Where the Santry Demesne public park is situated was once a palatial old house and gardens, built in 1703 on the site of an earlier medieval residence. This was once the largest house in North County Dublin and people traveled from far and wide to be received by the owners, the Barry family. Many clues to the house still exist and visitors can find the house foundations, front steps, tree avenue and of course the walled garden within the grounds of the park.
A small bend in the Santry River (which forms the boundary of the park today) was widened to create a small pond for the boating pleasure of Georgian ladies and gentlemen who resided at, and visited, the house.
It is thought that a network of water pipes ran throughout the park for a series of water features. However although water was plentiful there was not enough to keep these features running simultaneously. So as the residents and their guests walked around the gardens workers would be dispatched to switch the water on at particular features as they approached and switch it off once they had passed by.
The house fell into disrepair at the turn of the 20th century as the estate proved not to be economically viable. The Domville family departed Ireland post-independence in 1921 and the house came into the possession of the state in the 1930’s who intended to repair it and use it as a mental asylum. This plan was shelved by the start of World War II; the need to increase security around Dublin Airport meant it was used as an army depot, and part of the gardens as a firing range. There are many theories locally about what happened next, but in 1947 a fire severely damaged the house which was then left derelict and finally demolished in 1959.
Very little remains to be seen of the former grandeurs and the area which was known locally as ‘Santry Woods’ due to the great number of beautiful old trees on the site, became neglected and un-used. However around the end of the 1990’s work began on the Northwood development despite much opposition from local people and environmentalists who were concerned by plans to clear the ancient woodlands to make way for the new development (which comprises hotels, restaurants, residential apartments, office and retail buildings).
After much debate and negotiation part of the land attached to Santry Court was retained by Fingal County Council and Santry Demesne is now a much loved public park that contains a children’s play area, a man-made lake, and the Morton Athletics Stadium.