Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan


Ballyseedy Castle, Ballyseedy, near Tralee, Co.Kerry
House Contents Auction Sale Catalogue 1967

The adjoining townlands of Ballycarty and Ballyseedy were the focal point of the Blennerhassett estate in Co.Kerry and the principal seat of the Blennerhassett family from 1590 to 1967. Ballycarty and Balllyseedy each contained small but ancient Geraldine forts or castles that belonging to the family of FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond, before the FitsGeralds were dispossessed for rebelling against Queen Elizabeth.

Ballyseedy and Ballycarty were among lands granted in <???> to the planter Sir Edward Denny by Queen Elizabeth, as part of the creation of the Plantation of Munster. They were subsequently a part of lands granted by Sir Edward Denny to Thomas Blennerhassett of Cumberland, England in 1590.

The Blennerhassett family settled at Ballycarty during the early 17th century and later occupied Ballyseedy also. In 1721 they built the first "Ballyseedy House", among ruins of the geraldine Ballyseedy Castle at the west end of Ballytseedy Wood. This was occupied up to his death in 1775 by "The Great Colonel John" Blennerhassett (1691-1775).

The present "Ballyseedy House" (since c1969 called "Ballyseede Castle" Hotel) was built c1780 as a new house named "Elm Grove" by the Colonel's younger brother William Blennerhassett Sr (1705-1785). The work was completed c1788 by his son William Blennerhassett Jr. (c1735-1797), a substantial late 18th century country house situated on the south bank of the River Lee, within both Ballyseedy townland and Ballyseedy parish, close to the boundary between Ballyseedy and Ballycarty townlands.

The house was rebuilt and enlarged twice, firstly in 1821, the name "Elm Grove" being discarded at this date, the name reverting to "Ballyseedy" because the original old "Ballyseedy" at the west end of Ballyseedy Wood had by then fallen into disrepair and disuse. During this first remodelling (completed 1821) the north wing was added. In the north wing is a "Banqueting Hall" which features a foundation stone dated 1721, set into the wall over primitive 17th century black oak fireplace surround. The fireplace surround in the banqueting hall, also another 17th century wooden fireplace surround of finer workmanship that was installed in what was the library (now the hotel bar) of the main house, are believed to have been moved with other free-standing oak furniture from "Old" Ballyseedy" as it fell into ruin.
The last of the family to reside at Ballyseedy Castle was Hilda Blennerhassett (b.1884 d.1965). Following her death the house and what remained of the estate was sold out of the family, in 1967, to become "Ballyseede Castle" Hotel.
An auction of house contents, "objets d'art, furniture, antique silver, china, etc", was held at Ballyseedy in June 1967. The sale catalogue includes a number of pieces of Elizabethan and Jacobean oak furniture (items 190, 191, 194, 195, 198, 235, 236) which will, probably, have come from "old" Ballyseedy, the house the present Ballyseedy Castle eventually superseded, whose ruins may still be seen a short distance inside the western edge of Ballyseedy wood. Where is this old oak furniture now, I wonder?
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