Rewind: Spawell House and Grounds

By Danielle Walsh Ronan

Originally built in 1703, Spawell House and its grounds played an important role in the leisure time of some of Dublin’s most well-off residents.

Formally an inn named ‘The Domville Arms and Three Tuns’, the name of Spawell House was inspired by the medicinal spring, or spa, which was found on the grounds surrounding it.

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Spawell House from the main road (Left) and Spawell House Circa 1977. (Images: Sourced from South Dublin Libraries)

 

It was this medicinal spring which drew in many people from around Dublin to Templeogue during the late 1720s and into the early 1730s.

As described by the historian William Domville Handcock, ‘the rank, beauty and fashion of Dublin assembled at this now neglected spot’.

After the spa was discovered during the early eighteenth century, the spot became very popular among Dublin’s elite. According to the author Frank Hopkins, the well was open every year from April to September for those who wished to take from it.

The way in which the spa and surrounding area were used as a place for socialising is reflected in an advertisement by the The Domville Arms and Three Tuns in the Dublin Gazette in April 1732.

According to the advertisement, the owner of the inn, Patrick Daniel, was promising those using the water from the spa that there would be a large room for the accommodation of gentlemen and ladies and good entertainment for those in attendance with a band of city music playing every day. 

As the spa became an increasingly fashionable spot for well off Dubliners, there was an effort made to ensure people wouldn’t miss its water or social scene without them actually being there.

The water from the well was so popular that if you could not make it to the well to get some, you had the option to get bottles of it delivered to you every day at a rate of two pence per bottle.

However, the water was not the only thing people might have feared missing out on at the spa. As mentioned already, the well became a hot spot for Dublin’s elite and an important place for socialising.

As a substitute for those who could not make it to the well, the weekly newspaper the Templeogue Intelligencer was established.

Spanning eight pages, this was a paper which was solely committed to reporting all that was happening at the well for those who had missed out.

Despite how popular it was for so many years, the spa began to decline during the 1740s when the taste and appearance of the water began to wane.

The well was used by people up until around 1750 when the water lost its medicinal properties, eventually leading to it being covered up.

After its own decline, The Domville Arms and Three Tuns was used as a farmer’s house, with the interior of the building being changed to fit its new purpose.

By the mid nineteenth century, Spawell House was occupied by a family called the Kiernans and by 1906, the ownership of the house passed on to the Kennedy Family, remaining in private ownership thereafter.

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