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Cairndhu House – a piece of history in Northern Ireland

3 min read

We are in Northern Ireland, off the Coast road in Carnfunnock Country park, near Larne, County Antrim.
Originally built as a grand summer residence around 1875 for Mr Stewart Clark who was a wealthy Scottish textile industrialist, Cairndhu House has a rich history of grandeur and ruin and now lies in extreme disrepair.
Sir Thomas Dixon, 2nd Baronet, married Edith, youngest daughter of Mr Stewart Clark in 1906, at Dalmeny Church, South Queensferry.
After their marriage, they lived for varying periods at Graymount House, Hillsborough Castle, Drumadarragh, Luttrelstown, and Lucan, before purchasing Edith’s childhood summer residence, Cairndhu.
The Dixon family held many house and garden parties and entertained public dignitaries with grouse shooting in the Antrim Hills.
Sir Thomas spent his time with livestock farming, including a herd of dairy cows.
In September, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Sir Thomas, as Mayor of Larne (1939-41), handed over his residence for use as a War Hospital Supply Depot.
In May, 1947, when Sir Thomas celebrated his 79th birthday, he announced a generous gift: after forty years at Cairndhu, they donated their 60-room family home, with 100 acres of the estate, to the Ministry of Health and Local Government for use as a convalescent home and hospital. Sir Thomas died on holiday at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on 10th May, 1950, aged 81, and at the time of his death, his effects were valued at over £389,000.

Cairndhu was officially opened as a convalescent hospital in 1950, but due funding difficulties, in 1986, it was closed down by the Department of Health and Social Services.
So, the hidden mansion has laid empty for decades and throughout its long history it has been a stately home for a wealthy Scottish industrialist, a military hospital, a convalescent home and most recently a film location. In fact, in 2015, parts of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller Morgan were filmed there.
There have been numerous reports of paranormal activity over the years from ghosts appearing in windows to unexplained noises heard by caretakers.
And despite this, much of its original grandeur has been lost through time. Since 1986 the mansion has been left to fall into ruin and ravaged by the elements creating its spooky and Gothic appearance.
Now the site of the derelict mansion could become “retirement village” facilities, but the project will represent an investment of around £25-£30million.


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