Historic Buildings of County Meath
Republic of Ireland
Image right - Trim Castle
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The object of this project is to provide information about historic buildings in County Meath, with links to sub-projects for specific buildings as appropriate. GENi profiles of people associated with those establishments can be linked to this project and/or to individual projects where they have been set up.
Castles, Baronial and Historic houses
... in alphabetical order
Including Castles, Abbeys, Manor Houses, Mansions, Stately Homes, Country houses, Estate houses, Courts, Halls, Parks and other listed buildings of historic interest
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● Agher Palace. - old house with extensive gardens. The land commission bought it and blew it up! Remains include lots of hidden tunnels, an old courtyard, an orchard that had undersoil heating using copper pipes to keep the exotic trees warm, a tiled lake, a plinth that rose to outside the old house are all that remains.
● Allenstown House built in around 1750 by William Waller. The final owner was Vice-Admiral Arthur William Craig who assumed the surname Craig-Waller when he inherited the property in 1920 from a distant relative.
● Ardbraccan House Liscarton. Bishop's Palace. Historic house which served as the residence of the Church of Ireland Lord Bishop of Meath. residence of a bishop for over one thousand years, first of the Bishop of Ardbraccan and later following the merger of many small dioceses into the Diocese of Meath as the residence of the Bishop of Meath. By the Middle Ages a large Tudor house, containing its own church, known as St. Mary's, stood on the site. 1734 Bishop Arthur Price (1678-1752) decided to replace the decaying mansion with a new Georgian residence. Initially the two wings of the house were built, before the main four-bay two-storey block of the house was completed in the 1770s by Bishop Maxwell. It was partly designed by the acclaimed 18th-century German architect Richard Castle (also known as Richard Cassels) was the architect of many notable Irish buildings including Leinster House in Dublin.Ardbraccan House and demesne occupy an historically important site as it has been the seat of the Bishops of Meath since the fourteenth century. It has archaeological sites within the demesne including a holy well and two mounds. Architecturally the house is significant as Richard Castle designed the kitchen and stable blocks while the central block appears to be a culmination of the designs of Thomas Cooley and James Wyatt, together with amateur architect the Rev. Daniel A. Beaufort. The new bishop's palace became famous for the quality of its architecture. Funded by government grants and locally paid tithes, the Church of Ireland bishop held court from the mansion, which was the centre of a large agricultural demesne. However the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871, following the previous scrapping of Roman Catholic-paid tithes, fatally weakened the economic survival of the bishop's estate, which was left totally reliant on the small local Church of Ireland community, and in 1885 the bishop sold the estate and house, moving to a smaller mansion nearby (which Church of Ireland continued to live until 1958 and which was then sold to a Roman Catholic religious institute, the Holy Ghost Fathers). Ardbraccan House was bought by Hugh Law, the son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and remained in the ownership of his descendants until sold by Colonel Owen Foster in 1985 to Tara Mines who used it as a guest residence for visiting businessmen. In the late 1990s the house once again changed hands. The new owners invested large sums to completely restore the mansion. In 2002 the restoration of Ardbraccan House won the An Taisce Best Restoration of a Private Building award. It is now open to the public. In the early 2000s, the County Meath planning authority approved plans to build a major new motorway linking Clonee and Kells through part of the house's historic demesne. The Irish Georgian Society and environmentalists criticised the proposal. The motorway would also pass through the pristine parkland of a religious seminary called Dalgan Park and close by the historic Hill of Tara, seat of the ancient Árd Rí na hÉireann (High King of Ireland). The motorway is currently (2008) being built.
● Ardmulchan House
● Athcarne Castle, near Balrath. Medieval tower with a large extension and turret added c. 1830, all now ruins. Originally built for William Bathe in 1590. The Bathe family produced a number of well known legal and political personalities around the 16th and 17th century. Various members of the bathe family became Lord Chief Justice, Attorney General and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late middle ages. The castle was inhabited until mid 20th century, and has since fallen into disrepair. The Castle is located six miles from the site of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. King James II is said to have stayed overnight at the castle on the eve of the battle. Castle was inhabited into the mid-20th century.
