Moyglare House

Moyglare House, in the very south of County Meath, is a handsome house of three storeys over a high basement, just north of the small Kildare town of Maynooth. Just two rooms deep, the house was begun in the 1750s but was not completed for a further twenty years, due to a rather complicated family story. The front elevation is of five bays, with the three central bays breaking forward in a full height canted bow, formed from three sides of an imaginary octagon. The walls are rendered and the front is partly enclosed by symmetrically curved curtain walls. 

Work commenced for Colonel John Arabin, the son of a Huguenot who had fled France to avoid the Dragonnades in the late seventeenth century, when Louis XIV removed their long-held liberties by revoking the Edict of Nantes. Huguenots prospered in Ireland, as they did in England, forming the backbone of an emerging business community in Dublin and the provincial cities, and creating a Huguenot settlement at Portarlington where their language and traditions continued into the twentieth century.

Clearly the family amassed a considerable fortune as, in 1737, the colonel was able to lay out £10, 729 8s. 8d. on the purchase of a country estate at Moyglare from the scandalous politician and diarist Sir William Yonge, 4th baronet (George II’s ‘Stinking Yonge’) and his second wife Anne. 

The colonel also had a successful army career with the 8th Dragoons. He took part in the capture of Carlisle and the relief of Blair Castle during the Jacobite rebellion, and subsequently commanded his regiment in Gibraltar, after England declared war on France in 1756. He died there the following year when his fellow officers erected a monument in the King’s Chapel.

His son, another John, had predeceased his father by a year leaving a son Henry, a small child at the time of his grandfather’s death, so building only recommenced in the late 1770s when he came of age. Henry was a lawyer who supported Catholic Emancipation and was a member of the Royal Dublin Society but, after his marriage to Anne Favor Grant in 1781, he assumed responsibility for running the Corkagh gunpowder mills, near Clondalkin.

When he died in 1842 his son, another Henry, sold Moyglare for £36,000, after which the estate passed through a series of owners until the 1850s, when it was purchased by the Tuthill family who built the attractive Victorian lodge, with its pretty latticed windows.

The Arabin family remained prominent in Dublin business circles until late in the nineteenth century. Another John Arabin was Lord Mayor at the height of The Potato Plague (known today as The Great Famine) famously chairing a meeting at the Mansion House that held the administration to account and accusing it of… ‘refusing to take any efficacious measure for alleviating the existing calamity.’

The writer Anthony Trollope worked in Ireland as a postal surveyor during this period and may well have reused the Lord Mayor’s name for the High-Church Vicar of St. Ewold, Dr Francis Arabin, a vigorous Oxford academic and former professor of poetry, who first appears in his novel, Barchester Towers.
 
Moyglare retains its essential late eighteenth century core and character, with some fine interiors, most notably the hall, a splendidly architectural composition with a deep niche flanked by a pair of mahogany doors to replicate the design of a Venetian window at its inner end and some fine, crisply-moulded plasterwork. The frieze, with its combination of musical instruments and military trophies, is unique in Ireland.

In the 1960s Moyglare, still with a sizeable farm of more than 300 acres, became the home of the polymath George Fegan, a prominent Dublin surgeon and academic, and a noted art collector.  When sold in the late 1970s the house was separated from the bulk of its estate and renamed Moyglare Manor, to become one of Ireland’s first, and one of its most successful, bijoux country house hotels. The hotel made several additions, including a wing on the west of the house, but the most successful intervention was a new porch, built in 1990 and based on a design first published in 1758 by William Pain, in his Builders Companion. Three bays wide, and surmounted by a delicate cut-stone cornice and a balustrade, this is an unusually sensitive addition with a pedimented door-case as the central feature of a balanced composition and a round-headed window to either side. Inside the porch the original limestone door case still remains in situ.

