Palmerstown House, in the townland of Palmerstown Lower, was erected by Rt. Hon. John Hely Hutchinson, Secretary of State for Ireland, and Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, in the late eighteenth century. Palmerstown is so called because a palmer or pilgrim to the Holy Land named Ailred founded the Palmers' Hospital there in the twelfth century. It subsequently was called the Hospital of St. John the Baptist without the New Gate of Dublin and merged with the Augustinian Order. By the time the establishment was dissolved in 1539, along with many other religious houses, it was quite a substantial property, with large house, church, great bawn, mill, kiln and much land.
The property was then granted to Sir John Allen, Irish Chancellor at the time, and a large property owner in the wider Lucan area. During the seventeenth century the main possessor of the property was Sir Maurice Eustace, Prime Serjeant at Law and Speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Following Eustace's death in 1665, Palmerstown came into the possession of Sir John Temple, who was Solicitor-General for Ireland during the reign of Charles II. After the Battle of the Boyne he was also Attorney-General For Ireland. Following his death in 1705 his son sold the property to Robert Wilcocks, who then bequeathed it to his nephew of the same name. By the mid eighteenth century the Palmerstown Fair, held on St. Laurence's Day, was flourishing. There were also quite a number of mills in the area, including a logwood mill and a linen mill.
The Rt. Hon. John Hely Hutchinson purchased Palmerstown from Robert Wilcocks in about the year 1763. By this time the property included a long list of offices, pigeon house, cider house, granary etc. The peerage of Donoughmore was conferred upon Hutchinson's wife as a barony and descended to his eldest son. It was later merged in an earldom. The earls continued in residence at Palmerstown until the mid eighteenth century. Lord Donoughmore, Lord Lieutenant of Tipperary, died in Palmerstown House on the night of Wednesday, 3rd July, 1856.
Palmerstown House was sold on behalf of Richard John, Earl of Donoughmore, to Charles J. Ward, of Clopton House in Warwickshire. Ward disposed of the house shortly afterwards. It was occupied from 1862 to 1870 by William Cherry. After a two year vacancy, the premises became the Stewart Institution for Lunatics. Dr. Henry Hutchinson Stewart was particularly interested in the care of mentally handicapped children, and carried out important pioneering work in this area of medicine. His private practice subsidised this work. He ran a number of private establishments in the Lucan area, and, from 1879, the Institution's functions were formally divided. Two bodies occupied the one site: the Stewart Institution for Imbecile Children, and the Asylum for Lunatic Patients of the Middle Classes. Mentally challenged children are still cared for at the Stewart Institution, and the Asylum, which occupied the main house, is now the Palmerstown House Private Hospital. The original Georgian house has been much added to as the hospital has grown, but it is interesting to note that the history of the locality has come full circle, in caring for the sick once again.
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