● Athlumney Castle, Ruins - original 15th century tower with part of the mansion of 1630 adjoining, castle built in the 1400s by the Lord of Athlumney. The older part is a Tower House built in the 15th century. It has three storey and its thick walls and slit windows. The newer part of the castle is attached to the tower to its left. This was built in the late 16th century or early 17th century. It is three storey manor house with four sets of widely spaced mullioned windows. The last lord of Athlumney was Sir Launcelot Dowdall. The Dowdalls lost their land during the Cromwellian Plantation and got it back under Charles II. In the 1660s, they backed James II in the war against William of Orange. According to tradition he set fire to his castle rather than see it occupied by William of Orange after his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. He crossed the Boyne and sat on the opposite bank to watch his castle "blazing and flickering in the calm summer night". He left for exile in France never to return. The property later belonged to the Somerville family of Kentstown who took the title of Lord Athlumney from this. In 1849 a branch of the Dublin – Drogheda railway was being laid in Navan. An extensive souterrain, (underground passages or chambers used for storage or shelter), was found on the western bank of the river during the excavations for the Great Northern Railway line.
Athlumney is a manorial village, a complex of archaeological remains which include a motte, a 13th century church and graveyard, a 15th century tower house with a large 16th or early 17th century addition.
- Edward Dowdall of Athlumney, co. Meath
- Lawrence Dowdall, of Athlumney
- Sir Luke Dowdall of Athlumney, 1st Bart
● Ballygarth Castle
● Bective Abbey south of Navan- built in 1147 by King Murchad of Meath, Murchad O’Mael-Sheachlainn, for the Cistercian monks from Mellfort and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The abbey along with the Abbey of St. Thomas in Dublin was granted to Hugh de Lacy. After his death in 1186 both abbey’s wanted his body to be buried at their site, finally it was decided that his body was buried at Bective and his head in Dublin. This decision caused great feuding between the monks and in 1205 the Bishop of Meath along with two judges decided that the body should be moved to Dublin. Following the English invasion in 1228 the abbey was fortified and used as a safe haven for the English and visitors from Europe. The number of monks declined in the 15th century and because of this the cloisters were reduced in size and the south aisles of the church with its arcades were demolished. They did however build two towers making it the most heavily fortified abbey in Ireland. During the reign of King Henry VIII in 1536 the abbey was closed following dissolution and was changed into a Tudor manor house and the buildings were leased to Thomas Agarde but sold later in 1552 to Andrew Wyse. It later passed to the Dillons and then the Boltons. By 1540 the roof had be removed for use in another of the king’s properties and was left abandoned.
- Sir Edward Bolton of Bective (co. Meath), Staffordshire, etc. (b 1592, d 1659, Chief Baron of the Exchequer), his wife - Isabella Ayolffe (bur 04.02.1674, dau of William (not Sir George) Ayloffe of Chisell)
- (a) Nicholas Bolton of Brazeel & Bective, Sheriff of co,. Meath (b c1625, d 01.08.1692)
- Sir Thomas Taylour of Headfort, 1st Earl of Bective (b 20.10.1724, d 17.02.1795) and his wife (04.07.1754) Jane Rowley (d 25.06.1818, dau of Hercules Langford Rowley by Elizabeth, Viscountess Langford)
- Edward Bolton of Brazeel & Bective Abbey
● Bellinter House was built in 1750 by Richard Cassels as a country house for wealthy Dublin brewer John Preston. The main building was designed for the family with the side wings being used as the kitchens and servants quarters along with the stables. The estate at that time was around 600 acres used as grazing and woodland. In 1892 the house was bequeathed to Gustavas Briscoe, a family friend, and in 1907 his son Cecil inherited the estate. The last Briscoe; George, sold the estate in 1955 and after being sold once more was in the hands of the Irish Land Commission. The Commission split the land into farms of 50 acres and left the house abandoned until 1965 when it was sold along with 12 acres of land to a religious order, The Sisters of Sion. To raise the money for the extensive repairs the sisters grew and sold flowers and tomatoes on a commercial basis and once renovated ran the house as a retreat. The sisters finally sold the house to Jay Bourke and John Reynolds in 2003 and the house was converted into a boutique hotel.