After the hotel closed in 2009, the house stood empty for several years, but has recently been returned to family use as the home of Malcolm Alexander and his wife, Angela, a historian of Irish furniture who have carried out an enlightened and thorough restoration, and filled the house with their collection of paintings, antique furniture and objects. The mature parkland setting still survives, as do the vistas towards Moyglare church and glebe, and the Alexanders are now turning their attention to the gardens and grounds.

one of a minority Calvinist sect who fled France to avoid the Dragonnades in the late seventeenth century, when Louis XIV removed their long-held liberties by revoking the Edict of Nantes. Huguenots prospered in Ireland, as they did in England, forming the backbone of an emerging business community in Dublin and the provincial cities, and creating a Huguenot settlement at Portarlington where their language and traditions continued into the twentieth century.

Clearly the family amassed a considerable fortune as, in 1737, the colonel was able to lay out £10, 729 8s. 8d. on the purchase of a country estate at Moyglare from the scandalous politician and diarist Sir William Yonge, 4th baronet (George II’s ‘Stinking Yonge’) and his second wife Anne. 

The colonel also had a successful army career with the 8th Dragoons. He took part in the capture of Carlisle and the relief of Blair Castle during the Jacobite rebellion, and subsequently commanded his regiment in Gibraltar, after England declared war on France in 1756. He died there the following year when his fellow officers erected a monument in the King’s Chapel.

His son, another John, had predeceased his father by a year leaving a son Henry, a small child at the time of his grandfather’s death, so building only recommenced in the late 1770s when he came of age. Henry was a lawyer who supported Catholic Emancipation and was a member of the Royal Dublin Society but, after his marriage to Anne Favor Grant in 1781, he assumed responsibility for running the Corkagh gunpowder mills, near Clondalkin.

When he died in 1842 his son, another Henry, sold Moyglare for £36,000, after which the estate passed through a series of owners until the 1850s, when it was purchased by the Tuthill family who built the attractive Victorian lodge, with its pretty latticed windows.

The Arabin family remained prominent in Dublin business circles until late in the nineteenth century. Another John Arabin was Lord Mayor at the height of The Potato Plague (known today as The Great Famine) famously chairing a meeting at the Mansion House that held the administration to account and accusing it of… ‘refusing to take any efficacious measure for alleviating the existing calamity.’

The writer Anthony Trollope worked in Ireland as a postal surveyor during this period and may well have reused the Lord Mayor’s name for the High-Church Vicar of St. Ewold, Dr Francis Arabin, a vigorous Oxford academic and former professor of poetry, who first appears in his novel, Barchester Towers.
 
Moyglare retains its essential late eighteenth century core and character, with some fine interiors, most notably the hall, a splendidly architectural composition with a deep niche flanked by a pair of mahogany doors to replicate the design of a Venetian window at its inner end and some fine, crisply-moulded plasterwork. The frieze, with its combination of musical instruments and military trophies, is unique in Ireland.

In the 1960s Moyglare, still with a sizeable farm of more than 300 acres, became the home of the polymath George Fegan, a prominent Dublin surgeon and academic, and a noted art collector.  When sold in the late 1970s the house was separated from the bulk of its estate and renamed Moyglare Manor, to become one of Ireland’s first, and one of its most successful, bijoux country house hotels. The hotel made several additions, including a wing on the west of the house, but the most successful intervention was a new porch, built in 1990 and based on a design first published in 1758 by William Pain, in his Builders Companion. Three bays wide, and surmounted by a delicate cut-stone cornice and a balustrade, this is an unusually sensitive addition with a pedimented door-case as the central feature of a balanced composition and a round-headed window to either side. Inside the porch the original limestone door case still remains in situ.

After the hotel closed in 2009, the house stood empty for several years, but has recently been returned to family use as the home of Malcolm Alexander and his wife, Angela, a historian of Irish furniture who have carried out an enlightened and thorough restoration, and filled the house with their collection of paintings, antique furniture and objects. The mature parkland setting still survives, as do the vistas towards Moyglare church and glebe, and the Alexanders are now turning their attention to the gardens and grounds.

Address & Contact

Moyglare House, Moyglare Road, Maynooth, Meath, W23 RT91

e: info@moyglarehouse.ie

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