Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Craigavad House

JOHN MULHOLLAND (1819-95), son of Andrew Mulholland JP DL, of Ballywalter Park, County Down, MP for Downpatrick, 1874-85, married Frances Louisa, daughter of Hugh Lyle, in 1851.

Mr Mulholland was elevated to the peerage, in 1892, by the title of BARON DUNLEATH, of Ballywalter, County Down.


CRAIGAVAD HOUSE, County Down, in name at least, was in existence as far back as 1783, as the home of the Pottingers, of whom Thomas Pottinger was first sovereign (mayor) of Belfast.

By 1817, however, the house had been acquired by Arthur Forbes JP.

Following Forbes' death, the house was acquired by John Mulholland, 1st Lord Dunleath.

A neo-classical house was built in 1851 to designs of Thomas Turner, formerly an assistant to Charles Lanyon, but by this time practising on his own account.

The contractors were John Kelly and Robert McCready, of Belfast, and the estimated cost was £3,379 (about £400,000 today).

Mulholland initially leased the property from the representatives of Sir Robert Kennedy, of Cultra Manor.

The accommodation included two gate lodges, billiards-room, laundry, drying loft and kitchen; a farmyard with steward's house, barn, piggery and stable.

The gate lodges were valued at £8 each (ca £1,000 today).

By 1869, Craigavad House was occupied by George Washington Charters who appeared to be renting the house from John Mulholland.

About 1882, Sir Edward Porter Cowan, a whiskey distiller, was residing at Craigavad House.

The house was then let by the Cowan family to A M Kirker JP, a prosperous potato grower.

In 1910, the house was acquired by John Campbell White, Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1919-20.

The Royal Belfast Golf Club bought Craigavad House and surrounding grounds in 1925 for £6,000 (about £310,000 today) from White's widow and had a course designed by the eminent English course architect, H C Colt, who also laid out Royal Portrush Golf Club.


A major refurbishment costing £40,000 was undertaken in 1958; and in 1978 a grand central hall, rising through the centre of the building, was incorporated.

An extension was added to the clubhouse in 2000, designed by Barrie Todd Architects, which replaced an earlier extension of the 1960s.

This added a new informal bar and glazed entrance to the club.

First published in March, 2014.

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