● The Black Castle, Ruins . owned by FitzHerbert, 1760. extensive outbuildings, in ruins, but still seen - also, where a car smashed into the portico, and was left there,
● Carrickdexter Castle
● Castle Jordan former tower, its tall circular stair turret now a garden feature of a private house.
● Causetown Castle
● Clongill Castle
● Dangan Castle (Summerhill), Ruins, owned in the 14th century, by the Wellesleys. Childhood home of Arthur Wellesley, The Duke of Wellington. Dangan was the seat of Richard Wesley, created first Baron Mornington in 1746, who improved his house and grounds. Bishop Pococke in his 1752 Tour in Ireland described the house as being ‘situated on a most beautiful flat, with an Amphitheater of hills rising round it, one over another, in a most beautiful manner; at the lower end is a very large piece of water, at one corner of which is an Island, it is a regular fortification, there is a ship a sloop and boats on the water, and a yard for building; the hill beyond it, is improved into a beautiful wilderness: on a round hill near the house is a Temple, and the hills round are adorned with obelisks: Pillars and some buildings, altogether the most beautiful thing I ever saw.’ Mrs Delany also visited Dangan several times, being godmother to Mornington’s heir Garret, future first Earl of Mornington and, in turn, the father of Arthur Wellesley, future Duke of Wellington who spent much of his childhood there. The house was accidentally destroyed by fire and in 1841 J. Stirling Coyne wrote ‘The noble woods, too, which adorned the demesne, have shared in the general destruction; and all the giants of the sylvan scene have been prostrated by the ruthless axe.’Today there are few signs of Dangan other than an obelisk (pictured left), and another not far away restored with help from the Meath branch of An Taisce.
● Dardistown Castle was built as a medieval tower house by John Cornwalsh who in 1465 obtained a £10 grant for the building of Dardistown Castle. Fifty years later Castle and lands were rented for £4 a year by John and Thomas Talbot, who supplied three armed horsemen for the royal army. The castle was extended in the 16th century by Dame Genet Sarsfield, (widow of Sir John Plunkett of Dunsoghly) went to live there and added a new entrance and other extensions. Genet Sarsfield was the daughter of John Sarsfield of Sarsfieldstown, just south of Gormanstown. She had two brothers, Patrick who was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1553 and William, Lord Mayor in 1556 (later Sir William of Lucan, who married Margaret Tynnell of Athboy and became ancestor of the famous Jacobite General Sarsfield). Genet married first Robert Shillingford, alderman of Dublin. Second James, second son of Sir Thomas Luttrell, who died in 1557. Third Robert Plunkett, fifth Baron Dunsany. She was his second wife and had two sons by him. He died in 1559. Fourth Sir Thomas Cusack of Cushinstown, as his third wife, and has issue by him. He died 1 April 1571 and had been Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Fifth, Sir John Plunkett of Dunsoghly, who died in 1582. Dame Genet died 22 or 23 February 1597 and her memorial tablet may be seen in the chancel arch in the old church at Moorchurch. The historic battle of Julianstown of 1641 is said to have taken place on the front lawn of Dardistown, though at that time separated from the House by the road. Richard Talbot was then in occupation of the Castle. Three new rooms were added to the Castle about this time. Francis Osborne of Dardistown was M. P. for Navan Borough in 1692 and 1695, and the Osborne family continued to occupy Dardistown until the death of the last member of the family in recent times.The battle of Julianstown in 1641 is said to have been fought on the front lawn of Dardistown Castle; Richard Talbot occupied the castle at that time. The castle later passed to the Osborne family occupied it until recent times. The front hall, drawing room and dining room were built around 1750. The upper floors were built more recently with the back added around 1800 and the front built in 1860. The main Drogheda to Dublin road was moved around 1800, and is now several hundred yards from the Castle, giving the castle a more secluded setting.
