Sion House.

Sion House in Navan, County Meath was one of the residences of the Dunville family and it was used by them as a base for their pursuit of hunting. It was probably bought in the late 1870s by Robert Grimshaw Dunville (1838-1910), who became head of the Dunville family when his uncle William Dunville died in 1874.

Robert Grimshaw Dunville's son, John Dunville Dunville (1866-1929), was brought up partly at Redburn House in County Down and partly at Sion House. In 1892 he married Violet Anne Blanche Lambart (1861-1940) who also lived in County Meath, at Beau Parc. John Dunville was Master of the Meath Hounds from 1911 to 1915, succeeding John Watson of Bective House, who was Master of the Meath from 1891 to 1908, and the Earl of Fingall, who was Master of the Meath until 1911. John Dunville served for many years in the old Meath Militia (5th Battalion Leinster Regiment), gaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, which he subsequently kept as his title: Colonel John Dunville.

John Dunville was Chairman of the whisky distillers Dunville & Co., Ltd., a keen hunter and a ballooning enthusiast. In the First World War he served in the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Air Force, for which he was awarded the C.B.E.

Two years after the death of John Dunville, his eldest son and heir, Robert Lambart Dunville (1893-1931), also died. It was probably in the early 1930s, after the death of Robert Lambart Dunville, that Sion House was sold to the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, for use as St. Martha's College of Agriculture and Domestic Science.


Sion House before and after the Dunville family

Peter Metge was one of the Huguenots, members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France, who fled France for Ireland in the late seventeenth century. He settled in Athlumney and built Athlumney House, where his family continued to live during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Members of the family became Members of Parliament and achieved high positions in the Judiciary and the Treasury.

In 1836, when Peter Ponsonby Metge was living at Athlumney House, his brother John Charles Metge married Eliza Ibbetson Cole. It was probably soon after their marriage that John and Eliza Metge built Sion House and started living there. Sion House is six hundred metres to the east of Athlumney House.

When Peter Ponsonby Metge died in 1873, Athlumney House passed to his nephew Robert Henry Metge, who was the youngest son of John and Eliza Metge. The Metges probably left Sion House at about this time. By 1879, Sion House had been bought by the Dunville family.

In the early 1930s St. Martha's College of Agriculture and Domestic Science was established at Sion House by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, and it functioned there until 1982.

There is now a primary school on the site, consisting of a three storey primary school building with twenty-seven classrooms, two two storey primary school buildings each with sixteen classrooms, and a single-storey eight-classroom special school building. Sion House and the main entrance gates are protected structures.

Source: Archaeological Desktop Assessment, 18 November 2011, for the St. Martha's Campus Development, authors Antoine Giacometti BSc MA MIAI and Siobhán Duffy BA MSc. The Assessment was commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills before the construction of the new school on the site, and it can be downloaded from MediaFire.


1901 Census Information for County Meath, Parliamentary Division North Meath, Poor Law Union Navan, District Electoral Division Navan Rural, Townland or Street Alexander Reid, Barony Skreen, Parish Athlumney, House 9 [Sion House], enumerated by Constable James Grier.
Robert Grimshaw Dunville (1838-1910), Jeannie/Jeanie Dunville née Chaine (1842-1914), their visitors and servants.

Name and
Surname
Relation to
Head of Family
Religious
Profession
Age (last
birthday)
Rank, Profession,
or Occupation
Particulars
as to Marriage
Where Born
Robert G. Dunville Head of Family Church of Ireland 62 Company Director D.L. J.P. [Deputy Lieutenant, Justice of the Peace] Married Belfast
Jeannie Dunville Wife Church of Ireland 58
Married Co. Antrim
Frances Kearney Visitor Church of Ireland 50
Widow Dublin
Mary Kearney Visitor Roman Catholic 21
Not Married London
Thomas Dalton Butler Domestic Servant Church of Ireland 32 Butler Not Married London
John Griffin Domestic Servant Church of Ireland 20 Footman Not Married Brighton
William Craig Domestic Servant Presbyterian 17 Pantry Boy Not Married Co. Antrim
Ellen McChestney Domestic Servant Presbyterian 28 Lady's Maid Not Married Co. Down
Jane Griffith Domestic Servant Church of Ireland 50 Housemaid Not Married Co. Tyrone
Fanny Martin Domestic Servant Church of Ireland 25 Housemaid Not Married Co. Derry
Jane Walker Domestic Servant Church of Ireland 23 Housemaid Not Married Co. Down
Jane Wherry Domestic Servant Presbyterian 26 Cook Not Married Co. Down
Elizabeth Mundell Domestic Servant Presbyterian 24 Kitchenmaid Not Married Co. Antrim
Sarah McClure Domestic Servant Moravian 18 Scullery Maid Not Married Co. Antrim
Education (all): Read & Write

