Hello 2021 and Northern Ireland is once again in Covid19 “lockdown” so my car is parked and its back to long walks in my local park.
I’m lucky as Gosford Forest Park (240 acres) is just one mile from my farm here in County Armagh on the outskirts of the small historical Plantation Town of Markethill.
The forest is planted on what once was the 17th century plantation land of Sir Arthur Acheson. The Acheson’s later Gosford’s have long gone leaving only their 19th C Norman Revival style castle on the forest park .
During the life of the Acheson’s (titled Lord Gosford) on their demesne, with its spread of woodland and parklands, Gentry were regularly entertained by Lord & Lady Gosford.
One regular visitor to the Gosford’s country seat was Jonathan Swift the author of Gulliver’s Travels. All kids young and old love the story of Gulliver’s shipwreck finally ending up with the Little People on the Land of Lilliput! Locals here say Gosford Demesne provided the inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels!.
Dean Swift was a regular guest of Sir Arthur Acheson and Initially he appeared to enjoy his stay with Sir Arthur & Lady Acheson however through time his arrogance left his presence uncomfortable. His time with Sir Arthur led to the creation of his insulting ‘Markethill Poems’, which Swift always maintained were written for his own amusement and not for publication.
His stay at the Gosford Demesne was in the comfort of their Manor House, the early residence of the Acheson family before the present 19c castle was built. However Swift’s desire to build his own house on the estate caused more friction and eventually after months with Sir Authur and Lady Acheson he returns to Dublin.
Swift’s witty and absurd style influenced Irish writers like Wilde, Joyce and Beckett. His multi-layered satirical writings still cause debate and outrage.
As Swift said when a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.
Swift’s Epitaph - St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin
Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift,
Doctor of Divinity
and Dean of this Cathedral,
Where savage indignation can no
longer lacerate his heart;
Go traveller and imitate if you can,
champion of liberty.