Monday, 1 June 2015

Killakee House

THE BARONS MASSY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DUBLIN, WITH 3,422 ACRES


The first of this noble family that settled in Ireland was

GENERAL HUGH MASSY,
who had a military command to repress the rebellion of 1641. General Massy was descended from HAMON DE MASSEY, one of the companions in arms of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, who obtained large grants of the counties of Durham and Cheshire, and was created Baron of Dunham Massy.
The General married Margaret Percy, and had a son,

HUGH MASSY, of Duntrileague, County Limerick, who wedded Amy, daughter of John Benson, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
John;
William;
Margaret; Amy.
The eldest son,

COLONEL HUGH MASSY (1685-1757), of Duntrileague, espoused Elizabeth, daughter of the Rt Hon George Hampden Evans MP, and had issue,
HUGH, his successor;
George, Archdeacon of Ardfert;
John, killed in a duel;
Godfrey, in holy orders;
William;
EYRE, created BARON CLARINA;
Charles, dsp;
Mary; Amy; Elizabeth; Catherine.
The eldest son,

HUGH MASSY (1700-88), having represented County Limerick in several parliaments, was raised to the peerage, in 1776, as BARON MASSY.

His lordship married firstly, Mary, daughter and heir of James Dawson, of Ballynacourte, County Tipperary, and had issue,
HUGH, his successor;
James;
John;
Elizabeth.
Lord Massy wedded secondly, Rebecca, daughter of Francis Delap, of Antigua, and by that lady had three other sons and five other daughters, viz.
Francis Hugh;
Eyre;
George;
Margaret; Rebecca; Frances;
Caroline; Amy.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

HUGH, 2nd Baron, who married, in 1760, Catherine, eldest daughter and co-heir of Edward Taylor, of Ballymore, County Limerick, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
Edward;
George Eyre;
John;
Catherine; Mary Anne;
Jane; Sarah.
His lordship died in 1790, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

HUGH, 3rd Baron, who wedded, in 1792, Margaret, youngest daughter of William Barton, of Grove, County Tipperary, by whom he had issue,
HUGH HAMON;
George William;
John;
Grace Elizabeth;
Catherine; Susan Maria;
Margaret Everina;
Elizabeth Jane Sarah Anne.
His lordship died in 1812, and was succeeded by his son,

HUGH HAMON, 4th Baron, who married, in 1826, Matilda, youngest daughter of LUKE WHITE, of Woodlands, County Dublin, and had issue,
HUGH HAMON INGOLDSBY;
John George Hugh.
THIS marriage brought the Massy family to Killakee where Luke White had lands and a house.

The 5th Baron died young; and the 6th Baron, a young man of 19, inherited up to 38,000 acres.
He was very fond of the affluent life with little regard for money matters. Huge parties took place at Killakee and numerous hunting expeditions both there and in Limerick.
His great-grandson, the 6th Baron, sat in the House of Lords from 1876 to 1915.

As of 2010, the title is held by the latter's great-great-grandson, the 10th Baron, who succeeded his father in 1995.



KILLAKEE HOUSE, near Rathfarnham, County Dublin, was a two-storey, stucco-faced house of symmetrical aspect with a curved bow in the centre front and similar bows in the gables.

It contained thirty-six rooms, a balustraded parapet to the roof, a veranda with slender iron uprights and a balcony above along the centre of the front, which gave the house the appearance of a Mediterranean villa.


The Killakee estate contained the infamous Hellfire Club on the summit of Montpelier Hill.

When Luke White acquired the estate, the Hellfire Club was already in a ruinous state.
In 1878, the total landholdings of the extended Massy/Massey families in Ireland amounted to over 98,000 acres. The landholdings of John Thomas, 6th Baron Massy, consisted of 8,568 acres in County Limerick, 24,751 acres in County Leitrim (acquired through the Whites), and 1,120 acres in County Tipperary, a total of 34,439 acres.
The estate at Killakee was, at that time, still in the registered ownership of Mrs Anne Salisbury White, Samuel White’s widow.

Mrs White died in 1880 and in her will she left Killakee House and 3,422 acres, including the magnificent gardens, to her late husband’s nephew, John Thomas, 6th Baron Massy.

Her sister-in-law, the Dowager Baroness Massy (Luke White’s daughter, and mother of the 6th Baron) died at her home, Milford.

The final demise of Killakee House came in 1941 when the bank, which had maintained a caretaker on the premises since 1924, and unable to find a purchaser, sold the house to a builder for salvage.

Having removed the slates, roof timbers, floors and other saleable items, the builder demolished the house.

It was an event that must have had a profound impact on Hamon Massy, occurring as it did in full sight of his little cottage.

Although he had no alternative, living in the shadow of his former mansion was probably not helpful in putting the past behind him.

The Killakee Woods were taken over by the Irish Forestry Department.

The demolition of Killakee House was a most unfortunate turn of events: Thousands of Ascendancy mansions were built in Ireland.

Killakee House, however, both in its style and location overlooking Dublin City and bay, was a house of particular merit.

This aspect of the house was obviously noted by the bank, which paid a caretaker for 17 years to keep the house secure.

In 1941, with the 2nd World War raging in Europe, it was evident to the bank that a buyer was not going to be found.

It decided to cut its loses and sold the house for its salvage value.

In 2001, sixty years after the event , Charles Guinness, of Tibradden House, recalled the demolition of Killakee House,
”In 1941, as a young boy, I walked up to Killakee with my mother when it was being demolished. The monkey-puzzle trees remained impressive and the huge glass-houses were still standing but vegetation had broken through the roofs. There was a melancholy atmosphere of decay and desolation. We salvaged a piece of stone and walked home sadly.” 
EXTRACTS FROM THIS ARTICLE ARE BY KIND PERMISSION OF FRANK TRACY, AUTHOR OF IF THOSE TREES COULD SPEAK: THE STORY OF AN ASCENDANCY FAMILY IN IRELAND.

Massy arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in May, 2013.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Nice article, thank you. I grew up down the road from the lands and often wondered the history of Massey's Wood, and various ruins..