History of the House

Newtownpark House has a rich and interesting history.

These lands, originally known as Newtown Little, are first mentioned at the time of the dissolution of the religious houses. The case of their spiritualties was given to the Dean of Christ Church, and their tithes were leased by the Chapter, in 1564, to Nicholas Cor, chaplain and Gerald Long, a yeoman, of Simonscourt. In the sixteen century, the lands, on which there was a good slated house, were in the possession of the owners of Stillorgan, and were occupied by members of the Wolverston family. They continued in their possession during the next century, Francis Wolverston being in occupation of them before the Commonwealth, and James Wolverston, then the owner of Stillorgan, being confirmed in their possession after the Restoration. At the time James Brackenbury, possibly a son of the Dean’sGrange resident, was living in the house, which was subsequently occupied by James Reyly, who contributed to the subsidy assessment “in goods”, and was probably a shopkeeper. As the eighteenth century advanced, villas were built, and the lands became populated.

By 1805 John Armit, Secretary of the Ordnance Board and a wealthy army agent and banker was living in the house. He was married in 1795 to a daughter of a Dublin alderman, and Brian Bolger, the quantity surveyor, who frequently worked for the architect Morrison, measured the house for painting in August 1805. Armit’s trustees, William Eddington Worthington and Benjamin Ball, sold the house as directed in his will in 1839 to Henry Samuel Close for £4,000 sterling. He was the third son of a distinguished Armagh family who had strong East India Company connections. In 1871 a lease was granted by the Earl of Carysfort to Robert Barry Close and Samuel Holt Close of the portion fronting Newtownpark Avenue on the South of the entrance gates, but the Closes had been in possession of this part under a previous sub-lease. Close’s youngest daughter was married to John Burton, an Indian cavalry officer and third son of William Burton of Burton Hall, Co. Carlow.

Henry Samuel Close, the original purchaser, died in 1867 and the property remained in the ownership of the Close family until 1908 when it passed under the will of Robert Barry Close to John Henry Burton, a nephew of Robert Barry Close, (son of John Burton), and after his death in 1940, the younger brother Percy, of Altidore Castle, Co. Wicklow sold it in 1946 to Senator Edward Augustine McGuire.

Under the ownership of Mr. McGuire, Newtownpark House rapidly became the ideal background for his ever growing collection of 17th and 18th century European paintings, English and Irish furniture, and Chinese and Continental porcelain. Mr. McGuire knew intimately the Dublin art world before the last war, and it was a fruitful time for collecting, as so many of Ireland’s great houses were in the process of being broken up. Mr. McGuire could be called on of the fathers of artistic appreciation in Ireland and over a half a century there was practically no committee connected with artistic matters that was not graced by him. He was on Ireland’s first Arts Council, the Cultural Relations Committee and on the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland. He was a member of the Irish Senate from 1948 until 1966. In the thirties he was one of the few pioneers interested in the history of Irish painters and some of his valuable articles on Irish pastellistes appeared in the Connoisseur and the Studio. Many pastels by Hugh Douglas Hamilton and other Dublin artists were represented in his collection.

Newtownpark House and its lands were sold to the Keane family in 1984. Over a 2 year period Pat Keane renovated Newtownpark House to be the fine Nursing Home it is today. The Nursing Home opened in 1987. Pat died in 1993; however, the Nursing Home continues to be run by the Keane family.

Sources:

Ball, Francis Elrington (1902): A History of the County of Dublin’ – The People, Parishes and Antiquities from the Earliest Times to the close of the eighteenth Century (Thom & Co.,): Dublin.

Catalogue for sale of contents of Newtownpark House, Monday, September 20, 1976, held by Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd., and Hamilton and Hamilton.