The History of Ballinacurra
In addition to its magnificent Georgian design, The Ballinacurra House also has a rich cultural history reaching back to the 18th century. Due to its location near Ireland’s international transportation links, the Ballinacurra House has always been home to owners who spent extended periods abroad for work or travel. From dignitaries, to a convent, to foreign ambassadors, Ballinacurra has passed through the hands of Europe’s most accomplished figures and families. Today, the estate’s cosmopolitan legacy endures through its structural details left by its many storied owners.
-1770- The Beginning of Ballinacurra
John Swete, the High Sheriff of Cork, inherits £30,000 from his cousin the paymaster for the Duke of Marlborough in England. Swete uses the money to build the Ballinacurra House for his son, John. The home consists of the Mansion House only, and is described as a “small hunting lodge” sited on 300 acres.
-1791- The Bleazby Family
Swete sells the estate and its surrounding 300 acres to the Bleazbys–an affluent and popular family from Cork City who were actively involved in the tanner business. The Bleazbys purchase the home for £5,500.
-1957- John Danford
Over 150 year later, the Bleazbys sell Ballinacurra to John Danford. A brilliant artist and explorer, Danford studied at the Royal Academy of Art. He was later recruited as a U.K. ambassador to Nigeria by the British Council, which often required him to spend extended periods abroad in Trinidad, Manchester, and Sierra Leone. During his time at Ballinacurra, Danford created five themed rooms–African, Elizabethan, Georgian, Japanese, and Victorian–to showcase the many items he had collected during his international travels.
The Ardfoyle Nuns sell the 9-acre walled garden to a local farmer. They use the money from the sale for restoration of their convent in Cork City.
Ballinacurra’s current owners, Des and Lisa McGahan, buy the property. They begin an extensive renovation of both the house and grounds.
-2005- The Coach House
Ballinacurra's original Coach House is fully upgraded and renovated.
-2008- The Lodge
The McGahans built the Lodge with its own separate driveway and access to the property.
-1777- Maps of the Roads of Ireland
The Ballinacurra House appears on a map by cartographers George Taylor and Andrew Skinner. Their book Maps of the Roads of Ireland lists the property as belonging to John Swete.
-1831- Ballinacurra's stately ballroom
William Bleazby builds the East and West wings of the property. The construction of the wings is commemorated on the property’s bell tower. Ballinacurra's stately ballroom is also built during this period. Since five of the Bleazby’s seven children were daughters, the family would frequently hold dinner dances in their ballroom in an effort to present their daughters to young Cork bachelors.
Upon Danford’s death, the estate passes to the Ardfoyle Sisters of Cork, who had cared for John in Africa when he had fallen ill. The nuns lived in the centre of the main house and used the rest of the home as a summer retreat.
The Ballinacurra House is sold to Maggie Glicksten, a South African woman who was married to an Irishman. Maggie and her husband live in the home for eight years with their children.
The property was then sold to Michael and Pauline Forsythe. The couple was Irish, but lived as expatriates in various countries. While in Hong Kong, the Forsythes bought Ballinacurra with the intention to retire there. They lived in the house during the summers, while renting it out to various groups during the other parts of the year.
The McGahans buy back the 9-acre walled garden that the Ardfoyle Nuns sold in 1972. The property is restored to its original borders.
Renovation of the Mansion House begins. The McGahans add 14 ensuite bedrooms, and the fabric of the building is completely modernized with electrical wiring, plumbing, heating system, roofing, doors, and windows.
-2007- The Stone Cottage
The property’s Stone Cottage is renovated and upgraded during this period.
The Ballinacurra House is fully restored and modernized.