Events at Dromana House

Sunday 7th May





Guest speakers:

Aurelia Young –  ‘Churchill’s Favourite Sculptor’

The unconventional life of Oscar Nemon; husband of Patricia Villiers-Stuart and friend of Winston Churchill


This talk about Nemon’s life and work focuses on his relationship with Churchill and is illustrated by Nemon’s busts of his many famous sitters.

Nemon met Churchill in Marrakech in 1951 and became in Martin Gilbert’s words ‘Churchill’s Favourite Sculptor’ and a family friend.

Nemon sculpted many of Churchill’s friends – Lady Violet Bonham Carter, The Queen, the Queen Mother and Lord Alexander of Tunis.’

It will also explore the love affair between Nemon and Patricia Villiers-Stuart and childhood memories of visiting Dromana when Aurelia was a child.


Aurelia is the daughter of Patricia Villiers-Stuart, whose father Patrick Villiers-Stuart, spent his childhood at Dromana.

Aurelia has been researching and giving talks about her father, the sculptor Oscar Nemon, for the past ten years. She has lectured in the UK, Brussels, Paris, Zagreb, Israel and America.

Aurelia also gives lectures on her life as a political wife. She is married to Lord Young of Cookham who was a Conservative MP from 1974-2015


Mark Leslie – ‘The Prime Minister’s Speech’


In 1895 the Sligo born Democrat Congressman W Bourke Cockran was on holiday in Paris, when his bicycle fatefully tangled with that of Jenny Jerome, the American widow of Lord Randolph Churchill. In the aftermath of their affair, Jenny sent her 19-year old son Winston to spend six months with Cockran in her native New York. At that time the maverick politician was America’s greatest orator. He treated Winston as the son he never had.

In later years Winston credited his mentor with all his best political principles. He also acknowledged that the ‘silver tongued Irishman’ had taught him

“ to use my voice as a musical scale of the human emotions.

How to hold thousands in thrall. I owe him everything.”

Sadly Cockran did not live to see his young protégé’s speechmaking change the destiny of mankind. He died in 1923 aged 69. In 1912 Marjory Ide, the sister of Cockran’s wife Anne, lost her fiancee on the Titanic. Winston’s first cousin Shane Leslie was a postulant priest.

Cockran sent for him to give the grieving Marjory spiritual comfort. 

Overcome by her beauty Shane proposed. Taking full responsibility for this unexpected outcome, the childless Cockran adopted Shane and Marjory Leslie’s three children as his heirs.


Mark Leslie is a ‘narrative architect’ from Monaghan who designs immersive interactive exhibitions.

His Dublin based firm, Martello Media created the ‘Churchill and His Allies’ exhibit in the Cabinet War Rooms and in 2012 ‘Churchill – The Power of Words’- the best attended exhibition in the history of New York’s Morgan Library.

In 2016 Martello developed in parallel the ‘Apprentice Boys Siege Museum’ in Derry and the ‘GPO Witness History Visitor Centre’ in Dublin.


Peter Murray – ‘Whatever is to be is written: the life and art of  Clare Sheridan.’


A talented sculptor who spent much of her life in Ireland, including teenage years in Inishannon, Co. Cork, Clare Sheridan (1885-1970) lived a full and adventurous life. A cousin of Winston Churchill (her mother was American and a sister of Lady Randolph Churchill), Sheridan took up sculpting after the death in 1914 of her infant daughter Elizabeth, for whom she created a memorial. Widowed during the Great War, she began to travel extensively, earning a living through portraiture and also through journalism. Published in the 1920’s, Sheridan’s diaries, travel journals and novels, including From Mayfair to MoscowStella Defiant and My American Diary, brought her fame and notoriety. The leaders of the Bolshevik revolution invited her to Moscow, where she created portraits of Lenin and Trotsky, while in the United States, where she travelled from coast to coast and into Mexico, Charlie Chaplin was a close friend and also the subject of a portrait. Living a free and independent life, Sheridan was considered daring and bohemian by conventional society; her friendship with Russian leaders also brought official disapproval as western democracies struggled to maintain their capitalist systems against the rise of Socialism. The death of her son Richard in North Africa in 1937 was another blow to Sheridan and she spent many of the latter years of her life in Galway, where she became a devout Catholic, creating religious sculptures for monasteries and churches.  Her portraits include busts of Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill, Lev Kamenev, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Charlie Chaplin. Her journalistic career was equally extensive and included interviews with Michael Collins and Rory O’Connor.


