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Ballyvolane House – Cork

History of the house

Genteel and warm 19th century country house and garden, for a luxury stay in authentic Ireland

Located close to Cork, on a piece of land inhabited since the Middle Ages, Ballyvolane House has been built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne, a retired Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. It was designed with three stories, in the classic Georgian country house style.

Ballyvolane_House_1847

The Ballyvolane House before its transformations in 1847 © Ballyvolane House

Witchery, murder and treasure chest…

The place was soon to become the setting of an intriguing drama: Andrew and Jane St Leger, who rented the house, were killed in their bed by the butler and a maid. Both murderers were apprehended, found guilty and executed in 1731. A well known local legend claims that the butler and his accomplice (who was thought a witch) buried the trunk with the precious valuables of the victims in the manor’s shrubbery before fleeing. This treasure has been searched forever since.

The Italian influence

Jasper Pyne, one of the descendents of Sir Richard, enlarged the house considerably in the early 19th century, after three marriages to wealthy women. The three-story house was then modified in 1847 by Jasper’s nephew and heir George Pyne: removal of the top floor and recreation of a two storey house rendered in Italianate style, with an extensive west end wing.

Ballyvolane_House_facade

© Koster Photography

Typical of this “Neo-Renaissance” influence, the perfectly rectangular building, the low-pitch roof, the large eaves supported by corbels and the quoins (masonry blocs at the corners). The outside sobriety (reinforced by the dark color of the coating) contrasts with the richness of the interior decoration and the brightness of the rooms.

Four generations of the Green family

Ballyvolane_House_Green_Family

© James Fennell

The house was sold to Cyril Hall Green (known as Squirrel) and his wife Joyce in 1953 on their return from Malaya (Malaysia) where Squirrel had managed rubber plantations since the 1930’s. Ballyvolane then passed on to Squirrel’s son Jeremy who ran it as a mixed tillage and dairy farm. Ballyvolane was run as a successful guest house by Jeremy and his wife Merrie until January 2004, when the reins where handed over to his son Justin and his wife Jenny. Their two children seem a little young to take over soon, though … (but the picture is an old one already).

An authentic Irish country house

Ballyvolane_House_Dinning_Room

© James Fennell

Ballyvolane House has a sense of place culturally and enjoys a real sense of history. It is totally unique and one-of-a-kind as each generation has put their mark on the walls in terms of style and decorations (family portraits and heirlooms). The house is furnished with an eclectic mix of fine antiques and mid-twentieth century (quirky) furniture, evoking a slice of home-from-home ancestral chic. The house is run in a relaxed and unstuffy manner however the attention to detail and little touches are impressive.

Enjoy the North Cork countryside

Ballyvolane_House_Gardens

© James Fennell

The Ballyvolane House offers vast gardens to explore, a beautiful walled vegetable garden, woodland walks, salmon fishing on the river Blackwater, game shooting in season, ferreting, cycling, guided canoe trips on the river, guided mountain hikes, plus other activities as foraging expeditions with an expert forager and cookery demos.

Refined local gastronomy

Ballyvolane_House_Walled_Garden

Collecting fresh sea-kale from the walled-garden © James Fennell

Justin and Jenny are trained hoteliers having worked in some of the best hotels in the world. Food is a high point at Ballyvolane House and the menu changes daily. The ingredients are grown and reared on-site or sourced from local artisan producers. Ballyvolane rears rare-breed pigs, hens and ducks and grow a vast array of vegetables and fruit in the walled-garden. Sea-kale is an exotic vegetable eaten with Hollandaise sauce one day a year. Game features prominently on the menus in season as does wild salmon caught on the river Blackwater. All meals are served in the grand dining-room “house party” style where all the guests sit together around the main dining table.

intoHistory TipMr and Mrs Green are very child-friendly. Their own children host a high-tea each evening with the guests’ children. There are vast gardens to play-in with a trampoline and tree house, woods to explore and they can help feed the pigs and collect the eggs after breakfast each morning.

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Facilities

  • 6 bedrooms
  • TV / Wifi
  • Guest table – Breakfast is served until 12noon every day – just one sitting for gourmet dinner at 8pm and a 4-course set menu
  • Dining room, drawing Room, hall, all with open fires
  • Vast gardens
  • Weddings can be organised in the country house
  • Spoken languages: English and French
  • Closed between 24 December and 04 January
  • Nearest city (and railway station): Cork (41 km)
  • Private parking
  • Distance from the Cork airport: 45 km
  • Car and driver on request
  • Not suitable for disabled guests as all the bedrooms are on the first floor (there is no lift in the house)
  • Families and children very welcome
  • Domestic pets are welcome
  • Non-smoking interior

In the neighbourhood

Blarney Castle & Gardens: build over 6 centuries ago by one of Ireland’s most popular chieftain, Cormac MacCarthy, especially known for its “Stone of Eloquence”, at the top of a tower.

The Rock of Cashel: Impressive group of medieval buildings, former residence of the Kings of Munster, set on a hill in the Golden Vale (Tipperary).

Ballyvolane_House_Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel © still.epsilon

To read, watch or listen to

 

Ballyvolane_House

© Jan Baldwin

To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of the Ballyvolane House, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Watching a film evoking the era or listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:

Books to be devoured in situ

  • Tipperary, a Novel of Ireland“, by Frank Delaney
    This rich novel, another masterpiece by the talented author of “Ireland”, is a passionate love story between an Irish itinerant doctor and a young English woman against the backdrop of the intense Irish history of the late 19th century. Brilliant writers, vibrant patriots, humble country folks… the characters depicted in this complex book bring 50 crucial years of Ireland’s history back to life.
  • May, Lou & Cass : Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland“, by Sophia Hillan
    The Knight sisters, the young nieces of the famous English novelist, were to spend most of their lives in Ireland. Their story shows much similarity with those of Austen’s best known characters. Quite a moving picture of Ireland in the 19th century, with its contrasted social framework, tense political climate and devastating famines.

Films to be watched before arriving

  • Dancing at Lughnasa“, by Pat O’Connor (1998) (see trailer)
    Bittersweet drama with Meryl Streep, adapted from the play by Brian Friel. The well organised life of five unmarried sisters in rural Ireland (1936) changes with the sudden return of their brother priest from Africa and the visit of the former lover of the youngest sister. The tension arising from the lack of revenues of the family, the different personalities and responsibilities of the sisters, together with the preparation of a singing and dancing traditional pagan celebration in catholic Ireland manifests itself through beautifully chiselled dialogues. The wild Irish landscapes play an important role in the film.

Period music to be enjoyed on location

  • Nocturnes” by John Field, performed by John O’Conor (excerpt)
    John Field is one of the most talented of Irish romantic composers (1782-1837). His nocturnes for piano are a delight to the ear and an enchantment to the heart.
  • Six Irish Rhapsodies” by Charles Villiers Stanford (excerpt)
    Subtle and inspired Irish composer, Charles Villiers Standford captures the essence of the misty, vivid and nostalgic Ireland in these light and contrasted rhapsodies.

 

Some of the links below will enable you to consult the recommended titles directly on Amazon.com. If you decide to purchase one of these titles via this link, please note that intoHistory will receive a small commission on your transaction, which goes towards covering its running costs.

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Historical authenticity
Ambiance and settings
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18th century Manor House B&B/Guest House 150-220€/room

Ideal for families

Ballyvolane House
Justin & Jenny Green
Castlelyons, Co. Cork
FERMOY
Ireland
+353 25 36349
(fax +353 25 36781)
Guest House’s own website

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