Kilbrew House

Kilbrew House, near Ratoath, consisted of a main block flanked by towers and faced south. The rear of the house also had flanking towers. Behind the mansion stood an extensive oblong courtyard with kitchens, bake houses, laundry, brewery, stables and coach houses. To the front of the house stands Kilbrew Graveyard. An ice house stood to the south of the house.  A spa well 200 yards south of house was mentioned in 1789 as being good for asthma, bronchitis and dropsy and visited by a large number of people.

Robert, third of the four sons of Henry Gorges of Batcombe, was a third cousin of Queen Mary, wife of William of Orange.  Robert was secretary to Henry Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell in 1655 and arrived in Ireland as Lord Lieutenant of the State’s forces. Robert Gorges established the family at Kilbrew. Robert was one of the forty-four who signed the Proclamation of Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector on the death of Oliver Cromwell.  Robert married Jane Loftus establishing links to many of the old families in Ireland. Charles II appointed him to a government position. From 1665 he acted as agent for the Duke of York’s lands. He was Member of Irish Parliament for Bandon Bridge 1661-6 and Ratoath 1692-3. Robert served as secretary to the Duke of Schomberg who fought at the Battle of the Boyne. Dr. Robert Gorges acquired the manor of Kilmoon in 1665 from the Archbishop of Armagh. He acquired lands in Ulster, Tipperary and Galway amounting to 7084 stature acres. Kilbrew had been the home of the Barnewall family. During the 1689-90 period some of the Barnewalls unsuccessively attempted to recover their property. Robert died in 1701.

Robert was succeeded by his son, Richard, who was born in 1662. In 1694 Richard Gorges secured the re-grant of lands in the barony of Ratoath and purchased forfeited estates after the battle of the Boyne. The amateur architect, Thomas Burgh, advised Quartermaster-General Richard Gorges on how to build garden walls at Kilbrew in 1702. Richard served as captain in the Grenadier Guards during the Williamite Campaign in Ireland.

He then fought in Flanders and on returning to Ireland in the mid 1690s  was appointed  Adjutant-General of His Majesty’s forces in Ireland.  He raised a regiment for foreign service and it became known as Colonel Richard Gorge’s regiment. Richard served as M.P. for Ratoath from 1713.

In 1704 Richard in his forty third year married the widow of Sir Tristram Beresford, the heroine of the ghost story. Miss Nicola Sophia Hamilton married Sir Martin Beresford. She was also fond of Lord Tyrone. In 1704 sometime after her marriage, it was agreed that Lord Tyrone, Sir Martin and Lady Beresford, should pass one Christmas at Colonel Gorges’ house, Kilbrew. One night, after the family were all retired, Lady Beresford was surprised to see the door of her chamber open, and Lord Tyrone walked in. He told her he had been on the way to Kilbrew when he died. Tyrone asked her for the ring off her finger and told her that her current husband would die and she would marry Richard Gorges and that she would die on the birth of her second son. Horror struck she refused to give the ghost the ring but he took it, marking her wrist in the process. She wore a black ribbon to cover the marks for the rest of her life.  Sir Martin did indeed die and she did marry Richard Gorges. Nicola already had a son by Sir Martin and then she had three daughters with Richard Gorges.  She then fell pregnant again and a son was born. Her husband told her it was a daughter but when she found out she grew very fearful. While getting some air she saw Lord Tyrone, fainted and took to her bed and died a few days later.  Sometime later her son by her first husband married the daughter of Lord Tyrone. There are many variations on this ghostly tale and other locations other than Kilbrew are named. Another story has it that as young people Nicola and Lord Tyrone made a pact that whichever died first they would come back and visit the other thereby proving the existence of an after-life.

After the death of Nicola Richard Gorges married Dorothea, widow of the earl of Meath. Dorothea, who was a small lady, was known as Countess Doll of Meath. She died on 10 April 1728 and the General died two days later. A  commentator wrote:

‘She first deceased; he for a little tried,

To live without her, liked it not, and died.’

Jonathan Swift wrote

‘Under this stone lie Dicky and Dolly,

Doll dying first, Dicky grew melancholy,

For Dick without Doll thought living was a folly.’

Luke Gardiner, the Dublin city developer, was guardian of the eldest son, Richard who was born about 1708 and died in 1778. Gardiner developed what is now O’Connell Street, Mountjoy Square and Gardiner’s Street. Richard had two handsome country houses, Kilbrew and Ballygawley, and probably a town house. Richard was High Sheriff of Co. Meath 1731, Member of the Irish Parliament for Augher 1739-60; Enniskillen 1761-8, and a professional soldier in the Dragoons. Richard died in March 1778 at Marlborough Street, Dublin.

Hamilton Gorges inherited on the death of his father Richard in 1778. Within six years he seems to have got himself into serious financial difficulties as he was very hospitable.  He liked good company. He repaired Kilbrew House to the extent of spending £5000 on it and planting 400,000 oak, ash, elm and other timber trees. In 1792 Hamilton Gorges became M.P. for Meath replacing his first cousin, Gorges Lowther. Captain Hamilton Gorges, an officer in the yeomanry was captured by the rebels in 1798 but was rescued.  He was against the Act of Union and continued to oppose it despite the offer of a lucrative government position and title.  Hamilton died in 1802 and he was succeeded by his son, Hamilton. Demands for payments from creditors continued. Hamilton lived on the continent for a period as it was cheaper. Hamilton married Alicia French of French Park.

In the 1830s Kilbrew was described as a fine mansion having anextensive demesne and was the property of Mr. Murphy of Dublin. The Murphy family continued to hold the property until the 1920s. The house stood abandoned surrounded by a wooded demesne. Names were given to the features of the demesne – Flying Gate shrubbery, Decoy Avenue leading to Decoy wood.  The Clump, Sharley’s hill, the Pigeon field lawn, the lower lawn, Aspel’s Clump, The Long Shrubbery, the Pond Shrubbery, the Round Shrubbery, House Lawn and Round Berry Clump.

When Hamilton died in 1838, his son and heir, also Hamilton, only succeeded to some lands at Kilmoon, all the rest had been sold.  Hamilton Gorges married Gertrude Frances Bennet and they had one child Isabella Corisande Gertrude Gorges, who died in 1910. Hamilton lived at Primatestown, a hunting lodge. The last of the male line he died in 1866 from a fall from a horse and the property went out of the family. By 1878 Kilbrew House stood in ruins.

William Murphy of Mount Merrion, Kilbrew and Ballymaglasson was born in 1771. He had four sons and five daughters. His eldest son, John William, succeeded him at Ballymaglasson while his youngest son, James succeeded him at Kilbrew. William, son of John William, succeeded to Kilbrew. He was succeeded by his son, William, who in turn was succeeded by his son, William Brudenell Murphy. His son, was Captain Reginald Francis Brudenell Murphy.

Kilbrew continued in the Murphy family until the 1920s when it was divided up by the Land Commission. In the 1940s part of the house had been converted to outhouses. The roof remained on the main house until the 1960s but by the 1980s it was a true ruin. There is an interesting article by Margaret Nugent on Kilbrew House in the Curraha Jubilee book.

Kilbride House

Photo: Noel Fagan

Kilbride house at Moymet, Trim was the residence of the Longfield and Rotherham families. In the eighteenth century Kilbride was held by the Longfield family with Robert being recorded as owner in 1712. Robert was the son of John Longfield who was born at Denbigh, Wales and was born there in 1652. He obtained grants of lands in Meath, Westmeath and Clare. A friend of Jonathan Swift he died in 1711. William Longfield is recorded at Kilbride in 1723. The family seem to have died out later in the century. In 1835 Kilbride, Moymet was the property of Lord Shelburne. His agent, John G. Dawson, had his residence adjoining the old castle near the south side of the townland. John S.A. Rotherham was the occupier of Kilbride castle in 1856 and his son, George Augustus, is listed as owing 262 acres in 1876. Sarah Brinkley married George Rotherham as his second wife. His daughter by his first marriage, Emily Constance, was married to Alexander Macaulay of Cushendall, co. Antrim. In 1911 George and his wife Jessie Rotherham were living at Kilbride. In 1924 purchased by a Mr. Joyce from Galway, the house was sold and it was ruined by fire. The castle stood in his farmyard. In 1989 the ruins of Kilbride house were used for a scene in the film, “Fools of Fortune”. A night scene I remember seeing the sky lit up with flames as the house was “destroyed”.  “Fools of Fortune” was released in 1990. Made by Pat O’Connor, it starred Julie Christie. It depicted a Protestant family caught up in the conflict between the British Army and the I.R.A. during the War of Independence.  This film was based on the story by Irish novelist, William Trevor.

The Rochfort family are associated with Kilbride since at least 1415 (Longfield 1971, 30, fn 3). According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Robert Rochfort owned 328 acres at Kilbride in Moymet parish in 1640, and on the property were ‘a stone house and a mill’ (Simington 1940, 244). In 1685 Robert Longfield who was born in Wales received land grants in counties Clare, and Westmeath, while in Meath he acquired 641 acres largely in Kilbride alias Kilbridge, Kellistown (Kennastown?), Robertstown and Villonage (?) as the manor of Kilbride, where he settled. Although he forfeited the estate by supporting James II in 1689, it was restored to him in 1692 (Longfield 1971, 30-1). His son, William, or more probably his grandson, Robert, adapted the Rochfort house into a three bay, two storey and attic mansion by inserting large Georgian windows and a pediment doorway at the first floor on the E side. A large house was attached to the S in the nineteenth century.
The original N-S house (ext. dims c. 15m N-S; c. 9m E-W) has a base-batter and three barrel-vaults aligned E-W at the ground floor, but the entrance was in an attached tower with a newel stairs at the N end of the W wall which led to the first floor, while a separate entrance in the W wall led to the vaulted chambers. A single blocked light in the W wall is the only recognisable original feature on the first floor and the joists for the ceiling are set into the long E and W walls. There is a blocked light on the second floor over that on the first, where a second doorway from the stairs tower may have led to a garderobe. There was an attic with gables on the N, S and W walls.


In 1835 there were three significant houses in Kilcarn civil parish. Kilcarn Lodge, a neat cottage, was the property of F. Murphy. Lower Kilcarn House, the property of W. Dillon, had a large lawn fronting the house and two large orchards attached. Upper Kilcarn House, described as a gentleman’s seat with a small piece of ornamental ground attached, was the property of Mrs. Barry.

The lands at Kilcarn upper and lower were confirmed to Richard Barry, Dublin merchant, in 1627. Richard Barry was Mayor of Dublin in 1610 and an M.P. He was the son of James Barry. The family were a branch of the Barrymores and settled at Santry. Richard Barry was succeeded by his son, James Barry, a prominent lawyer who was created Baron Barry of Santry in 1661. The third Lord Barry leased the lands at Kilcarn to Charles Barry in 1702.

Philip Barry was born in 1773, the son of Philip.  Philip was curate of Paynestown in 1817 and rector Navan from 1819 to 1831. Rev. Philip Barry is buried in Kilcarn graveyard.

Kilcarn Lodge or Park was home to the Murphy family. The Murphy’s owned a distillery in Navan and were a Catholic family.  Major Murphy was a magistrate in the 1760s. Kilcarn Park was damaged by fire in 1922. The outbreak of fire was believed to be an accident. The house was unoccupied at the time, in preparation for some repairs in order to be tenanted. Kilcarn Park then came into the hands of the Carolan family.  The property was divided in 1923. Kilcarn Park was in the ownership of the Dublin jeweller Peter McDowell in the early 1990s for three years. He sold it for in excess of £1 million in 1993. Kilcarn Park has eight bedrooms and two main reception rooms.

Kilcarty House

Kilcarty House, Kilmessan, is described as a ‘hobby-farm’ designed by Thomas Ivory for Dr. George Cleghorn, professor of anatomy at Trinity College. It consists of a detached two-storey gabled farmhouse, with low lean-to wings and curtain walls. The two farm buildings extend back forming the sides of a courtyard behind the house. Constructed in the 1770s Casey and Rowan state that modesty and simplicity are the  qualities of this handsome building and further describe it as a compact and practical house. Maurice Craig said ‘the total effect is one of bland serenity’. Craig wrote that Kilcarty occupies a pivotal frontier between farmhouse and the mansion. A hobby farm, the owner only had to look out the back windows to see the farmyard. “The everyday dress and vernacular affinities of Kilcarty cloak a design of exceptional subtlety and refinement, Craig wrote, even after thirty years of looking at the building he  noticed new aspects to it. “When real thought has gone into the making of a building, there is no limit to the times one can, and should, look at it.”  Mulligan described Kilcarty as ‘one of the finest examples of a vernacular Palladian design’

George Cleghorn, was born near Edinburgh in 1716. He was involved in the establishment of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh. Appointed surgeon to the 22nd regiment of foot at the age of nineteen, he was stationed at Minocra, where he spent thirteen years. He wrote a book entitled ‘Observations on the Epidemical Diseases in Minorca from the Year 1744 to 1749”. In 1749 he went with the regiment to Ireland. Dr Cleghorn settled in practice in Dublin in 1751. In September 1753 Cleghorn was elected as Anatomist at Trinity College. In 1756 he published in Dublin a pamphlet, entitled “Index of an Annual Course of Lectures by George Cleghorn, Anatomist to Trinity College, and Surgeon in Dublin”. This was really a syllabus of his lectures, and is the first anatomical work published in connexion with the School of Anatomy at Trinity College.

In 1761 George Cleghorn was appointed Lecturer in Anatomy. He is credited with the first description of infectious hepatitis. From this period till his death in 1789, Dr Cleghorn enjoyed a lucrative practice. Due to declining health he spent more and more time away from the city, finding the pleasures of the outdoor life more rewarding. In 1784 Cleghorn was elected a member of the College of Physicians of Ireland; he was also one of the original members of the Royal Irish Academy. Cleghorn was married but had no children of his own, About 1774 Cleghorn’s only brother, John, died in Scotland, leaving his widow, Barbara, and nine children, and Cleghorn brought this family to Dublin in order to oversee their education. Three of this family, William, James, and Thomas, were educated for the medical profession and studied with their uncle in the Trinity College School, and subsequently in Edinburgh. One of these, William Cleghorn, took the degree of MD at Edinburgh in 1779. In 1786 Cleghorn was still delivering anatomical lectures at Dublin. He was unwilling to retire from the professorship until one of his nephews was in a strong position to apply for the vacant chair. Cleghorn died in Dublin three years later, in December 1789. His nephew, James, took over the Anatomical School. George died at Kilcarty on Tuesday, December 22, 1789, and in his will he left to his nephew George his estates in County Meath, and to his nephews, James and Thomas, to be equally divided between them, his library.

George Cleghorn acquired a considerable estate in the county of Meath, of which his nephew, George Cleghorn of Kilcarty, was High Sheriff in the year 1794.

William Cleghorn was born in 1751. His father died young, so he and eight siblings were raised by his uncle, George Cleghorn of Kilcarty. After studying at Trinity College, in 1779, he finished a doctoral dissertation at the University of Edinburgh. He died just four years later, but in that time had developed the concept of a caloric, a subtle invisible fluid used to explain heat. Cleghorn’s caloric was used for the next sixty years. In 1818 Bishop Plunket thanked Surgeon Cleghorn for his donation towards the new chapel at Kilmessan.

In 1814 Kilcarthy was the residence of Ross Fox and in 1835 it was described as a good house with a demesne of 150 acres, well laid out and wooded. The demesne was leased by Mr. Rourke from the proprietor, Rev. N. Preston of Swainstown. In 1854 the land was held by the representatives of James Cleghorn MD so the family seem to have held onto the leases on the land. Hugh Geraghty occupied the house from 1854 until his death in 1878 and his widow remained in the house until 1900.  Hugh’s son, William, purchased the house in 1903. Dying in 1909 the property passed to his sister Mary. The house was sold in 1939 to the O’Beirne family.


Kilcooley House, just off the Trim-Navan  Trim, is a handsome gentleman farmer’s house, erected about 1780. There was a lodge at the end of the short avenue. The Carshore family held the property in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Adam Carshore  of Kilcooley raised the Trim Yeomanry Corps, together with his nephew, Edward Elliot Chambers of Crow Park, Trim in 1796. Having taken part in the suppression of the 1798 rebellion the corps disbanded in 1814.

In 1835 the Chambers family seem to have taken the lease on Kilcooley as the townland was the property of Mr. John Backett of Trim, held under a lease by John Elliott Chambers and let by him to undertenants. Kilcooley House was the residence of Mr. Purden. In 1876 Philip E. Purdon of  Kilcooley was listed as owning 63 acres in Meath. He could have had other lands held by leases.

By the early twentieth century the Hewitt family were in residence with Austin and Julia Hewitt being recorded as living there in 1911. Julia Hewitt died in 1934. The three storey house is now the residence of the McManus family.

Kildalkey House

Kildalkey House is two storey over basement house and is now the parochial house. Walter Nangle erected a house at Kildalkey in 1725. The current house may date from about 1840. It became the residence of the parish priest of Kildalkey and in 1903 the parish purchased the house.

