There are a few great stories about the Four Houses in Slane Village Square including the one about ‘The Four Sisters’. But the true story is just as interesting….
While visiting Versailles in France, William Bourton Conyngham admired a square with four Georgian houses, one on each corner and decided to sketch them to capture his vision for Slane Village.
He then asked Henry Fisher to build them. It took 5 years to build each house, this would have been a typical time period to build a large three story house. The stone alone had to be hauled from 2 quarries on the Drogheda road by horse and cart.
1st house: ‘Rock House’ – North West Corner – Started Building in 1762 – It started off as a Coachman’s Inn and was one of the first stops on the road from Dublin to Derry by Horse drawn coaches. In 1972 the Coachman’s Inn register book was found with beautiful writing inscribed by ink and quill. One of the many visitors to the Inn was the Bishop of Derry. It cost 9pce per person to stay there and 1shilling and 6pce for the four horses to be housed in the stables, which is now The Hub for all your community and tourism information. In later years the Justice of the Peace also resided at this house.
2nd House: The North East Corner House – Started Building in 1767 – This was built for the Protestant Minister and was then taken over by the Catholic Church in 1923.
3rd House: The South East Corner House – Started Building in 1772 – This was the Doctors House
4th House: The South West Corner House – Started Building in 1777 – This was the RIC (The Royal Irish Constabulary) Building– It closed in 1965
In fact in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the four houses were indeed occupied by some of the most influential people in the Village – the Priest, the Doctor, the Magistrate and the Constabulary.
Originally, a large fountain was in the centre of the square. The fountain had free-running water and was for the livestock being sold at the village fair. The fair took place monthly in the centre of Slane Village. The Dublin to Derry road became busier and by 1883 the fountain was gone.
The gates on the north west and south west corners have centre knobs bearing the shamrock and rose and thistle emblems of the union of 1800.
Lighting in the village square was provided by 8 gas lamps, 2 on each corner. A light keeper lit these lamps every night, using whale oil and wick. This was paid for by the local protestant church. Four bases from these lamps still remain in the village square today.
The square has always been the centre of activity here in Slane from the village fairs to the important residents of the four houses. It remains a busy place and a wonderful point of interest in the heart of Slane Village.
As told by local historian Michael Kelly