The garden front of Ballyvolane, County Cork. Dating back to 1728, the original house was constructed for Sir Richard Pyne, a former Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, of seven bays and three storeys. Almost 150 years later, in 1872 George Pyne, who had recently acquired the estate, commissioned local architect and antiquarian Richard Rolt Brash to remodel the building to give it the present Italianate appearance, as well as remove the top floor. The original gardens at Ballyvolane were laid out in the early 19th century, but much of what can be seen today is due to the work of the Green family who bought the place 70 years ago in 1953. Next Friday, June 30th I shall be giving a talk at Ballyvolane on Ireland’s country house gardens, with cocktails beforehand and dinner after. For more information about this event, please see: Robert O’Byrne aka The Irish Aesthete ‘Irish Country House Gardens’ Talk and Dinner (ballyvolanehouse.ie)
Viewing an old building, one is often so engaged absorbing the totality that details of design can be overlooked. How many visitors to Ballyvolane, County Cork, for example, pay much attention to the stairs? This house, originally built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne, was extensively modified in the second half of the 1840s by a descendant, Jasper Pyne. Evidently a new staircase was one of his additions but note how on the side of every tread is affixed a cast-iron putto in each of whose fists can be found a nail holding one of the balusters in place.