The Nangle family of Kildalkey sprang from Walter Nangle, the eight and youngest son of Sir Thomas Nangle, 17th Baron of Navan. Walter was born some time before 1561 and the family became well established at Kildalkey by the early 17th century. Jocelyn Nangle of Kildalkey was involved in the rebellion of the 1640s. Walter Nangle was born in 1700 and inherited the estate at Kildalkey on the death of his father in 1721. He married twice and was succeeded by his son, Edward. Edward’s son, James Francis Nangle, became a Justice of the Peace in 1797 and was appointed Deputy Governor of County Meath. James Nangle of Kildalkey died at his seat in 1812. He was born in Spain as some of the family had moved abroad during the penal days. He was succeeded by his uncle, Walter Nangle. Walter’s son, Charles, inherited Kildalkey in 1843. Charles married Cecelia, daughter of Richard Barnewall, of Bloomsbury, and the widow of John Connolly of Newhaggard. They lived at Newhaggard House. Charles died bankrupt in 1847 and the Kildalkey property left the Nangle family. The Hodgens family came into possession of Kildalkey estates. Thomas Hodgens bequeathed £1000 for the establishment of Almshouses at Kildalkey and an annual bequest of £60 for the inmates. The Hodgens family lived mainly in Dublin leasing out their Kildalkey estates.

Killeen Castle

Killeen Castle

Killeen Castle, near Dunshaughlin, is a large castellated house, incorporating a medieval building. Tradition states that the first castle erected at Killeen was by Hugh de Lacy about 1180 but the present structure has a central core from the fifteenth century, with many alterations in the following centuries.

From 1403 until the 1950’s, the castle served as the seat of the Plunkett family, Earls of Fingall, and the family’s five and a half centuries of unbroken connection with Killeen is exceptional by any standards. In 1403 the first of the family, Christopher Plunkett, married Joan, only daughter and heiress of Sir Lucas Cusack of Killeen. In 1432 Sir Christopher Plunkett was created Baron of Killeen.

Sir Christopher divided his estate between his eldest two sons, the second son taking possession of sister castle, Dunsany and the elder son continuing as Lord Killeen. The dividing line between the two Plunkett estates at Dunsany and Killeen is said to have been decided by a race between the wives of the brothers. At an agreed time each wife set out from her castle and where they met the boundary of the estate was set. The lady from Killeen having a downhill advantage ensured that the estate at Killeen was larger than the Dunsany one.

A mid-size fortified tower house was constructed at Killeen. Just as at Dunsany the Plunketts erected a church to serve their home. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, was erected around 1425 and there is a nearby holy well also dedicated to Our Lady.

The tenth Baron Killeen, Luke Plunkett, was created Earl of Fingall in 1628. His first wife was Elizabeth O’Donnell, niece of Red Hugh O’Donnell. Another family member, George Plunkett, married the niece of St. Oliver Plunkett, whose vestments were later preserved in the castle library. 

During the Penal days the Dunsany branch of the family became members of the Established Protestant religion and held Killeen in trust for their Catholic relatives. Like other Catholic families the Plunketts sent their sons abroad to serve in foreign armies with Luke and William Plunkett serving in the Austrian army. Robert, the sixth earl, served in the French army.

The Plunkett lost their title due to their support for King James at the Battle of the Boyne but the family petitioned for its re-instatement. This eventually happened in 1795 and the castle was re-modelled at this time. The eighth Earl of Fingall employed the noted Irish architect, Francis Johnston, to carry out renovations to the castle. He also consulted Thomas Wogan Browne of Clongowes Wood and Daniel Augustus Beaufort, rector of Navan and amateur architect, who prepared drawings for alterations. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Arthur James, Lord Fingall, was a proponent of removing anti-Catholic laws and yet in 1798 he led the government forces on Tara against the United Irishmen. The eighth earl, Arthur James, was created Baron Fingall in 1831.

In 1841 much of the castle was demolished and rebuilt in the style of Windsor Castle with two new towers being added. When completed it was said that Killeen had 365 windows, a window for every day of the year, a similar story is tendered for a number of large houses in Ireland.

In 1876 the Earl of Fingall of Killeen castle held 9,589 acres in county Meath. On the twenty first birthday of the eleventh earl, Arthur James Francis, the butler of the house got so drunk that a fire destroyed a number of the most valuable paintings in the house including a number of Van Dycks. The wife of the eleventh earl, Elizabeth ‘Daisy” Burke, wrote a memoir of her life entitled Seventy Years Young, Memories of Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall which was published by Collins of London in 1937. Living in a castle was an expensive business. One of the Killeen servants defined a great house as a place where ‘as much was thrown out as used.’ When funds were short, the castle was leased to an American who complained that it took a ton of coal a day to heat it. The Eleventh Earl and his wife, Daisy, lived the country life with the Earl being Master of the Meath Foxhounds. The Earl commented ‘if you didn’t hunt in Meath you might as well be dead.’ Lord Fingall also loved cats and at one stage had more than sixty in one of the towers of the castle. There is said to have been a ghost a Killeen, a powdered footman. The eleventh earl was chairman of the unionist convention which opposed the introduction of Home Rule in 1892.

The library at Killeen was a noted feature of the house with the bookcases provided by Daisy, Countess of Fingall. The art collector, Hugh Lane, was involved in its re-decoration around 1900.

The twelfth Earl of Fingall, Oliver James Horace, inherited Killeen in 1929. He sold Killeen Castle and estate in 1951, to Sir Victor Sassoon with the Earl managing the stud farm established near the castle. In 1953 the Earl and Countess moved to a modern house built on the lands and most of the house contents were sold. Sassoon died in 1961 and his heirs sold the estate in 1963 to art dealer and racehorse owner, Daniel Wildenstein.

The twelfth Earl moved from the estate to Corballis on the Dunsany estate, then to The Commons. He and his wife attended the ceremonies for the canonisation of St. Oliver Plunkett in 1975. All three titles became extinct on the death of the twelfth Earl in 1984.

In 1978, the castle and estate were sold to Basil Brindley, who continued the stud farm operation. On 16 May 1981, the castle was destroyed in an arson attack, being left abandoned for many years. The attack was said to be associated with the H-block protests in Northern Ireland.

The lands and buildings were sold again in 1989, to a local entrepreneur, who initiated development plans. A plan proposed the conversion of the castle into a high-end hotel, the installation of a championship standard golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and the construction of more than one hundred units of luxury housing on the estate. Various plans were proposed over the next decade and a half with actual construction commencing in 2005. In 2006 Killeen castle was the successful bidder for the 2011 Solheim cup, the first time Ireland has ever hosted this event.

‘The Archaeology of Killeen Castle, Co Meath’ presents the results of the archaeological survey, testing, monitoring and excavations that took place within the demesne from January 2005. Mary Rose Carty has published a book about the castle, ‘History of Killeen Castle’.

Killyon Manor

Killyone Manor

Located near the Hill of Down in south-west Meath, Killyon house is a three storey T-shaped plan house. Incorporating a medieval tower house the house has an eighteenth century porch. The house dates to the early or mid eighteenth century to which is added a nineteenth century ballroom.  Architect William Farrell would seem to have been involved in Killyon Manor as well as the Mangan’s house at Clonearl. London architects, Warwick & Hall, were employed by Captain Arthur Tilson Magan in 1907 prepare designs ‘in the English manner’ for the reconstruction of Killyon Manor,

Archbishop Adam Loftus, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth I and first provost of Trinity College, was the founder of the family in Ireland. Sir Thomas Loftus, third son of Archbishop Loftus, was granted lands at Killyon in 1610. His son, Dudley, married Cecilia, daughter of Sir James Ware, auditor-General of Ireland. Their eldest son, Thomas Loftus, was MP for Clonmines 1727-60  and resided at Killyon. His son, Dudley succeeded to the estates.

In 1817 Elizabeth Georgina Loftus, daughter of Dudley Loftus of Killyon Manor married Colonel Thomas Lowther Allen of Kilmer and was widowed at age of 21. She then married William Henry Magan of Clonearl, Daingean, Co. Offaly.  Together they owned very large tracts of the best grasslands in Ireland, and other valuable properties, including one hundred and sixty-five acres of Dublin. They built and staffed a great house, and filled it with treasures. William was known as ‘The Magnificent’. Killyon House was not inhabited in 1835 and its offices were nearly in ruins. The river was dammed to make a feature of the water.  When Clonearl was burned in 1846 the family’s main seat became Killyon.

William Henry Magan died in May 1840. His heir was William Henry known as ‘William Henry the Bad.’ He married Lady Georgina Hill in 1849. William was an M.P. and High Sheriff of Westmeath. He is said to have treated people with contempt and shod his horse with shoes of gold. His mother was known locally as the four foot faggot and did much to alleviate the suffering during the Famine. When she died her coffin was supposed to have had nails of gold.

William led a wild life, dying childless in 1860 at 42 years of age. The Magan fortune then returned to his mother, Elizabeth Georgina Loftus Magan. In 1876 Mrs. E. G. Magan, address Killyon, Hill of Down, Co. Westmeath, owned 4,418 acres in Co. Meath, 5604 acres in Westmeath, 2374 in Kildare , 1023 in Offaly and 165 in Dublin, a total of 13584 acres. She managed the estates until she died in 1880, designating her only surviving child, Augusta Elizabeth Magan as her heir.

Augusta inherited all the Magan estates, twenty thousand acres and valuable houses in Dublin at the age of 55. She had been betrothed to Captain Bernard of Castle Bernard, Co. Offaly but he chose to marry a widow instead. It is said that a wedding feast had been prepared by Augusta for her marriage at 77 St. Stephen’s Green, now Loretta Hall. When the groom failed to arrive Augusta closed up the room and the house and it was not re-opened until after her death in 1905. Colonel Bernard died in a horse riding accident at Mullingar in 1882 and so this wedding must have been set for well before that date. His coffin was wheeled along the railway platform on a trolley. Lady August acquired the trolley and it remained in her sitting room for the rest of her life. Augusta lived in her bed-sitting room, just one room in the whole of the house. She eventually became a recluse in Killyon manor. She was kind to her staff and to animals. Augusta mismanaged the estates and left them in shambles by 1905, when she died without an heir. Her will specified that her cash, investments, personal possessions, and household contents were to be sold, with the proceeds going towards the building of hospitals, including one to the memory of Colonel Bernard. Accordingly, the entire contents of both the Dublin townhouse and Killyon Manor were auctioned in Dublin in 1906, but the houses were in such a mess that the contents of each room was sold as it was, unseen by the purchasers. Sovereigns and £5 notes were found in all sorts of places including teapots, kitchen utensils and even chamber pots. She buried the family jewels and the estate was reduced due to mismanagement and no funds were available to build a hospital, never mind three. After her death the estate was contested.

A relative of the Magans, Colonel Arthur Shaen Magan purchased the house and the surrounding parkland. Arthur Tilson Shaen Magan, born in 1880, married Kathleen Jaen Biddulph. Arthur achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Service Corps. He served during World War I and was mentioned in dispatches. In 1926 the estate was sold by the Land Commission. He lived at Correal, Co. Roscommon. Following Colonel Magan’s death at Killyon in 1965 his son William Morgan Tilson succeeded to the estate at Killyon.

William Morgan Tilson Magan was born in 1908. He married Maxine Mitchell in 1940. Educated at Sandhurst, he reached the rank of Brigadier in the British Army. He served in India. He fought in the Second World War and served in Palestine in 1946-7. In 1951, Magan was appointed to M15 as director of the overseas department and was engaged in Malaya, Kenya, Nyasaland, Borneo and Aden. He served as Assistant Under-Secretary in the War Office from 1953 to 1968. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1946 and a C.B.E. in 1958. He lived at Killyon House and at St. Michael’s House, Tonbridge, Kent. As one of the last of the family to live there William published the story of the house and family in a book entitled ‘Umma-More’. He died in 2010 aged 101.

The manor was sold about 1970 to Lord Rivers Carew who lived there for a period. It was then purchased by the Purcell family who have restored the house and gardens. 

Kilmer Lodge

Kilmer or Kilmur Lodge, Ballivor was described in 1835 as a neat and comfortable house of ‘modern architectural style’. Stones from the abandoned Dominican abbey of nearby Donore were used for the upper storey of Kilmer House. Four storeys high, the house was erected in 1790 by Richard Allen, who resided there until 1812. It was then occupied by his son, T. Louther Allen, Colonel 18th Light Dragoons, until 1817 and after that it was inhabited by a caretaker. In 1818, Mr. Coffey was in residence at Kilmer  and Bishop Plunket dined there in August on his visitation of the parishes of Meath.

In 1820 Elizabeth Loftus, daughter of Dudley Loftus of Kilyon Manor, married Colonel Thomas Lowther Allen of Kilmer. Allen died shortly after the marriage leaving Elizabeth a widow. In 1835 Kilmer townland and house/lodge were the property of Alexander Montgomery who resided in Dublin. Alexander Montgomery married Frances Tisdall of Charlesfort. Alexander Montgomery, son of Alexander Montgomery of Kilmer House, was born in 1846 and  became a Justice of the Peace and High Sherrif of Meath in 1888. Henrietta Ann Montgomery, eldest daughter of Alexander Montgomery of Kilmer married Claud Chaloner of Kingsfort in 1875. Henrietta Ann’s brother, Archibold Vernon Montgomery of St Mary’s Abbey in Trim, was active in the Meath Protestant Orphan Society in 1864, was elected its President in 1935 and died in office in November 1943.

Kilrue House

Kilrue House stood to the south of Ashbourne and southeast of Ratoath. In ruins in 1836 the house has completely disappeared. The site of the house is occupied by modern farm buildings today.

The first Berford in the Ratoath area was Geoffrey de Burford who witnessed a charter about 1210. The first to be of Kilrue was Roger Birford of Kilrowe who appears in records from 1363-73. There is a detailed genealogy of the Berfords of Kilrue in Riocht Na Midhe by Hubert Gallwey in 1979. Michael Berford was the owner of Kilrue in 1641. The Down Survey parish map of Ratoath dating from about 1655 depicts a large building or castle contained within the townland of Kilrue. ‘Kilrow’, a stone house or castle was  inhabited by Richard Berford. Richard Berford died in 1662, but his nephew Michael Berford succeeded in reclaiming much of the family lands restored following the restoration. The remainder of their lands were forfeited following the involvement of Ignatius Berford in the Jacobite administration, though Michael’s widow, Margery, remarried George Lowther who succeeded in reclaiming a small portion of the lands.

The castle at Kilrue was either adapted to make a house or demolished and a house erected in its place. The castle at Kilrue is mentioned as late as 1703. In 1745 a mansion house is recorded at Kilrue.

The Lowther family came to Ireland from Lowther, Westmoreland, northern England and settled at Skryne. George Lowther of Skryne Abbey married Frances Piers of Tristernagh, Westmeath. Their son Edward married Mary, daughter of Patrick Cusack of Gerrardstown. Their son, George established the family at Kilrue.

George Lowther was M.P. for Ratoath 1705-16 and M.P. for Coleraine 1713. Born in 1684 he married Jane daughter of Sir Tristram Beresford, sheriff of Meath 1715. He purchased 323 acres in Meath from the Court for Forfeited Estates after the Battle of the Boyne. George married Jane Power, daughter of the 5th Baron Le Power and Curraghmore.  M.P. for Ratoath George died in 1716. Their son was Marcus married the heiress Catherine Crofton in 1743 and adopted her surname in addition to his own. M.P. for Ratoath from 1753 to 1760 and 1769 to 1776 he was created Baronet Lowther-Crofton, in 1758.  George Lowther died in 1717.

George’s eldest son, Gorges,succeeded at Kilrue, was born 1713, he was Sheriff of the county of Meath in 1739. He became MP for the borough of Ratoath in the sameyear, served until 1760 when he became M.P. for Meath. Gorges Lowther  was father of the Irish House of Commons, in which he sat for fifty years. In 1787 Lowther was appointed one of commissioners for making a canal from Drogheda to Trim. He was a very popular man in the parliament and was fond of cockfighting. On his death the House, by unanimous vote, went into mourning for three days. Gorges served as Sheriff of Meath in 1739. When he died in 1792 his tenants removed his coffin from the hearse at Kilbrew and carried it on their shoulders to the church at Ratoath where he was interred in the family vault.

Remains of Lowther Lodge

Lowther Lodge, Dublin. Photo: Kieran Campbell

Gorges’ was succeeded by his son, George who held Kilrue and Lowther Lodge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin.  Lowther Lodge is in north county Dublin, north of Balbriggan, near the sea. Abandoned in the early 20th century it stands as a ruin in the middle of a field of wheat. I visited the area when it was proposed that a new port for Dublin be located there.  George was MP for Ratoath 1761-8. George died in 1785 and was succeeded by his son, Gorges Lowther.

Gorges Lowther was M.P. for Ratoath 1790 to 1800. An officer in the 5th Dragoon guards, he served during the 1798 rebellion. He was against the Union. After the Union he received £15000 for the disenfranchisement of Ratoath.  He sold Kilrue and settled at Hampton Hall, Somerset. Gorges wrote a number of libellous and controversial works. He died in 1854, aged 85.

The Lowthers were associated with horse racing. A relation of the family, Hugh Cecil Lowther, the fifth earl of Lonsdale, presented the Lonsdale belt for boxing.

In 1854 Robert Rathbourne was landlord of 390 acres at Kilrue. Colonel Arthur Hartley held an estate at Kilrue in the 1920s.

Kilsharvan House


Photo by Michael Fox

The main house at Kilsharvan dates from 1820 and it also incorporates a 17th century miller’s house. Kilsharvan was the residence of the Armstrong, McDonnell, and Shorter families for 200 years. A tulip tree in front of the house is reputed to be over 400 years old. The oldest part of the house may date back to the 17th century. Today, an attractive two storey house with shallow bows and a Doric portico the house stands on 37 acres of woodland, paddocks and gardens which run down to the river Nanny. The noted artist, William van der Hagen, died 1745,  painted the overmantle at Kilsharvan. The oil on canvas is entitled A Capriccio Landscape with Shepherds Beside Ruins in a Romantic Landscape and dated 1736.

