The History of the Preston House Restaurant.
Anendowed Preston School at Ballyroan was the first ever post primary school in Laois. The endowment was bequeathed in 1686 by Alderman Preston formally Alderman of the City of Dublin. The endowment was the subject of the longest lawsuit in history. It was to last 100 years from 1734 to 1834. Abuses arising from the endowments were aired in the Irish Parliament, House of Lords as well as before a Royal Commission. Other schools that benefited from the endowment were The Preston School, Navan and Kings Hospital, Oxmantown.
Lord De Vesci called a public meeting on the 25th April 1891, held at the Courthouse in Abbeyleix, to discuss a recommendation of the recently established Educational Endowment Commissioners to transfer the Preston School at Ballyroan to a more central location. The meeting attracted a large and representative attendance. Those attending learned that the school and land at Ballyroan was to be sold and the school transferred to Abbeyleix or Maryborough. There was full agreement that the school should not be moved from the ecclesiastical parish of Abbeyleix and neither was the endowment large enough to share between two schools. The people of Ballyroan agreed that if the school was to be removed from its present location it should be transferred to Abbeyleix. A second resolution approved of the appointment of a School Authority consisting of seven persons. It was also adopted that the Head Master should be a Protestant and a second teacher a Roman Catholic.
On the 26th October 1894 the Lord Lieutenant sanctioned the establishment of the school at Abbeyleix and the Commissioners of Education approved of the local School Authority as at present constituted with the Right Honourable Viscount de Vesci as chairman and patron of the school. Lord de Vesci handed over to the Authority possession of the premises. The buildings known as the Assembly Rooms were extended and altered for an outlay of £1278.12. 8. Mr A. E. M. Charleton BA of Galway Grammar School was appointed Head Master in July 1895. Two months later the school was opened to both boarders and day pupils. It served as an excellent educational establishment until it closed in September 1966 on the retirement of an outstanding Head Master R.J.McShane B.A. R.U.I.(English, French, Mathematics); M.A. N.U.I.(English Literature, English Language and Philology). He made Mr Charleton’s words his own:
Truth lovers be our Preston boys
Then whatever record leap to light,
They never shall be shamed
The closing down of the Preston School was a big loss as a local educational establishment. However the school took on a new life under the watchful eye of the late P.J.Mulhall. The Dowling and O’Connell families were foremost in making it into a top of the range restaurant. It has now achieved fine dining restaurant status under its new occupants Breda and Danny.
Preston House continues to be in the hub of the community, with its beautifully refurbished bedrooms it brings a extra pull factor to Abbeyleix.
Breda & Danny fell in love with the building & its heritage so keeping true to the DNA of Preston it had to be there & available to be enjoyed by everyone.
This house should always be of a service to the town & its people says the new owners. With years of experience & passion they brought Preston back to the culinary heights with a Michelin inspired team & recipe.
Preston House is quickly now becoming one of the countries’s most talked about destination hot spots as a fine dining restaurant & guesthouse. As the new custodians of Preston House, Danny and Breda stated “they have a duty to make these walls proud of the time they spend there”.
Phone: +353 (0)57 8731432