2003:1611 - Ballincar, Sligo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Sligo Site name: Ballincar

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0112

Author: Martin A. Timoney, Bóthar an Chorainn, Keash, Co. Sligo.

Site type: 19th-century house

ITM: E 567309m, N 838813m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.297032, -8.502204

Ballincar House, on a 5.5-acre site on the crest of the east-west glacial ridge of the Rosses Point Peninsula, dates to between 1877 and 1885. It was converted into a hotel in about 1968 but was much altered in the 1970s and afterwards. This application is to replace it with a larger new hotel complex and associated works. In January 2003, a week after site works had begun, the contractor requested that the works be monitored, to include the demolition of Ballincar House.

There is a ringfort (SMR 14:8) to the east and an archaeological complex (SMR 14:6) to the west of the site. Roadworks some years ago by Sligo County Council cut through an oyster midden; this has been dated recently to the Middle Bronze Age.

The two-storey square Ballincar House is not marked on the 1837 OS map. The hipped-roof building possessed a fine set of diamond-shaped chimneys, most probably inspired by those on 17th-century Ballincar Castle, alias Cregg, to the south-west. The house had a spine wall, a feature common around 1730, with two rooms on either side of a central hall below and the same either side of the landing above, giving eight rooms in total. There may have been some additional original rooms to the north.

The only surviving features of any merit were the stairs and the windows of the upstairs east front room. Ballincar House was surveyed and photographed. It was demolished on 5 February. The chimney stacks disintegrated on being touched by the machine, but were of modern brick plastered over. The original front doorway had been severely altered by the hotel works. The house was built of rubble and brick with a facing of limestone. The east-west spine wall was mainly of red brick but with limestone in the area of the chimney flues. The spine wall was arched over the central hall and landing.

Ground clearance of Ballincar House and the surrounding buildings to the north, east and south was monitored. Only the west wing of the hotel remained to be incorporated into the new hotel. There was nothing of archaeological interest in the dry red-brown soil; the topsoil may have been removed prior to the original building. The foundations, 0.85m deep and less than 1m wide, of the east-west spine wall were a packing of stones of up to 0.15m across. The foundations of the north-south walls were of stones up to 0.45m across, and went to a depth of not more than 0.75m.

Most of the surrounding two acres (gardens, tennis court, front lawn, driveways, buildings and services) were monitored, without indication of archaeological finds or features.

The trench for the stormwater pipe to the river between Ballincar and Cregg townlands, a distance of about 1km, was intermittently monitored over several days. This was along the recently realigned road, at the west end of which a shell midden had been cut through by the County Council. The midden was protected by fresh clay but no archaeological finds or features were uncovered.