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Shanganagh Park House Community Centre is owned by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council & Managed by a Voluntary Board of Management – Shanganagh Park House Management Co. Ltd.

History of Shanganagh Park House

Until the mid 1820’s there were very few houses in the area where Shankill village now stands. Most of the land was farmed. and there was only the occasional large house such as Abingdon. Shanganagh Castle or Sherrington. In the late 1820’s, however the landowners granted a number of leases of land for the building of houses or villas for the gentry. It was at this time houses such as St Rita’s Lurganbrae, St Brendan’s, Dorney Court, Dunsandle/St Alphonso and Crinken House were built. The road to Dublin had been improved a few years before to facilitate mail coaches, and the area had become an attractive one to live in for those who could afford to commute to the city.

It was at this time, in August 1827, that William Hopper took a lease of about 160 acres of land at Shanganagh at an annual rent of £420, and built a house which he called Shanganagh House, but which we now know as Shanganagh Park House. He probably set about building the house immediately, and it was certainly built by 1832 when he took out a mortgage on it. The land which accompanied the house stretched all the way from Shanganagh River to Corbawn Lane, and included almost all of the land between Shanganagh Road and the sea, except for the grounds of Abingdon and the gun battery.

The names of the fields reflected their previous uses, with names such as Long Pea Field and Water Hole Field, and most of the land was arable, with just a small amount of pasture alongside Corbawn Lane where Eaton Brae now stands and alongside the Shanganagh River. The field where the house was built was known as the Lower Pea Field. William Hopper continued to farm most of the land. Shortly after he acquired the property, a stone coffin containing human bones was uncovered when a field was being ploughed. It is probable that this was a pre-Christian burial, but, unfortunately, there is no record of exactly where on the land it was found.

William Hopper was a merchant, and came from a family of merchants from Cork city. In 1815 he had married Susannah MeCreery, daughter of a Dublin merchant, and it was Susannah who came with him to Shanganagh House. However, she died, and William Hopper married again. At Shanganagh, he made his mark on the local community, and was elected to the first Board of Guardians of the Rathdown Union when it was set up to help victims of the Great Famine in the 1840’s. He died on Christmas Day, 1857, leaving his widow Lydia Hopper, who stayed on in the house for a little over a year, before leaving to live in England.

For many years after William Hopper’s death, his house and land at Shanganagh was owned by trustees appointed by his will, and they leased the house to tenants. They also leased plots of land for building, and it was on these plots that Eaton Brae, Athgoe Park (now Beechfield nursing home) and Clonasleigh (on the site of the shopping centre) were built. There plots were leased in 1858, a few months after William Hoppers death, and it is more than likely that the trustees needed the income to settle William Hopper’s affairs and to provide for his widow.

Shanganagh House was refurbished at this time, and it was estimated that it could be let as furnished accommodation for the summer season at £100. However, instead it was let to Richard Manders at £300 a year. Although this rent was substantially less than William Hopper had been paying, it related to only part of the original land, as the trustees leased the house with only 37 acres. The rest of the land had either been let for building or was leased separately as farming land. The Manders family had been well know Dublin manufacturers since the 18th Century and had bakeries spread throughout the city served by a flour mill at Islandbridge. Branches of the family were also involved in various professions.Richard Manders died in January 1864 while on a visit to the Pyrenees.

The house was then rented to Matthew P D’Arcy, who was a brewer. His father had acquired the Anchor Brewery in Usher Street in 1818 and by the time he moved to Shanganagh House, Matthew D’Arcy was the sole proprietor. His town house was on the east side of Merrion Square, but he also had Shanganagh House because, like most of the gentry at the time, he also wanted a substantial house in the county. Hewas elected member of Parliament for Wexford in 1868, and held the seat until 1874. Matthew DArey left the house in the early 1870’s and moved to Kilcroney House in Bray, where he died in 1889. The Anchor Brewery went on to become the second largest brewery in Ireland but eventually closed in 1926.

