Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ballinahown Court

THE ENNIS BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 8,774 ACRES

The family of ENNIS, originally from County Down, became established in County Meath a considerable time since.

ANDREW ENNIS, of Roebuck, County Dublin,
was engaged extensively in commercial pursuits and realized a very large fortune. He purchased, in 1800, the Griffinstown estate, County Westmeath, and subsequently made considerable additions to his landed property by the acquisition of portions of the Rochfort and Malone estates, including Ballinahown, the seat of the Malones.
Mr Ennis married Mary, daughter of Matthew McManus, and died in 1834, leaving issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Ellen; Marianne;
Jane; Alicia.
Mr Ennis was succeeded by his son,

JOHN ENNIS DL (1809-78), of Ballinahown Court, High Sheriff of County Westmeath, 1837, and of Dublin, 1839; a Dublin merchant, a director of the Bank of Ireland, and MP for Athlone, 1857-65.

Mr Ennis married, in 1833, Anna Maria, eldest daughter of David Henry, of the city of Dublin (and sister of Sir Thomas Henry, of London), by whom he had issue,
JOHN JAMES, his heir;
Mary; Josephine; Elizabeth.
Mr Ennis was created a baronet in 1866.

He was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN JAMES ENNIS JP DL (1842-84), 2nd Baronet, of Ballinahown Court, High Sheriff of Westmeath, 1866, MP for Athlone, 1868-74, and 1880.

The baronetcy expired in 1884, following the 2nd Baronet's decease.


BALLINAHOWN COURT, near Athlone, County Westmeath, was built in 1746 for Edmond Malone MP.

It has three storeys over a basement; a three-bay front; and tripartite doorway with pediment and fanlight.

The pediment extends over the door and side-lights and is carried on pilasters.

There is parapet roof. A single-storey wing is at one side.

Ballinahown was sold about 1830 to Andrew Ennis.

It was subsequently inherited by the family of The O'Donoghue of the Glens, by whom it was sold ca 1965 to Mr Basil Crofts-Greene, who re-sold the house ca 1976.
An accomplished and very well-proportioned mid-18th century country house, built in a sophisticated classical style, which retains it early form, fabric and character. This building is, perhaps, the most elegant example of a country house the south of County Westmeath, certainly of its date, and must have been designed by an architect of some note, perhaps even by Richard Castle (died 1751) as suggested by some sources.

This grand house is unusual in that it is constructed of brick, a very rare building material in Westmeath at the time of construction. The proximity of this house to the River Shannon (transport) probably accounts for its use here at Ballinahown Court. The juxtaposition between the warm red brick and the extensive grey ashlar limestone detailing creates an interesting and visually appealing textural and visual contrast. The fine pedimented Tuscan door-case is a noteworthy feature of artistic merit and this door-case dominates the entrance fa├žade.

This fine house was originally built for Edmond Malone (lawyer and later MP for Granard) and his wife Ruth Malone. It later passed into the ownership of the Ennis Family (Andrew Ennis bought the house in 1828), who much improved the estate during the mid-to-late nineteenth-century and were probably responsible for the construction of the single-storey wing to the south-west side, which blends in seamlessly with the mid-eighteenth century fabric. It later passed into the ownership of John Ennis, who was elected MP for Athlone in 1857, and subsequently to his son, John James Ennis, who was elected MP for Athlone in 1868.

The present house is built on the site of an earlier castle, the home of a branch of the Malone Family since the middle ages, of which no extant remains are readily visible. The house forms the centrepiece of an interesting group of related structures and is an important element of the architectural heritage of Westmeath and of the history of the Ballinahown local area. 
Former town residences ~ 36 Curzon Street, London; Merrion Square, Dublin.

First published in July, 2013.

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