Connaught – in Irish; Field of the Hounds

The history of Old Connaught lands go back to the Normans, who gave it to the Knights Templar. Following the Dissolution of that Order it was passed to The Knights of St. John, now The Order of Malta.

The Reformation caused it to be transferred into private hands.The names of three families are recorded in succession. These are Lawless, Harold and Walsh.

From at least as early as 1460 a medieval castle at Old Connaught was inhabited by the Walsh family. While the precise location of this castle is uncertain, it lay somewhere in the land which is bordered by the long curve of Ferndale Road between the junction with Ballyman Road/Thornhill Road and the junction with Alleys River Road.

It is more than likely that this castle was the building shown opposite the end of Thornhill Road on John Rocque’s map of county Dublin which was published in 1757. Rocque claimed to show every building on his maps, but other features such as field boundaries are conjectural, as, to some extent are the gardens and planting.

John Rocque's Map from around 1757
John Rocque’s Map from around 1757

It is more than likely that this castle was the building shown opposite the end of Thornhill Road on John Rocque’s map of county Dublin which was published in 1757. Rocque claimed to show every building on his maps, but other features such as field boundaries are conjectural, as, to some extent are the gardens and planting.

The Walsh Family managed to hold onto the property and estatethrough the Williamite Confiscations. History records they maintained a Priest in hiding during Penal times.

 In the late 1800’s the Walsh property was sold to Phines Riall.


1816 Map
1816 Map

In the middle of the 18th Century, a Lewis Roberts, one of a Political family of Dungarvan, lived in a now demolished dwelling on the site. He was commended by the Dublin Society for planting 38,000 trees at Old Connaught between 1750 and 1765.

Later the demesne was occupied by an Alderman Willoughby Lightburne. In 1776 a fire totally destroyed the house he lived in. It had been a thatched castle.

The ruins and the lands were leased by the Right Reverend William Gore (Wikipedia), the Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick in 1783. It was he who built the original core of the present Old Connaught House.

A year later, as  it was completed he unfortunately died.

A Tribute to William Gore.

The Roberts Family regained possession for a time before it was leased, along with the newly built House and Grounds to a William Conyngham Plunkett on the 5th of January 178?.  The annual rent was £291. 0. 11. Sterling.

At a later date he was to buy the lease from Phines Riall , thereby becoming the owner.

A Note from the Author

This page is a result of many hours of research, primarily using Google, but with the initial work of the Festina Lente charitable organisation, which occupies what were the Walled Gardens and Farm  of Old Connaught House,  as a start.

Since then I am very grateful to Libraries, Archives, Museums, Photo Agencies, Books and people who have all helped me put the page together.

Digging through the internet with every name provided proved most fruitful.

I also need to thank Brian White, Google, Wikipedia and so many resources online.



He was a trained lawyer, in 1803 Plunket was appointed Solicitor-General; and in 1805 he was advanced to be Attorney-General.  He was brought into Parliament by Lord Charlemont in 1798, and was one of the most strenuous opponents of the Union. From the first he strenuously supported the claims of the Catholics, and worked with his friend Henry Grattan for their advancement.

In January 1807, he was returned to British House of Commons as a Whig member for Midhurst, representing the constituency for only three months, although he subsequently returned to the House of Commons in 1812 as the member for Dublin University, a seat which he continued to represent until May 1827.

In 1822 he was reappointed to the office of Attorney-General for Ireland because William Saurin (Attorney General 1807–22) was implacably opposed to Catholic Emancipation, which the Crown by then accepted had become inevitable. Plunket, by contrast, supported Emancipation and was able to work in reasonable harmony with Daniel O’Connell to secure it.

His speech in favour of Emancipation on 21st February 1821 was declared by Peel to stand “nearly the highest in point of ability of any ever heard in this House; combining the rarest powers of eloquence with the strongest powers of reasoning.”

