Rahinstown is located in south Meath close to Rathmolyon. The original Rahinstown House dated from the eighteenth century. A drawing of the houses in the 1830s shows a six bay house of three storeys over a basement. The front door was not centred but to the left, suggesting that the original house may have been added to. About 1870 the old house burned down and was replaced by a large Italianate house and farm buildings. Sandham Symes was the architect for the construction of the new buildings for Robert Fowler in 1871. The house has a three bay front in cement with sandstone dressings and bow windows with curved glass.
Rahinstown is the story of two families the Bomfords and the Fowlers. The Bomfords developed the estate in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century when it was taken over by the Fowler family who already had interests in the area.
Laurence Bomford of Clonmahon died in 1720 aged 103. Sir Arthur Langford of Summerhill let the lands of Baronstown and Rahinstown, 903 acres, to Thomas Bomford. Laurence’s eldest son, Thomas, settled at Rahinstown and was Secretary to the Court of Claims in the reign of Charles II. Thomas died in 1740 and left the estate to his brother, Stephen of Gallow. Stephen was succeeded by his son, also Stephen, in 1756. Stephen married Elizabeth Sibthorpe of Dunany, Co. Louth in 1745.
Stephen Bomford died in 1808. His second son, Robert, served as a captain in the Bengal Infantry in the East India Company before returning to Ireland to marry Maria Massy-Dawson in 1792. When his elder brother Thomas died Robert became heir to Rahinstown and succeeded to the estate of 2358 statute acres in 1808. Robert died nine years later in 1817 and was buried at Rathcore. When Robert died Maria his wife was aged 48 and all her seven children were under 21, the youngest being only 7. Maria Massy Bomford has a memorial in Saint Ann’s, Dawson Street, Dublin. She died in 1848 aged 79 years. The family regularly lived at No 7 Upper Merrion Street. The estate was taken over by their eldest son, Robert George Bomford when he came of age. Born in 1802 he served as High Sheriff of Meath in 1832. Robert George married Elizabeth Kennedy of Annadale, Co. Down in 1826. In 1836 Rahinstown Demesne the demesne was well planted with fir and other trees and the house was described as a very good one but the pleasure grounds appeared very much neglected. It was the residence of Mr. R.G. Bomford. He died without an heir in 1846 and his widow married Marcus Gervais Beresford, Archbishop of Armagh. After the death of Robert’s mother in 1848 the estate was sold and the proceeds divided among his sisters. Peter Bamford has a very extensive website devoted to the Bomford family.
The Fowlers came to Ireland from England. Robert Fowler was born in 1724 at Skendleby, Lincolnshire. Educated at Cambridge he was appointed chaplain to George II in 1756. Fowler was appointed bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora in 1771 and in 1779 was translated to the archbishopric of Dublin. He resided at Tallaght while archbishop. He was the first chancellor of the Order of St Patrick in 1783.
In 1766 Fowler married Mildred Dealtry of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. They had a son, Robert, who succeeded him, a daughter Mary (Countess of Kilkenny) and a daughter, Frances, who married Richard Bourke, Bishop of Waterford 1813 to 1833.
In 1789 Fowler voted with fourteen other peers against the Irish House of Lords calling for the Prince of Wales to be made regent during the illness of George III.
Fowler died suddenly on 10 October 1801 at Bassingbourn Hall, Cambridgeshire, where he had resided for two years for his health. He was buried in Takeley churchyard but there is no memorial to him.
Robert’s eldest son, Robert was Bishop of Ferns and Ossory 1813 to 1841. Born about 1767 Fowler was educated at Oxford. He married Louisa Gardiner, daughter of Luke Gardiner, Viscount Mountjoy in 1796. Gardiner was a property developer, laying out Mountjoy Square and Gardiner Street. In 1848 Louisa was buried in the family vault in St. Thomas’s Church, Dublin next to her husband.
Their eldest son Robert Fowler was born in 1797 and married twice. He settled at Rahinstown. He married Jane Anne Crichton in 1820 and secondly Lady Harriet Eleanor Wandesforde-Butler, daughter of John Butler, second Marquess of Ormonde. He died in 1863. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert, who was Deputy Lieutenant, Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of Meath in 1871. He married Laetitia Mable Coddington of Oldbridge in 1856. He died in 1897.
John Sharman Fowler, the second son of Robert Fowler, joined the Royal Engineers in 1886. Serving on the frontiers of India, South Africa and Ireland Fowler became director of Army Signals. At the outbreak of the First World War, he became Director of Army Signals of the British Expeditionary Force, a position he held throughout the war. By the end of the war Fowler was commanding 70,000 men. Fowler remained in the army after the war, serving in the British Forces in China until 1925.
In the 1901 census Robert H. Fowler, retired Army Captain and Justice of the Peace, his wife, their two sons, two visitors and thirteen servants were in residence at Rahinstown. Robert Henry served as High Sheriff of Co. Meath in 1899. In 1908 a number of cattle drives took place on the estate of Captain Fowler of Rahinstown.
Robert Henry Fowler was the longest lived international cricketer, living to within a month of his hundredth birthday. Born in 1857, attended Sandhurst, joined the Army in 1878 and died in 1957. He married Mabel Glyn in 1890 and they had two sons. His son Robert St Leger Fowler, was also a highly regarded cricketer, being captain of the Eton team while at school there. Joining the army Robert St Leger served as a captain in World War 1, winning a Military Cross during the defence of Amiens against the last German offensive of 1918. He died from leukaemia at Rahinstown in 1925. George Glyn Fowler, the second son, was killed at the battle of Loos, 26 September 1915 aged 19. There are a number of memorials to this hero in Rathmolyon church including the wooden cross originally erected at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.
The estate then passed to Bryan John Fowler, son of George Hurst Fowler, third son of Robert and Laetitia Mable Fowler.
Bryan John Fowler of Rahinstown served during World War I being awarded the Military Cross and also won a Distinguished Service Order for his efforts in World War II. Brigadier Fowler was at Fairyhouse Races on Easter Monday 1916 and was summoned away to maintain control in Drogheda. He later became instructor at the Army Equitation School in Weedon. He competed for Britain in polo in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, winning a silver medal. On returning from England, the family lived for a while at Culmullen House before moving to the family estate at Rahinstown.
His son, John Fowler, was a well known horse trainer. He represented Ireland in the Mexico Olympics of 1968. In December 2008 John Fowler was killed in a tree-felling accident on his farm.
Rahood House, in the parish of Castletown, south-west of Nobber, was associated with the Cruise family. Patrick Cruise was living at Rahood in the mid eighteenth century. Bishop Plunkett stayed with Mr. Cruise of Rahood on his visitation of 1797 and again in 1800. The house and lands were the property of Colonel Bligh in 1837, who leased the lands of 599 acres to Richard Cruise. Cruise had a large beautiful house on an eminence near the centre of the townland surrounded with wood. Richard Cruise was a magistrate for the county. Richard died aged 84 in 1840. Lt. Col. Alexander Cruise held the house and lands in the 1850s. Francis R. Cruise M.D. held Rahood and also lived at Merrion Square, Dublin. His only son Richard Robert Cruise was living in Harley Street London in 1913. The McKeever family held the house in the early part of the twentieth century. In the 1901 census one member of the family was a Methodist, while another was Church of Ireland while another was Plymouth Brethern. Samuel McKeever lent the IRA a car during the troubled times and it was returned with a bullethole. Sammy was a supporter of de Valera and Fianna Fail. There are three ringforts in the townland and a souterrain was discovered in the 1980s.
Randalstown House was located to the north of Navan. The house was begun about 1710, extended twice in the eighteenth century and stood to the late twentieth century. A three storey over Basement house Randalstown had a pillared Doric doorcase. Bence-Jones wrote that Randalstown had the most imaginative late-Georgian interior plasterwork with trophies and roped swags on the domed staircase.
The Everards of Randalstown can be traced back to the 15th century. Owen Randill of Rendillstown had a daughter, Olive, whom married Pierce Cardy and inherited Rendillstown. Their daughter, Joan Cardy, married John Everard in the early 1400s and so the Everards came to live at Randalstown. In 1519 Patrick Everard of Randalstown was Sheriff of Meath.
Matthias Everard joined the forces of James II in fighting William of Orange. He served during the siege of Limerick in 1691 and under the Treaty of Limerick he submitted to the King and paid £1000 to be restored to this lands. Matthias renovated the old castle at Randalstown and extended in 1708 and 1714, thus creating a country house. Matthias died in 1715 and was buried at Kilberry. His younger brother, Christopher, inherited the estate. He completed the new road from Navan to Donaghpatrick which had been started by his brother. In the 1720 Christopher erected a banqueting house flanked by a canal and a terrace. In 1744 Ranadalstown was described as being well wooded and with a great avenue of full grown ash trees.
In 1748 John Everard of Randalstown conformed to the Established Protestant church.
About 1780 Thomas Everard added a third storey of Randalstown. The interior was remodelled with the main front on the south side being turned round to the north side where a pillared doorcase was erected. In 1795 Thomas was High Sheriff of Meath and was a member of the Grand Jury from 1785 until his death in 1820. He was succeeded by his son, Matthias.
Matthias Everard of Randalstown, born about 1787, commenced his military career at Gibraltar in 1804. In December 1805 Lieutenant Everard was captured on his way from Gibraltar to England by the French fleet. The English prisoners were held on board the La Volontaire which three months later sailed into the British controlled Cape and the prisoners were released. A few years later he participated in the attempt to capture the Spanish colony of Rio de la Plata. He led an attack on Montivideo. Out of the 32 men, 22 were killed or wounded. He was presented with a sword of honour to mark his gallantry by the Patriotic Fund at Lloyds and granted the freedom of Dublin. Promoted to Captain in 1807 Mathias served at Corunna in 1809. After the Napoleonic war Everard was transferred to India and commanded the 1st Batallion at the siege of Hattras in 1817. In 1821 he was appointed major and in 1825 lieutenant colonel. Everard commanded the 14th Regiment at the storming of Bhurtpore in India in 1825. In 1826 he was awarded the companion of the Order of the Bath. In 1841 he was appointed Colonel and in 1851 Major-General. Matthias inherited Randalstown in 1845 but never lived there. He died in 1857 at Southsea, Southampton, unmarried.
In 1837 Randalstown was the property of Col. Everard but the residence of Henry Meredith. It was described as a fine three storey house with a basement situated in an elegant and extensive estate. In 1855 the property as still occupied by Henry Meredith.
Sir Nugent Talbot Everard was born at Torquay, Devon in England in 1849 and he was the first of the Everards to make their home at Randalstown for more than 60 years. In 1863 at the age of thirteen he inherited Randalstown. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He settled at Randalstown about 1870. At the time the estate amounted to 2311 acres. Everard was a supporter of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society which established the co-operative movement in Ireland. Everard was elected President of the co-op movement, the I.A.O. S., in 1905. On the occasion of the coronation of King George V in 1911 Everard was created a baronet. He was a member of the Grand Jury of Meath and its successor Meath County Council. He held the position of High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant for Meath, and was a co-opted member of the county council, serving continuously from 1899 to 1922. He served with his wife, Lady Everard, on the Meath Agricultural Society and the County Committee of Agriculture. He served in the Royal Meath Milita and served as colonel in the Regiment in Belgium and at Ypres.
Sir Nugent Everard and his son, Richard, were staying in the Sackville Street Club when the rebellion broke out and remained there while the fighting continued. They witnessed the fighting at the GPO and the surrender of the leaders. Sir Nugent kept a diary now in the possession of the family of the five days of the rebellion.
In 1922 he was appointed to the Senate of the new Irish Free State by William T. Cosgrave.
The demise of tillage farming in the 1880s and the consequent decrease in employment opportunities on the land for his workers made him turn his attention to tobacco. 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. His tobacco growing is mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses – “there was that Colonel Everard down there in Navan growing tobacco”. From 1898 to 1938 the Randlestown area of Navan was central to plans to introduce tobacco growing on a commercial basis in Ireland. The estate had its own tobacco plantation and also acted as a rehandling station – taking in tobacco from the local growers and processing it for sale to factories. At its peak, the industry provided almost 100 jobs and played a vital part in the local economy.
Col. Everard died in 1929 in his eightieth year. He was interred at Donaghpatrick – his grave is near the entrance. There is an article about Sir Nugent Everard in the 2000 issue of Riocht an Midhe. After his death the local growers formed the County Meath Co-Operative Tobacco Growers Society. The Co-Operative continued into the 1930s, and closed in 1939, the last year in which tobacco was grown in the county.
Sir Nugent’s only son, Major Richard Everard succeeded him at Randalstown but eleven days later died suddenly. His eldest son became Sir Nugent Everard. He decided to join the British army in 1926 and saw active service during World War II.
Richard Everard provides much information of the Everard family in the 1993 and 1994 issues of the Irish Genealogist journal.
By 1940 Randalstown house was empty and in 1943 it was sold with 412 acres of land to Gerald Williamson. The Williamson family held the property for thirty years until it was purchased by Tara Mines. The house was used for a period as offices for the mines but finally the house was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a tailings dam.
Rathaldron Castle is located to the north of Navan on the banks of the Blackwater river. It is a minature battlemented country house. Approached by a grand avenue and an impressive castle-style gatehouse the castle consists of a medieval tower house with an added wing which had battlements added about 1800. A traditional story tells of two brothers quarrelling over a woman. It is said one brother killed the other in the “Blue Room” of the castle. The dead man haunted the castle until a priest imprisoned the ghost in the chapel.
The Cusack family held the castle until 1840, it then came into possession of the O’Reilly family who held it until at least 1911. George Lowry held it in the 1920s and 1930s and Meath County Health Board held it in 1937 for less than a year.
The Cusacks were an important family in Meath during the medieval times. Michael Cusack was the eldest son of James Cusack of Portrane, Co. Dublin. Michael married Margaret, daughter of Richard Dexter of Rathaldron and thus acquired the estate. A cross at nearby Nevinstown commemorated Michael and his wife. Michael was succeeded by his eldest son, George, who held Rathaldron and Balreask. The family also held Castletown-Tara. George was succeeded by his son Patrick of Rathaldron.
Patrick married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Fitzwilliam of Merrion, Co. Dublin. Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square commemorate this family. Patrick is also recorded as have married Cicely, eldest daughter of Patrick Nangle, Baron of Navan. Patrick’s lands were confiscated under the Cromwellian plantation. Patrick’s son, Michael of Balreask, was a lawyer.
His son, Christopher, succeeded to Rathaldron. Christopher was accused of attacking Protestants in Navan in 1641 but this charge was probably false. He was restored to some of his lands at Rathaldron. Christopher supported King James and sat as M.P. for Navan in the parliament of 1689 when Catholics took over the parliament. Then came the Battle of the Boyne and his lands were confiscated. A claim was made that the lands had been transferred to his grandson before the confiscation for treason. The infant was innocent of treason and so the lands went to the grandson, Christopher.
Christopher was succeeded at Rathaldron by his son, Patrick, who was a minor when his father died. As a result of the Penal Laws he had to share his estate with his younger brother Richard. Patrick died in 1744 and by 1769 Richard had managed to buy out other family members and take full charge of Rathaldron. His son, Christopher, succeeded his father before 1792. Christopher was described as a gentleman farmer. Christopher died in 1824 without issue and in 1836 his widow died leaving the estate to her husband’s first cousin Charles Cusack.
Charles was brought up in Essex and never lived at Rathaldron. He was well established in business in Liverpool. The Rathaldron estate was encumbered by debt and in 1840 the estate was sold to Fleming Pinkstan O’Reilly of Mountjoy Square, Dublin. He had been dis-inherited by his father in 1800 as a result of marrying without his father’s permission. However he still managed to reach the position of treasurer of County Meath. Fleming Pinkstan O’Reilly, died in 1844 in his 75th year. About 1845 the O’Reilly’s added two floors of larger rooms. The castle style gateway with its high octagonal towers may be the work of the architect, James Shiels.
Hugh O’Reilly succeeded to Rathaldron. In 1876 the representatives of Hugh O’Reilly, Rathaldron, held 243 acres in County Meath. In 1900 Rathaldron Castle was the seat of Capt. F.L.H. de la P. O’Reilly.
Electricity was installed in 1929. George Lowry held the property in the 1920s and 1930s and Meath County Health Board occupied it in 1937 for less than a year. Later Rathaldron became the home of the Drummond family. Beatrice Drummond of Rathaldron Castle married Herbert Purcell in 1950. Their youngest son, Peter, was capped in rugby for Ireland six times. Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert ‘Percy” Purcell served as a pilot in the RAF and as an infantry officer in the Indian Army. During the Second World War he was part of the British army advance into Burma and Vietnam. The castle was completely renovated in the 1970s. Herbert died in 2001 aged 90.
Mrs Hickey wrote an article in the 1970 issue of Riocht na Midhe on the Cusacks of Portraine and Rathaldron. H.D. Gallwey wrote an article on the Cusacks of Rathaldron in The Irish Genealogist of 1982.
Rataine Cottage is located on the road between Robinstown and Dunderry. In 1835 Rataine cottage was described as a very neat cottage on the south side of the townland of Rataine. It had about 30 acres of land attached to it and was the residence of Captain Preston in 1835. The townland was held by Rev. Joseph Preston of Bellinter.
On the old N3 road just south of Dunshaughlin there is a gated house entrance off to the right for Rathbeggan House. At Rathbeggan there is a motte, a large country house, the remains of a church and a graveyard.
In 1641 Richard Segrave, Irish papist, held the lands of Rathbeggan which included a church, two farm houses and three cottages. The other main landowners in Rathbeggan parish were Richard Berford of Ballibene, the Earl of Fingall and Mr. Plunkett of Dunshaughlin. By 1659 the lands had been confiscated by Cromwell and allocated to Sir Walter Kingham. James Standish received a grant of forfeited lands in County Meath. Among these were the lands of Rathbeggan and Porterstown, the barony of Ratoath, in the Patent Roll of 1666.
The origins of Rathbeggan House dates to the seventeenth century. It has two-storeys over basement, with paired, gabled projecting bays, and projecting central bay. The two bays at the front were later additions.
Originally owned by the Standish family, the house and lands came to the Wilkinsons through descent. In 1876 Henry Standish held an estate of 868 acres and died in 1885 aged 71 years, his successor was John Wilkinson who died in 1904, both are buried in the graveyard near the house. The Wilkinson family were closely associated with John Philpot Curran, the lawyer who defended many of the rebels of 1798. Curran’s daughter, Sarah, was the girlfriend of Robert Emmet who was executed for his part in the 1803 rebellion. Sarah gave Emmet’s watch to the Wilkinson family. I saw the watch when the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society visited the house a number of years ago. Also in the house were portraits of Curran, Emmet and Lord Kilwarden, who was killed in the 1803 rebellion. The house also held a collection of early photographs taken on glass negatives. The house must not have been substantial as it is not marked on the 1836 OS map while the church and glebe house are. In 1837 Rathbeggan House was the property of John Standish. The house was purchased by the Brindley family who now reside there.
