Newpark is a charming country house 'of the middle size' near the village of Drumfin in County Sligo, a short distance west of the road from Boyle and Dublin to Sligo, and a few miles east from the market town of Ballymote. The house, gate lodge, stable and farmyards are all contemporary, and the architect and writer Jeremy Williams observed that, “What strikes one is the harmony of the whole ensemble. Entrance gates and lodge, lime avenue, house, carriage-house, farm yard and partly walled demesne are all proportionate to each other and reveal the unpretentious lifestyle of a typical west of Ireland squireen, a rare survival today”
The building of Newpark is traditionally attributed to Richard King Duke, JP and Deputy Governor of Sligo (1770-1836) but as he was only a boy of ten in 1780 his father Robert (1732-1792) is a more credible contender. The Duke family descends from John Duke, who came to Sligo as one of Cromwell’s adherents and was granted land at Kincreevin in 1662. The family flourished and prospered, and the Newpark branch was in a position to build a substantial new house in about 1780.
The design may well have come from the prolific Waterford architect ‘Honest’ John Roberts, who had a large country house practice in the west of Ireland. The house is of three bays and two stories, lime rendered with a hipped roof and a pleasant tripartite entrance, with a round-headed door-case flanked by narrow rectangular sidelights.
The geometrical plan is most unusual, and reminded the architectural historian Maurice Craig of a swastika, with four principal rooms of unequal size arranged around a small central hall. There is good decorative plasterwork in the drawing room incorporating the Duke arms and crest, three martlets with daggers and three feathers. The fine staircase is original, as are a number of panelled doors.
Newpark was re-roofed and extended in the 1870s when some of the original features were altered, and the windows were remodelled and lost their glazing bars. Then, in 1910, the Duke family left Newpark, which they sold to Richard O’Hara, a younger son from nearby Annaghmore and Coopershill (both of which q.v.). His great-grandson Christopher Kitchin and wife Dorothy live there today and are gradually opening up the very fine outbuildings for various activities.
The region is famous for early sites and settlements. Nearby is the famous megalithic passage tomb of Carrowkeel, in the Bricklieve Mountains overlooking Lough Arrow, while Heapstown Cairn is just across the valley.