Woodlawn House, Co Galway, Ireland

Roderick Trench presumes that the 2nd Ashtown, who was born and raised at Sopwell, moved to Woodlawn in 1840 after inheriting the title on the death of his uncle. The 1840 map show the house and lakes. The house was extended in the 1850s when the 3 storey house was refaced and embellished in the Italianate style, and enlarged by 2 two-storey wings three-bay wings. Building on such a lavish scale was rare in post-famine Ireland And further large sums in the late 1800's on gardening projects, outbuildings, land drainage and livestock. This created employment for up to 300 people at times. However he ran into financial difficulties and by 1922 was forced to action off moveable property

And a modern ariel photograph shows how the estate has been broken up, and many of the estate building ruined. A larger image of this map is available here

The most famous owner, the first Lord Ashtown, was powerful enough to have the new Dublin-Galway railway line diverted to go through his lands. He built a large and majestic railway station that is still in existence today. In fact his building programme included many other fine buildings of architectural beauty that still stand today including a Protestant Church, Gamekeepers Lodge, a family Mausoleum, a Ice House, artisan cottages and above all Woodlawn House itself. In fact over 150 years later, there are few other buildings of note in the area.

Views of Woodlawn circa 1890
Views of Woodlawn circa 1890

The team that produced the independent American film 'The Blair Witch Project' came to Ireland to make a documentary on the most haunted houses in Ireland. They stayed in many, but apparently found Woodlawn House to be the scariest!

The house was looking fairly dilapidated when I last visited it in 2007.

Woodlawn House from afar
Woodlawn House in 2007
Front elevation 2002
Front elevation 2002
Burnt out hallway 2002
Hallway 2002
Gardeners House 2002
Woodlawn Church 2007
Grants Gate lodge and home in 2007
Arch over gateway by Grants Gate lodge
Taken 2012 Eleanor McQuin whose mother Mary Turner (nee Grocock) lived in Grants Gate Lodge in the 1930s .. ..and 40s when her father John Grocock was a steward on the Ashtown estate
Photographs of the house and outbuildings in 2010

The title Lord Ashtown was created in 1800 for Frederick Trench, with remainder to the heirs male of his father. He was elected to the Irish House of Commons for Portarlington from 1798 to 1800. He also served as the borough's representative in the United Kingdom Parliament for a few months in 1801.

2nd Baron Ashtown, 1840-1880

In 1801 he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Ashtown, with remainder to the heirs male of his father Frederick Trench. This was a so called "Union peerage", a reward for Trench's support for the Union between Ireland and Great Britain, which he had initially opposed. You get the flavour from a comtemorary report.

Mr Trench declared, in presence of a crowded House, that he would vote against the minister, and support Mr Ponsonby's amendmeut. "This," observes Sir Jonah Barrington, who was an eye-witness of the transaction, "appeared a stunning blow to Mr Cooke, who had been previously in conversation with Mr Trench. He was immediately observed sidling from his seat, nearer to Lord Castlereagh. They whispered earnestly; and, as if restless and undecided, both looked wistfully at Trench. At length the matter seemed to be determined on. Mr Cooke retired to a back seat, and was obviously endeavouring to count the House - probably to guess if they could that night dispense with Mr Trench's services. He returned to Lord Castlereagh; they whispered, and again looked at Mr Trench. But there was no time to lose; the question was approaching. All shame was banished; they decided on the terms, and a significant glance, obvious to everybody, convinced Mr Trench that his conditions were agreed to. Mr Cooke then went and sat down by his side: an earnest but very short conversation took place; a parting smile completely told the House that Mr Trench was satisfied. These surmises were soon verified. Mr Cooke went back to Lord Castlereagh; a congratulatory nod announced his satisfaction. But could any man for one moment suppose that an M.P. of large fortune, of respectable family, and good character, could be publicly, and without shame or compunction, actually seduced by Lord Castlereagh under the eye of 220 gentlemen? In a few minutes Mr Trench rose to apologise for having in-discreetly declared he would support the amendment. He added, that he had thought better of the subject; that he had been convinced he was wrong, and would support the minister." Mr Trench accordingly became Lord Ashtown.

Lord Ashtown married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Robinson, in 1785. They had no children. He died in May 1840, aged 84, and was succeeded in the barony according to the special remainder by his nephew Frederic. Lady Ashtown died in 1844. He was succeeded according to the special remainder by his nephew, the second Baron (the son of Francis Trench). His grandson, the third Baron (son of Frederic Sydney Charles Trench, eldest son of the second Baron), sat in the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1908 to 1915.

The Grants worked for this family during the 19th century. They were extensive land owners, and with their relatives owned the following properties in 1876.

Lord Ashtown
                            8310 acres Co Galway (inc Woodlawn)
                            2780 acres Kings Co
                            4526 acres Co Tipperary (inc Sopwell Hall)
                            4707 acres Co Tipperary (Cangort Park)
                            2113 acres Kings Co
                            2787 acres Kings Co (Cangort)

From Roderick Trench

Re: the Grants. I do have a list of Ashtown/Trench papers in the NLI in Dublin, which might have some of the information that you are looking for (if indeed you are still looking?). I have not had a chance to look at them myself yet but hope to do so some time this year. The following might be of interest:

Ms 2575 Rental of Trench estates in Co. Tipperary 1835-40.
Ms 2577 Rental of Trench estates in Co. Galway 1840-51.
Ms 2579 Rental of Trench estates in Co. Offaly 1851-79.
Ms 1764 Cash book of Frederick Mason Trench, 2nd Lord Ashtown in Cos. Offaly, Tipperary & Galway 1852-59, 1859-64, 1864-69, 1869-74.
Ms 1765-8 Rent rolls and estate accounts in Co. Galway 1852-59.
Ms 1769 Rental of the estates of Lord Ashtown in Cos. Tipperary and Galway 1858-64.

In 2010 new owners had new plans for the place

Irish Buildings site

Trench references

The Woodlawn diaspora

Return to Grant family contents page