Dollardstown House

Dollardstown House stood near Beauparc, just off the road from Navan. Casey and Rowan described Dollardstown as a large and impressive stone and redbrick house designed in 1734 for Arthur Meredyth by Richard Castle, which stood as a derelict ivy grown shell until 1986 when it was completely demolished. Maurice Craig said Dollardstown was a remodelling in red brick, probably by Richard Castle of an earlier late seventeenth century house. On each side of the main house were tower-like wings. There is photo in Maurice Craig‟s book. The three storey over high basement house had very fine interior plasterwork. The house was still roofed in the 1950s but demolished in 1986. The cut stone doorcase and other details were saved.

The local names of Dollardstown and Painestown derive from Adam Dullard and his relative Paganus Dullard who were given grants of land by Hugh de Lacy in 1175. Sir Gerald Aylmer was granted Dollardstown in the reign of Henry VIII. Arthur Meredith held 382 acres of Dollardstown, barony of Duleek, and the 200 of Cristown, barony of Kells, from the Crown in 1683. Born in1639 Arthur was High Sheriff of Meath and M.P. for Navan from 1692 to 1713. He purchased 1070 acres in Co. Meath from the Commissioners for Sale of Forfeited Estates between 1702 and 1703. Dying in 1732 at age 93 years he was buried at St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

His son, Arthur Francis Meredith born about 1706, served as MP for Meath from 1751 to 1761. High Sheriff of Meath in 1736 he married Mary Waller and lived at Dollardstown. Richard Jones M.P. for Killybegs 1761-8 and M.P. Newtown Limavady 1768-76 resided at Dollardstown. Arthur‟s daughter and heiress, Mary, married Sir Richard Gorges in 1775. Richard Gorges was the only son of Hamilton Gorges who was from the Kilbrew Gorges. He took the name, Meredith, and was created a Baronet in 1787, by the name of Richard Gorges Meredith. He received the third penny of tolls and customs of Navan and half toll of corn. Mary died in 1809.

Sir Richard‟s only daughter and heiress, Mary Anne Meredyth, married Sir Marcus Somerville in 1801. Sir Marcus was M.P. for Co. Meath in Irish Parliament in 1800 and in London Parliament 1801-31. Their son, William Meredyth Somerville, born about 1802 became 1st Baron Meredyth of Dollardstown and 1st Baron Athlumney. He lived at nearby Somerville House. In the 1830s Dollardstown House, described as a spacious mansion was occupied by a farmer.

Dollardstown was resided in by the O‟Brien family and the Shields family. A copper mine operated at Dollardstown in the early twentieth century. The poet, Francis Ledwidge, was a miner there. After the O‟Briens died out the house was lived in by the Laffin family. A native of Tipperary, Patrick Laffan acquired Dollardstown when it was being divided by the Land Commission. Patrick Laffin had married a widow, Hannah Brackan, the mother of Brendan Bracken. The house was somewhat dilapidated and Hannah Laffan described the house as "that old barracks.‟ Brendan Bracken attended Mass at Yellow Furze while living at Dollardstown. Brendan Bracken was born in Templemore, Co. Tipperary in 1901 to Joseph K. Bracken and Hannah Ryan. He was one of the seven founder members of the GAA in Hayes's Hotel, Thurles in 1884. Joseph died when Brendan was three and his mother married Patrick Laffan. Bracken made a successful career from 1922 as a magazine publisher and newspaper editor in London. Bracken founded the modern Financial Times in 1945. He was an ardent opponent of the appeasement of Adolf Hitler and a supporter of Winston Churchill. Brendan Bracken, was Minister of Information under Winston Churchill during the Second World War. He was briefly First Lord of the Admirality in 1945. He was created Viscount Bracken in 1952, the title became extinct on his death in 1958.

Patrick Laffan was a member of the Farmer‟s Party and was elected to Meath County Council in 1925. Patrick Laffan also represented Fianna Fail on Meath County Council. His second wife, Catherine Moran, was a native of Trim. A son, Pat Laffan, became a distinguished Abbey actor. Pat Laffan featured in “The Snapper” and Fr. Ted. Pat Laffan was director of the Peacock Theatre and also directed in the Gate Theatre. He has appeared in around 40 films. After the death of Mr. Laffan in the 1950s, the property was purchased by Dan Connell. The house was then been demolished. A stone carving bearing an image of Our Lady and dating to the 16th century was uncovered in recent years in Dollardstown on the lands of the Connell family.

Source: meath-roots.com