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Killiney History | April 17, 2024

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Beechwood House

Beechwood House
NameBeechwood House
Previous NamesBeechwood Hotel, Beechwood Works
AddressBallinclea Road
Year Built1760 or earlier
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2024 | author

Appeal for information

If any of our readers has information on the house or hotel it would be greatly appreciated. Following on from an earlier request for information we are delighted to include a photograph of the house when it was in use as a hotel in c.1950. Our thanks to Joe Timbs for this. You can contact us here.

1760 Earliest evidence of house at this location

The detail from this 1760 map would suggest that Beechwood House was one of the earliest houses to be built in the Killiney district. Interestingly only two houses appear on Killiney Hill Road south of the obelisk down to what is now the Military Road junction.

Rocque’s map of 1760 clearly shows a house and grounds at the location of Beechwood House

Described by Peter Pearson (1998)

Beechwood House, which had been built by 1787, stood on a narrow site at the bottom of Ballinclea Road. A five-windowed, two-storey-over-basement house, it appears to have been remodelled in Victorian times with the addition of mansard windows, a rendered facade and a decorative ironwork balcony. In more recent times a hotel operated here but the house was eventually demolished, though its handsome cut-stone, Georgian entrance gates still stand. The lands of Ballinclea between Killiney Hill and Rochestown were not part of the Malpas estate.

The original entrance piers and gates have survived. Photo by Michael McShane January 2023

1787 Earliest recorded occupant is Patrick Darcy Esq

The Estate Map of John Mapas Esq which was titled ‘A Survey of Rochestown’ lists the tenants of the numerous plots which were leased and provides a brief description of the various properties. It has been possible to identify Plot 41 as the site of Beechwood House, although the name ‘Beechwood’ is not given. The plot is named as part of Rochestown Hill and was leased to Patrick Darcy Esq. The property is described as House, Offices (Stables) and Field on over 2 acres.

Detail from Sherrard Map of 1787 showing Plot 41 with three buildings creating a courtyard or stableyard. Courtesy National Library of Ireland.
The stable buildings and workers cottages as they appear today. Photo by Michael McShane January 2023

1837 Henry Roe of Beech-wood, near Killiney

Dublin Morning Register 09 January 1837

1846 Advert To Let

Saunders’s News-Letter 06 June 1846

1887 Mrs. Stewart is victim of a break-in.

Freeman’s Journal 2 March 1887

c.1898-1900 Wm. Gordon Cumming esq

Altercation involving Harry Gordon Cumming at the Empire Theatre in March 1898. ‘Only twelve months home from India’

Dublin Daily Nation 07 March 1898

Ordnance Survey Map of 1866

Beechwood on 1866 Ordnance Survey map. Parish of Kill Sheet XXIII.15 Courtesy dlr Local Studies

c.1905-1907 Rev. Macnevin Bradshaw

Wicklow News-Letter and County Advertiser 03 August 1907

1913-1919 Seven year lease to The Dowager Viscountess Bangor, The Honble. Kathleen and Honble. Emily Ward from Aughnacloy.

Dublin Daily Express 08 December 1913

The Viscountess, formerly Elizabeth Eccles (1828-1919) of Cronroe near Ashford Co Wicklow married Henry William Crosbie Ward, (1828-1911), 5th Viscount Bangor in April 1874 following the death of his first wife, Mary, in 1869. He and Mary were the parents of 8 children but no children were born in the second marriage. The Hon Emily Ward was the fifth child from the first marriage and she died in February 1935. The principal seat of Viscount Ward was Castle Ward, an impressive 18th century mansion in a demesne of 820 acres at Strangford Co Down, is now a National Trust property. Viscount Bangor was a member of Royal St George Yacht Club in 1903 and sailed a six-ton cutter called Bonito. The title was created in 1781 and the 1st Viscount represented Down in the Irish House of Commons from 1745 until 1770 when he dubbed Baron Bangor. The 5th Viscount retired from the British Army with the rank of captain and from 1886 was a representative peer in the House of Lords; Deputy Lieutenant of Co Down and Justice of the Peace for that county. (With thanks to Myles Duffy for these notes)

Appeal for the Royal Naval Division serving in the Dardanelles, July 1915

Northern Whig 09 July 1915
Northern Whig 14 September 1915
Wicklow News-Letter and County Advertiser 18 January 1919

1930-1947 Thomas F. O’Donnell

Theft of petrol February 1941

Irish Independent 04 February 1941

1947-1960 Beechwood Hotel. Proprietors Mr. & Mrs. George Halpin Coleman

The earliest mention of the Beechwood Hotel was in 1947 when an advert appeared in the Dublin Evening Mail. The hotel was opened in December 1947 in the converted Beechwood House which George Halpin Coleman had acquired earlier that year from the previous owner, Thomas F. O’Donnell.

