Listoke
Ballymakenny Road | Drogheda | Co. Louth | +353 (0)41 984 4742

Listoke's History


1000 - 1814

 

The name Listoke implies an ancient origin for the townland, and the house, situated on a most prominent place. The word Listoke can have two derivations viz.

Lios Dubhaighe: 'The fort of the bog' or Lios Tseabhaic: 'The fort of the hawk'.1

It is listed as 'the site of earthworks' in the Archaeological Survey of County Louth, which quotes the Ordnance Survey Letters referring to a destroyed fort, in the townland of 124 acres.2  However the site was not discovered by the surveyors in 1991.  Recent extensive   renovations at the house and outbuildings (2010/11), showed evidence of walls dating back  as far as 1600.3 It seems likely that settlers, over a thousand years ago, having discovered a place of vantage, suitable for a 'lios' established  a residence, which was then passed on and updated, to succeeding generations, in tandem with the development of the Boyne Valley, and Drogheda.

 

1814 - 1848

 

In the early 1800's, a large Georgian House was built on the site of a previous smaller building. The work was carried out by the Battersby family, who had come from England, with William III, and purchased lands at Smithstown, Co.Meath in 1688.4 They were primarily Land Agents, military men and clergy, and within a century had established holdings at Clonabraaney, Bobsville, Lough Bane, Killua, Newcastle and Crossdrum, all situated within ten miles of Oldcastle, Co.Meath. It is not yet known how Lieutenant Francis Battersby C.B. found his way to Listoke. He was born in 1775 and married Elizabeth Rotheram  of Crossdrum, having a son, John (b.1826), who also took up an army career. The Battersby family were closely connected to the Leslies of Fermanagh, and the Chapman's of Killua and South Hill, who were progenitors of the noted 'Lawrence of Arabia'.

Lt.Col. Battersby is described in Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) as living in a 'handsome mansion' at Listoke. 5 His military career abroad, especially in the Canadian Campaign is quite colourful, and when he retired, he shot his two faithful horses in Toronto, rather than allow them be ill treated  by a succeeding army-man. The poem 'Battersby's Horses' refers to this event and their burial at Victoria Square Memorial Park. His regiment was the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencilbles.6

 

1848 - 1979

 

After Lt. Colonel Battersby died in 1848, the estate was sold to the Cairnes Family, a noted brewing family, with premises at Castlebellingham and Drogheda.7  William Cairnes (1785-1865) bought Listoke and then Stameen House at Drogheda, and several other portions of lands. He engaged Caldbeck of Dublin, an architect of note,  to redesign and enlarge Stameen, which is now The Boyne Valley Hotel. Thomas P.Cairnes (1831-1894), lived at LIstoke and then moved to Stameen, leaving his youngest son Alfred, in Listoke. The Cairnes were married into the Jameson Whiskey family and were distinguished contributors to the housing of workers and education in Drogheda, until the 1950's.

The century of Cairnes ownership (1855-1955) gradually came to an end and finally so did the 'handsome mansion'.8 This is how it happened.... When Major Alfred Cairnes , 7th Batt., R.I.R, died, killed in action  at Ginchy, on September 9th 1916, he was just forty years old, and the house was left to his wife, Katherine Jessie, who remarried  a Mr.Tuthill. She died on 27th January 1956, and left the house and contents to Tuthill. He apparently immediately sold the Cairnes family silver at auction and it was said Cairnes daughter Betty who was left the remainder of the estate had to attend the auction to buy back her own family silver.  It is said Tuthill used the money to travel to south America for an extended stay and while away Betty had the house levelled leaving him with nothing to return to and as a result no reason to return to Listoke. 

 

1979 - 2015

 

Betty subsequently left the estate to the children of a good friend Mrs Patricia Barrow who was born in Malta.  The estate was subsequently divided between Patricia and her daughters Juliet and Marielouise.

On moving to Listoke in 1979 Patricia began the long task of reinstating the Edwardian garden, her first introduction to a verdant landscape was at the age of 7, when she visited her Grandmother in the lush English countryside. Thereafter Patricia was enchanted by the art and science of gardening. Betty obviously sought a caretaker for the beautiful garden and no doubt knew that the estate would be in safe hands with Patricia, her husband Patrick and children Juliet and Marielouise when she bequeathed them the garden and woodland in 1979. Despite the fact that the garden was tired and overgrown and the woodland walks in need of reclamation, the Barrows nurtured and coaxed it back to its original vibrancy.

In 2009 Raymond and Juliet Gogan (nee Barrow) began extensive renovations on the remaining buildings in the stableyard at Listoke, they also began the construction of a home on the site of Listoke House which had been pulled down and levelled in 1958.  Raymond and Juliet together with their architect Turlough McKevitt of McKevitt Architects Drogheda agreed on a design which, although different from the original house, was in sympathy with the existing buildings of the coachman’s house, servant’s quarters and stables.  The design was executed by Newgrange Construction and Master Builder Derek O’Halloran.  The building phase took two years to complete and Raymond and Juliet together with their four boys moved into the completed house on the 1st Feb 2011.

References

  1. 'The Streets and Lanes of Drogheda'. James Garry, 1996, Old Drogheda Society.
  2. 'Archaeological Survey of County Louth.' Buckley & Sweetman. 1991, Govt. Publications Office
  3. Oral information from Barrow Family, 2015.
  4. 'Burkes History of the Landed Gentry, 2015.
  5. 'Topographical Dictionary of Ireland'. Lewis 1837.
  6. Wikipedia, 2015.
  7. Article on 'Cairnes of Stameen',  John McCullen, Journal of Old Drogheda Society, 1990 (no.7).
  8. 'The Unreturned Army'. Donal Hall, 2005. Co.Louth Arch & Hist Society.
  9. Oral Information from Barrow Family, 2015.