Those who shop in the Town Centre (Super Valu) in Ashbourne should stop occasionally at the impressive trees in front of the Centre and imagine that here once stood the Hunt House, which gave it name to Huntsgrove, the houses built behind it.
The Hunt House was built in the early 1800’s and it is believed that Mr. Bourne, son of Frederick, lived there for a while. The house was later sold to the Ward Union Hunt. Charles Brindley, in whose memory the monument in Donaghmore was erected, lived there from circa 1866, as the huntsman.
A priest giving a mission in 1876 in Ashbourne recorded:
‘I breakfasted once with Charlie Brindley, Master of the Ward hounds. He has a splendid house, (the best in the town) formerly owned by Mr. Bourne, and with which Mr. Bourne sorely regrets he parted with. Mrs Brindley is a good pious creature. They have a son, James, who cares for the hounds and hunts with his father. I went to see the hounds being fed one day: a most interesting sight ravenous, yet mortified.’
(Fr.Robert Hally S.J. 1796-1882)
Charles died in 1880 after serving the hunt for more than 35 years. The 1901 census also lists a James Brindley, aged 51, whose occupation was head huntsman and his son, Charles, aged 15 , a professional whip. In the 1960’s Tom Fitzimons ‘resides on the Ward Union property’ (V.Rev.J.Cogan). Many of the deer were kept in Slane but there were deer and hounds kept too behind the Hunt House. These were moved to Dunshaughlin in the early 1970’s and the house demolished.
One resident of Ashbourne recalls growing up in the 1930’s and 40’s:
It was the kennels. It was beautiful – the huntsman lived there, the man in charge of the hunt, not the Master. And then there was a ‘whip’, he had a little room with its own entrance. I thought the house was beautiful. It had a balcony on it which was unusual. The deer were kept down there, that’s why it’s called Huntsgrove, down where the school is now. The deer only went out of it in ’70 – ’72. A Mr. Dunphy was there after the Fitzsimons and then they changed over to Dunshaughlin and the house was just let go. It was lovely from the outside, yellow with a balcony and there was a very nice door with a porch. Hounds were there too and you’d see Tom Fitzsimons bringing the hounds out for a walk and they’d be all over the road. When I was young the horsemen used to come out and there’d be the Master and the whip riding the horses and ….. I remember crawling under afence away from the road when they’d be coming along the road.’