Thursday, 3 January 2013

Clare Park

THE McGILDOWNYS, OF CLARE PARK, OWNED 3,811 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM

Clare Park, near Ballycastle, County Antrim, was a long, irregular, partly castellated house, the nucleus of which was a three-bay, gable-ended house of about 1698.


The house was originally inahbited by McDonnells, before becoming the residence of the McGildownys in the 18th century.

Somewhat irregular two-storey wings were added during the 18th century, one of which was prolonged by a stable range.

Post-1880, the original block was given two bows and a battlemented parapet. Overhanging oriel windows were added to the wings.

A slender, three-storey, square, battlemented tower, quite ecclesiastical in demeanour, was built at the junction of the right-hand wing and the stable range.


Sadly, the house and grounds were unoccupied for some time and fell into a ruinous state. The house has since been razed to the ground (see above).

There was a walled garden on the south side of the house.

In 2013, the twenty-two acre grounds are for sale.


The demesne was set in a spectacular cliff-top site above the County Antrim coast, near Ballycastle.

Originally a McDonnell house, Clare Park became the seat of the McGildowny family from the 18th century.

There was a walled garden on the south side of the house.

The main entrance to Clare Park had a three-bay gate lodge (above, in 1936) of ca 1860; lancet windows; stuccoed walls; stone quoins; elaborate cast-iron gate-posts.

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JOHN McGILDOWNY, of Ballycastle, son of Edmund McGildowny, of Ballynaglough, married Mary Gray.

Edmund McGildowny was principal agent for the Earls of Antrim, in particular Lord and Lady Mark Kerr from 1800-32, and his correspondence for this period along other material concerning the estate can be found in the McGildowny Papers, deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.. The McGildowneys were involved with coal-mining in the area during the 19th century.
Anne Catherine [McDonnell], 2nd Countess of Antrim, had no sons and was succeeded by her sister Charlotte [Kerr], 3rd Countess (Lady Mark Kerr, wife of Vice-Admiral Lord Mark Kerr).
John's 2nd son,

CHARLES McGILDOWNY, of Clare Park, who wedded, in 1819, Rosetta, daughter of E D Boyd, of Ballycastle, and dying in 1842, leaving an only son and heir,

JOHN McGILDOWNY JP DL, born in 1820; High Sheriff, 1843; late captain, Antrim Militia; married, in 1851, Rose Anna, daughter of Hugh McCalmont, of Abbeylands, County Antrim, and by her had issue, his eldest son,

MAJOR WILLIAM McGILDOWNY DSO, who died in 1917, aged 47, and was buried at Mindel Trench British Cemetery, St. Laurent-Blangy; married to Honora.

Major, 124th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.  Died aged 47 on  26 May 1917.  Son of John McGildowny, J.P., of Clare Park, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim; husband of Honora McGildowny.  Buried Mindel Trench British Cemetery, St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas de Calais, France.  Awarded the DSO.

His 2nd son, 

HUGH McCALMONT McGILDOWNY JP (1854-1923), of Clare Park, born in 1854; married, in 1905, Mary Rose, daughter of the Rev Thomas Alexander Cameron VD, honorary chaplain, 2nd Volunteer Battalion, The Black Watch, of Farnell, Forfarshire.


This gentleman died in 1923, as the result of an accident on his horse, and is buried at Clare Park.

His son,

HUGH CAMERON McGILDOWNY, born in 1907; lately captain, Irish Guards; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1952.

Unfortunately I have no further knowledge of the McGildowny family; nor Clare Park. If any readers can provide further information or photographs please get in touch at earlofbelmont@hotmail.com.

Dr Patrick Smythe-Wood lived at Clare Park from 1959-78.

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