In 1827, relinquishing his seat in the House of Commons, he was raised to the Peerage of the United Kingdom as Baron Plunket, of Newton in the County of Cork and was appointed Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas.

He was an advocate of Catholic Emancipation, and served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1830 to 1841, w

ith a brief interval when the Tories were in power between 1834 and 1835. He was forced into retirement to allow Sir John Campbell to assume office.

In January 1830 he became Lord-Chancellor of Ireland, and held that position, with a short interval, until 1841.

Lord Plunket then withdrew from public life. He spent some time on the Continent, and on his return to Ireland settled at Old Connaught, where he tranquilly passed the rest of his days in the midst of a large circle of family and friends, by whom he was greatly beloved. 

He lived in considerable state: Sir Walter Scott, who visited him at Old Connaught, left a glowing tribute to Plunket’s charm and hospitality, and the excellence of his food and wine.

It has been stated that “Grattan must have visited Loughlinstown, as also another good friend of both, the Hon. W.C. Plunkey (later Lord Plunket) of Old Connaught House. A closer neighbour was General Sir George Cockburn who in 1818 was restyling the house built by his father and naming it Shanganagh Castle. (the medieval Castle of that name had been destroyed by a fire in 1763). It is interesting to think that Sir. Walter Scott, also a friend of Day, may well have visited him in Loughlinstown when staying with Lord Plunket in Old Connaught in 1825”

He died at Old Connaught, 4th January 1854, aged 89, and was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

References for this article here.

Crancroft’s Peerage plots the family tree here.

The Plunket Family Crest.

The shield is shared with the Plunketts.

St. Oliver Plunket (1625-1681) who in 1669 was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland.

Hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1st July 1681, he was the last Catholic martyr to die in England. His Feastday is on 11th July.

The Plunket Family Motto.

Festina Lente: Make haste slowly.

How appropriate!




He was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. 

He served as Dean of Down from 1831 to 1839 before being elevated to the episcopy as Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry in 1839, a position he held until his death in 1866.

Thomas was into expanding the Family estate in Ireland and purchased lands in Co. Mayo. The Estate is laid out in the Land ed Estates archive at NUIG. See it here.

After the death of his father in 1854, he had become the 2nd Baron Plunket.

His middle name is taken from his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth (née Span).

He was buried in the churchyard of his now ruined church at Tourmakeady.

His title was handed on to his brother John.



John was an Irish peer and Queen’s Counsel.

He became 2nd Baron Plunket in 1866 after the death of his brother

He married Charlotte, daughter of the eminent judge Charles Kendal Bushe.

He died in 1871

His sister, Katherine (1820–1932) held the record as the oldest person in Irish history until July 6th, 2015 when Kathleen Snavely died aged 113 Years and 120 days. Katherine lived 111 years and 327 days. More about her here.


(1828 – 1897)

Young William was educated at Cheltenham College and Trinity College Dublin before being appointed chaplain and private secretary to his uncle, the Bishop of Tuam, in 1857.


When Archbishop Plunket married Anne Lee Guinness on June 20th.1863 he received a considerable settlement of £49,000, which provided the means to extend Old Connaught parkland and House and to transform the Walled Garden.  He was well known for having a love of gardening and landscaping.

In 1864, he returned to Dublin as Treasurer of St Patrick’s Cathedral, where he was appointed Preceptor in 1869.

In 1871 he inherited Old Connaught and decided to move into the house and surrounding property as he had spent a lot of time there with his grandfather.

In 1874 the Archbishop purchased some of the adjacent Walcot property which gave room for the extension of the garden in an Eastwards direction by adding a 3rd enclosure of 0.47 ha (1.13 acres) and the Orchard Garden, which are now privately owned.

In 1876, Lord Plunket was consecrated Bishop of Meath, and in 1884 he was finally appointed Archbishop of Dublin, an office he held until his death.

He was Dean of Christ Church Cathedral from 1884 until 1887 

Lord Plunket received an honorary degree from Cambridge University in 1888. 

