Abandoned ireland


Williamstown House,


Documenting our Heritage

Williamstown House, Meath

Many thanks to Peadar O'Colmain for this excellent research and write up:

Williamstown House in County Meath was built around 1770 as a home for the Cuffe family.

The Cuffe Family originated in Somerset, England. Originally they had a manor house at Rowlands, between Taunton and Yeovil which still stands today with a Great Hall, about 25-foot high, with mullioned windows and plasterwork dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.

The family have a long history in Ireland from the time when Captain John Cuffe adventured to Ireland in 1561 during the Elizabethan age.

The "Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, July to December 1811" describes for us; "At Williamstown Co. Meath, the right honourable and Reverend Hamilton Cuffe and uncle of the present earl of Desart and Rector of Drumcondra and Athboy." He appears in "Kells United Parishes" in 1803. Reverend Hamilton Cuffe, his two children, John and Lucy and his wife, we are told convincingly is called "Mrs Cuffe". He would later have three more daughters, Nicola, Dorothea and Isabella. The son, John Otway Cuffe of Williamsown House Co Meath died on March 15th 1833.

The house was built in a Palladian style and set on 280 acres. It was originally a three story house over basement with just five bays. It had a hipped-slate roof, carved limestone doorcase with Doric columns and an entablature with a pediment above and a pedimented window over the porch.

The house was modified around 1830 with two more bays being added to either side giving the house the nine-bay frontal appearance that we see today. The stonework is ashlar limestone and the four newer bays match the original structure perfectly. Williamstown House was once in a Parkland setting but this is now all farmland.

It was the first house in Kells to have electricity.

The house was later owned by the Garnett family who also altered the building. John Garnett was at one time the Bishop of Clogher. Originally an English family they were extremely wealthy, owning property in Dublin. They had residences in Athcarne Castle, Kells, Summerseat and Williamstown House.

A Rev George Garnett died in 1856 and left the place to his eldest son, William Stawell Garnett (born 1838). Rev George Garnett is also listed as having owned 304 acres at Knockglass, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo. During and after the Great Famine many of the Garnett family left Ireland and moved to The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji. Some of them also moved back to England.

The next owners of Williamstown were the Dyas family, owners of the Athboy Lodge Stables. The "Genealogy library reference book" for the 1870s lists a Mr. Nathaniel H. Dyas, of Athboy Lodge, Athboy, as owning 1,231 acres.

Mr Henry Mortimer Dyas was the owner of the horse "Manifesto", the first horse to win the Aintree Grand National twice (1897 and 1899). The "Manifesto" restaurant at Aintree Racecourse is still called after him. Henry Mortimer Dyas was the subject of a 1913 Court Case in which the jury found against him to the tune of £ 482.00 for assaulting a barmaid Mrs Sarah Ann Williams with whom he had been living. The Judge, Mr Justice Wright desccribed him as a "peculiar man, lax in morality". The "Commission of the Peace in Ireland " in 1887 describes him as a "land agent and grazier". He died on August 25th. 1915. Aged 57 years and is commemorated with an inscription in St Columba's Church, Kells. Erected by his wife Hilda.

On leaving Williamstown they willed the house to a Miss Julietta Marie Emily "Judy" McCormick of 'Shandon', Monkstown, Co. Dublin. This may have been her single and her married name.

She Married Samuel Smith McCormick J.P. They had eight children including a son, John Hugh Gardner McCormick (born 4 April 1886) who was killed in the the First World War on Oct. 19th. 1914.

There was a Brass Lectern in St Columba's Church of Ireland in Kells with an inscription saying;

"Sine Timore" "To the Glory of God and in loving memory of John Hugh Gardiner Mc.Cormick of Williamstown, Co. Meath. Captain, Royal Warwick Regt. He was mortally wounded in action. Oct. 19th. 1914, and died the same night at a Convent Hospital in German hands at Menin. Aged 28 years." "Fear God and keep his Commandments". The lectern is now Dalkey Church in Dublin.

"Sine Temore" is a latin phrase meaning "without fear"

John Hugh was single and left his estate to his father. He is commemorated on Panel 8 of the British War Memorial at Menin Gate, Ypres (now Ieper), Belgium, and the Great War Memorial, Monkstown Church of Ireland, Co. Dublin.

His mother Julietta McCormick herself died on July 30th 1951 and is buried in grave 1290 in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin.

Miss McCormack had a maid and friend called Rosie Guerin who then remained living in the lodge of Williamstown House until she passed away in 1997. Her daughter, Anne was born and reared in Williamstown House.

From the sixties or seventies onwards Williamstown House has been abandoned and today is a ruin.

Thanks to Peadar O'Colmain for this great write up.