Loughglynn House - History, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

A history of Loughglynn House, formerly owned by Lord Dillon. Now owned by the Franciscan missionaries of Mary. Loughglynn is a little lake set in the heart of an ancient forest midway between the towns of Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen in the north of County Roscommon, Ireland. It is a place of dreams, a place of primeval peace and idyllic beauty, far from the haunts of men and the hives of modern mechanized materialism.

The lands at one time belonged to the Clan Costello, whose main residence was at Castlemore Costello near Ballaghaderreen.

Lord Dillon, an Englishman, owned the Parish of Loughglynn, three or four parishes in Mayo, Ballyhaunis, Kiltimagh, Charlestown, Tibohine, Fairymount, Ballaghaderreen, Frenchpark, Cloonarrow and Errit. At this time he lived in the old Castle at the farmyard in Loughglynn, where the towers stood beside an old Church. One of the towers still stands, the other was taken down. It was he who built the house at Loughglynn, as it stands to-day.

Every Saturday Mass was celebrated by either the Parish Priest, or the Curate. Lord Dillon attended this Mass. Had the British Government known that Lord Dillon was a Roman Catholic, the property would have been taken from him. Eventually this information did leak out and the British Government sent two detectives to find out if it were true. All the neighbours would tell them of Lord Dillon's presence at Mass was that they could hear his footsteps coming into the Chapel, but they never saw him at Mass. The reason being that a screen separated Lord Dillon from the people.

The old Castle at the farmyard was burned, and while the new house was being built Lord Dillon lived in Dublin, coming now and again to see the work. All the out-offices left intact, were turned into a National School and afterwards into a Cavalry Barracks by the yoemen, Lord Dillon's bodyguard.

One of Lord Dillon's sons married a Miss Burke, a Roman Catholic, from Castlemagarrett, three miles outside Claremorris. His father was very displeased with this marriage, and in disgust sold half his property, Frenchpark. Lord Dillon lived in Loughglynn until his death. He is buried in Ballyhaunis. The property was given to the next heir, another Lord Dillon, who was not a Catholic. He continued his father's business, taking rents from the tenants.

This Lord Dillon had an agent named Whyte, an Englishman. He planted the demense of Loughglynn in the year of the Union, 1801. The demense consisted of all the avenues and stables around the present house. Whyte was an old man, so he shortly retired and returned to England. His successor was Strickland, another Englishman, who made the lake. Strickland lived in the house at Loughglynn with his wife and family. One of his sons became a Priest, Father William and celebrated Mass in the old Church. The second son, W Strickland, a sea captain, married a Maltese Lady, who owned a big property in Malta. He later became Governor of Malta.

The third son, Thomas Strickland, lived in Castlemore house in Ballaghaderreen. He owned a large Flax Mill in Castlemore. He married a girl from Dublin, and when he retired he went to live there. The fourth son, Charles Strickland, obtained the agency after his father's death. He also married a girl from Dublin, and after his term of office expired, he retired to live in Dublin. He is buried in Glasnevin.

The agency was next taken up by Hussey, an Irishman, whose father was an agent for several Landlords in Ireland. He was married to an English girl, Miss Smyth, Daughter of Captain Smyth. He continued the agency until Loughglynn House was burned on the 5th of November 1896. Hussey had five clerks, Jackson from Birmingham, Thomas O'Connor, later Paymaster for the County Development Board, from Dingle, Feeley, whose family lived in Ballaghaderreen, from Kerry, Dyar from Roscommon, Doran, a land-steward, who later became Sir Henry Doran, Head of the County Development Board, from Tralee. Sir Henry lived in Tavrane House, not far from Kilkelly.

Hussey was a kind hearted man, a great sportsman who loved racehorses and he was liked by all the people. He was manager of all the schools on the Dillon Estate and when he gave them up, the clergy took them over. He lived in Loughglynn until the property was sold in May 1899. He then went back to his father's house in Tralee, and his wife went to England.

The property was sold by Lord Dillon to the County Development Board. The land was divided up among the tenants having small holdings. The house was repaired by a contractor named Beckett. He demolished one storey and left it as it stands to-day, with three storeys. His Lordship, Most Rev Dr Clancy, Bishop of Elphin, then bought it for the Diocese. When the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary came to Ireland in 1903, Dr Clancy offered them the Estate as their first Convent and it has belonged to the Institute since.

Click here to read a poem about Loughglynn House

© Cathal Henry 2003

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