The Home that was a Castle

“The house of every one is to him as his Castle and Fortress as well for defence against injury and violence, as for his repose …”

The English judge, Sir Edward Coke, made this famous decision in 1604. Over the years it has become simplified to “a man’s home is his castle.” In this post I’ll talk about a man whose home actually was a castle – Baymount Castle.

In 2019 I went to visit friends in Dublin. Knowing there had been Tickells in Ireland, I searched to see if there were any connected to the city. I discovered a family that I had not previously come across. George and Adelaide (née Kennedy) Tickell were part of Dublin society in the mid to late 19th century. They lived for several years at Baymount Castle, Clontarf, Dublin. At least one of their children was born there and it is George Tickell’s recorded place of death.

Baymount Castle

I decided to try to visit Baymount Castle but, when I searched on Google Maps, there was no sign of it. Further research uncovered that the building is now called Manresa House and is a Jesuit spiritual retreat, situated in Dollymount, Clontarf, Dublin. Knowing that the friends I was visiting lived in that area, I asked whether they knew of Manresa House and was amazed to discover that not only did they live close by but one of them actually worked part-time at Manresa House itself. Although the building was not open to visitors, he was able to show me around the grounds during my visit.

Clontarf lies about two miles north of Dublin city centre, on the northern shore of Dublin Bay. The former Baymount Castle is an 18th century mansion situated in 17 acres of land. It adjoins St Anne’s estate, which is owned by the Guinness family. The house has had a series of names and different owners over the years and is now a protected structure.

The building was originally known as Granby Hall and was leased to the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Connor. In 1775, it was leased to Robert Warren, who renovated the house, built new outbuildings and a gatehouse, and renamed it Baymount Castle. The Loreto Nuns opened a school there in 1845 but moved away after a fire severely damaged the building in 1851.

Thom’s Directories of 1886 and 1896 list the occupant as George Tickell, developer, and rates the building at £120.

In 1898, Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family and owner of the adjoining St. Anne’s estate, bought the lease from Adelaide Tickell, George’s widow. He established Baymount School, a preparatory boys’ school for English public school and the Royal Navy.

The final change of ownership and name came In 1948. The Archbishop of Dublin asked the Jesuits to establish a retreat house in the north of Dublin. They bought Baymount Castle and its grounds and renamed it Manresa House after Manresa, Catalonia where St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, had many spiritual experiences. 

George Tickell

Although George Tickell (1828–1892) was listed as a developer when he owned Baymount Castle, this was only part of his business activities. The Tickells were an old-established Protestant merchant family who had been resident in Dublin for over a century. In the 1856 census, George’s occupation is listed as Cabinet Maker. Later he became an estate agent, auctioneer and furniture manufacturer as well as becoming involved in local politics. Over his lifetime he expanded his family’s wealth, becoming one of the richest and most active businessmen in late Victorian Dublin.

Dublin Evening Mail

In the 1870s George Tickell became an investor in the ultra-conservative newspaper, the Dublin Evening Mail, and from 1879 to 1892 he was its principal proprietor. George was very outspoken in his views. I found several quotes made by him during the period of the Irish Land Wars. They included remarks about Irish tenants, some of which were quite embarrassing to read to my Irish friends. I felt I had to remind them that George Tickell, although sharing my surname, was actually no relation at all to me!

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