The Brabazons were not the first to live in Killruddery. Following the Norman conquest, Nicholas de la Felde came to Ireland and secured the lands of Kilrotheric (Killruddery) in the 13th Century and subsequently leased them to the Abbey of St. Thomas. This included the Little Sugar Loaf, Bray Head and the valley running between them. The valley included a chapel, a burial ground and a large rural retreat built by the monks.
In 1534, Henry VII dispatched William Brabazon of Leicester to Ireland to serve as Vice-Treasurer, part of a team to implement the new Tudor policies in Ireland. In 1539, Sir William benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries and secured ownership of the Abbey of St. Thomas – which stood between present day Thomas Street and the RIver Liffey and attached monastic lands outside of Dublin.
Records of the original house at Killruddery do not exist, but it is known that it was destroyed in 1645. It was the 2nd Earl of Meath who rebuilt the house in 1651 – facing East with five bays and a hipped roof.
The 10th Earl of Meath carried out an extensive reconstruction of the 17th Century house in the 1820s, using the architects Richard and his son William Vitruvius Morrison. They designed an elaborate Tudor-Revival style mansion with an impressive central hall that incorporated the original low-level 17th Century structure. The new house took on the shape of an irregular quadrangle, enclosing a central courtyard. The approach was redirected to a North-facing drive and the road from Dublin to Wicklow was diverted to the other side of the great rock.
The French formal Gardens were designed by a disciple of landscape designer André le Nôtre, the principal gardener to both Louis XIV and the Palace of Versailles at the height of the Ancien Régime. Killruddery’s Gardens are deemed one of the finest examples of 17th-century gardens on this island.