Featured image for Knockrdrin Castle

The history of Knockdrin Castle

Knockdrin Castle is a delightful, picturesque castle situated in the townland and electoral division of Knockdrin. It sits roughly 5.6 kilometres northeast of Mullingar, in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is certainly the most honourable and notable buildings in the area, especially being named as one of the finest castellated country houses built in Ireland during the first half of the 19th Century.

The history of Knockdrin Castle

The lovely Knockdrin Castle is simply stunning. History buffs love this place, and although you can’t enter, they flock to the road where it can be admired from. While it hasn’t been around as long as other castles in the area, it still has an admirable history behind it.

The early history

Previously, there was a main residence on the estate in the form of a small Norman Castle known locally as King John’s Castle that was destroyed by fire. The main part of the castle, known as High Park, was the first-ever mansion to sit on the site of the current Knockdrin Castle and was built in the early 18th century for Sir Richard Levinge, 1st Baronet, M.P.

Knockdrin Castle from the left
The current castle was built in the early 18th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Levigne family

The first Sir Richard Levigne was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He was also a member of the Lords Commissioners, who were appointed by the British Crown to settle all the land questions that arose in the area after the Cromwellian conquest, the Restoration and the Williamite Wars.

Levigne quickly took advantage of his position and purchased the Knockdrin Estate from the Tuite family who were the Norman-Irish owners up until his purchase. During this time, the estate was over 12,000 acres (49 km2) in size.

Changing hands

When the Irish War of Independence went through, Sir Winston Churchill stayed at the castle in a bedroom once known as the Crown Bedroom. During the Emergency (WWII), Knockdrin Castle was taken over and used as troop accommodation and was purely occupied by a company of the 6th Infantry of the Irish Army. In 1945, the army left and handed the castle back to the Levinge family.

The Levinge family owned Knockdrin Castle until 1946. Though, the last Sir Richard Levinge to live there (later a director of Guinness Ltd) had not been there for some time. In 1946, the estate was sold to Paddy Dunne-Cullinan who remained at the castle until 1961 when he decided to sell the estate to Hans Freiherr von Prondzynski, a man from Germany.

The current day

In August of 2020, the castle underwent some significant change. The description of the changes included this information:

“Twelve bedrooms and five bathrooms, a top-lit staircase made of carved oak, its own gallery decorated with fluted shafts and ogee-headed niches around the walls, reception rooms, a spacious dining room, ballroom, and a library. It also comes with commercial woodland, arable lands, and a small lake.”

You may be interested in other Irish castles such as Blackrock Castle.

wide shot of Knockrdrin castle
The castle has 12 bedrooms. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Knockdrin Castle for sale

Another report from September 2020 states that the major repairs had been completed, 50 years earlier and that at the time, the castle was “structurally in good repair but, given the passage of time, requires upgrading”. After this, the castle was then put up for sale and sold to the Meath-based couple Noel and Valerie Moran who were previous owners of Prepaid Financial Services. They had planned to significantly restore the castle as well as the outbuildings.

While they purchased the castle and much of the estate, the rest of the estate (150 acres) remained in the hands of Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski.

Knockdrin Castle Timeline

  • 17th century- The Levinge family come to Ireland with the Williamites
  • 18th century- Sir Richard Levigne has Knockdrin Castle built
  • 1945- The army leaves and hands the castle back to the Levinge family
  • 1946- The estate is sold to Paddy Dunne-Cullinan
  • 1961- The estate is sold to Hans Freiherr von Prondzynski, a man from Germany
  • 2020- The castle undergoes significant change and is sold
  • Late 2020- The castle becomes the home of the von Prondzynski family

Knockdrin Castle facts

  • The estate has been heavily reduced in size from 12,000 acres to 1,000
  • Knockdrin Castle was the first home in Ireland to have both central heating and electricity
  • Knockdrin Castle has 12 bedrooms
  • Sir Winston Churchill once stayed at the castle
  • Knockdrin Castle is often referred to as one of many main examples of the transition interval from Classicism to Gothic

Who owns Knockdrin Castle?

In December of 2020, Knockdrin Castle was purchased by Noel and Valerie Moran. Many articles describe them as Irish tech millionaires. They reportedly purchased the castle for just under €10 million. However, while they did purchase the castle and the majority of the estate, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski retained 150 acres and hopes to build his own residence there.

Tourism

Unfortunately, the castle is currently close to visitors and is expected to stay that way, at least for a while. The new owners want to perform significant changes while living in a quiet place away from prying eyes. However, you can still admire the castle from the road which gives you a glimpse into the beautiful architectural marvel of the construction.

This is a small consolation if anything. However, if you do love this castle, there are plenty more to see nearby. Also in County Westmeath, you can visit Ballinlough Castle, Clonyn Castle, Killua Castle, Tullynally Castle, and Tyrrellspass Castle. Make a day of it and explore these ever so beautiful castles.

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