John James Cullen’s ancestors are said to have come from Scotland, via Co. Tyrone, to the Manorhamilton area during the 1660s. They built the impressive 3-storey Skreeny House half a century later. John James was the son of the local Church of Ireland rector. He was educated at Portora Royal College in Enniskillen and later at Castleknock. At the age of sixteen he began his army career. Endowed with a cultured and engaging personality, and being well versed in law, he quickly rose through the ranks. He was promoted to major soon after joining the Leitrim Militia in the year 1800. While the colonel of the regiment was attending parliament, John James acted as commanding officer, although he had still not reached the age of twenty. In 1806 he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Leitrim Militia. The following year he served as High Sheriff of Co. Leitrim. In 1810 he married Bridget Finnucane of Ennis, Co. Clare. With the end of the Napoleonic threat, following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, all the militia regiments in Ireland were disbanded. From then on, John James settled down to the life of a country gentleman in Skreeny. He and Brigid went on to have twelve children. John James died, possibly of typhus fever, in 1842 at the age of fifty-nine. His youngest daughter, Kate, wrote her memoirs towards the end of her life. Kate’s daughter, Susan Mitchell, became a distinguished poet and a friend of Yeats, AE and Seamus O’Suillivan.