Shanganagh House was then occupied briefly by James Kennedy, senior partner in the firm of Charles and James Kennedy. Rectifying Distillers and General Merchants of Capel Street. After his short stay at Shanganagh, James Kennedy returned to his town house in Fitzwilliam Square, where he died in 1878.

In April 1874, Samuel Boyd took a lease on Shanganagh House. and this included 57 acres, with a rent of £430 a year. Samuel Boyd was a very successful merchant. lie had acquired a pharmaceutical business) at 46 Mary Street in the mid 1840’s. A few years later he joined John Goodwin in acquiring a druggists at 6 Merrion Row and this traded as Boyd and Goodwin, though Goodwin Was the chemist on the premises. By 1860, Samuel Boyd had also entered into partnership with John G. Boileau whose family had been in business in Bride Street as wholesale druggists, chemists and colour merchants. This business continued at Bride Street under the name Boileau and Boyd. In addition to this, Samuel Boyd entered into business with Alfred J Alexander around 1866 as Boyd and Alexander, manufacturing chemists, with their works at sir John Rogerson’s Quay. by 1878, Alfred Alexander was no longer involved, and the company became Samuel Boyd, Son & Co. After Samuel Boyd’s death in 1894, this company was taken over by the United Alkali Company, with Samuel Boyd’s son, also Samuel Boyd, as manager. This was a Liverpool based company with an Irish operation which continued until the late 1920’s. The factory at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay became a Corporation yard at the turn of the century. Meanwhile the business at Mary’s Street and Merrion Row joined that at Bride Street under the name of Boileau and Boyd. This company remained at Merrion Row until about 1928, at Mary Street until the late 1950’s and at Bride Street until the late 1960’s. The company is now based at Walkinstown as Boileau & Boyd, Ltd, wholesale chemist.

It seems to have been Samuel Boyd who changed the name of the house to Shanganagh Park, as this name came into use in the mid to fate 1870’s. He stayed in the house until the late I 880’s. when he moved to Killiney. In the early 1890’s, Shanganagh Park was occupied by Robert Murdoch.

In 1898, Frederick C Ramsey took a twenty one year lease on the house at a rent of £350 a year. However, he stayed less than seven months and surrendered his lease in 1899. Shanganagh Park lay vacant for a time after this, before Patrick Field acquired the property in 1902.

Patrick Field was a farmer. Originally from County Dublin, he had moved to Kildare around the time of his marriage in about 1871, where he stayed for about ten years before moving back to live in his parents’ house at Ballybrack. He had already started to acquire land in the Shanganagh area in 1894 when he purchased the land between Shanganagh Road and the Dublin road, except for the grounds of St. Brendan’s, Lurganbrae and St. Rita’s. He then acquired the land on the west side of the Dublin road between Loughlinstown Hospital and Rathmichael School. Ultimately, he came to hold about 184 acres of land at Shanganagh, most of which he farmed. Some of the land he sold off as building plots, presumably to meet some immediate need for cash, and it was on these that houses such as Arisaig, Woodhank, Cremorne and Knockoulart were built. He became the ground landlord of not only those new houses, but also of older houses such as Beechiands.

Shanganagh Park was vacant for a while after Patrick Field bought it and he seems to have carried out some improvements on the house. It is likely, though, that the wing with the billiard room was added later, around 1914. This sumptuous room with its panelling was the showpiece of the house until it was destroyed by fire in January 1992. The Field family remained in Shanganagh Park until the late 1950’s though Patrick Field died in 1924 and his son, Patrick, died in 1950. It was the younger Patrick Field who, in 1928, gave land to the parish on which, in 1933, St Anne’s Church was built. Shanganagh Park was vacant for a time around 1960, after which Dr. M A Baradi moved in. He stayed until the house and its land were acquired by Dublin County Council in 1978 for building development.

In 1987, the original gateway and gates to Shanganagh Park House were removed from Shanganagh Road by the County Council. After cleaning and restoration, they were erected opposite Shanganagh Cemetery as the entrance to the new park and playing fields which, appropriately enough, have been named Shanganagh Park.

This history was kindly supplied by the Rathmichael Historical Society.

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