● Donore Castle, Ruins. Round cornered four storey tower with a round stair turret next to the entrance, over which is a projecting machicolation. James McGeoghegan and over forty of his clan, including women and children, were slaughtered by the Cromwellian John Reynolds after the castle's capture in 1650.
● Dunboyne Castle
● Dunmoe Castle Ruins - high above a steep slope to the River Boyne - 15th century D'Arcy hall-house with a cemetery in its grounds. There were four corner turrets at one time, two having been destroyed along with the entire curtain wall on the landward side, probably in 1649 when the castle suffered bombardment under Cromwell. Unusually there is good public access with little effort required to view it. It is located northeast of Navan and stands above a steep bank that descends to the north bank of the River Boyne below Ardmulchan House.
● Dunsany Castle, Restored Castle - originally thought to have been built in the 1180’s with additional work being carried out during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1400’s the castle was owned by the Plunketts who divided their estates (Dunsany and Trim) between their sons; the youngest Christopher Plunket, 1st Baron Killeen being given Dunsany. The family remained resident for many years without hindrance apart from the invasion of Cromwell when they were forced to leave. Much of the estate was confiscated during the land reform in the early 20th century. The castle with its demesne being left under the ownership of the Plunkett family.
...perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited building in Ireland. It, and its sister castle, Killeen, nearby, were built in the late 1170s, and has been held by Cusacks and then by marriage Plunketts since then. - WIKI Dunsany Castle and Desmesne
● Fennor Castle Ruins. 17th century strong house on the south bank of the river Boyne at Slane, built incorporating parts of a former medieval tower, more apparent on the hidden north side. The east end contained a kitchen having a large fireplace and oven. The upper storey windows are clearly of the 17th or 18th centuries. Fennor is located on the south bank of the Boyne just south of Slane.
● Gormanston Castle The castle now standing was built on the site of an earlier castle around 1786 by Jenico Preston, 12th Viscount Gormanston, on the site of an earlier house. Work stopped in 1820 when his wife Margaret died and the overall design was never completed. The Castle was the seat of the Preston family (the Viscount Gormanston) from the 14th century (See Robert Preston, 1st Baron Gormanston), until it was sold to the Franciscan Order of Friars in the late 1940s. The Franciscans established a boarding school for boys on the grounds in 1955, known as Gormanston College. Today, Gormanston College is a co-educational day school and boarding school, run by the Franciscan Province of Ireland. According to tradition, the foxes of County Meath gather around the castle when the head of the Preston family is about to die.
● Killeen Castle, Restored Castle. Built by Hugh de Lacy in 1181 as part of the strategic castle defence system for north Leinster. From 1403 until the 1950’s, the castle acted as the seat of the Plunket family, Earls of Fingall, with five and a half centuries of unbroken connection with Killeen Castle. The Plunketts were Catholic Peers and amongst the oldest of the great Anglo-Irish families. Among their numbers were a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, distinguished parliamentarians and decorated soldiers. Over the centuries the Plunkett family occupied other great homes in North Leinster such as Dunsany, Rathmore, Dunsoghly and Loughcrew. From the late 17th to the late 18th centuries, Killeen Castle became dilapidated, due to the enforced absence of the Earls following uprisings and unrest. In the early 19th century the 8th an 9th Earls engaged architects, Francis Johnson and James Sheil to modernise the castle creating the design for the building which stands today. The 15th century parish church of Killeen, dedicated in honour of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, is adjacent to the castle, and was originally part of an abbey complex, now disappeared. Today a wedding venue, luxury hotel, spa and golf club.
