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Location in Ireland

Coordinates: 53°52′00″N 8°24′00″W / 53.8667°N 8.4°W / 53.8667; -8.4Coordinates: 53°52′00″N 8°24′00″W / 53.8667°N 8.4°W / 53.8667; -8.4

Country Ireland
Province Connacht
County County Roscommon
Elevation 82 m (269 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Urban 454
 • Rural 793
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference M737908

Frenchpark, historically known as Dungar (Irish: Dún Gar, meaning "the fort of favour"), is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland on the N5 national primary road. It was the home of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland. The nearby French Park Estate was until 1952 the ancestral seat of the French family, Barons de Freyne. The estate was sold to the Irish Land Commission in the 1950s and was dismantled by the mid 1970s. An historic smokehouse is one of the few remaining legacies of this period.


Early Irish history

Frenchpark - The Ciarrage groups here were the early lords of Airteach. Mac Donagh is cited as later lords of Airtech. The O'Flanagan here were hereditary stewards to the Kings of Connacht.

Early 13th Century

Dominican Priory of the Holy Cross, Cloonshanville.

18th – 20th Century

The Barons de Freyne, former owners of Frenchpark

Main article: Baron de Freyne

In the 1749 Census of Elphin it was the residence of Arthur French, an MP in the Irish parliament. His son Arthur (1764-1820) was also an MP who was said to have died "from excessive fox hunting". Members of the French family were buried in the graveyard surrounding the ruins of Frenchpark Priory. At the time of Griffith's Valuation Frenchpark was owned by Rev. John Ffrench, Lord de Freyne and was valued at £60. Later in the 1800s the family converted to Roman Catholicism.

Frenchpark House

The ancestral seat of the Barons de Freyne was the French Park Estate, near Boyle, County Roscommon. The manor house, originally built in the mid-17th century before being rebuilt in the Georgian style in the 18th century was demolished after the sale of the estate by the 7th Baron de Freyne to the Irish Land Commission in 1952. The Land Commission removed the roof of the buildings in 1953 and eventually demolished the remaining structures in ca 1975. The present Lord de Freyne lives with his wife and family at Putney.

A distant cousin of the de Freynes was Charlotte Despard (née French) (1844–1939), a scion of the French family of High Lake, a British-born, later Irish-based suffragist, novelist and Sinn Féin activist.[1] Despard spent a lot of time at French Park where her father was born. In 1908 she joined with Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins to form the Irish Women’s Franchise League. She urged members to boycott the 1911 Census and withhold taxes and provided financial support to workers during the Dublin labour disputes.

In 1909 Despard met Mahatma Gandhi and was influenced for a time by his theory of passive resistance. She moved to Dublin after World War I and was bitterly critical of her brother, Field Marshal John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1919-21, who unsurprisingly tended to ignore her.

During the Irish War of Independence, together with Maud Gonne, she formed the Women's Prisoners' Defence League to support Republican prisoners. As a member of Cumann na mBan she opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and was imprisoned by the government during the Irish Civil War. She is buried in the Republican Plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

The Great Famine in Frenchpark (1845–1849)

The Great Famine in Ireland, 1845–1849, was in no small part the result of policies of the Whig government of the United Kingdom under Lord John Russell. Land in Ireland was owned mostly by Protestant Church of Ireland families of English descent, referred to as the Anglo-Irish, who mostly did not identify culturally or ethnically with their tenants. As the landowners felt no compunction to use their political clout to aid their tenants, the British government's expedient response to the food crisis in Ireland was to leave the matter solely to the vagaries of market forces. A strict free-market approach, aided by the British Army guarding ports and food depots from the starving crowds, ensured food exports continued as before, and even increased during the famine period. The immediate effect was 1,000,000 dead and another 1,000,000 refugees fleeing to Britain, Australia and the United States. Gerard Murren was one of the many brave soldiers who helped get food to the people of Frenchpark.

See also


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