#OTD in 1923 – Anti-Treaty IRA men burn the home of Free State Senator John Philip Bagwell at Marlfield, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, including the extensive library built up by his father, historian Richard Bagwell.

The Bagwells of Marlfield could trace their arrival in Ireland to John Bagwell (Backwell), a captain in Cromwell’s New Model Army. Marlfield House was the residence of the Bagwells, a wealthy and politically influential Irish Unionist family in south Tipperary from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

It is located about three kilometres west of the town of Clonmel on the northern bank of the River Suir. It was built by John Bagwell in 1785. The main entrance gate, considered of exceptional quality, was designed by the local architect William Tinsley and the conservatory by Richard Turner.

Bagwell was general manager of Ireland’s Great Northern Railways (GNR) between 1911 and 1926. He became an independent member of Seanad Éireann in the Irish Free State in 1922, and held that office until 1936.

During the Irish Civil War he was kidnapped and held hostage by Anti-Treaty forces in the Dublin Mountains. The Free State government responded by issuing a proclamation to the effect that if Bagwell were not safely released, reprisals would be taken.

Bagwell, however, maintained that he escaped his captors through his own efforts and his safe release could not be attributed to these threats. At around the same time, the family residence at Marlfield house was severely damaged in an arson attack by Anti-Treaty forces. The fire destroyed the library and historical papers of historian Richard Bagwell.

Image | Marlfield House | Marlfield, Clonmel, Co Tipperary | Nicola Barnett | Flickr

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