Mote Park is located two miles south east of Roscommon Town and straddles the parishes of Kilmeane and Roscommon /Kilteevan. Today it is an area much loved and used by the surrounding
population and visitors as a recreational facility, with various forest walks and trails open to the public on what is now Coillte owned lands. Visitors to Mote Park today visit the area to appreciate it’s
landscape, built heritage and biodiversity, and to connect with times past.

The Crofton Memoirs written by Henry Thomas Crofton in 1911 states that the first connection of the Croftons to Mote Park and Ballymurray, Roscommon was their acquisition by John Crofton,
Escheator General of Ireland in the period 1572-75. In the 16 th century John Crofton of Ballymurray was granted lands in recognition of his services to the crown. In 1579 John was appointed Auditor and Escheator General to Queen Elizabeth I and later was made Commissioner of Thomond and Connaught. This John Crofton was considered to be a man of influence and possessed considerable property. He was in a position to give each of his four sons estates in the counties of Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim. His descendant Edward Crofton became a Baronet of the Mote for services rendered to Charles II during the Cromwellian rebellion. The title Baron Crofton of the Mote was created in 1798 and was awarded to Dame Anne Crofton as Baroness Crofton on behalf of her late husband Sir Edward Crofton who had been offered a peerage just before his death. The title is still in existence today and is held by Edward Henry Crofton the eighth Baron Crofton who resides in London.

On taking possession of the lands at Mote Park the family set about making their mark on the landscape. These lands were previously owned by the O’Kelly and O’Connor tribes. The O’Kelly tribe held a castle at Mote Park and were chieftains of Hymany whose lands included the southern part of County Roscommon. The O’Connor tribe owned the northern portion of Roscommon stretching away to the sea at Sligo Bay. Mote Park stood near the dividing line between the two tribes.

In the Crofton Memoirs the author states ‘George Crofton, eldest son and heir of Edward Crofton erected the Castle of Mote, Ballymurry between 1627 and 1632’ , this castle may have been built on the site of the original O’Kelly castle. No recorded trace of the castle remains today but it’s ruins may form part of the remains of the buildings contained in the farmyard of the estate. The “Story of Mote“,the family history penned by Francis G. Crofton in 1898, contains a sketch of the castle. A huge carved limestone fireplace surround from this castle was used as a seat to adorn the demesne in later
years and is recorded as such on early ordnance survey maps of the estate. This fireplace surround was removed to the garden of Longford House, Beltra, County Sligo, another Crofton estate as
referred to earlier .

In 1714 Edward Crofton the 2nd Baronet was appointed a member of Queen Anne’s Privy Council and in that year built Derrydonnell Bridge and placed on it and inscription recording that it was “erected at his own expense and for his own use” The bridge was an important crossing over the River Hind on the demesne. In the late 16 th century, as their fortunes improved, the family moved from the castle to Mote Park House. The house was built in the period 1777-87 and became the Crofton’s raison d’etre which affirmed their local rule and dominance in County Roscommon . It was arguably the finest and most imposing of several mansions built in the area in that period. The mansion was designed by Richard Morrison in the Georgian style and comprised three storeys over a basement vault.

According to Mark Bence Jones, “It featured a nine bay entrance front with three bay pedimented breakfront, single storey Ionic portico, C19 roof on bracket cornice, two storey wing at one side and
set back. Garden front with three bays on either side of central curved bow. Wyatt windows in bow, that on first floor being set under a relieving arch. Single storey wing at side” 

In 1829 Skeffington Gibbons in his “Recollections of Roscommon Nobility” stated that Mote Park â€œis delightfully situated, is adorned with a magnificent mansion recently built, surrounded with groves, enchanting views, some beautiful ponds, and a diversified country which combines all that is sublime and beautiful” Isaac Weld in “A Statistical Survey of the County of Roscommon, 1832” encapsulates the natural beauty of Mote Demesne in this period: “ Mote Park, the set of Lord Crofton is magnificent demesne and the hanging woods on the hills which rise in front of the house, but at a moderate distance away from it, afford the broadest expanse of woodland scenery which I can call to recollection within this county.

In 1787 the family built the magnificent Lion’s Gate at the main entrance to the estate on the old Athlone Road to match the splendour of the family mansion. This limestone triumphal arch had flank walls ending in two protruding lodges. The arch, still in existence today, is surmounted by a Coade Stone Lion and two Coade Stone urns stand on the outer edges of the flank walls.
This was one of four gate lodge entrances to the estate, another entrance at Ballymurray included a triumphal arch surmounted by a Coade Stone deer and unicorn.

