Abandoned ireland


Summerhill Demesne,

Co. Meath.

Documenting our Heritage

The town of Summerhill was originally known as 'The Knock' or 'Lynchs' Knock' until 1667 when it was renamed Summerhill.

The ancient seat of the Norman-Irish Lynch family had been granted to Bishop Henry Jones for his services provided as Scoutmaster General to Cromwell’s Army. Bishop Henry Jones, Bishop of Meath in 1661, sold Summerhill and many other townlands to Sir Hercules Langford.

Lynch's Castle, located on the Sumerhill Demesne was then occupied by the Langfords until it was abandoned in the 1730s when Summerhill house was built by Hercules Langford Rowley the 2nd Baron Langford. The old Lynch castle remained on the demesne as a folley.

Summerhill house was considered to be one of the most dramatic of the Irish Palladian Houses. The house is accredited to architects Edward Lovett Pearce and Richard Cassells, the greatest architects working in Ireland in the 18th Century.

Summerhill house was damaged by fire on a number of occasions and then on the 4th February 1921 it was set on fire by the Old IRA and completely destroyed.

The account of the evening of 4th February is that the Colonel and Mrs Rowley were away. The five servants who lived in the house were sitting together in the kitchen when they heard a knock on the back door. The English butler did not open the door and some minutes later a whistle was blown and the back door battered in. The servants escaped through a door into the basement and made there way out into the darkness. As they walked down the avenue the house was dowsed in petrol and the fire started in a number of places.

In 1922 Colonel Rowley, the 6th Baron Langford, sought compensation from the Free State Government and after three years of negotiation with the Compensation Board a sum of £43,500 was paid to the Colonel, approximately one third of the value of the house and contents destroyed in the fire. Colonel Rowley invested the money in gilt-edged stocks and moved to Middlesex, England.

Summerhill house stood as a ruin until it was totally demolished in 1970.

Summerhill is also the site of one of the more important battles in 17th century Ireland, the Battle of Dungan's Hill, where the Irish army marching towards Dublin was intercepted and destroyed resulting in over 3000 deaths.


Summerhill Demesne is private property.

Co. Meath.