland Presbyterian Church were allowed to use the tennis courts at Faunoran on a regular basis. During the war years Faunoran also hosted the Greenisland Horse Show. This was a major social event with competitors travelling from all over the country to compete for the substantial prize money. There were riding, jumping and novelty competitions. One regular competitor was the young Patricia Curran. Daughter of Judge Curran (a prominent Northern Ireland figure), she was brutally stabbed to death on the evening of 13 November 1952 in the wooded grounds of her family home, The Glen, in Whiteabbey. She was 19 years old.

At the end of the war the Victoria Homes Management Committee decided that the girls should return to Belfast and in 1947 suitable accommodation was found at Schomberg House in the Belmont area of Belfast.

The Wilsons did not return to live in Faunoran and at Christmas the house was used by the War Memorial Community Centre for their Annual Christmas Fair.

In 1951 part of the Faunoran land was purchased by the Church of Ireland with adequate space for a church, parochial hall and rectory. The new church was consecrated on 4 September 1954.

“In the early 1950s Faunoran was falling into disrepair and being built beside it was the Greenisland Church of Ireland. The excavations for the church created large amounts of good topsoil and with permission from the contractor a friend and I acquired an old pram to convey the riddled soil for sale around the newly developing housing estate. At two shillings a pram load it was a very good bargain, considering the soil could be described as ‘consecrated’.”

Faunoran in Disrepair Faunoran in Disrepair

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews (VC)

On 7 January 1952 the Wilsons sold Faunoran house and surrounding land to Lieutenant Colonel Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews V.C. for £6,000. The conditions of the sale of Faunoran stipulated that the land could not to be used for:

  • the purpose of a factory or for the erection of industrialbuildings, plant or machinery
  • the purpose of any trade or business of a noisy, offensive or noxious character, including the sale of spirituous or intoxicating liquors
  • the purpose of a church, chapel or religious institution.

Northern Ireland Housing Trust

Six months after its purchase, on 9 June 1952 Lieutenant Colonel Ervine-Andrews V.C. sold Faunoran and the surrounding land to the Northern Ireland Housing Trust for £7,500. Faunoran was demolished and the building of Greenisland Estate began.

In 1968 a library, health centre and community centre were built on the former site of Faunoran house.


Gortalee Gortalee

Gortalee was built in the 1840s or 1850s. The house had a Shore Road address and was accessed from a lane running from the Shore Road past neighbouring Rathmore. The first resident was Doctor Andrew Marshall a surgeon who leased the land from his son-in-law WJC Allen of Faunoran. Dr Andrew Marshall and his son William who lived in Rathmore owned William Marshall and Co druggists, apothecaries and wholesale perfumers at 67 and 100 High Street, Belfast. Andrew’s daughter Eliza took over the lease of Gortalee when her father died in 1863.

On 13 May 1913, John Wilson from neighbouring Faunoran house left Gortalee to his 3 sons William, Andrew and Fred. William lived in Gortalee until his death in 1945. Gortalee was sold to Wilfred Davis Lougher-Goodey, a Government Architect on 25 October 1951.

On 1 May 1954 Wilfred Davis Lougher-Goodey sold Gortalee and surrounding land to the Northern Ireland Housing Trust for £4,000

The Northern Ireland Housing Trust rented out Gortalee. The last tenant was Anna Craig who lived there with her three daughters for about 10 years in the 1970s and 80s.


Rathmore Rathmore

The first resident was William Marshall who leased the land from his brother-in-law WJC Allen of Faunoran. We know that in 1888 it was occupied by Mrs Nicholl and was later owned by Charles Kinahan brother of Sir Robin Kinahan, Lord Mayor of Belfast.

“The Kinahans had a market garden and Mrs Kinahan also grew beautiful roses. She always entered them in competitions and won many prizes. Although one year, just before she was about to show them, they were all stolen.”

In the late 1960s Charles Kinahan sold Rathmore House. St Colman’s Church and Primary School were built on the land and nuns moved into Rathmore.

The Old School Surgery now stands on the site of the primary school and Rathmore is in private ownership.


Seaview is known locally as Bates’ House and is remembered very fondly by everyone who has grown up in Greenisland.

In 1861 the resident was John Bell and in the 1940s it was occupied by the Bates family. They were from a family of lawyers whose children were educated at Harrow. Mrs Bates was a horse woman and Doreen Corcoran remembers her father going to help Mrs Bates get the horses ready for the Dublin Horse Show.

“I remember seeing the East Antrim Hunt meet there. It was quite an experience for a townie.”

“Bates’ House was a large imposing house where Mrs. Bates would kindly give us apples on request.”

The families who worked on the land lived in houses to the rear of Seaview. They were the Mannings and the McGiverns. Mary Manning married Willie Johnstone from Longfield. Longfield, on the Station Road is also known as Johnstone’s farm and was built around 1810.


Rosemount Rosemount

Rosemount is a large house on the Carrickfergus side of Greenisland on the Shore Road. Originally known as Rose Cottage, it was built around 1842. In 1926 a Mrs Connell lived there with her daughter Rhoda. William Martin, a local postman, lived in the gate lodge. The current owner bought the house from the Robinsons (who owned a large bacon curing business in Belfast) in the mid 1960s.

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