Abandoned ireland


Ballyannan Castle,

County Cork

Documenting our Heritage

A castle was built on this site by the Hodnett family in the 14th century. In the middle of the 17th century, the Hodnett castle and the lands that surrounded it, were acquired by Sir St John Brodrick (1627-1711) of Wandsworth, Surrey, England, who was granted estates of over 6,000 acres in County Cork in return for his military services in Cromwell’s New Model Army.

Brodrick added to the earlier castle, transforming it into a fortified house, based on the Scotch Z plan, in which two defensive flanker wings form the two ends of the house. Ballyannan is the only example of this kind in County Cork.

Brodrick represented County Cork in the Irish House of Commons from 1692 to 1693 and from 1695 to 1699. His son Alan Brodrick (1660-1728), became Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and was created Baron Brodrick in 1715, and Viscount Midleton in the Irish peerage in 1717.

The Brodricks spent increasingly less time in Ireland, and in 1712, purchased the Peper Harow estate in southwest Surrey, England. In 1765, they built Peper Harow House, designed by the notable architect Sir William Chambers, with the surrounding parkland landscaped by Sir Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Peper Harow remained their home until the death of William St John Fremantle Brodrick (1856-1942) who had been created 1st Earl of Midleton in 1920. The title, Earl of Midleton, became extinct with the death of his son, George St John Brodrick, 2nd Earl of Midleton, in 1979.

Ballyannan Castle,
Co. Cork

Peper Harow House

Getting back to Ballyannan, the estate was left in the hands of the land agent, William Spence, who took certain liberties in his master's absence. During a short visit to Ballyannan in 1710, Brodrick reported that the house and gardens were much out of order and local people were making free with the house contents. As advice to his son, also called Alan, he carefully listed details of all the families land holdings along with the warning: 'I have known men who have lost their estates by the wickedness and breach of trust of their agents, who may discover some defect in the title and make ill use of the knowledge they get by being entrusted with the sight of the deeds, and often mislay or detain them till the client is obliged to pay them their exorbitant demands for the services they pretend to have done.'

Alan (junior) Brodrick (1702-1747) lived at Ballyannan in the early 1720s and put the house and gardens back in order. After the death of both his father, and his elder half-brother St John Brodrick, who both died 1728, he succeeded to the title Viscount Midleton and took up residence at Peper Harow. He is credited with inventing the rules of cricket with matches played against his friend Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond.

Alan (junior) Brodrick (1702-1747), 2nd Viscount Midleton

Ballyannan was never again occupied by the Brodricks and was again left in the care of land agents. In 1782, George Brodrick, 4th Viscount Midleton wrote to his agent discussing replenishing the woodland by grafting following death of some oaks. In 1840, the 5th Viscount Midleton followed the advice of a valuer, Charles Bailey, and established a small nursery in a wood clearing. Fruit trees and conifers were grown here until the estate closed in 1964.

The antiquarian, John Windele (1801-1865) described a visit to Ballyannan: 'A short walk by a by-road brought us in view of the tall antique beeches that crest the hill of Ballyannon. Deep in the hollow at its foot we could see the loft pillar-like chimneys of the old house of the Broderick; high and solid outrageous walls in the strong fences of its old pleasure grounds and gardens soon attracted our notice, the monuments not of a family decay, but of its emigration or prolonged absenteeism'.

Ballyannan has long been abandoned and left to slowly crumble.

This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.