Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Ballinahown Court


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.

Mr Ennis 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.

He married Mary, daughter of Matthew McManus, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Ellen; Marianne; Jane; Alicia.
Mr Ennis died in 1834, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN ENNIS DL (1809-78), of Ballinahown Court, High Sheriff of County Westmeath, 1837, Dublin, 1839, Director, Bank of Ireland, MP for Athlone, 1857-65, who married, in 1833, Anna Maria, eldest daughter of David Henry, of the city of Dublin (and sister of Sir Thomas Henry, of London), and had issue,
JOHN JAMES, his heir;
Mary; Josephine; Elizabeth.
Mr Ennis was created a baronet in 1866, designated of Ballinahown Court, County Westmeath.

He was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN JAMES ENNIS JP DL, 2nd Baronet (1842-84), of Ballinahown Court, High Sheriff of County Westmeath, 1866, MP for Athlone, 1868-80.

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 a 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.

1 comment :

Pauline Lomax said...

From the letter of Joseph Crosfield a Quaker from Liverpool who visited the area in Dec 1846. No shining lights here: Close by the village stands Ballinahown House, a large, old, ruinous mansion, the property of a wealthy merchant in Dublin, who seldom or never resides on the estate. The adjoining village of Kilgarvan is also the property of this individual, and here many scenes of misery presented themselves. In a wretched hovel by the road-side, live two poor women advanced in life, their cabin rudely built of loose stones, too low overhead for any one to stand erect, possessing neither door, window, nor chimney; in a corner of the cabin one of the poor creatures was lying on some straw, seriously ill, while the other crouched upon the damp floor beside some turf embers. These women are dependent for their daily food upon the charity of neighbours, themselves but one remove from starvation. Their condition, however, is only rendered worse by the failure of their supply of potatoes from the neighbours, as they have lived in this hovel for many years. In the next cottage were seven persons, who had eaten nothing on the previous day but one meal of turnips, and a small ration of oat-meal. One member of this family was earning ten pence per day upon the road, but had to walk three miles and a half to the spot each day, and the same distance back again. In the house of one Duffy, who rents five acres of land, and is at present living on a small stock of meal, were collected a number of neighbours, and their conversation turned on the state of distress among their acquaintance in the vicinity.