Balyna House lies to the south of Moyvalley Bridge over the Grand Canal, about half way between Enfield and Kinnegad on the old Dublin — Galway road. The house lies in the centre of the estates 500 acres. Balyna Estate was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to the O’Moore family because they had lost their land in Laois and were reinstated in Balyna.
Major Ambrose O’Ferrall married Letitia More in 1796. Their eldest son Richard More O’Ferrall was born in 1797. He is reputed for having been responsible for the erection of the Celtic cross which now stands to the rear of the house. It is said that this Cross, along with another was transported from Europe, the two being encased in wooden crates and towed behind the ship on a barge. Legend has it that one was lost at sea, but its twin survives to this day.
The first real record of any house dates from 1815 when Ambrose built a large mansion. That Georgian house was burned down and replaced in the 1880’s by the present Italianate mansion.
The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries and Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the year 1678 — 1680. For this loyalty, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered. It was only used intermittently after that, with the last occasion being in the summer of 1959.
The estate remained in the More O’Ferrall family until May 1960 when it was sold to the Bewley family (of Café fame). The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna. In 1984 the estate was sold to Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991 to George Grant. Moyvalley was developed into a Hotel & Golf Resort in 2007.
Balyna House consists of 10 luxurious ensuite bedrooms, 3 reception rooms to cater for up to 100 guests, Balyna Bar and Cellar Bar. The house is available exclusively for private events and weddings.
In 2014 the resort was purchased by the late Oliver Brady (well-known horse trainer from Co. Monaghan) with his business partner a well know entrepreneur Rita Shah owner of Shabra Recycling Plastic’s Group, Thai business woman Jane Tripipatkul and her son Mark McCarthy who are based in London.
It is likely that several Irish and European military campaigns were discussed and argued over at Balyna, as apart from the fierce-some O’More’s and the well documented Irish battles in which they took part, several later generations saw service in European armies. All three sons of Richard and Letitia O’Ferrall saw service abroad. The eldest, Ambrose, and his youngest brother, Charles, rose to the rank of Major in the Royal Sardinian Army, while the middle brother, James attained the rank of Major General in the Austrian Hohenzollern Army.
As a digression, it is worth noting that Rory O’ More’s eldest daughter, Anne, married Patrick Sarsfield, 1 st Earl of Lucan and famous military leader. His father in law was the man behind the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Roman Catholic led one, and Sarsfield, whose family were Roman Catholics, was selected to assist in this reorganisation. Colonel Sarsfield went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell , who was appointed commander-in-chief by the king.
Throughout these troubled times, Rory O’More’s family remained loyal to the Catholic faith and during penal times Balyna estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries. Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the years 1678 - 1680. For this loyalty to the Catholic Church, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered. It was only used intermittently after that, with the last occasion being in the summer of 1959.
During his term of office, Irish President Douglas Hyde, was a frequent guest at shooting parties, as was the late well-known historian Eoin "Pope" O’Mahony.
Balyna finally passed from More O’Ferrall hands in March 1961 after a period of 387 years. Legend has it that in a wood at the back was a very old Scots Pine tree known as "Rory O’More’s Walking Stick". It was said that Rory, while in hiding in the woods after 1941 Rebellion, and being surprised by some soldiers who were searching for him, stuck his stick into the ground before making off. It took root and grew into a tree. According to the legend as long as it stood the family would remain at Balyna. However, after many batterings over the centuries it eventually succumbed in a storm in the Winter of 1957/58 and within 3 years the "prophesy" came true.
In May 1961 Balyna Estate was sold to the Bewley family (of Café fame). The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna, In 1984 the estate was sold to the famous TD Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991. In 2014 it was then purchased by its new owners who have big plans to expand the Resort further.
Combining the seclusion and tradition of the past with the luxury and comfort of the 21st Century.