He also served as a Commissioner of Education from 1895 onwards, and was a senator of the Royal University of Ireland.

He was instrumental in developing the Kildare Place Schools (the Church of Ireland teacher training college), and he was an advocate and supporter of the reformed faith in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

“An Education at Kildare Place”

One of the advantages of relying on public transport is that you end up standing around in parts of the city where you might not otherwise loiter. It was a very pleasant surprise then for me to spot the sign on the side of the National Museum on Kildare St identifying the small square I was standing on as Kildare Place. I’m a little embarrassed about confessing this—I knew it was around Kildare St somewhere, but had never really thought about where.

Having spent a lot of the last two years thinking about the Society that was located in Kildare Place  now that I was there, a lot fell into place.

The Kildare Place Society, more correctly the Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in Ireland, was established by a group of businessmen (Bewley, Guinness, La Touche, etc) in 1811 with the aim of developing a primary education system in Ireland. Over the following twenty years, the Society moved to a position where it established teacher training schools, published over a million schoolbooks, and promoted a secular model of education which ultimately became the basis of the National School system, established in 1831. Although the Society’s demise began after its funds were transferred to the National Board in 1831, it continued on as a Protestant education society (Church Education Society), and ultimately the Church of Ireland Training College. A picture from 1911 shows the training school built on the site in 1884. That building is now the site of the Department of Agriculture, and the only memorial to the first substantial national effort for education provision in Ireland is a street named School House Lane East, across the road.

Kildare Place is also famous, or infamous, for the destruction of two houses on its eastern edge, visible to the left of the 1911 photograph. These houses were built by Richard Castle for Lord Massereene and Sir Skeffington Smyth sometime prior to 1750. (By coincidence, Castle also designed Tyrone House, which became the home of the National Board of Education). After the earlier destruction of No. 1 for the National Museum and No. 4 for the Training School, No. 2 and No. 3 were the only two left on the square. In 1957, it was decided to tear them down.

Lord Wicklow (whose ancestor, in another coincidence, was President of the Kildare Place Society) wrote to the Irish Times in 1957:

The Commissioners of Public Works have announced their intention of demolishing nos. 2 and 3, Kildare Place, Dublin. No. 2… is the finest brick house of the mid-18th century owned by the commissioners; it is probably only second in importance to no. 20 Dominic street, which is recognised as one of the finest 18th-century houses in Ireland…

Vandalism of this kind should not be tolerated. We look to the Commissioners of Public Works to preserve our heritage, not to set a lead in destroying it.

Sadly, this and other letters fell on deaf ears. Kevin Boland ordered the Commissioners of Public Works to destroy the buildings, and they were demolished in 1957. A large brick wall and gate replaced them, giving Kildare Place the appearance of a service entrance to Government Buildings. The subsequent outcry resulted in calls for a society to preserve what was left of Dublin’s Georgian architecture, and soon after in 1957, Desmond Guinness wrote to the Irish Times:

Sir, As the Georgian Society seems to have lapsed, has anyone any objection to my restarting it? Our aims are to bring the photographic records up to date, publish further volumes of the Georgian Society’s books, and fight for the preservation of what is left of Georgian architecture in Ireland.

The Irish Georgian Society was set up the following year. The only survivor at Kildare Place is the statue of Archbishop William Conyngham, 4th Baron Plunket, erected in 1901. He still stands, looking over at 20 Kildare Street. which contains a very similar first floor window as that on Castle’s building on Kildare Place. This building is sadly in an advanced state of deterioration, as described more fully in this article on The Irish Aesthete website.

The Archbishops of Canterbury, Dublin and Armagh at Old Connaught House. A rare gathering!

Archbishop Plunket died in 1897.

There is a book published about him here. This link is to a Blogspot – Irish Church Records.

Archbishop Plunket's Statue at Kildare Place.
Archbishop Plunket’s Statue at Kildare Place.

There is a Plunket Museum  at the Church of Ireland College of Education. Link here.