● Lynches Castle (Summerhill), Ruins - late 16th century tower house
● Mountainstown (House) - located outside Navan in the townland of Castletown Kilpatrick, built around 1720 for Richard Gibbons whose father Samuel acquired the estate in the late 17th century: in the same year he made a visitation of his dioceses, Bishop Anthony Dopping of Meath recorded ‘Mr Gibbons and his wife came here in xmas 1693.’ Mr Gibbons’ son Richard is likewise recorded as being at Mountainstown in Faulkiner’s Dublin Journal in 1745, by which time the house would have been well finished. Over the door is a stone cartouche featuring the arms of the Pollocks, the family that followed the Gibbonses at Mountainstown. The latter remained in possession of the estate until 1796 when it was sold to the John Pollock by a daughter of Samuel Gibbons. He had already been renting for some time. The first John Pollock moved from Scotland to Ireland in 1732 and settled in Newry where he became involved in the linen trade. His son continued in the same business and was commemorated by a tombstone in St Mary’s, Newry declaring he and his wife Elizabeth had been ‘parents of eleven children all of whom they lived to see established in the world.’ One of those children, another John, became a successful solicitor in Dublin and was appointed Transscriptor of the Court of the Exchequer. He first rented and then bought Mountainstown although he retained a townhouse in Dublin’s Mountjoy Square so that his business could continue. Married to the daughter of a London banker, around 1811 he extended Mountainstown by adding a two-storey wing to the south-west of the older building. The ground floor of this new section contains a large drawing room with canted bay window and beyond it an equally substantial dining room. A substantial stable yard was added by the next generation. In the mid-1820s Mountainstown was inherited by Arthur Hill Cornwallis Pollock, named after his father’s patron, Arthur Hill, second Marquess of Downshire. The present generation has decided to put the property on the market (March 2015) for €4.15 million.
● Moymet Castle, Trim. Built c.1570s by Lucas Dillon, Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland. Only parts of the south and east walls survive.
● Mayrath Castle
● Nangle Castle (Trim)
● Newcastle Castle
● Newhaggard Castle west of the town of Trim, and just to the south of the Tremblestown River is a four storey tower whose unseen upper north side walls project outwards supported on a row of corbels. The south side has a blocked arch high up, and a portcullis groove, indicating that the building may once have served as a gatehouse of a bawn.
- Odder Castle
● Rathaldron Castle
● Rathkenny Castle
● Rathmore Castle
● Riverstown Castle
● Robertstown Castle Fortified house on a remote farm equi-distant between Nobber and Moynalty, square bartizans on two opposite corners.
● Ross Castle
● Skryne Castle, Restored Castle
● Slane Castle, Restored Castle. The first occupants of Slane Castle were an Anglo Norman family called the Flemings but after the Williamite wars in 1611 the castle was purchased by the Conyngham’s a noble Scottish family. The castle was restructured in 1785 and dramatic gothic gates were added. In 1821 the castle was the location for a famous romance between Elizabeth, 1st Marchioness Coynghan and King George IV and it was said that this is the reason why there is such a straight road between Dublin and the castle. In 1991 the castle was subject to extensive damage caused by a fire which broke out on the eastern side and totally gutted the whole area. The family then spent the next ten years on the castle’s restoration. The castle has been one of the venues for the ‘Festival in Great Irish Houses’. The open air concerts below the castle have featured famous artists including U2, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Queen and Madonna.
● Slane Castle (aka The College) Just outside the village of Slane is the Hill of Slane where the remains of a twelfth century Norman motte and bailey (built by Richard Fleming in the 1170’s), the ruins of a friary and the remains of a college can be seen. The friary operated in this area up until 1723 when it was abandoned.
