by ehistoryadmin on June 6, 2014

The Kildare Observer FEBRUARY 17, 1923 



As we go to Press information reaches us that Mullaboden, Ballymore-Eustace, the splendid residence of Senator Sir Bryan and Lady Mahon is in flames. This (Friday) morning seven men dressed in the uniform of National soldiers arrived in a motor lorry, held up the gardener and other workers about the place, entered the house and sprinkling it with petrol, set it on fire. The military fire brigade from the Curragh is fighting the flames, but there is no hope of saving the building.  

The Kildare Observer FEBRUARY 24, 1923 






As briefly reported in our last issue, Mullaboden, the residence of Senator Sir Bryan Mahon and Lady Mahon was completely destroyed by fire on Friday of last week.

At a quarter to 11 o’ clock on Friday morning a Ford motor lorry, seized with its contents , 70 tins of petrol, from the driver for the Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Co. at Blessington on the previous Monday, drove up the roadway. It contained seven armed men, some of them in uniform of the National Army, and carrying rifles and revolvers. One of the men jumped from the lorry and opened the avenue gate, and the car drove on towards the house. The man who had opened the gate took up a position there, and close to the house of Mr. W. J. Mitcheson, the steward. Mr. Mitcheson, who was in the house at the time, hearing the noise, came out and asked the man, who carried a short-barrelled weapon, believed from the description to be a “Peter the Painter,” what was wrong. The reply was: “Who lives there?” Mr. Mitcheson explained, and realising from the appearance of the man, who was not in uniform, what was likely to thier mission there, he asked if they were going to burn his house, where only his wife and daughter were. The man answered that they were not. Mr Mitcheson then asked if the man in charge had gone up to the house in the lorry, and the sentry replied: “I am the man in charge.” Just then two grooms, exercising horses, came on the scene, and the armed men asked them what they were doing, and warned them to clear off.

Mr Mitcheson, leaving the man, went towards the residence, and there found that the lorry had been pulled up on the gravelled drive in front. There were five servants in the house- three female and five male. They were rounded up by the raiders, who threatened to “plug” them if they refused to obey orders. The servants were compelled to collect the furniture in to the centre of each room. The raiders went about the rooms sprinkling petrol and breaking the glass in the windows with their rifle butts. One man carried out a gramophone, which he placed on the front steps, and winding it up he put a record on and started the machine. Another carried out an Oliver typewriter, a third field glasses, and a fourth a uniform belonging to Sir Bryan Mahon as a General in the British Army. Matches were applied to the petrol-soaked building, and in a few moments the place was a seething mass of flame. The man with the General’s uniform donned it in front of the house, and taking with them the gramophone, which was playing a merry accompaniment to the crackling flames, the typewriter and the field glasses, the raiders entered the lorry and drove off, after warning the servants not to stir from the place.

From the outset it was quite evident that any attempt to extinguish the flames would be hopeless. The raiders had done their work too thoroughly to leave chance of that. Miss Mitcheson, daughter of the steward, setting out on her bicycle after the first shock of the terrible occurrence  had passed, proceeded to Ballymore-Eustace, about a mile distant, to give the alarm. In the farmyard is an engine by means of which water used to be pumped into the tanks on the roof of the house, and which also drove the dynamo to supply electric lightning to the house and quarters. The engine was running, and a fire hose, evidently overlooked by the raiders was got into position. Mr Mitcheson, who took charge, saw it was useless to attempt to save the house, and had the hose turned on to the servants quarters and spare room, which formed the northern wing of the house, and were almost as imposing a block of buildings as the house itself, with which they were connected. To this promote action may be attributed the fact that the servants escaped practically undamaged by the fire, though the stairs leading from the residence into this block was consumed by the flames, and the block itself suffered internally from the water. Meanwhile most of the furniture had been removed from the quarters.

A small party of military from Naas under Captain  Dowling arrived on the scene about 12.15 and gave what help they could pending the arrival  of the Curragh military fire brigade, which reached the scene about a quarter of an hour later. The residence was by this time a mass of roaring flames, absolutely beyond hope of extinguishing. The Brigade laid their hose form the fine 40 horse power Denny engine which was stationed about 130 yards down the avenue and beside a pond from which the water was soon being pumped in volumes through two lines of hose on to the building. Shortly after the arrival of the Brigade Captain Dowling with a party of three of his men left in pursuit of the raiders in a Ford touring car.

When our representative arrived on the scene about 2 o’ clock the brigade was vigorously at work. All the floors of the main building had fallen in, as also had the roof, with the exception of part of that on the fine central tower, which was still burning fiercely. Around the lawn were scattered many articles of furniture which had been saved from the burning house. These included an upright piano, and another piano had been taken from the servants wing, some inlaid cabinets – one with the side completely burned away – and other small articles. Out from the back of the house stretches two magnificent conservatories. These were practically undamaged save for here and there a broken pane, caused by flying skates from the roof. About a foot of water covered the floors, flowing out from the doors of the house, into which it was being  thrown from the hose on the other side. Huge volumes of smoke enveloped the building, and here and there flames danced, and now and then there was a loud crashing as a bedstead or some other metal article crashed on to the debris below. The brigade worked valiantly, the helmeted fire-fighters appearing in dangerous positions within the now practically burned out building, covered with grime and soot and soaked with water. Out through the charred remnants of window frames the members of the brigade passed the silver, which was being checked by an officer, and all of which was saved, and placed under a guard in a place of security. Fortunately the more valuable articles of furniture had been removed to Dublin after the destruction of Palmerstown, the residence of Lord Mayo, another Kildare member of the Irish Senate, at the end of last month.