Timbs family wedding party at The Beechwood Hotel c.1950. Photo courtesy of Joe Timbs.
Dublin Evening Mail 25 July 1947
Evening Herald (Dublin) 22 January 1948

Another advert from 1950 mentions ‘Resident Proprietors’. They were George Halpin Coleman and his wife Eileen Mary Josephine Coleman (nee Dunne).

Irish Travel November 1950

Tragic fire of April 1949

A newspaper report which appeared in the Dublin Evening Mail on 14th June 1950 gave a graphic account of the fire which destroyed the hotel on 4th April 1949. Sadly the article mentions that Mr. Coleman’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Dunne, who had been occupying the room next to Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, had lost her life in the fire. We have transcribed the article below:

Guests Claim Damages After Hotel Fire

The hearing of an action of Thomas Fearn Gibson, chemist, and his wife, Shiela, of Rock Street, Brighton, Sussex, against George Halpin Coleman, Beechwood Hotel, Killiney, Co. Dublin, was opened before Mr. Justice Martin Maguire and a jury in the High Court, Dublin, to-day.

They claimed damages for loss and injuries suffered by them while they were staying in the Beechwood Hotel, in April of last year, when a fire broke out in the hotel. They alleged in their statement of claim that the premises were not as fit and safe for use as a hotel as reasonable care and skill could make them, and stated that the hotel had only one staircase and no fire escape.

JUMP FROM WINDOW. Late on the night of April 4th or early on the morning of April 5th. 1949, a fire broke out in, and spread through the hotel, and in order to save their lives they had to jump from the window of their bedroom. which was on the first floor. They suffered severe injuries, and their property was completely destroyed. Mr. Coleman in his defence denied that the hotel was not as safe and it as reasonable care and skill could make it; be denied breach of warranty or breach of contract. and negligence, and stated that if the hotel had only one staircase and no fire e cape. Mr. and Mrs. Gibson were well aware of it and had agreed to accept any risks. He also pleaded contributory negligence.

ON HOLIDAY. Opening the action Mr. McGonigal S.C., said that Mr. Gibson, who was aged 42, and his wife, who was 31, were married on March 31st, 1949, and that after their marriage they came to the Beechwood Hotel for a fortnights holiday. Mrs. Gibson, before her marriage had been an expert short hand writer and private secretary, and had been earning £7 a week and by reason of the injuries that she had received as the result of this fire she would now be incapable of earning any money for herself if anything happened to her husband: Her arm had been so badly injured that she could not ever again carry on any work that involved the use of her arm.

A question for the jury would be, said Mr McGonigal, whether Mr. Coleman had taken any effective steps for the protection of his guests or not.

He had been pressed by Dun Laoghaire Borough Council to make provision for what should be done in case of fire, and had not done so.

There was only one staircase -a single staircase- in the hotel. and he understood that the danger in this case was that this staircase acted as a sort of chimney or flue, which drew the fire up, and in the absence of a fire escape every one of the guests was in danger of being trapped, by reason of the fact that the only way down for them was the only way up for the fire.

METHOD OF WARNING. There was no mechanical method of warning the quests of fire. Mr. McGonigal went on to say, so that any warning must be given individually. Mr. McGonigal described the lay-out of the hotel and the rooms occupied by guests on the night of the fire, and how guests got out, he said, would be told by them. He mentioned that Mr. Coleman’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Dunne, who had been occupying the room next to Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, had lost her life in the fire.

No warning at all had been given to Mr. and Mrs. Gibson said Mr. McGonigal, but a few of the other guests had been warned in time, and had been able to go down the stairs, not once but back again, and save their belongings. So far as he could ascertain, Mr. Coleman undoubtedly had been told of the fire at an early stage, “but,” said Mr. McGonigal, I am afraid he lost his head completely, and he doesn’t seem to have rung for the fire brigade for something like 20 minutes after the outbreak of fire became known, or to have taken any steps to isolate the area of the fire.”

Mr. and Mr. Gibson had gone to bed at about 10,30, Mr. McGonigal stated. Mrs. Gibson was awakened by some noise and she awakened her husband. They found smoke coming up through the floor boards, and heard crackling, and voices in the hotel. They rushed to the door and opened it, and were met with a blinding, billowing cloud of smoke.

They came back into the room, got a coverlet off the bed and decided to make an effort to get down the stairs, but when they went to the door again they were met on the threshold with smoke that was choking them, and finding that they could not get any further they went to the windows and decided that they would have to jump from them: that was the only course open to them. They both were very seriously injured, and suffered from many fractures, and shock.

