The Conynghams Story
Posted on 20th April 2022
Twenty-seven children and fighting on both sides of the Battle of the Boyne
A potted history of the Conyngham family
The Conyngham family who have lived in Slane Castle since the 1700s are an eclectic bunch with many fascinating characters enlivening the family tree. The very first Conyngham in Ireland was Alexander, a Scottish protestant clergyman of noble lineage who settled in Donegal in 1611. He sired an impressive 27 children with his Irish wife, Marian Murray, of whom about nine reached adulthood. It is his descendants who are the current Conyngham family in Slane, though the line is indirect, with uncles and aunts playing a part along the way.
The Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which took place a few miles downriver from Slane Castle, brought the Conynghams to Slane for the first time. The battle was between King William of Orange and the deposed King James II – and Conynghams were to be found fighting on both sides. Slane Castle and its lands had been owned the Fleming family since 1175, but they had the misfortune to support the losing Jacobite side, and their property was confiscated. Some time later in 1703 Major General Henry Conyngham, who had fought for the winning King Billy, purchased the estate. Henry was a grandson of Alexander the clergyman and an ancestor of Alex, the current Earl. Henry’s son, also named Henry, was the first to have the title of Earl. He took it upon himself to improve the grounds and engaged the services of legendary landscape artist Capability Browne to design both the parklands and the ornate stable block which today houses Slane Distillery.