County Donegal

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Ballyconnell House, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal
Ballyconnell House, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal

The house was originally built by the Olpherts, a Dutch family who first settled in this part of Donegal during the Plantation era of the early seventeenth-century, being granted or purchasing land at Cloghaneely in 1619. The family crest and motto ‘Dum Spiro Spero’ (‘While I Breathe, I Hope’) can be seen to the central carved armorial plaque to the porch. The current house probably replaced an earlier house or houses in the area (location unknown). The current house was apparently built around 1763.

The mullioned and transomed windows to the porch and canted bays, the gable-fronted single-bay projections, hoodmouldings etc. lend this building a Tudor or Elizabethan architectural character that was en vogue in Ireland at the time. 

The house and estate remained in the Olphert family until the early twentieth century. The estate amounted to some 15,611 acres in 1917 when it was purchased by the Congested Districts Board for £20,620. The house was occupied by the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1921 and later by the Free State Forces in 1922 during the Civil War. It was later sold to the Office of Public Works in 1926 for £7,000. It was subsequent offered to the Loreto nuns in 1927 who altered and extended the house, and opened a preparatory College, Coláiste Bhríde, for the education of female primary school teachers. The Loreto nuns remained here until 1961. The house was later purchased by the Catholic Diocese of Raphoe, and was again extended (a three-storey dormitory wing was built) and altered and opened as a boys’ secondary school in 1965. It remained in use as a boarding school until 1986 and was later purchased in 1987 by Udarás na Gaeltachta and was used as an Gaeltacht school\Irish college until recent years. This former country house is one of the few buildings of its type in this part of County Donegal, and is an integral element of the built heritage and social history of the Falcarragh (An Fál Carrach) area. It forms the centrepiece of a group of related structures in the former Ballyconnell estate along with the outbuildings, walled gardens, later twentieth century additions and the fine mature grounds.

(It is now derelict).

Type of Building:

Landed Estate

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