An Irregular Beauty

Caught in the rain, this is Ballyannan Castle, a semi-fortified house built c.1650 for St John Brodrick, an English soldier who had arrived in Ireland almost a decade earlier as a captain of foot. By deft political footwork, he survived the turmoils of the rest of the century, only dying in 1711 at the age of 84 and leaving behind several sons, one of whom became the first Viscount Midleton. While the Brodrick family survives, Ballyannan did not do so, abandoned by the mid-18th century and already ruinous in 1786. The house is notable for its circular corner towers above which rise exceptionally tall chimneys. Ballyannan was once surrounded by extensive and elaborate pleasure gardens, described in 1743 as containing ‘all the irregular beauties that charm the fancy and delight the senses,’ but little now remains in fields given over to agricultural use, other than a small brick summerhouse (alas, heavy rain discouraged a visit to this. Another time…)

3 comments on “An Irregular Beauty

  1. A Brodrick descendant was Albinia Brodrick, nurse and writer, who became an avid Sinn Féin supporter. Following the burning of Castle Bernard and the kidnapping of her cousin Lord Bandon by the IRA in June 1921, she paid a most unwelcome visit to Lady Bandon who had relocated to a house on the Castle Bernard grounds.

  2. Finola says:

    Ballyannan is a little known gem of a site.

  3. Tony Harpur says:

    Ballyannan Castle is recorded in the Down Survey as being the property of Edward Gould in 1641. He is most likely the builder. Sir St John Brodrick (correct name) or his heirs enlarged the windows after 1653. The castle, with magnificent gardens were described as ‘a paradise of the Brodricks’ by John Carteret Pilkington in his autobiography. Pilkington had visited Ballyannan in the mid 1740s when the house was occupied by several Brodrick ladies, either widows or spinsters.

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