Neither Sir Bryan nor Lady Mahon was in residence at Mullaboden nor had been since the beginning of the month. Sir Bryan was either in Dublin or across Channel.

Mullaboden was a splendid two-storey house, erected about seventy years ago by Mr. Chas. Hoffman, from whom its was purchased about forty years ago by Col. the Hon. Charles Crichton, D.L. Lady Mahon’s father, and the brother of the Earl of  Erne. Colonel Crichton died a few years ago, and the house passed into the possession of Lady Mahon, then Lady Milbanke, widow of Sir John Milbanke,  V.C., and mother of the present baronet, also Sir John Milbanke, who only a month ago, and is still at Cambridge University. The property comes to him on the death of his mother.

The Brigade was still engaged at the scene at 6 o clock on Friday evening, and close by stood a whippet armoured car from the Curragh. The brigade and military were under the command of Commandant Barry O’Brien and Lieut. McDonald of the Curragh.


Away from the noise of the engine a short time after the departure of Captain Dowling and his little party firing could be heard, indicating that contact with the raiders, or other armed men had been established. About 3.30 the Ford car dashed back into Mullaboden, the soldiers with empty bandoliers and badly mud-spattered. One does not nowadays seek information from soldiers on military matters, but residents of the district were able to tell what had happened, and the story was one of bravery and resource. It appears the little party of soldiers followed the track of the retreating lorry, which was discernible  on the muddy road passed through Ballymore, and out on to the main Dublin-Poulaphouca thoroughfare, and thence on to the Baltyboys road. At Baltiboys road the military evidently having espied the lorry, they had chased drawn up on the roadside near public-house, where there was at least one other car also drawn up, left their car. They saw fourteen or fifteen armed men, some of them in uniform of National Army, some in Civic Guard, and others in civilian clothing. The small party of soldiers opened fire at them. There was a vigorous reply, it is said, from machine guns, Thompson guns, and rifles. The military sought cover near a cottage and only a short distance form the armed men. Thereafter for upwards of an hour there was terrifie fire, in the midst of which the driver of the Ford car, said to be Private Smith, of the Naas garrison, coolly emerged to turn his car on the road and refill his radiator with water, the greater part of the contents having boiled away in the race up the hills. Bullets literally tore up the ground all around him, but he carried on with his task and got the car to a place of comparative safety. At this time it appeared as if an encircling movement was being attempted by the armed men, who are stated to number about thirty, and the leader of the little party of military, whose stock of ammunition was almost exhausted ordered a retirement. The raiders were calling on the military to currender, but the only reply they received came from the rifles of the little band, who succeeded eventually in retiring to where their car stood, and so making their way back to their comrades at Mullaboden without having suffered any casualties.

The Kildare Observer MARCH 3, 1923

 The Burning of Mullaboden.

CLAIM FOR £60,000

The following additional malicious injury claims have been received by the Kildare County Council :-

G.S and W. Railway Co. – Dunlavin signal cabin damaged, 27th January – £100.

Lady A. F. L Bryan Mahon – Burning of Mullaboden house and furniture £60,000

Sir Bryan Mahon – clothing and other property burned, £925.

Same – Suits cases, etc. burned, £146.

Mrs. E. Holland – furniture, etc, turned at Mullaboden, £250.

Mrs. E. M. Heydon – House and plough damaged at Brownstown, Athy, 17th February, £46.

J. A. Hannon – Store-house damaged at Athy, 17th Februray, £22 2s 6d.

G.S and W. Railway Co – Kildare booking office burned £350.

This brings the total of the claims received by the CountyCouncil since June last -exclusive of Lord Mayo’s  claim which has not been lodged with the Co. Council – to £214,095.

 The Kildare Observer NOVEMBER 29, 1924 



On Friday evening Judge Doyle gave his decision in the claim by Lady Bryan Mahon for the burning of Mullaboden House. He said he ought to say a word of appreciation for the manner in which the case was brought into court by all parties concerned. For the chattels he allowed £10,250 and for the building he allowed £10,865, and attach a partial re-instatement condition for the re-building of a less costly house than the injured building. That would be in all for the two claims £21,115. With regard to expenses and costs he allowed 12 guineas each for senior and junior counsel, but that would not at all amount to the sums paid for counsel in the important case, and he would allow £20 special fees to the solicitor for the applicant. He also allowed expenses according to the scale. The total amount of costs and expenses allowed would be £226.

Re-typed by Lynn Potts, June 2104




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