(Note: Please respect the privacy of the owners of these houses as they are private dwellings.)
Ballysop House, sadly, is no longer standing. It was demolished in 1965 to make way for John F.Kennedy Arboretum and Park which was opened on May 29th 1968. In 1798 it was the headquarters of the rebels when they camped at Slieve Coillte from June7th -10th.Two monkey puzzle trees grow where the house once stood.
Jasper Gifford emigrated from England to Ireland, initially to Dublin where Burke’s Landed Gentry notes that he “purchased, by deed, dated 20 July 1661, the lands of Polemaloe (now called Pilltown), Whitechurch, and Ballykelly, Co. Wexford”. He settled in Polemaloe. His son William sold his estate to his son-in-law, George Glascott.
In 1837 Rev.William Gifford lived here. The Giffords and the Glascotts were related by marriage and were the main landlords in the parish. In 1876 Nicholas Gifford owned 1,891 acres at Ballysop.
Above is an extract from Griffiths Valuation 1853 showing the tenants who rented land from Rev.William Gifford at Ballysop.The area covers over 353 acres. He also owned the townlands of Aclare, Ballybrazil, Curraghduff and Ballymaclare.
Ballsop House was a fine house with a drawing room, diningroom,large hall, bathroom, bedrooms, pantries and servants’ apartments. Outside was a coach house and stables for six horses and a lovely garden.
Frank Doyle bought the house from the Rice family after he sold Dunmain House and farm to the Conway family in 1917. He was a brother to Major Doyle who owned Brandon House Hotel. Frank, a bachelor, had up to eight workers employed on the farm and in the house. Jimmy O’Brien, Ballsop, was the ploughman. Paddy Mac Donnell, New Ross, was a general farmhand. Johnny Kehoe, Ballybrazil, was the herdsman. Stephen Kehoe, The Mountain, was another general farmhand. Jimmy O’Brien Jnr.,Ballysop was the chauffeur. The cooks and house keepers were Eileen and Bridie Ryan from Dunbrody and Maura McCarthy, Yoletown.
Frank’s two sisters lived with him in Ballysop. Mona and Babe remained spinsters. Frank was keen sportsman and won many golf trophies. He was also a keen gamesman and provided much of the fowl for the dinners at Ballysop House. He retired to Fethard after selling Ballysop to the Land Commission in the early sixties.
The following is part of the debate in Dáil Éireann, Dec.10,1964 between the Wexford TD, Sir Anthony Esmonde and Mr.Moran the then Minister for Lands on the demolition of Ballysop House.
“They have taken over Ballysop estate. I am informed that the original house—Ballysop House, built about 120 years ago is to be demolished and in its place a modern structure is to be erected. I have made representations to the Minister’s Department on this subject, but somebody—some architect, some planner or somebody within the Civil Service itself acting on the direction of the Minister—has decided this building must go.
There is very strong feeling in Wexford on this subject. I am voicing the opinion of my constituents that this house should be allowed to stand. The Forestry Division say: “We must demolish this house if we are to build a suitable college or whatever will be there.” Further representation has been made to me that as this memorial is associated with the Kennedy family, who are very interested in the problem of retarded children, the house should be left where it is and used for the care of such children. There are plenty of rooms in it and it is on a beautiful site overlooking the mountains. The reason I am making this plea to the Minister is that the Kennedy family are perhaps the greatest supporters and helpers of organisations for retarded children. It would be a fitting memorial if this house were left for that purpose. It is a fine house and it would cost thousands to build its like today.
I know that what is known as a policy decision has been taken by the Department that this house must be swept away. I am trying to urge on behalf of my constituents, on behalf of public opinion in Wexford for which I am qualified to speak, that the Minister should seriously take another look at this. I only hope the bulldozers have not already been sent down to perpetrate what I consider would be an outrage on this fine old Wexford residence.”
“Deputy Esmonde referred to an old house, the location of which is earmarked as the site for the administration building to be erected in connection with the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Park in Wexford. I have seen it and, in my judgment, firstly, it is in a hopeless state of repair and would cost a fortune to do anything with it, and secondly, it would be completely unsuitable for the purpose for which Deputy Esmonde suggested it could be used. It would be unsuitable to house the people Deputy Esmonde suggested it should house, being beside the administration building in this Memorial Park and beside the new agricultural school being erected on that site. I am advised by those who are competent to judge these matters that the cheapest and best thing to do is to knock it down. Even if the building itself were suitable, for the reasons I have given—location and so forth—it would certainly not be suitable to house the type of people the Deputy suggested.”
U.S plane crashes in Ballsop, Feb 5th 1943.
Not only was Campile bombed during World War 2 but an American fighter airplane called the Airacobra crashed landed in Ballysop. It crashed in Frank Doyle’s field called the ‘Long Run’ where he used train horses. The first people to arrive at the scene of the crash were Frank and George Harrell. The crash happened at 2pm and the plane travelled about thirty feet before coming to rest. The pilot was uninjured and was brought to Ballysop House for a meal. The plane was later dismantled and taken to Baldonnel. The Airacobra was on way to Africa but was separated from the other aircraft due to bad weather in the Bay of Biscay. The pilot attempted to return to England but lost his way and had to crash land in Ballysop.