It all began a very long time ago when a soldier named Moyses Hill, a native of Devon, in the south west of England, arrived in Ireland in 1573.
He was in charge of a garrison at Carrickfergus, as an officer in the army of the Earl of Essex, Walter Devereux, sent by Elizabeth 1st, to subdue the rebellious O’Neill clan in Ireland.
When the wars were over, Moyses remained, holding important offices under the Crown and at the same time identifying himself with the Irish, by marrying Alice MacDonnell, sister of Sorley Boy MacDonnell, of Dunluce.
They moved to Cromlyn and made it the centre of extensive lands that had passed into the hands of the family from Bryan McRory Magennes in 1611. In the process of time Moyses’ descendants became numbered amongst the richest, most powerful and most benevolent landowners in Ireland. From them, Hillsborough derives its name, and all that is notable in it today is a reminder of their wealth and status.
However our story is about the 4th Marquess, shown here on a statue in the centre of the village. He came to Dundrum in 1840 and built the main street and put in a port and imported cereals and coal and made the village a thriving centre of commerce.
He liked Dundrum so much that he moved onto the peninsula, and built himself a summer house in 1857 which is the Murlough House of today
The house was built with a sea view but by 1910 all the windows on the seaward side of the house had to be replaced, so they let the trees grow to protect it from the storms.
In 1967 the 7th Marquess, just recently married, sold the land to the National Trust to form Ireland’s first nature reserve.
Previously in 1952 he had let the Church of Ireland use the house as a retreat house for 9 months of the year, with the family only using it in the summer.
In 1973 he sold the house to the National Trust. The Queens University of Belfast purchased a lease for the property and used it for 20 years as a field study centre. Queens built a laboratory, which is the conference centre of today.
Queens sold the lease to Project Evangelism in 1993, where it was run as a centre for training in Evangelism and Discipleship.
Since 2014 the house has changed custodianship and now accommodates small groups at weekends and is open as a retreat house during the week.
31 Keel Point
Co. Down. BT33 ONQ
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