According to The parish of Duleek and over the ditches Kilsharvan house includes the original miller’s residence. Andrew Armstrong established a flax mill and linen industry at Kilsharvan in the 1780s. Andrew Armstrong married Catherine Anne McDonnell in 1814. Catherine came with a dowry of £3,000 and her father provided a further loan of £2,000 to Armstrong to purchase Kilsharvan, which he had been leasing. Armstrong re-directed the river, erected a weir and a millrace of over one mile long. The  Bleach Field was upgraded with the addition of a circular watchtower for the production and the protection of the linen. In 1827 Armstrong mortgaged Kilsharvan and raised a further £3,692 for works at the Mill and to construct the fine stone cut buildings in the farm and stable yards. In 1833 Nicholas Austin remodelled Kilsharvan for Andrew Armstrong ‘in a style which does infinite credit to his taste, and that of his architect, Mr Austin Nicholls, of Drogheda’.

Armstrong upgraded Kilsharvan to a fine gentleman’s residence. He even considered building a “piazza”, the type of veranda he had seen on the great houses in Charleston, South Carolina, while there overseeing his import and export business.

His only son and heir, George Andrew, was killed in the battle of Ferrozopore in India in 1845, aged just 21 years of age. The property then passed into the hands of Armstong’s in laws, the McDonnells.

The McDonnells originated in County Antrim and were a noted medical family. In 1920 Penelope McDonnell Stevenson offered to donate to the Ulster Medical Society a bust of her great-uncle, Dr James McDonnell. McDonnell had been one of the leading physicians in Belfast in the early 19th century. When the society disposed of its building in 1965 the bust was offered to the Royal Victoria Hospital but it vanished a short time later. In 1937, Dr Robert Marshall gave to the Royal Victoria Hospital a bronze copy of a bust of McDonnell. The marble original dating to 1844 is now on permanent loan to the Ulster Museum. Another copy of the bust was on display at Kilsharvan House while the family were in residence. It is possible that the Kilsharvan bust was the original bust, and that after its exhibition at the RA in 1842, copies were made for other branches of the family.

Sir Alexander McDonnell, eldest son of Dr. James McDonnell, was born at Belfast in 1794. He became a barrister in England but returned to Ireland where he became commissioner of the Board of Education in 1839 where he did outstanding work. While he was an ardent Protestant he sought to provided the religious instruction of choice for pupils. He became a privy councillor of Ireland in 1846, resigned his commissionership in 1871 and was created a baronet in 1872 in recognition of his services.  He died in Dublin in 1875 but was buried at Kilsharvan.

James’s son, Dr. John McDonnell of Kilsharvan, performed the first operation in Ireland under anaesthesia using ether for an amputation in 1847.  His son Dr. Robert McDonnell gave the first transfusion of human blood in Ireland in 1865. Robert was a surgeon who served in the Crimean war and later became President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. James McDonnell, of Murlogh, co. Antrim and Kilsharvan was a barrister at law and he died in 1904.

Col. John McDonnell of Kilsharvan, Justice of the Peace, was Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th Batallion Leinster regiment  and served in World War I. Killed at Tores in 1915 , his son, Robert, succeeded him on being born the same day, 7 May 1915.

Robert McDonnell, the last of the McDonnells died of wounds at Barce in 1941 during World War II and his mother married Captain Woods of Milverton Hall, Skerries and spent alternative halves of the year at Kilsharvan and  Milverton. She adapted the old mill to produce a coffee substitute during the World War, produced from the  roots of the dandelion plant. Mrs. Woods died in 1969 and was succeeded by Louisa McDonnell-Shorter and her daughter,  Lucita. Louisa died in 2007.

The house and some adjoining land was sold in 1998 to the Duffy family.  Restoration work has been ongoing in Kilsharvan since then with the gate lodge  and garden being restored. The nearby cemetery of Kilsharvan dates back to the thirteenth century.


Kingsfort House was located near Moynalty in north Meath. Nearby Cherrymount was the first home of the Chaloner family before their new home of Kingsfort was constructed. Kingsfort was completed in 1736 by John Chaloner. The house takes its name from the townland in which it is situated Rathinree, which is the Irish for the fort of the king. There are five ringforts nearby.

Described as a big regular house set in pleasantly rolling countryside Kingsfort was a brick built house of two storeys over basement. A number of rooms had plasterwork and even though the house is ruined fragments of the plasterwork are still visible.

Rev. John Chaloner was born in Shropshire in 1658, studied at Trinity College and became a clergyman in Errigal, Co. Donegal. He became a navy chaplain on board ‘The Royal Sovereign’ a ship despatched to the West Indies to combat piracy. Tradition is that Chaloner managed to acquire a considerable sum of money during this period and in 1704 having returned to Ireland purchased the estate of Captain Stopford near Moynalty.

John Chaloner succeeded his father in 1732 and completed the new house at King’s Fort in 1736. In 1778 John Chaloner was succeeded by Richard who was responsible for major landscaping at Kingsfort.

Richard laid out the Glen, a valley between the two Chaloner houses. He constructed a waterfall, a small lake with an island, a dog’s graveyard and a small two roomed lodge. He was known to his friends as ‘Dicky of the Glen’. Richard Chaloner showed his party allegiance to the Whig party by planting oaks on his estate at Kingsfort. In 1784 Richard Chaloner was appointed High Sheriff of Meath for the year.

Richard Chaloner kept a diary of domestic events from 1810 to 1817, the title page bears the inscription – ‘To record domestic happenings, in which I took a considerable part. It will be a pleasure at some time to bring them back to mind.’ Portions of the diary were reproduced in “Not so much to one side” by Valentine Farrell and there is a copy in the local studies section of the County Library, Navan. Richard made changes to the interior of the house around 1815 and he also rebuilt the staircase.

Richard Chaloner died in 1832 leaving Kingsfort to his eldest daughter’s second son, Richard Cole-Hamilton, who took the name Chaloner.

In 1835 Kingsfort House was described as “a superb building, with suitable offices and a garden attached. It is situated in the centre of the townland and is the seat of Richard Chaloner. The estate is elegantly adorned with plantations, lakes and ornamental grounds.”

In the 1860s the family possessed a mighty bull which they named Sovereign in honour of the Navy ship of Rev. John Chaloner. The bull won many prizes at the RDS and at shows up and down the country. The bull survived an attack of foot and mouth and when it died was buried in one of the ring forts at Kingsfort, renamed in his honour, ‘Sovereign’s Fort.’ A poem was even written in honour of the bull.

In 1876 Richard Chaloner of Kingscourt, Moynalty held 2,100 acres in County Meath. Richard Chaloner was a noted breeder of Shorthorn cattle. In 1879 Richard Chaloner’s shorthorn bullock won first prizes in all the major shows in Britain and Ireland. Richard Chaloner died in 1879, leaving Kingsfort to his nephew Claud Cole –Hamilton who assumed the name of Chaloner in the terms of his great-grandfather’s will. Claud died on 21st June 1917. He was succeeded by his son, Claud Willoughby Chaloner who was a Major serving with the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers. He and his wife settled at Cherrymount and leased Kingfort for a period before selling it in 1937. The Chaloner family married into the Bomford family and Peter Bamford’s website on the Bomford family  is a brilliant source of information on the Chaloner family and their relatives, the Bomfords.

The last of the Chaloners, Desmond, attended Trinity College and served in the British Army from 1943 to 1947 during the Second World War. His grandfather had died at Kingsfort in 1917 and his grandmother had lived on there until 1927.  His father had lived at Cherrymount and it was here that Desmond was born. Desmond Chaloner died in England in 2010.

Kingsfort was sold to Mr. Forest and then to  Mr. Anthony McCann, who stripped the house. The slates and roof were removed in the 1950s. The estate had been broken up by the Land Commission in 1936.


Knightsbrook House  is located to the south of Trim. John Perceval of Knightsbrook was MP for Granard for 1692-1713 and for Trim 1715-19.  The son of Sir Philip Perceval of Dublin he held lands at Granard. John married Martha, daughter and heiress of Edward Knight of Westmeath. This is where the Knights came into the place name. Following a difficult negotiation in 1716 Perceval sold Jonathan Swift 20 acres for a glebe at Laracor. Swift preserved the family in a rhyme: “Mr Percivalisditching,MrsPercivalin her kitchen, Mr Wesley switching, Mrs Wesley stitching, Sir Arthur Langford riching”. When John’s son, Robert, later wrote to Swift looking for unpaid rent and tithes, Swift responded with an insulting letter. John and Martha Perceval were buried in Laracor.

The family also held lands in Cavan and Leitrim. They held lands at Fosterstown and Knightsbrook. John’s son, Robert of Knightsbrook, was MP for Trim 1717-27 and for Fore 1727-60.  He was Sheriff of Meath 1720 and High Sheriff 1723. Robert was a founder member of the Dublin Society in 1731 – later the RDS. Robert married Jane Westby in 1717. his sister, Jane married Arthur French of French Park in 1722.

Robert died in 1777 and was succeeded by his son, also named Robert. Robert died about 1814 aged 64.

On 17 October 1807 at Mary le-bonne (Marylebone) Church in London, Col. Hawkshaw of the 22nd Regiment of Native Bengal Infantry, married Anna Maria Percival of Knightsbrook, county Meath, Ireland. On 14 January 1813 Westby Perceval of Knightsbrook married Charlotte Wilhemina, eldest daughter of Major-General Hawkshaw of the Indian’s Company Service at Marlebone church, London.  They had 10 children, including Westby Hawkshaw Perceval.

In 1835 Knightsbrook was the residence of Mr. Dalton, the tenant of Knightsbrook Demesne. The house had a ruined and uncomfortable appearance. There were several detached trees around the place but they were described as being without regularity or beauty. The house had two good gardens. In 1835 the house was described as being formerly the residence of Mr. Percival. In 1837 it was noted that of Knightsbrook, formerly the handsome residence of the Perceval family, only the outoffices remained. The first Ordnance Survey maps of about the same time show Knightsbrook House with an avenue from the Trim-Laracor road near Stella’s Cottage and a rear avenue to the farmyard across a ford on the Knightsbrook river.

The estate at Knightsbrook was sold by Westby Perceval under the Encumbered Estates Act of 1848 and the family purchased lands at Canterbury in Australia and then moved to Tasmania in 1853.

Westby Hawkshaw Perceval, eldest son of Westby, was born at Knightsbrook in 1821. On 5 June 1851 Westby-Hawkshaw Perceval, eldest son of Westby Perceval of Knightsbrook married Sarah-Brook Bailey at Southsea, Hampshire, England. They emigrated to New Zealand and their son, Sir Westby Brook Perceval, was born on 11 May 1854 in Launceston, Tasmania before they arrived in New Zealand. Westby Hawkshaw Perceval and his wife converted to Roman Catholicism. Westby Hawkshaw Percival served as a lieutenant in the Mounted Police, Melbourne, Australia. He gained a reputation as one of Rangiora’s stormiest and most colourful settlers. His son however was a cautious, studious and quietly spoken lad. In 1867 he won a scholarship to Christ’s College, Christchurch, where he showed high academic ability. At the age of 16, in May 1870, he was received into the Catholic church, whereupon his father, also a convert, donated a section for Rangiora’s first Catholic church. Westby Hawkshaw Percival died on 5 November 1872 leaving his son sufficient property to assure him a fairly large independent income.

Percival now travelled to England and read law at the Middle Temple, London. Returning to New Zealand  his involvement with the campaign for a railway from Canterbury to the West Coast soon led him into politics. Perceval became Member of Parliament for Christchurch South. Perceval spoke in the debate over the Private Schools Bill, which won him widespread popularity among New Zealand Catholics and helped earn him a papal knighthood in 1891.

In September 1891, when Perceval was 37, his career took an unexpected turn: Premier John Ballance appointed him agent general for New Zealand in the United Kingdom. In London Perceval was popular and highly regarded as an active and effective agent general. From his arrival in December 1891 he made a good impression and was soon invited to join the board of the Royal Colonial Institute. His address to them in May 1892, depicting New Zealand as a land full of potential and safe for British investment, immigrants and tourists, won high praise from Ballance. In Perceval’s hands the role of the agent general was redefined, with new emphasis on publicity, finance and trade. His successor, however, took most of the credit for several policies initiated by Perceval, such as the appointment of a dairy expert to monitor the condition of New Zealand produce. Perceval worked hard to promote New Zealand.

Perceval was stunned by the announcement in January 1896 that he was to be replaced. Perceval chose to stay in England. He was already on the boards of several banks and companies doing business in New Zealand. Perceval served as Tasmania’s agent general from 1896 to 1898. Perceval spent the rest of his life in England, where he enjoyed golf and motoring. He died in Wimbledon, Surrey, on 23 June 1928.

A pedigree for the family from 1100 to 1841 is in the National Library, Dublin.

Lagore House

Lagore is located just east of Dunshaughlin, not far from Ratoath. Lagore House was described as a fine modern house in the 1830s. The gatelodge at Lagore is attributed to the renowned architect, Francis Johnson.

The Boltons family held the position of rector of Ratoath for nearly a hundred years. Henry Bolton was appointed in 1677 and he was succeeded in 1688 by Dr. John Bolton, who resigned in 1720 and was succeeded by Richard Bolton, who held the position until his death in 1761. A close relative, Thomas Lee Norman, then became rector.

John Bolton was appointed Dean of Derry in 1699. Swift hoped for the position but it is said he would not pay the bribe involved in securing the position. John Bolton died in 1724.

Robert Norman, M.P. for Derry 1733 married Sarah, daughter of Very Rev. John Bolton of Lagore. Their son, Thomas, was born in 1715 succeeded to Lagore. The daughter of Thomas, Florinda, married Charles Gardiner and they became the parents of Luke Gardiner, who developed much of Dublin’s Georgian north-side. Thomas was succeeded by his son Robert, who died without an heir in 1771.

In 1799 the lands were transferred to the Thunder family. The Thunder family were a merchant family in Dublin before acquiring lands at Balleally, Lusk, Co. Dublin. When Lagore was acquired Ballaly was retained as a dower house.  Michael Thunder of Ballaly, Co. Dublin was the father of Patrick Thunder of Lagore. In 1798 Patrick married Elizabeth Taaffe of Smarmore Castle. Dr. Plunkett, Bishop of Meath, stayed with Patrick Thunder at Lagore when he visited Ratoath on his visitation of the diocese in 1800 and again in 1819. There was a private oratory in the house.

Patrick Thunder died about 1827 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Michael. Michael Thunder born in 1802, was High Sheriff of Meath in 1850. He married Charlotte Mary D’Alton in 1834. Their eldest son, Patrick, succeeded opt the estates and the second son, Michael settled at Sencehelstown. Michael served in the Rutland Regiment and retired from the army in 1864 as a Lieutenant. In 1837 Lagore House was described as a handsome residence in a richly wooded demesne, abounding with stately timber.

In 1839 William Wilde and George Petrie visited Lagore House to see the artefacts which had been dug out at the site of the crannog in Lagore bog.

Michael’s eldest son, also Michael succeeded him on his death in 1875 but only lived for four years longer and so the estate went to Patrick Thunder. In 1876 Michael Thunder of Lagore held 1,065 acres in Meath but the family also held lands in Westmeath, Kildare and Dublin amounting to a total estate of 2,002 acres.

Patrick Thunder of Lagore and Ballaly, Co. Dublin, was born in 1838. In 1871 he married Mary Anne de Penthony O’Kelly. Their son, Michael was born in 1874. In 1870 there was a family vault erected in the grounds of Ratoath Church. Patrick Thunder died in December 1912. 1n 1901 Patrick Thunder owned Lagore but it was resided in by Higgin Holmes Chippindall. Patrick and his family were residing at Balleally.

Michael Thunder

Michael Thunder, son of George Thunder of Lagore, was killed during World War I. a member of the Royal Flying Corps he died as a result of an accident in 1916. Wing commander Michael Dalton Thunder of Lagore in the RAF was the first man to fly non-stop from Ceylon to Perth in 1943.

In 1926 the untenanted lands of Patrick Thunder were acquired by the Land Commission. The house and surrounding lands were held by the family until November 1941 and they held onto a lodge which they still owned in the 1960s.

Mrs. Claudia Burgoyne and her son Major Mark Teeling Watters purchased Lagore House and lands from the Thunders in 1941. Major Watters had returned from WWII.  The estate had a dairy and a modern bottling plant. Mrs. Burgoyne moved to St. Mary’s Abbey, Trim. Mr. Clements purchased Lagore. In August 1952 a fire destroyed the building. A modern house was erected on the site by the Walsh family. In 1956 the O’Hare family purchased Lagore.

Lakefield House

Lakefield is located off the road between Crossakeel and Collinstown. Casey and Rowan describe Lakefield, Crossakeel, as a deceptive house. While it  appears as standard two-storey over basement of mid-nineteenth century date it actually dates to the mid-eighteenth century. The house has black marble chimneypieces. An early date is supported by the surrounding plantations, clumps of trees including oaks. To the south of the house is the artificial lake which gives the house its name. This lake is called Pigotstown Lake.

The house belonged to the Battersby family. John Battersby of Lakefield was the third son of William Battersby of Smithstown. A Justice of the Peace, John was born in 1722.  Alexander Battersby of Lakefield, son of John Battersby, was Justice of the Peace. He married Elizabeth Cusack in 1807.

In 1830s John Battersby of Lakefield was a magistrate for county Meath. The building was described as a neat stone house, pleasantly situated with suitable outbuildings and a garden.

Robert H. Battersby of Lakefield, held 329 acres in County Meath in 1876. Blaney T. Balfour of Lakefield, Crossakeel, held 76 acres in Co. Tyrone in 1876. In 1878 Robert Henry Battersby of Lakefield patented an apparatus for saving life at sea. In 1901 and 1911 Frederick O’Neill and his family lived at Lakefield. The house had thirteen rooms, eleven windows to the front and sixteen outbuildings.

