1673 – Blessington House, Blessington, Co. Wicklow
A substantial 17th century house built circa 1673 by Dr Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh. Boyle was the last ecclesiastical Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and had been granted the Manor of Blessington in 1669. The house was surrounded by a demesne amounting to some 600 acres, deer park and formal gardens which included grand avenues and ponds and canals.
Archbishop Boyle also obtained a charter from Charles II to build a new town, which he called Blessington. The town was built on a green field site and was given borough status, a corporation and the right to return two members to Parliament.
A traveller to Blessington, Samuel Molyneaux, in 1709 gives this picture of the house and demesne – “About Blessingtown ye lands is very mountainous and wild, yet here ye late Lord Primate Boyle chose to build one of ye finest seats in Ireland. It is now enjoyed and kept in good order by his son the Lord Blessingtown. Ye house and furniture are very great and beautiful particularly the chapel, all manner of conveniences, handsome noble garden, wilderness, green house, fish ponds, a noble large park and paddocks, and is in short much beyond any seat in all respects that I have seen in this Kingdome, and as I am told would make no bad figure in England.”
Renovations and improvements around 1789 included plasterwork by Michael Stapleton for Wills Hill, lst Marquess of Downshire whose family now owned the house.The house and town was burnt by insurgents during the 1798 rebellion. Lord Downshire received over £9,000 for the destruction to his property but he never rebuilt the mansion. The house was described as a ruin on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of the 1840s.