History of Roebuck Castle (updated)

web_roebuckcastle1908-1795Roebuck Castle c1795 (from Hall’s History of Dublin 1908)


A short history from the Anglo-Norman Invasion to the present day.

(from details given in 1943 auction brochure)

The earliest record of this historic residence dates from as far back as the 11th century when the lands were called Rabo or Raboge and were far greater extent than at present, and are reputed to have Included  the village of Clonskeagh and the Iron Works there.

In 1154 the lands together,with the somewhat distant manor of Cruagh were granted to Thomas de St. Michael and after passing through the hands of David Bassett (a member of a great Norman family) came, in 1216, into the possession of Fromund le Brun, then Chancellor of Ireland, and the lands actually took their name from Otho de Rabo, who acted as Sheriff to Sir Nigel le Brun, the successor to Fromund.

The successors were then as follows :
1315 Fromund  – Son of Sir Nigel le Brun.
1377 Sir Thomas – Son of Fromund le Brun.
1382 Francis – Son of Thomas le Brun
1420 Sir John – Son of Francis le Brun

Sir John had two sons, Christopher and Richard. Christopher died before his father leaving two children – a son Christopher, who died shortly after his Grandfather, and a daughter, Elizabeth. For a time the lands were in the possession of Sir John’s second son, Richard le Brun, and ultimately became vested in his Grand-daughter Elizabeth, and by her marriage, to Robert Barnwell, 1st Baron of Timelston, passed into possession of the latter family until the beginning of the 19th century.

It has been stated that the Castle of Roebuck now partly incorporated with the modern house was the residence of John, 3rd Baron of Trimleston, “a rare nobleman endowed with sundry good gifts“, whose initials with those of his wife, Anne Fyan, it bore. In 1639 it was described containing 1 Castle, 10 messuages, one water mill and 40 acres of land – all of which were stated to be held of the Manor of Cruagh.

During the rebellion. of 1641, the Castle, then in the possession of Mathew, 8th Baron Trimleslon, was partially destroyed.

In 1663 Mathew Lord Trimleston was found “seised of the Town and Lands of Roebuck, described as 500 acres in the Parish of Taney,” for which he took out a fresh patent in 1667, but forfeited his interest therein in the War of 1688.

In 1689 the Castle was occupied by King James II and the Duke of Berwick when they had their camp in the neighbourhood.

Austin Cooper, on visiting it in 1781, found only a small portion roofed was used as a store house by a farmer who resided in a small house close by. In Cooper’s opinion the Castle was a large one forming two sides of a square and upon it he mention were engraved in stone the arms of the Barnwalls – as well as the letters : R.B.A.F and the name Robert.

In 1790 Lord Trimleston repaired it IMG_0055_800for his country residence.

Mr. Francis Crofton bought Roebuck from Lord Trimleston and it was subsequently sold to the Westby family in 1856.  In the 1870s Edward Perceval Westby of Roebuck Castle, Dundrum, county Dublin and Doon, county Clare, owned 25,779 acres in county Clare and 67 acres in county Dublin. The Castle was modernized in 1874.

Roebuck is described as a district within Taney (civil) parish in Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of 1837, with the Castle as ‘..seat of A. B. Crofton, Esq., was originally erected at a remote period and strongly fortified. ..’, and the land around described as ‘..chiefly occupied by handsome villas, situated in tastefully disposed grounds, many of which command magnificent views of the bay and city of Dublin, the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, and the beautiful adjacent country..’.

The Castle and lands were sold in 1943 for £16,000 to The Little Sisters of the Poor,  who used the building as a home for the aged poor.

In 1985 the Castle was sold to U.C.D. and part of the land was sold for development. The Castle, Gate-Lodge and some of the cottages are now listed as protected structures.


see also :

Roebuck Castle Sale 1942
Map of Roebuck Townland – 1820
Roebuck Castle 1765 – Drawing
Contents of Entrance Hall – Roebuck Castle 1943

see also full entry from Hall’s 1903 – Description of Roebuck from F.E. Hall’s ‘History of Dublin’

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