Bawnboy and Templeport
History Heritage Folklore
a by Chris Maguire


John O'Donovan, one of the greatest Irish scholars of the 19th century explains the name Owengallees as 'abhainn gallaois', rocky river. In the early nineteenth century there was a gentleman's seat near the north of the townland called Cottage, the residence of a Mr. Loather (or Lauder). In 1830 the townland was held by Mr. McGuinly from the Primate, Lord Beresford. It contained 471 acres of which 60 were bog and 102 were water. Many of the tenants of that time gave their address as Cottage in the parish baptismal records.

The next family to occupy the townland was that of George Henry L'Estrange. It was this family who built Owendoon House from stones quarried in their own land. George L'Estrange died in 1870, his wife in 1874 and their only son Henry George in 1877.

The Hunt family was the next to live in Owendoon. Edward L. Hunt J.P. and his wife Charlotte Augusta had two daughters Maria and Augusta, and a son V.E. Hunt. Edward L. became a member of Bawnboy Board of Guardians in 1891. Maria married a Captain Johnstone, a marriage which was never a success, and the Captain left Owendoon. Maria was well known and respected in the area. She rode a horse to do her shopping in Bawnboy and in later years changed over to a bicycle. The son of the family, V.E. Hunt was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway from 1918 until his death in 1922.

Augusta spent some time in Birmingham where she became Mrs. Wardell and had a family of three, two sons and a daughter. Later on she returned to Owendoon. She is remembered for her book 'Folk tales of Breffny', based on stories she heard from one of the farm workers by the name of Dolan. Her pen name was Bunda Hunt. In her book, she relates some of the stories, as far as she could remember them, which she heard from Old Man Dolan. He told her he had ‘more learning nor the scholars.’ ‘The likes of them do be filled with conceit out of books and the most of it only nonsense; ‘tis myself has the real old knowledge that was handed down from the ancient times’.

As a seven-year-old child, Augusta Hunt (Bunda) had listened to the stories of the old man as he broke stones for the lime kiln. ‘I promise, you will walk the world like a Queen of ancient days renowned for learning and wit’, he assured her, delighted to find a listener at last. The seven-year-old child could not remember all those stories, so most of his lore died with him.

Bunda Hunt died at Owendoon in 1951, and had been attended by Nurse Bridget Cullen, Kilsob. Her comment on life in Ireland is worth quoting. “Superstition in a race is merely the proof of imagination, the people lacking fairy lore must also lack intelligence and wit.” Her words ensure her of a special place in the hearts of the people among whom she lived.

Maria Hunt (Mrs. Captain Johnstone) signed over Owendoon to her nephew, one of Mrs. Wardell's sons but he was electrocuted by an electric appliance. The second son was then nominated as heir but his wife died and he never took up residence in Owendoon. Later on the Irish Land Commission took over the place and most of the land was given to the local farmers. A Monaghan family with the intention of development bought the house and some land, but plans had to be abandoned.

Cyril and Margery Cross bought Owendoon House in 1986 from Mrs. Matthews of Monaghan as a retirement home. The house at that time had been empty for twelve years. There was no electricity, water, septic tank or other amenities. The house was renovated and electricity and plumbing installed. At the end of December 1989 Mr. Cross died. In 1990 Margery Cross decided to use the house as a retreat centre. She had been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for fifteen years at that time. She asked her teacher Ven Panchen Otrul Rinpoche, who was a Tibetan Lama, to become the Spiritual Director of the retreat centre. He agreed, giving it the name of Jampa Ling. Jampa Ling is Tibetan and means 'a place of much love and kindness'.

In 1991 Jampa Ling became a charitable trust. Since that time Owendoon House has become a place of refuge for many people. It is used by people of all religious faiths for retreats and spiritual renewal. Periodically, courses are run in the house on the teachings of the Buddha, meditation and other subjects.

Jampa Ling, Buddhist Retreat Centre

Jampa Ling
A Buddhist Retreat Centre in Owengallees, Bawnboy. A place of much love and kindness.


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