1000 – 1814
The name Listoke implies an ancient origin for the townland. 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 (1855-1979) gradually came to an end and finally so did the ‘handsome mansion’. This is how it happened. 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. Katherine Jessie and Alfred had two children; John who was killed in action and Betty who lived at Listoke with her husband Alfred Nichelson. Betty and Nick, on their return from India in the fifties pulled down the large house and spent the remainder of their lives in a converted cottage on the property.
1979 – 2015
Betty subsequently left the estate in trust to the grand children of a close family friend, Peter Thornhill ( godson of Katherine Jessie). In 1979 Peter’s daughter Mrs Patricia Barrow moved to Listoke with her husband Patrick and daughters Juliet (Betty’s god daughter) and Marielouise (Luky).
On moving to Listoke Patricia began the long task of reinstating the Edwardian garden, her first introduction to a verdant landscape was at the age of 7, when, returning from Malta 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.