Monday, 31 May 2021

Hollymount Visit

The Lakeside Inn, with the old mill in the distance (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

I spent yesterday (Sunday, the 30th May, 2021), at BALLYDUGAN, a delightful place several miles from Downpatrick, County Down.

Ballydugan is one of those unspoiled spots deep in the countryside, where old barns and disused railway lines abound with ivy; wildlife thrives; and the main feature, beautiful Ballydugan Lake, is the centre of attraction.

It is mentioned briefly in the Topographical Dictionary: "About two miles from the town is the beautiful lake of Ballydugan ; and near it is Ballydugan House, memorable as the residence of Col. White, who was murdered, and the mansion burnt in the war of 1641."

I have visited this place many times, and usually park at a little carpark beside the lake and adjacent to the inn.

Across the road there is the old mill, a large building now transformed into a hotel or guesthouse.

Carpark beside Ballydugan Lake (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

I'd brought a packed lunch with me, intending to park at the lakeside car-park, though it was closed, so instead I managed to tuck my car into a space outside the park.

The LAKESIDE INN was closed as usual.

It was a glorious sunny day, and one of my plans was to seek the historic Hollymount Demesne.

It's not easy to find. In fact, it doesn't even feature in my old OS one-inch map of South Down, though I knew that it was at Hollymount National Nature Reserve.

While I was walking along the country road in the vicinity, a farmer approached in his tractor, so I flagged him down and inquired about it.

Fortunately he was friendly and helpful, and explained how to get to Hollymount.

Hollymount is an old, overgrown, unspoiled 17th or 18th century demesne; bluebells and wild garlic thrive here, with some very old parkland trees.

Ballydugan Medieval Settlement (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

En route I encountered a lady with her two children, picking wild garlic for the open day at Ballydugan Medieval Settlement, a "living history" Viking village beside Ballydugan Lake.

Eventually I emerged at what I assumed were the remains of the old mansion house, though I now know that I'd encountered the farmyard, which stands a bit north of the house.

Hollymount Farmyard (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

These buildings are dilapidated, ruinous, overgrown and barely discernible from a distance; interesting, nevertheless.

I'll return to Hollymount another day to find and explore what's left of the house.

A view of Hollymount in the road to Downpatrick: A sketch by Mrs Delany, 1745

I do wonder why the demesne was abandoned by the Prices in favour of Saintfield Demesne.

Incidentally, Hollymount House features in J A K Dean's Plight of the Big House in Northern Ireland.

Hollymount Demesne ca 1830 (Click to Enlarge)

After lunch I wandered off in the other direction, towards Ballydugan Cottages at the opposite side of the lake.

The Edgington Windbreaker (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

What a lovely day it was. during the drive home I stopped off at Quoile Countryside Centre for a short walk to Steamboat Quay.


alister said...

Lovely Tim —like a piece from Countrylife.

Timothy Belmont said...

Even the font on the name-board of the inn is written in Old English. Charming.