Larch Hill House and Demesne


Larchill or Larch Hill is located near Kilcock in the townland of Phepotstown and parish of Kilmore. Just off the Kilcock-Dunshaughlin road Larch Hill House is a plain two storey house facing south overlooking a miniature park which contains a collection of rustic follies and garden buildings. Bence-Jones described it as ‘a plain but pleasant house.’ A  two-storey country house, built about 1780 Larchill is perhaps better known for its ornate garden, which has been restored in recent years. The creation of the ornate garden and landscape  at Larchill is difficult to date.

Richard Prentice, a haberdasher from The Coombe in Dublin occupied Larch Hill in the late eighteenth century. He may have established a Ferme Ornéeat Larchhill and constructed the follies although they are generally dated to later. Mr. Prentice was declared bankrupt in 1790, owing ten thousand pounds to a Mr John Smith in Galway.

In 1790 the lease at Phepotstown was taken over by Thomas Watson. The Watson family were a Quaker family from Baltracey, Edenderrry. The house at Larch Hill may have been constructed at this time.  Thomas died in 1822.  His brother, Samuel Eves Watson, took a lease on Larchill when he married Margo Doyle in 1811. In 1820, Samuel E. Watson inherited half the estate of his uncle, Samuel Russell, in Hodgestown, Timahoe. This brought together four estates with a total area of 1,627 acres.  When he died in 1836 his grandson, Samuel Neale, got the estate but he had to take the name Watson in order to inherit. In 1837 Larch Hill, Kilmore, Kilcock was the residence of S.E. Watson. Its grounds were embellished with grottoes and temples. Samuel Neale Watson, as he was now known, married Susanna Davis in 1840 and lived mainly in Dublin. Samuel Neale Watson died in 1883. Seamus Cullen has researched the history of the Watson family.

The Barry family resided at Larchhill from the 1880s until 1993.  Christopher and Maria Barry donated the Stations of the Cross to Moynalvey church. Christopher died before 1911 leaving Maria a widow.  

There is a some suggestion that the development of the gardens began with Robert Prentice in the eighteenth century.  The follies and fermee ornee were further developed by the Watsons between 1810 and 1830. ‘Ferme Ornée’ gardens were the most fashionable gardens of the mid 18th century. The intention was to create a pastoral paradise, embellished with ornamental buildings, statuary, water features and picturesque walks. There are ten follies at Larchill, the most important being the Shell Tower in the walled garden, the lake island castle Gibraltar and the Foxes Earth.

The Foxes Earth consists of a mausoleum and folly. An artificial mound was created and a rustic temple erected on top. There is a stone bridge to the site. Gibraltar consists of a triangular-plan miniature fort with corner towers and turrets. Set in lake the structure has gun loops and is castellated. Mock naval battles were fought across the lake. Cockle Tower consists of a three-stage circular-plan castellated tower with remains of ornamental shell work to interior. When Mrs. Watson got ill, they tried to take her to hospital but she refused saying ‘I will in Larchill stay, dead or alive.’ When she died her ghost could be heard knocking on the hall door.  A priest was called and he confined her spirit in the round tower and locked and sealed the doors and windows. The next owner opened the building, moving the remains to the local churchyard. The spirit of Mrs. Watson still wanders Larchill. An ornamental dairy is located south of the walled garden. There is a boathouse on the lake. The rustic temple consists of six columns set on a hexagonal plan, supporting a rubble stone dome.

Mr. Watson feared that he would be re-incarnated as a fox  and if the hounds followed him he would have cover at Larchill. After his death a number of hunts at Larchill were unsuccessful as the fox made an escape into the fox’s covert. Twenty men were despatched to prevent the fox entering the covert on the next hunt but the fox jumped into the lake and made its way to the covert. An old huntsman said it was Mr. Watson making his escape and the hunt avoided that territory for a period. The erection of the follies is sometimes wrongly attributed to Robert Watson, Master of the Meath Hunt.

In 1994, when the de Las Casas family bought Larchill, the follies were derelict, the lake had been drained and the walled garden lost to grazing. With a grant from the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme and a FAS Community Employment project, the garden, follies, lake and parkland were restored between 1994 and 1999. The project has won many awards. In 2002 Larch Hill was the first Irish recipient of the European Union’s prestigious Europa Nostra Award for Cultural Heritage.


Lennoxbrook is located near Carnaross on the main Carnaross-Kells Road. In 1835 Lennoxbrook was described as a neat residence with some small portions of plantation around it.

The Molloy family farmed at Lennoxbrook. J.C. Shaw wrote an article in the Irish Genealogist  in 1960 on the family. John Molloy leased Lennoxbrook from James Lennox Napper of Loughcrew in 1735. His grandson Edward born 1746 and died in 1814, he was sovereign (mayor) of Kells and captain of the Kells militia. He probably fought against the rebels on the Hill of Tara in 1798 as he and the Upper Kells Infantry company erected a memorial  in Kells churchyard to William Wright, one of the Upper Kells Infantry who was killed at the Battle of Tara on 26th May 1798 aged 56. Edward was succeeded at Lennoxbrook by his second son,  James Dutton Molloy and his son Edward was the last of the Molloys at Lennoxbrook. The last of the family, Edward Molloy, died in 1867 and a broken column over his grave commemorates him. Edward Molloy was born in 1799 and married Laetitia Booth Bell.


Lionsden House

Lionsden House is located at Castlerickard, near Longwood in south west Meath. The house was erected in 1788 by Godwin Swifte IV. John O’Donovan said the name   Lion’s den was a fancy name. O’Donovan preferred Irish names. Beaufort’s map of 1797 showed Lion’s Den. The name could be a play on Richard the Lionheart or through the Fitzleon family. A two-storey over basement house it has bow ends.The ground floor accommodation includes an entrance hall, a drawing room, a living room, dining room, kitchen, utility room, back hall, bathroom, boot room and boiler room. Upstairs are six bedrooms and bathroom. There are two rooms in the basement. The house is vaguely similar to Roristown, Trim. Lionsden was the centre of a small estate which had canals, two ornamental lakes, a fishpond and a dovecote. Lionsden is currently accessed by what was the back entrance.  The main entrance to the house still stands with its original gates but its gate lodge has been removed. There is a dovecote and a lake near the house.

Godwin Swift was the first of the family to be associated with Lionsden and Castlerickard. He was the uncle of Dean Jonathan Swift. The main seat of the Swifts was Swiftsheath, Co. Kilkenny. The Dean’s second cousin was Deane Swife, born in 1707,  who met Jonathan in 1720. Jonathon described him as a “puppy” probably more like the modern word “pup”. Despite this Jonathan gave him a loan of funds based on the security of Lionsden estate. Deane Swift wrote an Essay on the life of Jonathan Swift and edited Swift’s works which included the bulk of Swift’s letters.

Captain Henry Hoener de Mamile, of Nancy, France married Anna Marie Caroline Swifte  in Belgium in 1833. The couple moved to Lionsden about 1835, shortly before the birth of their second son Oswald. They gave him the second name of Napoleon. Anna Marie died in childbirth in 1849. Their children seem to have emigrated to Australia and America. In 1854 Honeur De Mamiel held Lionsden from Godwin Meade  Swift.

Goodwin Meade Pratt Swift of Swiftsheath, Co. Kilkenny was granted a patent in 1856 for an aerial chariot or apparatus for navigating the air. He constructed what he called an “aerial chariot” which consisted of a boat-shaped carriage with one wheel at the front and two at the rear with silk covered wings. The device was drawn forward by an aerial screw or propeller turned by a winch and gear system. He constructed his chariot in the dining room of the house and then widen the doors to get the device outside. He had it hoisted to the top of Foulksrath castle and had his butler climb inside before pushing it over the edge. It plummeted to the ground and the butler broke his leg. The butler received a pension for life. In Castlerickard church there was a brass tablet which read: ‘Godwin Meade Pratt Swifte, Viscount Carlingford, natus 13th August 1805, obit July 4th 1864’. In Castlerickard churchyard the Swift family vault is surmounted by a large three-sided pyramid. The stonework fits tightly together, to form an almost smooth surface. Erected about 1815 the pyramid is inscribed ‘Swifte’ on west elevation.

In 1901 the house was vacant but owned by the Swift family. In 1911 the house was vacant.

Liscarton Castle


Liscarton Castle is located north of Navan, just off the Kells road and on the banks of the river Blackwater. A castle dating from the 15th or 16th century it consisted of two towers joined by a hall. One of the towers was later adapted to make a dwelling house. A medieval church stands close by and a large farm building complex was erected near the house. 

Liscarton Castle was held by Sir William Talbot in 1633. Sir William Talbot was father of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, lord deputy of Ireland under James II.

William Cadogan was born at Somerset in 1601. Member of Parliament for Monaghan from 1639 to 1649 Cadogan defended Trim castle during the troubles of the 1640s. He was appointed governor of Trim Castle and also took charge of putting down rebels around Dublin.  He settled at Liscarton and was High Sheriff of Meath in 1658. He died in 1661. His son, Henry was a barrister in Dublin. Henry died 1713/4.

Henry’s  son, William, became a noted officer in the British Army. Born at Liscarton in 1672 William became an outstanding officer in the British Army. A friend of  John Churchill, 1st duke of Marlborough, Cadogan served with distinction in the War of the Spanish Succession. He served in the Low Countries and fought at Blenheim. In 1715 he was appointed to lead an army to put down the Jacobite rebellion. In 1716 he was made Baron Cadogan and in 1718 he was made an earl. A teapot which was filled from the bottom was named the “Cadogan Tea Pot” as Cadogan was the first to possess such an item.  A lidless teapot it had a funnel at the bottom for filling. Cadogan was made commander in chief of the army after Marlborough’s death in 1722. He died in 1726 at Kensington, London.

In the early nineteenth century Liscarton was in the hands of Gerrard family. In 1835 Liscarton was described: “The ruins of an old castle that originally consisted of two strong quadrangular towers connected by a hall. One tower still stands in a dilapidated condition. The hall has disappeared and the second tower shortened and thatched and made into the residence of T. Gerrard, the owner of the corn mill’. The Gerrards of Liscarton are buried in Donaghpatrick graveyard. Thomas Gerard of Liscarton died in 1763.

Thomas Gerrard of Liscarton died 1784 aged 68. William Gerrard his son died 1792 aged 39. In 1814 Liscarton was the residence of Thomas Gerrard and was described as having considerable outworks, the only part then remaining was an arched gateway, about sixty yards from the main body of the building.

The lands of Liscarton belonging to Thomas Gerrard, William Gerrard and James Cullen were sold by the Encumbered Estates court in 1855. Thomas and William were described as gentlemen but James was described as merchant.

Liscarton was in the hands of Cullen family in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In 1876 James Cullen of Liscarton held 745 acres in County Meath. James was the son of Hugh and Mary Cullen of Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow. James Cullen was the younger brother of Cardinal Paul Cullen. Paul Cullen spent thirty years in Rome and was friends with Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Pius IX. Elected Archbishop of Armagh in 1850 and then Archbishop of Dublin he became the first Irish Cardinal in 1867. At the First Vatican Council Cardinal Cullen proposed the precise and accurate formula for the definition of Papal Infallibility. The cardinal visited his brother’s home at Liscarton, staying there in April 1872 while recovering from a cold.  

James Cullen died at Liscarton in 1886. James Cullen married Kate Lynch and they had three sons. Their son, Paul, became President of Castleknock College. Their son, Hugh, succeeded to Liscarton. Hugh married Mary Hester Colgan in 1888. Hugh died in 1937 and was succeeded by his son, also Hugh. Hugh served as an officer in World War I and was wounded. His brother, Edward, was a chaplain who served at the front during the war. Marrying in 1944 Hugh lived at Liscarton until his death in 1965 and the following year the property was sold. 

Lismullen House


A suggested date for the construction of the house is 1720 –1740 when there was an optimistic period after the Boyne. Lismullen is a typical gentleman’s residence, nothing unique about its design, sited to maximise the use of local scenery. At the turn of the twentieth century the mansion had twenty one rooms and thirty four outoffices. The house had an entrance hall, study, dining room, drawing room, back hall, principal staircase, butler’s pantry, two lavatories and bathrooms, eleven bedrooms, dressing rooms and strong room. The house was decorated with many paintings including a Gainsborough, a Reynolds and portraits of family members and family connections. A door from the main house led into a kitchen, with a scullery and larder. The out offices included a larder, dairy, tiled laundry, apple loft, storerooms and stables. There were three coach houses and a motor house. These out offices were entered through an archway from the back avenue. At the back of these buildings was a large farmyard, hay barn, walled in garden, pleasure ground, conservatory and tennis court.

The Dillons were a prominent family of the Pale. Lodge’s Peerage states that the Dillons of Lismullen were descendants of Thomas, the third son of Sir Robert of Riverstown. William Mallone, Irish papist, was in possession of Lismullen in 1640 but during the Cromwellian confiscation the entire parish of Lismullen and 172 acres at Clonarden in the neighbouring parish of Templekeran parish were allocated to Arthur Dillon.  Arthur’s son, John, added further lands to the estate in the Williamite confiscations. Sir John Dillon’s close connection to Ormond may have resulted in William of Orange spending a night at Lismullen after the Battle of the Boyne. A number of personal items were said to have been given to the Dillons by William of Orange in 1690, two days after the Battle of the Boyne. The items included a glass decanter, a glass posset bowl, a bed-coverlet and two pairs of gauntlets.

John was succeeded by his grandson, John Talbot Dillon who as Member of Parliament for Wicklow introduced a successful bill for some relief of Catholics from the penal laws in 1782. For this support of the Catholic cause Sir John Dillon was created a baron of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Joseph II of Austria. On 22 February 1783 John Dillon received Royal License to use the title and was created baronet by George III on 31 July 1801. Sir John Dillon, his son, Charles and Nathaniel Preston formed a company to exploit a vein of copper ore on the Walterstown lands of Nathaniel Preston. There appear to have been two Sir John Talbot Dillons living at approximately the same period in the nineteenth century and the lives of both having some common events are often confused by writers.

Sir John Talbot Dillon had six sons and three daughters. His eldest son died before his father. His three remaining older sons, Charles Drake, Arthur Richard and William, held the title of baronet in succession following his death. In March 1847 the stables of Sir William Dillon of Lismullen were rented as extra accommodation for paupers by the Dunshaughlin Board of Guardians as the work house at Dunshaughlin was at full capacity.

The fifth son, Rev. Ralph Dillon, left a son, John, who succeeded on the death of his cousin, in 1852. This John was the father of Sir John Fox Dillon.

Sir John Fox Dillon married Marion Louisa Dykes and the couple had only one child, a daughter, Millicent, born in 1895. Sir John enjoyed hunting and was a member of the Meath Hunt and the Norfolk Hunt. Sir John was a candidate in the first Meath County Council elections, running in Tara district. He received twenty-seven votes but failed to get elected. The 1898 Act stipulated that  three seats on the new council were reserved for outgoing members of the Grand Jury and Sir John Dillon was one of the three selected. Sir John had donated a site for a new church at Lismullen and contributed a large amount to the construction costs. 

Sir John remained as churchwarden until his death in 1925. Lady Dillon commissioned a window from Harry Clarke in February 1929 as a memorial to her husband for the new church at Lismullen. The window The Ascension was installed above the altar in March 1930. Lismullen church was demolished in 1964 as a result of declining attendance. The Clarke window was removed to storage in Trim and sold by the church authorities in the 1990s.

 Sir John grew tobacco to support Sir Nugent Everard in his efforts to introduce the industry on a commercial basis in Meath at the turn of the century. He also supported Everard’s experimentation with the growing of hemp to provide the raw material for cordage and as shelter for the tobacco crop. Sir John invented a machine to scotch the hemp and proposed that the 10,000 tons of hemp imported annually from Russia and Poland be produced in Ireland. In 1918 Sir John Dillon disposed of 1,693 acres of his estate at Lismullen under the Land Acts.

In early 1923 a renewed outbreak of violence occurred in the area surrounding Lismullen. Despite his military experience Sir John was not prepared for the arrival of the arsonists. On 5 April 1923 a group of men stole a trap at Knockmark, drove to Dunsany Stores and took petrol which they took to Lismullen. Later that night a large party of men gained entrance to Lismullen house and set the place alight. When the house was destroyed by fire very few items were saved. Sir John found time to send a note to Killeen to warn the Fingalls that the arsonists had said that Killeen was next. The motive for the burning is not clear with various reasons being put forward at the time.

In 1923 he and his family left Ireland behind to purchase a property, Longworth Hall,  in England. Under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act of 1923 Sir John Dillon received £10,942 to rebuild his house. The new ‘modern residence’ at Lismullen was built on the foundations of the destroyed house which was ‘of a very old fashioned and inconvenient type’. The replacement house was as undistinguished as its predecessor being described by one observer as ‘a modern tasteless building’ in 1942. Sir John Dillon died suddenly on 1 November 1925, at his residence, Longworth Hall, at the age of 82.

Since Sir John had no son a distant cousin, Robert William Charlier Dillon, was the heir. Robert’s father died 6 October 1925, just a month before Sir John’s death so Sir Robert inherited the estate at eleven years of age.

The Dillon lands at Lismullen were compulsory purchased by the Land Commission in 1963.

The house and garden were sold on for charitable and social purposes and became a residential conference centre and a hospitality training centre. It is owned by the Lismullin Educational Foundation, an educational charity, which in 2000 completed a major development of the site and facilities. These are inspired by the spirit of the Prelature of Opus Dei and reflect a Christian outlook on life and culture. 

