06 Oct 2022

Portarlington’s ‘finest’ house is on the market

Matt Dunne, the Portarlington based Auctioneer, has been instructed to sell this magnificent residence but in the words of Matt “one of its greatest attributes is its history!”

Matt Dunne, the Portarlington based Auctioneer, has been instructed to sell this magnificent residence but in the words of Matt “one of its greatest attributes is its history!”

Henry Bennett became Baron of Arlington in 1665 and Portarlington which straddled the River Barrow in Laois and Offaly became a new borough within the English monarchy (in fact its smallest borough comprising of 100 acres of land).

This detached 3-bay 2-storey over basement late Georgian residence was constructed in 1789.

Its original owner was Captain David D’Arripe who apparently was a Minister in the French Church on French Church Street.

The destruction of the “Edict of Nantes” in 1685 by Louis 14th caused many Huguenots to flee France and take up arms with William of Orange in his campaign against James 2nd.

Coincidently also at that time a lot of Irish Catholic couples fled to France to escape the Williamite Wars.

The Protestants who arrived in Portarlington in 1692-1694 came by river as the quality of the roads/dirt tracks was very poor at the time.

Henri De Massue received the lands of Portarlington as a gift from King William, thus encouraging his disbanded soldiers to settle there at the time.

In these early years there were approximately 150 families, mostly English and French Protestant which were planted.

With the establishment of both national peace and local security, the Huguenots began to develop Portarlington in some striking ways.

Within a few years of their arrival buildings were erected outside Lord Arlingtons planned town.

The building spread in two directions elongating the town into a north-west, south-east line and taking up a portion of the Kings’s County (Offaly) side of the estate.

The centre was still the square with its courthouse and market site.

The main feature of their architecture was to turn their family back to the streets. The most attractive features of the house overlooked the walled garden.

From a journal dated 1678 to 1830 the names of the inhabitants of main street and French Church Street it is noted that 90% of them were French.

During this period Education was to play a big role in Portarlington which had as many as 16 schools in various houses throughout the town.

Portarlington and Mountmellick were a “Bastion of Education” and the schools were used as a stepping stone for Trinity College in Dublin and Sandhurst Military Academy in England.

Arlington House and St Germains (East End Hotel) were 2 famous schools. The Duke of Wellington attended the former.

“The Elms” is a perfect example of the architecture of that time and in the early 1800’s the house was occupied by the Stannus family.

From records it appears that Captain Thomas Stannus and his wife Catherine Hamilton were the first occupants of the house.

Their son Thomas Stannus had 4 children and he died in 1840.

Both he and his father were members of the Parliament for Portarlington.

Another descendent of this family held the office of Justice of the Peace for Queens County (Laois) and he lived in “The Elms” until 1908.

The Odlum family purchased the house in 1912 before moving next door to “India Villa” (now known as Kilnacourt House).

In more recent times the property was purchased by the Sweeney Family in the 1940’s for £500.

This family of Builders had an excellent reputation and specialised in the construction of churches.

At the height of their business they had circa 50 employees. The property is being sold by Mrs Dunphy (nee Sweeney).

“The Elms” is c.6000 sq ft and comprises of 20 rooms, ideal as a large residence or suit any commercial use.

Feature staircase with Doric newels, drawing room with scagliola fireplace, dentillated plaster cornice to ceiling and many more original features.

Set back from the street with gravel forecourt, ideal for parking. Separate access to court yard and c.1 ½ acres of gardens.

The entire house does require some modernising but with an asking price of €250,000 it’s a snip!

Viewing by appointment with sole selling agent.

To continue reading this article,
please subscribe and support local journalism!

Subscribing will allow you access to all of our premium content and archived articles.


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.