Castletownberehaven, Beara Peninsula, County Cork

Puxley Manor and Castle - April 1999

Puxley Manor - June 2008

There are two castles on the Dunboy Estate - Dunboy Castle and the smaller one that became known as Puxley Castle in the early 18th century.

Puxley Castle is a small tower keep built on the upper part of Dunboy Harbour, which is an inlet off Berehaven Harbour. The keep was built sometime in the 15th century at the time when the O'Sullivan Beres fortified Dunboy Castle and was used to protect the demesne from inland marauders.

After the Siege of Dunboy in 1602, both castles remained in ruin until the Puxley's moved to the area about a hundred years later.

The first Henry Puxley was born in 1685 and became the land agent/(real) estate agent for Edward Eyre in Galway City, for whom Eyre Square was named in that city. Henry had four children; his two boys were Henry and John, two names that would become traditional family names for the next two hundred years.

Henry and John were land agents like their father, and in 1730 the brothers relocated to Castletownbere with the intention of making their own fortunes in real estate. Their first investment would be the Dunboy Estate where they built a modest extension onto the existing tower keep at the head of the harbour.

John married Mary Hayes and had a son they called Henry who was born in 1741. While his brother Henry was making his living as a land agent, John got involved with a Dunboy descendent called Morty Og O'Sullivan and hatched a

scheme to smuggle wine! But the deal went sour in 1756 and Morty shot John dead. John's son Henry went into business with his Uncle Henry on the Dunboy Estate.

Young Henry eventually married Sarah Lavallin, a local heiress, and started a family. Their son John Lavallin Puxley came along in 1772.

John L. Puxley became a prominent businessman and had his hand in many projects. He is credited with having discovered copper in 1810 in the foothills of the Slieve Miskish Mountains in Allihies behind Castletownbere and began mining in 1812. The Puxley's put everything they had into the business and made it one of the most successful mines in Ireland until it was finally closed in 1930. John was such a mining success that he became known as Copper John.

John was also the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire Wales after he purchased a Georgian estate there in 1832. And he also managed the Lavallin and Annesley estates, having paid off their many debts with the first of his copper fortunes.

John married Sarah Hobbs early on in his career and kept up his busy schedule by making eight children. It was their son John Lavallin Puxley II who took over the running of the Dunboy Estate in 1837 until his death in 1860. The estate reverted to John's brother Henry, who extended the old castle into a proper Gothic manor house in 1866. J. Christopher, a popular architect of the time, was hired to come up with blueprints for the house, and E.H. Carson, supervised the building. Ballyknockane granite and Ballintemple limestone were the principal building stones used and took two years to complete.

At about this point, the family dropped the name Puxley and started using the old family name - Lavallin. Henry Edmund Lavallin was born in 1866, the same year the house extension began. And later he married and lived in Puxley Manor, as it was now called, and had two children of his own...yes, another Henry and John..Henry Waller and John Paul.

John Paul Lavallin was the last of the direct branch of the Puxley family, as his brother Henry passed away in 1900.

It was during the Irish War for Independence (1919-1921) that Puxley Manor saw its destruction. Like Dunboy before it, Puxley came under fire when the IRA campaigned across Ireland, destroying homes where they believed the owners were storing weapons for the British. The Lavallin's were rewarded the sum of £50,000 in compensation by the British government which enabled them to leave the area. The estate was auctioned in 1926 to Maurice D. Power who bought the estate for his son who'd settled in the region, though the house remained in ruin.

The history of Puxley Manor doesn't stop here though. In 2005 the Capella Hotels & Resorts group, the new luxury brand of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group, bought Puxley Manor and the Dunboy Estate with the intentions of restoring the manor to its former glory and opening it as a five-star hotel facing Dunboy Harbour.

The company estimates it will cost sixty million euro to turn this completely gutted historical one-time home into an 82 room luxury hotel that will include a full service spa and helicopter service to Waterville Golf Course on the Iveragh Peninsula, aka the Ring of Kerry.

The restoration of the manor is meant to be the largest scale restoration project ever attempted in Irish history, said a spokesperson from Cap Partners, a Dublin firm funding the project.

Dunboy Harbour in front of Puxley Manor

Capella is all about restoration. They've also bought Castlemartyr Castle in East Cork, a former private school seton the grounds of a Carmelite monastic settlement, and opened it as a 103 room luxury hotel and spa.

There are 2 novels based on the Puxley family "The Two Chiefs of Dunboy" by J.A. Froude and "Hungry Hill" by Daphne du Maurier.


~ Free attraction*
~ Free car parking available
~ During construction of the hotel, access is only along the waterfront on the paved driveway. The hotel will be fully accessible on completion

*Puxley Manor is on the same grounds as Dunboy Castle and access onto the estate is currently open to the public with the proviso that there is major construction along the road.

To get into Puxley Manor and Dunboy Castle, drive out along the R572 from Castletownbere. Dunboy Castle is signposted from town. Turn left off the main road and you will see a derelict gatehouse (picture right). Turn left at the gatehouse and follow the road to a gate. There is public access through the gate, but please remember to close the gate behind you when you arrive and leave, as there are horses and grazing cattle in private pastures that flank this access road.

old gatehouse to Puxley Manor
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