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Ballyknocken – A brief history
Ballyknocken Guesthouse was built in the 1850s for the Hetherington Family - Mr. Hetherington was the area agent (rent collector) for the major landlord at the time. At the time, a rent collector was a much more respectable job than that of a lowly farmer, hence the bigger house (most tenant farmers lived in thatched cottages).
However, it did not mean that one was more popular - on the contrary in fact for following a period of evictions, poor Mr. Hetherington was found murdered by the "watering hole" (for horses) a mere 800 yards from his home in County Wicklow, Ireland.
Ballyknocken - a brief history…
To this day, the locals believe that Hetherington's ghost haunts the road. They also believe that another ghost (named Whitty) occupies the spot where Hetherington was murdered - one can only conclude that Hetherington has sub let his spot - ever the rent collector!!!!
The name Ballyknocken stems from Gaelic - Baile an Cnocan - the town land of the little hill. The little hill in question is Carrick (meaning rock), which rises directly behind Ballyknocken House. (For the record, Carrick originally measured 999 feet - has to be 1,000 feet to be classed as a mountain - so, some enterprising locals sorted that and that is why there is a cairn of rocks piled atop Carrick!!)
History of the Byrne Family, Ballyknocken Guesthouse, Wicklow, Ireland.
Catherine's Grandparents purchased Ballyknocken Guesthouse in the 1940s and were fortunate enough to inherit old deeds and some interesting paperwork regarding the guesthouse and family, dating back into the 1700s. Perhaps the most interesting piece of paper is a solicitor’s letter addressed to my great uncle Louie - as with all that generation of the Byrne Family, Louie's marriage had been arranged. However, Louie defaulted and the disappointed fiancée decided to sue him for breach of contract and damages!!! ...How times have changed...
In 1968 my mother was one of the first in Wicklow County to open the doors to guests, over three decades later the Byrne guesthouse lives on with myself and my Italian husband, Claudio (Fulvio) In 2000 / 2001, we decided to renovate Ballyknocken guesthouse. Being an old house, there were many obstacles placed in our way during the course of refurbishment. There is no doubt that Ballyknocken hotel is to our family a labour of love. Our accommodation are called after local place names – most of which are unpronounceable such as Aghowle, and Knocknaphrumpha in County Wicklow, Ireland..
In 2003/2004 we converted our milking Parlour. On the ground floor is Ballyknocken Cookery School and above is our loft apartment. The Cookery School has proved highly successful with scheduled classes offering a variety of themes from Southern Italian to Tapas, from Gourmet Cooking on a Budget to Winter Entertaining, from Keeping your Own Hens to Gardening – there is something for everyone.
Since 2000 Catherine has been working hard at reintroducing things to the way they used to be and Ballyknocken is now home to six happy hens, a vegetable garden, an extensive herb garden and a soft fruit garden, not too mention the herd of sheep that her father still tends to daily.
Today Ballyknocken operates as a charming family run Victorian Farmhouse.
TV Chef / proprietor, food writer and cookery tutor, Catherine Fulvio, runs Ballyknocken Cookery School and Ballyknocken House.
Catherine, herself a Wicklow native, says she learnt her cooking skills from her mother and then trained professionally. Her naturally vivacious personality and pure infectious enthusiasm for food has led her to where she is today. Catherine and her team host a variety of classes offering mouth-watering dishes while at the same time they dispense helpful advice.
Catherine is highly acclaimed for her hands on, no- fuss style of cookery, using the freshest ingredients possible. She believes that cooking should fun and her easy approach together with recipes that encourage those who normally shy away from cookery is a winning combination. At the other end of the scale, she also runs her very popular entertaining and gourmet classes for her regular clientele. She has three TV Series “Catherine’s Family Kitchen”, “Catherine’s Roman Holiday” and “Catherine’s Italian Kitchen” and is a regular on TV screens both at home and abroad. When Catherine is not busy in the kitchen she is busy researching new courses, menus and recipes to delight you with.
On a more personal level, when not working, On a more personal level, when not working, Catherine is a doting mother of two. Catherine’s family has been at Ballyknocken for almost 100 years while husband, Claudio, hails from Palermo, Sicily.