An art historian and curator, Peter Murray has published extensively on Irish and international art, ranging from the seventeenth century to the present. Co-editor of Volume V of the recent Yale University Press encyclopaedic Art and Architecture of Ireland, he has served on many boards and committees, including chairing the Council of National Cultural Institutions. He was firstly curator, then director of the Crawford Art Gallery, a post from which he has recently retired.


Dr. Martin- Mansergh -‘Dev and Churchill: Conflicting Perspectives on Ireland’s Place in British-Irish Relations’


‘My earliest memories are Ireland’, Churchill wrote in 1930, recalling his early boyhood, in the Phoenix Park, where his father Lord Randolph acted as secretary to the Lord Lieutenant the Duke of Marlborough. De Valera came back to Ireland as a small boy to the opposite end of the social spectrum, his uncle’s farm labourer’s cottage. Both supported Home Rule and had short military careers. While Churchill never wanted or fully accepted Ireland as an independent state before 1949, de Valera became the foremost political champion of full sovereign status. In 1922, Churchill as Dominions Secretary backed Collins insofar as he was prepared to implement the Treaty settlement, and effectively faced down de Valera. Later, when out of office, he watched in frustration, as de Valera dismantled Treaty restrictions and recovered the ports, and deeply resented Irish wartime neutrality. De Valera withstood all political and economic pressures to change Ireland’s position, but there were some nervous moments. There was a famous exchange between them about great power necessities versus the rights of small nations at the end of World War II.  Churchill’s ideal vision of Ireland was represented by the courage of its VCs. Churchill in the late 1940s warmed to some degree to Ireland’s social conservatism in contrast to Britain’s transformation under the post-war Labour Government. They finally met and had dinner in Downing Street in 1953. They still had their differences, but much of the passion was spent. Their legacy to British-Irish relations will also be considered.


Dr. Martin Mansergh is Vice-Chair of the Government-appointed Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations. Between 2002 and 2011, he served as a Senator, TD (for Tipperary South), then as Minister of State for the OPW, Finance and the Arts. He was a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body till 2008, and the Council of State during President Mary McAleese’s second term between 2004 and 2011. Former diplomat, then political advisor to Taoisigh Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds, and Bertie Ahern, he was a back-channel then negotiator during the peace process. Author of The Legacy of History for making peace in Ireland, and co-winner of the 1994 Tipperary Peace Prize. Kevin Rafter published a biography in 2002. Between 2002 and 2006, he was a columnist first with the Sunday Business Post, and the Irish Times. He is currently a monthly columnist with the Irish Catholic, a trustee of Carlow College, and is a member of the board of History Ireland. He is son of the Irish and Commonwealth historian Nicholas Mansergh, and obtained a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and a doctorate at Oxford University. He is married to Elizabeth, with four daughters and one son, and eight grandchildren.



11.00 – 11.30:  AURELIA YOUNG: ‘Churchill’s Favourite Sculptor: The unconventional life of Oscar Nemon; husband of Patricia Villiers-Stuart and friend of Winston Churchill’

11.30 – 12.00:   MARK LESLIE: ‘The Prime Minister’s Speech’

12.00 – 12.30:   DISCUSSION

12.30 – 14.00:   LUNCH

14.00 – 14.30:   PETER MURRAY: ‘Whatever is to be is written: the life and art of Clare Sheridan’

14.30 – 15.00:   MARTIN MANSERGH Ph.D: ‘Dev and Churchill: Conflicting Perspectives on Ireland’s Place in British-Irish Relations’

15.00 – 15.30:   DISCUSSION

15.30:               CONCLUSION AND TEA

Booking essential places limited: email Tel: 024 96144 or 086 8186305

Morning Coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and seminar €70 pp or two for €125