The November meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society was addressed by Mr Richard Mulholland of Ballyscullion Park who gave a very interesting history of his family home.
The original house was planned in 1787 by Frederick, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol, who had already built a mansion at Downhill near Castlerock. The original plans for Ballyscullion show a very large crescent shaped dwelling with three hundred and sixty five windows. The Bishop, who was quite a worldly character, spent a great deal of time abroad, mostly in Italy, and never lived in the house so that when he died and left it to a Hervey nephew, the Window Tax which had been introduced made it financially impossible to maintain. It was then demolished and the portico is now the front of St. George’s Church in Belfast.
The present house was built on a site slightly nearer Lough Beg of which it commands a magnificent view. It passed from the Herveys to the Bruce family who were related to them and it was from the Bruces that Mr Mulholland’s grandfather, Sir Harry Mulholland, acquired it in 1938.
The roof and entire building were in a poor state and the gardens had been allowed to grow wild, necessitating extensive repairs and re-planting. The speaker had brought enlarged photographs of these repairs and also of the Bishop’s original plans for the first house which added greatly to the understanding of his talk. He related that the house had been taken over during the 1939-45 war by the American Army who had left a legacy of Nissan Huts in the grounds and a large building intended as a factory for making parachutes.
Mr Mulholland also gave a short history of his own family and its involvement with the linen industry which culminated in the very extensive factory buildings at York Street in Belfast.
Thanking the speaker for his talk which was clearly greatly enjoyed by his audience, the Chair-person, Mrs Mary Breslin, reminded members of next month’s meeting on December 14th, when Mr Alec Blair, well known Historian and Broadscaster, would be returning to speak on The Moravian Settlements at Gracehill and at Gracefield, Ballymaguigan.
Guest speaker at the November meeting, Mr Richard Mulholland of Ballyscullion Park displays old images of Ballyscullion House.