Monumental Recognition


Not necessarily one for our American friends: the Ross Monument, County Down. Erected on the shoreline of Carlingford Lough in 1826 to the design of William Vitruvius Morrison, this massive granite obelisk commemorates Major General Robert Ross who had been killed in September 1814 while advancing on Baltimore during the American War. The site was chosen because it was here that Ross and his wife had planned to build a house after his retirement from the army. On the pedestal of the monument if a carved relief in the form of a sarcophagus, featuring emblems of the various countries in which Ross had fought during his military career.


Robert Ross was born in Rostrevor, County Down in 1766 and after attending Trinity College Dublin joined the British army, seeing action in successive wars against the French in Egypt, Italy, Spain, Holland and Portugal before being given command of an expeditionary force against the United States. Famously, following the Battle of Bladensburg, he and his troops entered Washington where they burnt many significant buildings, including the White House (which had been designed less than twenty years before by another Irishman, James Hoban). Within a month he was dead, his body subsequently being brought for burial to Halifax, Nova Scotia. As plaques on the other faces of the monument explain, it was erected thanks to subscriptions of more than £2,300 received from his fellow army officers and residents of County Down.

4 comments on “Monumental Recognition

  1. Hibernophile says:

    Encouraging to see the monument and grounds looking so well. It was fortunate that it escaped the IRA’s semtex.

    Maj Gen Ross is not interred in St Paul’s (although there is a handsome memorial to him there). Following his demise at the battle of Baltimore his remains were embalmed in a cask of rum and shipped to Halifax, Nova Scotia, were his body was laid in the old burying ground.

    In addition to the memorial in St Paul’s and the obelisk at Rostrevor there is a further memorial in the Parish Church of Kilbroney (Rostrevor), thus General Ross is thrice monumentalized.

    • Oops, Homer having a nod there. Thanks for pointing out the error: correction duly made. I had hoped to see Ross’s memorial in church in Rostrevor but the building is undergoing extensive renovation work at present and so all monuments are boarded over…

  2. Andrew McCarthy says:

    The White House architect was of course James Hoban, not Joseph — who it seems was one of James Gandon’s pupils before he left Ireland.

  3. David Corbett says:

    Unlike some nations, the United States usually honors those who fought against us as worthy adversaries. Other than Washington and Adams’ administrations the burning of the White House could be seen as a positive improvement-ha-ha !!! Thanks for the superb post.

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