Bourke of Hayes House

Hayes is situated to the east of Navan, not far from Yellow Furze and Beau Parc. Casey and Rowan describe Hayes as an attractive smaller country house from about 1770. The porch dates to the nineteenth century.  A large white marble chimneypiece was brought to Hayes from Sommerville House.  Gardens and pleasure grounds surrounded the rough cut stone, two storey, over basement house.

The Bourke family, whose head was the Earl of Mayo, held the estate of Hayes.  In 1781 John Bourke was created Viscount Mayo of Moneycrower and in 1785 Earl of Mayo. The seat of the Earls of Mayo was Palmerstown House, Naas, County Kildare.  In 1876 the Earl of Mayo owned 559 acres in county Mayo, 4915 acres in county Kildare and 2360 acres in county Meath.  In 1836 Haystown Demesne was the seat of R. Bourke.  The house was described as being in the north of the townland and being a good dwelling house. Henry Lorton Bourke, seventh son of Robert Bourke, 5th Earl of Mayo, lived at Hayes.  Born in 1840 he married Constance Una Elizabeth Lambart of Beau Parc.

He died in 1911 and was succeeded by Henry Legge-Bourke. Henry was born 1889, the only son of Sir Henry Legge and his wife Amy Gwendoline Lambart, daughter of Gustavus Lambart of Beauparc. Henry assumed the name when he succeeded to the estates of Henry Bourke of Hayes and assumed the name Bourke in 1911.  Their son, Nigel Walter Henry Legge-Bourke was killed in action 30 October 1914 during the First World War.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke his son, Major Sir Edward Alexander Henry Legge-Bourke was born on 16 May 1914. Queen Alexandra was sponsor at his baptism.  Known as Harry Legge-Bourke, he held the office of Page-of-Honour to HM King George V between 1924 and 1930.  He fought in the Second World War and served as Aide-de-Camp to the Ambassador to Egypt between 1941 and 1944.  After the war he became a Conservative M.P.  In all the twenty eight years he spent in the House of Commons he never spoke a word.

Conor Brennan recalled that when Harry Bourke stayed at Hayes, he was a bit of a tyrant and the local clergyman said it was a disgrace the language he shouted at decent people.  In the early 1960s the Legge-Bourke family decided to sell Hayes and the Land Commission acquired the lands.

His grand-daughter, 'Tiggy' Legge-Bourke was nanny, later companion, to Princes William and Harry and a personal assistant to Prince Charles from 1993 to 1999.  Princess Diana did not like Tiggy and even accused her wrongly of having an affair with Prince Charles.

Colonel Stephen Hill Dillon was tenant at Hayes in the mid-twentieth century.  The Colonel kept a stable of racehorses.  One of his horses, 'Yellow Furze', won the Galway Plate in 1935.  The Colonel sold Devon Loch, the horse which fell in the Grand National.  The Queen Mother's Devon Loch sprawled spectacularly 50 yards from the post in the Grand National of 1956. Jockey Dick Francis subsequently went on to become one of the most prolific thriller writers of all time.  The mystery of why the horse stopped has never been solved but has led to many theories.  Devon Loch was trained at Hayes House before being sold.  Devon Loch ran twice as a five-year old, both outings in January 1951.  Lord Bicester selected and bought Devon Loch for the Queen Mother.  The chief work rider at Hayes is said to have recalled that the horse had sprawled on a rideout shortly before the horse went to England.  When Hayes was sold in the 1960s the Hill-Dillon family left.



The Tablet, 16 June 1849: THE EARLDOM of MAYO

The title is not extinct, but devolves on Robert Bourke, Esq., of Hayes, Navan, who is now the Right Hon. the Earl of Mayo; and his eldest son, Richard Southwell Bourke, Esq., M.P. for Kildare, is now Viscount Naas.  The present Earl is married to a grand daughter of the late Earl of Roden, and has issue seven sons and one daughter.