Tuesday 17 October 2017

Colonel Nicholas Hales Pakenham Mahon

Death ends 350 year link between the Mahon family and the town of Strokestown

An unbroken link of 350 years between the Mahon family and the town of Strokestown, Co Roscommon has ended with the death of Colonel Nick Hales Pakenham Mahon, who has died at the age of 86 in Wiltshire, England.

The Mahons lived in the Strokestown area from around 1660 when one of the family, Nicholas Mahon, stayed behind after the Cromwellian wars. They built Strokestown House in the 1730s and later the adjoining village, which is said to have the widest streets in Ireland after O'Connell Street.

In the 1800s, an only daughter of the house, Grace Mahon, married Henry Sandford Pakenham of Tullynally Castle and the family became Pakenham Mahon, with an estate of almost 30,000 acres in Roscommon, Longford and Westmeath.

Nicholas Hales Pakenham Mahon was a son of Wilfrid and Olive Hales Pakenham Mahon, the last full-time family residents of Strokestown House. His mother only gave him one Christian name because she said that three surnames were more than enough to cope with.

Although born in England on February 3, 1926 he was raised on the family's Roscommon estate and educated by a governess until he went to Winchester College.

Because of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where he had served in Derry during the rioting of the early Seventies as a Colonel in the Grenadier Guards, he knew that he could not return to claim his inheritance of Strokestown House because his ancestry was known to IRA intelligence.

As heir to the property he convinced his ailing parents to sell the Palladian mansion, which was then in a bad sate of repair, in 1979 to Jim Callery of the Westward Garage group based in Strokestown. It now holds the National Irish Famine Museum.

His father died the following year and although his mother went to England to live with her son she was buried with her husband in the graveyard in Strokestown.

Col Hales Pakenham Mahon settled in Wiltshire after retiring from the army. He was treasurer of his parish church council for 11 years and was also on the board of the Hedley Foundation and president of the Grenadier Guards' Regimental Association.

The latter appointment took him all over the country making speeches. On one occasion, he found his name as "Speaker" printed as "Colonel N. Hales Pakenham MA Hons." This greatly amused him and he said that it made up for not having gone to Oxford.

Nicholas Hales Pakenham Mahon, who died on March 12, married, in 1953, Jennifer Batten, who survives him with their son and daughter. Another daughter predeceased him.

Sunday Independent

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