At this stage in their history the Crofton’s were reaching the zenith of their rule in Roscommon and they continued to make their mark on the landscape of Mote Park. From the period of 1833- 60 the family continued to make improvements to the demesne and the building work continued unabated. The stables and farmyard were built in this period along with an extension to the walled garden and
numerous walks and terraces were laid out. Adjacent farms were purchased and land was drained and included in the demesne. A canal was built to facilitate boating around a natural lake on the estate.

In 1860 a fire, which started accidently, cause massive damage to the house but by 1866 the local papers were reporting “we are glad to announce that the rebuilding of this splendid mansion is commenced. The architect is Mr. Courdy and the contractor for the work is Mr. Roberts of Dublin.” 

During their tenure in Mote Park, the family were heavily involved in local and national politics. They built strategic alliances through marriage with many of the powerful aristocratic families of that time
and in particular during the period from their arrival in Mote Park until the latter part of the 19 th century. They had marriage ties with the family of Sir James Ware of Macetown, Co. Cork, the noted
historian. The family also had marriage connections with the Earl Milton of Dorchester, with the family of Sir Richard Ryves, Knight and Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland. Sir Edward Crofton, the third Baronet, married Lady Charlotte Stewart in 1801, daughter of the Earl of Galloway and granddaughter of the Marchioness of Blandford.

Sir Edward Crofton, fourth baronet of the second creation, became Baron Crofton in 1817 on the death of his grandmother. He was elected a Representative Peer for Ireland and was also Lord-in-
Waiting to Queen Victoria. In 1833 he married Lady Georgiana Paget daughter of the first Marquess of Anglesey (who was then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) and Lady Caroline Villiers, daughter of the Earl of Jersey and afterwards Duchess of Argyle. Other family members in this period married in to local landed and aristocratic families including the O’Connor and O’Kelly families who originally owned the lands at Mote Park. Other marriage connections were made with the Caulfields of Mount
Talbot, the Dillons of Ahascragh, Co. Galway and the Tighe family of Rosanna, Co. Wicklow,

The Crofton family were heavily involved in local politics. Through the generations they held positions on the Grand Jury and were members of the Board of Guardians for the Roscommon Poor Law Union. Unlike their neighbours the Pakenham Mahons of Strokestown who are remembered for their cruelty towards their tenantry, the Croftons were renowned for their charitable works and their efforts to alleviate suffering during the famine.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century the Crofton family began to suffer the financial fate of many of their aristocratic peers and the estate began it’s sad demise. The family did everything in their power to hold on to their land and mansion. In the 1950s much of the land was divided by the Land Commission. A letter from the late Guy Crofton,7 th Baron Crofton to the late Brian O’Carroll in 1998 indicates the affinity and connection they family had to the area “My great grandfather Arthur Edward Lowther Crofton, 4 th Baron(known as Midge) was a passionate defender of the Crofton estate and would not allow a single acre to be sold without a fight… Father sold Mote Park in 1947. He subsequently bought it back together with 600 acres but sold again in 1954 and we moved to Co. Wexford” The Crofton connection with Mote Park finally came to an end in September 1956 with the sale of Mote Park House and the remaining lands.

Another piece of correspondence from Guy Crofton dated 27 th April 2003 in reply to an invitation from Knockcroghery Fair Committee to officially open the annual Knockcroghery Fair, stated “ I hope to return to Roscommon more permanently before too long. Although I was only very small when we left Mote Park, I feel strongly that this part of Ireland is home.” Sadly Guy Crofton did not live to see through his plans to return to Mote Park, he died from leukaemia at the age of 56 a few short years later in 2007. He was the last of the Crofton family born at Mote Park. To the present day the family are still held in high esteem in Roscommon and Mote Park although they have left the area for many years. Their name remains on the many memorial stones erected to family members at the family vault in Kilmaine graveyard.

The local Mote Park Conservation Group named a walk “The Crofton Trail” through the woodlands in their honour. The local Church of Ireland in Roscommon contains a baptismal font donated by the family. Many architectural features of the estate remain although the house was demolished in the 1950s. Most importantly the Crofton family and their connection to Mote Park continue to live on in the memories of the people of Roscommon