Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ballynatray House. A Blackwater Gem

Ballynatray House

A Blackwater Gem
The grounds and gardens of Ballynatray House were listed among the attractions for the recent Heritage Week. The estate is beautifully situated on the Blackwater near Youghal and just 35 minutes from the eastern side of Cork City.

The current big house, more like a French Chateau, dates from the late 1800s, though there had been many dwellings on the commanding site before that. The ruins of Molana Abbey are here and nearby is the Templemichael ruin and also the church at Glendine.

Molana Abbey
We had been looking for the entrance and car park together but that is not exactly the case. So, if you are heading that way from Cork, turn left immediately before the bridge that spans the Blackwater in Youghal. A few minutes later, you will see the entrance, consisting of a gate and a small boxy lodge at each side. Turn here, carefully, and drive back a few hundreds yards, keeping a keen eye out for a small “hidden” car park on your left. Then walk back, carefully, to the entrance, and go through the pedestrian gate (Templemichael).

The walk from Templemichael follows the main drive through Parkland and Reedbeds with spectacular views of the wooded Blackwater River, to the Pleasure Ground and Kitchen Garden, over a mile from Templemichael. Please contact the office on +353 (0)24 97460 - (0)24 97899 or e-mail info@ballynatray.com should you wish to visit the gardens.
The walk is really a loop with a gravelled path to the right taking you along the bank of the Blackwater. If you’re interested in birds, walk quietly. We were surprised, going over the little bridge at the start of the walk, when we saw a flock of wild ducks, hundreds of them. They were surprised too and took off in a panic.

Further up, we spotted a few herons. They too took off and landed on the opposite shore where no less than fifteen of the big birds were gathered together. You will also see lots of of pheasants around here as these are bred on the estate.

As you near the house, you will come to the ruins of Molana. They are fenced off for safety reasons but you can still get a good look. Splendid views of the house will start at this point and a few hundred yards later you’ll be on the lawn and directly in front of the large well maintained structure with the various gardens close at hand. These are all detailed here.

You may also stroll down to the boathouse and here you’ll see some old timber structures in the water, probably used for fishing as there are wires on pulleys in place from the bank. Back to the house and be sure and climb up behind it where you’ll get a fine view of the building and the magnificent sweep of the Blackwater.
The house and the river
Then you may walk back by the tarred road and see the magnificent trees, some ancient ones. And, even more encouraging, you’ll see lots of younger trees, including  some recent introductions from Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and China, on the long road towards replacing the seniors. Well done to the Estate for this important work for future generations.

Ballynatray is also used as a wedding venue and the house is available for rental and this may mean that the grounds are sometimes closed to the public. So, if you are visiting the gardens or the arboretum, do be sure and ring in advance  on +353 (0)24 97460 - (0)24 97899 or e-mail info@ballynatray.com. And do take note of where that entrance is!
The entrance!
It was heading for lunch-time when we finished the walk. Back in Youghal, we headed to Aherne’s and enjoyed a splendid dish of hake in the bar. Grilled Hake with champ, spinach and a tasty Provencal sauce was the full description on the specials board and the cost was €22.00. We visited Le Gourmet  afterwards for some bread and cake (Pear and Almond). They have a great selection and indeed you may also get a sandwich, and more, including paninis and salads, here for your lunch as well. Sage Cafe is another handy spot for lunch. And if you'd like to finish off with a high class ice-cream why not pop up the street to Fantastic Flavours who have a great selection.
Hake at Aherne's

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