This stately, elegant old home rests quietly beside Sydney Harbour. When it was built, it was deep in the bush. It has a most interesting history.
One of its owners was an Irish Knight, who used his position to kidnap an heiress with whom he had fallen in love. He became a convict first and then an Australian citizen.
As is fitting, the limerick weaves us through part of the story.
Truth is surely stranger than fiction!!
Sir Henry Brown Hayes
Sir Henry Brown Hayes spent his early days
As the Captain of South Cork Militia.
His loved one, an heiress, whose skin was the fairest
But with whom he was far from familiar.
In desperate fashion, he displayed his passion
By taking her prisoner, one day.
To prove nothing sinister, he brought in a Minister
And a wedding ring, offered right ‘way.
The lovely Miss Pike, (who felt nothing a’like
For the presumptuous Sir Henry Brown Hayes,)
Flung the ring at him, summonsed and gaoled him;
Transported to Sydney to spend all his days.
A model of prisoners, he made it his business
To settle in Sydney upon his release.
A cottage of stone, he built for his home:
From a valley in France, chose the name “Vaucluse.”
Sir Henry’s life takes a bad turn, when some snakes
Invaded his lovely new home.
The answer, he knew, was a shipment or two:
Five hundred barrels of Irish loam.
To keep out a snake, a trench it would take,
A metre wide and nearly as deep.
With physical toil, filled with Irish soil
He figured his mansion, “snakeless” would keep.
While many were sceptic, of Hayes’ Irish soil “trick”
It seemed old St Patrick was right on the mark:
For, all the snakes vanished – ’twas as if they’d been banished,
And Hayes lived happy, at Vaucluse Park.
© – Dennis Scanlon