Maybe I'm unfair. Another "Big House" grandee who took off for Britain at independence had every reason to do so. Sir Charles Barrington is principally celebrated for having codified rugby in Ireland while a student at Trinity College Dublin. He lived a life not untypical of his class in late 19th and early 20th century Ireland - dabbled in local politics, provided administrative service - justice of the peace, high sheriff and so on - patronized the hospital founded by his grandfather, led the freemasons, and the like. In 1921, his daughter Winefred was shot dead by the IRA: she was travelling with the intended victim, a Black and Tans major named Henry Biggs; he survived the attack. The Barringtons had also been in Ireland a long time. The first baronet, Joseph, was born in Limerick in 1764. After the death of Winefred, Charles left for England and did not return. Even as he departed, he offered his home to the new Irish state as a residence for the governor-general: the generous offer was declined on cost grounds, and the house eventually became the site of a Benedictine community, Glenstal Abbey. The New York Times report of Winefred's death - is a compendium of the appalling bloodshed that took place at the time, just one killing among many. But it's still very poignant, a story of a family lost to us.
Alongside the sad stories today are plenty of remarkable characters. Richard Barrett was a campaigning journalist who managed to alienate pretty well everyone: the nationalist paper he edited, The Pilot was dubbed "a torpid viper which only awoke to inflict a wound". The author of that slur - a fellow-nationalist - was later denounced by him to the British authorities against whom Barrett had campaigned. We had John Asgill, the "eccentric writer" a few days ago. Today we have Jacky Barrett, the "eccentric scholar". A fellow of Trinity College Dublin and distinguished Hebrew scholar, it was said that he was so unworldly that he could not identify a sheep. Filthy and cheap, he had managed to save £80,000 - a colossal sum - by the time of his death in 1821. He left the money to "the hungry" and "the naked".
Then there was Charles Barrington - the epitome of the old-style gentleman adventurer. He was the first recorded climber to reach the summit of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps, in 1858 (pictured - it's been hard to find portraits today). He decided to do it as a lark, and took the route that the local experts expressly advised against. He was nearly caught in an avalanche on the way down, and went straight home to Ireland since he had run out of money. Later he trained the winning horse in the first Irish Grand National. Quite a man.