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Spectacles Grady and Belmont House
Belmont House (now Riverbrook Nursing Home) is noted for being the residence of Thomas Grady, a member of the Irish Bar, scholar and satirical poet of much acclaim.
He was known as Spectacles Grady, because of his short-sightedness and was renowned for his wit at many a local gathering. Unfortunately, however, the failure of his marriage soured his outlook on life and he retired from the Bar and became a bitter recluse. His merciless wit was reflected in his writing, and eventually it was this great talent that led to his downfall.
Following a serious disagreement with his banker, George Evans Bruce, who lived in neighbouring Hermitage House at the time, Grady wrote and published a satirical poem entitled The Nosegay.
It was described as one of the most bitter and savage satires in the English language and poured scorn on the character of George Bruce. The lengthy poem caused a sensation, the first edition quickly sold out and a second edition issued. Bruce quickly took out a libel action against Grady claiming damages of £20,000. At the trial of 1816, held at Limerick Court, Bruce won but the court awarded him a mere £500. Refusing to pay the damages, or perhaps unable to, Grady fled to France and died in Bordeaux in 1863.
Belmont House had a number of owners in the following years, but in 1945 it came to prominence once again.
The sisters of the Presentation Order who lived in the adjacent Woodlands House (now Castle Oaks House Hotel) purchased Belmont House and converted it into a secondary school for girls. It was renamed Rosary Hill, and became a thriving educational institution for more than two decades. At its peak it had 160 girls on the roll books, both boarding and day pupils. However, with no funding available from Government or other sources, the school’s facilities fell behind other centres of education and, in 1977, the sisters were forced to close its doors.
Belmont House was purchased a year later and turned into a nursing home.