'A mansion built on rashers' - Former home and lands of rasher baron Abraham Denny on the market for €2.2m
Food innovation dominates an online list of '10 Irish Inventions that Changed the World'.
This includes the flavoured potato crisp, the cream cracker and the mighty rasher. Ballybrada House in Ballybrado near Cahir in Co Tipperary, which was considered to be one of Ireland's finest residences when completed in 1879, is the Irish mansion built on rashers.
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Henry Denny, a shoemaker's son from Waterford, invented the beloved bacon strip in 1820 to become an essential part of the 'Full Irish'. Denny perfected radically new bacon-curing techniques which would eventually see his business expand to the degree that his bacon processing plant in Waterford consumed a 1,000 pigs a week. For a time it was the largest bacon curing plant in Europe and by today's standards, Henry was a billionaire.
But Henry's oldest and by now society-educated son Abraham (never shortened to 'Ham) decided that pigs were definitely not his bag. Instead he trained to become an architect.
Abraham practised for a time in Dublin until Henry died in 1870; his father's passing leaving the family's piggy bank in the lurch so to speak. So Abraham relinquished his practice and came back to take the helm at Henry Denny and Sons, now also making sausages. He also took over the family seat at Ballybrado. And as a company boss, he was even more efficient and industrious than Henry. But Abraham's architecturally trained tastes were not salted by the relatively plain Denny family spread left by Henry.
So he called in one of Ireland's most renowned architects, Robert Watt, to design him a family home that would let society know that the Ballybrado Dennys were now truly on the pig's back.
Abraham improved the family fortunes still further. The current owners of the house believe that in addition to developing bacon markets in Denmark and Germany, he also had a successful investment foray into the 19th-century tea plantations of Java, although this is not accounted for in the Denny company's history. When he died in 1892 Abraham left the modern equivalent of €22m in cash and a business which would still be reaping success 130 years later.
The National Buildings of Ireland describes Ballybrada (at Ballybrado) today, along with its elaborate gate lodges (some have been sold), its walled garden and its courtyard, as being "of considerable architectural and artistic interest." In 1879 when it first opened its doors it was likely one of Ireland's first substantial arts and crafts homes and must have quite simply blown people away. It is recorded that Ballybrado had 10 gardeners employed to tend its pleasure grounds and 10 maids in residence to cater for the Denny family's domestic needs.