Duke of Dorset Monument
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From an article by Pól Ó Duibhir
Read to the Old Dublin Society, 16th March, 1977
Although the area was beginning to become more a residential than an open hunting area at this stage, Lord Powerscourt’s pack were still hunting in Ballybrack in 1815. It was on one of these outings that the fourth Duke of Dorset, then only 21 years of age, was killed in a fall from his horse in the grounds of what is now St. Columba’s. the Freeman’s Journal carried a report of the incident two days later explaining that the Duke’s horse had come a cropper on some loose stones but preserving his ducal dignity even to the end by informing the public that His Grace had come to the ground on his breast. The young Duke was held in such respect by those who knew him, says the reporter, that had he lived he would no doubt have succeeded his stepfather Lord Whitworth as Viceroy. The report ends with a verse from an already well worn poem:
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that station all that wealth ere gave
Await alike the inevitable hour
The paths of glory lead but to the grave
A substantial obelisk was erected to mark the spot where the Duke met his untimely end.
A more fitting tribute might have been to have quoted from the hundred and twelve line poem which Byron wrote to the Duke when he was the poet’s fag at Harrow. Byron’s advice to the Duke was to shun those who would make up to him for his rank, and while respecting his forbears, make a career for himself through his own efforts. Fine sentiments but alas in vain. Byron’s poem, while written in 1805, was not published till much later and was perhaps fortunately not around at the time of the Duke’s death to embarrass his family with memories of the warm relationship which had existed between the two boys ten years earlier. With the Duke’s death, however, came the end of an era for Ballybrack. The “Developers” were already moving in.