● Summerhill House 100 room mansion, baroque palace, built in 1731, the ancestral seat of The Baronets, Barons, and Viscounts Langford - Summerhill Castle. Lynch's Castle, (above), was already a residence in the immediate vicinity, the ruins of which survive to the present. Constructed for the The Hon. Hercules Langford Rowley, 2nd Baron Langford who in 1732 married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Clotworthy Upton. In 1781 Hercules Langford Rowley built a large gothic mausoleum not far from the house, which fell into a ruinous state; some of its exterior walls survive, along with a handful of their curious arched niches. It originally contained a large memorial carved by Thomas Banks and commemorating the death of a beloved granddaughter, the Hon Mary Pakenham (Rowley’s daughter had married Lord Longford, another of whose children Catherine would in turn marry the Hon Arthur Wellesley, future Duke of Wellington). The Banks memorial was rescued from the mausoleum and moved into the main house at Summerhill. Summerhill House was damaged by fire on a number of occasions and then on 4 February 1922, it was set on fire by the Irish Republican Army and completely destroyed. 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. Summerhill House stood as a ruin until it was totally demolished in 1970. Summerhill House was listed in "Forgotten Houses of Ireland", as the most beautiful house in Ireland.
- Clotworthy Rowley, 1st Baron Langford of Summerhill (1763-1825) - created on 1 July 1800
- Hercules Langford Rowley, 2nd Baron Langford (1795-1839)
- Clotworthy Wellington William Robert Rowley, 3rd Baron Langford (1824-1854)
- Hercules Edward Rowley, 4th Baron Langford (1848-1919) sat in the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1884 to 1919.
- John Hercules * William Rowley, 5th Baron Langford (1894-1922)
- William Chambre Rowley, 6th Baron Langford (1849–1931) Uncle of 5th Baron
- Clotworthy Wellington Thomas Edward Rowley, 7th Baron Langford (1885–1952)
- Arthur Sholto Langford Rowley, 8th Baron Langford (1870–1953) - son of Colonel the Hon. Hercules Langford Boyle Rowley, second son of the second Baron.
- Geoffrey Alexander Rowley-Conwy, 9th Baron Langford (born 1912) great-grandson of Hon. Richard Thomas Rowley, second son of the first Baron.
- The heir apparent is the present holder's son Hon. Owain Grenville Rowley-Conwy (born 1958).
- The heir apparent's heir apparent is his son Thomas Alexander Rowley-Conwy (born 1987).
● Sylvan Park, The 18th century house belonged to the Rowley family which had first settled in this country during the reign of James I and one branch of which was responsible for commissioning Summerhill (above). In the mid-19th century Sylvan Park was occupied by Standish Grady Rowley, who owned an estate of more than 1,100 acres in the area. The property passed out of the family in the last century and was subsequently demolished, leaving just the limestone gateposts as a memento of its presence together with a decaying lodge tucked inside.
● Talbot Castle (Trim)
● Tara Castle, Ruins
● Tremblestown Castle
Tremblestown Castle A 15th-century castle of the Barnewell family, overlooking the Tremblestown River, a tributary of the Boyne. Often spelled 'Trimblestown', but not by the O.S. A notable feature is the huge two-storey barrel-vaulted hall on the ground floor. Modernised c. 1800, in ruins by 1900.
● Trim Castle, Ruins- built on a site with access to the Irish Sea 25 miles away by boat up the river Boyne. It was used as the administration centre for the Normans and was given to Hugh de Lacy in 1172. Hugh and his son Walter were responsible for building the castle‘s ring work defences and external ditch which continued until 1204. During the second half of the 13th century the castle was owned by Geoffrey de Geneville who was responsible for building two wooden towers, the Great Hall, drawbridge and the north tower. In the early 14th century the castle passed through marriage into the Mortimer family, it was left abandoned in 1425 after the death of the last family member - Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March. At the beginning of the 15th century King Richard II granted occupancy to two of his wards, one of them being the future King Henry V. During the 16th and 17th centuries the castle lost its importance; other than as a military site for Cromwell’s soldiers, and was allowed to fall into disrepair when the army left in 1649. At the end of the Cromwellian wars the site was granted to the Wellington family and after them though several other families until it was given by the court to the Dunsany Plunketts. The family allowed the lands to be rented out. Lord Dunsany eventually sold the castle and lands to the state. The Office of Public Works then became responsible for the castle and started a major restoration project including the installing a protective roof and partly restoring the moat.
● Trim Castle (The Keep)
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