Ballinvirick House

Architectural Heritage

The 1840 OS provides some interesting evidence on the development of the structure. The plan form of the house seems to match closely what is extant today. The 'great improvements' noted by Samuel Lewis in 1833 appear to be complete. The most obviously alteration to the landscape since 1840 is the removal of the parkland landscape to the front of the house. Also the stables to the rear were not extant at that time.

The entrance on the
1840 OS map is south of the house, and the road to the house winds through the parkland and brings the visitor up to the principal elevation. This way of approaching the building is typical of picturesque landscape design, the house is set into the parkland and painterly views are formed through the sparsly planted parkland as the visitor approaches the house. The woods around this drive have grown and thickened considerably and there are no vistas of the house from the drive until one arrives at the building.

Plan Form/Building Phases
We know that the Royce family were involved with lands at Ballinvirick from 1718. The main family residence was at Nantinan House. We do not know for certain that there was a house at Ballinvirick during the eighteenth century but it is very likely. The remains of this building are probably still extant though much modified in the form of the return building to what is now Ballinvirick House.

The presence of an older building on the site would explain the absence of a basement from Ballinvirick House. For a house of the scale and quality of Ballinvirick the absence of a basement is very unusual. Basements were considered a fundamental part of construction in that they provided a damp proof zone between the living accommodation and the ground.

It is likely that the present return building is the original dwelling and that the house as we see it was constructed at right angles to the earlier structure. Maurice Craig notes A great many houses have a T-pan, which is sometimes the result of a new house having been built on to the end of an old one and at right-angles to it 1

The thickness of masonry in the chimney breast to the rear of the return building is more typical of a chimney constructed in a traditional farm house, than a classically inspired Georgian dwelling.

The plan form of the main house is tripartite as is typical of most Georgian dwellings of this size, with the staircase located to the back. Maurice Craig comments in Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size that the preference for locating the staircase to the rear became more common in the late eighteenth century. Furthermore the large entrance hall only became fashionable at the start of the nineteenth century. It is probable therefore that the present house was constructed by Robert Royce sometime in the early nineteenth century.

There is a clear line of construction at lintel level on first floor. The eaves/ roof appear to have been raised at some point this would also have included the roof of the return building.

3 Craig, Maurice Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, Ashfield Press 1976 page 12
Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment
Conor Hourigan B Arch Sc MUBC