One of the more unusual hidden ruins off the Marina is Barrington’s Folly, which is located about 100 metres to the south of the old Blackrock railway line (present-day greenway), as one approaches the Atlantic Pond. It can be seen from the railway line during the winter months.
It is located on the grounds of Lisnalee House, formerly Prospect, the then home of Carden Terry, (CT) a silversmith (1742-1821), who owned six acres in Ballintemple. The ruins lie, just outside the surrounding metal fence which protects the new main drainage sewage pumping station. It is known also as the Marina Folly.
It has been in ruins for many years but remains quite a substantial if neglected building, frequented also by a local fox population and some other citizens who have continued the long associated traditions of eating, drinking and making merry.
This building was once the HQ of the infamous Ballintemple Corporation which various accounts say operated in the late 1700s and the early 1800s. Basically, some of the local wealthy landowners, the then idle rich poked fun at the rather staid and pompous Cork Corporation and organised carnivals on land and river for the amusement of local people.
A number of these parades were organised from Barrington’s Folly, from where cannons were fired to begin festivities. Some parades went around the local village and one a colourful flotilla of boats even headed upriver to the Lord Mayor’s house (the now Mercy Hospital). There is an account of the activities associated with Barrington’s Folly in a book called Peace Campaign of a Cornet from 1829 by T. Crofton Croker which has a chapter entitled “The Ballintemple Corporation.”
Sir. David Perrier, the Cork Mayor in 1814, seems to have been a particular target for ridicule due to his use of a 20 oar barge in which he visited big houses around Cork Harbour along with availing of “appropriate hospitality” a euphemism for wasting money.
Sir Richard Perrier was the brother of Sir Anthony Perrier (1770-1845), who was also Cork Mayor in 1821. The Perrier family built and lived in Ballinure House, which was located on the present-day grounds of the Nagle Community College and Loughmahon Park.
Anthony’s son in turn was William Lumley Perrier (1805-1895) who lived in Ballinure House from 1850 with his wife Anna and his children. The Perriers seem to have left the house by approximately 1930. Many older residents remember this very large house surrounded by trees, with its imposing entrance, and interesting orchards, lying just to the north of the old Ballinure Village, in which the Wolfe family lived at the time. Some old orchard walls still survive. (See Ballinure House.).
The main octagonal tower of Barrington’s Folly is about 40 feet high and is attached to a two-storey rectangular structure. That it has survived total neglect for so long is a tribute to the workmanship of those who constructed it originally.
Local historian, Richard Henchion thinks it was built in the 1600s and would have been alongside the River Lee initially. He surmises that it might have had a connection with Beaumont Quarry and the export of stone. Others suggest it was a much later construction, possibly about 1780. Its location on low ground points to the fact that it was originally on or close to the banks of the River Lee. The renowned Cork historian, CJF McCarthy states in a June 2nd 1980 article in the Evening Echo, that it might have been used as a “bathing house” before the river disappeared behind the Marina.
An unusual feature is the “Templar style” cross indentations in the stone, there are at least three of those crosses on the folly. It was originally quite a substantial building with some excellent stonework, it must have been expensive to construct, and would have been a major landmark building in the area. However, it became of limited use once it was abandoned behind the Navigation Walk construction and with the construction of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway line in the 1840s, it disappeared from prominence.
Again it’s very sad to watch this neglected old castle with its colourful history slowly disintegrate year by year.
Could it be, renovated, secured, accessed and adapted, with a little imagination, as a really unique refreshment stop, on the busy railway line path used by thousands of people and due to be widened? The Greenway works are transforming the old railway line nearby, alas there remains no plan or interest to safeguard the folly structures.
The basis for this article comes from reading Richard Henchion, Diarmuid O’Drisceoil, T Crofton Croker, Stephen Hunter, CJF McCarthy, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy and my thanks to Richard T Cooke.