Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Clare Park

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


JOHN McGILDOWNY, of Ballycastle, County Antrim, son of Edmund McGildowny, of Ballynaglogh, married Mary Gray, and had issue,
John, of Clare Park;
CHARLES, of whom presently;
Mary, m John M Casement.
Edmund McGildowny was principal agent for the Earls of Antrim, in particular Lord and Lady Mark Kerr from 1800-32.

His correspondence for this period, along with other material concerning the estate, can be found in the McGildowny Papers, deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The McGildownys were involved with coal-mining in the area during the 19th century.

His second son,

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

JOHN McGILDOWNY JP DL (1820-87), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1843; late captain, Antrim Militia.

He married, in 1851, Rose Anna, daughter of Hugh McCalmont, of Abbeylands, County Antrim, and by her had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
HUGH McCALMONT, succeeded his brother;
John Edmund;
Robert (1864-89);
William, DSO, army officer;
Elizabeth Margaret.
Mr McGildowny's eldest son,

CHARLES McGILDOWNY, of Clare Park, born in 1852, was succeeded by his brother,  

HUGH McCALMONT McGILDOWNY JP (1854-1923), of Clare Park, who married, in 1905, Mary Rose, daughter of the Rev Thomas Alexander Cameron VD, honorary chaplain, 2nd Volunteer Battalion, The Black Watch, of Farnell, Forfarshire, and had issue,
HUGH CAMERON, b 1907;
John Ralph Lyon, b 1910.
Mr McGildowny died in 1923, as the result of an equestrian accident, and was buried at Clare Park.

His son, 

HUGH CAMERON McGILDOWNY, was a captain in the Irish Guards, and 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 contact at earlofbelmont@btinternet.com.

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


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 inhabited 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.

Site of Clare Park House

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.

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.

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.

First published in January, 2013.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

Wish I could remember more, but... the last McIldowny died, his wife went to London - this would probably be in the 60s or late 50s, where she acquired rather a poor reputation. I have a feeling they had already separated before he died. Can just remember going to the house, I suppose early 50s, Wonderful location but unhappy atmosphere!

John Connolly said...

I loved exploring the grounds of that old house when we were children on holidays in Ballycastle. We used to call it the haunted house. It was derelict and empty. I remember it had like a turret and was red brick with Ivy growing up around the walls. There were stables and outbuildings. There was a wall with a doorway onto the cliff. I always remember being fascinated about the story of the man who fell off the cliff on horseback. I think the grave is still on the grounds. It is a shame that such a beautiful old building was lost and there is very little photographs or information about it.

statelyhomes said...

Clare Park site to become a caravan park -

http://ballycastle.thechronicle.uk.com/articles/news/50731/new-caravan-park-plan-for-town

carolina hill said...

I've read all of this with great interest. I am the daughter of Marina McGildowny. I was adopted into a family in West Sussex. I have a tiny amount of information about my birth family. Would you have the time to send me any information about my grandmother? Or any of the family. I am aware she , apparently, did not behave kindly but am keen to know anything. Thank you for your time. Kindest regards, Caroline