Ireland is subdivided into small rural areas known as townlands. Ballynoe House (centre of the aerial picture above, taken in 2012) is situated in the eastern part of the townland of Dunowen (named after the ancient fort of Dún Eoin). ‘Dunowen West’ is the collection of houses overlooking, and includes part of, the sandy beach known locally as Red Strand. Old stories relate that the beach is named after a battle. Dunowen is part of the larger promontory whose southerly part is occupied by the Galley Head lighthouse.
Iron Age Landscape
While Ballynoe House was built between 2006 & 2008, it sits in a landscape originally divided more than 2000 years ago. Some signs of Iron Age ditches and farming remain. The property is surrounded by the ancient walls that subdivided the original area into the fields you see today. The 1840 map, below, shows the fields now occupied by Ballynoe House and the boundary walls (in green). The bridal way on the west side of the property (marked in red) is what remains of an original Iron Age track that leads out to the fields on this promontory, in the direction of Keameen Point, and part of the local ancient track network. This feature is similar to the suspected Iron Age stone ditch marked on the map in the grey box across Galley Head. Just above Ballynoe House, on the right-hand side of the road, is a circular stone animal enclosure, the only such local feature in an otherwise rectilinear landscape.
The lane down to Sands Cove (more correctly Sandscove) passes Dunowen House, the previous residence of local celebrity Noel Redding, bassist in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who bought the house in the 1970’s. He died in 2003. As a family friend, Felicity recalls meeting him when she was a teenager. Her cousin was a frequent guest for weekend parties at the house.
The original house was acquired by Capt. George Sandes through marriage in 1815 to Mary, daughter of John Grady, who had owned the house since 1787, and comprised an original estate of some 615 acres. Below and to the right of Dunowen House, and facing the entrance of Ballynoe House across the field, is the sub-townland and hamlet of Ballynoe (a corruption of Baille Nua meaning ‘new town’) originally built by Sandes in the early C19th to house his estate workers. Today, Ballynoe contains only a few houses, compared to the more than twenty that once lived there.
Ballynoe House is so-named as it looks outwards towards sub-townland, although not part of it. In the English vernacular, the house name would be similar to many in the British Isles, i.e. “Newton House”.
At Sandscove, (the surrounding 25 acres presently owned by the Blackwell family of Cross & Blackwell foods), there are two cottages. One, now named Donkey House, was where Sandes’ donkeys were kept in order to haul supplies up the main houses when brought ashore by supply ship.