Enfield and Rathmolyon Historical Houses
by Noel French
Johnstown house is located just outside Enfield in the south of the county. In fact the village of Enfield is in the townland of Johnstown. Jim Prendergast, who was born in Johnstown House in 1940, has written a history of the house.
Balyna House is now part of the Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
Balyna Estate was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to Calogh O’Moore because their lands in Laois had been confiscated. Calogh’s father, Rory Og O’More, had led a rebellion against the queen in the 1560s and 1570s. In 1577, the government invited the O’Mores to a peace conference at Mullaghmast near Ballitore, Co. Kildare. When the forty O’Mores arrived the English opened fire with their muskets and killed them all.. Rory O’More is said to have fled into the woods at Balyna when Cromwell’s soldiers approached. To ensure that he found his path to the woods he plunged his walking stick into the ground. Managing to elude his enemies he exited the wood where he had placed his walking stick only to find it had begun to grow. It grew into a tall Scots pine and a legend grew in that family that as long as the tree was healthy the Mores would stay at Balyna. In 1957 the tree declined and died and shortly afterwards the family left Balyna.
In 1779 Balyna passed to Letitia O'Moore who was married to Richard O’Ferrall. As Catholics a number of the O’Ferralls of Balyna served in foreign armies on the Continent. The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries and Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the year 1678-1680.
Major Ambrose O'Ferrall commenced construction of a new house at Balyna in 1815, which survived until 1878 when it was destroyed by fire and replaced by the current house. His daughter, Letitia, a nun in the Sisters of Charity, gave £3,000 for the purchase of a house in St Stephen's Green, Dublin, which grew to be one of Dublin's largest hospitals, St Vincent's. His eldest son, Richard More O'Ferrall, was appointed Governor of Malta in 1847.
Richard More O’Ferrall is reputed for having been responsible for the erection of the Celtic cross which now stands to the rear of the house. It is said that this Cross, along with another was transported from Europe, the two being encased in wooden crates and towed behind the ship on a barge. Legend has it that one was lost at sea, but the second survives to this day.
Balyna was sold in 1960 and was owned by Bewley’s Oriental Cafes Ltd until 1983. The milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna. In 1984 the estate was sold to Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991 to George Grant. Moyvalley was developed into a Hotel and Golf Resort in 2007.
Ballinderry House is located between Longwood and Enfield. In the 1830s Ballinderry House was described as a handsome dwelling, the residence of Mr. F.C. Murphy who in 1836 was making extensive improvements in the way of drainage etc. The house was described as standing on a good site and was sheltered by some trees around it. Murphy held the townland of Ballinderry, 491 acres, from Lord Langford. In the 1850s William Walsh held the house and over 200 acres from Richard T. Rowley. In 1901 and 1911 William Walsh and his family resided at Ballinderry House, probably a son of the William who held the lands in the 1850s.
Ryndville House stood in the parish of Rathcore, near Enfield in southwest Meath. The house was demolished in the 1970s.
Rahinstown is located in south Meath close to Rathmolyon. The original Rahinstown House dated from the eighteenth century. A drawing of the houses in the 1830s shows a six bay house of three storeys over a basement. The front door was not centred but to the left, suggesting that the original house may have been added to. About 1870 the old house burned down and was replaced by a large Italianate house and farm buildings. Sandham Symes was the architect for the construction of the new buildings for Robert Fowler in 1871. The house has a three bay front in cement with sandstone dressings and bow windows with curved glass.
Hotwell House, Ballinakill, Enfield was built in 1838 by Henry Purdon, a farmer and Justice of the Peace. Henry came from Ardrums and the family were also connected to the Winters of Agher. The family may have originated at Lisnabin, Killucan, Co. Westmeath Lisnabin House was until quite recently the residence of the Purdon family (descendants of William the Conqueror’s barber!), who came from Cumbria to Ireland in 1533. Edward Purdon, Esq, born in 1709 settled at Lisnabin. Lisbin House was erected in 1819 after their former dwelling was burned down as a result of an overturned candle. The 400-acre estate has been home to a pedigree herd of Hereford cattle since 1824. Branches of the family were also at Kilcooley and Tullyard, Trim and Drumlargan, Summerhill.
Posseckstown house is just outside Enfield on the road to Trim. In the civil parish of Rathcore it was the property of Mr. Kettlewell in 1835 and leased to Mr. Rynd and Mrs Domegan, Enfield. The red brick house was probably built about 1870. William Potterton purchased the property in 1923 and when his son died the property passed to his sister, Alice Weld, and then to her daughter, Mona Foster.
Cherryvalley House is located just outside Rathmolyon on the Ballivor Road. In the 1850s Robert Fowler held the townland of Cherryvalley. A two storey farm house was erected at Cherryvalley in 1877. In 1901 Daniel Douglas, widower, and his son William were living at Cherryvalley. The house had twelve rooms, five windows to the front and thirteen outbuildings. In 1911 William Douglas owned the house but it was lived in by Richard Douglas and his wife. Today the housing estate of Cherryvalley is located to the east of the house.
Trammon is located near Rathmolyon. Casey and Rowan describe Trammon as a small early Victorian Hansel and Gretel house. Trammon was erected by James Williams who died in 1853 and is buried in Rathmolyon. James was the only son of Thomas Williams, St. Catherine’s Park, Leixslip. A single storey building with a steeply pitched roof Trammon has decorative bargeboards and red and yellow brick patterning. Marie Anne, wife to James, died in 1894.
In 1901 the house had fifteen rooms, four windows to the front and thirteen outbuildings. The house was owned by Florence Williams but resided in by Kate Labertouche. In 1911 Henrietta Williams was living at Trammon.