Loughcrew House

Loughcrew house is located near Oldcastle on the road to Kells. In medieval times Loughcrew was the home of the Plunkett family and is the supposed birthplace of St. Oliver Plunkett. The grounds host the annual Mass in honour of St Oliver Plunkett every July.

Loughcrew House with Temple of the Rains (remains of earlier house)

The Naper family erected a house at Loughcrew in 1673. An Irish longhouse, its foundations may be traced in the layout in part of the gardens. Bence-Jones described Loughcrew as a large and severe neo-Classical house by C.R. Cockerell. Charles Roberts Cockrell designed the new house at Loughcrew in 1821 for James Lennox William Naper. He also designed a lodge, the lake, garden and conservatory.  The entrance front had a giant Athenian Ionic portico. Cockrell was unhappy with the finished houses as his client had added features to the exterior. The house was said to have a curse on it, it was burned three times in 100 years. “Three times will Loughcrew be consumed by fire. Crows will fly in and out of the windows. Grass will grow on its doorstep”. Following the third fire the house was demolished in the 1960s  and a smaller house was erected. The giant Ionic portico which survives is a notable feature in the surrounding landscape. The imposing gate lodge, opposite the entrance gate, was designed by C.R. Cockerell. The firm Deane, Thomas Newenham & sons were architect for the re-building of the main house after the fire of 1888.

Sir Robert Napier was made Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1593 by Queen Elizabeth I.  James Naper received lands at Loughcrew as a result of the Cromwellian Plantation. James was a brother-in-law of the man who surveyed Ireland for the confiscations, William Petty. Naper served as High Sheriff for Co. Meath in 1671. James Naper was an M.P. for Athboy 1695-9, for Trim 1703-13 and for Co. Meath 1715-18. In the eighteen century the family married into the Dutton family and one elder son received the title Baron Sherborne with his younger brother inheriting Loughcrew.

James Lenox William Naper was born in 1791 and inherited the estates on the death of his father, William, later that year. In 1824 James married Selina Skipwith and their son, James Lenox was born in 1825. In 1826 J.L. Naper of Loughcrew became master of the Ballymacad and he built the kennels in an old mill at Ballymacad. James, senior, died in 1868.

In 1837 Loughcrew House was the residence of Jas. L.W. Naper, and described as a magnificent structure in the Grecian Ionic style, erected from the designs by Mr. Cockerell, of London, it was faced entirely in hewn limestone, had a noble portico, contained some good paintings by old masters. The mansion, the outoffices (which are in superior order) and improvements in the demesne are stated to have cost upwards of £80,000. The demesne comprised about 900 plantation acres of which nearly 200 were planted, the principal approach was by a lodge of elegant design and the scenery in the vicinity was of a pleasing character.

In 1883 James Lennox Naper held 18, 863 acres in Meath and 176 acres in Westmeath. The estate today is reduced to 200 acres. In 1901 James L. Naper held Loughcrew. The house had fifty rooms, twenty nine windows to the front and six outbuildings. James Lenox Naper, aged 75, lived at Loughcrew with his sister in 1901. There were thirteen servants living in the house but additional servants and workers lived on the estate. In 1911 William Lenox Naper, aged 32, and his wife lived at Loughcrew. There were nineteen servants living in the house.

William Lenox Naper, was awarded the Military Cross for services in the Royal Horse Guard during World War One but he died without issue and his widow Adela married the colourful adventurer, Rodney Matthews, in 1946. The gardens at Loughcrew were developed and opened as a visitor attraction. An annual opera festival is held at Loughcrew.

Maperath House

The house at Maperath, Dulane, Kells no longer exists. It was demolished in the 1950s. It had been home to the Rowley family and then the Archdale family. It had extensive parkland surrounding the house. Behind the house stood a courtyard of outbuildings and a walled garden, the remains of both which still stand.

In 1318 at the Battle of Faughart Edward Bruce was killed by John Mapas from Drogheda. The Mape family were supposed to be descended from John. The head of the family was called “The Mape”. In 1503 The Mape of Maperath was killed by the O’Reilly’s in his own castle. In 1598 Mape of Maperath was one of the leading gentlemen of county Meath. Around 1600 Henry Mape of Maperath died and his eldest son, Gerald, was made a ward until he reached his full age. Edward Mape of Maperath was attainted in 1641.

The Rowley family settled in the North of Ireland in the reign of James I. Henry Rowley settled at Warrenstown, Co. Meath in 1630 and his son, Henry settled at Maperath. Henry of Maperath married the daughter of Dr. Moorecroft, archdeacon of Meath but they had no children. The estate at Warrenstown was sold and his other estates went to his eldest daughter. She had married George Fisher of Galtrim and their son, Henry, succeeded to the estates and took the surname Rowley.

Henry married Sarah Johnston and died in 1807. He was succeeded by his son, Thomas Taylor Rowley. In 1798 Thomas married Eliza Toler, niece of the 1st Earl of Norbury. Thomas leased nearby Oakley Park from 1829 to 1833 when he was re-building Maperath. A road was constructed between the two houses at this time.  In 1837 Maperath was the residence of T. Taylor Rowley. Their son, Henry, firstly married Mary Lucas St. George, and then married Georgina Grady, co heiress to the estates of Standish Grady of Elton, Co. Limerick. Their son, Standish Grady Rowley, born in 1834, inherited Maperath. In 1876 Henry Rowley of Maperath held 684 acres in County Meath.

At some later date the Rowleys sold the house to the Archdalls of Athboy. In 1911 William Stewart Archdall, an engineer born in Co. Fermanagh, lived at Maperath with his family. During the 1930s the house was left vacant after the Archdall sisters had all died. The estate at Maprath was acquired by the Land Commission in the early 1930s. It was demolished in the 1950s.

Mitchelstown House

Mitchelstown House is located at Trim Road, Athboy. Casey and Rowan describe Mitchelstown as a ‘handsome three-storey house of late Georgian character’’ built about 1800. It has a standard plan with a large hall with reception rooms either side.

Ezekiel Hopkins, bishop of Derry, died in 1690. The family acquired lands at Athboy and resided at Athboy Lodge before moving to Mitchelstown House. Francis Hopkins of Newtown, Co. Meath married Anne Tighe of South Hill of the Tighe family of Mitchelstown, Co. Westmeath. Born in 1757 his grandson, Francis, married Eleanor Thompson of Rathnally. Francis was a solicitor and became agent for the Earl of Darnely. Francis Hopkins of Athboy was created a baronet in 1795. As a magistrate he raised a militia who dispersed a large body of insurgents in 1798. He represented Kilbeggan in the Dublin parliament from 1798 to 1800. Sir Francis died at Mountjoy Square, Dublin, in 1814 and was succeeded by his son, Sir Francis, the second Baronet, who was born in 1813. The family were buried in Rathmore where there are a number of memorials. The family had a residence at Rochfort in Westmeath.

Sir Francis acquired Tudenham Park (Rochfort Park) Mullingar in 1836 from the Landed Estates Court. His sister and heiress, Anna Maria, was married to its previous owner, Nicholas Loftus Tottenham. In his will Francis left the property to his sister. Mr. Hopkins of Mitchelstown had a hunting pack in the eighteenth century. In 1832 a number of packs amalgamated to form the Meath Hounds, based at Mitchelstown with Mr. Hopkins as master. Sir Francis served as High Sheriff of Westmeath.  In 1835 Mitchelstown was described as a good house of three stories and basement, the residence of Francis Hopkins. The townland was the property of the Earl of Darnley. Sir Francis was a traveller and visited the Shah of Persia in 1835. In 1839 Sir Francis Hopkins took part as a knight in a medieval tournament at Eglinton, Scotland.  Bryan Seery was tried for the attempted assassination of Sir Francis in 1845 and executed at Mullingar following a second trial in 1846. It was quite a controversial trial at the time. Sir Francis died in Maderia in 1860 and the title became extinct. His eldest son, William succeeded him at Mitchelstown.

William Hopkins of Mitchelstown married Frances Rotherham of Crossdrum and their son Edward Francis Hopkins married Frances Catherine Battersby and served in Ceyon Civil Service 1874 to 1907. In 1876 William Hopkins of Mitchelstown House held 427 acres in County Meath. William died in 1880. William John Hopkins was born about 1858. In the 1901 and 1911 census William John Hopkins and his family  was living at Mitchelstown.

Mitchelstown house was acquired by Ben Dunne of Dunnes Stores in the 1970s and became a weekend home for his daughter Mrs. Margaret Heffernan and her family. Mrs. Heffernan’s husband, Andrew, is a consultant endoctrinologist at the Blackrock Clinic. The house was refurbished  in the early 1990s. 


Moorside House, near Clonalvy, on the borders of north County Dublin, was home to the Ball family. The name of the town land is Mooresides. Bence–Jones described Moorside as a ‘pleasant eighteenth century house”. The house was enlarged by taking in what had formerly been a separate building at the back. The Balls held lands at Reynoldstown, Naul, Co. Dublin and at Mooreside, Clonalvey, Co. Meath. Members of the family lived at both places. 

Laurence Ball was born in 1776. He acquired full title to Moorside, Clonalvey, in a deed of release in 1811. Mooreside went to his fourth son, Richard. Richard Ball, the son of Laurence Ball and Catherine Jordan, was born in 1812. He married Mary Agnes Shannon in 1853. He succeeded his father in the lands at Mooreside while his brother Patrick succeeded to lands at Lunderstown, Duleek. The second son, Richard Oliver Ball, born in 1859, married Mary Tench in 1896.In 1876 Richard Ball of Moorside, Naul, held 187 acres in Co. Dublin. He was a senior partner in the solicitor firm of Tench and Reynolds. Richard Ball bred Reynoldstown, the winner of the English Grand Nation in 1935 and 1936. Reynoldstown was bred by Richard Ball, who had bred his dam and grandam. Ball’s son, also Richard, broke Reynoldstown at age three, and at age four he was sent hunting and was schooled over “made” fences. Richard Ball died in 1941.

His son, Richard Ball, was born in 1898. He married Mavis Norah Worrall in 1948. He was Director of the National Stud between 1956 and 1959 and President of the Irish Bloodstock Breeders’ Association from 1959 to 1962. His son, Charles Richard, was educated at Stonyhurst College and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. 

Mount Hanover

Mount Hanover

Mount Hanover is located between Julianstown and Duleek, near Kilsharvan. Maurice Craig said the Mount Hanover was an early 18th century house, noted for its fine ironwork. Craig said it probably dated to the first half of the eighteenth century. Casey and Rowan described Mount Hanover as a very tall gabled Georgian house with long fifteen pane sash windows with thick glazing bars. Mulligan dated the house to the early part of the eighteenth century possibly 1720. The ground floor rooms have plasterworks representing birds, fruit and foliage.

John Curtis of Mount Hanover married Martha Towers in 1744. He died in 1775. His second son, Richard, succeeded him at Mount Hanover. John’s daughter Sophia married John Forbes of Newstone, Drumconrath. John Forbes was M.P. for Drogheda and Lord Mayor of Dublin. He later served as governor of the Bahamas. He died in 1797. Rev. Richard Curtis lived at Mount Hanover. In 1786 Arthur Forbes was resident at Mount Hanover.

In 1801 George Ball was noted as resident. Mount Hanover was occupied by Gustavus Hamilton in 1814. The house then passed to the Matthews family.

In 1835 Mount Hanover was the residence of James Mathews and was a good house with offices. In 1837 James Mathews was one of the shareholder sin the Drogheda and Kells Railway company. The Mathews family were involved in the formation of the Drogheda Steampacket Company (1826-1902). In 1854 James Mathews held Mount Hanover.

Fr. Matthews from Mount Hanover was parish priest of St. Mary’s Drogheda. Fr. Mathews had been suspended  for seven years for supporting his niece in a case against her superiors in a convent in England. His niece was Susan Saurin of Garballagh House, Duleek. In 1876 James Mathews of Mount Hanover House held 968 acres in County Meath. At Christmas the Matthews family put on a pantomime and tea party for the children of Mount Hanover School. Patrick, son of James Mathews died in 1895. In 1901 Elizabeth Mathews, widow, aged 41 was living at Mount Hanover. The house had twenty rooms, seventeen windows to the front and seventeen outbuildings. James Stanley Mathews, elder son of Patrick and Elizabeth Mathews of Mount Hanover, was educated at Oxford College and was called to the Irish Bar in 1911. He married Phillis Mary Lentaigne in 1914. He served with  the South Irish Horse from 1915 to 1919.

According to ‘The parish of Duleek and over the ditches’ one of the Matthews family was caught in the 1916 ambush at Ashbourne. The car in which they were driving, a Rover,   received a few bullet holes. There was a cricket club at Mount Hanover between 1949 and 1956. The house was sold in 1985.

Mount Hevey

Mount Hevey is located at Hill of Down, Clonard, Kinnegad. The name of the townland is Kilnagallagh. Casey and Rowan describe Mount Hevey as a square Italianite villa of a type popularised by William Caldbeck in the 1850s.  The house consists of two storeys over a basement. The house dates to about 1860 but there was an earlier house which was incorporated into the farmyard. The farmyard complex dates from about 1860, the same time as the house was erected. A walled garden dates from about 1890. There is a shell house bearing the date “1912”.

There is a record of a John Hevey, merchant, in Kinnegad in 1746. In 1805 there is a record of Garrett Hevey of Mount Hevey. Patrick Langan married Mary Hevey of Mount Hevey. Their son, Frederick Hevey Langan, inherited Mount Hevey from John Hevey, Mary’s father.

In 1835 it was leased to Mr. Heavy of Mount Heavy by the owner Mr. McManus. In 1854 the townland was in the ownership of James McManus and Frederick H. Langan was renting the major part of the townland and he in turn was renting a house offices and land to Michael Hevey. The major house was the residence of Frederick H. Langan.

Frederick Hevey Langan was born in 1825. He was a magistrate. In 1876 Frederick H. Langan of Mount Hevey held 929 acres in County Meath and 2051 acres in County Galway. He died in 1890. In 1901 John H. Langan and his wife were residing at Mount Hevey. The house had nineteen rooms, twenty two windows to the front and twenty eight outbuildings. John Francis Hevey Langan was the only son of Frederick Hevey Langan and was born in 1871. In 1900 he married Rowena Martin of Dublin and they had three children, two daughters and a son, Frederick. John was High Sheriff of Meath in 1913. The family also had property in Dublin. John died in 1955. His eldest son, Frederick Hevey Langan, married Myrrha Jepson about 1940. Frederick Hevey Langan was involved in the R.D.S. and was nominated as a candidate in a Senate election in 1970. Frederick died in 1978, a year after Mount Hevey was sold.  His only son, Peter St. John Hevey Langan, became a barrister and was called to the English Bar in 1967. Princess Margaret attended the ceremony.

Mountainstown House

Mountsainstown House

Mountainstown House, located north of Navan at Castletown is a wonderful Queen Anne house with a well maintained courtyard and estate. Home to the Pollock family,  

Mountainstown House is not near any mountain or town and probably derives its name from a mounting post or halt, according to Rowan and Casey.  Maurice Craig described Mountainstown as a somewhat naïve but charming building.

Samuel Gibbons lived at Mountainstown in the early eighteenth century. It appears that the house was originally built for Richard Gibbons about 1720. In the late eighteenth century his only surviving child, Anne Gibbons, sold it to John Pollock, whose family had been renting the estate for some time.

John Pollock was the third son of John Pollock, a Newry linen merchant. Pollock became a solicitor in Dublin and agent for the Duke of Devonshire, one of the largest landowners in Ireland and was a Dublin based solicitor. In 1813 the main block of the house was extended by a long two-storey gabled wing built on to the southwest corner and converting the house to an L-shaped plan. The Venetian doorcase bears the Pollock coat of arms.

Today the derelict remains of Kilshine church is situated opposite the main gates of Mountainstown House. John Pollock rebuilt the church in 1815 and presented the parish with a silver chalice. Kilshine Church was closed in 1958 and was de-consecrated and the furnishings removed. The Pollock memorial tablets were erected in Donaghpatrick Church.

The 1798 rebels passed through the Mountainstown and Georges Cross area. There are a great number of Croppie graves in Mountianstown estate. In 1998 a multi-denominational service was held to commemorate the hundreds of United Irishmen from Wexford who fought at the battle of Knightstown Bog on 14th July 1798. A stone plaque was erected to commemorate those who died. The Pollocks of Mountainstown took an active part in the commemoration ceremonies.

John Pollock died in December 1826 leaving an only son, Arthur, born 1785. Arthur Hill Cornwallis Pollock spent much of his early years travelling Europe. Arthur was High Sheriff of Meath in 1809 and died in 1846.

In 1835 Mountainstown House, the seat of Mr. A.H.C. Pollock was described as being surrounded by beautiful planting and ornament ground. North of the house was a small  fishpond for ornament. In the farmyard there was a small pond and two fine spring wells. Situated in the northwest of the townland was a beautiful decoy, in which ducks, teel and widgeon were caught.

Arthur was succeeded by his son, John Osborne George Pollock, who was born in 1812. He was a justice of the peace and a deputy lieutenant of the county. He served as High Sheriff for the county in 1854. John died in 1871 and was succeeded by his sons, Arthur Henry Taylor and John Naper George. In 1876 Arthur Pollock held 848 acres in county Meath and Maria Pollock of Mountainstown held  1174 acres in county Meath.

John Naper George married Anna Josephine Barrington of Limerick. Dying in 1905 John was succeeded by his eldest son, also named John, born 1896. Anna Josephine lived on until 1947, surviving her husband by forty years. John Pollock served during World War I in the North Irish Horse and died in 1966.

