Drumalane House on the Drumalane Road in Newry is steeped in history with former residents achieving fame not just locally but as far away as Australia and America. The 1891 winner of the Grand National "Come Away" was also reputedly bred and reared at Drumalane.

A group of local historians are hoping that ultimately the house and its gardens could potentially be turned in to a small musuem with its gardens once again open to the public, a jewel they say that would post Covid-19  attract visitors from far and wide.

At present the Southern Health and Social Care Trust occupy the site but with the potential of the facilities being moved to the proposed new Health Hub at Abbey Way they feel this is the right time to consider the posibilities.

The house was the birthplace of Sir William Hill Irvine, Premier of Victoria, Australia (1902-1904) and Attorney General of Australia (1913-1914). Young Irelanders John Mitchel and John Martin both died there nine days apart. Three of John Mitchel's sons fought in the Confederate army in America and his Grandson John Purroy Mitchel became the 95th Mayor of New York.

Drumalane House
Drumalane House

The listed building was also the final home of Thomas Darcy-Hoey, entrepreneur, owner of Matt. Darcy and Co and funder of Daisy Hill Nurseries.

Francis Gallagher regards it as one of Ireland's most important historical buildings and would love if it could be acquired by the people of Newry either through a charitable trust or by the council.  "I would like to see Dromalane House and it's gardens fully restored and protected for future generations."

"Two very important people in modern Irish history died there: John Mitchel and John Martin.

"It would be a lovely botanical and heritage space for local people and would link up nicely with the Albert Basin public park and a reopened Newry canal through the town centre. As well as having coffee rooms to compliment the gardens, Dromalane House, when restored, could be used for a variety of uses to highlight - research the cultural heritage and future possibilities of the Nation. It is one of Ireland's most important historical buildings and grounds."

When Thomas Darcy-Hoey lived there he made a garden that was described in an 1886 publication thus "His garden at Dromolane, Newry, is the most tastefully planted, and contains for its area a large, rare, and remarkable collection of hardy flowers. 

"His garden is a paradise of bulbs and other rare plants from earliest spring to late autumn, and everyone who cared to see his garden was welcome to enter and wander over the place at their own sweet will." 

The house photographed by Sir William Irvine during a visit in 1904.
The house photographed by Sir William Irvine during a visit in 1904.

Michael McKeown who presently is involved in reivigourating the Matt. Darcy & Co brand of Newry Whiskey explains John Purroy Mitchel the grandson of John Mitchel is remembered today by a mega monument in Central Park, New York remembering his time as Mayor of the city.

Mr McKeown adds "It is the birth place of William Hill Irvine, Premier of Victoria, Australia. It is the creation of Hill Irvine, self made magnate of Newry and constructor of Dromolane Mill. It was the home of Willie Mitchel the architect of Dromolane Mill.

"It was also the home of Rev John Mitchel, the leader of the Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

"It was the final home of Thomas Darcy Hoey, entrepreneur, owner of Matt. Darcy and Co."

Mr McKeown believes the building could appeal to so many diverse interests with no other building in this area capturing so much history.

 Adrian Murdock adds that Dromalane House was the home of men who left their mark on several different parts of the World, as they travelled widely, through tumultous times, leaving a written legacy of their exploits behind. 

"Within it John Mitchel & John Martin died 9 days apart, they were prominent men in "Young Ireland"  group with far thinking ideas, which if they had been put into action, may have saved this country many years of suffering.  Those ideas are part of our present day peace and can hopefully be built upon." Mr Murdock concluded.

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