History of the house…

Like many old dwellings, Kilmore House, has gone through a number of changes both in structure and ownership…

Known locally as Ballinluig, The Home in the Hollow, it became the residence of Coll McDonnell in the late 1600s. Coll was a descendant of the great Scottish McDonnell Clan who became Lords of the Isles and also held the Antrim Glens. He was the son of Major General Sir Alasdair McDonnell and the great-grandson of Colla Dubh, Black Colla, of Kinbane Castle near Ballycastle who was the chieftain of the Antrim branch in the mid 1500s. In Coll’s time, the house may have been a thatched dwelling though larger than normal and with servants’ quarters.

The date of 1760 engraved on a mirror in Kilmore House was suggested by a government architect, when the resident would have been John, grandson of Coll. In the Ordinance Survey memoirs of 1832 it is recorded as a Gentleman’s Seat, the residence of Randal McDonnell Esquire, a very neat and commodious two-story house with the highest quality rating.

Following renovations about 1840, the main entrance was the east facing doorway in Georgian style. Randall’s son Alexander, a well-respected doctor in Dublin, Inherited the property and when he died at the age of 50 in 1862 his brother, Colonel John McDonnell, retired from the Army and returned to Glenariff where he became a landowner, local magistrate, an aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and a Knight in the Papal Order of St Gregory. When he died in 1905 his obituary referred to his home as “quaint with no extreme modernising. Instead comfort was paramount.” Perhaps the fact that he was an 80-year-old whose wife had died some 30 years previously had some bearing on this! His heir was his niece Rachel, the widow of Henry Silvertop, a wealthy landowner from Northumberland. Unlike the Colonel, Rachel soon decided that the house needed extending and modernising and produced a building which is described as;

‘a three-story stucco house with canted bays and segmental entrance pediment. Horizontally channelled pilasters flank small entrance sidelights.’

The stained-glass window on the main stairs shows the McDonnell coat of arms and the combined McDonnell and Silvertop arms.  Rachel did not live long to enjoy her new home as she died in 1910. Her son, who inherited, was killed in WW1 and it lay vacant from 1910 until 1919 when it was purchased by Senator Joseph Maguire and then by the De La Salle Order in 1958. Colla Dubh of Kinbane married Evelyn McQuillan of Dunluce so the McDonnell owners of Kilmore House were also descendants of the McQuillan Clan.

After a hiatus of 100 years it could be said to have returned to its heritage.

Kilmore Country House, 10 Glasmullen Rd 10 Glasmullen Rd, Waterfoot, Ballymena BT44 0QU T: 028 2177 1356