There was also a large amount of material on the Irish Pollock families showing their descent from the main family, including written histories on the Pollocks of Newry, Balleyedmond, Balleymagregrechan and Mountainstown, and showing the descent of James Knox Polk, the 11th President of the United States of America from the Irish Pollocks. A house in Scotland, called Mountainstown, is home of a Pollock family but there is no clear relationship with the Meath Pollocks. President Polk may be related to the Pollocks of Scotland according to one source.

Moydorragh House, Nobber

The Cruys (Cruise) family held castles and estates of Cruicetown and Moydorragh. As early as 1292 Robert de Cruys of the Naul had an interest in the lands at Moydorragh. The family of Moydorragh may have given their name to the townland. A Richard Moydarragh is recorded as being in conflict with the Cruise family and the Crown in 1310.

Christopher Cruise of the Naul held Moydorragh in the early 17th century. In 1789 Joseph Cruise sold the lands of Cruicetown, Altmash and Moydorragh to Arthur Ahmuty of London. In 1799 the Ahmuty family leased lands to Peter Cruise of Moydorragh.  

In 1831 the Ahmuty lands at Cruicetown, Moydarragh and Altmash were acquired by the executors of William Alexander Shaw, late of Great Denmark Street, Dublin. His heir William John Alexander took the surname Shaw. In 1854 Moydorragh was held from Shaw by Peter Cruice.

Moydorragh house is a Georgian two storey farmhouse erected by the Cruise family in 1790. In 1835 Moydorragh House was described as being a two storied, slated house, the seat of Andrew and Peter Cruise. In 1901 Henry O’Neill held Moydorragh House which was not occupied. In 1911 Margaret McKeever was the landowner of Moydorragh townland with the house not being occupied. 

Moygaddy House

Just outside Maynooth Moygaddy was the property of the Duke of Leinster in 1835. Half the townland was leased by  Mr. Tuffe who erected a house which he called Moygaddy House. Also in the aerea was Mr. Cannon’s farmhouse, where the Duke’s steward lived which was also called Moygaddy House. Mr. Thomas Cannon of Naas held half the townland. About 100 acres of the Duke of Leinster’s demesne was in this townland and he had about 25 acres planted. The demesne abounded with pheasants, hares, partridges and wild fowl. Mr. Cannon’s house was later re-named Owenstown House. Mr. Tuffe’s house stood near the remains of Moygaddy castle.

Moiygaddy House is a two-storey over basement house. A bridge was constructed over Lyreen stream at the same time the house was constructed. Stabling and outbuildings were also constructed at the at the same time.

 Lt.-Col. Francis Michael Benedict Carey Boylan was the youngest son of Thomas boylan of Hilltown. He served in both World Wars and became a land agent. He lived at Moygaddy House.

Moyglare House or Moyglare Manor


Moyglare Manor is situated 2km north of Maynooth on the Meath–Kildare border. Dating to about 1780 the house is three storeys over a basement. The entrance hall has a fine plaster frieze. The grand central staircase is a feature in itself with the hall stretching up three floors.  The house is approached by a tree lined avenue nearly a kilometre in length.  Moyglare Stud now stands in what was once the demesne of Moyglare House. The remains of Moyglare Castle and church are to the south of the house, nearer Maynooth. Moyglare was granted to a knight called Le Bret by Hugh de Lacy in the late twelfth century. The Delahoyde family held Moyglare in the 1400s.

The Sandford family had a castle at Moyglare. Captain Theophilus Sandford, of Moyglare, Co. Meath, died in 1668 and was buried at Moyglare. His eldest son, Henry settled at Castlerea where a descendant held more than 24,000 acres in the 1870s.

John Adlercron lived at Moyglare in the first half of the nineteenth century. John and Dorothea Catherine Ladeveze-Adlercron travelled to Europe during the period 1806–49. John travelled to Moscow in 1805-6. They had only one daughter, Anne.

The Cannon family were associated with Moyglare from the middle of the eighteenth century. Thomas Cannon married Bridget Aylmer in 1775. In 1837 Moyglare was the seat of Charles Cannon and described as a handsome mansion, situated in an extensive and well planted demesne. The property was still held by him in the 1860s.

The Tuthill of Moyglare were a branch of the Tuthill family of Peamore, Devon. William Devonsher Tuthill  was born in 1815 at Webbville House, Blackrock. His parents were Rev. Christopher and Arabella Tuthill of North Ballinastona, Co. Limerick. He joined the  army and became an officer in 1841. Reaching the rank of Captain in 1848 he retired in 1850. In 1852 he married Alicia, daughter of John Fitzgerald Gabbett. In 1876 there were various Tuthill family members who held lands in county Limerick. Captain Tuthill of Moyglare and William Bredin of Castlegarde, Co. Limerick shared 821 acres. George Tuthill of Dublin held 464 acres. Capt. J. V. Tuthill of England held 260 acres. John L. Tuthill of Dublin held 198 acres. William Tuthill of Moyglare, Maynooth held 286 acres. William died in 1885 and was buried at Moyglare churchyard.

Their eldest son was Christopher Devonsher Villiers, a captain in the 4th Hussars. He died in 1909. His brother, Captain John Fitzgerald Tuthill, lived at Moyglare. Another son, Christopher, emigrated to New Zealand where he named his new home, “Moyglare.”

In 1911 John Fitzgerald Tuthill lived at Moyglare. John’s eldest son was William Fitzgerald Tuthill and he lived at Moyglare. William married Katharine Jessie Winsloe in 1918. She had previously been married to Major Alfred Cairnes. She died in 1958.

The house was sold about 1976. In 1980s Moyglare was the home of Dr. and Mrs. W.G. Fegan. William Fegan was Professor of Surgery at Trinity College, Dublin. He lived at Moyglare House  before moving to Lamu, Kenya where he died in 2007.

Norah Devlin purchased the house in the early 1980s and converted it into a country house hotel. The renowned hotel and award winning restaurant was in operation for many years and featured in ‘Ireland’s Blue Book’ of country house hotels. With no family member able to take over the hotel the property was sold.

Moynalty Lodge or House

Moynalty ouse

Moynalty Lodge or House is located near the village of Moynalty in north Meath. Erected for John Farrell in the 1820s Casey and Rowan described it as a charming Regency-style house.

James Farrell was a brewer from Blackpitts, Dublin. His father, John, was originally from Stamullen. Becoming wealthy James lived on Merrion Square, Dublin and even lent a considerable sum of money to Lord Gormanston. When the penal laws with regard to land ownership were abolished James Farrell took advantage of his new rights and in March 1790 purchased a block of lands at Moynalty including the townlands of Moynalty, Walterstown, Rathbawn, Rathmanroe, Rathstephen and nine acres at Curraghtown. James continued to reside in Merrion Square and granted Moynalty to his son, John. Another son, Thomas, was given lands at Robertstown.

The Moynalty estate included some 2654 statute acres. In 1819 John Farrell granted an acre of land for the erection of a new Catholic chapel and donated £200 towards its construction. The Protestant church was re-built about the same time and John provided lands for the extension of the cemetery. Work on the new village of Moynalty began in 1826. A primary school was also part of the new village plan. The mud walled houses of the village were demolished and the houses were erected to a Swiss style. All the houses were erected on only one side of the street giving rise to the phrase “All to one side like Moynalty.” In 1837 Moynalty village was described as “of recent erection, was, till within the last few years, composed of cabins; it is now clean and well-built, and comprises 33 detached houses, noted for their neatness, with the church at one of its extremities, and the R.C. chapel at the other: the improvement has been effected by J. Farrell, Esq., the present proprietor, who has also, by extensive and judicious plantations, greatly benefited the surrounding country, and has erected some substantial farm-houses on his estate.”

John Farrell erected Moynalty House. A two storey over basement house Moynalty has a limestone doric porch approached by limestone steps. The house has two entrance avenues one from the village and the second near the Catholic Church. The house is now hidden from the road by dense woodlands.  A walled garden was constructed nearby. With its intricate woodwork trim, the gate lodge too seems to have been inspired by Swiss style. Serving as a gatelodge from its construction until 1929, the building actually contained two dwellings. A Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant of the county and high sheriff of Meath in 1843 John married Elizabeth Emily Bennett of Thomastown, Co. Offaly.

Their son, John Arthur, who was born in 1825, inherited the estate on the death of his father in 1870. John Arthur married the Honorable  Lucretia Preston, daughter of Lord Gormanston in 1860 at the chapel at Gormanston Castle. In 1883 John Arthur Farrell of Moynalty was listed as one of the great landowners of Britain and Ireland, holding 4790 acres. John Arthur became known as ‘Jack the Leveller’ as a result of taking a hard line with some tenants. In 1869 Farrell’s agent was shot and wounded.  John Arthur Farrell died in 1904 and his son John Edward arrived home from Tasmania to take over the estate. John Edward had served as a lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire regiment. He became  High Sheriff of Meath in 1907. He married Harriet Nicholas in 1884 and they had four sons and six daughters. Due to ill health John Edward had to dispose of some of the estate and the Land Commission began to break up the estate. John Arthur’s second son, Colonel Edward Farrell, took over the neighbouring estate of Walterstown from the Kellett family.

The history of the Farrells is outlined in the history of Moynalty, ‘Not so much to one side,’ by Valentine Farrell, a descendant of the family.

Moyrath Castle

Moyrath Castle is located near Kildalkey. Moyrath Castle consists of a medieval tower with rounded corners and nineteenth century battlements which was re-modelled and a two storey house added. The castle was said to have been erected by Lord Geoffry de Montemarisco in 1219. The castle is probably a tower house of the fifteenth century.

The Nugent family were a branch of the Earls of Westmeath family. Moyrath was purchased by William-Og Nugent, second son of William, first Baron Delvin, and from that time became the seat of the family, who took the name of Nugents of Moyrath. William’s grandson, Christopher, was living at Moyrath in 1499. Sir Thomas Nugent of Moyrath represented Westmeath in the parliament of Elizabeth I. Francis Nugent, son of Sir Thomas was born at Moyrath about 1569. Becoming a priest in the Franciscan Capuchin order, he was the founder of the Irish and Rhenish provinces of that order. He died in France in 1635. A descendant Sir Thomas Nugent was created a baron in 1622. The family managed to hold onto their lands at Moyrath during the Cromwellian confiscations but lived at Dardistown and then at Taghmon, Co. Westmeath.  Sir Robert, son of Thomas, became the second baron and lived at Taghmon. His son, Thomas, succeeded in 1675. A supporter of James II, following the defeat at the battle of the Boyne, Thomas followed his king to France. Having two daughters the title became extinct on his death.

The Ashe family seem to have held Moyrath in the seventeenth century. Thomas Ashe married the daughter and heiress of Nicholas Bailey who had acquired the monastery of Newtown-Trim following the confiscation of the monasteries. Henry, grandson of Thomas, lived at Moyrath.   Henry’s son, Nicholas, succeeded to the estates at Newtown and when he died in 1656 his estates were inherited by his cousin, William Ashe of Summerstown.

The Barnewalls of Trimblestown held Moyrath. Gerald Potterton, who gave a tour of the house to the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society in 2008, said that there was a curse associated with Moyrath. When the Barnewalls were dispossessed and forced to leave the castle Lady Barnewall pronounced a curse on the ancient castle of Moyrath. As she departed she flung open the carriage door and pronounced that there would be seven widows in Moyrath. Part of Moyrath was held by Speaker Connolly of Castletown.

In 1753 Moyrath was leased by Thomas Potterton of the Rathcormick family. His son, Henry inherited Moyrath and then his son, Thomas, held Moyrath  until his death in 1834. Thomas was concerned with regard to the title of the property and in 1801 he sold the property to his lawyer cousin for five shillings and a week later bought it back again for a similar sum. 

In the 1830s the castle was lived in by Henry Grattan M.P. for Meath. He was the landowner and leased Moyrath to the Pottertons. Henry Grattan, son of the great statesman of the late eighteenth century, was elected as M.P. for Dublin in 1826 and became M.P. for Meath in 1831. Grattan supported Repeal of the Act of Union. He served as M.P. for Meath until 1852. He died in 1859.

The castle was inherited by Henry, son of Thomas. In 1835 the remains of the castle had been partially re-fitted and occupied as part of the residence of H. Potterton. In 1840 Henry married Susanna Tarrant, who came with a substantial dowry of £4000. Some of this dowry was expended on renovating Moyrath and constructing a farmyard. A stone arch bears the inscription HP 1841. Henry died in 1862 and his wife two years later. Their son, Thomas, came of age in 1872 and inherited Moyrath.

In 1876 Thomas Potterton of Moyrath held 966 acres in County Meath. Three generations of Pottertons died young and the castle was sold to the Collins family in 1896. In 1901 James Collins and his family resided at Moyrath. In 1911 Frank Collins was living at Moyrath. In 1948 the property was sold to an Englishman, Major R. Lesley Johnson. Mr. Johnson was the seventh generation male occupant who sadly died suddenly in 1976.

In 1984 Moyrath was purchased by the Potterton family and became home to Gerald Potterton and his family. Homan Potterton gives a good account of Moyrath in his book “Potterton People and Places: Three centuries of an Irish family.”

Mullaghfin House

Mullaghfin or Mullafin House is located at Balrath, Kentstown. Casey and Rowan described Mullaghfin as a handsome late eighteenth century gabled farmhouse of two storeys over basement. Two small windows set high up to light the attics.

Sir Andrew Aylmer of Balrath married Catherine Hussey. Their daughter, Mabel, married John strong of mullafin. This couple had five sons. The family inherited an estate at Weston, Dublin.  In 1837 Mullaghfin was the property of H. Smith Esq. In 1876 Capt. Wm. F. Smith, Mullafin, Navan, held 551 acres in county Meath while William Smith of Mullafin held 117 acres.

The Mannions of America mini-series was part filmed at Mullaghfin House. The stars were David Soul and Pierce Brosnan. The Mannions of America marked the arrival of Pierce Brosnan as an actor in Hollywood.

The house has had various residents including Ounans, Hutleys, Knights and Roundtrees. During the Knight’s time a restaurant operated in the house.

  Netterville Amshouses, Dowth


The Netterville Almshouses at Dowth were erected in 1877 to the design of George Ashlin. Ashlin had an early association with the distinguished architect, E.W. Pugin. Near the almshouses stands the medieval castle of the Nettervilles. A late Victorian institutional building the entire spans 7000 sq. ft. A chapel was one of the features of the building. The plaque over front door reads: ‘These almshouses were built A.D. 1877 out of the surplus fund accumulated by provident management of the Netterville charities by the trustees. Arthur James Earl of Fingall. Richard Gradwell, Esq. of Dowth Hall, Co. Meath. Malachy Strong Hussey, Esq. of Westown, Co. Dublin.’ It has been adapted to a family home and re-named Netterville Manor. 

The Netterville Almshouses were erected from monies left in the estate of the 6th Viscount Netterville. Dowth Castle was the ancestral home of the Netterville family. This family may have been granted lands here as early as the late twelfth century. The Castle was abandoned when the new house, Dowth Hall, was erected in the eighteenth century. The sixth Viscount Netterville, John, died unmarried in 1826 and in his will he left the castle to be fitted up as an alms house for aged women. Lord Netterville’s wishes were that ‘the inmates should live in peace and good feeling with each other; and that they must be clean, tidy and perfectly sober, and that they must attend when able to those who from sickness are unable to do this for themselves.’ Lord Netterville left 60 acres of land for the support of six aged women and six orphan boys. The original castle was altered and repaired for their accommodation and a school attached. A small gothic style church was erected for the widows but when the new building was erected in 1877 a chapel was included in the main building and so this church was abandoned.

The Netterville Institution, as it was called, embraced also a National School, built on its grounds, of which William David O’Reilly was the master for thirty-five years. His son, John Boyle O’Reilly, was born at Dowth in 1844. John joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was transported to Australia. He escaped to America where he became publisher of ‘The Pilot’ newspaper.  There is an annual tribute to O’Reilly at the nearby churchyard.  

In 1877 the new Almshouses were erected. The building was constructed of red-brick with limestone and blue-brick trim. In 1901 Caroline McGrath was matron of the Institute. In 1911 Caroline McGrath was the Matron and there were eight women over 50 and seven girls under 20. All were single.

The Institution closed in the early 1960s and Netterville was the base for the archaeological excavations for Newgrange in the later 1960s. Martin Brennan was a part owner of the building for a period when it was used as a centre for martial arts. Martin Brennan challenged conventional opinion about the function of Newgrange and the passage-mounds of Ireland and presented evidence showing that many of these 5,000-year-old monuments were used as complicated astronomical observatories. His books, The Boyne Valley Vision and The Stones of Time, both published in the early 1980s, continue to hold a fascination with the public.

Netterville was then held by an American heiress of the Hearst family. Netterville was occupied by the Buddist Foundation of Ireland for a period. It was then developed as a guest house which opened in 1998.

Newcastle House

Newcastle House was located between Oldcastle and Virginia on a minor road. In 1911 the house had twenty two room, eighteen windows to the front and twenty two outbuildings. There were stables and a walled in garden. The house is now demolished but part of the outbuildings still remain.

Thomas Battersby established the family at Newcastle. Thomas was born in 1767, the son of John Battersby of Lakefield. In 1799 he married Margaret Rotheram, eldest daughter of George Rotheram of Crossdrum. Thomas died in 1839.

In 1835 Newcastle was the property of J.L.W. Naper and let to Thomas Battersby J.P. for his life. There was a handsome house and a good deal of grass and valuable timber on Mr. Battersby’s  demesne. The house was pleasantly situated and the demesne neatly planted.