In 1682 the patron of the parish was the Earl of Drogheda and the vicar resided in Drogheda. The church and the chancel wall were still standing but the building was unroofed since 1641. The parish was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The church and the graveyard are located just east of the house with an entrance gate nearest the house. Jonathan Swift was appointed rector of Rathbeggan in 1699, a position he held till his death in 1745. A new church and clergyman’s or glebe house were erected in 1817. The church was dedicated to St. Beccan. The main parts of the church building, the nave and the chancel, are gone but the bell tower remains. A story I heard suggested was that the Standish owners and patrons of the church lost the right to appoint the clergyman when the Church of Ireland was disestablished and they quarrelled with the new clergyman who was appointed by the church authorities. As neither side would not compromise the Standish family removed the church and so the clergyman from their parish.
The window sills were used to make steps on the motte which stands to the west of Rathbeggan House. The motte, an oval flat-topped mound, may have been adapted for a pre-existing rath or fort of Beccan. A flint arrow head dating to 1800 BC was discovered at the motte site.
The graveyard has an interesting old font or holy water stoop. The nine gravestones in the cemetery commemorate members of the Ward, Morgan, Gannon, Brutin, O’Connor, Standish, Wilkinson and Norman families.
Michael J. Kenny wrote some notes on the house and graveyard in 1985 and this article is based on those notes and other sources.
Rathcormick House is located near Kildalkey. Rathcormick is named after a rath which is situated in front of the present house. Rathcormick is a large three–storey house dating to about 1770 which has been much altered internally. There were formal gardens at the rear of the house. There was an old burial grounds, Gortnakilly at the rear entrance gate.
In 1641 the lands belonged to Sir Luke Fitzgerald. The lands were acquired by Thomas Bligh in 1703. John Potterton acquired a lease of three lives on Rathcormick from Thomas Bligh in 1710 and the Pottertons have lived there since. The property at Rathcormick included neighbouring Rathkenna and comprised 542 acres. The property descended through a number of Johns and Thomases. The family spread out from Rathcormick, holding lands at Balatalion, Clonylogan, Moyrath and various other places nearby. In 1835 Rathcormick was described as an old two storey house with considerable offices the residence of T. Potterton.
Following the passing of the Wyndham Land Act of 1903 Thomas Elliot acquired the freehold in 1905. T.E. Potterton challenged the Land Commission in the 1930s and won the case. It resulted in a new law limiting the Land Commission.
T.E. Potterton is one of the longest established and most respected firms in the Midlands, having been founded in 1886, moved to Trim in the 1960s. Pottertons opened Trim Livestock Mart, the first privately owned livestock mart in Ireland, in 1957 and Delvin Mart in 1965.
St. Mary’s church was erected on Rathcormick lands in 1856 to serve the Pottertons and Kildalkey parishioners. The church was closed in 1963 and demolished a year later.
Homan Potterton was the youngest ever director of National Gallery. Homan Potterton has written two books which tell the story of the Pottertons, Rathcormick and their various branches and properties. His memoir of growing up on a farm in County Meath in the 1950s is Rathcormick: a Childhood Recalled. Potterton, People and Places, Three Centuries of an Irish Family tells the story of the family and their branches.
I remember Homan’s brother, Elliot, who headed the auctioneering firm and was very involved in the local Church of Ireland.
The Bath family held Rathfeigh in medieval times. Sir W. Domville received a grant of the lands of Rathfeigh in 1668. In the 1600s Rathfeigh had one castle. In 1706 Oliver Bomford took a lease of the place for 76 years. His son, Laurence, lived at Rathfeigh in 1745.
Rathfeigh House is marked and named on the 25 inch Ordnance survey map but is not named on the 6 inch maps. In 1902 architect Anthony Scott was commissioned to draw up plans for alterations and additions to Rathfeigh House.
Rathkenny House is located 4 miles northwest of Slane. The house was probably erected by Stafford Hussey about 1750. An extension was added about 1780 and in the late 19th century more extensions were added at the rear. Described as a handsome and sophisticated house it has two storeys over basement. There is a fine dining room with wooden floor, pine panelled walls and original marble fireplace and a large drawing room. The windows in kitchen are ten feet from floor level so servants could not look out to see the family or guests. The house has nine bedrooms. To the rear of the house is a stone and brick courtyard with overhead lofts and a series of traditional outbuildings and dog kennels. North of the house lies the walled garden. In the grounds are some of the largest yew trees in Ireland today. To the east of the house stands a portal tomb.
The Hussey family arrived in Ireland with the Normans and quickly established themselves as Barons of Galtrim, an area south of Trim which had been granted to them by Hugh de Lacy. In the early fifteenth century Matthew Hussey, baron of Galtrim, married Margaret, heiress to the Petit estate of Rathkenny. As early as 1640 the Husseys were at Rathkenny. In 1640 Henry Hussey of Galtrim held the townlands of Rathkenny, Driominstown, Horsetown and parts of Chamberstown and Coghalstown. Stafford Hussey, Baron of Galtrim and his wife, Mary Anne, were interred at Rathkenny under a tabletop tomb in the 1770s. The tombstone reads: “Here lyeth the body of Mary Anne Hussey, otherwise Kirwan, wife of Stafford Hussey, Esq., Baron of Galtrim; she departed this life at twelve at noon, on the 9th of July, 1774; she had every quality that could endear her to a husband, with whom she lived forty-five years in an uninterrupted harmony; she was a tender parent, and the real friend of the poor and distressed. May her soul rest in peace. Here also lyeth the body of Stafford Hussey, Baron of Galtrim, who lived respected and died regretted the 13th January, 1776, in the 74th year of his age.” The Husseys were a Catholic family and Bishop Plunkett of Meath stayed at Rathkenny on his visitation of 1787. At his visitation of Rathkenny in 1799 Dr. Plunkett offered “congratulations on the male and female schools established and supported by Baron Hussey and his Lady.”
John Hussey, son of Stafford, signed a petition to the King for the relief of Catholics in 1795. Dying in 1803 without children, he was succeeded by his brother, Thomas, who had eloped to marry Lady Mary Walpole, youngest daughter of the Earl of Oxford. Thomas was a stopgap M.P. of Aylesbury between 1809 and 1814. In Parliament he supported Catholic Relief in 1812. His only son, Edward Thomas, succeeded at Rathkenny. In 1833 the land steward of Edward Thomas Hussey and a tenant were shot dead, it was presumed that it was a case of mistaken identity as the perpetrators had intended to kill Hussey. Three local men were brought to trial in 1834. One of the men was found guilty.
Edward was succeeded by his son, Edward Horatio. Born in 1807 Edward married Frederica Maria Louisa Irby, daughter of the 4th Lord Boston. In 1876 Edward Hussey of Rathkenny held 2917 acres in County Meath.
Their son, Horatio George succeeded but he died unmarried in 1902 and was succeeded by his brother, Algernon Frederick Edward Thomas, who was born in 1849. The estate was sold under the Windham Land Act of 1903. Owners since then have included the Tiernan, Lane, Hornsby and Mullin families. In 1997 the house on 79 acres was sold for £350,000 to the Prince and Princess of Croy and Solre of Belgium, who were directly related to the Belgium royal family. The house was back on the market two years later with a price tag of £900,000.
Rathnally house is downstream from Trim on the north bank of the Boyne. Constructed in the early eighteenth century for Thomas Carter, Master of the Rolls, the house was much altered in the nineteenth century.
The eighteenth century character can be seen in the garden front and river elevation. The three storey house was designed by Edward Lovett Pearce. Thomas Carter married a first cousin of Edward Lovett Pearce, the architect. Pearce was MP for Ratoath and designed the Houses of Parliament in Dublin, now the Bank of Ireland. There was a four storey block in existence at Rathnally and Pearce designed a block to the rear. Pearce captured a view of the Boyne in the four windows of the drawing room. Below the drawing room is a vaulted kitchen and above a coved bedroom. Carter’s town house on Henrietta Street was designed by Edward Lovett Pearce. The architecture of Edward Lovett Pearce and his connection to Rathnally is explored in an article by Jeremy Williams in the Irish Arts Review Yearbook 2001.
Thomas Carter served with distinction at Derry and the Boyne. He managed to capture the books and writings of James II at the Battle of the Boyne. Thomas Carter acquired a large estate of confiscated lands at Robertstown, Ashbourne, after the Battle of the Boyne. Thomas married secondly, Isabella, the dowager Countess Roscommon in 1702 by which marriage he acquired the extensive Roscommon estates in and around Trim. Thomas acquired an estate at Castle Martin, Co. Kildare.
His son Rt. Hon. Thomas Carter was born about 1690 was a very active parliamentarian and became Master of the Rolls. He was a major political figure in the mid eighteenth century in Ireland. He was MP for Trim, Co. Meath (1719–27), and was then returned for Hillsborough, Dungarvan, and Lismore, choosing to sit for Hillsborough (1727–61). Thomas Carter was made Master of the Rolls in Ireland in 1731, a position he held until 1754. Thomas Carter was noted for his rudeness and his loathing of English interference in Irish affairs and his satirical lampooning of political opponents earned him the nickname “Vicious Carter”. He opposed Wood’s Halfpence. In 1729 he was a leading figure in one of the early road acts. He was a founder member of the Dublin Society, later the RDS. In 1763 the Dublin Journal recorded that ‘he built some very useful mills.” A mill house stands close to Rathnally House. Thomas Carter married Mary Claxton in 1719 at St Anne’s, Dublin. She was the first-cousin of Edward Lovett Pearce. Carter’s son-in-law, Philip Twisden, Bishop of Raphoe, was shot dead allegedly masquerading as a highwayman in London. Twisden’s daughter, Frances, Carter’s grand-daughter, became countess of Jersey and mistress to King George IV of England. Thomas Carter died at Rathnally in 1763 and was buried at St Patrick’s cathedral, Trim.
Carter’s eldest son, Thomas, married Anna Armytage, twelve days after his father’s death. They had only one child, a daughter, Amma Maria who married Skeffington Thompson in 1779. Skeffington was the son of Thomas Thompson of Muckamore, Co. Antrim. Their son, Robert, joined the church and was rector of Navan and Athlumney for a period. In 1802 Skeffington Thompson unsuccessfully stood for parliament in the county Meath constituency. Skeffington Thompson of Rathnally died in 1810 and was succeeded by his son, John. John Thompson was High Sheriff of Meath in 1824. In the 1830s Rathnally was described as the seat of J. Thompson, Esq., and pleasantly situated in a well-planted demesne on the banks of the Boyne. John Thompson died unmarried in 1858 and was succeeded by his brother William. William was recorded as holding 2154 acres in county Meath in 1876. William was High Sheriff of Meath in 1896 and died in 1901. Francis D’Arcy Thompson was born in 1865 and educated at Cambridge. He was a descendant of the Rev. Skeffington Thompson, son of Skeffington of Rathnally, who had married a D’Arcy of Westmeath. In 1908 Francis married his cousin, Annie Eleanor, only daughter of William Thompson of Rathnally and came to live at Rathnally. In 1911 Frances D’Arcy Thompson and his family lived at Rathnally. Mrs A.E. D’Arcy Thompson was a noted breeder of poodles and exhibited at Crufts. Major D’Arcy Perceval Pelham Thompson served in the Second World War. He inherited Rathnally from his aunt in 1952. His wife founded a flower show at Rathnally. Major Thomson died in 1973. At that stage the estate amounted to 200 acres.
The Manor House, is located in the village of Ratoath. The Manor House is a long two storey house of late 18th century appearance. The house probably dates to about 1780. The public road in front of the Manor house appears to have been moved out to give an appropriate garden space in front of the house. This would have been done before 1837 as the first Ordnance Survey map shows it.
Bishop Plunkett, bishop of Meath regularly stayed at Mr. Corbalis at Ratoath during this visitation of the parishes of Meath in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
James Anthony Corballis purchased Ratoath Manor and part of the barony of Dunboyne in 1813. He was the son of John Corballis, a Dublin timber merchant. The Corballis family commissioned the erection of the High Altar in St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in 1822. The vaults below the altar contain the remains of a number of family members. In 1835 Ratoath Manor was the property of Mr. Corbally. The house was pleasantly situated on the east side of the village and has some ornamental grounds attached to it. The townland is also called Moorlough. James Anthony Corballis died in 1842 aged 69 at Leamington.
According to Art Kavanagh in the ‘Landed Gentry and Aristocracy Meath’ James Henry Corballis married Constance Jerringham in Brussels in 1863 and when the couple returned to Ireland their tenants unharnessed the horses at Moulden Bridge and dragged the carriage to the hall door of the Manor House. James Henry and his family lived in Scotland for a period. The family lived away from Ratoath until 1919. James Henry Corballis wrote a book entitled “Forty-five years of sport.” James Corballis granted a lease of the site for the new Roman Catholic Church to Bishop Nulty in 1870. Emily M. Corbalis left funds for the repair and maintenance of the church at Ratoath and also left funds for the poor of the parish to be administered by the parish priest and Protestant rector of Batterstown. James Henry’s sister, Emily Matilda, and brother, William, leased out The Manor to Percy Maynard. Percy Maynard of the Manor, Ratoath was field master of the Ward Union until his death twenty seven years later. In 1901 and 1911 Percy Maynard and his wife were residing at Ratoath Manor. The house had fifteen rooms, thirteen windows to the front and thirty one outbuildings.
In 1876 Miss E. Corballis of the Manor, Ratoath, held 167 acres in County Meath, James H. Corballis, The Manor held 941 acres, William H. Corballis of the Manor held 579 acres, John R. Corballis of Ratoath held 1182 acres and John R. Corballis of Milltown, Co. Dublin held 951 acres. Their son was James Frederick Joseph Corballis of Ratoath Manor who served as a captain in the war in South Africa in 1900. He was a captain recruiting during World War I. He was a boxing champion of the army and is supposed to have boxed John L. O’Sullivan.
James Frederick died in 1945. Most of the estate seems to have been lost by this stage.
James Farrell became owner from 1946 to 1948. Colonel Mainwaring then became owner and added a wing. The Augustinian order of Sister purchased the Manor and eighteen acres of land in 1951 and converted the house into a nursing home. The Augustinian Sisters extended and modernised the building. Two years were spent renovating the building and in November 1952 the first Augustinian nursing home was opened with accommodation for 50 ladies. A stable was converted to a chapel. The nursing home has a concert hall. Two wings and a new chapel were added. The Sisters sold the Manor in 2002 to Silver Stream Healthcare who run it as a nursing home.
Rathvale house is situated in Tullaghanogue townland on the Athboy-Trim Road near the turn-off for Rathcairn. In the 1830s the house was known as Sherborne Lodge after the landowners family title. The house and estate were the property of Alexander Drake in the later part of the nineteenth century. Alexander Drake was the son of Christopher Drake of Roristown. The family originated at Drakerath. In 1876 Alexander Drake of Rathvale held 352 acres in County Meath.
In 1901 Gerald Leyns Walker and his family were living at Rathvale. Gerald Walker was a breeder of purebred horse. He bred Sergeant Murphy, a Grand National winner. A local police sergeant noticed the mare foaling and informed Mr. Walker who named the horse after him. The horse won the Grand National in 1923 and the race can be viewed as it was filmed by Pathe News.
Photo: Athboy 100
Reginald Henry Walker, son of Gerald Leyns Walker, Reginald married Emily Heather Collins in 1920. Reggie became a top class amateur jockey in England before returning to train at Rathvale. One of his horses, Royal Danoli, was beaten by a matter of inches at the 1938 Aintree Grand National. Reggie died in 1951. Mrs. Heather Walker of Rathvale died in 1959. The house and stud farm were sold.
Located outside Kilmessan, Bence-Jones described Ringlestown as a pleasant Victorian house in the late Georgian manner. A pond with a waterfall and fountain were located to the south of the house.
John Wilkinson of Curtistown purchased Ringlestown in the middle of the eighteenth century. About 1840 John Wilkinson built a new house for his younger son, Robert, at Ringlestown. His cousin, one of the Mason Yeates, erected a house of the same design at Grangemoccin, Delhusey, Co. Dublin. Robert and his sister lived at Ringlestown until 1885. He erected a shell grotto, created an artificial lake and a bath house. In 1876 Robert Wilkinson of Ringlestown held 124 acres in County Meath. Robert had no children and the property was inherited by his nephew, George. George had been to Oxford and he installed a water pump and a gas plant. George kept driving horse but did not hunt or shoot. George died at another Wilkinson home at Curtistown in the late 1920s.
The Land Commission then acquired Ringlestown. Senator Bill Quirke purchased the house.
Bill Quirke was born in Clonmel in 1894 and was involved with the Tipperary No £ Brigade IRA. In 1921 he was imprisoned on Spike Island in Cork Harbour by the British forces. He and seven others managed to make an escape from this very safe prison. Quirke took the republican side in the Civil War. There is a story that one day he came face to face with Larry Clancy, a neighbour who was on the pro-treaty side. Both of them were armed. Bill is alleged to have defused what might have been a serious situation by saying, “Larry, if I shoot you or you shoot me, there is not much in that for either of us, so why don’t we both have sense and go home?” For a period in the 1920s he went to America. Returning to Ireland he became involved in his family’s auctioneering business. In 1932 he became a senator, a position he led until his death in 1955. He served as Leader of the House. He was a pioneer in the development of the Irish bogs and was at an early stage a director of the Turf Development Board. He was also a member of the Agricultural Credit Corporation and of the Racing Board. In 1936 he moved to Ringlestown. He revived the Tara Harriers and became Master. He served two terms as Mayor of Clonmel in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The family lived in Dublin for a period. Senator Quirke died from a seizure on 5th March 1955 while taking part in the Ward Union Hunt at Garristown. The President Sean T. O’Kelly and the Taoiseach Eamon de Valera attended the funeral.
The house was lived in by Surgeon and Mrs. Pringle during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Seton Sidney Pringle began his career as a surgeon to the Mercer Hospital, to which his father had bequeathed a large amount of money for hospital expansion. During the First World War Pringle served in France as a surgeon in the urgency cases hospital with the French army. In 1918 he became visiting surgeon to Baggot Street hospital, where he worked till 1944. Pringle specialised in abdominal surgery. Known to his students as ‘Satan’, he had a reputation as a swift surgeon. On his retirement from active surgery in 1944 he moved to Ringlestown House, where he spent his time fishing on the Boyne river and managing his farm. He died in 1955.
Sir Hercules and Lady Langrishe moved to Ringlestown in 1956. Hercules Langriche was created Baron of Knocktopher Abbey, Co. Kilkenny in 1777 and the Hercules who lived at Ringlestown inherited the title in 1973. He died in 1998. A relative is Caroline Langriche who is an actress and became known for her role in Judge John Deed as Deed’s ex-wife, Georgina Channing, QC, and was also the leading lady of Lovejoy in the show’s last two seasons. She then moved onto a role in Casualty.
