Sir Gilbert de Nugent, originally from the Nogent-le-Rotrou area in France, came to Ireland with his brother-in-law Hugh de Lacy in 1171. He was granted the title Baron of Delvin within the Lordship of Meath. Gilbert soon built a large Norman castle whose ruins can be found on the main street in Delvin village. The family remained in the area and later in 1639 Richard Nugent decided to ‘upgrade’ and built a new castle on the hill over looking the village at this location. This was replaced by the present Clonyn Castle which was built in 1876 and is regarded as one of the last great Victorian Baronial houses to be built in Ireland. It was built to designs of the architect John McCurdy (1823-85), who was also responsible for the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. It remained a Nugent residence until 1922, when Patrick Nugent sold it and moved to Scotland. It was soon afterwards home to a community of Australian nuns and in the post-World War II period served briefly as a home for Jewish children, most of them orphans of the Holocaust. Manchester businessman and philanthropist Yankel Levy was persuaded to buy the castle and associated land for £30,000 and some 100 children aged between 5 and 17 were temporarily housed here which consequently bankrupted him. It is currently a golf course and is privately owned by a Mrs Dillon. (R)

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