On Thursday 7 of June 2001, Christie's of New York sold a stained glass window by Tiffany's for $391,000. This window is a particular interest to Dungarvan area as it depicts a thatched cottage at Ballyduffmore, the home of the Lynch family. The window measures 56½ x 84 inches and is signed 'Tiffany Studios'. In response to a query from Christie's, Waterford County Museum decided to find out what information was available on the Lynch family and whether the cottage depicted was still standing. Our research revealed the following details:
An undated newspaper article from the Dungarvan Observer or Leader titled: 'Interesting Family Tree' sheds some light on the house featured in the Tiffany Window, it refers to the recent death of Clay Frick Lynch at his home in "Ballyduff", Greensburg, Pennsylvania and his links with "his cousins the Lynch family who still reside at Ballyduff, Dungarvan". Clay Lynch was the grandson of Patrick Lynch, who was, according to the newspaper cutting born at Ballyduff in 1822. He married in 1850 and emigrated to America where he died in 1910. Griffith's Valuation of property 1851 records the two Lynch homesteads at Ballyduff Beg and Ballyduff More. (The stained glass window depicts the thatched house at Ballyduff More.) In Griffith's Valuation 1851 this house situated on 3 acres was occupied by John Lynch (it is unclear whether John is the father or relative of Patrick) and the valuation of the property and land was £4 and 15 shillings. He also held 16 acres on the opposite side of the road valued at £15 and 15 shillings. The two lots were leased from a local landlord, Edward Odell of Carriglea House. ( The Odell family sold their estate in 1895 but the Lynch property at Ballyduff More was not included, so it must have been sold prior to this date.).
The newspaper clipping states that Clay Frick Lynch contacted his cousin John Lynch at Ballyduff Beg in 1944 in order to compile a family tree. He found that Clay Frick Lynch's great-grandfather, John, was christened on 22 November 1788. This must be the John listed in Griffith's Valuation, who would have been in his early 60's in 1851.
The 1841 ordnance survey map shows the Lynch house. The 1927 ordnance survey map shows that the Lynch house was gone and a stone schoolhouse had replaced it. This school house was in ruins until recently but has now been restored as a private residence. The Lynch family are still represented in the area. Mr. John Lynch (cousin) lives just a few fields away at Ballyduff Beg.
Clay Lynch's father, Thomas Lynch (born in 1854, at Uniontown in Pennsylvania), acquired the Greensburg Seminary, and demolished the buildings. In 1905 he built a new colonial style residence on the site. The home was designed by Ruton and Russell architects of Pittsburgh and was completed in 1907. Thomas commissioned a stained glass window from Tiffany's to light the landing. As general manager Thomas ran Henry Clay Frick's coal and coke operations in the Connellsville coal district of Pennsylvania. In the course of his career Lynch reached a level of success on a par with other powerful Industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie. Lynch was in control of the Frick company during some of the most infamous events in the history of the mining industry in America: The Mammoth Mine Disaster of 1891, in which 109 miners were killed in an explosion in one of the Frick company mines and the Moorewood mine riot in which a labour strike was put down violently, resulting in the death of nine workers. Lynch took these tragedies very seriously, and for the rest of his life he strove to improve the safety and working conditions of his miners. Lynch is credited with having coined the phrase "Safety First", and he had safety guidelines (these were printed in different languages for the immigrant workers) posted at all the mine sites. Thomas died in 1914 and after his wife's death in 1922 their son Thomas acquired the home. He lived there until 1945 when he sold it to the Coal Operators Casualty Company. It was at this time that the stained glass window was removed presumably by Thomas. The window was moved to a country house in Rockwood, Pennsylvania, belonging to Col. John W. Stiteler, a prominent business man in the coal industry. The house was subsequently owned by a Pittsburgh attorney, his widow later sold the house.
Waterford County Museum would like to thank Margo Kehoe and Christie's New York for their assistance with this article.
Author: Willie Fraher