Ringlestown was lived in for a period by Mr and Mrs Mel Beecher. An article on the house by John G.S. Wilkinson appears in ‘Kilmessan and Dunsany: A millennium memoir’
Rockfield is just outside Kells town on the road to Athboy. Rockfield is a large two storey house over a low vaulted basement, with a courtyard behind. The yard is earlier than the house so an older house must have stood on the site. The current house is early nineteenth century. The house is similar in design to Williamstown and both may have had the same architect. A curved stone staircase to the first floor is off the entrance hallway. The hall has a period grey marble fireplace and a stone flagged floor. The house had originally three lodges and three avenues. There is a fine Gothic gatehouse dating from 1843.
John Rothwell of Berfordstown, Co. Meath died in 1714 leaving a wife, Mary, four sons and five daughters. His son, John, succeeded him and lived at Cannonstown, the neighbouring townland to Rockfield. John was succeeded by John, son of his second son, Thomas. Richard Rothwell succeeded to his uncle’s estates at Berford and purchased the property of Rockfield from his elder brother. In 1763 he married Mary Lowther, daughter and heiress to Hugh Lowther of Hurdlestown. Their second son, Thomas, inherited the estate in 1780. Thomas was High Sheriff of Meath in 1794. He married twice, firstly to Helena Upton in 1795 and then to Letitia Corry of Shantonagh, Co. Monaghan. Thomas’s son, Thomas took the surname Fitzherbert and inherited Blackcastle and Shantonagh.
Richard Rothwell inherited on the death of his father, Thomas, in 1817. A number of account books and ledgers belonging to the family from this period are in the National Library. Richard, educated at Oxford, was High Sheriff of Meath in 1839. Richard had architect, William Murray, prepare plans for improvements in 1841. Richard was treasurer of the Meath Horticultural Society. He married Elizabeth, only daughter of Rev. Thomas Sutton, rector of Clongill. Elizabeth recorded the detestation caused by the night of the Big Wind in 1839. A sword recovered from Lagore crannog, Dunshaughlin, was presented to the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy by Mrs. Rothwell. The Rothwells had a collection of ancient artefacts which eventually ended up in the National Museum of Ireland. Their eldest son, Thomas, succeeded to Rockfield in 1853. Thomas Rothwell held 3161 acres in Meath and 365 acres in Tipperary in 1883. Educated at Magdalene College Oxford he was a member of the Conservative Club, Kildare Street. High Sheriff of Meath in 1867, he served with the Meath Militia. He married Louisa Catherine Hannah Pratt of Cabra Castle in 1866 and died in 1909 leaving four daughters. In the 1901 census Thomas Rothwell and his family lived at Rockfield. The house was home to the Rothwells until the 1960s. The Cameron family then held Rockfield for thirty years.
Rock Lodge was in Laracor Parish and is on the Rock Road. Just the outbuildings remain. In 1835 Rock Lodge was described as the newly built handsome residence of Mr. Thomas Disney in Little Freffans townland. The house was erected about 1823. There was a school house at the rear entrance and a nursery across the road from the rear entrance in 1830s
Thomas Disney third son of Brabazon Disney, Professor of Divinity at Trinity College, served as an army officer in Canada, before taking up a position as the registrar for the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham – a retirement home and hospital for maimed soldiers. In 1791 he married Anne Purdon and then became agent to Lord Langford’s estate at Summerhill. The couple had fifteen children, fourteen of which survived to adulthood. The eldest son, Brabazon, fought at Waterloo. Thomas, third son became land agent to the Earl of Darnley of Athboy. His brother Lambert was also land steward for the Earl of Darnley and resided at Clifton Lodge. Lambert married Anna Henrietta Battersby of Freffans. Shortly before he died in 1851 Thomas Disney senior was forced to sell Rock Lodge and the estate under the Encumbered Estates Act. Brabazon Disney, son of Brabazon Disney, was rector of Slane from 1815 to his death in 1831. In 1854 Thomas R. Disney was the landowner at Freffans. The Disney’s moved to Finglas, Co. Dublin. Thomas Disney was a good friend of the astronomer and mathematician, Rowan Hamilton. A branch of the family had a house called Rock Lodge in Killiney.
Rodanstown is located near Kilcock. Roddanstown is a late seventeenth century gable ended house of two storeys over basement. The original windows have been replaced with pvc windows. There is a range of outbuildings to the rear of the house. There is a large motte to the west of the house. In the 1830s there was an old mill race to the north of the house.
Rt. Hon William Connolly acquired an estate of 1427 acres at Rodanstown in 1691 and lived there from 1694-1704 and then moved to nearby Castletown, Co. Kildare. Known as the Speaker Connolly, he became one of the richest men in Ireland.
In the 1830s Rodanstown house was the residence of Mr. Morron. The townland is the property of Mr. McVeigh of Drewstown. In 1854 John Morran was leasing the house and 213 acres of land from Ferdinand M. Mc Veigh.
In 1901 George McVeigh of Drewstown was the landlord of Rodanstown. The house was not occupied in 1901 or 1911. It had fifteen outbuildings.
Roristown is situated on the south bank of the river Boyne, a mile from Trim on the Kinnegad road. A two storey house it was erected about 1787 by Cornelius Drake. The plasterwork is a blend of late Georgian and early Victorian. The house may have been remodelled in the 1840s. In late Victorian times two large rooms were remodelled and extended to give the house a distinctive curved profile.
The Drake family had settled at Drakerath in north Meath and a castle had been erected there by the family. Columbus Drake, the son of Patrick Drake of Drakerath, was born in 1760 and married Anne Barnewall of Fyanstown castle. In 1795 Bishop Plunkett and his clergy were invited to dine at Roristown with Mr and Mrs Drake in November 1795. The bishop dined there again in 1796. Colombus Drake of Drakerath and Roristown died in 1807 aged 57 years and buried at the Histy graveyard, Staholog. Christopher Drake of Roristown died in 1854 and was also buried in Histy. Christopher was born in 1790 and married Mary-Anne Gannon of Ballyboy. His monument was erected by his son, Alexander James Drake of Rathvale.
In 1835 the property of 259 acres was leased to Mr. C. Drake by Minor Leslie. Roristown was one of the finest houses in the parish and its pleasure ground was very tastefully laid out. The Boyne flowing past added much to its beauty. Mr. Drake also held the neighbouring townland of Kennastown which contained 360 acres.
Columbus Drake was forced to sell his lands at Roristown, Kennastown and Batterstown in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1870. In 1870 George William Cuppage was the tenant at Roristown. In 1896 the estate of Roristown was sold. It amounted to 490 statute acres.
In 1911 Bernard Carew was living at Roristown. Bernard Carew died in 1915. Agnes Eivers inherited the estate. His grand nephew, Vincent C. Eivers, then inherited Roristown. Vincent served as secretary of the Tara Harriers for more than twenty years. In 1960 he established the first bush point to point in Leinster at Roristown. A stud farm was developed at Roristown. A dairy farm was then developed at Roristown. Vincent Eivers was heavily involved in Drogheda milk Producers and in the Royal Meath Agricultural Show. Vincent Eivers died in 1997 aged 89.
Rosnaree House is a small late Italianate villa on a wonderful site on the south bank of the river Boyne, just downstream from Slane. Rosnaree has spectacular views of Newgrange, Knowth and the bend of the Boyne. The Neolithic monuments can be seen from the breakfast rooms and the bedrooms which overlook the river. It was at Rosnaree that Fionn MacCumhaill is supposed to have caught and cooked the Salmon of Knowledge. Rosnaree has been identified as Cletty where King Cormac is said to have died from swallowing a fishbone. There is a tradition that Cormac’s grave is on the banks of the river at Rosnaree. When a pillbox was being constructed in the 1940s the grave of a woman and an infant were uncovered. The lands, which were once part of the Cistercian Abbey of Mellifont, were later granted to the Earl of Drogheda.
The Earls of Drogheda were reputed to have had bad luck having acquired religious lands following the confiscation of the monasteries. Rosnaree was site of one of the major confrontations of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The Osborne family of Dardistown acquired Rosnaree from the Earl of Drogheda about 1720 and a dwelling was constructed. A pack of hounds were kept at Rosnaree by the Osbornes. In 1835 Rosnaree house is mentioned in the townland and was occupied by Thomas Johnston. In 1855 the main building was added to the original huntsman’s dwelling. The Osborne coat of arms was erected over the front door. Rossnaree Catholic church was erected on a site given by the Osborne family of Rosnaree house.
In the 1870s Charles William Osborne of Rosnaree held 689 acres in county Meath.His daughter, Juanita, married Captain Theodore Dalyell, Indian Army, while another daughter, Eva, married Lt-Col. Thomas Evans Acton. Marcus Stuart Osborne, son of F.D. Osborne of Rosnaree, served in the First World War. Serving in France from 3 April 1918 he was killed in action on the 24th of the month. Charles William Osborne died in April 1919 aged 87 years and was buried in Slane churchyard.
The Law family acquired the house in 1925. An ancestor, Michael Law, had raised a troop of horse for King William at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. Robert Law served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the First World War. Robert married Audrey Wallis of Drishane Castle, Co. Cork. A number of pieces in the house come from Drishane Castle. Their son, Michael, served in the Second World War. Michael married Judy Hogarth, a descendant of the great artist, William Hogarth.
Robert Law, a barrister at the Middle Temple in London and the Kings Inns, Dublin, lived in Africa for eight years and assisted in the drafting of the 1995 Ugandan constitution. Robert’s mother, Judy Law, lived at Rossnaree until Robert and his wife, Aisling, returned from Africa in 2000, with their son, Emile, and daughter, Iseult. The couple refurbished the interior of the house with rare art and textile collections from their extensive travels in Africa. Robert became involved in the Boyne Canal Action Group, Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) and An Taisce. Robert Law died in 2004.
Ashling trained as a jeweller and has her own silvermark issued by Dublin Castle. She has worked in many mediums including film and sculpture. She trained in Florence in the classical techniques of drawing and oil painting. Aisling’s mother was the German-born Irish sculptor Imogen Stuart, her father was the sculptor, Ian Stuart, the son of Iseult Gonne and Francis Stuart. Ashling’s grandmother was Iseult Gonne McBride who married the Irish writer, Francis Stuart. Ashling’s great grandmother was Maud Gonne who established the Abbey Theatre with William Butler Yeats and was the inspiration for much of his romantic poetry. Maud later married John McBride, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 rising.
Aisling Law founded the Rossnaree School of Art in 2007. The house also provides a venue for functions and accommodation. The house, described as a ‘simple but elegant house’ by Casey and Rowan is set in 200 acres of pasture, woodland and gardens.
Ross House is located on the shores of Lough Sheelin in north-west Meath. A two storey house it was erected about 1780. In the 1830s it was the residence of Mr. Somerville and described as being pleasantly situated and its grounds neatly planted. A ruined boathouse is located on the shores of the lake. A gate-lodge was erected about 1880. In 1854 James Somerville was leasing Ross House and more than three hundred acres of lands from George H. Pentland. In 1901 Skeffington Thompson was living at Ross House with a game keeper. The house had fifteen rooms, eleven windows to the front and nineteen outbuildings. In 1911 Francis D. Thompson owned the house but a servant, Anne Vaughan, was caretaking the house. In recent decades Ross House has been developed as visitor accommodation and as an equestrian centre.
To the east of Ross House stands Ross Castle. Richard Nugent, 12th Baron of Delvin, began the construction of the castle about 1533. It is said that its last occupant was Baron Nugent, called the Black Baron, who was murdered near Finnea, in Westmeath. The Castle of Ross came to its final fame in the summer of 1644 when Myles O’Reilly, the Slasher, spent in its walls the night before the Battle of Finea. In 1830s the castle was in ruins. In 1864 Anna Maria O’Reilly installed a large plaque in the tower hall. In the late twentieth century Sir David Nugent rebuilt the entire compound as a family estate. It now operates as accommodation for visitors.
Rusk House is located near Dunboyne, on road between Leixlip to Dunboyne. Thomas Wilson was born at Rusk about 1740. John Wilson of Rusk died in 1771 aged 67. The Wilson family are buried in Dunboyne. The Wilson’ also held lands in co. Kildare. In 1835 Rusk House was the residence of Mr. Wilson. It was described as a three storey slated house, having a basement and small offices. There were large orchards on the south and east of the house, separated from one another by straight alleys or walks between fir trees. The proprietor considered the demsene to be coextensive with the townland which was bounded by plantations and divided into fields by strong fences. In 1854 John Wilson held the house and townland of Rusk.
Ryndville House stood in the parish of Rathcore, near Enfield in southwest Meath. The house was demolished in the 1970s.
The Rynd family originated in the Enniskillen area of Co. Fermanagh. James Rynd Grange Beg, Westmeath and Miss Hester Fleetwood of Parktown, Meath, were married on 3 December 1793. They settled at Ryndville. Hester, daughter of Robert Fleetwood, was his third wife. James died in 1814. His widow died in 1850, surviving her husband by thirty six years. Their son, Robert Fleetwood Rynd was born 1798. The family were buried in Rathcore.
Robert Fleetwood Rynd married Maria Longworth Dames of Greenhills, Co. Offaly (then King’s County) in 1831. The thatched church of the Roman Catholic community at Jordanstown was situated on the Ryndville Estate. In 1832 Robert Fleetwood Rynd gave the sum of twenty pounds towards the erection of a new chapel at Jordanstown.
In 1835 the townland of Jordanstown, Rathcore parish – the townland was the property of Robert Fleetwood Rynd, his demesne was called Ryndville which comprised about half the townland. The remaining half he tilled himself. The townland has 472 acres. Mr. Rynd also held 800 acres from Mr. Kettlewell in Possextown townland. Half of this was in pasture with the other half in tillage.
Robert Fleetwood Rynd died in 1875 while his widow Maria died in 1893. In 1876 the representatives of R. F. Rynd, of Ryndville held 1,426 acres in County Meath. Their only son, James Fleetwood Rynd, was a colonel in the Leitrim Rifles, received a B.A. from Trinity and was called to the Irish Bar. He died in 1908 aged 75 years. His sister, Maria Jane, married Frederick Cockayne Elton who reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the British army. He was also one of the earliest recipients of the Victoria Cross. Elton received the award for the bravery he displayed while fighting the Russians in the Crimea in 1855. Robert and Maria’s daughter Elizabeth married Arthur Hume while another daughter, Emma Arabella, married Major Francis Topping in Toronto, Canada.
As James Fleetwood died without an heir the estate went to his sisters. Maria Jane lived at Ryndville after her brother died. Maria Jane died in 1924 aged 90. Elizabeth Hume, lived at 63 Dawson Street, Dublin and she died in 1936, aged 101.
A related Rynd family held lands nearby at Mount Armstrong in county Kildare. A possible relative was Francis Rynd who invented the hypodermic syringe in 1844. Relatives of the Ryndville family now live in Wales.
Ryndville House by Pat Holton – Pat the Painter, who has painted a number of views of the house for the Mahon family. (By kind permission P. Holton)
Seneschalstown House is located south of Yellow Furze. It is on the first Ordnance Survey maps of the 1830s. In 1901 the house had nineteen rooms, eleven windows to the front and seventeen outbuildings. There were two avenues into the house, the back gates were used most often.
The Aylmer family held Seneschalstown. Edward Aylmer of Seneschalstown was alive in the reign of Charles II. Richard Aylmer of Seneschalstown died in 1746 leaving four sons and eight daughters. Richard Aylmer of Seneschalstown married Miss Deane of Galway in 1764. In 1792 Peter Aylmer of Seneschalstown, the second son of Richard, was sworn in as a member of the United Irishmen in Dublin. The Aylmer family donated the site for the church at Seneschalstown towards the end of the eighteenth century.
In 1837 Seneschalstown House was the residence of Laurence Kelly but the property of the Aylmer family. In 1854 Laurence Kelly held Seneschalstown House and a demesne of 255 acres at Seneschalstown. In 1876 Maria Kelly of Seneschalstown held 457 acres in county Meath. Miss Kelly died about 1880.
Seneschalstown was leased to the Thunder family for many years. Michael Harman D’Alton Thunder was the second son of Michael Thunder of Lagore House. Born in 1842 he was a Justice of the Peace and Captain in the 58th regiment. He retired from the army in 1864. The family had lived at Kilcarne before moving to Seneschalstown. His son was Stuart Harman Joseph Thunder. Stuart Thunder served during World War I and was mentioned in despatches seven times. In 1901 and 1911 Michael Thunder and his family were living at Seneschalstown House. The last of the Thunder family to live locally was Captain Jack Thunder who resided at Brownstown and died in the 1970s.
The Farrell family came into possession of the property around 1914. Christopher Farrell provided the new GAA club with a field to play on in 1932.
Silverstream House is located in the townland of Balloy, near Stamullin. In 1911 it had twenty eight rooms, five windows at the front and nineteen outbuildings.
According to ‘The parish of Duleek and over the ditches’ Thomas Preston erected Silverstream about 1843. Brendan Matthews has also written about Silverstream. This house at Stamullen, county Meath was originally situated in 166 acres of land. Accounts and estimates relating to the construction of the house are still in existence.
Thomas Preston was son of the 12th Viscount Gormanston and brother to the 13th Viscount. His father paid the cost of erecting the house. In 1901 the house was vacant. In 1911 the house was lived in by four servants. Thomas died at Silverstream in 1903, his wife Margaret had died at their London residence in 1891. Thomas was Commissioner for National Education in Ireland.
The property passed to his son Thomas Edward, justice of the peace, who died in 1919. Then Silverstream passed to another son Francis Edmund. He sold the property in 1941 and died the following year. The house was acquired by the Order of St. John of God who remained at Silverstream until 1955 when it was disposed of to the Sisters of the Visitation. The Sisters of the Visitation established their first Irish foundation at Silverstream by Mother Theresa O’Dwyer, with three sisters from America and five from England and they were welcomed by the Bishop of Meath, Dr.Kyne. The parish priest of Stamullen, Fr. Peter Fagan and the parish curate, Fr. Patrick Fagan also attended the service in November 1955. The Visitation nuns are a contemplative order and produce altar breads.
Sion House is located near Johnstown, Navan. The house was erected in the middle of the nineteenth century. It does not appear on the first O.S. maps in the 1830s. The house was held by the Metge family. In 1854 John Metge held a house and sixty-nine acres of land from Frances Metge at Alexanderread townland. R.H. Metge, M.P. lived there in the early 1880s.
The Dunville family became associated with Navan in the 1880s. Robert Grimshaw Dunville acquired Sion. The Dunville family ran a whisky blenders business in Belfast. Robert Grimshaw Dunville became chairman in 1874. He was High Sheriff of County Meath in 1882.
