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History of the Kildare Hotel, Spa & Country Club

The origins of Straffan House go back to the year 550 A.D. After the Anglo - Norman
invasion of Ireland, Straffan was granted by Strongbow to Maurice Fitzgerald, whose
eldest son passed it to his younger brother Gerald, an ancestor of the Duke of Leinster.
Richard the Lionheart's brother, who later became King John Of England and signed the
Magna Carta in 1215, subsequently confirmed this grant.


Prominent titled families held ownership of the property and by the 16th Century it was in
the hands of the de Penkiston family. They paid dearly, however, for their part in a
rebellion and forfeited the lands. The lands were disposed of to the Gaydon family in the
early 17th Century and in Cromwellion times, were forfeited again and granted to Thomas
Bewley. The Gaydon family, declared innocent of the charges by which the property was
seized from them, were eventually granted back the 700 acres, which they later sold to
Richard Talbot in 1679 for the sum of £700.


In 1831 Hugh Barton, grandson of Thomas Barton, purchased the property, from
Buttervant in Co. Cork, who had extensive vineyards in France. Hugh Barton, forced out of
France during the infamous Reign of Terror, ploughed his fortune into Straffan House and
other lands in Ireland. Barton started building a new grand house for his family in 1832,
which forms the basis of the present day hotel. While under construction, the Barton's lived
at nearby Barberstown Castle.


The design of the new house, which is now the east wing of the hotel, was based on that of
a great chateau at Louveciennes, to the west of Paris. For Hugh Barton and his wife Ann,
Straffan became a haven of peace and contentment after the turmoil's of France. Long after
the house was built, Hugh Barton added a final touch, the Italian style companile tower,
still there today. Hugh Barton died on May 25th 1854 aged eighty-nine and is buried in the
Church of Ireland graveyard in Straffan, where his wife is also buried. The House remained
in the Barton family until 1949, since which time has had five owners including Steven
O'Flaherty, Kevin Mc Clory, an Iranian General, Patrick Gallagher and the Ferguson
family. The Jefferson Smurfit Group then purchased it in 1988.


The K Club was opened as a Resort in July 1991, comprising of 36-bedroom hotel, and one
Arnold Palmer designed golf course. Since then a second golf course the Smurfit course
was developed, and an additional 33 bedrooms, garden and courtyard suites, state of the art
clubhouse with ballroom and conference facilities and a luxurious spa have been added to
the resort.
Dr Michael Smurfit and Mr Gerry Gannon privately purchased the K Club in 2005.

Until 2012 when The K Club is now independantly owned by Dr. Smurfit.

Hotel & Resort