In November 2013, while out walking, I spotted this gate to a house on the Blackrock Road and was intrigued with the name – Woods Gift
I wondered as to who Mr. or Ms. Woods might have been and who the beneficiary was. For a few moments, I contemplated waiting outside at certain times to ask those in residence.
A few months later I read of a place in Co. Kilkenny called Woodsgift. I then presumed that the house was named after this town and was so glad that I had not embarked on a stalking mission.
That neatly filed away theory was blown apart last weekend. The Irish Examiner property supplement had a feature on the house which is now for sale which stated that there was a Captain John Woods who gifted the property to a Mr. Pope Grey (or maybe Gray).
“First occupied in the 1830s by the Woods family, it was bequethed by a Captain John Woods who died aged in his 90s without heirs, and it was left to his friend Pope Grey and to pass in turn to his children — hence the appendix ‘Gift’ to this Woods home. A descendent, Paul J Madden, was a Lord Mayor of Cork city in the mid-1880s.
The article, however, did raise some curiosity and doubts.
The first Lord Mayor of Cork was Daniel J Hegarty in 1900 – Paul J Madden may have been Mayor of Cork, but not Lord Mayor.
Then there was a while studying the photographs and whether there was an apostrophe before the ‘S’ which would have meant a Mr. Wood and not Mr. Woods – but I suspect that these are markings in the stone rather than apostrophe.
While these sub-editing induced doubts were floating about, I went web searching and found that the base motto, Praestare et prodesse, was that of the Gray family – supporting the Irish Examiner. But Pope Gray’s wife was Mary Davies. The Davies crest is not similar to the left half of the crest over the door.
Vivamus In Tomore Dei translates as Live in Fear of God which may be consistent with Pope Gray’s son being Reverend Rowland Davies Gray who married Jane Townsend – but the crest is also not that of Townsend.
I suspect that I will be flicking through the web to try to match that other half – possibly listening to the Cistercian chant, In Timore Dei.
I was reading today’s update from Stair na hÉireann as to what happened on this day in history and they mentioned that Katherine Cecil Thurston (née Madden) was born in Cork on this day, in 1875.
This name was new to me and I wondered as to whether there was a plaque to her somewhere.
My web searching treated me like a nail, hitting me straight with the comment that ‘often forgotten today, was a highly popular and successful writer of short stories and novels at the beginning of the twentieth century’. She ‘had two books simultaneously on the New York Times best seller list in 1905, the first time any author had achieved such a feat’.
It revealed that she was born at Woods Gift in 1875. She died of asphyxia in her hotel room at 13 Morrisons Island, also in Cork city, in 1911, one month before she was due to remarry.
I suspect that I will be requesting a book from the City Library – to find out more. Even a walk through St Joseph’s Cemetery might be prompted.