Knockdrin

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Knockdrin Castle, just north of Mullingar
Knockdrin viewed from left
Gatehouse and main gate to Knockdrin Castle on the R394 road between Mullingar and Castlepollard

Knockdrin is an area north of Mullingar, in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is the home of the Westmeath Hunt, and its most notable building is Knockdrin Castle. The R394 regional road, the main Mullingar to Castlepollard route, runs through the area.

Castle[edit]

Knockdrin Castle is, according to The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (published in London in 1993 and better known as the Pevsner Guide to North Leinster), mainly an early 19th-century neo-Gothic structure. The current castle was purportedly designed by Richard Morrison,[1] and was built on the site of High Park, the original 18th-century mansion that formerly stood there.[2] The castle was constructed for Sir Richard Levinge, 6th Baronet (1785-1848), probably in the 1810s.[3] As of late 2017, the castle was the home of the von Prondzynski family, though listed for sale in November 2017.[4][1] The current owner, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, was President of Dublin City University from 2000 until mid-2010, and is now Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen, Scotland. On 9 August 2018, RGU announced that Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski was to step down following an internal investigation which suggested that he failed to declare a business interest pertaining to Knockdrin Castle.[5]

Until the early 18th century, the main residence on the estate was a small Norman castle (often known locally as 'King John's Castle') which was destroyed by fire. The main part of High Park, the previous mansion that stood on the site of the current Knockdrin Castle, may have been built in the early 18th century for Sir Richard Levinge, 1st Baronet, M.P. (1656-1724). The Levinges came to Ireland with the Williamites, in the late 17th century. The first Sir Richard Levinge was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and a member of the Lords Commissioners, who were appointed by the British Crown to settle all the land questions which had arisen in Ireland after the Cromwellian conquest, the Restoration and the Williamite Wars. Levinge took advantage of his position to purchase the Knockdrin Estate from the Tuites, who were the Norman-Irish owners up to that time. At the time the estate was over 12,000 acres (49 km2) in size. The present estate is approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2).[6]

During the Emergency (WWII), the castle was taken over for troop accommodation and was occupied by a company of the 6th (Dublin) Infantry of the Irish Army. The army left in 1945 and handed the castle back to the Levinges.[citation needed]

The Levinges owned Knockdrin until 1946, although the last Sir Richard Levinge to live there (later a director of Guinness Ltd) had by then not been resident there for some time. In that year the estate was sold to Paddy Dunne-Cullinan, who remained there until 1961, when he in turn sold the estate to Hans Freiherr von Prondzynski from Germany.[4]

The name Knockdrin (Irish: Cnoc Droinne meaning 'hill of Drin')[7] reputedly derives from a hill on the estate.[8] This is also reflected to Lough Drin, a small lake on the estate.[6] The Irish name for the locality is Muine Liath (pronounced Moe in ah lee ah), which means 'grey thicket'. Muine Liath is written in English as Monilea.[9]

Other castles in County Westmeath[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Alistair Rowan and Christine Casey (1993). The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (popularly known as the Pevsner Guide to North Leinster). London: Yale University Press.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Former DCU president's castle on sale for €13.5m". IrishTimes.com. Irish Times. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  2. ^ "1812 – Knockdrin Castle, Co. Westmeath". Archiseek.com. Archiseek. 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Knockdrin Castle, County Westmeath". Buildings of Ireland. National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Luxurious Westmeath castle goes on sale for €13.5m". BreakingNews.ie. Landmark Digital. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  5. ^ "University principal to step down". BBC News. BBC. 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Massive estate totalling 1,140 acres to be sold with castle in Westmeath". independent.ie. Independent News & Media. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Cnoc Droinne / Knockdrin". logainm.ie. Irish Placenames Commission. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  8. ^ A Toplogical Dictionary of Ireland. Samuel Lewis. 1837 – via libraryireland.com.
  9. ^ "An Muine Liath / Monilea". logainm.ie. Irish Placenames Commission. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

Coordinates: 53°34′25″N 7°18′54″W / 53.57361°N 7.31500°W / 53.57361; -7.31500