During my recent visit to the Emerald Isle I visited the ruins of Dangan Castle, which was the home of Wellington as a boy and young man.
In the early fifteenth century Dangan passed by marriage to Sir Richard de Wellesley, who had been sheriff of Kildare. The Wellesleys became Protestants after 1640 and increased their estates throughout the seventeenth century. The last Wellesley was Garret, a distant relation of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism. He died childless in 1728 but he bequeathed Dangan to a cousin, Richard Colley on condition that he changed his name to Wellesley. Richard invested in the Dangan estate building the now ruined two storey mansion using one of the walls of the old Irish Tower House. He also landscaped the park with a lake which in 1752 had an island with a fort and boats.
There were many temples, columns and follies only two of which and the ornamental bridge survive. The Duke spent many years of his childhood here but, strapped for cash, the family had to mortgage the estate.
The Duke’s elder brother Marques Wellesley managed to sell the estate in the 1790s to Thomas Burrowes, a colonel in the East India Company. Burrowes leased it to tenants, one of whom was Roger O’Connor an Irish nationalist who stated it would be a fitting residence for Napoleon after his anticipated victory over Britain! Dangan was almost completely burned in 1809 as a result of the O’Connors accidentally starting a fire when attempting to melt lead and pewter into bullets – possibly for robbery. Dangan was totally ruined by 1841.
In the lithograph above, on the left of the picture, you can just pick out the enormous stable block. There are remnants of it today.