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|Elevation||82 m (269 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Frenchpark, historically known as Dungar (Irish: Dún Gar, meaning "the fort of favour"), is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland on the N5 national primary road. It was the home of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland. The nearby French Park Estate was until 1952 the ancestral seat of the French family, Barons de Freyne. The estate was sold to the Irish Land Commission in the 1950s and was dismantled by the mid 1970s. An historic smokehouse is one of the few remaining legacies of this period.
Early Irish history
Frenchpark - The Ciarrage groups here were the early lords of Airteach. Mac Donagh is cited as later lords of Airtech. The O'Flanagan here were hereditary stewards to the Kings of Connacht.
Early 13th Century
Dominican Priory of the Holy Cross, Cloonshanville. This was sacked during the Cromwellian campaign of the 1650s. Part of the tower still stands (in a ruined state). The site is still used as the local cemetery.
17th – 20th Century
The French family, originally from Galway, became the dominant landowners in this part of Roscommon in the late seventeenth century. Dominick French was granted 5000 acres of land in County Roscommon and his son John a further 2000 acres. John's wealth and influence were such that he was nicknamed An Tiarna Mor (the Great Lord).
The Barons de Freyne, former owners of Frenchpark
In the 1749 Census of Elphin it was the residence of Arthur French, MP in the Parliament of Ireland who was the eldest son of John (An Tiarna Mor) and his wife Anne Gore. His son Arthur (1764-1820) was also an MP who was said to have died "from excessive fox hunting". Members of the French family were buried in the graveyard surrounding the ruins of Frenchpark Priory. At the time of Griffith's Valuation Frenchpark was owned by Rev. John Ffrench, Lord de Freyne and was valued at £60. Later in the 1800s the family converted to Roman Catholicism.
The ancestral seat of the Barons de Freyne was the French Park Estate, near Boyle, County Roscommon. The manor house, originally built in the mid-17th century before being rebuilt in the Georgian style in the 18th century was demolished after the sale of the estate by the 7th Baron de Freyne to the Irish Land Commission in 1952. The Land Commission removed the roof of the buildings in 1953 and eventually demolished the remaining structures in ca 1975. The present Lord de Freyne lives with his wife and family at Putney.
A distant cousin of the de Freynes was Charlotte Despard (née French) (1844–1939), a scion of the French family of High Lake, a British-born, later Irish-based suffragist, novelist and Sinn Féin activist. Despard spent a lot of time at French Park where her father was born. In 1908 she joined with Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins to form the Irish Women’s Franchise League. She urged members to boycott the 1911 Census and withhold taxes and provided financial support to workers during the Dublin labour disputes.
In 1909 Despard met Mahatma Gandhi and was influenced for a time by his theory of passive resistance. She moved to Dublin after World War I and was bitterly critical of her brother, Field Marshal The Viscount French, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1919-21, who, unsurprisingly, tended to ignore her.
During the Irish War of Independence, together with Maud Gonne, she formed the Women's Prisoners' Defence League to support Republican prisoners. As a member of Cumann na mBan she opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and was imprisoned by the new Government of the Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War. She is buried in the Republican Plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
The Market House
The market house is in the center of Frenchpark, on the main street and is very old. The market house was a place where fathers and sons went to sell their cattle and farm produce (vegetables, potatoes and oats) about fifty or sixty years ago. On Market Day which was always on a Thursday, they would trade, buy and sell. There was a great big weighing scales outside the building. Unsold goods were stored in the building. The first electricity was generated for Frenchpark from this building. People would travel on a horse and cart. Some would sell cows or food. Others would trade and buy. The young boys got the day off school. Cattle sheep and vegetables were sold there and afterwards they all went to the pub to talk about cattle. The market house was great to store things. My Granddad would go down and buy food and maybe a cow as well. Granddad bought a good few cows from the market house. The market house was pretty large and still is. It could hold lots of food and hay. In later years it was used as a garage. There was a film made (about twenty years ago) in the market house about 'The Hanging of Robert Emmett'. Now it is old and is not used anymore. At present the building is empty and is surrounded by high railings.
- Arthur French, 1st Baron de Freyne (1786–1856)
- Charlotte Despard
- Frenchpark Estate Record
- Baron De Freyne
- French Family
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