Thomas was succeeded by his son, George.  George’s brother, Edward, served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and is buried in Barbados. George was seated at Loughbawn and was a Judge of the Provincial Court of Dublin.  In 1847 Frederick William Battersby of Newcastle House died of typhus fever caught while undertaking his duties as a member of the Oldcastle Relief Committee. He was aged twenty seven. Thomas George, son of George, was born in 1832. In 1854 Thomas Battersby was leasing Newcastle House and 200 acres from James W.L. Naper. In 1876 Thomas G. Battersby of Newcastle House, Oldcastle, held 79 acres in county Cavan and 112 acres in co. Louth but no lands in Co. Meath. The Co. Meath lands were held as tenants of the Napers. Thomas served as a justice of the peace for counties Meath, Westmeath and Cavan. Thomas married Henrietta Mary Anne Rotten from Bath in England. Dying in 1887 Thomas was buried at Loughcrew. There were 808 acres in the Newcastle estate.

Thomas the eldest son succeeded in 1887 but died a year later to be succeeded by his brother, John Albert. John married a cousin Alice Isabella Battersby of Cromlyn and they had two daughters Alice and Violet. Their only son, Thomas Charles, died as an infant. In 1911 John Albert Battersby and his family were living at Newcastle.

Alice inherited when John Albert died in 1937.  Alice married Frederick Gordon Wood, an English soldier who came to the area as a guard for the German internment camp at Oldcastle Workhouse.  Their children John, Bunty and Maureen served in the forces during the Second World War. John and Bunty Wood sold the house in the 1960s and it was demolished. Eamon de Valera came to a ploughing match in the grounds.  John Smith wrote about the house in The Oldcastle Centenary Book.

Newgrange House

Newgrange house is situated near Newgrange tomb at Slane. In 1699 the lands at Newgrange were leased to Charles Campbell for a period of 99 years from Alice Moore, Countess Dowager of Drogheda.  Campbell built a mansion with outhouses, stables, orchards and gardens. It was Campbell’s  workmen who discovered Newgrange tomb in 1699.

In 1725 Campbell died and his lands were willed to Benjamin Burton of Burton Hall, Co. Carlow. The Caldwells who were in-laws of Campbell acquired parts of the lands in the eighteenth century. In 1744 Newgrange House was described as being buried in trees. There were plantings to the north of the house and along the roadside. The icehouse of Newgrange House is located north of the tomb and has been restored.

In 1835 Newgrange House was described as a neat three storey slated farmhouse, the residence of Mr. Maguire. The house was in good repair and eight acres of land to its south and west were neatly laid out in pleasure grounds. There is a stone seat on the public road called Maguire’s seat.

In the late twentieth century the Redhouse family moved from Dublin to Newgrange where they have developed a very successful open farm.

Newgrove House

Newgrove House was located in Balnagon Upper townland, Kilskyre, 6 kilometres west of Kells. The original house has long decayed but it was a medium sized house of two storeys over a basement according to Mulligan. He dated the house to probably around 1760. The house was demolished in 1983. Attached to the house was a courtyard of buildings which still stand today. The stables had unusual flooring. The main entrance to the house has been restored recently. The neighbouring estate to the east was Sylvan Park.

The lands at Newgrove were held by various families. In the late eighteenth  century they were held by the Reilly family.  In 1774 Hugh O’Reilly was the owner. Frances, widow of Hugh O’Reilly of Newgrove, married Rev. William Maziere Brady, a Protestant minister, who was later vicar at Donaghpatrick but who later  converted to Catholicism and lived in Rome. He wrote a number of books. In Rome he became Private Chamberlain to Pius IX and Leo XIII and was created a Papal Knight.

In 1814 the residence of Philip Reilly. Mary Reilly made a defence of her house against the Defenders in 1794. The Defenders were a tenant based secret socity agitating for better conditions for the tenants. Mary Reilly died in 1816 and the property was inherited by her nephew, Hugh O’Reilly of Rathaldron Castle. In 1835 Newgrove was the residence of Counsellor O’Reilly. It was described as a neat house of two storeys and basement, with a good garden and offices and excellent lawn. Hugh O’Reilly of Newgrove was magistrate in 1834. In 1865 Hugh sold the estate to Standish Grady Rowley of Maperath, Kells.  The property was then inherited by his son, Clotworthy Rowley, who overspent and the property was purchased by his stepmother in 1902. She sold the house and 109 acres of land to Christopher Leavy in 1919.

Norman’s Grove

Normansgrove or Norman’s Grove is situated near Clonee, Dunboyne. A two storey eighteenth century house with a high roof, an earlier building is incorporated into the house.  The house is one room in depth with a passage running at the back of the building. There is a folly and a haha to the south of the house.

In 1748 the property was acquired by the Lee Norman family who gave the house their name. In the eighteenth century Norman’s Grove was the residence of Luke Eiffe. Luke Eiffe died 1856 aged 85 years. His son, Luke, emigrated to New Zealand, where he died in 1865. His son, James, died 1878 aged 62 years.

In 1803 Norman’s grove was the seat of Mr. Jones. In 1835 Normansgrove was the seat of Captain Arnott. There was 7.75 acres of plantation at Normansgrove. Captain Arnott was only in possession for a short time. In 1837 J. Shanley J.P. was living at Normansgrove. James Shanley of Norman’s Grove emigrated to Canada.

Christopher Ward of Gunnocks rented the house and lands in 1845. In 1876 Christopher Ward of Norman’s Grove, owned 84 acres in county Meath. In 1881 Bernard Ward was living at Norman’s Grove.

In 1901 and 1911 Patrick J. Ward, grazier, was living at Norman’s Grove. The house had eighteen rooms, sixteen windows to the front and nineteen outbuildings. 

Oakley Park

Oakley Park is located as Oakley Park or Lawrencetown, Dulane, Kells. Peter Bamford has extensive details about the Bomford family and their houses on his website and most of this article is based on his research.

Originally a square eighteenth century house with a three bay front and a long hall which led to an inner hall. The house was bought by George Bomford in 1837 and enlarged. The work was completed by 1839. The house was almost doubled in size by adding a new block to its front. Oakley Park was sold in 1955 by Lt. Col. George Bomford to Laurence McGuinness who reduced the size of the house by demolishing the original block and the second nineteenth century addition leaving only the main nineteenth century addition.

The Betagh family held the property until the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1640 Thomas Betagh was the landowner at Laurencetown in which there was a ruined castle.  A timber beam was uncovered during the demolition of the 1950s which bore the inscription “P. Kiernan 1649.” The townland was renamed Oakley Park after the Oakley family who held the property in the late seventeenth century.

Oakley Park 1939, painted by Winoa Constable c1958

The Graham family of Plattin also had an interest in the property. Joseph William held the property in 1709 and it is probably he who erected the house about 1715. It was a square one storey house with a basement. The Crawford family acquired the lease in 1730 and remained there until 1829. The Crawford family originated in County Fermanagh. Robert Crawford of Oakley Park died in 1784 leaving sons, Robert and John who succeeded him. John’s son, Jason, succeeded to Oakley Park.  In 1797 Rev. Jason Crawford married Henrietta Rowley from Maperath and their eldest son, John Maxwell Crawford, succeeded to the estate on the death of his father in 1829.  The Crawfords re-routed the Kells-Moynalty road away from the house and constructed a yard about 1815. Two gate lodges were erected. The house was leased to Thomas Rowley for a period. In the mid-1830s the house was occupied by Captain William Graham.

In 1837 George Bomford acquired Oakley Park. George Bomford was the oldest son of George Bomford of Drumlargan, Summerhill. Born in 1811, he married his first cousin, Arabella Winter of Agher in 1832. They had been brought up together at Agher.  He was a Justice of the Peace and served as High Sheriff of the county in 1860.  In 1876 George Bomford of Oakley Park held 2,436 acres in County Meath and 443 acres in Westmeath.

His second son, John Francis succeeded him at Oakley Park.  John Francis Bomford married Elinor Jane Bolton in 1866. In the 1911 census John Francis and his family were living at Oakley Park. John Francis died later that year and is buried at Kells. Their eldest son was George Lyndon Bomford J.P. At the age of eighteen George was sent to America where he spent a period as a pony express rider in Texas. George joined the Land Commission in 1895 on his return from the United States. In 1911 there was a very bad thunder storm when eighteen cows were killed by lightening whilst sheltering in the wood to the east of the house. George served during the First World War as a captain. His sister, Elinor May, married Hugh Constable, grandson of the landscape painter, John Constable. George died in 1951 and is buried at Kells. His eldest son was Lt.-Col. George Warren Bomford. From 1917 to 1947 George Warren served with the Indian Army. George Warren served in the First and Second World Wars. He arrived back at Oakley Park as a Colonel in 1948. After he sold Oakley Park he lived in Malta and Italy.

Oatlands House

Oatlands House is located near Greetiagh, Bohermeen in the townland of Durhamstown, civil parish of Ardbraccan. Oatlands House was erected about 1770. The house and demesne appear on Larkin’s map of County Meath in 1812. In 1911 Oatlands House had more than thirteen rooms, six windows on the front and thirty five outbuildings. There were woods between the house and the road and also to the south of the house. These have now been removed. There is a small pond to the west of the house.

The Thompson family came to Ireland with William of Orange and settled at Clonfin, Co. Longford. William Thompson of Clonfin married a daughter of Peter Metge of Athlumney. David Thompson was from Clonfin. Born in 1738 David settled at Oatlands. He married Anne Higginbotham of Larhy, Co. Cavan and died about 1816 leaving seven sons and three daughters.

Robert Thompson of Oatlands wrote a “Statistical Survey of the County of Meath” which was published by the Royal Dublin Society in 1802. It is a wonderful account of agricultural and other practises in the county. Robert died in 1813 aged 41 and was buried in Ardbraccan.

Thompson Blennerhasset Thompson was born in 1804 and married Meloria Young of Philpotstown Hosue in 1828. In the 1830s Oatlands was described as a good residence and the seat of Blennerhasset Thompson. Blennerhasset Thompson died in 1853, leaving a son, Peter, who died a year later. In the 1850s William Thompson held a considerable amount of the lands of Durhamstown.

From at least the late 1840s George Pollock held Oatlands. George Annesly Pollock was the son of Arthur Hill Pollock of Mountainstown. George married Louisa McKay of Stephen’s Green, Dublin in 1846. According to histories of the game of croquet, an early set of rules of the game were compiled by an anonymous writer who described himself as “Corncrake” to The Field publication on 21 August 1858. Corncrake was in fact George Pollock. Oatlands was one of the first places in Ireland where croquet was played. George died in 1867 leaving three sons and three daughters.

In 1901 and 1911 Albert Lowry and his family were living at Oatlands. Albert was son of Joseph Lowry of Bachelors Lodge. Albert was a noted horse owner and breeder and operated a stud at Oatlands.  Albert moved to Bachelor’s Lodge and died in 1931.

Odder Castle

Odder Castle is located on the southern slopes of the Hill of Tara on the road to Kilmessan. Odder castle is a modernized fortified house, originally dating to the early 16th century. The building was greatly altered about 1880 when a large central stair hall was created.

There was an Augustinian nunnery at Odder in medieval times. Odder was originally the property of the Barnewalls.  The Dillons of Lismullen became the landlords of the townland and in 1855 James J. Mills was the lessor of Odder Castle. James Mills was a barrister and a grandson of Sir John Dillon of Lismullen. James J. Mills married Elizabeth Pakenham of Straffan in 1869. James Mills died in 1895.


The property came into the hands of the Steen family before 1886. Laurence Steen of Odder Castle was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1886. In 1901 Laurence Steen, Justice of the Peace and farmer, and his family lived at Odder. Laurence Steen died in February 1936 aged 88. He had been a solicitor, peace commissioner, member of the Navan Board of Guardians and Meath County Council. Laurence Steen Junior inherited Odder Castle. Laurence Steen was born in 1883. Ambrose Steen was State Solicitor for Meath until his death in 1946.  

Oldbridge House

Also known as Oldbridge Hall the house is situated on the banks of the Boyne near Drogheda. The house has a plain exterior appearance. The house may have been designed by George Darley. Erected about 1750 the house originally consisted of a three storey central block with low single-storey wings. The wings were raised to three storeys during the renovations of 1832.  The 1832 alterations were carried out by Frederick Darley, a relative of the original builder. Oldbridge estate forms part of the site where the Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. The house is now in state ownership with the ground floor displaying material relating to the Battle of the Boyne.

The Coddington family were established at Holmpatrick, Skerries, before coming to Oldbridge.  Captain Dixie Coddington  was on the staff of William III at the battle of the Boyne. His son, John, purchased Oldridge from the Earl of Drogheda in 1729. John McCain who ran against Barack Obama in the US presidential election of 2008 may have had Coddington ancestors. The Coddingtons acquired 1892 acres at Oldbridge,  from the Moores, Earls of Drogheda and acquired lands at Ardbraccan from Lord Ranelagh. The Coddingtons also acquired lands of Tankardstown from the Osbornes family through marriage.

Dixie Coddington was born about 1725 and it was he who erected the house at Oldbridge. Dixie Coddington was Member of Parliament for Dunleer and held the properties of Oldbridge and Tankardstown. A captain in the 9th Dragoons he was High Sheriff of Meath in 1754. In the same year he married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Burgh. they had seven children, who all died in infancy. He died in 1794 and is buried in St. Anne’s, Dawson Street, Dublin.

Dixie Coddington was succeeded by his brother, Henry. Henry died in 1816 was succeeded by his eldest son, Nicholas. His son was Henry Barry Coddington who served as High Sheriff of Meath in 1843. In 1876 Henry B. Coddington of Oldbridge held 2,604 acres in County Meath. His son was John Nicholas.

Henry Coddington, born at Oldbridge in 1789, studied at Cambridge where he became a tutor. A clergyman he wrote a number of acclaimed works on the subject of the nature of light and optics. The stress of dealing with dissension within his parish evidently led to a burst blood vessel and death in Rome in 1845.

In 1837 Oldbridge was described as being in an extensive demesne, well planted, on the banks of the Boyne. Fitzherbert Coddington, third son of Nicholas Coddington, of Oldbridge, joined the army in 1825 and served in India.  He received a dangerous sabre wound at the battle of Maharajpore.

John Nicholas Coddington was a major in the Meath Militia. Born 1828 he married firstly Lelia Jane Lennox of Loughcrew. He married secondly Maria Louisa Pollock, widow of John Pollock of Mountainstown and then thirdly he married Constance Elizabeth Smith of Annesbrook. John Nicholas Coddington was a major in the Meath Militia. Born 1828 he married firstly Lelia Jane Lennox of Loughcrew. He married secondly Maria Louisa Pollock, widow of John Pollock of Mountainstown and then thirdly he married Constance Elizabeth Smith of Annesbrook.

Major Dixie Henry Coddington, born 1909, served in the Indian Army and served during World War II. His son Nicholas Dixie Coddington was the last of the family to live at Oldbridge. This branch of the Coddingtons remained at Oldbridge until the 1970s and finally sold off the estate in the 1980s. Oldbridge House is now home to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, opened on 4 May 2008 by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Northern Ireland’s first minister, Ian Paisley.

Parkstown House

Parkstown House

Parkstown House is located just outside Ballivor on the road to Trim. Casey and Rowan described Parkstown as a tall thin three storey gable ended house. Bence-Jones pointed out the  pedimented doorcase and niches at the centre of each floor. Erected about 1770 the house has internal doors with Art Nouveau glass panels.

In 1721 Francis Fleetwood of Parkstown leased the townland of Parkstown to Thomas Bomford of Rahinstown. Fleetwood held lands at Colronan, Cornelstown and Crossenstown.

In 1786 Robert Fleetwood held Parkstown. Robert married Catherine Margaret Hopkins. Their daughter, Hester, married James Rynd of Dublin and their son, Robert Fleetwood Rynd, lived at Ryndville. The name Fleetwood continued down the generations in the Rynd family. In the early 1800s a Robert Fleetwood married Maria Rynd but they seem to have lived in the parish of Rathcore.

In 1805 Michael Campbell of Parkstown married Miss Dowdall, daughter of George of Causetown, Co. Meath. In 1835 the house was the residence of Mr. Campbell.

In 1854 William Hone leased Parkstown House and the townland of 346 acres from the Earl of Darnley.

In 1911 Mary Anne Parr and her family lived at Parkstown. Mary Anne was a widow aged 83 in 1911. In 1928 B.C. Parr sold Parkstown. Bernard Cecil Parr, was the son of Bernard W. Parr of Ballyboy House, Rathmore. The house was described as “ the residence which is picturesque situate, is approached by front and back avenues and contains a large hall, two sitting rooms, five bedrooms, two dressing rooms, kitchen, dairy, W.C. Laundry etc.”  Bernard C. Parr married Sidney Bell of Dublin in St. John’s Pro Cathedral, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1932.


Located near Lobinstown Parsonstown House has been demolished but a good yard remains. Some of the yard buildings have been converted into a dwelling. There is also an 18th century gate lodge and a sawmill in the demesne grounds. The house and demesne are shown on William Larkin’s map of 1812.

The Blackburne family were associated with Parsonstown. George Blackburne of Co. Meath died in 1769. His oldest son, Richard, became established at Footstown Great. Francis Blackburne, the son of Richard Blackburne of Footstown and nephew of Anthony of Parsonstown, went on to become Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He prosecuted Daniel O’Connell and presided over the trial of William Smith O’Brien. His eldest son, settled at Tankardstown, Co. Meath.

The third son of George was Anthony, Barrister of Law, who settled at Parsonstown and died in 1804. His son, also Anthony, was curate and rector at Kilshine and Rector at Killallon 1850 to 1872. Anthony was High Sheriff of Meath in 1829.  In 1835 Parsonstown House was described as in good repair, but unoccupied. The demesne of 190 acres was well cared for.  Parsonstown House was a two storey slated house, substantially built and a comfortable house. Anthony had three daughters.

