Corkagh House, Corkagh Demesene, Clondalkin, County Dublin
Corkagh House, Corkagh Demesene, Clondalkin, County Dublin
Corkagh House was located in the townland of Corkagh Demesne, to the south of Clondalkin. One of the earliest references to Corkagh dates back to 1324 when it is mentioned as being part of the lands in Clondalkin belonging to the then Archbishop of Dublin, Alexander de Bicknor. Historical evidence has indicated that there may have been a castle on the site in the vicinity of the former Corkagh House. As the house was completely demolished in the early 1960's, there are no features left visible above the ground to be assessed. The historian Liam Ua Broin, in 1944, describes how Corkagh House 'stood within the moat of a castle, ruins of which consisted of an arched entrance, portion of a battlemented parapet and eight windows'.
The former Corkagh House originally started out as a small farmhouse built circa 1650. Corkagh House was then extended between 1702 and 1714 when a large wing was added on to the existing buildings. The addition had eight bays and a parapeted roof. At some later stage a porch was added to the front entrance of the later wing. There was a substantial walled garden, most of which remains, though in an overgrown state. An arched yew walk, a beech hedge rectangle grown to the size of trees and the remnants of a pond are still to be seen. There was a stove house and a number of glass houses, including one for peaches and one for vines, and numerous other fruit trees.
Before the plantations in the early 1600s it would appear that some of the lands of which Corkagh is comprised are recorded as being under the ownership of a Ralph Mills and then subsequently in the ownership of the Duke of Yorke. In 1660, a Mr. William Trundell is recorded as living in Corkagh House. On a map dated 1703 it is shown that part of Corkagh was owned by a Stephen Browne. In mid 1703, Lewis Chaigneau, a French settler and merchant who resided in Dublin, acquired 104 acres of Corkagh some of which had previously been forfeited by a Peter Nottingham. From 1725 to 1845 references refer to the Chaigneaus and Finlays as being parties to twenty leases and conveyances of lands in the Corkagh, Kilmatead and Rathcoole areas. In 1716, a Mr. Thomas Finlay is recorded as renting Corkagh House and eventually purchased it in 1750 at an auction in Dick's Coffee House, Skinner's Row, Dublin.
From then on until 1959, over 243 years in total, the descendants of Thomas Finlay resided at Corkagh and gradually acquiring lands which eventually made up Corkagh Demesne. From about 1716 to 1815 Corkagh was renowned for its gunpowder milling industry, operated by several people over the years including Nicholas Greuber and the Arabin family. The remains of one mill can still be seen in Corkagh Park today and there are several ruins at Kilmatead as well, to the south of the Park. Thomas Finlay, his son John and his grandson Thomas owned a bank at Upper Ormond Quay from the mid eighteenth century to 1829. John became a colonel and was also active in politics. He was MP for Kilmallock during 1776 - 1783, and for the County of Dublin during 1790 - 1797. He was a leader of the Uppercross Fusiliers. Later he was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Dublin Militia and was involved in rounding up rebels in the Clondalkin area in the 1798 Rebellion. Col. John Finlay's son, Thomas Finlay, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Co. Dublin Light Infantry. He died in 1837, leaving Corkagh to his son, Rev. John William Finlay. The Reverend is the occupant listed in Griffith's Valuation of 1851.
The Reverend's son Henry Thomas Finlay was a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 5th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, having previously served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was also a Justice for the Peace. Henry's three sons were all killed in the First World War so his elder daughter, Edith Maud Olivia, became the heir to Corkagh Demesne. Edith, or 'Edie' as she was known, married George Pomeroy Arthur Colley, bringing Corkagh into a new line of ownership. The Colley family had great military connections. One ancestor was the Duke of Wellington, of Waterloo fame. Another was Sir George Pomeroy-Colley, a Major General in the Boer War. George was actively involved in the Royal Irish Automobile Club's trial events until his death in 1933. His son George 'Dudley' Pomeroy Colley (1911-1959) was a keen motor racing car enthusiast. In 1951, he wrote a book about his motoring experiences entitled 'Wheel Patter', which has recently been republished by his son Anthony. Dudley did well in national and international races held in Ireland over the years and was also instrumental in setting up midget car racing in Ireland. Dudley also set up and ran the Corkagh Dairies.
When Dudley died in 1959 the remaining family moved into Kilmatead in the townland of Corkagh, their property to the south of Corkagh House, and the main house and most of the land was sold to Sir John Galvin. He owned a racing and showjumping stud as well as rearing prize-winning cattle at Corkagh. The Harty family ran the stud for Sir John. Captain Cyril Harty was a founder member of the Irish army showjumping team and a member of the first Irish team to win the Aga Khan Cup. Captain Harty's son Eddie rode and trained the horses on Treemare Stud, including Harlequin in the Rome Olympics in 1960, and he also won the Grand National on Highland Wedding in 1969. His brother John rode San Michelle in the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately Corkagh House was demolished during Sir John Galvin's time, though some fine barns and outbuildings remain. Dublin County Council acquired the lands in the 1980's and the remaining buildings are being used as a parks depot for Corkagh Park by South Dublin County Council at the moment.
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