Originally the seat of the McGeoghegan clan, High Kings of Ireland, Coolatore (which takes its name from the Gaelic "Cúl an Tuair" meaning Back of the Bleach Green) was originally a round tower nestled at the foot of sacred hill Cnoc Aiste. The first known house on the current site was built in and around the 1600's and was a large building partially built with stones from the round tower. Some of these stones remain in the foundations of the current house! It was the Upton family who built Coolatore Estate as we know it today. The Reverand Ambrose Upton came to Ireland from Devon as Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant sometime before 1759. He married Anna Whitney of Westmeath. Their son, Christopher Henry Upton (1745 - 1812) is the first of the family represented by papers in this collection. His eldest son, Shuckburgh Whitney Upton married Margaret Irwin from Tanragoe, County Sligo in 1795 and had five children.
As a result of the premature death of Shuckburgh Whitney in 1807, his wife was left to administer Coolatore. The estates passed to the youngest son Arthur who, together with his elder brother Lewis, held a commission in the army. On Arthur’s death they passed to his son Arthur Shuckburgh Upton who demolished the old house and built the existing house in 1866. It was later extended by his son Henry in 1894. Amongst the family decendents was Captain A Upton who became the High Sheriff of County Westmeath and MP.
The last Upton to live in the house was Major Tandy.
Dennis Galvin purchased Coolatore in the mid/late 70s. His family lived in Coolatore for a few years. Dennis sold some of the Coolatore land to local farmers.
In the 1980s Ian Sherrif & Don Hickie purchased the Estate and for the first time the doors were opened to the public in the form of a country guesthouse. Sheriff and Hickie quickly turned the Estate into the most sought after and fashionable place to stay in Ireland. The locals soon became accustomed to the comings and goings of the rich and famous. To this day Coolatore still attracts the same clientelle.
In 1995 the late John Scanlon, along with his wife Julienne purchased Coolatore and it became a private home again. John, known in New York as the worlds greatest Spin Doctor, was the p.r. man for many top organisations such as American Airlines, CBS News, Bill Clinton and Ivana Trump. The Scanlons had a love for big houses and lived part time in Coolatore and at their 1783 year old grand home in Long Island. Famous for their love of literature and many of their friends being writers, Collatore became the ideal haven for writers.
Ironically Westmeath has always been a major attraction for writers - Oliver Goldsmith (renowned 18th Century writer) is from Westmeath, James Joyce’s characters and scenes from the epic ‘Ulysses’ are based in the town of Mullingar and Jonathan Swift took his inspiration of ‘Gullivers Travels’ while walking on the shores of Lough Ennell and noticing how small the people were across at Lilliput Lake!.
Sadly John Scanlon died and His wife handed over the keys to her loved and trusted neighbours from Grouse Lodge. They took ownership in 2003 and felt they wanted to share this beautiful house and grounds with friends and family. Organically the house became a haven for singer/songwriters and now the house is available for rent. They are quoted as saying ‘it makes us smile when we see the house is being used and no matter what age enjoying themselves and most of all feeling at home.’
The house was home to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, for much of 2006. Michael loved his time here, saying his stay was the only time he and his three children were left alone to be a family. Other famous residents included R.E.M., Dame Shirley Bassey, Stereophonics, Snow Patrol and several Irish celebrities, writers and television personalities. They have shared and enjoyed its quirky layout with familes, groups of friends and tourist, all captivated by the estate. The ideal venue for any occasion it is available to rent for weekends, mid-week breaks and longer vacations.