Anglo-Irish peer steeped in Catholicism
PETER EVANS-FREKE:PETER RALFE Harrington Evans-Freke, the 11th Baron Carbery, who has died aged 92, had his last wish fulfilled when he was entombed in the ancient family vault of Castle Freke, a spectacular ruin overlooking the Atlantic in west Cork.
One of the few members of the Anglo-Irish peerage whose life has been steeped in Catholicism, he was educated at Downside, a Benedictine public school in Somerset, generally regarded by English Catholics as the equivalent of Eton or Harrow. In a marriage that spanned over six decades, Lord Carbery and his late wife, Joyzelle, an Australian, were frequent visitors to Lourdes.
The immediacy of his religious belief was reflected in the insignia of the Knights of Malta, the most important of the military orders of the Catholic Church, and by the simple offering of a rosary beads placed on his coffin for the Tridentine Mass at nearby Rathbarry Church.
His deep devotion to the church was matched by a love of music and poetry and he was, as his son John described him in the eulogy, an “incurable romantic”. He also had a deep interest in agriculture and was a director of an equine and livestock insurance group.
He succeeded his uncle in the peerage and baronetcy on December 25th, 1970. Reviving a centuries-old tradition, his remains were carried up the wooded avenue in a 19th-century horse-drawn hearse to the family vault and entombed next to Lady Carbery, who had been laid to rest there when she died in 2006, the first time the crypt of the ruined chapel at Castle Freke had been opened since 1852. Following his wife’s death, he remarried and he and his wife Elisabeth, the present Lady Carbery, had happy years together.
The family link with west Cork goes back to the early 17th century and the title was created in 1752 for his ancestor John Evans-Freke. The records show that by the 1870s, the estates of Lord Carbery extended over 13,692 acres in Co Cork, 2,724 acres in Co Limerick and included smaller estates in Kilkenny and Queen’s County, now Laois.
The link was temporarily broken, however, when the estate was sold by John, Lord Carbery, in 1919. It also embraced Rathbarry Castle, overlooking Rosscarbery Bay, the original seat of the Freke family, which had been burned in 1642 to prevent the McCarthys from making use of it following a 10-month siege by the clan.
The property has since been regained by his son Stephen, whose restoration of Rathbarry Castle and ongoing work at Castle Freke have been a labour of love.
Lord Carbery was an engineer by profession and veteran of the second World War. He saw action behind enemy lines as a captain with the Royal Engineers in India and Burma where he destroyed Japanese infrastructure.
He is survived by his wife Elisabeth, Lady Carbery; sons Michael (heir to the title), John and Stephen; and daughters Maura and Angela.
Baron Carbery: born March 20th, 1920; died July 28th 2012