Archbishop Plunket’s Statue at Kildare Place.

A statue to commemorate the Archbishop stands between the National Museum of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture on Kildare Street, Dublin. Did you know that it is the only statue to commemorate an Archbishop in Dublin? It’s also the only statue on Kildare Street. The statue stands on the original site of the Church of Ireland Teacher Training College


The 1900 Ordinance Survey Map or Old Connaught

The 1900 Ordinance Survey Map or Old Connaught


(1864 – 1920)

He was born in Dublin and  educated at Harrow and Trinity College Dublin

Lord Plunket entered the Diplomatic Service and was’sent to Rome’ in 1889 as an attaché to the British Embassy there. 

In 1892, he was appointed to the embassy in Constantinople, and finally retired two years later.

In 1897 he inherited Old Connaught, and in 1900 he was appointed Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.


Lord Plunket, aged about 35 enjoying a cigarette in the Pavilion (now known as the Chapel for some reason) built by his father some years earlier. Someone in the House was obviously interested in Photography. Note the photo’ print behind him, to the right, it’s the same as another in the collection gathered by Eddie Chandler.


The 1901 Census shows the family at home at Old Connaught

Following that Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand (1904 – 1910) which meant that he didn’t have much time to stay in Old Connaught.

Lord Plunket and his Staff, Auckland, NZ
Lord Plunket and his Staff, Auckland, NZ
Around these times the Plunkets left Old Connaught for London.

Photographs from the Eddie Chandler Collection. Taken around 1901.




Leaving Bray station we walk up the Quinsborough Road, cross Bray bridge into Little Bray, and after about half a mile turn up the road to the left, presently entering the village of Old Connaught, where may be seen the ruin of an ancient church overgrown with ivy and elder trees. The name of the area is properly Old Conna, but the only instance in which this form has been preserved is the name, Old Conna Hill, a modern residence about three-quarters of a mile to the north of the village.

Early in the 16th century the leda of Old Connaught came into the possession of the Walsh family of Shangagagh, who maintained a residence on the site of the present Old Connaught House until after the Treaty of Limerick when the family severed their links with the locality and went abroad.

Both Lord and Lady Plunket were supporters of charities and welfare. Lord Plunket was a freemason and during his term as Governor of New Zealand (1906-1909), he was also Grand Master of New Zealand’s Grand Lodge.

His wife Victoria, whom he had married in 1894, was the daughter of the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. They had eight children.

Lady Plunket was patroness of the Plunket Society, an organisation still operating in New Zealand promoting the health and wellbeing of mothers and children.

Link to their History Page here.


A fan of the game of Cricket, Lord Plunket began his role as Governor of New Zealand by donating his own trophy; the Plunket Shield was established in 1906. The  trophy was intended as a challenge trophy and was presented, initially, to the province with the best provincial record over the previous season.

The University of Wellington, New Zealand write about the Baron Plunket here.


Lord William Lee Plunket died in London in 1920.



(1899 – 1938)

Lady Sylvia Ashley and Doug at the races with their close friends, Lord and Lady Plunket.

In 1922 he married Dorothé Mabel Barnato (Née Lewis) and the daughter of Fannie Ward and Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th. Marquess of Londonderry(!), widow of Capt. Jack Barnato, R.A.F., and daughter of Joseph Lewis Mayfair.


Lord Terence at Eaton in 1937 with his wife Dorothé  and son, Patrick. 

OnFebruary 24th 1938, Terrence Plunket and his wife were killed in an air crash in California.

After the death of Lord and Lady Plunket, their three sons were raised by the British Royal family and Lord Plunket’s sister, the Hon. Helen Rhodes and her husband, Arthur Tahu Rhodes, of New Zealand.

The boys were educated at Eaton and stayed at Windsor and Buckingham Palace.



(1923 – 1975)

Patrick Terrence was to be the last of the Plunket family to own Old Connaught.

