HISTORY OF BALLYNATRAY
The Ballynatray Estate has evidence of human activity dating back to the Bronze Age and has over the centuries amassed a rich and colourful history. It is the site of Molana Abbey, famous for its collection of Irish Canon Law, the battle ground of Viking raiders, resting place to Raymond (le Gros) Fitzerald, and not least the location of a Desmond Castle at Temple Michael owned at one time by Walter Raleigh and home to his advisor Thomas Hariot.
The first recorded house was built in the early half of the seventeenth century by Sir Richard Smyth. The house described as a ‘castellated dwelling’ was virtually destroyed in 1645 and later rebuilt several times by successive generations until it took on its current appearance, a Georgian mansion as re-modelled by Grice Smyth in 1795-97. It remained in his family until the end of the 20th century.
The surrounding landscape was laid out in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, during which time a causeway was built connecting Dairinis, where Molana Abbey is built to the shore east and west. The effect is a Romantic and Picturesque circuit from the House and Garden. Mrs Mary Grice Smyth Romanticised the Abbey with inscriptions commemorating Mael An Faidh, and Raymond le Gros.