They lay on the ground for a long time, until some people, who were not living in the hotel, came upon them, and they were taken to hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

Patrick Howe as a DunLaoghaire Fire Brigade Officer in the 1950s.

The discovery of Mrs. Dunne as recorded by a fireman who attended the scene.

This piece appeared in an article about Patrick Howe by his son Michael in the IVVCC Newsletter 2018.

Also there was the time of a fire at the Beechwood Hotel, Killiney, in April 1949. They had rescued one lady who was trapped, only to be informed afterwards that another lady was still missing. They returned to the scene and discovered the second lady; but too late, she was found to have died.

Case settled

A later newspaper report of June 1950 confirms that the case was settled between the parties on 15th June.

Hotel re-opens in May 1950

Belfast Telegraph 01 February 1950

The hotel appears to have operated at this location until 1960 when the following advert appeared in the Irish Times.

Irish Times 24 May 1960

1961-1967 Beechwood Works

In ‘The Book of Dun Laoghaire’ (1987) John O’Sullivan mentions that the house was a fine three storey building which became a hotel and later a factory. Adverts appeared in the press from 1961 to 1967 announcing the Rototherm range of scientific instruments which appear to have been manufactured at this location.

Irish Times 21 October 1961

The current Beech Court estate now stands in its grounds.

Records from Thom’s Directory and other sources

1787Patrick Darcey esqSherrard’s Map of Malpas Estate 1787. Plot No. 41
1789John Mapas to Alderman William Alexander (In 1764 he had married Catherine, daughter and heir of John Folie Mapas, barrister, of Rochestown)Deeds and other documents relating to the Rochestown and Ballinclea Estates, Co. Dublin, 1419-1894. Shelfmark MS Talbot C.93 p.31 item 38 Bodleian Library, Oxford.
1800William Alexander to Boyle MinchinAs above. p.32 item 41
1803Boyle Minchin to George DaveyAs above. p.32 item 44
1803Boyle Minchin/George Davey Plumber to George PowellAs above. p.33 item 45
1805George Powell to Joseph RidgewayAs above. p.33 item 46
1806George Powell to William PowellAs above. p.33 item 47
1813William Powell to Patrick NowlanAs above. p.33 item 48
1815Patrick Nowlan to William PowellAs above. p.33 item 49
1815William Powell to Richard ClarkAs above. p.34 item 50
1822Richard Clarke to The Rev. George William WakelyAs above. p.34 item 51
1834Henry CloseNewspaper Birth notice of son
1837Henry Roe of Beech-woodNewspaper Court report
1847-1852Hon. Mrs. KayeThom’s (Also of Ballinclea & Plasnewyd)
1854To LetNewspaper notice
1856Hon. R.G. TalbotThom’s (Also of Ballinclea & Plasnewyd)
1859Henry CollinsNotice of death of wife Anne
1866J.A. Farrell esqThom’s
1868James L. McCance esq J.P.Thom’s
1872James Law McCanceDied aged 57, formerly of Newry
1877-1894Mrs. StewartThom’s
1895William StewartDeath notice, son of Charles F. Stewart of Donegal
1898-1900Wm. Gordon Cumming esqThom’s
1905-1907Bradshaw, Rev. McNevin M.A.Thom’s (Killiney)
1907Rev. Macnevin BradshawDeath Notice
1907Matthew George Megaw (jnr)Mentioned in death notice of father M.G. Megaw
1910Matthew George Megaw (jnr)Thom’s (Ballybrack)
1912Robert Samuel Green J.P.Thom’s (Ballybrack)
1913Viscountess Bangor & Hon. Emily WardNewspaper notice taking 7 year lease of Beechwod
1917Viscountess Bangor & Hon. Kathleen WardThom’s (Ballybrack)
1919Viscountess Bangor, ElizabethDeath notice. Died aged 91.
1920Miss A.K. FishbourneThom’s (Ballybrack)
1921-1928John Matchett Watson, nurserymanThom’s (Killiney 1928 & Ballybrack)
1931Record of sale of Beechwood to Thomas F. O’Donnell for £1,000.00Talbot Estate papers. Shelfmark MS Talbot D.13. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Page 2 Item 2.
1930-1947Thomas F. O’DonnellThom’s (Killiney)
1950Vacant (Beechwood)Thom’s (Killiney)
1950E. Swain (Beechwood Hotel)Thom’s (Ballinclea Road)
1951-60E. Swain (Beechwood Lodge)Thom’s (Ballinclea Road)
1951-54G. Coleman (Beechwood Hotel)Thom’s (Ballinclea Road)
1960Beechwod HotelNewspaper advert
1961-1967Beechwood WorksNewspaper advert