In 1901 Robert G. Dunville and his wife, Jeanie, were in residence at Sion. The house had twenty six rooms, eight windows to the front and eleven outbuildings.
In 1890 Robert’s son, John Dunville, was appointed Private Secretary to the Duke of Devonshire. John Dunville had had served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Fifth Battalion of the Leinster Regiment. In 1892 John Dunville married Violet Anne Blanche Lambart, the fifth daughter of Gustavus William Lambart, of Beau Parc. County Meath. In 1911 Violet was living at Sion. They had four children: Robert Lambart Dunville, John Spencer Dunville, William Gustavus Dunville and Una Dunville. Second Lieutenant John Spencer Dunville died from wounds he received at Epehy in France in 1917. He was protecting an N.C.O. of the Royal Engineers who was cutting wire which had been laid by the enemy. The Victoria Cross was awarded to him posthumously. His father, John Dunville, received the medal from King George V at Buckingham Palace in August 1917. John Dunville was Master of the Meath Hounds from 1911 to 1915. John Dunville was president of the Irish Aero Club in 1912. In 1910 he crossed from Ireland to England in less than two hours. Robert Grimshaw Dunville died in August 1910 and his son John Dunville succeeded him. John Dunville died in 1929.
In July 1936 St. Martha’s College of Agriculture and Domestic Science, Sion, Navan, in charge of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul was opened at Sion. In 1941 An Taoiseach Eamon de Valera and the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. James Ryan, paid a visit to St. Martha’s College. This college operated until the 1980’s.
Skryne Castle consists of a late medieval tower house to which was added a three storey Georgian about 1780 and the building was re-modelled about 1830 with battlements and Gothic windows being added to make the building more picturesque. The castle is close to the motte castle of Adam de Feypo, who was granted Skryne by High de Lacy in the 12th century. Mrs Elizabeth Hickey documented the medieval period in her book ‘Skryne and the early Normans.’ At the entrance is a single-storey gate lodge dating from about 1860. The first Ordnance Survey maps show an entrance direct to the front of the house. The current entrance approaches the house from the side. The first OS maps also show the site of a chapel in the field to the front of the house.
Skryne gets its name from ‘Scrín Cholm Cille’, meaning the shrine of St. Colmcille. This shrine was brought to Skryne in 875 to protect it from the attack by the Vikings. However the shrine was lost when the monastery as plundered by the Danes and rivals Irish clans. Adam de Feypo who was granted the lands here by Hugh de Lacy, founded an Augustinian monastery. The tower of this monastery sits on the summit of the hill. Skryne became a borough with its own mayor or provost. In the early 1800s fairs were held on March 17th, June 20th, and Oct. 12th, for livestock, the last being a very large fair for sheep. O’Connell’s traditional pub, located near the tower, features in the Guinness White Christmas ad on television.
The castle at Skryne was lived in by the Wilkinson family. A tune called ‘Planxty Wilkinson’ was composed by Turlough O’Carolan for the Wilkinsons of Tara and Skryne, Co.Meath.
There is supposed to be a ghost who haunts the castle. In 1740 a local squire turned his attention to Lilith Palmerston, a maid at the castle. When his advances were spurned he tried to strangle her, and was hanged for the crime. Shrieks are heard in the castle and a white figures sometimes appears.
In 1837 the old castle had been enlarged and modernised, and was occupied by a farmer. In 1856 Skryne castle and estate was the property of Peter Wilkinson who in 1876 held 586 acres in County Meath. In 1901 Alice Wilkinson and her daughter, Alice, were living at Skryne. In 1942 Skryne was the residence of Mrs. A. Wilkinson. The Wilkinson estate was taken over by the Land Commission in 1940.
In the early 1950s Mrs Elizabeth Hickey and family came to live in Skryne Castle. Mrs Hickey was a well known Meath historian and author. From the re-foundation of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society in the mid 1950s she took an active role in local history. Probably the most famous of her works was the ‘The Green Cockatrice’ in which she suggested that the works of Shakespeare were actually written by an Irishman, named William Nugent. She died in 1999 aged 81 years.
Slane Castle sits on an elevated site overlooking the Boyne river, just outside the village of Slane on the Navan road. A three storey house over basement Slane Castle was erected on the site of an earlier castle. Bence-Jones described Slane as a very large and very early Gothic Revival castle in an incomparable situation along the river Boyne. Major construction commenced at Slane about 1785 and continued for forty years. Rectangular in plan each corner has full-height square towers. The ballroom has exquisite Gothic tracery, spun out like lace.
The demesne buildings, stable block, gates and gatehouses form part of the estate landscape. Within the estate demesne is situated St. Erc’s Hermitage and Our Lady’s well.
The architects, who were involved in the re-design of the castle and grounds, reads like a who’s who of leading Irish and English architects. James Wyatt designed the library ceiling and prepared plans for the house. James Gandon, Thomas Penrose and Alexander Stewart were all involved in the changes in the 1780s. Lancelot “Capability” Brown prepared plans for the parklands, a work completed by John Sutherland. The stables too are reputedly to the design of Capability Brown, the English architect who never came to Slane. “I have not yet finished England” was the reason he gave for not coming to Ireland.
Francis Johnston is responsible for the dramatic gothic gates on the Mill Hill, the hall, staircase and entrance. Sir Richard Morrison drew up plans for the house about 1820.
St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland church was erected in 1712 on a site within the demesne donated by Henry Conyngham who complained that the old church on the hill was “of difficult ascent.” The Roman Catholic church at Slane was also endowed by the Conynghams and bears a plaque “Mount Charles Chapel 1802”.
The Conynghams, originally from the lowlands of Scotland, settled in Donegal in 1611. They took their motto after a Scottish king, who pursued by his enemies jumped into a haycock that the Conynghams were building and kept calling out “Over Fork Over” until he was completely concealed.
Alexander Conyngham, a Protestant clergyman of Mount Charles in Co. Donegal was the founder of the family in Ireland. He had twenty-seven children and died in 1660. Sir Albert Conyngham raised a regiment of dragons to fight for William at the Battle of the Boyne. His son, General Henry Conyngham, took his regiment of 500 soldiers from the army of King James to King William when the battle began to go against James. Whichever king won the Conynghams would have been on the winning side.
The Conynghams purchased the confiscated Fleming estate at Slane following the Williamite Confiscations in 1701. A house was constructed at Slane around the old Fleming Castle.
Albert died in 1705 and was succeeded by his son, William, who lived until 1738. His successor was his brother, Henry, who was created Earl and Baron Conyngham in 1781. When Henry died later that year the earldom became extinct and the barony and estate went to his nephew, Francis Pierrepoint Burton, second Lord Conyngham. Francis was the son of Francis Burton, M.P. for Coleraine and Co. Clare and Mary Conyngham. Francis Pierrepoint’s brother, William Burton, inherited the estates of his uncle and had his name changed to Burton Conyngham in 1781. He served as an M.P. in Dublin from 1761 to 1796 representing various constituencies. The largest flour mill in the country was erected at Slane in association with David Jebb and Blayney Townley Balfour in 1763. On succeeding his uncle William began an ambitious plan to improve the house and estate at Slane. He was a patron of the architect James Gandon and an active member of the Wide Streets Commission. He died, unmarried, at home in Harcourt Place, Dublin, on 31 May 1796, following which the lands he had had for life passed to his nephew, Viscount Conyngham.
Francis Pierrepoint married Elizabeth Clements, the daughter of Nathaniel Clements, in 1750. Their eldest son, Henry, inherited Slane. Henry Burton Conyngham succeeded to the title in 1787 on the death of his father, Francis Pierpoint. He was created Marquess Conyngham, Earl of Mount Charles and Viscount Slane in 1816.
Born in 1766, Henry Conyngham, first Marquis Conyngham, was the elder twin son of Francis Pierrepoint Burton, second baron Conyngham, by Elizabeth, sister of the first earl of Leitrim. He was a vigorous supporter of Act of Union in the Irish House of Lords.
Born in London Elizabeth Denison married Henry, Viscount Conyngham in 1794. A noted beauty, she was considered vulgar by some elements of society. She attracted the attention of royalty. Tsarevitch Nicholas of Russia was one of her admirers. Elizabeth became the mistress of the Prince of Wales, who became George IV in 1820. In late 1821 King George came to visit his subjects in Ireland although it was rumoured that he had come to Ireland to visit his mistress at Slane. The King stayed in Slane Castle in 1821 and a local story states that the reason the road from Dublin to Slane is one of the straightest roads in Ireland is because it was so designed to get him there quickly. He dined in the spectacular Gothic Revival Ballroom and the bedroom he slept in is known as the King’s Room to this day. Elizabeth’s relationship benefited the Conyngham family with her husband being raised to the title of Marquess and being awarded a number of royal offices. Lady Conyngham was an influence on George IV as she was against the death penalty and supported Catholic emancipation. The entire family lived with the king and at his expense. The relationship ended on the death of the king in 1830 and Lady Conyngham lived on until 1861. She lived a full and long life, dying aged ninety-two. In her later years she walked to church every Sunday supported by George IV’s cane. Her son was the first person to address Queen Victoria as “Your Majesty.”
Henry was succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, Francis, the second Marquess. A general in the army he also held the positions of Postmaster General and Lord Steward of the Household.
His eldest son, George, the third Marquess also joined the army. The title then passed to his eldest son, Henry. Two of his sons, Victor, the fifth Marquess, and Frederick, the sixth Marquess, both succeeded in the titles. Frederick’s son, Frederick, succeeded him as seventh Marquess.
In 1883 Marquis Conyngham held 7,060 acres in Meath, 27, 613 acres in Clare, 9,737 in Kent and 122,300 acres in Donegal amounting to a total of 166,710 acres
The seventh Marquess Conyngham died in 2009. He succeeded to the peerage in 1974. A captain in the Irish Guards he married Eileen Wren Newsam from nearby Beauparc. He lived in the Isle of Man for a considerable period.
In 1976 the castle was given into the care of his son, Henry Mount Charles, who worked tirelessly to get the castle and estate into a good financial state. The castle was opened to the public in 1985.
From 1981 Slane became known throughout Ireland and the world for its open air rock concerts which were held in the natural amphitheatre below the castle. Acts such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen, Robbie Williams and REM have performed at Slane. In 1984 U2 lived in the Castle while they were recording the album “The Unforgettable Fire.” The album was recorded at the castle and the ballroom was used for one of the videos. In 1991 a real unforgettable fire took place at Slane when a third of the building was destroyed and the rest of the Castle was severely damaged. The building has been painstakingly restored since then. A 10-year restoration programme was completed in 2001 and Slane Castle once again opened to the public.
Smithstown House is located near Dunshaughlin, just off the Navan-Dublin road. There was a house there in the 1830s but the current Smithstown House was erected in the mid nineteenth century. An entrance avenue was created to the main road for the new house.
William Johnson, a descendant of the O’Neill’s of Tyrone, settled at Smithstown. William Johnson’s son, Christopher, married Anne Warren of nearby Warrenstown. The Johnsons were tenants of the Warrens.
William Johnson was born at Smithstown in 1715, the son of Christopher Johnson and Anne Warren. William left Smithstown in 1738 to go to the Mohawk Valley bringing with him twelve local families to settle on the Warren lands there. William Johnson was a pivotal figure in British colonial and early Native American fortunes. The story of William Johnson is told in Fintan O’Toole’s book “White Savage”. Another relative, Guy Johnson, also distiniguished himself in America. Guy was supposed to be William’s nephew.
The Logan family succeeded the Johnsons at Smithstown. In his 1851 will James Logan left an annuity for the Roman Catholic parochial school of Dunsany. Walter Logan held the house and 294 acres from the Earl of Fingal in 1854. In 1876 Nicholas Logan held 294 acres in county Meath. Nicholas R. Logan, of Smithstown, also held 440 acres in Westmeath. The Logan family left Smithstown in the late 1800s and emigrated to Buenos Aires. In 1901 R.J. Logan owned the house but it was resided in by Annie Eliza Wilkinson. In 1911 Lucy Sophie Chaytor was residing in the house and also owned the property. The house had twenty five rooms, eleven windows to the front and eighteen outbuildings. In 1946 the property came into the ownership of Major Bruce Ogilvy, a brother to the Earl of Airlie. The Major had been equerry to Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936.
The Beggan family purchased the house in 1956 and operated it as a stud and cattle farm. Paddy Beggan, Smithstown House, was a member of Meath’s first ever team to take part in an All-Ireland senior football final in Croke Park. The Royal Meath Equestrian Centre is now located at Smithstown House.
Smithstown is located on the road between Drogheda and Julianstown. The footprint of the house would appear not to have changed for the last two hundred years. In the 1650s there was a fair stone house at Smithstown.
In 1835 Smithstown House was the residence of Richard O’Callaghan. In 1854 Francis N. Osborne was leasing Smithstown House and 312 acres from Joseph Osborne. The Osbornes were settled at Dardistown Castle.
Francis Nicholas Osbourne of Smithstown married Annie Dillon of Lismullin. Francis Nicholas died in 1864 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Francis Charles Osborne.
In 1849 Francis Osborne of Smithstown was appointed a justice of the peace by Lord Fingal. In 1876 Francis C. Osbourne held 717 acres in county Meath.
In 1911 Francis Charles Osborne and his wife Annie Sarah were living at Smithstown. The house had eighteen rooms, eight windows to the front and twelve outbuildings. In 1918 Geoffrey William Osborne, youngest son of Francis Charles Osborne, was killed in action in France.
Somerville House at Balrath, near Kentstown, was erected for Sir James Somerville in the early eighteenth century. Only the basement from that house survives today as the house was re-modelled at the end of the eighteenth century when the rooms on the south side were re-modelled. The house was re-orientated from back to front about 1831 to the design of Sir Richard Morrison. Rooms on the garden front are much higher than the entrance front as the garden front is two storey while the entrance front is three storey. The ceiling plasterwork in the salon and library is in the manner of Michael Stapleton and could be taken for late 18th century but is more likely to be early 19th century. The dining room has a domed ceiling. The main entrance to the house is through a grand stone archway named, Ivy Lodge. There is an impressive stable yard with a battlemented octagonal tower. There is a walled garden and there was a rose garden, pigeon house, ice house and bathing house. In front of the house the Nanny river was dammed to create a feature but also to provide a bathing place.
The Somervilles originally settled in Fermanagh at the time of the Ulster Plantation. Thomas Somerville purchased 1066 acres in Meath from the Forfeited Estates Court after the Battle of the Boyne.
In 1729 James Somerville became M.P. for Dublin City, a position he held until his death in 1748. In 1736 he was appointed Lord Mayor of Dublin. Shortly before his death James Somerville was made Baron of Somerville, Co. Meath in 1748. Sir James Somerville, 1st Baronet married Elizabeth Quaile in 1713. He died in 1748 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Quaile Somerville, 2nd Baronet. Born in 1714 and dying in 1772 Sir Quaile married Sarah Towers and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir James Quaile Somerville, 3rd Baronet. Sir James Quaile Somerville, 3rd Bart was born about 1742. He married Catherine Crofton in 1770. Sir James erected the Church Tower and planted the avenue of lime trees. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Marcus Somerville, 4th Baronet. Sir Marcus was born about 1772 and died in 1831. Sir Marcus married Mary Anne Meredyth, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Gorges Meredyth, Baronet in 1801. He married Elizabeth Geale as his second wife in 1825. Sir Marcus was M.P. for Co. Meath in Irish Parliament in 1800 and in London Parliament 1801-31. From his election of 1826 there is an itemised bill for the entertainment of voters at a Trim inn. Sir Marcus provided room and board for the voters at the Trim inn and provided raw whiskey, punch, a free shave and haircut. He had trouble keeping the piper sober to play for his voters.
His son, William Meredyth Somerville, born about 1802 became 1st Baron Athlumney. In 1832 William married Lady Maria Henrietta Conyngham, daughter of Henry Conyngham, 1st Marquess of Conyngham and his wife Elizabeth, who had been mistress to George IV. William served as Paid Attaché at Berlin, 1829-32. In 1837 Somerville House was described as the seat of Sir William Meredyth Somerville Bart. A fine mansion in an extensive demesne, it had been recently enlarged and improved, and a handsome entrance lodge erected, the grounds were embellished with an expansion of the Nanny water. He married secondly in 1860. Educated at Oxford, Sir William was returned to Parliament for Drogheda in 1837, a seat he held until 1852, and served under the Liberal Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, as Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1847 to 1852, during the worst of the Famine. He became M.P. for Canterbury in 1854 and continued as its M.P. until 1865. In 1863 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Athlumney of Somerville and Dollardstown and in 1866 he was created Baron Meredyth of Dollardstown. The Somerville family held part of the townland of Athlumney which gave them their title. The water spout with the lion’s head was erected by Sir William Somerville. The water supply is said to come from Trinity Well in the nearby woods. He had only one surviving son, James Herbert Gustavus Meredyth Somerville, born March 1865. He died at Dover in 1873 and was buried in Kentstown churchyard. In 1876 Lord Athlumney of Somerville held 10,213 acres in County Meath and 274 acres in County Dublin. James served in the Coldstream Guards and was with Kitchener in Egypt. When James was 53 he married a young Australian, Margery Honor Boan, but died without children ten years later, 1929. He was buried in Kentstown Churchyard and with him died the titles Baron Somerville and Baron Athlumney. Lady Athlumney never re-married and died in a swimming accident in the river Nanny in the grounds of Somerville House in July 1946 aged 45.
Somerville was inherited by Mr. Quentin Agnew, nephew by marriage to Sir James Somerville, 6th baronet and second and final Lord Athlumney. He took the name Somerville in 1950 but later sold the estate. The estate was broken up in the 1950s into six farms.A former Naval officer Sir Quentin pursued a career as an insurance consultant. His daughter Geraldine Somerville, who was born in Co. Meath, is an actress and has starred in the Harry Potter movies as Lily, Harry’s mother.
I was at the auction of the contents of the house and was particularly struck by the number of bells in the servant’s hallway. There was a bell for each room.
Spring Valley House
Spring Valley House is located just outside Summerhill village on the road to Kilcock. Spring Valley House was erected about 1770. It once functioned as the dower house for Summerhill House. It is a two storey over basement house. The house may have been constructed in different periods and was altered on a number of occasions. The outbuildings are arranged around a courtyard and include a pigeon loft. In the 1830s there was extensive planting to the east and sides of the house.
Springvalley townland was the property of Lord Langford. In 1835 the townland was divided into two farms, one containing 200 acres was held by Mr. Robert Butler Bryan. On his farm there was handsome house and offices and an apple orchard comprising about thirty acres. The Bryan’s had been in residence since at least 1800. In 1800 Elizabeth Bryan of Springvalley was buried in Agher churchyard.
