The History and Interiors of Ballinkeele House, a Historic Inn in Wexford, Ireland
Ballinkeele is unlike the usual country house hotel in Wexford, it is a welcoming and historic family home that offers luxury guesthouse accommodation.
This classical house is one of the most distinguished, early 19th century examples in County Wexford. Architect Daniel Robertson, designer of a number of notable country houses in Ireland, designed Ballinkeele house in 1840 as a magnificent Italianate mansion, the architectural merits of which are quoted in Burkes Guide to country houses. It is also one of Ireland’s historic and listed buildings.
From the cast iron, half moon entrance gates and up the long sweeping avenue, visitors pass the working farm, stable yard and the private lake before they reach the front of the house, where they are greeted by a magnificent portico of Wicklow granite rising over the front entrance.
The interior of this historic house has retained its Victorian elegance with grand old fireplaces and original vintage furniture. The current owners have worked hard to maintain the charming period décor throughout. The hall is a great spacious room flanked by two impressive Corinthian columns and on cold days a large warming stove welcomes guests inside.
The drawing room is a haven of relaxation where guests can unwind in one of the comfortable chairs or lay back on the big old sofa and read, listen to music or allow ones mind to wander over the stunning view. The rich red dining room exudes a country house grandeur of bygone years, where guests enjoy their evening meal in a timeless candlelit atmosphere. In the servants hall a long row of bells hang, each with a distinctive tone to mark the individual rooms. Upstairs all five uniquely decorated bedrooms are filled with beautiful antiques and each room enjoys wonderful views over the surrounding parkland and countryside.
Ballinkeele's long history is steeped in the heritage of Ireland and is dotted with remarkable stories of the many interesting characters that have lived in the house or just visited. The original house was the home of the "glorious and tragic" Hay family whose sons were renowned historians, patriots, soldiers and politicians and whose support for the French Revolution and later the 1798 Rebellion flourished in Ballinkeele. One of the leaders of the Irish Rebellion, Fr John Murphy, was a guest who often enjoyed a walk around the estate.
John Hay, a former French army officer, was hanged in the grove in front of the house after the defeat of 1798. His brother Philip attained the seemingly impossible for one of his kind, a commission in the British Army. Edward Hay, the historian and an eyewitness of the 1798 Rebellion, instigated the gathering of the first competent census by Edward Blake in 1811 from Ballinkeele House.
John Maher, whose family had been farming Ballinkeele lands since 1808, purchased the estate from the Hay family in 1825. The Maher family originally came from Tipperary, where they had three family estates, Tullamacjames, Turtulla and Tullamain Castle.
The present house was commissioned and built by the Maher family in 1840. The church in Ballymurn, was also built and endowed by the Mahers whose most famed contribution was a commissioned altarpiece, a pieta by John Hogan and only one of three in Ireland. Beside the church itself is the Maher mortuary chapel designed by Pugin's father, both are well worth a visit.
GOOD HOTEL GUIDE 2012
Today the Maher family still maintain their farm as tillage and have opened the doors of their beautiful country home to offer luxury historic house accommodation.
Ballinkeele House has been awarded :"The Good Hotel Guide 2012, César Award for Irish Country House of the Year"