He was the first son of Terence Conyngham Plunket, 6th Baron Plunket of Newton and his wife, the former Dorothé Mabel Lewis. They were killed in a plane crash in the US when he was 15 years old. He was brought up by his grand parents.

He was educated at Eton, and then joined that Irish Guards before becoming Equerry to King George VI (1949 – 52), then to Queen Elizabeth (1952 – 54) and subsequently Deputy Master of the Household of the Royal Household 1954 – 1975. In modern language – Head of Operations at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Holyrood House and Hillsborough Castle when the Queen was in residence.

As a result of his career, Old Connaught ceased to be a family residence and the gardens were abandoned. It is thought that perhaps they were leased by Mr Charles Britton until 1946 when the estate was sold.

A Daily Telegraph report cited Lord Plunket at Number 3 in their “10 people who’ve had a big influence on the Queen”;

Royal aide Patrick Plunket was the outgoing, effervescent deputy master of the Queen’s household who livened up the stuffy corridors of Buckingham Palace. As a childhood friend, he was one of the few people outside the Royal Family who could talk freely to the Queen. He was the “social glue” that brought sparkle to the Royal Family’s entertaining, organising parties for the younger royals and private events for the Queen.

Ben Pimlott describes, in his biography of the Queen, how Baron Plunket once scolded the Queen about her outfit, saying: “You can’t possibly wear shoes like that”, and she replied: “Well, I can’t see what’s wrong with them.”It is said Baron Plunket revived the Queen’s interest in the arts, which had lapsed, and in later years she took delight in giving guests a guided tour of Buckingham Palace’s picture gallery.


DATE:November 1951 D:Princess Margaret and Lord Plunket left British Embassy in Paris enroute to a party /original photo

©roman hanson


Queen Elizabeth II and President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower (front, left) inspected a Guard of Honour, with Commanding Officer Lt Col Robert E Phelps (front, centre), Col R L Schulz (behind left) and Equerry Patrick Plunket (behind, right), as Her Majesty arrives at the Military Air Transport Service Terminal in Washington DC. October 17th 1957.

As a result of his career, Old Connaught ceased to be a family residence and the gardens were abandoned. It is thought that perhaps they were leased by Mr Charles Britton until 1946 when the estate was sold.

Patrick Terence William Span Plunket, 7th Baron Plunket – by Cecil Beaton(!)

Over the course of his career as a Courtier, the Queen promoted him and bestowed on him every honour in her power to give. It is said that they grew very close, as he did with the rest of the Royal Family.

In 1975 he died, suffering from cancer.


(1925 – 2013)

Robin Rathmore Plunket became 8th Baron in 1975 on the death of his elder brother Patrick Terrence. He sat in the House of Lords on various occasions.

Lord Plunket was Christened on February 1st. 1926 at St Saviour’s Church, Walton Street, London.

He was the second son of Terence Conyngham Plunket, 6th Baron Plunket of Newton and his wife, the former Dorothé Mabel Lewis. They were killed in a plane crash in the US when he was 13 years old. He was brought up by his grand parents.

His Godmother was his parents’ friend, the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.





In August 1935 Right Honourable Patrick Terrence William Spam Plunket leased Old Connaught House and some lands to the Christian Brothers of St. Marys, Marino, The house then became a Christian Brother Senior Novitiate School.

Below is a piece from the Christian Brothers Educational Record of 1936 kindly provided by the Christian Brothers Archive.

In 1962 the Leasehold of the Estate was renewed by the Christian Brothers of Marino.

It was run as a senior cycle secondary school for novitiates or students engaged in a special period of preparation before a candidate is formally admitted to Religious Life.   The Brothers who lived there at the time consisted of the Brothers who taught at the school and the Brothers who worked in the kitchens and the farm, including the kitchen garden. The farm mainly consisted of cattle, chickens, pigs and most of the farm was in tillage. The farm was run as a business at one point, as the Brothers sold carrots, cabbage, potatoes, apples, pears and plums.

