Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Castle Dillon


This is a junior branch of the family of MOLYNEUX, Earls of Sefton, springing immediately, it is supposed, from Sir Thomas Molyneux, second son of Sir William Molyneux, of Sefton, a celebrated warrior under the Black Prince; who added to his arms, in a distinction, the fleur-de-lis in the dexter chief still borne by the family.

Sir Thomas commanded the forces of Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, but was defeated and slain by the combined and insurgent lords at Radcot Bridge, near Faringdon, formerly in Berkshire, in 1388.

The genealogy, however, and the records of this branch of the Molyneux family, which resided at Calais, France, being destroyed during the sacking of that town by the Duke of Guise in 1588, a chasm, of necessity, occurs in the pedigree.

SIR THOMAS MOLYNEUX (1531-97), who was born at Calais, falling into the hands of the enemy on the capture of that place, above alluded to, was ransomed for 500 crowns.

He came to England in 1568, and was sent to Ireland in 1576 by ELIZABETH I, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he obtained, with extensive grants of land from Her Majesty, a lease for twenty-one years of the exports and imports of the city of Dublin (wines excepted) for the annual rent of £183.

This gentleman married Catherine, daughter of Ludowick Stabeort, Governor of Bruges, and and issue,
Samuel, MP for Mallow; died unmarried;
DANIEL, successor to his brother;
Katherine, m Sir R Newcomen Bt and had 21 children;
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

DANIEL MOLYNEUX (1568-1632), of Newlands, County Dublin, MP for Strabane, 1613-15, who was appointed, in 1586, Ulster king-of-arms, and his celebrated collection of Irish family history, now amongst the manuscripts of Trinity College Dublin, prove him to have been an accurate and very learned antiquary.

He wedded Jane, daughter of Sir William Ussher, Clerk of the Privy Council, and had five sons and three daughters.

Mr Molyneux was succeeded by his third, but eldest surviving son,

SAMUEL MOLYNEUX (1616-93), of Castle Dillon, County Armagh, Chief Engineer of Ireland, who espoused Anne, daughter and heir of William Dowdall, of Mounttown, County Meath.

Castle Dillon, County Armagh

My Molyneux was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM MOLYNEUX (1656-98), MP for Trinity College, Dublin, 1692-8, author of the celebrated "Case of Ireland", who married Lucy, daughter of Sir William Domvile Bt, Attorney-General of Ireland, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son, 

THE RT HON SAMUEL MOLYNEUX (1689-1728), MP for Trinity College, Dublin, 1727-8, Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary to GEORGE II when Prince of Wales, who wedded, in 1717, the Lady Elizabeth Diana Capel, eldest daughter of Algernon, 2nd Earl of Essex; but dying without issue, the estates reverted to his uncle,

Sir Thomas Molyneux © National Museums Northern Ireland

THOMAS MOLYNEUX  (1661-1733), Lieutenant-General, Physician-General to the Army in Ireland, who was created a baronet in 1730, designated of Castle Dillon, County Armagh.

The Molyneux Family (1758), Photo Credit: The Ulster Museum

I have written about the THE MOLYNEUX BARONETS.

Castle Dillon (Image: © Sarah Hutchinson Burke – please do not use without permission)

CASTLE DILLON, near the city of Armagh, County Armagh, is a large dignified mansion, built in 1845 for Sir George Molyneux, 6th Baronet.

This mansion replaced an austere mid-18th century winged house.

The designer was William Murray.

It has a two-storey, nine-bay centre block; with single-storey, three-bay wings.

Both the entrance front and the garden front, which faces the lake, are similar and plain, apart from a pillared porch on the entrance front.

Castle Dillon (Image: © Sarah Hutchinson Burke – please do not use without permission)

The interior is no less austere: a large hall with a screen of columns dividing it from a central corridor which ran the whole length of the House, with a curved stair at one end.

