The oldest record in Nantenan House states that Nantenan was granted to the Royce family by Queen Anne in 1707. It remained with the Royce family until 1853, when Lieutenant Colonel John White purchased Nantenan under the encumbered estate act. The estate comprised of a house and 145 acres, two roods and nineteen perches. The purchase price was £3,800. He pulled down the old house and built the present house on the same site in circa 1848.

The contract was for twenty-one months but John White died shortly before its completion, so his son John P White was the first to occupy the house. He married Emily Mc Mahon.

Their son Captain JJ married Dorothea Conyers, widow of Colonel Conyers (Royal Irish Fusiliers). Dora, as she was known to her family and friends was a writer of some distinction. She wrote mainly hunting novels. The ‘Thorn Bit and The Boy’, ‘Some Horses and a Girl’, are two of her better known books. It is said that Dora started the fashion of wearing britches while horse riding. She claimed that the west Limerick countryside was too thorny for riding side saddle with the traditional long skirt.

Captain John died in 1940 and is buried in Cappagh churchyard. Dora died in 1949 and is buried in St Mary’s in Limerick. John had no family.

In his will, he left Nantenan to Lieutenant Colonel Martin William Helenus (Bill). Bill in his turn left it to his nephew Simon who with his family, reside there today.

White, John P (1840-1892), Landed Gentry

John Patrick White, son of John White and his wife, Eleanor Irwin, was born Nantenan House, Cappagh, Co. Limerick, in 1840. He joined the British army and served overseas, reaching the rank of Lt Colonel. He married Emily McMahon in 1861 and they had a family of four boys (John, Jasper, Thomas and William) and three girls Mary (died unmarried in London on 27 September, 1910), Aileen and Emily. Over the following decades, John continued a policy, initiated by his father, of increasing, through purchase, the size of the estate, to the extent that it occupied 2,447 acres in 1876. He retained his Catholic religion and was a generous patron of the Cappagh parish. His son, Thomas, became a Jesuit priest, while his daughters, Eileen and Emily, joined the Sisters of the Holy Child in England. Family tradition says that the private oratory, still to be seen in Nantenan House, was built by John P White, so that, technically, the house would have the same religious facilities as a convent. This made it possible for his two daughters to live at home during their visits from their convent in England. Otherwise, they would have to lodge overnight in the Mercy Convent, Rathkeale, and confine themselves to day visits to Nantenan.

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