Adelaide Blake was the third daughter of Nicholas Mahon Power, landlord of Faithlegg from 1819 to 1873. His youngest child, she was forty before she married John A Blake MP. Part of her legacy was the establishment of the Reading Rooms, Cheekpoint and the stained glass window behind the altar at Faithlegg Church. Their story is a love story of the Victorian era and the strict conventions of the time.
Adelaide was the fifth and youngest child of Nicholas and Margaret Mahon Power who moved to Faithlegg in 1819. Adelaide would have grown up in the area and she was schooled like all the children, at least initially, in the school room which is now a dining suite at Faithlegg House Hotel.
John Aloysius Blake was born in Waterford City (Gladstone St) the son of a merchant and landowner, and the family home was in O’Connell St. Blake was elected to a position of mayor in 1855 when he was not yet thirty and was reappointed to the position for three years running. The current people’s park in Waterford was constructed during his time, and thanks to his foresight.
In 1857 he was elected to parliament in Westminster as a liberal, and represented the city until 1869. He stood down at this point as he was appointed as Inspector of Fisheries. He served in this position until 1874 when the government of Gladstone fell. He seems to have taken to his duties with some energy and was an ardent supporter of an Irish fishing industry (something we have never had much vision around at official level). Following this, he represented the county from 1880-1884 and finally he represented Carlow from 1886-87 cut short by his untimely demise. An obituary at the time gives a sense of his passing.
I don’t know when John and Adelaide first met but it could have been at Faithlegg at one of the many balls that it was fashionable to attend in this era. It could also have been at any of the fine houses that were sited in the city and county. Mind you it could just have easily been in Dublin, where Adelaide’s mother hailed from, or perhaps the summer season in London, to which all the upper classes aspired, and to which Adelaide doubtless belonged.
|Adelaide Blake nee Power|
In any case the two fell in love and courted for many years. However, Nicholas Mahon Power was not pleased with his daughters suitor and refused any marriage proposals. It was not until her father died in 1873, that her brother Patrick, following a period of mourning, consented to allow the marriage to take place.
Adelaide was 40 years old (8 years younger than John A) when the two were wed and lived in Dublin or London, depending on her husbands schedule. At the time the age was too great for children to be considered. It must have come as quite a shock for her to loose her husband in his 61st year in 1877. He died in London and it was there that Adelaide had him buried, in Kensal Green Cemetery marking his grave with a Celtic cross. The stained glass in the Faithlegg Church (which her father had built circa 1823) was also commissioned and installed by Adelaide in his memory.
|Stained glass at Altar of Faithlegg Church|
Adelaide continued to live in Dublin but was a regular visitor to the Faithlegg area according to locals. She resided at Temple Hill in Dublin and one of her interests seems to have been historical studies and she was a member of the The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland in 1896 and again in 1900.
She finally died herself on 20th Feb 1911 in her 77th year. Her lasting legacy to the area is not just the stained glass window or indeed her name on a meeting room in Faithlegg House Hotel, but also the Reading Room in Cheekpoint, which I’ve described before. There a copy of her obituary hangs on the wall, as does her portrait.
Most of the information used in this piece is drawn from the work of Julian Walton’s On This Day Vol 1 pp 204-5. Thanks also to Pat Murphy Cheekpoint for much of the local information.