Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork

contact: Gerald McGreal

Tel: 087-2400831

Open dates om 2023: Feb 4-5, 7-9, 11-16, Mar 7-9, 11-12, 14-16, 18-19, May 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-
25, 27-28, 30-31, June 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, July 29-30, Aug 12-20, Sept 2-3, 9-10,
16-17, 30, 8am-12 noon
Fee: adult €6, student €3, child/OAP free

I can’t find much information on Ashton Grove and we haven’t had a chance to visit yet. The property has a facebook page and a contact email on it:

The Landed Estates database has an entry for Ashton Grove:

Ashton Grove, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

This house is marked Ashton Grove on the first Ordnance Surve map. John Cotter was the proprietor of Ashton, Cork, in 1814 and T. Cleary of Ballingohig in 1837. Thomas J. Cleary held the property from Henry Braddell at the time of Griffith’s Valuation when the buildings were valued at £22. Cleary held a cornmill from Braddell in the townland of Kilrussane. James Fitzgerald held 122 acres of untenanted land and buildings valued at £26+ in 1906.” [1]

Ashton Grove, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Under the Braddell family, the landed estates database tells us:

This family appear to be descended from the Reverend Henry Braddell of Raheengraney, County Wicklow. Henry Braddell held land in the parish of Mallow, County Cork, from at least the early 19th century. Henry Braddell may have been agent to the Earl of Listowel. His nephew John Waller Braddell certainly fulfilled this role in the 1850s and early 1860s until he was murdered in 1863. At the time of Griffith’s Valuation Matthew Braddle held land in the parish of Mourneabbey, barony of Barretts, and Henry Braddle held land in the parishes of Mallow, barony of Fermoy, Castlelyons and Knockmourne, barony of Condons and Clangibbon, Killaspugmullane, barony of Barrymore, county Cork. In the 1870s Henry Braddell of Modelligo, Fermoy, owned 1,872 acres in county Cork.

and about the Cleary family:

Thomas J. Cleary held land in the parish of Killaspugmullane, barony of Barrymore, county Cork, at the time of Griffith’s Valuation. In January 1866 the estate of John Thomas Clery at Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, barony of Barrymore, was advertised for sale. His brother Henry Clery was selling his share of Ashton Grove in June 1866. Under tenure in this sale rental a detailed history of the Clerys’ land holding is given. By a fee farm grant dated December 1850 Henry Braddell granted the lands of Kilrossane and Ballingohig to Thomas John Clery, who by his will dated 6 February 1851 left his property divided between his six sons, John Thomas, Henry, Charles, William, George and Richard. In the 1870s William Henry Cleary of Cork owned 2,534 acres in the county.

An article published on June 2nd 2013 in the Irish Examiner by Peter Dowdall gives a wonderful description of the garden. He writes:

From tiny little details, such as a glimpse of a marble seat in the distance through an accidental gap in a hedge, to a perfectly-positioned specimen tree, this garden needs senses on high alert.

If I am to be honest, I was expecting a garden recreated by the book and with a certain degree of interest from the owner. What I discovered was a garden being recreated by a man who is now thinking of the future generations and recreating this garden with a passionate attention to detail. Every plant that goes in is carefully considered; every stone and brick that went into creating an orangery from a derelict pig shed and a belfry from a cowshed were reused from the estate. Fallen slates, which weren’t good enough to use on buildings, create an edge around the rose beds.

What I love about the place is that the rule book is not evident, trial and error is the order of the day, which to me is real gardening. Except when it comes to the meticulous planning of the box hedges in the potager and the Horological Maze, which at this stage is on its third planting because the original Taxus (yew) failed due to a blight which struck again a few years later. The maze was replanted using Lonicera and is thriving, though it will be a few years before it is truly at its best…I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday than roaming through the ‘garden rooms’ here.

Looking down on this garden, which is next to the maze, from an elevated platform you could imagine yourself in the south of France, except for the single-figure temperatures. Other features to admire include the fantastic Anglo-Chinese Regency-style bridge, constructed by the owner’s brother, and the pergola, which has been planted with several climbers including Jasminum, Laburnum, David Austin roses, Wisteria and Passiflora.

However, no account of a visit to this garden is complete without mentioning the Horological Maze.

What, I hear you ask is a Horological Maze? Well it’s a design centred on a French mantle clock, which is surrounded by interlocking cog-wheels, pinions and coil springs, all inspired by the workings of a typical mechanism. It also reflects the owner’s interest in horology and provides a balance in its garden sculpture to the turret clock presiding over the courtyard.

The owner took his inspiration for this creation from visits to Blenheim Palace and Weston Park in England, Shanagarry and Faithlegg in Ireland, and the Summer Palace in Vienna.” [2]



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