Ballynatray House

Ballynatray is a very large house of late-Georgian appearance, built above a wide double bend of the River Blackwater a few miles upstream from Youghal. The settin is unrivalled. An amphitheatre of oak covered hills slope steeply downwards on all sides to where the ruins of Molana Abbey, containing the classical Coade-stone ‘tomb’ of Raymond le Gros, one of Strongbow’s knights, and a statue of its founder, St Molanside, nestle amongst the trees on the riverbank. On the hill beyond is Templemichael Castle, one of three tower houses guarding the Rincrew headland, once home to a Preceptory of the Knights Templar.

In the early seventeenth century Ballynatray was granted to Sir Richard Smyth, brother-in-law to the Great Earl of Cork. His son’s castellated residence was largely destroyed in the rebellion of 1641 and the subsequent house was a Dutch-gabled structure of the 1690s. In 1795 this was incorporated into a very large Palladian house, built by Grice Smyth to the designs of Alexander Dean of Cork.

Ballynatray is eleven bays long and five bays wide, and of two storeys over a basement with a balustraded parapet, originally decorated with elaborate urns. The river façade has a pedimented breakfront while the three central bays of the entrance front are deeply recessed and contain a long, single storey porch. The interior was clearly built for entertaining on the grandest scale, with a sumptuous suite of interconnecting reception rooms, all with stupendous views, wide, double mahogany doors and some fine early nineteenth century plasterwork. The hall has a frieze of bulls’ heads (the Smyth crest) and the billiard room an imaginative cornice of billiard balls and cues. Originally the bedroom floor had a curious curvilinear corridor but sadly this has since been altered.

In 1843 the heiress Charlotte Smyth married the 5th Earl of Mount Cashel. Their son Lord Kilworth and their grandson both died so Ballynatray passed to their daughter, the wife of Colonel Holroyd, who assumed the name and arms of Smyth. In 1969 their grandson Horace Holroyd-Smyth bequeathed Ballynatray to his cousins, the Ponsonby family of Kilcooley Abbey, who sold the house to Serge and Henriette Boissevain in the late 1990s. They subsequently carried out a major restoration programme and today Ballynatray is the home of Henry Gwyn-Jones.



Address & Contact

Ballynatray House, Knockanore, Youghal, Cork

t: +353 24 97460

f: +353 24 97464



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Opening Details

Gardens Open

June 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

July 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.

Open at other times by appointment.