The Shannon family moved to Spring Valley about 1840 and in 1854 Patrick J. Shannon was leasing Springvalley House and 129 acres from Lord Langford. Patrick was the son of Oliver Shannon of Dublin who had married Mary Anne Theresa Murphy of Breemount. Patrick married Maria Chamberlain in 1852 but she died ten years later at the age of 28. Their son, Oliver Joseph Shannon, was the owner of the house in 1901 and was in residence with his sister, Florence. Oliver married Alice Murphy from Breemount House about 1907. In 1911 he and his family were living at Spring Valley. The house had fourteen rooms, fourteen windows to the front and fourteen outbuildings. Mr. Shannon was a member of the Trim Rural District Council and the local magistrate. Mr. Shannon was a friend of Bishop Fogarty of Killaloe who visited Springvalley on a number of occasions. A keen huntsman Shannon was a member of the Meaths and Ward Union hunts. He died in 1940 aged 88. His son, Edward, succeeded at Springvally.
Stackallan House is located between Navan and Slane. Erected by Gustavus Hamilton, 1st Viscount Boyne, Stackallan has two formal fronts and is three storeys high with wide eaves. The house was originally known as Boyne House and is generally dated to 1716 making it one of the first of the grand mansions of the eighteenth century. Stackallan is of an older design and so is possibly older again. The house may have been erected in the 1690s. It is a rare example of a pre-Palladian style house. Built largely on a square plan, the house is said to have been designed by Thomas Burgh and John Curle. The interior of Stackallan is dominated by one of the largest staircases in Ireland – one broad long flight of stairs. The staircase ceiling depicts the Hamilton coat of arms surrounded by military trophies. In the 1830s there were two fish ponds and a pigeon house in the grounds. In recent years the house and gardens have been restored and a classical folly and canal have been constructed in the gardens.
Stackallan belonged to the Barnewalls in medieval times and they erected a castle. The lands became the property of John Osborne of London in 1666. John Osborne of Stackallan was M.P. for Meath in 1692. In 1704 the widow of John Osborne sold much of the estate to Gustavus Hamilton and the remainder to Henry Osborne of Dardistown.
The Hamilton family gave their name to the town of Manorhamilton in Co. Leitrim. The Christian name, Gustavus, entered the family in honour of the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus whom Sir Frederick Hamilton served during the Thirty Years War. Born about 1642, Gustavus Hamilton, was the youngest son of Sir Frederick Hamilton and grandson of 1st Lord Paisley. Gustavus, was the privy councillor to king James II but changed sides to William. He defended Enniskillen and Coleraine against the forces of James in 1689 and also defended Derry. He commanded a regiment at the Boyne where his horse was shot out from under him. He waded across the river Shannon to attack Athlone and became governor of the town. He fought at the Battle of Aughrim. He rose to the rank of Privy Chancellor and Major General. From 1692 to 1713 Hamilton served as M.P. for County Donegal. In 1715 Gustavus was created Baron Hamilton of Stackallan and in 1717 raised to the title Viscount of Boyne. He served as a privy counsellor to Queen Anne and then to George I. He died aged 84 in 1723 and was buried at Stackallan. He was succeeded by his grandson, Gustavus, son of Frederick Hamilton who had died before his father.
Gustavus Hamilton, was the oldest son of Frederick Hamilton, eldest son of Gustavus Hamilton, 1st Viscount Boyne. He was a Privy Councillor for Ireland, M.P. for Newport (Isle of Wight) and commissioner of the Irish Revenue. He died unmarried and was succeeded by his cousin, Frederick Hamilton. When Frederick died he was succeeded by his brother, Richard, 4th Viscount, who married Georgina, heiress to Charles Moore, Earl of Charleville and Baron Tullamore. Richard served as M.P. for Navan from 1755 to 1761. He was High Sheriff of County Meath in 1766. Richard and Georgina had seventeen children and their son, Gustavus, became the 5th Viscount. In 1773 Gustavus married Martha-Matilda, only daughter of Sir Quaile Somerville of Somerville. Their son, Gustavus, succeeded at Stackallan in 1789.
In the 1830s the house was uninhabited but was described as a spacious mansion in a fine well planted demesne. The demesne was described as being in bad order. One surveyor said that the house was badly situated on low ground. A countryman remarked “I wonder, sir, they should build a house there; it looks quite drowned.”
St. Columba’s College was founded in 1843 by the Rev. William Sewell, the Lord Primate of Ireland, the Earl of Dunraven and others. They took a seven year lease of Stackallan House. Six years later the school moved to south county Dublin where it continues to this day.
In 1850 the seventh Viscount assumed the additional surname of Russell, from his father-in-law. In 1866 he was created Baron Brancepeth, of Brancepeth in the County of Durham. The family resided at Brancepeth Castle, Durham and also held lands in Shropshire. In 1883 Lord Boyne held 2,739 acres in Meath with his overall estates in England and Ireland amounted to 30,205 acres.
The house remained in the Hamilton family until 1920 when it was sold to Daniel O’Mahoney Leahy. During the Second World War the Irish army was based at Stackallen House.
Stackallen was purchased by Major Anthony and Mrs. Elizabeth Burke in 1953. Major Burke’s family edited the series of genealogical books. In 1964 Major Burke was killed when a horse collapsed on top of him while hunting with the Ward Union. Mrs. Burke opened a stud farm at Stackallen in 1960. The house was sold in 1992 by Mrs. Burke who moved to a former rectory in Beauparc. .
In June 1992 Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores agreed to purchase Stackallen House for £1.65 million but decided not to move to the house later that year and so the house was put back on the market. She decided that the house was too much for her and she calculated that the restoration and running costs of the house were too expensive for her.
In November 1992 Stackallen House was purchased by Martin Naughton. He is the owner of Glen Dimplex which is the world’s leading manufacturer of electrical heating products and also produces a wide range of other appliances.
Stadalt is located southwest of Stamullin village. It borders County Dublin. Stedalt is a large two storey Italianate house from the Victorian period. A large lake was created at the front of the house which has now been drained. A large flour mill was located near Stamullin and was fed from the artificial lake. There was also a kiln.
The Plunketts held Stadalt during the medieval period before the property came into the hands of the Darcy family. In 1773 Christopher Darcy of Stadalt died. Stadalt became the property of the Walsh family. Rev. Jeremiah Walsh of Stadalt was a descendant of the Walsh family of Laragh. When he died in 1774 he was succeeded by his eldest son, Andrew.
In 1804 William Walsh of Stadalt married Margaret Upton. Stadalt was the seat of W. Walsh in 1835. Stadalt House was pleasantly situated in a demesne of 230 acres. In 1862 William Walsh was residing at Stadalt. The family allowed all their tenants to bring their blighted potatoes to their farmyard to be turned into flour during the famine. In 1861 John Walsh of Stadalt patented a furze crusher which could be used to make the plant suitable for feeding to animals. The machine was exhibited at the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865. The old house at Stadalt was demolished around 1860 when the new house was erected. In 1863 William Walsh captured a burglar in the drawing room of his home. Brendan Matthews recorded that a member of the Walsh family was run over by the train at Gormanstown in 1881. In 1876 William Walsh held 445 acres in County Meath. Henry Walsh died in 1885.
The property then went through the Tunstall-Moore family and Macartney-Filgate families. By 1876 Robert Tunstall-Moore was living at Stadalt. His wife was Mathilde Sophie Blount of Nantes, France. In 1901 Robert Tunstall-Moore, his wife, Mathilda Sophie, his son, George Blount and daughters, Lucy Mathilda, Edith Mary and Eveline Frances were living at Stadalt.
Henry R. Tunstall-Moore of Stadalt House died in 1911. Aged 42 Henry was the owner of a number of racehorses and was a steward of Bellewstown Races for years. He had a cricket green at Stadalt. A cricket team for Stadalt competed in competition from the 1890s onwards. Mathilde Sophie Tunstall-Moore died in 1925.
Lucy Matilda, sister and heiress of George B. Tunstall-Moore married Clement H.R. Macartney-Filgate in 1910. The Macartney-Filgate family were established in north County Dublin and in County Louth. Clement Macartney-Filgate was a commissioner in Scotland Yard before World War I. He died in 1930. His son, Brian, married in 1937.
In 1933 Stadalt was put up for sale. The house had four reception rooms, a billiard room, gunroom and office, butler’s pantry, kitchen, scullery, twelve family bedrooms and dressing rooms, two bathrooms and W.C.s, two maidservant’s rooms, work room and pantry. Outside there was seven loose boxes, five stalls, mens’ rooms, gardens, two tennis lawns, gate lodge and two cottages. In 1936 Mrs. Macartney-Filgate sold the house and 270 acres which was purchased by the Sisters of the Holy Child of Jesus, their first foundation in Ireland. In 1951 the Sisters of Clare took up residence at Stadalt and founded a home for the children of unmarried mothers. In 1987 the Sisters sold the house and it became a nursing home for the elderly.
Staffordstown is two and half miles southeast of Navan. Staffordstown house is a mid nineteenth century house of two storey over basement. It is similar in design to nearby Ashfield and the two may have had the same architect. A range of eighteenth century building adjoins the house.
The Cusack family held Staffordstown in medieval times and their remains are buried in the graveyard at Staffordstown. Sir Thomas Cusack was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the 1500s. Dying in 1571 there is a memorial stone bearing his arms at Staffordstown. The family erected a castle at Staffordstown but there is no trace of the building today. Robert Cusack held Staffordstown in 1689.
The Rothwell family held lands at Staffordstown. John Rothwell is recorded there in 1810. Charles Rothwell held lands there in the 1850s. Charles Rothwell lived at Staffordstown. His daughter Georgina Eleanor Rothewell died in 1888. In 1878 Georgina married Richard John Butler, son of Whitwell Butler and died ten years later in 1888.
James Butler of Priestown, Meath had a son, Richard, who became a vicar of Burnchurch, Co. Kilkenny. Thomas Lewis O’Beirne was a good friend of Richard and when he became bishop of Meath in 1798 he asked Richard to come with him. However Richard was settled at Burnchurch and instead Richard’s son, also Richard came to the diocese of Meath. Richard became rector of Trim in 1819 and Dean of Clonmacnoise. He was one of the founders of the Irish Archaeological Society, for which association he edited Clyn and Dowling’s Annals. He published his book on Trim castle in 1835.
In the 1830s Staffordstown parish of 616 acres was held Rev. R. Butler, Trim. Staffordstown House was described as having a large lawn, in which there was a mound and a graveyard. In the north-west of the parish was a plantation called Staffordstown wood.
Whitwell Butler was born in 1798. He was the son of Richard Butler and Martha Rothwell and brother to Rev. Richard Butler. Whitwell Butler fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, where he carried the Colours He married Elizabeth Garnett, daughter of John Paine Garnett of Arch Hall in 1833. In the 1850s Whitwell Butler held the house and lands of 335 acres at Staffordstown from Rev. Richard Butler. Whitwell died in 1877 and was succeeded by his son, Whitwell, who died in 1881. In 1876 Whitwell Butler of Staffordstown House, Navan held 381 acres in County Meath. Whittie Butler bred racing horses at Staffordstown. His brother, Richard John Butler, inherited the estate. Richard was born about 1840 and died in 1908. His eldest son, also Richard John, was born in 1879 and died in 1964.
In 1901 Richard John and his family were residing at Staffordstown. In 1911 Richard J. Butler held Staffordstown but it was occupied by a cousin, Synolda French. Residing with her was Harriet Cecilia Butler, daughter of Richard John Butler. Synolda French was one of the Butlers of Dunboyne. When Whitwell died Synolda’s father and mother moved to Staffordstown. Synolda’s mother died when Synolda was seven and so she was sent to relatives in Dublin returning to Staffordstown for holidays. During one of these holidays a Mr. Groome visited the house. Mr. Groome was searching for the Ark of the Covenant on Tara and Gussie Briscoe of Bellinter provided him with two workmen to provide the labour. Synolda said there were never any British Israelites at Tara, only this one young man, who lost interest after a while and departed.
A Quaker family, the Allens, family lived at Staffordstown in the 1940s. An ancestor of theirs was Richard Allen who was very involved in the anti-slavery movement and the establishment of the Dublin Cholera Hospital.
Stameen House is located in the southern suburbs of Drogheda and in the townland of the same name which is in the parish of Colpe, Co. Meath. Bence-Jones described Stameen as a two storey Victorian house while Casey and Rowan describe it as an Italianite house. The hall has a window with the Cairns coat of arms. The date of construction is unclear with Rowan and Hamilton suggesting 1870.
Stameen House was acquired by William Cairnes in the 1820s. The Cairns family originally came from Scotland. Alexander Cairns settled in Donegal. In 1779 John Elliot Cainres of Saville Lodge, Co. Tyrone, married Catherine, daughter and heiress of John Moore, of Moore Hall, Co. Down. Catherine was a very determined and single minded lady and was described as being “strong in her prejudices and in her determination to have her own way.” She had her favourites among her children, adoring her daughter Anne and son, George, but disliking William, who was born in 1796 and was left only 5s. in her will. She strongly opposed William’s decision to go into business.
William became a partner with Mr. Woolsey in the Castlebellingham before establishing his own Drogheda Brewery at the Marsh Road in 1825. It had formerly been Tandy’s Brewery. William married Marianne Woolsey of Priorsland, co. Louth and they had a large family.
William Elliott Cairnes of Killyfaddy, Co. Tyrone acquired Stameen in 1825. John McGrane had erected a house at Stameen, called “Cotton Hall.” William Cairns purchased it after McGrane died and he commissioned Caldbeck of Dublin to re-design and extend the house.
William had three sons, John Elliot, William and Thomas. John became professor of Political Economy and Jurisprudence in Queen’s University, Galway. William served as a Major in the army and married Isabella, only daughter of John Jameson.
William died about 1864 and was succeeded by his son, Thomas Plunkett Cairnes. He united the Drogheda and Castlebellingham breweries into a public company which floated on the stock exchange. He became governor of the Bank of Ireland. He endowed a number of community building projects in Drogheda and even has a wing in the Rotunda Hospital named in his honour. Thomas founded the Cairnes Trust which built a number of houses for ‘the working classes’ in various districts of Drogheda. Thomas Plunket Cairnes, was named after his godfather, Rev. Thomas Plunket afterwards bishop of Tuam. Thomas became owner of the business after the death of his father. Thomas Plunket was High Sheriff of county Louth in 1886. In 1876 Thomas held 1175 acres in County Meath with John E. Cairnes holding 761 acres and William H. Cairnes holding 259 acres. His sister married John Jameson of the distilling family. He died in 1893 aged 63 years.
Stameen became the property of his son, William Plunkett Cairnes. He was chairman of Cairnes Brewers, chairman of the Great Northern Railway and governor of the Bank of Ireland. He died in 1925. His son, William Jameson Cairnes was killed in 1918 during the First World War. An infantry officer with the Leinster Regiment, William Jameson Cairnes joined the Royal Flying Corps in Egypt and became a Flying Officer on 6 November 1916. He was promoted to Captain on 20 December 1916. Lieutenant Colonel Tom Algar Eliot Cairnes, the son of Thomas Plunket Cairnes, was born in 1888 and he succeeded to Stameen in 1925. Tom served with the 7th Dragoon Guards and the RAF and survived the First World War. He was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) in 1917. Tom served with the RAF in the Second World War. He died in November 1960 aged 72.
In 1961 after the “Colonel” died the property was sold. His son, William David Elliott, served in the Irish Guards and lived at Boltown Hall. Purchased by the Larkin family of Newry it was converted into the Stameen House Hotel.
In 1968 the house was purchased by Swiss hotelier, Willi Widmer, turned into a luxury hotel and re-named the Boyne Valley Hotel. The hotel was re-developed in the 1990s by the McNamara family.
Stephenstown is located in the parish of Casteltown, Navan, on the Kells-Ardee road.
Stephenstown House was a three-storey house, erected about 1760, with central flat-roofed porch. The remains of an earlier two-storey house is at the south-west gable. There is a courtyard of two storey outbuildings dating from about 1800. Both house and outbuildings are now in poor condition.
In 1836 Stephenstown House was described as a fine house occupied by Henry Owens and well sheltered by trees. In 1854 James Hughes was leasing Stephenstown House and 262 acres from Rev. William Barlow.
In 1876 Jane McKeever was living at Stephenstown. In 1901 and 1911 James McKeever and his family were residing at Stephenstown. The house had nine rooms, ten windows to the front and fifteen outbuildings.
Stirling House is located near Clonee. The house dates from the eighteenth century. William Coates married Mary Bomford in June 1750 and following their marriage they lived at Stirling House. The house appears on William Larkin’s map of 1812. The neighbouring estate is Summerseat.
In 1835 Stirling House, pronounced as Starlin, was the residence of Dr. Baker M.D. and was described as being in the south west part of Clonee townland. A two storey slated house with a basement, the house and grounds were in good repair and the demesne contained 103 acres well wooded. Nearby was Stirling Cottage also owned by Dr. Barker which he rented out. In 1874 Henry Oliver Baker of Stirling was appointed a justice of the peace for county Meath.
In 1911 Henry Stewart Johnston, a retired colonel, resided at Stirling. The house had thirteen rooms, seventeen windows to the front and forty-two outbuildings. Colonel Johnstone served with the Royal Meath Regiment from 1865 to 1896, commanding the regiment for the last five years of his service. He married Elizabeth Gerrard of Boyne Hill House, Navan. Colonel Johnston died aged 78 in 1914.
Summerhill House was considered to be one of the most dramatic of the Irish palladian houses. Crowning a hill to the south of Summerhill village, the house consisted of a main block with curved wings ending in a tower and pavilion. Summerhill House was designed by Edward Lovett Pearce and completed by Richard Castle, two of the greatest architects working in Ireland in the eighteenth century. Two of the ceilings were attributed to the Lafranchini brothers. Summerhill House, described by Mulligan as a ‘great palatial mansion,’ was erected about 1730 for Hercules Rowley. Bence–Jones described Summerhill as “the most dramatic of the great Irish palladian houses”. The house was burned accidentally about 1800, remodelled in the nineteenth century and burned again in 1921. The ruins were demolished in the middle of the twentieth century and some of the stones from the ruins were used at Dalgan Park, Navan, to construct a loggia. To the north of the house site stands Lynch’s castle which was converted to a folly on the estate. Near the house stood the family mausoleum.
A mile long avenue to the south of the house was planned. The architect asked to design the gate houses was also working on two gate lodges for a military barracks in India and the two plans became mixed up. Those intended for India arrived in Summerhill and were erected. The houses because of their unusual roofs became known as the “Balloon Houses”. The avenue was never completed as the last third of it stood on public road and so the gate houses were not even part of the demesne.