Castle Dillon Image: (© Sarah Hutchinson Burke – please do not use without permission)

At the garden front, a saloon flanked by the dining-room and drawing-room.

There was a library and a morning-room on either side of the hall.

 © Sarah Hutchinson Burke – do not use without permission

There are splendid 18th century pedimented stables by Thomas Cooley.

The entrance gates, dating from 1760, once described as "the most costly park gates perhaps at that time in the three kingdoms", were erected by Sir Capel Molyneux, 3rd Baronet.

Sir Capel also erected an obelisk near the Park in order to commemorate the winning of independence by the Irish Parliament in 1782.

The sizeable walled demesne lies in pleasantly undulating countryside, with a lake at its centre. An anonymous guide wrote in 1839 that,
‘… the demesne is laid out in a style of elegance, rarely imitated in this country, and which would do honour to the best taste. Here every natural advantage of hill, wood and water, appears admirably improved by the correctest aid of art …’
It is laid out as a mid-18th century landscape park, though there is little remaining planting, with some woodland at the lake and very few parkland trees.

The Molyneux baronets, at one stage, owned 6,009 acres in County Armagh, 2,226 in County Kildare, 1,378 in County Limerick, 6,726 in the Queen's County, and 221 acres in County Dublin.

The site has been forested and intensively farmed in recent years.

The first house was built ca 1611 and, when that was burnt in 1663, another followed.

The stable block of 1782 by Thomas Cooley is derelict.

The walled garden has gone but two gate lodges survive, one possibly by Sir William Chambers and an eye-catching obelisk erected in 1782, still impresses outside the demesne walls.

The baronetcy became extinct when the 10th Baronet, Sir Ernest, died in 1940.

The contents of Castle Dillon House were sold in October, 1923, and the Scottish firm, McAnish & Company, bought the whole estate in 1927 for the timber.

Armagh County Council purchased the house and the remaining 613 acres from McAnish for £9,800 in 1929 - £527,000 in today's money.

In 1948, the Northern Ireland Hospital Authority managed the mansion house, and it served for various purposes, including a nursing home, since then.

Photographs are by kind permission of Sarah Hutchinson Blake.

First published in November, 2009.


Anonymous said...

Is Castle Dillon now a 'Building at Risk? Is it listed? Maybe it has been razed and replaced with the new Castle Dillon House, I'm not quite sure. VC

Anonymous said...

I was there this evening, it is indeed in a sorry state, If not razed, it will need completely gutted as it is certainly unsafe and the floors are not too far from collapsing in with rot. KL

TM said...

Castle Dillon is on the buildings at risk register and its grade B+ listed, i just read the Castle Dillon unsold article from september, sounds like its in a bad way!

Sue and David said...

we noticed this house up for sale at a very attractive price so i went to have a look, it is completely rotten inside, a shame, it must have been glorious in its hayday, we made some inquiries about its status, it appears its in the process of being vested by the authorities because their worried about it collapsing into itself and being totaly lost.

Anonymous said...

Great site for a gated over 55's retirement village!

Evie said...

The property was heavily mortgaged and a young and inexperienced Dillon heir put the estate up for sale in 1664, then known as the Manor of Castle Dillon! This is my line of Dillon's!

Unknown said...

I was taken here in 1968 by my father who fished the lake from the jetty. He said he had permission. We left through the forest in a black Volkswagon beetle and while he argued with my mother I opened a biscuit tin and saw 3 large eels still moving and 2 beautifully marked trout.I was then scolded and ordered to replace the lid* I was 4 years old then that was 50 years ago. I believe my father was a friend of the Mollinhue family.

Unknown said...

I am a descendent of Samuel Molyneux who bought this estate in 1664. Thanks for posting the cool info/pics! Kara

Roland said...

I am interested from a genealogy perspective in the descendents of John Dillon d1637 and Henry Dillon , as they may include a link to Martha Dillon of Clonmacate(married 1855) in my family tree. I am struggling with pre 1800 data. Could Evie help fill in the gap?