There is very little recorded information about the Brothers time at Old Connaught House, then called ‘Coláiste Chiaráin’

From the writings of Athgarvan;

Many of my Christian Brother friends will remember spending a year or two of study at Coláiste Chiaráin in Bray, Co. Wicklow. The building and grounds originally belonged to the aristocratic Plunkett Family from the early 1800s. They established a wonderful Walled Garden on the property on Old Connaught Avenue. The family motto was ‘Festina Lente’ (Hasten Slowly – the Plunket Family motto).


A Chara,

I was listening to the history show on RTE radio 1 on Sunday the 20th of March 2016.
There was an article regarding Old Connaught House, Bray.
There was a request for stories regarding the said house.
When I was a lot younger in the early 1970’s ,I used to work on the farm that the Christain brothers had at the house.
It was a great place to work, the brothers were friendly and thought myself and other youngsters from the little bray area how to farm.
They thought us how to deal with animals , from the large bull,the cows ,pigs,sheep and chickens.
I cant recall the name of the brother who was in charge of the farm ,but he was a good laugh, smoked like a chimney and cursed like a trooper.
I learned to drive a tractor there and also crashed it.
During the summer we worked there for the school holidays ,every lunch time we all jumped onto the trailer and be driving by the brother up to the house for our lunch.
I will always remember how much food there was on the table and it was the first time, that I tasted honey straight from a hive  it was still in a honey comb placed in a bowl and deep  golden in colour.
The end of every day we would all again jump on the trailer and the same brother would drive us all home ,at weekends on a Saturday, we would get a four stone bag of spuds and a bag of vegetables.
My mother was always happy with this load of food.

I can recall bailing hay,picking cabbage,potatoes,milking cows,and feeding young calves ,a task harder than you think.
The worst job was cleaning out the cow shed or horror of horrors the shed where the big bull was in winter,no health and safety in those days .
The pigs were a law onto themselves,and grabbing a runt from a sow was a dangerous matter indeed,the pigs would run at you as you ran out of the sty with the runt,she would nearly jump over the sty wall to get at you.
The runt would be put safely with others under a red lamp to keep warm and fed by us,as the mother would kill it by placing her whole body weight on it.
This farm was a great place for young poor lads and their families ,we got paid a few bob,fed well and my mother got free food for the family.
I worked at the farm for a number of years while at school ,it has found memories for me of sunny days good fun and messing about and to get paid ,sure what else would you want.
I wish you well on your project for the history of the house.

Mise le Meas


In 1972 the Christian Brothers decided to leave Old Connaught, which was then sold or leased off in sections.

In 1985 the Leasehold of the House was renewed by the Christian Brothers of Marino.

They sold the Walled Garden and Old Stable Yard to a Mr James Carroll, who closed the gates of the property and locked it. It was left idle for over 20 years. 

In 1996, Mr Carroll leased the Walled Gardens and farmyard to the Festina Lente Foundation who took on the great task of restoring the gardens.

In 1989, a scene in the the Jim Sheridan film My Left Foot was shot at Old Connaught House. The film, starring Daniel Day Lewis and Acadamy Award winner Brenda Fricker.

On October 23rd 1990 the Leasehold of the House was renewed by the Christian Brothers of St. Helen’s, Booterstown.

The same day, the Leasehold of the Estate was Leased to members of the Legionaires of Christ in the form of Fr. Alvaro Corcuera (link to Wikipedia), Fr. Oscar Nadar and Fr. Javier Garcia.  A company called Oak Language Centres shared the Lease.

On March 30th. 1999 the Estate was sold to Eamonn Colman of Carrickmines, for £1,100,000

On June 27th 2000 the Estate was sold to Townpark Estates Limited for many times the previous sale price.

Workers of various crafts in the Portico of Old Connaught House during the Restoration and Building works.


Click on an Image to see a much larger version with great detail.

2000/2001 – 2016