Though Summerhill House has been demolished, the entrance and tree-lined avenue are reminders of the demesne. The curved wall and gate piers was clearly executed by skilled masons. The entrance acts as a focal point within the village of Summerhill. The village of Summerhill is based on a classical layout, associated with the development of the Summerhill House and demesne. The village consists of a long wide street with a narrow tree-lined green running down the centre. The village green, laid out c.1830 includes a medieval cross.
The ancient seat of the Lynch family had been granted to Henry Jones, Bishop of Meath, for his services provided as Scoutmaster General to Cromwell’s Army. In 1661 Bishop Jones sold the lands to Sir Hercules Langford. The name was changed from Lynch’s Knock to Summerhill.
Sir Hercules Langford died in 1683 leaving a son, Arthur, and a daughter, Mary. He died in 1716. Arthur died without an heir and the estate went to his sister Mary who had married Sir John Rowley in 1671. Sir John Rowley was one of the biggest landowners in County Londonderry.
Sir John was succeeded by his son, Hercules Rowley, MP for Co. Londonderry 1703-42 and heir to Sir Hercules Langford of Summerhill. Hercules Rowley commissioned Sir Edward Lovett Pearce in collaboration with Richard Castle to build one of the greatest and most dramatic of all the Irish Georgian houses in 1731. The house was probably erected in preparation for his marriage in 1732 to Elizabeth Upton. Hercules Rowley died in 1742 when he was succeeded by his son.
Sir Hercules Langford Rowley was M.P. for Co. Londonderry 1743-1760 and for Co. Meath 1761-94. He was a founder member of the Dublin Society in 1731, later the RDS. He was High Sheriff of Meath in 1738. In 1766 Hercules Langford Rowley was elevated to the peerage as Lord Summerhill. Hercules Langford Rowley was known as ‘the incorruptible representative for the County of Meath.’ He served in the Irish parliament for a period of fifty-one years. In 1787 he was appointed as one of the commissioners for the making of a canal from Drogheda to Trim. Johnston-Liik recorded that he died in 1794 having been an MP for over 50 years. In 1776 his wife was made Viscountess Langford and Baroness of Summerhill in her own right. Their eldest son, Hercules Rowley, became 2nd Viscount Langford in 1791 on the death of his mother. When he died unmarried about 1795 the estate went to his grand nephew, Hon Clothsworthy Taylour who was M.P. for Trim 1791-5 and for Co. Meath 1795-1800. He was created Baron Langford in 1800 having assumed the name Rowley in 1796 in order to inherit Summerhill. While he was M.P. for Trim the other M.P. for Trim was Arthur Wesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Clothsworthy voted against the Union in 1799 and for it in 1800 – the title might have had something to do with the change of mind, according to one commentator – ‘he had got his price.’
Baron Langford died in 1825 and his grandson, Clothworthy Wellington William Robert, became third Baron Langford. His son, Hercules Edward, became fourth baron in 1854 when he was just six years old. Educated at Eton he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the army.
He leased Summerhill to the Empress of Austria for hunting in 1879 and 1880 and was her guest for these periods. Elizabeth married the Emperor of Austria when she was sixteen years old. Travelling and her passion for horse riding became the principle activities by which she could escape the court. Arriving in February 1879 a room was converted to a private chapel, a gymnasium was set up and a direct telegraph line installed to Europe. She was loaned a horse and joined the local hunt. The stag they had been chasing jumped through a space into the Maynooth Seminary with the hounds, and the Empress, in pursuit. The President, Dr Walsh, came out to meet the group and on being introduced to the Empress of Austria lent her his coat or gown, invited them in for refreshment and she promised to return. The Empress managed to hunt nearly every day. In the early spring of 1880 the Empress went straight to Summerhill. On the first Sunday she went to Mass at the seminary in Maynooth and took a gift of a three foot high model of St George slaying the dragon. She was unaware that St George was the patron saint of England and when she was told of its significance she ordered shamrock covered vestments from Dublin. She spent some happy time hunting in Meath. The Empress of Austria was assassinated in 1897 by an anarchist in Geneva.
In 1883 Lord Langford held 2231 acres in Meath, 3659 in Dublin and 3855 in Limerick giving a total estate of 9745 acres.
Hercules Edward fourth baron oversaw the disposal of the Summerhill estate. He died on 29th October 1919 and was interred in Agher cemetery. He lost his son and heir in the First World War and his second son was mentally unstable. His brother, William Chambre, took charge of the estate during his last years and after his death. William became 6th baron when his nephew died in 1922.
In 1921 the house was burned to prevent it falling into the hands of the Black and Tans. Beryl Moore recorded that a large four side clock was the only thing left undamaged and it was donated to Kilmessan Church of Ireland church. On the 4th February 1921 Summerhill House was set on fire by the IRA and completely destroyed. Colonel and Mrs Rowley were away. The five servants who lived in the house were sitting together in the kitchen when they heard a knock on the back door. The English butler did not open the door and some minutes later a whistle was blown and the back door battered in. The servants escaped through a door into the basement and made there way out into the darkness. As they walked down the avenue the house was dowsed in petrol and the fire started in a number of places.
In 1922 Colonel Rowley, the 6th Baron Langford, sought compensation from the Free State Government and after three years of negotiation with the Compensation Board a sum of £43,500 was paid to the Colonel, approximately one third of the value of the house and contents destroyed in the fire. Colonel Rowley invested the money in gilt-edged stocks and moved to Middlesex, England.
In the early twenty first century the eighth holder of the title was constable of Rhuddlan castle and lord of Rhuddlan, Wales. The family reside at Bodrhyddan Hall.
Summerseat House is a detached three-bay, two storey over basement house located near Clonee in south Meath, near the border with county Dublin. Casey and Rowan describe it as ‘a gentleman’s box ‘ of about 1750, a rough cast square house to which two wings were added about 1800.
The first of the Garnetts at Summerseat was Samuel, the son of John of Balgeeth and the grandnephew of George of Drogheda. Samuel married Mary Rothwell of Rockfield, Kells in 1772. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Samuel, in 1803. His second son, John Paine, settled at Arch Hall in north Meath.
During the 1798 rebellion nearby Dunboyne was the location of an encampment of Wexford insurgents under the command of Fr. Mogue Kearns. On 12th July the rebels attempted to join forces with northern rebels. The church and much of Dunboyne village was destroyed during the rebellion. In 1798 the resident of Summerseat and his wife took refuge in the attic for a week. The rebels tried to batter down the front door and eventually found entry at the rear. The pewter dishes of the house were melted down to make bullets. The rebels stuck pikes in the paintings. The Hamiltons of Dunboyne had a connection to Summerseat.
Samuel married twice and was succeeded by his eldest son also called Samuel. Samuel was born in 1806 and held estates at Summerseat and Rosmeen, near Kells. He married Martha O’Connor, daughter of Rev. George O’Connor of Ardlonan, Rector of Castleknock. Martha’s nephew, Charles O’Connor, the noted Australian engineer, stayed at Summerseat after the famine. In 1835 Summerseat demesne contained 155 acres. The house was described as being a two storey slated house with commodious offices in good repair. The demesne was well wooded and in good repair.
Samuel Garnett died in 1862 aged 87 years and was buried in Dunboyne churchyard. Having no children Samuel was succeeded by his half-brother, Richard. In 1876 Richard held 1195 acres in county Meath. Richard was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard who was born in 1879 and married Bessie Ella Greer of Dungannon in 1901. In 1911 Richard Garnett and his wife, Bessie Ella, lived in the house. The house provides the name for Summerseat Court housing estate in Clonee.
John Preston, alderman of Dublin, established the family’s fortune in the seventeenth century. John acquired nearly 8000 acres in Meath and Queen’s County in 1666. One son established himself at Ardsallagh, another at Balsoon and Nathaniel at Swainstown. The youngest son, Nathaniel, was born about 1678 and in 1713 he was elected M.P. for Navan, a position he was to hold until 1760. Nathaniel married, Anne Dawson, a niece of Joshua Dawson, who developed Dawson Street, Dublin. The name Nathaniel was used by subsequent generations of the family.
Mrs. Delaney visited Swainstown in August 1748 and described her host, Mr. Preston, as ‘an old prim beau, as affected as a fine lady: but an honest man, obstinate in his opinions, but the pink of civility in his own house, which is as neat as a cabinet, and kept with an exactness which is really rather troublesome.’
In 1760 Nathaniel’s second son, also Nathaniel, succeeded to Swainstown. His fifth son, Arthur, was a Major in the Lancers and following his death in 1788 a magnificent memorial was erected in Kilmessan church. A daughter, Anne, married Joseph Leeson, after whom Leeson Street is named.
Nathaniel was clergyman and in 1751 married Alice, daughter of Sir John Dillon of Lismullen. In 1801 and 1811 Nathaniel Preston is recorded as serving on the Grand Jury of Meath. 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.
Nathaniel and Alice’s son, Nathaniel, succeeded them. Their son, Arthur John became Dean of Kildare and later Dean of Limerick. Arthur John’s son, also Arthur John, became Canon of Kildare and his son, also Arthur John, inherited Swainstown on the death of his cousin, Nathaniel, in 1903. In the 1830s Swainstown, the seat of Rev. N. Preston, was described as a handsome mansion house with a tastefully laid out demesne and well wooded.
Nathaniel Francis Preston was born in 1843 and married Augusta Florence Caulfield, of Bloomfield, Mullingar, in 1865. In 1876 Nathaniel F. Preston of Swainstown held 1234 acres in Co. Meath and the representatives of Rev. Arthur Preston of Kilmeague held 826 acres in Meath. Nathaniel died in 1903. In the 1911 census Augusta was recorded as living at Swainstown but died later that year.
John Nathaniel (Nat) Preston was born January 1915, the only son of Arthur John Preston, who was killed with most of the Dublin Fusiliers in Gallipoli in August 1915. Arthur had written letters to his wife and father at Swainstown on the day he was killed. When Nat returned from agricultural college in England in 1934 he purchased a Fordson tractor and began farming the land at Swainstown which had been previously let. In 1937 Nat secured a contract to supply C.I.E. with railway sleepers and so established a saw mill.
Swainstown House is located just off the Dunsany road from Kilmessan. Swainstown House is a fine eighteenth century house consisting of a two storey seven bay central block joined to the wings by curved sweeps. The east wing was for servants and the west wing was stables.
Casey and Rowan describe it as an intriguing house of about 1750 built for Nathaniel Preston, brother of John Preston who was building Bellinter at the same time. It would appear that some of the materials used for the house were materials adapted from other buildings. Local tradition says that Swainstown was built from material left over for the construction of Bellinter. Certainly there are oddities and unusual features to be explained. It does look as if Nathaniel got hold of thirteen window lintels and used them for his house. The front door-case is also of unusual design.
The erection of Swainstown resulted in the re-routing of the public road northwards to its present position. As this resulted in the road going over a hill two horses were necessary to pull carts rather than one on the route. According to local tradition one smart operator established a horse hire business at the bottom of the hill.
Kilmessan Church is also associated with the Preston house at Bellinter. Rev. Francis Briscoe was rector of Kilmessan from 1849 until 1885 and his son, Gustavus, was left Bellinter House by John Joseph Preston in 1892.
Syddan House is a three-bay two-storey house, erected about 1880. Its outbuildings were erected around a courtyard. The house has a carved doorcase and spider’s web fanlight. The house and outbuildings had red-brick surrounds. The entrance has red brick wall and gate piers with wrought-iron gates.
Samuel John McKeever, his wife, Jane, and their family lived at Syddan House in 1901 and 1911. Jane McKeever of Syddan House opposed Home Rule in 1912 and signed the Ulster Covenant.
Sylvan Park was located near Crossakiel. Sylvan Park house was a three storey over basement house. The house was demolished and only the stables remain.
Mr. Grattan lived at Sylvan Park 1786. Rev. William Grattan lived at Sylvan Park. His son, Copeland, died in 1850. Humphrey Grattan, late of Sylvan Park, married in 1854. The Grattans disposed of their interest in Sylvan Park in 1853 through the Encumbered Estates Court.
In 1814 Sylvan Park was the seat of Walter Keating. Walter Keating married Jane Morris of Tankardstown in April 1812. In 1835 Sylvan Park was the seat of Walter Keating and had excellent offices with a neat demesne and a good garden.
The Rowley family acquired Sylvan Park. Standish Grady Rowley was the son of Henry Rowley of Maperath, Kells. In 1876 Standish G. Rowley of Sylvan Park held 1,165 acres in county Meath.
Standish died in 1882 and was buried at Crossakiel. The two first ladies in Ireland to obtain licences to drive automobiles were the Misses Rowley, of Sylvan Park, Kells. These ladies were enthusiastic automobilists. Miss Rowely was the only lady steward in the Gordon Lambert Race. In 1911 the house was occupied by widow, Kathleen Rowley and her two daughters Kea Kathleen and Mabel Geraldine. When the Rowley family left Sylvan Park the Smith family became caretakers of the house. Armstrong Auctioneers of Kells managed the estate. In the late 1940s Sylvan Park was purchased by W.R. Austin. In 1949 Mr. Austin founded a private pack of foxhounds. His sons Michael and Anthony assisted him in the hunt.
Tankardstown House is located at Gernonstown, Slane, near Rathkenny. Tankardstown House was said to be erected about 1817 by Francis Blackburne. Casey and Rowan wrote that it is an odd building whose principal front has more the appearance of a market house or elegant stable block than a house. Presenting four different elevations Tankardstown House had a long narrow wing added possibly in the 1890s for the marriage of Francis William Blackburne and Olivia Anstruther-Thomson. The iron entrance gates bear the inscription “Paris 1890”. Sir Thomas Drew was the architect for additions to the house in the 1880s for Francis William Blackburne.
Tankardstown was acquired by John Osborne in 1686. In 1710 the property passed to the Coddingtons of Oldbridge on the marriage of John Coddington to Francis Osborne, daughter and heiress of Captain John Osborne. The property then moved to the Morris family in 1757. It is said that four croppies were captured and hung on Tankardstown Hill by Slane yeomen and the landowner of Tankardstown, Mr. Morris, refused to have them buried on his property.
George Blackburne founded the family in Meath. He died in 1769 leaving his son, Richard, who founded the family at Tankardstown, his son, Edward and his son, Anthony, who founded the family at Parsonstown. Richard who settled at Great Footstown, married Elizabeth Hopkins and died in 1798. Their eldest son, Francis, lived at Rathfarnham Castle. Francis was born at Footstown and received his early education at Dunshaughlin. Francis was a distinguished lawyer, holding the important legal appointments of Attorney-General, Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Justice of Appeal, and Lord High Chancellor. Educated at Trinity College Francis was called to the Irish bar in 1805. In 1819 Tankardstown was purchased by Francis Blackburne for a sum of £1200 sterling. Blackburne is believed to be the builder of Tankardstown House. He was Attorney General for Ireland in the 1830s and 1840s. He was unpopular with liberals and nationalists. Daniel O’Connell described him as a ‘vile Orange tool.’ Francis married Jane Martley of Ballyfallon, Athboy. Their son, William Martley, succeeded to the property at Tankardstown following his father’s death in 1867. William Martley’s eldest son was Francis William who became a judge.
In 1835 Tankardstown House was the residence of Mr. Hopkins, a relative of the Blackburnes. It was described as a modern two storey slated house in good repair with a demesne containing 58 acres.
In 1876 Margaret Lefroy Blackburne of Tankardstown held 604 acres in county Meath. Judge Francis William Blackburne J.P. of Tankardstown and Galtrim House, Bray, Co. Wicklow held 691 acres in 1878. Francis William served as High Sheriff of Meath in 1898. In the 1901 census Francis W. Blackburne and his family was living at Tankardstown. The Blackburne family held it until 1913. Francis William died in 1921.
His second daughter and heiress, Elena Frances Blackburne married Charles Maurice Townshend in 1928. The Townshends came from Castletownshend in west Cork. Townshend had emigrated to Rhodesia with his brothers but returned to Ireland prior to World War II. Townshend was a noted diviner divining wells and even lost people. He died in 1966 leaving two sons. Francis graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine from Trinity College and emigrated to Australia. Maurice Oliver, born in Rhodesia, was educated at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and settled at Creewood, Slane.
In recent years Tankardstown House has been restored by Patricia and Brian Conlon and has been developed into a premier manor house.
Tara Hall erected in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century stood at the bottom of Tara Hill, just off the Dublin-Navan Road. In 1803 the house at the foot of Tara hill was called Newhall and was the seat of Hon. William Brabazon. In 1835 it was described as a large modern mansion with a demesne of 230 acres. The demesne had woodlands and a garden. Demolished in the mid-twentieth century only some of the outbuildings remain.
John Moore of Tullynallen married Frideswide, daughter of Dixie Coddington of Athlumney Castle in 1752. Their son, John, married Barbara, daughter of Hon. William Brabazon, second son of the 7th Earl of Meath. An ancestor, Sir William Brabazon, was created Earl of Meath in 1627 with the family residing till the present day at Bray, Co. Wicklow. John and Barbara’s son, William John, born in 1789, succeeded to Tara House and the estate. William John became a clergyman and having succeeded to his mother’s estates he took the additional name Brabazon. In 1834 Tara Hall was the residence of Patrick Lynch. Lynch entertained Daniel O’Connell during his visit for the Monster Meeting of 1844. A large tent was erected near the house to accommodate a meal for over one thousand people. In 1846 Tara Hall was described as a small plain modern house, the seat of Patrick Lynch. His son A.E. Lynch emigrated to California where he contributed poetry and article to various publications. Patrick Lynch who also held property in Sligo died at Bruges in 1859. William died in 1866. His will is in the National Library, Dublin. His nephew, John Arthur Henry, succeeded on his death and he too took the additional name of Brabazon. The family continued to hold lands at Tullyallen. Having served in the army in India, John Arthur was High Sheriff of County Louth in 1872. He died in 1908 and was succeeded by his son William Lockhart Chambre. Born in 1880 William served in the Coldstream Guards.
The second son, John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon became 1st Baron of Tara. Attracted to engineering and mechanics he spent his university vacations as unpaid mechanic to Charles S. Rolls. In October 19090 he won a prize for being the first English pilot to fly more than one mile. He was the first pilot to receive a certificate in March 1910. One of his first flights nearly killed him. In youth he had flown with a pig as his passenger in order to prove pigs could fly. After serving in World War I, Moore-Brabazon entered parliament as a Conservative M.P. and he became Parliamentary Secretary to Winston Churchill. He served under Churchill during World War II as Minister for Transport, 1940-41 and of Aircraft Production 1941-42. He was forced to resign in 1942 when he expressed the hope that German and Russia would destroy each other. Russia was then an ally of Britain and so Moore-Brabazon had to resign. The title, Baron Brabazon of Tara, was created for John Cuthbert Moore Brabazon in 1942. He died in 1964. Lord Brabazon of Tara took over the house and about sixty acres of land about the house. The remainder of the estate was taken by the Land Commission in the 1930s. The house then became uninhabited and soon fell to ruins. Lord Brabazon recalled his life in “The Brabazon Story” which was published in 1956. Lord Brabazon sold the house and it was pulled down to save on rates. The third Baron Brabazon of Tara served in various department of the British government in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1943 Tara Hall was purchased by David Frame of the Hammond Lane foundry along with 30 acres. A stud farm was erected on the lands.
