In 1717, Charles Cobbe (1686-1765) came to Ireland as private secretary and chaplain to his kinsman Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was appointed Bishop of Killala in 1720 and his career progressed with successive bishoprics until he was enthroned as Archbishop of Dublin in 1743.
Cobbe began purchasing lands on the Donabate peninsula in 1736, and commissioned the celebrated architect James Gibbs in 1744 to design a plan for the rebuilding of Newbridge House. Work began in 1747 and Newbridge is Gibbs’s only executed work in Ireland.
The Archbishop gave the near-finished building to his only surviving son, Thomas (1733-1814) in 1755, on the latter’s marriage to Lady Elizabeth (Betty) Beresford, youngest daughter of the 1st Earl of Tyrone. By extending the house, decorating it with ornamental stucco, collecting pictures, porcelain and commissioning furniture from Irish cabinetmakers, Thomas and Lady Betty left a significant mark on Newbridge which is still evident today. Their son, Charles Cobbe (1756-1798), married Anne Power Trench of Garbally, Co. Galway in 1778 but also ran up considerable debts. These eventually resulted in Thomas selling some estates in Louth and their large townhouse in Palace Row. Charles predeceased his father.
In 1810, Thomas gifted Newbridge to his eldest grandson, Charles Cobbe (1781-1857), who, as well as raising his own five children here, provided a centre of home life for the numerous children of his brothers. The family injected new vigour into life at Newbridge, and was concerned with the welfare and the living conditions of their tenants. Charles’s daughter, Frances Power Cobbe, would become a noted philanthropist, feminist and writer, and would be the first publicly to advocate university education for women. Charles occupied Newbridge for 47 years and on his death, it passed to his son, also named Charles (1811-1886), from whom it passed to the latter’s nephew who came of age in 1905.
In that year Thomas Maberly Cobbe married Eleanor Colville Frankland, the elegant daughter of an Anglo-American heiress and descendant of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, John Jay. The couple, setting up at Newbridge at the beginning of the 20th century, entertained guests and raised their family until the estate passed to their son in 1933. When he died in 1984 it passed to his two nephews and his niece who had grown up in the house.
In 1985 the family gave the house and sold the demesne to Dublin County Council (now Fingal County Council) entering into a rare agreement under which the historic family-owned pictures, furniture, chattels and documents, are kept in situ whilst the Cobbe family remains in residence. As a result of this agreement, the interiors of Newbridge House are remarkably complete and amongst the best preserved in Ireland.