A story of houses of West Cork and County Cork in the year 1911

Holger Smyth, Inanna Rare Books, Skibbereen, revisits houses shown in the rare Hodges publication ‘Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century’. 

Episode 4: Garrettstown House, Ballinspittle / Kinsale.

When you spend time in West Cork there is no escaping the remarkable history of the land in and around Kinsale. From the 13th century the Norman family of deCourcy left its mark on substantial townlands around important harbours, all along the coast between Kinsale and Courtmacsherry. The once beautiful Garrettstown House estate is also part of this ‘Barony Courceys’. 

You can see this rather hidden hilltop location if you look back from the Old Head towards Ballinspittle. You’ll miss it when you drive to Garrettstown Beach from Ballinspittle or even when you take the back road, along the coast from the beach to Kilbrittain. 

The now derelict Garrettstown House features, with half a page of coverage, in the rare Hodges publication and the book allows us to see a rare photograph of the main house, then still thriving and intact, well maintained and with mature trees surrounding the seat.

Hodges’ visit in 1910 was again timely, just as the estate had or was going to pass into new ownership. 

The ownership history of this house is complicated so Hodges simplified it by stating the obvious in 1911 and mentioning the Franks family that was granted land as a reward for accompanying Cromwell to Ireland in the year 1650. 

The house and demesne is mentioned in the 1750 edition of Charles Smith’s ‘The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork’.  

When Reverend Hodges visited, the Forster and Kearney  families owned the property solely or together through marriage. 

The Irish writer Robert O’Byrne researched the property in detail and his thorough article is the standard on the building today (see his website theirishaesthete.com).

O’Byrne found out that the owners availed of the so-called ‘Wyndham Act’, which came into effect mid-20th century and allowed them to sell off the lands attached to the estate.

The remaining main house slowly fell into disrepair but, thankfully, the owners of today have started the process of restoration and rebuilding of the outbuildings.

Even though it is now derelict, the site of the main house is well worth a visit and the drive along the high walls of the estate, on top of the hill, gives us a good idea of the winds from the bay, as well as the winds of change that the estate was exposed to through the centuries. 

Visit www.garrettstownhouse.com for more details.

See above for images of the House in 1911 and its owner at the time (Mathew Henry Franks).

The article above refers to a rare publication, now available in a high-quality reprint and hand-bound limited edition from
Inanna Rare Books, Skibbereen. Phone: 087 1025412.
W: www.inannararebooks.com  / e: info@inannararebooks.com

Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century /
Contemporary Biographies.

[Half-Leather version €450 / Full Leather version €550]

Originally published in Brighton in the year 1911. With 315 pages of photographs and stories of big houses, town houses and country estates in Cork City, North Cork, East Cork and West Cork, as well as biographies of the men and their families who lived in these houses.

WCP Staff

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