Teltown House is situated on the eastern bank of the river Blackwater, between Kells and Navan. Located in the middle of the ritualistic landscape where the Tailteann Games were held a couple of thousand years ago Teltown house is an early nineteenth century house of two storeys. The earliest part of the house may date to the 1600s. The house has been much altered and added to. Gable ended it has a square porch to the front. The house forms one side of a courtyard to the rear of the house. A boat house stood on the river. Near the house is the ruins of Teltown church and graveyard.
Hamlet Garnett, son of Rev. George Garnett of Williamstown, was established at Teltown in the early part of the 19th century. About 1800 one of the Garnetts decided to drain Dubh-loch or ‘Leary’s hole’, one of the features of the Celtic ritual site at Teltown. A large channel was dug to take the water from the hole to the Blackwater. When the water began to flow the low lying lands around the house began to flood and yet the level in the hole remained the same. Garnett was forced to close the channel so that his lands would not flood.
Hamlet married Louisa Wade. In 1835 Teltown House was the residence of Hamlet Garnett. Hamlet died at this residence on 26 December 1849. He was succeeded by his son, George Charles. Hamlet’s daughter, Sally married her cousin, W.S. Garnett of Williamstown. Hamlet’s son, Thomas Gerard Garnett, emigrated to Fiji. The Colonial Secretary replied to his mother’s letter enquiring about him and said that he was ‘living the life of a native.’ He had a native wife but later married a woman from Australia. Captain French held Teltown House in the 1877 and had plans to make additions and alterations to the house.
In 1901 Thomas Sheils, a land steward, was living in the house. James McCann held the house for a period. James McCann, a leading stockbroker in Dublin and Chairman of the Grand Canal Co. spent part of his fortune developing industry in Navan. In the 1890s McCann acquired the former Russell estate and a substantial part of Navan town. He established a furniture factory, a bacon factory and a sawmill. James McCann lived at Ardsallagh House. He sought to restore activity on the Boyne Canal and purchased a pleasure steamer to encourage tourism. James McCann launched a newspaper, The Irish Peasant, which ran for six years in Navan. James McCann died in 1904 and Arthur McCann inherited Teltown. John Spicer, son-in-law of James McCann, took over the Boyne Canal in 1915.
In 1930s the Land Commission took 300 acres. In recent decades Teltown House and its environs were purchased by Bartle and Renee Clarke, who were very conscious of the historical importance of the area and wished to ensure its long-term preservation. Professor George Eogan carried out a research program in the area and discovered an example of ‘rock art’ thus proving the site had been used for ritual two thousand years before the Celtic period. Teltown House has been developed as a Country House B&B and has achieved a reputation as a friendly place to stay.
Located at Thurstianstown, Beauparc, Thurstianstown House was the seat of Thomas Russell in the 1830s. He was the owner of the townland of 822 acres. In 1850s Thomas Russell was leasing Thurstianstown house and lands from Edmund Aylmer, a minor. In 1876 Thomas Russell of Thurstianstown held 117 acres in county Meath.
Francis McEvoy was the son of Edward McEvoy of Dring, Co. Longford. Francis, a distinguished surgeon, was one of the founders and later President of the Royal College of Surgeons. Francis married Anne Featherstonhaugh of Bracklyn castle. Their son, Edward, died unmarried and the estate went to James McEvoy, brother of Francis, of Frankford in 1808. He married Theresa, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Joshua Coles Meredyth, 8th Baronet. James died in 1834 while his widow lived on until 1896, surviving her husband by sixty two years. Their second son, Joshua, married Mary Netterville, only daughter and heiress to the 7th Viscount Netterville and took the name Netterville. In 1852 Richard Gradwell of Dowth Hall married Maria Theresa, elder daughter of James and Theresa. In 1856 Barbara Frances, the younger daughter of James and Theresa, married Sir Bernard Burke who was Ulster King at Arms and editor of Burke’s Peerage.
James was succeeded at Tobertynan by his widow and then his son, Edward Francis McEvoy. In 1835 Tobertynan House was described as a handsome mansion house in the centre of the demesne. About half the townland was laid out as a park with trees.
In 1850 Edward Francis McEvoy married Eliza Theresa Browne of Mount Hazel, heiress to that estate. Edward McEvoy attended Cambridge and served in the 6th Carabiniers Dragoon Guards. He then served as MP for Meath 1855-1874 as an independent.
While serving in the Dragoon Guards Edward was friendly with Roger Tichborne. Roger lost his life when his ship went down in the South Atlantic. His mother was distraught and advertised widely believing that he had not died. A man claiming to be Roger Tichborne arrived from Australia and the mother welcomed him but there was a huge legal case to claim the assets of Roger Tichborne and it was proved that the man was an imposter. It was a very famous case in the late 19th century. Edward McEvoy knew him for an imposter and was a very important witness against the claimant at the trial.
In 1876 Edward McEvoy of Tobertynan held owned 2,411 acres in Meath, over 300 acres in Leitrim and also lands in Longford. The Empress of Austria visited Tobertynan while staying at Summerhill. At that time there was a lily pond, thatched summerhouse, a statue of Mercury and a tower which was possibly a folly on the outer lawn.
Fr. Charles Houben, a Passionist, became a regular correspondent with the McEvoys. In thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter, Pauline, Edward and Eliza erected a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes on a Scots Pine tree in the woods at Tobertynan in 1868, ten years after the apparations at Lourdes. Fr. Charles blessed the shrine. Fr. Charles became a saint when he was beatified in 1988.
Pauline, the only surviving child of Edward MacEvoy was brought up at Tobertynan, by governesses. She could play the piano and talk French, the two accomplishments required of a young lady at that period. Pauline Mary McEvoy married George de Stacpoole on 1 December 1883.
The de Stacpoole family were linked to Limerick from the 13th century. Richard de Stacpoole was created a Viscount by Pope Louis XVIII in 1826 and a Papal Marquis by Leo XII in 1828 then a Papal Duke by Gregory XVI in 1830. Richard de Stacpoole spent £40,000 to rebuild “St Paul’s without the walls” and also repaired the main bridge over the Tiber and the restoration of the fountains which had been out of action, since Napoleonic times. Richard 1st Duke de Stacpoole died July 1848. George de Stacpoole, only son of the 3rd Duke, was born in Paris in 1860. He was the grandson of Richard de Stacpoole, of Mount Hazel, Co. Galway, whom Leo XII created a Duke of the Papal States in 1830.
George de Stacpoole met Miss Pauline McEvoy of Tobertynan in Dublin where he had established a base for hunting with the Meaths and the Wards. After their marriage in 1883 they went to live at St. Wandrille, Normandy, as his father, the real owner, was by this time a priest. Stanislaus was Domestic Prelate to Pope Pius IX in Rome and on his deathbed asked his son George to use the title of count. George and Pauline’s eldest child Gertrude was born at St. Wandrille. By this time however, Pauline was getting tired of living abroad. Her own mother Elizabeth McEvoy missed her very much in Ireland and she offered her son-in-law her Mount Hazel property, provided he would live there. The couple moved to Mount Hazel and there they raised their family of six children. Pauline had taken a fancy to a house opposite St. Columbus Church in London but thought that the bells might disturb her. The church was a Scottish Presbyterian church – a denomination which does not use bells. Instead they purchased a house in Cadogan Gardens. The fourth Duke de Stacpoole wrote his autobiography “Irish and other memories” which was published in 1922. He presented the Sultan of Turkey with a St. Bernard dog. The dog did not like the heat and the Sultan had a tunnel constructed to generate a cooling draft. When the Sultan was deposed after the First World War he took the St. Bernard dog into exile with him. In 1920 Tobertynan House was raided by intruders during the troubled times. The items stolen were recovered and returned by the Irish Volunteers.
They had six children. The fifth Duke, George Edward Joseph Patrick de Stacpoole, was born on 8 March 1886. He was the son of George and Pauline Stacpoole. He married Eileen Palmer on 12 November 1915. He served as Captain in the Connaught Rangers during World War I. Two of his younger brothers were killed during the war. Another two brothers also served in the war. He was a member of the Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Committee. He died on 3 April 1965 aged 79.
The sixth duke, Major George Duc de Stacpoole, died in July 2005 and was buried in Roundstone, Co. Galway. George was born in 1916 in the middle of the First World War that claimed his uncles Roderick and Robert. Educated at St Gerard’s in Dublin and then at Downside. He was an accomplished soldier and continued the de Stacpoole tradition of service with Irish regiments. He became a regular soldier with the Royal Ulster Rifles and one of the few Catholic officers in that regiment. During the Second World War, and afterward, he served in Afghanistan, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Malaya. It is said that he kept his coffin in his bedroom at Tobertynan.
After a spell at school mastering he returned to his family home, Tobertynan, in Meath, where his father wanted him to run the farm, a strange career move as he was not familiar with agriculture. His sister got a judgement of his competence from the herd, a man called Healy, who said “Ah, he’ll be fine when he learns the difference between a heifer and a bullock”.
With the sale of Tobertynan, George moved to the family’s summer home, Errisbeg House, and with his mother and son Richard around him, he embarked on a series of commercial ventures. His son, Richard, became the 7th Duke de Stacpoole and resides at Errisberg House, Roundstone, Co. Galway.
Tobertynan was sold by 6th Duke de Stacpoole in 1962 and then passed to Land Commission and then into private ownership. In 1998 Tobertynan House on 51 acres was sold prior to auction for around £750,000.
Trammon is located near Rathmolyon. Casey and Rowan describe Trammon as a small early Victorian Hansel and Gretel house. Trammon was erected by James Williams who died in 1853 and is buried in Rathmolyon. James was the only son of Thomas Williams, St. Catherine’s Park, Leixslip. A single storey building with a steeply pitched roof Trammon has decorative bargeboards and red and yellow brick patterning. Marie Anne, wife to James, died in 1894.
In 1901 the house had fifteen rooms, four windows to the front and thirteen outbuildings. The house was owned by Florence Williams but resided in by Kate Labertouche. In 1911 Henrietta Williams was living at Trammon.
Triermore House is located near Drewstown, Fordstown. Triermore is a two storey house with a stone porch. Triermore was home to the Rotheram family. George Rotheram of Triermore was born 1763, the son of Edward Rotheram. George Rotheram married Catherine-Margaret Smith of Beabeg. Thomas Rotheram was born in 1793 and died 1861. In 1835 Triermore was described as a good house of two storeys and a basement.
Thomas Rotheram of Triermore married Maria Cox and they had a son and daughter. Their daughter, Maria married their neighbour Ferdinand McVeigh in 1847. Their son, Thomas Edward, was born in 1830. Thomas and his wife did not get on too well and Thomas eloped with a Miss Elizabeth Leahy. Thomas Rotheram was very fond of field sports and put his horse up with a Mr. Leahy when he went fishing on the shore of Lough Sheelin. Rotheram began an affair with Leahy’s eldest daughter and in 1854 eloped with her. Elizabeth Leahy was in her early twenties. His wife and her friends were annoyed at this. He left his wife in possession of his house and property at Triermore and gave her a settlement of £400 a year. The eloping couple first went to England, then France before returning to Ireland, residing in Dublin. Mrs. Rotheram died in 1857 and Thomas Rotheram decide to marry Miss Leahy. He took her shopping on Grafton Street, the day before the wedding. He told her he had to go to see a jeweller and left. Having made her purchases she waited in the shop for him to return but he did not. She did not know what to do – she wrote to him at Triermore but no reply. She turned up for the wedding the following day but Thomas did not appear. She thought he might have been murdered. She received a letter from Thomas in Liverpool expressing his love for her but saying he was forced to give her up. A second letter expressing his love arrived and she decided to go to Liverpool to find Thomas. She discovered where he was staying and went to him. Thomas agreed to a marriage settlement of £200 a year for her and they married on 4th June. Thomas’s son, Thomas Edward Rotheram, went to Triermore House to reside and his father wrote to him expressing his displeasure. Thomas Rotheram returned to Triermore to live. Thomas Rotheram made a will providing £1000 a year for each of his children with Elizabeth (nee Leahy). Thomasina, his youngest daughter from his second marriage was to inherit Triermore and Martinstown. When Thomas Rotheram died Thomas Edward took a court case to claim the estate that he felt he had been led to think that he was entitled to. During the court case it emerged that Thomas Rotheram had on occasion given himself a military title either Captain or General and had masqueraded as a doctor to help an woman who injured her leg and had even dressed up as a woman on an occasion. These revelation resulted in much laughter in the court. Obviously it was an attempt to prove Thomas was insane and to overturn the will. It was said that when Thomas Edward and Maria attempted to visit Thomas when he was dying they were unsuccessful. The jury found that the will should be reversed.
In 1901 and 1911 Saville Burdett Murray and his mother, Eleanor Rosetta Murray, from America were living at Triermore. The house had eighteen rooms, five windows to the front and twenty six outbuildings.
In the 1950s the house was home to Major Kenneth Rutledge Thompson who married Muriel Kathleen, the widow of Lt. Colonel Charles Cecil Harman of Crossdrum House, Oldcastle. The Thompson family ran a stud farm at Triermore. Major Thompson died in 1996.
The ruins of Trimblestown Castle stand to the west of Trim on the banks of the Trimblestown River. The Castle was erected by the Barnwall’s, Barons Trimleston. The place is also known by variations of the name: Tremblestown also Tremleston, Trimlestown and Trimleston.
Hugh de Lacy may have erected a motte at Trimblestown and there is a large mound to one side of the castle but this has also been identified as a tumulus from earlier times. A village may have grown up around the castle, an extensive field system exists surrounding the castle.
In 1461 Robert Barnewall was created Baron Trimleston by Edward IV. The family were very active in affairs of state and also in defending the Pale against attack from the Irish. The second Baron, Christopher, was implicated in the Lambert Simnel affair but received a pardon in 1488. His son, John, the third Baron, served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1534 until his death in 1538. In 1597 Hugh O’Neill defeated the government forces, led by Barnewall, Lord Trimleston, at the battle of Tyrrell’s pass in Westmeath. Barnewall’s son was taken prisoner.
Mathias, Lord Trimleston, was one of the Old English lords of the Pale who met on the Hill of Tara in 1642 and was then outlawed by the English authorities. Mathias was sentenced to be transplanted to Connacht by Cromwell in October 1653 but managed to delay it until 1655 and was granted 1462 acres belonging to the Frenchs of Monivea, Co. Galway. The Barnewalls share the same family motto with the French family: Malo mori quam foederi, I would rather die than be dishonoured. In 1647 General Jones took the castle for the English forces. Trimleston regained Trimblestown and lands in Meath and Dublin after the Restoration and also managed to hold onto lands in Connacht. Matthias died at Monivea in 1667 and was buried in Kilconnel Abbey.
Matthias, the next baron, supported James II and his estate and title were forfeited. The next barons took the title but were not recognised as they were Roman Catholics.
Robert Barnewall, the 12th Baron was educated in France and was noted for his medicinal skills which he used to treat local residents.
There is a Barnwall County in South Carolina. This may be named after a member of the Trimblestown Barnewalls. Colonel John Barnwall acquired the nickname ‘Tuscarora Jack’ following a successful expedition against the Tuscarora Indians to North Carolina in 1711-1712. Barnwell County was called Winton County until 1785 when it was re-named in honour of John Barnwell, a Revolutionary War hero. Robert W. Barnwall, a descendant, was to the forefront of the foundation of the Confederate states of America.
The lands amounting to 681 acres were in the possession of the Hon. Anna Barnewall in 1925 when it was taken over by the Land Commission. As the only daughter of the 16th Baron she married Robert Elliot of Scotland. Her burial site is in the Scottish highlands and there a stained glass window in the church commemorates her: “A kinder hearted and most utterly unselfish woman never lived.”
The 20th Baron Trimleston died at the age of 69 in 1997 and his successor is his brother, Raymond Barnewell, a dairy farmer who lives in England, but he has no children to succeed to the title.
Trimblestown Castle was a three-storey tower-house erected in the fifteenth century possibly by the first Baron Trimleston. There is a loft above the ground floor with a barrel vault above that. High up on the tower wall is a plaque commemorating the marriage of the sixth baron to Katherine Nugent, daughter of Lord Delvin. In the mid-18th century the 12th Lord Trimleston attached a new three-storey house at the north of the tower-house. This has a fine bow projection in the east wall. Early in the 19th century the house was decorated with crenellations and ornamental turrets in the style of the late 16th century. In the early 1800s the castle was abandoned by the family. The castle was in ruins by the 1840s and the demesne was being farmed by a Mr. Allen. The noted horse trainer, Frank Barbour, erected stables and a house at Trimblestown about 1915.
To the north of the castle is an old graveyard in which is located a small stone-built chapel containing the 1680 tomb of Margaret, wife of the ninth Baron Trimleston. This chapel was recently restored by a local committee.
This poetic gravestone is from Trimblestown.
Beneath this stone Silvester lies,
Whose ashes mingles with the Blighs,
He passed through life unstained with pride,
We wept and lamented when he did
His sons whose youth he ne’er neglected
In gratitude his stone erected.
Tullyard House outside Trim was home to the Winter and Purdon families. Described as a charming Regency villa, Tullyard may have been designed by Sir Richard Morrison.
In 1652 Samuel Winter, who had received an MA at Cambridge, was made Provost of Trinity College and managed to acquire land in Offaly and at Tullyard, Trim, Meath. The family continue to hold the land as part of their estate and it was included in the amalgamation of the Winter and Pratt estates in the eighteenth century. John Pratt Winter of Agher married Anne Gore in 1794. John Pratt Winter resigned his commission as captain in the Lawyer’s Corps of the Yeomanry as he disagreed with the coercive measures employed by the government.
He practised as a barrister and became a magistrate. In 1805 he was made High Sheriff of Meath. They lived at Eccles Street, Dublin and Agher before moving to their newly completed home at Tullyard in 1808. Their two youngest children were born at Tullyard. They stayed a Tullyard until 1814 when John’s mother had died and then the family moved to the house at Agher.
In 1796 Samuel Winter, the eldest son of John Pratt Winter, was born in Dublin. Samuel lived at Agher until his father returned from Paris in 1825 and he managed the estate until the family returned. In 1835 Tullyard townland was the property of Mr. Winter. The dwelling house and offices were in good repair.
After the marriage Samuel and Lucy lived at Tullyard until 1846 when he succeeded to Agher, and the next year he came into the bulk of the estate of his uncle, Rev Francis. Their seven children were brought up at Tullyard.
