Palatial Santry House, adjoining the village of Santry, just north of Dublin, was originally the seat of the Barry family in southern Ireland. In the mid 18th century, thanks to the black sheep of the Barry family (son of Bridget, nee Domvile), the Lordship of Santry and the House passed to Sir Compton Domville, Bart., (1696-1768).
A short history written in 1837 by Samuel Lewis described the
stately mansion of brick, containing many spacious apartments ornamented with numerous family portraits, a valuable collection of historical and scriptural paintings by the best masters, and many valuable specimens of the fine arts: the demesne, comprising more than 140 acres, is tastefully laid out in gardens and pleasure-grounds, richly embellished with timber, and commanding some beautiful scenery and some extensive mountain and sea views ... The church ... is a plain neat edifice, rebuilt in 1709, and contains the tombs of many of the Barry and Domville families ...
The mansion was four stories high, in the style of Queen Anne, with high narrow doors and windows like Blenheim House,
resembling on a minor scale Versailles Palace. It comprises a centre and two wings, the latter thrown forward and connected with the main body by covered passages. The square of the front of the house is enclosed with iron gates, and in its midst is a pillar recording the pedigree and death of an Arab steed belonging to the present owner ... (Benjamin Adams' 'History of the Parish of Santry', 1884)
One account of the monument to the horse says that ‘Sir Compton Domvile got in a rage with one of his best horses and ordered it to be shot. He rode away to Dublin, but changed his mind and got back just as his order was carried out. He erected this monument in memory of the horse.’ Another account says that for some reason his favourite horse threw him, ‘whereupon he went into the house and returned with a gun and shot it. Later, filled with remorse, he had the monument erected’.
Santry is now a suburb on the north side of Dublin, just south of Dublin airport. There's a road there called Dunville Avenue. The mansion of Santry was used as a base for the Irish army in the 1940 emergency and was accidentally burned down in about 1943.
In 1976 E J McAuliffe, Dublin genealogist, visited the area and described what he saw in a letter of 13 May 1976 to Martin Dunville of Florida, USA. The old village of Santry had gone and all that remained was an old house, bar, shop, and the old church.
‘The wall surrounds the demesne - now grazed by cows - and many fine old trees of an exotic kind remain. The old gate lodge is there but empty, and a new small house appeared near it. After braving the notice 'beware guard dogs' I opened the gate, and went to the house, where I met a young lady and told her I was making enquiries for a descendant of the Domvilles. She became immediately most friendly, and told me her name is Mrs Harris, and that she had known an old lady, now deceased, who worked for the Domvilles, who were good landlords, well beloved, and who did much for Santry. Alas, only a few old walls are all that remain of the house, and the monument to the horse has fallen.
‘The old church is well kept, and the small graveyard in which it stands. Here I saw the memorials to Sir Compton, and the old tombstones ...’