THE woman who saved one of the oldest – and most eccentric – Irish
aristocratic titles from extinction has died.
Dublin-born Lady (Joyzelle) Carbery was 85 when she fell at her home.
Despite five months extensive treatment in a London hospital for the
head injury she sustained, she never recovered.
She was buried at a centuries-old family plot in west Cork near the
Carbery family’s Rathbarry Castle – which was the scene of the longest
ever siege in Irish history.
Lady Carbery is survived by her husband, the 11th Baron – whose uncle
was linked to one of the most notorious murders of the last century –
and the couple‘s three sons and two daughters.
The family Carbery faced running out of heirs to a title that dates back
to the 1700s until her marriage in 1941 to the current Lord Carbery.
He is a nephew of the larger-than-life 10th Baron, who renounced his
title and changed his name to John Carberry in 1920 after a row with his
A personal friend of Michael Collins, Carberry was a member of a
notoriously debauched group of colonial ex-pat aristocrats who inspired
the 1987 film White Mischief.
After a colourful life that included being deported from America for
bootlegging, spells in a Kenyan prison and a variety of pioneering
flying exploits, the three-times married peer died in 1970 without an heir.
But not only did the 11th Lord Carberry’s late wife produce three sons,
one – the youngest – is now restoring the Carbery family’s two historic
Cork castles at Castlefreke and Rathbarry which are among historic
family property that he started buying back six years ago.
In complete contrast to his predecessor, the current baron has lived a
life of what one family friend described as “quiet enterprise”.
His youngest son, the Hon Stephen Ralfe Evans-Freke – who runs a
pharmaceutical company in America – said last night: “My mother did not
like flash or trash and instead preferred people who were subtle about
the way they went about their business.
“She was a very private person and devoted her life to raising a family.
“The contrasts between the two sides of the Carbery family couldn‘t have
been more marked and in many respects represent the pre and post-war
changes to the aristocracy.
“If it wasn’t for my mother, our long family line was going to die out.”
Lord Carbery, an 86-year-old World War II veteran who is currently
writing a history about the family, added: “My wife was devoted to her
family and pretty much had her hands full with five children, 12
grand-children and seven great-grandchildren.
“Despite being treated brilliantly in hospital, she just never got over
“It happened when she fell out of bed and hit her head.
“She was buried in Ireland because – although she did not visit as much
as she would have hoped to – we felt it was the most appropriate thing
“She loved the softer, more human side of Ireland and it’s where her
Also titled the 7th Baronet, Sir Peter Ralfe Harrington Evans-Freke –
one of Lord Carbery’s claims to fame was helping manufacture space suits
worn by the first animals sent into space and the first men to land on
However it was his uncle, the 10th Baron who blazed a trail that earned
the Carbery name – motto “Liberty” – considerable notoriety.
During the First World War, he was a pilot with the Royal Navy Air
Service and flew into battle with his own private butler.
He sold the family’s Castlefreke castle in 1919 after a row with his
mother over the first of his three wives – who had earlier divorced him
on grounds of cruelty.
Before selling the Gothic pile – which was bought back by the family
three years ago – he used to fly the Irish tricolour at a time when it
was illegal to do so.
An accomplished aviator who was one of the first pilots to do a
loop-the-loop and fly across the English Channel, Lord Carbery was a
personal friend of Michael Collins and even had a brigade of Irish
Volunteers named after him.
He so despised the British that later in his life – during the Second
World War – he let his personal airstrip on his Kenyan estate be used by
the German Luftwaffe during World War II.
A colourful character who took part in the English Channel race that
inspired the 1965 film Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines,
he immigrated to America but he was kicked out by the FBI for
bootlegging and told never to come back.
He settled for good in Kenya in the 1930s, where he ended up at the
centre of one of the biggest murder scandals of the last century.
The case inspired White Mischief, which starred Greta Scacchi and
Charles Dance and which covered the debauched antics in colonial Kenya
of a sexually-liberated and gin-swilling group of rich and bored ex-pat
They were dubbed the Happy Valley Set, because of the location where
they all lived, and Lord Carbery and his third wife June were active
They were either hosts or guests at parties where wife-swapping and
drug-taking were commonplace. Heroin use was – at the time – considered
White Mischief covered events around January 1941, when the body of
self-styled King of Happy Valley, Josslyn Victor Hay, Earl of Erroll – a
notorious philanderer – was found slumped in his car.
The vehicle was discovered in a ditch and the Scottish aristocrat – who
had had countless affairs with other men’s wives and girlfriends – had
been shot in the head.
Sir Jock Delves Broughton, the husband of a woman Erroll had been having
very public affair with, was tried and acquitted of his murder.
This was despite him admitting to Lord Carbery’s 15-year-old daughter
Juanita just days after the shooting that he had hidden in the back of
Errol’s car while the philanderer was kissing his wife goodnight and
shot him at point-blank range some time after Erroll drove off unaware
his would-be murderer was crouched in the back.
Lady Carbery was one of the last people to see Errol alive and was
questioned by detectives
Broughton eventually returned to England without his wife and, in 1942,
committed suicide in a Liverpool hotel room.
In contrast the lives of the Carberys in Kenya, the 11th earl and his
wife Joyzelle – who got engaged on the dance floor of in London’s Savoy
Hotel during an air raid – preferred to lead much more private and
While he fought with the Royal Engineers in Burma during the war, she
worked as a nurse during the London Blitz.
They saw each other for little more than one month during the entire war.
After V-Day, they moved back to Ireland but returned to the UK in 1956
because Lord Carbery could not find any work as an engineer.
Business he was involved in while a member of the London Stock Exchange
included Space Equipment Ltd, which was set up to provide clothing and
other equipment for space missions.
Lord Carbery recalled: “It was a brief thing really and it soon got
taken over by bigger companies because there wasn’t the investment to
pay for things like patents.”
His son added that a special trust fund will be set up in his mother’s name.
He said: “Our family has a tradition of setting up trusts in the area to
benefit the less well off and there are plans to set one up in my late
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