Samuel Winter was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant of Meath, in 1837 he was elected High Sheriff of Meath and in 1851 of Cavan. He was a guardian of the Trim Union and in 1861 was Chairman of the Guardians. He died in 1867 and was buried with his wife Lucy in the Winter vault at Agher Church.
Benjamin Pratt Winter was born on 25th August 1808 at Tullyard. After school he spent some years in Paris with his parents. In 1824 he unsuccessfully applied to the Duke of Wellington, who was known by his father as a young man living at Dangan Castle just north of Summerhill, for a commission in the army. In 1827 he entered Trinity and graduated BA in 1832. He then became a surveyor on various railway projects in Ireland and England but he found the prospects were poor, so in 1837 he accepted a surveying post with the South Australian Land Company. In 1842 he purchased a flock of 2,000 sheep and settled on a sheep run in Victoria adjoining Cecil Pybus Cooke’s Pine Hill station. He died unmarried at Bryant’s Creek on 15th December 1844 at the age of 36.
In 1852 Samuel’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married George Nugent Purdon of Lisnabin, Killucan, Co. Westmeath. Elizabeth died in 1864 while her husband lived on until 1910. Elizabeth’s brother, Samuel Winter inherited the estates at Agher but when he died in 1905 without children the property passed to Elizabeth’s son.
Elizabeth’s son, Colonel Edward Winter and his wife Cecilia lived at Tullyard, Trim and later of Lisnabin, Killucan, Co. Westmeath. Edward was a land agent. Edward was a follower of the Meath Hounds. Mrs. Purdon hosted a regular party for the inmates of the Trim Industrial School. Their youngest son, George Hardress Purdon, was killed in action in France in 1916.
Peter Bamford’s website on the Bomford family provided much additional material on Tullyard and this article is majorly based on his work.
The Land Commission acquired Tullyard estate in 1928. The house was then taken by Henry J. Kirwan from Galway. Mr. Kirwan was a handicapper for a number of race committees. In 1939 he was elected chairman of the Trim Agricultural Committee. A German, Hermann Bauer, acquired Tullyard. In the 1976 Tullyard become home to the O’Connor family.
In the 1830s Warrenstown was described as a good three storey slated house having ground around it planted. St. John’s well is situated on the estate and was the scene of large pilgrimages in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. People still visit the well on the 24th of June.
The Warren family originated from Varenna, near Calais, France. The family arrived into Ireland with the Anglo-Normans. In 1329 Sir John Warren of Meath was killed. In 1414 John Warren was abbot of St. Mary’s monastery, Trim. Patrick Warren was M.P. for Navan in 1585. The Warren family held lands in Meath, Laois, Carlow and Dublin.
Many members of the Warren family took an active part in the 1640s rebellion, the defence of Drogheda in 1649, the turmoil of the Cromwellian confiscations and the wars in the 1680s and 1690s. The Warrens lands were confiscated under the Cromwellian plantation but Oliver Warren succeeded in getting his lands aback in 1662.
In 1667, Cornet Thomas Warren, of Warrenstown, received a grant to lands of 408 acres in Co. Meath. John Warren of Warrenstown was Sheriff of County Dublin in 1686. He granted some of his lands to the Crown for the laying out of the Phoenix Park. In 1692, Thomas, Michael, James, and Patrick Warren, of Warrenstown, Co. Meath were outlawed for supporting King James.
Sir William Warren of Warrenstown married Lady Catherine Aylmer and their son Peter became a famous admiral. Their eldest son, Oliver, also served in the navy and was the father of Nathaniel Warren who was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1782.
Peter Warren, born 1703, was the youngest son of Michael Warren of Warrenstown. He followed his older brother, Oliver, into the Navy. In 1728 he became captain of the Grafton. Between 1730 and 1732 Warren commanded the Solebay on the New York and South Carolina stations. Warren became well known as a result of the 1745 siege of Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. The French fortress capitulated on generous terms. News of this success caused a great sensation in London. Warren was promoted rear-admiral. In 1747 he had been elected MP for the city of Westminster at the cost of £2200. The war allowed him to garner £127,405 in prize money. His wealth was invested in land and money-lending in England, Ireland, and the American colonies. He married Suzanne, daughter of a wealthy American, Stephen De Lancy, whose dowry included the largest estate on Manhattan Island, where New York now stands. Much of Greenwich Village on Manhattan Island was later erected on his farm, which was sold by his heirs. He installed his nephew, William Johnson, to superintend his Mohawk valley lands. Warren died suddenly of a fever in Dublin on 29 July 1752 and was buried in Warrenstown, co. Meath. The bell from his flagship Colebay was installed at Warrenstown and rang for the Angleus each day. His monument is in Westminster Abbey. Julian Gwyn wrote the entry for Peter Warren in the Dictionary of National Biography.
William Johnson, born 1705, was a son of Sir Peter’s sister, Anne, who married Christopher Johnson of Warrenstown. William Johnson emigrated to the colonies in America in the 1730s. Settling in the Mohawk Valley of New York, he lived on the margins of colonial society, where the British Empire encountered Indian peoples. He founded settlements, built mills, traded with Indians, and became the primary colonial official for dealing with them. Johnson won influence among all the Iroquois. During the climactic war of 1754-1763, Johnson secured enough Iroquois support to facilitate the British conquest of Canada. During the 1750s, Sir William Johnson became the most famous American in the British Empire. In the meantime, he assembled in the Mohawk Valley a vast landed estate of at least 150,000 acres, which he named “Kingsland” and “Kingsborough”. He founded the village of Johnstown, just south of a palatial mansion known as “Johnson Hall,” where he entertained a steady stream of Indian chiefs, provincial officers, and British aristocrats. Fifty-five feet long by thirty-seven feet wide and rising two full stories (plus an attic) above a complete cellar, Johnson Hall was the largest residence on the colonial frontier. During his travels among the Iroquois villages, Johnson accumulated a number of mistresses. Johnson resisted the move to independence in America to his death in 1774. Fintan O’Toole wrote a biography of Johnson in “White Savage.”
In 1800 Bishop Plunket spent the day with Mr. John Johnson of Warrenstown on his visitation of the parishes of Meath and dined there again two years later. In the 1830s Warrenstown was the residence of Mr. John Johnson. John Johnson died 4 December 1851 of typhoid at his residence.
The property was inherited by his daughters, Annette Leonard and Elizabeth Lynch. Annette, born about 1850, married Thomas Leonard and Elizabeth who married T. Lynch. In Eliza M. Johnston of Warrenstown held 1,503 acres in county Meath. Elizabeth and her husband lived in Italy because of her husband’s health problems while Tom Leonard and Annette looked after her house and farm at Warrenstown.
Annette died in 1914 and Elizabeth in 1917. In her will Elizabeth bequeathed Warrenstown to the Sisters of Charity at Foxford if they would establish a woollen mill there, an offer which they refused, to the Salesian Fathers to educate the youth of Meath in agriculture and these took up the offer. If the Salesians had refused the property, it was to go to the Christina Brothers to found a school.
Warrenstown Agricultural College was founded in 1923 and can be fairly described as one of the pioneers of agricultural education in this country. An agricultural school and chapel were added to the house about 1921 while a new wing was added in the late 1950s. A new College was erected in 1959 replacing the old college buildings. Blessed by Bishop Kyne and opened by the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Smith. President de Valera attended the event. The title to the property was purchased outright in the 1950’s by the Salesians.
The Agricultural College was closed in 2001 while the college of horticulture closed in 2008. At that time there were over 230 students, a combination of part-time and full-time, attending the horticulture college. The 460 acres of farmland was sold by the Salesian Order for €13.5 million. The house was sold to Colaiste na bFhiann.
Waterloo Lodge is located upstream from Trim town on the northern banks of the river Boyne. Waterloo Lodge may have been erected about 1815 following the battle in which Wellington was triumphant. In 1835 Waterloo Lodge was described as a very handsome house and the residence of Mr. Hynes.
John Hinds of Waterloo Lodge died at Julianstown in 1848 and was buried in Ardbraccan graveyard. He was a solicitor and was called ‘the poor man’s friend’ because he defended so many poor people. He also had a home at Upper Dorset Street, Dublin.
The Bligh and Cotter families lived at Waterloo Lodge during the twentieth century.
Westland House is located in Donore townland, on the Kells side of Moynalty. In 1835 Westland House, in the centre of the townland was described as a fine building with suitable offices and a garden attached. It was the residence of Thomas Barnes, resident magistrate. It was called Westland House from being situated west of then old mansion house. The latter building, Donore House, was falling into decay.
Thomas Barnes was born in1796 and died in 1871. At the start of the Famine in 1846 Thomas Barnes of Westland wrote to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to acquaint him with the bad situation in Moynalty. He wrote that people were attempting to eke out an existence on a patch of ground that was completely inadequate for their needs.
In 1876 William Arthur Barnes of Westland held 464 acres in county Meath. William Arthur Barnes was still living at Westland in 1911. Aged 70 he was described as a justice of the peace, Professor of Agriculture, Land Valuer and Farmer. W.A. Barnes was the head of the School of Agriculture at Trinity College, Dublin. The house had eighteen rooms, fifteen windows to the front and thirty five outbuildings.
In 1908 Alfred Marshall married Hester Barnes of Moynalty and took her name in order to inherit the estate. Alfred Marshall-Barnes served as a private in the Canadian Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War. He was killed in September 1916 at the Somme, aged thirty-four. Hester Marshall-Barnes died in the early 1940s.
Their daughter, Gladys Ruby, born in 1912, inherited Westland House. Ruby died in 2002 aged ninety. Her sister, Madge Vivian, died a year later, also aged ninety.
Weston House is located in the townland of Thomastown near Duleek, just off the road to Navan. A building is shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps but the building is not named on the earlier maps. It looks as if the house was re-constructed or a new larger house erected on the same site in the mid nineteenth century. Casey and Rowan described it as a gabled three bay house of later nineteenth century with a neo-Georgian porch adjoining one end bay. In 1911 the house consisted of twenty rooms, had nine windows to the front and eleven outbuildings.
Lieutenant Richard Kelly of Weston was the fourth son of Denis Kelly of Mucklon. The family also had a home at Mucklon, Ballyforan, Co. Galway. He commanded the 69th regiment of foot at the battle of Talavera. He died aged 68 in 1846 and was buried at Duleek. His eldest son Richard Denis Kelly, “The O’Kelly” served in the army during the Crimean War. His letters to his wife during the conflict were published. He was captured by the Russians at the siege of Sebastapool. He later served in India. He married Ellen Susanna, daughter of Sir William Dillon, Baronet, of Lismullen. The second son, Francis James Kelly was born in 1819.
In 1854 Francis J. Kelly was leasing a substantial house and 146 acres of lands from Eliza Kettlewell. In 1876 Francis James Kelly held 251 acres in County Meath. In 1901 Francis James Kelly lived at Weston. He had been born in Ceylon. He and his family claimed descent from William O’Kelly, founder of the abbey of Kilconnel. Francis was succeeded by his nephew, the son of Richard Denis. Arthur Dillon Denis was born at Weston in 1853. He retired in 1897 as a Major in the army. Major Arthur Dillon Denis Kelly was living in the house in 1911. Major Dillon had served with the Border Regiment and was a Justice of the Peace for County Meath.
Whitewood Lodge stands on a hill on the left-hand side of the Nobber to Kingscourt road. Designed by Richard Castle in 1735 the house was erected as a hunting lodge for Lord Gormanston, a major landowner in the Nobber area.
The house dominates the vista from its main gate and is framed by the tree-lined avenue. The rear of the house looks out over Whitewood lake, the source of the Dee river. A square limestone block of two storeys over high basement, the floors are stone flagged and the staircase is of exposed solid limestone. A stable block, farm buildings and gatelodge are also part of the estate.
In 1836 Whitewood House, was not occupied and had not been occupied for the previous forty or fifty years but was always kept ready for the reception of the proprietor and his family. About 127 acres of the townland were covered in fir and young oak trees.
Edward Anthony John Viscount Gormanston was created Baron Gormanston of Whitewood in 1869. In 1885 there were riotous scenes when Mr. H. McDougall, the agent for Lord Gormanston, attempted to evict tenants at Nobber. More than 4,000 people assembled to prevent Mc Dougall evicting a poor widow named Fitzsimons at Nobber. McDougall had a reputation for harshness towards the tenants. McDougall took shelter in the hotel at Nobber, the Gormanstown Arms, before escaping on the train. Lord Gormanstown was described as Lord Gorilla. The British army occupied the house during the Troubles of 1920-22. The Hogan lived in the house in the twentieth century.
Photo: Local History Kells blogspot
Williamstown House is located near Kells. Williamstown is a large late Georgian mansion three storeys over basement. The two last bays were added to the each side in 1858 by George Garnett. Bence-Jones described Williamstown as an ‘impressive three storey late eighteenth century house’. Its elevation is almost the same as nearby Rockfield which suggests that the two houses had the same architect. Near the house is a three stage tower erected about 1800. There is a courtyard of outbuildings and estate worker’s cottages dating from about 1780. A pigeon house stood south of the house. The remains of Dulane church and graveyard are to the west of the house. Local man, Liam McNiffe, has written the story of the house in ‘A history of Williamstown, Kells.’
William Williams received lands from Thomas Taylor in 1670 and it was from this family that the townland received its name. In 1766 the lands moved from the Williams family when Esther Williams married Rev. Hamilton Cuffe of Dublin. This couple probably erected Williamstown House in the 1770s. By 1811 the Rev. Cuffe had died and it would appear that the family had left Williamstown by this date. The estate, which was heavily mortgaged, was sold in 1827 to pay off debts.
The mansion house, garden, orchard and demesne lands were sold to Sarah Garnett for £9200. Sarah was a spinster from Kells. The Garnett family were established at Summerseat. Sarah left her lands at Wiliamstown to her first cousin, Rev. George Charles Garnett. In 1837 Williamstown was the residence of Rev. George Garnett. Rev. George Garnett married Margaret Wade of Bachelor’s Lodge. Their eldest son, Hamlet, lived at Teltown while their second son, George, inherited Williamstown George Garnett and his wife had two sons. William Stawell who succeeded to the estate in 1856 and Charles who became a clergyman. In 1862 William erected Williamstown lodge, later re-named Zephyr Lodge probably as a dower house for his widowed mother, Catherine. William was High Sheriff of Meath in 1864. He married Sally Garnett of Teltown.
William added two extra extensions on each side of the house and a pedimented porch in 1858. In the 1876 William Stawell Garnett held 3014 acres in county Meath. The Garnett family left Williamstown by 1881 and the house and lodge were left vacant for a long period. William Stawell died suddenly while on a visit to Kells in October 1898. Williamstown was occupied for a while by the Dyas family. Dr. Thomas Sparrow was living in the house in 1901.
In 1912 John McCormick of Monkstown, Dublin purchased Williamstown House and 127 acres. He was a member of the family which owned Tedcastles and McCormick, major Dublin firms. In August 1914 John joined up and three weeks later was reported missing. John Mc.Cormick was mortally wounded in action on 19 October 1914, and died the same night at a Convent Hospital in German hands at Menin, aged 28 years. Following interviewing a number of soldiers the family eventually accepted that he was dead. Six months later his brother Jim was also killed in the war. Their sister Rose made her home at Williamstown House and lived there until her death in 1972. The travelling actor, A’new McMaster and his family stayed at Williamstown House while on their tours around Ireland. The house was so big that Rose could only live in part of the ground floor and another family lived in the basement. Rose was a member of the Methodist Church. Williamstown House was left vacant following the death of Rose McCormick. It was unoccupied for a considerable period and became derelict.
Wilmount is in the civil parish of Dulane, two miles from Kells. Wilmount House is a gentleman farmer’s house dating from about 1770. It consists of two storeys and has a limestone doorcase. In 1911 the house had seventeen rooms, nine windows to the front and twenty two outbuildings.
John Travers Radcliff, born in 1757, married Elizabeth Garnett from Williamstown, Kells and died in 1814. Their son, John Travers Radcliff, was born in 1796 and married Eleanora Garnett, daughter of George Garnett of Williamstown House, Kells. John Radcliff was a barrister at law and maintained offices at 44 Eccles Street, Dublin and at Wilmount.
Rev. Stephen Radcliff, A.B., of Wilmount, Rector of Lisnadill, Diocese of Armagh married in 1853 and had nine children. In 1876 John Radcliff of Wilmount held 911 acres in Meath. Thomas Radcliff of the same address held 539 acres. Fanny Perkins of Wilmount held 844 acres in County Mayo. John Radcliff died aged 85 in 1881.
Sarah Frances Radcliff, born 1881, married John Robert Cosgrove and died in 1947. In 1906 Henrietta Radcliffe and Henry White were drowned in a boating accident at Charleville Castle, Tullamore.
In 1911 Emma Radcliff together with Herbert Francis, Kathleen Emma and Florence Edith were resident in the house. In 1915 Captain Herbert Radcliffe, son of George Edward Radcliffe of Wilmount, was killed in action near St. Eloi. He had been clerk at the Petty Sessions, Kells.
The Radcliffe family continued to reside in Wilmount until after the Second World War when they emigrated to South Africa. John Radcliff, son of George Edward Rathcliff of Wilmount, died in 1953.
In 1957 the house was sold again. It was described as having an entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, study, cloakroom, kitchen, three double and three single bedrooms, dressing room, two bathrooms and w.c.s. At the rear was a bachelor’s self contained flat. The house then stood on 196 acres.
Peter Thompson purchased the property and lived there for about ten years. Following his sale of the property it was unoccupied for approximately thirty years.
Woodpark House stood near Dunboyne. Woodpark was in ruins in 1911 and it was demolished. Edward Ford of Woodpark died 1705 aged 63. Woodpark was home of Charles Forde, a great friend of Jonathan Swift. Ford owned the estate of Woodpark in Co. Meath, but spent much of his time in London, where he held the office of Gazetteer in 1712. Swift and Ford corresponded and their letters were published in a collection in 1935. Swift wrote a poem in 1723 entitled Stella at Wood-Park. In 1803 Wood Park was the seat of Mrs. Sheilds. The property came into the hands of the Prestons of Bellinter. In 1854 Philip Grierson was leasing Woodpark and 150 acres of lands from John Preston.
Zephyr Lodge is a mid-Victorian house in Kells. In 1862 William Garnett erected Williamstown Lodge, later re-named Zephyr Lodge probably as a dower house for his widowed mother, Catherine. The four-bedroom house on 2.5 acres is attributed to architect John Skipton Mulvany, who designed the former Harcourt Street rail station. Built as a dower house for the nearby Williamson Estate, the property is sheltered by an array of original trees, including a wonderful Spanish chestnut which forms a centre-piece on the front lawn and is classed as an exceptional specimen tree. The gardens include a brook with a stone bridge, a gazebo, two-storey coach-house, seven loose boxes and a tack room.