1901 Census Information for County Meath, Parliamentary Division North Meath, Poor Law Union Navan, District Electoral Division Navan Rural, Townland or Street Alexander Reid, Barony Skreen, Parish Athlumney, House 10, enumerated by Constable James Grier.
Landholder Robert Grimshaw Dunville (1838-1910).

Name and
Surname
Relation to
Head of Family
Religious
Profession
Age (last
birthday)
Rank, Profession,
or Occupation
Particulars
as to Marriage
Where Born
Edward Barnes Servant Church of Ireland 28 Coachman Not Married Norfolk
Thomas Maxwell Servant Presbyterian 24 Stable Helper Not Married Co. Antrim
Samuel Farrar Servant Church of Ireland 24 Stable Helper Not Married Wicklow
Dennis Gaskin Servant Roman Catholic 20 Stable Helper Not Married Co. Carlow
Patrick Darby Groom Servant Roman Catholic 30 Groom Not Married Co. Meath
Education: Read & Write, except Patrick Darby: Read

1901 Census Information for County Meath, Parliamentary Division North Meath, Poor Law Union Navan, District Electoral Division Navan Rural, Townland or Street Alexander Reid, Barony Skreen, Parish Athlumney, House 11, enumerated by Constable James Grier.
Landholder Robert Grimshaw Dunville (1838-1910).

Name and
Surname
Relation to
Head of Family
Religious
Profession
Age (last
birthday)
Rank, Profession,
or Occupation
Particulars
as to Marriage
Where Born
John Gunner Head Church of Ireland 25 Gardener Not Married Co. Down
Education: Read & Write

In the 1901 Census, Robert Grimshaw Dunville (1838-1910) was the Landholder of the houses numbered 9 to 11.


1911 Census Information for County Meath, Parliamentary Division North Meath, Poor Law Union Navan, District Electoral Division Navan Rural, Townland or Street Alexander Reid, Barony Skreen, Parish Athlumney, Constabulary District Navan, Sub-District Navan, House 13.
Violet Dunville (1861-1940).

Name and
Surname
Relation to
Head of Family
Religious
Profession
Age (last
birthday)
Rank, Profession,
or Occupation
Particulars
as to Marriage
Where Born
Violet Dunville Head of Family Church of Ireland 48

Dublin
Frederick Brown Domestic Servant Butler Church of England 38 Domestic Servant Single England
Charles Bunstead Footman Church of England 25 Domestic Servant Single England
Wilfred Killmister Footman Church of England 21 Domestic Servant Single Jersey
Bertram Marshall Hall boy Church of England 14 Domestic Servant
England
Henry Healy Valet Roman Catholic 49 Domestic Servant Single Ireland (Co. Meath)
Minnie Read Lady's Maid Church of England 43 Domestic Servant Single Kent
Jane Hanna Cook Church of Ireland 44 Domestic Servant Single Co. Down Ireland
Mary Black Housemaid Presbyterian 40 Domestic Servant Widow Co. Down Ireland
Ada Agnes Housemaid Church of England 22 Domestic Servant Single England
Margaret Fitzgerald Kitchenmaid Church of Ireland 21 Domestic Servant Single Co. Tyrone Ireland
Sarah Craig Scullerymaid church of Ireland 19 Domestic Servant Single Co. Down Ireland
Education (all): Read & Write

In the 1911 Census, John Dunville (1866-1929) was the Landholder of the houses numbered 12 to 16.