Tuesday 22 August 2017

Peek inside this ivy-clad Cork mansion once home to judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to death

The birthplace of the judge who sentenced outlaw Ned Kelly to death

Redmond Barry
Redmond Barry
The ballroom extension is all that is left of Ballyclogh House in Kilworth, the birthplace of Redmond Barry
Ned Kelly

Eithne Tynan

For reasons that are not altogether clear, there are competing claims as to the birthplace of Redmond Barry, the man who sentenced Ned Kelly to hang.

Australia's most notorious judge is known to have come from Ballyclough, or Ballyclogh, Co Cork, and so (perhaps understandably) the village of Ballyclough, near Mallow, is inclined to insist on its claim to ownership.

The Tudor Revival staircase in the hall
The Tudor Revival staircase in the hall

Reputable sources line up against it, however - Griffith's Valuations, the 1944 Irish Tourist Association survey, and Ann Garbally's 1995 biography, Redmond Barry, An Anglo-Irish Australian. The Ballyclogh from which Redmond Barry sprang was actually some 40 kilometres west of that village; he came from Ballyclogh House at Kilworth, near Fermoy. So Ballyclough Village might as well enjoy the distinction of having had nothing at all to do with the execution of Ned Kelly.

What's left of Ballyclogh House, the true birthplace of the hanging judge, has just come to market.

A water feature in the garden
A water feature in the garden

Barry emigrated to Australia in 1839, became a renowned jurist, Chancellor of the University of Melbourne for 28 years, founder of the Melbourne Public Library, a busy philanthropist, and an unmarried father of four. But history will forever remember him as the judge who sent Australia's best-loved folk hero to his grave in 1880, before eerily dying himself soon afterwards.

After pronouncing sentence on the 25-year-old outlaw, Barry said: "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," as was the custom. Kelly replied: "I will go a little further than that and say I will see you there when I go." The hint of prophecy - and of menace - was borne out when, sure enough, Barry saw him there 12 days later, having died of a congested lung and a carbuncle on the neck.

The front door with a date plaque
The front door with a date plaque

In Redmond Barry's time, Ballyclough was a seven-bay Gothic-influenced mansion with battlements, buttresses and mullioned windows. Not much of that remains. Ann Garbally's biography recounts that during the Troubles it was used as a military garrison for the British, before being burnt in 1920 and later mostly demolished by the Land Commission.

What remains is one section, described by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as an extension built in 1904 to house the ballroom. A date plaque over the front door commemorates the year.

The kitchen
The kitchen

The house was restored about 25 years ago and more recently upgraded and extended. The original features include the limestone pinnacles on the roof and a mullioned window with stained glass, and there's a thick shroud of creeper to enhance the Gothic feel. Inside are some beamed ceilings and a magnificent, Tudor Revival staircase in the hall. The courtyard is still extant too, with the original lofted coach house and stables.

The house now stands at 2,675 sq ft with four bedrooms and two reception rooms - not including the imposing hall, which measures about 20ft by 18ft and has a gallery landing.

The library has a wood burning stove
The library has a wood burning stove

The first reception room is a library, measuring some 25ft by 18ft, with a bay window, exposed ceiling beams and a maple floor. There's a wood-burning stove in the fireplace and a built-in desk and bookshelves, so it's the ideal spot for reading up on legal precedents.

The second reception room is an open-plan sitting room and dining room, measuring about 30ft by 11ft, again with a maple floor and with two sets of double doors giving onto a sun terrace.

The library has exposed ceiling beams
The library has exposed ceiling beams

The 10ft by 20ft kitchen is off this room and has a tiled floor, fitted cabinets and a solid-fuel range, and there's a separate utility room.

There's one bathroom on the ground floor and a shower room upstairs. All four bedrooms are on the first floor, including the main bedroom which has a bay window and built-in wardrobes.

It stands on just under two acres with a well-loved and cared-for garden. Around the house is a gravel parking area surrounded by close-planted flowerbeds. A paved patio with a water feature is outside the dining room and to the south is a vast, smooth lawn bordered by a stream. Dotted about are mature trees and shrubs, and for hobby farmers there's a greenhouse, vegetable patch and herb garden, as well as a hen run and beehives.

As well as the coach house and stables in the courtyard, there's also a garage and workshop to the side of the house.

The property is almost equidistant between the villages of Glanworth, about five kilometres to the west, and Kilworth, five kilometres east. The old garrison town of Fermoy, where there are several secondary schools, is seven kilometres to the south.

This part of north Cork includes the Blackwater River Valley, so it's popular with fans of fishing and rowing. There are two regattas a year in Fermoy, and golf clubs there and at Mitchelstown.

After less than 10 minutes' drive from the house you can join the M8 motorway, getting you to Cork city centre in about 40 minutes. From Dublin it's about two-and-a-half hours by means of the M8 and M7.

Ballyclogh House is for sale with Michael H Daniels & Co in Fermoy (025) 31023. The asking price is €450,000.

Ballyclogh House

Kilworth, Glanworth, Co Cork

Asking price: €450,000

Agent: Michael H Daniels & Co, Fermoy (025) 31023

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