The Wilson Lynch family of Belvoir, County Clare may have been descended from one Ralph Wilson, a Cromwellian soldier who settled in this part of the world in the mid-17th century and served as Mayor of Limerick city in 1657, 1663, 1664, 1667 and 1668. In any case, at the end of the same century, a Richard Wilson was acting as agent for Sir Donough O’Brien, first baronet of Lemeneagh and Dromoland. In 1712, his son, also called Richard, leased the lands of Ballycullen from Henry O’Brien, seventh Earl of Thomond: these lands would form a large portion of the eventual Belvoir estate. The Wilsons, who somewhat unusually were Roman Catholic, continued to reside here until the mid-19th century. Richard junior had been succeeded by his eldest son John, who married late in life and died in 1797, leaving a seven year-old son, David John Wilson. On reaching adulthood, he proved to be a landlord with serious concern for improving the condition of his tenantry, building a number of schools on his estate, and also developing one of the first model agricultural schools in the country at Belvoir. Following what became known as the Sixmilebridge Massacre in July 1852 (when soldiers opened fire on a group of protestors during an election, leading to the deaths of seven persons and leaving the same number injured), he published a pamphlet denouncing what had happened and then established a relief fund for the families of the victims. David J Wilson died in April 1864 when the Belvoir estate passed to his nephew John Wilson Lynch.
The Lynchs were one of the Tribes of Galway, the 14 powerful families who had effectively ruled the city during the Middle Ages and subsequently become landowners in the surrounding counties. Roman Catholic, like the Wilsons, at the start of the 19th century Mark Lynch of Renmore, County Galway, a successful banker and merchant, was able to buy the Durus (or Doorus) estate outside Kinvara, County Galway from its previous owner, Jacques, Comte de Basterot. In 1820, Mark Lynch’s son, Patrick Marcus Lynch, married Ellen, sister of David John Wilson. Some years later, when Wilson found himself in financial difficulties, his brother-in-law, Patrick M Lynch, lent him money secured by a mortgage on Belvoir and the prospect of a life interest in the Belvoir estate for Lynch’s son John. In due course, following Lynch’s death in 1864, John Wilson Lynch came to be responsible for Belvoir, although he does not seem ever to have lived there, instead leasing the house and surrounding land. By further agreement with David John Wilson’s widow, Mary, on John Wilson Lynch’s death, the estate was to be inherited by his second son, if he should have one. At this time, Wilson Lynch had a very substantial property: according to the 1876 Landowners of Ireland his Duras estate ran to almost 5,410 acres, while the Belvoir estate covered just over 3,100 acres. Within a couple of decades, however, circumstances began to change rapidly, due to the Land Wars and accompanying unrest among tenants. In December 1885, for example, the wife of John Murphy, Belvoir estate bailiff, was shot in the leg. Accordingly, John Wilson Lynch began to sell much of the land and by the time of his death in 1911 he had embarked on disposing of the greater part of the old Belvoir estate. Accordingly, by 1922 his successor there, a younger son William Wilson Lynch, retained just the house and part of the demesne. On his death, he left the property to a housekeeper.
Belvoir would appear to be an 18th century house built by one of the Wilson family, perhaps John who lived here until his death in 1797. A month later, the place was advertised to let, since his heir David John Wilson was, as mentioned, then only a minor of seven. In 1814 it was recorded as being unoccupied in 1814, but presumably some time after that date David John Wilson decided to restore the building and gave its regular two-storey over basement, five bay facade a superficial Gothic makeover. With Tudoresque hooded mouldings over the windows and an ogee doorcase inside an arched porch featuring the family coat of arms. As for the interior, it would seem to have followed the usual layout of two smaller reception rooms to the front and two larger to the rear, with entrance and staircase halls occupying the central portion of the building. Given that he had other residences elsewhere in Counties Clare and Galway, John Wilson Lynch does not seem to have lived in Belvoir and in 1872, presumably following the death of Mary Wilson, the house’s furniture was sent to his properties at Duras and Kilcornan. Belvoir was then let to a Lady Loftus, and during the following decade was burnt down; despite an insurance claim, it was never rebuilt. Instead, when William Wilson Lynch came to this there with his wife in the second decade of the last century, they occupied the old service courtyard, which lies to the north-west of the main building; this remained in use until relatively recently but has now begun to fall into ruin. The other notable feature of the property is a chapel to the north of the house and linked to it by a Gothic screen wall. An arch above the doorcase proclaims, ‘The Ladye Chapel, Erected in return for a Wife’s Devoted Attention during a Severe Illness in 1862 & 1863.’ This indicates the little three-bay, single storey building was constructed towards the end of John Wilson Wright’s life in gratitude for his wife Mary’s care. The chapel was maintained and seemingly still in use until a few years ago, but alas has since been vandalised and some of its stained glass windows broken. It seems only a matter of time before it falls into the same condition as the rest of the site.