Ballyvolane plays host to a wide variety of wildlife both native and domestic which provide a great distraction for little people and big kids alike. Some of our native species, such as the red squirrel, can sometimes be a little elusive but patience is well rewarded. Ballyvolane is still a working farm too and the cattle that graze the surrounding pastures are kept good company by two much loved donkeys (Poquita & Heloise). Various kinds or rare-breed pigs currently occupy the back haggard along with the large flock of Muscovy ducks and hens who lay eggs for the breakfast table and for baking. The spaniels and terriers are always bubbling with excitement, welcoming guests and begging to be taken for walks. Fan-tail doves occupy the aviary in the gardens.
A uniquely warm atmosphere pervades throughout the gardens and grounds of Ballyvolane, created largely by the mixture of mature deciduous trees, formal, semi-formal, walled and woodland gardens, not to mention the wide variety of wildlife that thrive therein. Ballyvolane literally translates as 'the place of springing heifers' and is testament to the fertility, richness and natural diversity of the land on which the estate lies.
The Cousin who couldn't leave
The gardens were originally laid out when the house was built in the early 18th century by the Pyne Family. The planting of the trees on the Estate was undertaken by Thomas Pennefeather, a cousin of the Pynes, who came to stay for a fortnight and remained there for forty years in the position of agent. He planted most of the mature deciduous trees in the gardens and surrounding parkland, nurturing them in their formative years and ensuring their lasting presence for the centuries to come.
Little People... Big Outdoors!
Ballyvolane is ideal for little people with vast grounds to get lost in, a tree house to play in, woods to explore, hens to feed, eggs to collect, donkeys to pet and lots more entertainment nearby such as Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Castle and Leahy's Open Farm. Farmer Justin (!) will take all the kids on a tractor and trailer ride around the estate after breakfast.
Visiting the Gardens at Ballyvolane
The gardens are open (mostly) to the public during the summer and from mid May the bluebell-carpeted woodlands are at their most spectacular. Please phone us on 025 36349 in advance just to check we are open as the house and gardens are closed for private house rentals from time to time.
The formal gardens at Ballyvolane are on the south side of the house. Three tiered lawns extend southwards dissected by gravel paths lined with flowering magnolia. The banks blossom with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils earlier in the year while in May, bluebells begin to sprout from under the mighty copper beech behind the top lawn where croquet is played. The rockery sits west of the bottom lawn while all around magnificent flowering trees and shrubs enclose an idyllic space.
Through a small gate east of the top lawn one enters the walled garden, a huge enclosed area, now three quarters pasture. The remaining cultivated area still retains the charm of a carefully nurtured ornamental space but it is predominantly a working and productive vegetable garden providing fruit, vegetables and herbs for the kitchen much of the year round. The huge walls that enclose the walled garden were built by the Pynes under the famine relief schemes in the early half of the 19th century - the carved capstone adorning the arch that stood at the end of a once much longer beech hedge dates the construction at 1828. In 2015, a tennis court and 7-a-side soccer pitch were added to the walled garden.
The woodlands surrounding Ballyvolane provide ever changing and breathtaking scenes throughout the year. Just east of the north side of the house lies the rock, a small knoll, densely planted with native timbers reaching skywards for light, while at their base a path weaves through a carpet of bluebells from mid May.
The ornamental lakes which adorn the parkland below the front of the house were originally dug by hand during the 19th century and were recently restored, deepened and landscaped to accommodate trout for fishing. Until the mid 1990's they had been hidden by dense undergrowth and submerged in silt. Though restoration is complete, replanting and regeneration is ongoing.