Cathal O'Shannon visits the homes of titled families in the west of Ireland to discuss their way of life, and the benefits and hazards of peerage.

'Living Like Lords' asks why do we have Lords in Ireland and what do they do. 

In this Republic of ours what does it mean to be a Lord?

Unlike the peerage in Britain, Lords in Ireland are rarely very wealthy men, and must use their homes and their titles as a means to earn a living.

Westport House, built in the 18th century, supports a staff of twenty and is a money making operation owned by the Brown family. Denis Edward Brown 10th Marquess of Sligo also holds the title as Earl of Clanricarde, Viscount Westport, and Baron Monteagle of Westport. Baron Monteagle of Westport is a peerage within the United Kingdom and as such he is entitled to sit in the House of Lords. However, he doesn't bother and has only visited on a few occasions. Cathal O'Shannon looks at the Brown family background and where the peerage came from. 

Browns have been soldiers and lawyers, governors and politicians.

Lord Altamont, son and heir to the Sligo title, describes the sense of family, tradition and the past. However, these life peerages display a meritocracy that is not well received by many in modern times. While Lord Altamont questions the relevance of the title of Lord in a country that is a republic, he argues that a title is a financial asset. Westport House 'home of the Marquess of Sligo' has far more appeal to a visitor than 'home of Mr Brown'. Today Lord Altamont makes a living as a publicist for his stately home. 

Westport House is the nation's showpiece in the business and tourists flock to it from all over the world.

Tourists come from all over the world to explore the house, see some antiques and most of all to see a real life Lord.

Most of the Irish peerage was created to sit in the old Irish House of Lords before the Act of Union. The building on College Green is now home to the Bank of Ireland. There are now around eighty Irish peers. 

'Life Style: Living Like Lords' presented by Cathal O'Shannon was broadcast on 2 December 1971.