MacMurrough

This property, a few miles north of New Ross, with two houses and about 200 acres of good farm land, seems to have been transferred to Henry Loftus Tottenham by his father, Charles, about the beginning of the 19th century.

The big house was L-shaped, and a new block of higher elevation was added about 1813 to the end of the front arm of the L. The older portions were probably late 17th century. It stood on rising ground with a fine view over the remains of Dermot MacMurrough's castle, which was built about 1150 on an island, known as MacMurrough's Island, formed by the River Barrow on the west, its tributary, the Pill, on the south, and a moat to complete the circle.

The smaller house, known as “The Cottage,” stands some distance behind the big house, and was probably built about 1750 on the site of a much older building, some traces of which still remain. It is an interesting structure, pure Huguenot in style, with very thick walls and a central spiral staircase in a 6ft square well.

Sometime after 1830 Alexander Napper, of Bawnmore - a well-known New Ross family - took a long lease of The Cottage and about 80 acres of land.

The big house does not seem to have been occupied by a Tottenham after about 1875. A letter from Charles Tottenham in 1874 says that he could not live there, as he might have wished, because of the proposal to build a railway through the place, which would “spoil it as a residential property.” The railway was finished and opened in 1887. Not only does it cross the property below the house, but it also runs on an embankment through the site of Dermot's Castle; and, to make matters worse, the remainder of that site was acquired in 1936, in spite of protests, for a County Council labourer's cottage.

In 1922 Arthur Alexander, the son of Alexander Napper's daughter, Ann, purchased the entire property except for a few fields. His son, Stewart Alexander succeeded him in 1932. He and his wife lived in The Cottage - now known as MacMurrough - and did much to improve the place; but the big house, which had remained unoccupied for many years, had fallen into such a ruinous condition that he had to have it demolished in 1946.

The large walled garden, situated as usual at some distance from the house, is now a flourishing orchard; and in 1958 there was still one fine ilex near the site of the house - one of four seedlings sent from Honfleur about 1870.

Below, along the banks of the Pill, there must have been some of the oldest beech trees in Ireland, well over 200 years old when felled some years ago. Beech is now regenerating there, and Mr. Alexander also planted Sitka spruce and Japanese larch. For much of the above account we are indebted to Mrs. Alexander, who was most kind and helpful in supplying it.