The Brinkley family took over Parsonstown after the Blackburne family. John Brinkley was the first Royal Astronomer of Ireland. Born in Suffolk about 1763,the illegitimate son of Sarah Brinkley, a butcher’s daughter, Brinkley was educated at Trinity College Dublin  and became Royal Astronomer and Professor of Astronomy there in 1792. In 1826 he was appointed bishop of Cloyne. He died in 1835 and was buried in Trinity College chapel. He had two sons, John, a clergyman and Matthew who lived at Parsonstown House.

Matthew Brinkley of Parsonstown lived from 1797 to 1855. In the 1850s Matthew is listed as holding lands at Parsonstown and Killary. He married Harriet, daughter of Richard Graves, Dean of Ardagh. Their eldest son John died unmarried. Their second son, Richard, succeeded to the family property at Portland, Co. Sligo in 1884.  He died in 1875 and was buried at Monkstown, Co. Dublin.

Francis Brinkley, the thirteenth child of Mattherw Brinkley was born in 1841. His maternal grandfather was Richard Graves, Dean of Ardagh. Francis became an artillery officer and was invited to Hong Kong by his cousin, who was governor of the colony. On his journey to Hong Kong the ship stopped at Nagasaki where he witnessed a duel between two samuri warriors. Francis was so impressed with the culture that Captain Brinkley settled permanently in Japan in 1867. In 1871 he resigned his commission to become foreign advisor to the Japanese government. He mastered the Japanese language and married the daughter of a samurai. Their son, Jack Ronald Brinkley, contributed greatly to Japanese culture. Francis published the Japanese Mail newspaper from 1881 and became the Japanese correspondent for The Times of London. He reported on the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. Frank wrote book for learners of the Japanese language and assisted in the compilation of an English-Japanese dictionary. His book ‘A history of the Japanese People’ was published after his death. His last report for The Times was written on his deathbed in 1912.

By the 1850s the estate at Parsontown had been taken over by James Tertius Donovan. In 1876 James T. Donovan of Parsonstown held 642 acres in county Meath. In 1901 and 1911 James T. Donovan was living at Parsonstown.

Phepotstown House

Phepotstown House is located in Phibockstown, Kilmore, Kilcock. The house was erected in the first half of the eighteenth century after the Prentice brothers, John and Robertt had acquired the estate from the Husseys of Galtrim. The lands passed to John Smith in 1804 due to unpaid debts owed by Thomas Prentice. The lands included the lands of Larchill which is just east of Phepotstown. In 1835 the house was the seat of Mr. Walsh and described as a good house, two storeys high and slated. A small portion of the ground around it was neatly planted. The Robinson family then came into ownership about 1890 and continued to live there until the mid 1990s. in 1991 Bernard Robinson, his wife and five children were in residence at Phepotstown.

The Robinsons established a training yard at Pheopotstown. Willie Robinson rode Team Spirit to victory in the 1964 Aintree Grand National. Robinson was one of the leading riders of his day. He remains one of only four jockeys to have won a Gold Cup (Mill House ’63), Champion Hurdle (Anzio ’62 and Kirriemuir ’65) and Grand National (Team Spirit) in the post-war era.

Team Spirit was retired after the race and put out to grass. When  he died he was buried in the lawn at Pheopotstown House. Brian Robinson from Pheopotstown built one of the first hovercrafts in Ireland at Pheopotstown in the mid 1960s. He exhibited his craft in England in 1967.

The Land Commission acquired 244 acres from George Robinson in 1943. The house was sold to the Treacy family in 1994 and they fully restored the house. A number of  articles in ‘Moynalvey, history, folklore and memories of a Co. Meath parish’ provide further information on the house and Robinson family.

Philpotstown House – Dunderry Park

Philpotstown House is two kilometres north east of Dunderry. An early 18th century house with a high pitched roof of two storeys it is in Churchtown civil parish. The house has a large hall and four main reception rooms.  Sitting on brow of a hill the house overlooks parkland including  a  two acre lake. Churchtown House was the dower house for Philpotstown House. Today Philpotstown is named Dunderry Park.

John Young held Philpotstown in the early nineteenth century and was living there in 1814.  John Young was born about 1747, married Mary Thompson and died at Philpotstown in 1822. The family were from Carragocuran, Co. Cavan. His son, John Thompson Young, born about 1815, married Anna Sophie Orpen in 1834. John discovered a prehistoric socketed axe in the bog between Philpotstown and Athboy which he gave to his nephew the historian, Goddard Orpen. The axe is now in the National Museum of Ireland. In 1834 John became a life member of the R.D.S. He presented samples of floor tiles from Bective Abbey to the Society on 29 June 1843. The house was the residence of John T. Young in the 1830s. John died in 1850. In the 1850s the house and property was in the possession of Anna Sophia Young and in 1876 she is recorded as holding 548 acres in County Meath. Croquet Philpotstown House was the site of one of the first croquet lawns in Ireland. The Meath Hounds and hunt regular met or hunted at Philpotstown. Anna Sophia died in 1897 without any children to succeed to the estate.

The house was re-named Dunderry Park. The house changed hands on a number of occasions. In 1901 Captain Philpots held the house and in 1911 Arthur Philpots of Dublin held the property. In 1901 Frances Fletcher and Australian lady was living at the house. In 1910, the wealthy American business man, John Pierpont Morgan, leased the house for the hunting season. Morgan would have been in his early seventies at this stage. He died in 1913. Paddy Keely told me that even in the 1930s people were still talking about the visit of J.P. Morgan. The telegraph at Robinstown Post Office was kept very busy with trans-Atlantic correspondence. A tip for the delivery of one of the telegraphs could be worth a few week’s wages. The Meath Hunt regularly met at Philpotstown during Morgan’s visit and enjoyed his generosity. In 1911 the house was vacant. Another famous person to rent Philpotstown was Ambrose “Brose” Clark, an American whose family held 50% of the Singer sewing Machine company. Brose Clarke bred Kellsboro Jack, the winner of the 1933 Grand National. Captain Eccles and his family lived at Philpotstown in the 1930s. Captain Eccles was the Secretary of the Tote Board and Master of the Meath Hounds. Captain Eccles died at Dunderry Park in 1940 aged 60. Dunderry was developed as a stud farm. His only daughter married the son of Count John McCormick, the famous singer, in 1941. His son, Captain Dennis Eccles then held Dunderry Park into the 1955. In the late 1950s Dunderry was held by the Sharp family, the same family which owned the toffee and sweet company. The Mulhaire family owned Dunderry Park for a period. In the early 1990s Dublin property developer Pat Phelan owned Dunderry Park. The house was sold in 1997 and acquired by the Transpersonal Institute which is operated by Oaktree Charitable Trust, a non profit organisation set up to help people deal with the stresses of life. The Transpersonal Institute, incorporating the Irish Centre for Shamanic Studies, offers various courses in transpersonal consciousness.

Piltown House

Photo: Kieran Campbell

Piltown House is located to the south of Drogheda, near Colpe. Piltown House was erected in 1838 for Thomas Brodigan, Drogheda businessman and first advocate of the building of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway which opened in 1844. John B. Keane was the architect for Pilltown house in 1838 and William Henry Byrne was the architects for alterations and additions in 1888. A two storey over basement house Piltown was described in 1844 by D’Alton as ‘a strikingly beautiful mansion standing in the centre of the townland, within a park of 200 statute acres, that for scenic effect and skillful cultivation, presents, in the view from the Dublin and Drogheda railway, an ornamental and gratifying foreground.”

Pilton or Piltown was in the hands of the Wellesley family after the Battle of the Boyne and then the Duff family and then in the early 1800s in the hands of Edmund Malone, an eminent lawyer. The property then came into the hands of the Brodigan family. Colombo Brodigan married a Cheevers lady and their son was Francis who died in 1831 and was interred in Colpe graveyard. The Brodigan family had grocery shops in Drogheda. The cash books of Francis Brodigan from 1817  and day books relating to sales of tobacco, wines, packs of cards, tea and sugar from 1793-7 are now in the National Library of Ireland.

Thomas Brodigan was the son of Francis Brodigan of Drogheda. Thomas Brodigan, a member of the Board of Trade, was a proponent of the railways and in 1835 he published an essay entitled “On the Establishment of a Northern Railroad.” In 1836 the Dublin and Drogheda. At least eight men were killed and many injured during the construction of the railway. Thomas Brodigan  established a fund “The Disabled by Industrial accident Fund” which proved an income to those injured or widowed during the construction of the railway. Thomas Brodigan supported the growing of tobacco in the 1830s. Thomas Brodigan published a book in 1830s  on the growing and curing of tobacco in the Ireland.

In 1846 Thomas Brodigan went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a long journey in the mid 19th century. While there the Greek and Latin priests nearly came to blows during Good Friday ceremonies, knives were drawn – a dispute which still continues today. Brodigan petitioned the Parliament to intervene so that pilgrims could travel safely to the Holy Land. Brodigan also visited Spain and Italy.

Francis Brodigan was born about 1836 at Parkanaur, Co. Tyrone. Francis served as a colonel in the Crimean War.  In 1865 Francis Brodigan was a Liberal candidate for Drogheda in the election but was defeated by Benjamin Whitworth, another Liberal. Francis was High Sheriff of Drogheda in 1862. In 1876 Francis Brodigan of Pilltown House held 726 acres in Meath 4 acres in Drogheda and 6 acres in Louth He married secondly Alice Caroline Burges in 1877. In 1898 Sir Nugent Talbot Everard obtained a special licence to grow tobacco. He was joined in the next few years in the experiment by Sir John Dillon of Lismullin, R.H. Metge of Athlumney and F. Brodigan of Piltown. Francis died on 8 March 1910. His son, Captain Francis John Brodigan, was killed in action in 1915 during the First World War.  The private and estate papers of the Brodigan family are now in the National Library. They were donated by the McClintock family who inherited Piltown House.

Pilltown House had an interesting collection of art and curios in the 1940s. The residence of Colonel McClintock there were some very fine paintings of the Dutch and Italian schools reputed to have been conveyed here for safety at the time of the French revolution. A visitor in the 1940s said one piece called for special mention, a remarkable painting on wood representing the head of Our Lord crowned with thorns.

The land surrounding the house was bought by the Franciscans in the 1960’s who sold it to the Christian Brothers, who subsequently sold it piecemeal to separate groups and individuals. The house was empty and became a target for vandals. In October 2006 Piltown House was gutted by fire.

Platten Hall

Photo: Archiseek

Platten Hall was located at Donore, just west of Drogheda. Today the cement works occupy part of the estate. Bence-Jones described Platten Hall as a ‘very handsome red brick house with stone facings’ probably from about 1700. Craig considered it possibly the work of Sir William Robinson for John Graham. A large red-brick mansion the design occupied three sides of a square. Situated in an extensive demesne, originally wide avenues of elms radiated from it on all sides, like the spokes of a cart-wheel — a plan fashionable in England; but unfortunately these did not remain perfect. It had a large hall with an open staircase of three flights. Samuel Reeves took a storey off the house in the mid nineteenth century. One wing was closed off and the windows bricked up. The house was demolished in the second half of the twentieth century. The house may have replaced a medieval castle, belonging to the D’Arcy family. The house was originally set out in a formal layout of elm avenues. The church in the grounds was sued as a mausoleum by the successive residents of the Hall. Octagonal pigeon house attached to Platten Hall

According to ‘The parish of Duleek and over the Ditches’ Plattin was purchased from the Forfeited Estates Court by Alderman John Graham of Drogheda. John Graham was the eldest son of Robert Graham of Ballyheridan, Co. Armagh. The Darcy family had held the property before the Battle of the Boyne. Platten being between Oldbridge and Duleek featured in the battle of the Boyne. Graham erected the three-storey red-brick mansion where he resided until his death in 1717. His second son, William, succeeded as he disinherited his first son, Richard.

Mrs. Delaney (Pendarves) wrote of the Christmas at Platen in 1732 –  ‘We are to have a ball, and a ball we had; nine couples of as clover dancers as ever tripped. We began at seven, danced thirty-six dances, with only resting once, supped at twelve, everyone by their partner at a long table which was handsomely filled with all manners of cold meats, sweetmeats, creams and jellies. Two or three young ladies sang. At two we started dancing again; most of the ladies determined not to leave Platten till daybreak so we dance don until we were not able to dance any longer. We did not get to bed till past eight.’  A regular visitor to the Grahams Mrs Delaney makes a number of mentions of balls in their home.

The extravagance of William Graham was a matter of public notoriety. Swift had to write to him as he did not meet the rent of a premises he held from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In 1734 Dean Swift wrote to Mrs. Delaney (Pendarves) that Mr. Graham was ruining himself as fast as possible. One of the bedrooms in the house was called the Duke’s Room after the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland who visited the house in 1732 when the Boyne Obelisk was unveiled.

William Graham died in 1748 and was succeeded by his son, John, who was M.P. for Drogheda 1749-1768. John married Dorothy Gorges of Kilbrew. John was High Sheriff of Meath in 1753. When John died in 1777 all his property went to his steward, Graves Chamney. Graves Chamney became heir as Graham said he had succeeded in ‘taking me  out of prison when my wife and relations would not  relieve me.’ He was   obviously in gaol for debt. Graham  resided for the most part in his house North Great Georges Street, Dublin rather than at Plattin. A branch of the Graham family settled at Cromore House, Doneraile, Co. Cork.

In 1800 the property was sold to Robert Reeves of Dublin who bequeathed it to his second son, Samuel Speight Reeves. From Samuel the property passed to John Joseph Gradwell, High Sheriff of Drogheda in 1855. The Gradwells from Preston had already purchased Dowth Hall.  Mr. Gradwell died in 1873 and was succeeded by his son, George Fitzgerald Gradwell. The Gradwells were involved in the milling trade in Drogheda. In 1876 Ellen Gradwell of Platten Hall held 615 acres in county Meath. He had three sons and was succeeded by the third son, Francis William Edward Gradwell in 1933 and he was living in the house in 1941. The house passed through the hands of T.J. O’Neill and D’Arcy Slone. The house became derelict and was demolished.

Pigeon house at Platin, Photo: Kieran Campbell


Posseckstown house is just outside Enfield on the road to Trim. In the civil parish of Rathcore it was the property of Mr. Kettlewell in 1835 and leased to Mr. Rynd and Mrs Domegan, Enfield. The red brick house was probably built about 1870. William Potterton purchased the property in 1923 and when his son died the property passed to his sister, Alice Weld, and then to her daughter, Mona Foster.  

Possextown House

Located east of Nobber Posseckstown House is a detached three-bay, two-storey over basement house, dating to about 1800. In 1837 Joseph F. Hopkins was living at Possextown House, Nobber. Francis Hopkins was baptised in Nobber in 1885.  The Meade family have occupied the house in recent yerars.

Priestown House

Priestown House is located on the east side of the road from Ratoath to Dunboyne in the civil parish of Kilbride. Sometimes it has been wrongly described as being in Mulhuddart, County Dublin.

Theobald Butler was the first of the family to occupy Priestown. He was a descendant of James the second Baron of Dunboyne.  His son, James succeeded him at Priestown. The family occupied the property from at least the early 1700s. Richard Butler, son of James Butler of Priestown, became a clergyman in Kilkenny. His son, also Richard, became Rector of Trim and Dean of Clonmacnoise. He wrote the first history of Trim castle in the 1830s. James, son of James Butler,  became Anglican Chaplain at Bad Homburg in

Hesse, then one of Europe’s most fashionable health resorts. Some 140 years later, his great great granddaughter, Valerie Pitman inherited Priestown.

James Butler was succeeded at Priestown by his grandson, James. In 1835 the townland of Priestown was the property of Rev. James Butler. The house was described as a modern neat two storey slated house in good repair and was the residence of Rev. James Butler. There were twenty one acres of plantation around the house. The offices were commodious and in good repair.  

One of the Butlers had an accident and his arm was damaged. He was brought to Dublin to have it amputated. Before the operation he asked the surgeon to put the arm to one side for him because he wanted to take it home with him and bury it in Kilbride cemetery where he himself would be buried one day. “After all” he said “I don’t want to be going into heaven with only one arm”. He was known ever after as “Fisty” Butler. His brother was priest at the Spa in Wiesbaden, Germany. When he went hunting he held the reins in his teeth and held onto the saddle with one hand

Thomas Butler held Priestown in 1850s. Thomas Butler of Priestown House held 509 acres in county Meath in 1876.Thomas Butler J.P. of Priesttown House died in 1900 in his 77th year. During renovations in the early 1900s a priest’s hiding hole was discovered at Priestown during renovations. Inside was discovered a priest’s chalice.

James Tottenham Butler inherited Priestown from his uncle in 1900 and he married Geraldine Osborne, daughter of Henry Osborne of Dardistown Castle in 1906. His mother was the daughter of Tottenham Alley, Hill of Ward, Athboy. James was a Major in the Meath Miltia. James T. Butler died in 1928 in his 68th year. Mrs. Geraldine Butler was a keen gardener and her daffoldil and roses won prizes at shows. There were five gardeners at Priestown during her time. Mrs. Butler spent her summers at her house in Howth. Geraldine B.M. Butler who died in 1966 in her 94th year.

She and the Major had no children and she left her house in Howth to her brother Henry Osborne. Priestown was bequethed to Valerie Pitman who farmed the lands. Miss Pitman was the first to introduce silage making, winter barley and oilseed rape to the area. She had a collection of letters, deeds and accounts for Priestown dating back to the eighteenth century. She married Henry Gerard Wellesley in 1969. It was his fourth marriage. He was son of Lord Cowley, direct descendant of Gerald Valerian the younger brother of the Duke of Wellington. She died in August 2009.