History of the House / 1844 to 1864 - Cornelius Egan

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Earlscliffe residents 1844 to 1864

The first person we believe owned and lived in Earlscliffe was Alderman Cornelius Egan.

Cornelius Egan

Family history

Egan Family Tree
Egan family tree

Cornelius Egan was born about 1800. His father was Stephen Egan, a brewer from Roscrea. Stephen Egan had married Margaret Coffee around 1776 and they had eight children.

Stephen had a brewery and distillery in Roscrea which was later managed by two of his sons, Daniel and Stephen. Cornelius grew up with the distilling industry and its associated businesses which probably influenced his choice of career in his early years.

Brewing conspiracies!

In the town of Roscrea there were two brewers, the Catholic distillers, Egan and and the rival wealthy Protestant distillers, Birch. [2]

In 1816, an incident occurred in Roscrea whereby the local Protestant curate and magistrate, Rev. John Hamilton, accused the Egans of conspiracy to murder the Protestant gentry of the neighbourhood by going past his house and firing shots at him whilst he was sat in his window saying his prayers. Attempted murder in those days was a capital offence.

After a lengthy trial that eventually fell apart with contradicting statements, the whole incident was revealed as an attempt by the rival protestant brewer to put the Egan family out of business and the case was thrown out of court. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Cornelius early years

By 1824, Cornelius Egan was a Corn Merchant working in Ringsend in Dublin 4. Along with his brother, Stephen Egan, Cornelius joined the National Political Union of Ireland in 1831. This body had been set up to serve as a pressure group for parliamentary reform. [5]

On the 29 June 1832, Cornelius married Grace Cahill in Booterstown in Dublin [6] and they went on to have 10 children [7]

By 1834 they were living in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) and in 1841 Cornelius became Alderman of Dublin City Council.  [8]

By 1843, Egan was living and working on Bachelors Walk in the centre of Dublin and by 1844 owned a wholesale merchant company (Cornelius Egan & Co) selling hops, seed, malt and corn. [8]

Earlscliffe is built

We believe that the house at Earlscliffe was built around 1844, probably by Cornelius Egan as a summer residence, although it could have been built by William McDougall. Although the dates are a little uncertain, we do know that Egan owned the property in 1848 under a 99-year lease of 1847 from the Earl of Howth (which is possibly where the name Earlscliffe came from). [9] [10]


We don't know much more about Egan and Earlscliffe, but we do know that there were legal dealings with Egan and his executors and William McDougall of Drumleck, Howth (see map above).[11]

Beachfield House today
Beachfield House, Strand Road, Sutton today

Egan owned and was landlord for many properties around Dublin and other areas, and owned a number of properties in Howth which, we assume, he either lived in or rented out. According to Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory, in 1849, Egan owned Devonshire Terrace in Sutton (now called Beachfield House) [12] and in 1852 he also owned St Lawrence House in Howth village.  [13]

We assume that, when Egan lived in Howth, it was only during the summer months, and that during the winter he lived at his main premises at 27 Bachelor's Walk in Dublin. [7]

On 26 Oct 1853, Egan's son, also called Cornelius, died tragically in Howth after his gun accidentally exploded whilst shooting. He is buried in St Mary's in Howth [14]

Alderman Egan, at this stage, was living in St Lawrence House during the summer and, we presume, he had rented out Earlscliffe.

Cornelius Egan died on 2nd July 1863 in St Lawrence House in Howth and is buried at St. Fintan's cemetery in Sutton. [15] [16] He was survived by his wife, Grace, who subsequently moved to Antwerp in Belgium in 1871 and died on the 27th Aug 1874. [7]

St Lawrence House was later converted into a hotel, which closed in the summer of 2000 and is now an apartment complex.

In terms of Earlscliffe, we know that Egan owned the property up to at least 1850 [10]. However, we assume that Egan's death in 1863 prompted the sale of Earlscliffe (and probably his other properties).

Further information 

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List of Earlscliffe Residents

1844 to 1864 - Cornelius Egan
1864 to 1878 - Bunbury McClintock
1878 to 1896 - The Knox family
1896 to 1901 - John Randal Plunkett
1901 to 1922 - John Pentland Mahaffy
1922 to 1924 - CT Ovenden
1924 to 1927 - Robert Rooney
1927 to 1930 - Dr Ella Webb
1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden
1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy
1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough
1950 to 1952 - Stanley-Clarke
1952 to 1961 - Woods
1961 to 1969 - Knowles
1969 to today - David & Muriel Robinson & Foley family