In the background of ‘Ulick’s Daughter’ stands the small, misshapen figure of her father’s heir –
Hubert George de Burgh-Canning, the 15th Earl of Clanricarde.
Born in Russia, Hubert grew up in the shadow of his elder brother, Lord Dunkellin, Ulick Canning de
Burgh. Doted on by his father, the younger Ulick had a distinguished career, serving in the
Coldstream Guards and as aide-de-camp to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; fighting in the Crimean
war and acting as Military Secretary to the Viceroy of India before becoming an MP. And then, at
40, he suddenly died, predeceasing his father by seven years. As he had been unmarried, the title
and estate automatically went to his younger brother. For his father, this was a double blow for he
loathed and despised Hubert.
His hatred was to be shared by the Irish people. Hubert de Burgh never once set foot in Ireland but
he was to become the country’s worst and most repressive absentee landlord who evicted
thousands of families from his estate in County Galway, resulting in mass destitution.
His Irish estate yield 25,000 pounds a year in rents paid by his impoverished tenants – a considerable
sum of money at the end of the 19th century – and, in addition, he had inherited his mother’s
fortune. Yet he lived a miserly, solitary life in his rooms in Piccadilly in London, detested and
mocked by all who knew him – and probably all too aware of the truth of his birth. For Hubert
George de Burgh-Canning had no blood claim to the Clanricarde estate: his real father was a Russian
count with whom his mother had a brief affair. Her husband, Ulick de Burgh, the 14thEarl of
Clanricarde, whose infidelities had outraged Russian society and brought about his downfall, had
been hoisted on his own petard.
Get your copy of Ulick’s Daughter here!
Joy Martin was born in Limerick. A former journalist, she is the author of eight novels.
Her agents are Coombs Moylett MacLean, 120 New Kings Road, Fulham, London SW6 4LZ.