The Groves of Castlegrove
Another local Ascendancy family of the Letterkenny area are the Groves of Castlegrove. The family were originally residents of Castle Shanaghan in the seventeenth century and only moved to the Castlegrove area around 1730. Castle Shanaghan was originally granted to William Stewart as part of the Plantation in 1610 but was sold to the Grove family sometime before 1654. We know this because the Civic Survey of 1654 lists a Thomas Grove as holding lands in this area while the 1659 census states that “Thomas Groves” was a tituladoe (titleholder) for Castleshanaghan.
Thomas Grove was Commissioner of Assessments for Donegal in 1655, Collector of Customs in Londonderry from 1643-74, and Sheriff of Donegal in 1664. He was married to Margaret Benson with whom he had a son, William Grove in 1662. Upon his death in 1677, Thomas Grove’s will bequeathed 40 shillings to be paid to the church wardens of the parish of Conwal towards ‘the relief of the poor inhabitants of Letterkenny…English inhabitants of ye town to be preferred.’ His son, William, served through the Siege of Derry of 1688, and married firstly Constance Kingsmill and then Elizabeth Leigh upon his first wife’s death in 1687.
William’s son, Thomas, inherited the Castle Shanaghan estate upon his father’s death in 1697 and served as High Sheriff of County Donegal in 1724. His son, William Grove, served as High Sheriff of County Donegal between 1727-28 and moved the family estate to Castle Grove, which he built around 1730. He married Susanna Barry and had a son, Thomas Grove in 1719, who inherited the estate upon his death in 1742. As Thomas died a bachelor, the estate was transferred to his brother, James Grove, who married Rose Vaughan Brooke, and died in 1793. His son Thomas married his cousin Mary Susanna Grove in 1794 but renounced his surname and took his mother’s maiden name of Brooke in 1808. His aunt, Dorothy Grove had married John Wood in 1802 and acquired the Grove estate upon Thomas’s decision to change his surname to Brooke.
Dorothy’s son, James Grove Wood Grove succeeded to the estate in 1863 having served as High Sheriff of the County in 1855. In 1843, he married Frances Judith Montgomery of Convoy House and their son John Montgomery Charles Grove was born in 1847, serving as Justice of the Peace and Secretary to the Grand Jury of Donegal from 1877-99. He married Lucy Georgina Gabbett and they had one son, James Robert Wood Grove) who served in the First World War, being wounded in the hand at Gallipoli, and became a Major in 1919. He later joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1924 and married Eileen Edmonstone Kirk. James Robert Wood Grove died in 1969 and the estate passed to a relative, Commandant Peter Campbell on the condition that he changed his name to Grove. In 1989, after a period of ill health, Peter Campbell Grove sold the estate to Raymond and Mary Sweeney who opened the luxurious Castle Grove House Hotel, which is still open today.