One of Donegal’s oldest stately homes to be sold

written by Staff Writer May 31, 2023

One of the oldest stately homes in Donegal is to go on the market shortly.

Killygordon House, on the outskirts of Killygordon village, is a nine-bedroom period residence which was constructed around 1780. The selling agent, Henry Kee and Son, state that details of the sale will be published on their website shortly.

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It is reported that the present house or, perhaps, the complex of outbuildings, contains fabric from the original residence of Captain Ralph Mansfield which was built during the Plantation of Ulster. Capt Mansfield is also said to have demolished the nearby O’Donnell castle and built the villages of Killygordon and Crossroads in the early 1600s.

Killygordon House in its former glory, captured by the NIAH in 2008.

Sadly, Killygordon House has become somewhat run-down in recent years. However, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), the house retains much of its early character and form despite alterations in recent decades. 

“This fine house was possibly originally built or altered during the last decades of the nineteenth century,” the NIAH website states.

“It is possible that it contains the fabric of an earlier house or houses to site. The lands (1,000 acres) in this area were granted to a Captain Ralph Mansfield in 1610 who built a three-storey house and bawn somewhere around this site that was described as ‘unslated’ in 1619 but ‘completed’ by 1622 (Treadwell 1953-5).”

The NIAH states that the house is an integral element of the built heritage and social history of the local area.

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“The projecting full-height canted breakfront provides a strong central focus, and is a feature that this house shares with a number of (landlord) houses in the area, including Edenmore House and Summer Hill (outside Ballybofey).”

A recent view of the interior of Killygordon House. Pic: Henry Keen & Son.

The architect was an Edmond Baker from Birmingham. Killygordon House was still in the ownership of the Mansfield family in 1777-83 (Taylor and Skinner map). It was later the home of a Captain Mansfield in 1836 (Ordnance Survey Memoirs) and a Ralph Mansfield in 1854-6 (Griffith’s Valuation), when the estate was some 609 acres in size.

However, the house was later the residence of a John S. Johnston J.P. in 1881 and later a Patrick Bonner in 1894, possibly both leased (both Slater’s Directory). The Johnston family (Mansfield possibly married into a branch of the Johnston family) also had further seats in the area including Rockfield, Ballybofey.

The estate appears to have been sold to a number of tenants in 1907, when Killygordon House itself was possibly purchased by the Bonner family (Estate Commissioners Record). The last resident of the house was Margaret (Matron) Bonner, who passed away in March, 2016. It, and the surrounding farmland, remains in the ownership of the same family.

Outhouses to the rear. Pic: Henry Kee & Son.

 


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