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The history of Kintullagh House

Ballymena Castle was the Irish seat of Sir Frederick Edward Shafto Adair, Bart of Flixton Hall, Suffolk.

The Adair family was of Scottish origin, descended from Ninean Adair of Kinhilt, Wigtownshire, whose son William married, in 1608, a daughter of Sir James Gordon, Baronet of Lockinvar, and migrated to County Antrim – settling in Ballymena.

Their great grandson Robert married in 1784 the daughter and heiress of Robert Shafto of Benwell, Northumberland and their eldest son, Sir Robert Shafto Adair was created First Baronet in 1838.

The latter’s eldest son, Robert Alex Shafto Adair, Second Baronet, attained considerable eminence.  He filled the office of Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, was Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and later was raised to the peerage as Baron Waveney.  He had Ballymena Castle rebuilt in 1865.

Sir Robert Shafto Adair was the owner of the land and the surrounding estate on which the present St Louis Convent stands.  This land was bought from Sir Robert Shafto Adair by the Right Hon John Young, PCSL Galgorm Castle, the chairman and founder of the Braidwater Spinning Company in 1864.  On the site was a thatched cottage where Andrew Todd Dickey and his family lived.  The present Convent House was built as a wedding gift for the son of the Right Hon John Young (about 1868).  William Young married Margaret Gihon (daughter of Andrew Todd Dickey) who was of French origin.  The initials of the bride and groom (Margaret and William) are engraved over the doors and windows of Kintullagh House and the French emblem is very much in evidence all over the building.

William and Margaret Young had four children who lived – Elizabeth Rose, Mary Anne, Robert and Edith.  Two children died.

Roger Casement was a frequent visitor to Kintullagh during the occupancy of the Young family.

Edith’s daughter, Mrs Bearden, Gaines Street, Russelville, Alabama, visited St Louis Convent, Ballymena in August 1984.  She was accompanied by her daughter.  She was overjoyed to find the house restored to its original state and looking so beautiful.  She had lived in Kintullagh House herself and had attended Miss Curry’s School (near the Adair Arms Hotel).  She explained to  the sisters how the Young’s had lost all their money in the mills when the linen industry went down.  Some of the family emigrated but two daughters, Mary Anne and Edith, remained on in the house for a number of years.  When they were getting on in years, they had no money to pay staff to help them to keep the house in order and a lot of maintenance work required to be done.  The house was in very bad condition and too big, and they decided to sell it and move out to the Grange Road.

Kintullagh House was purchased by two brothers-in-law.  Edward Bryce Armstrong MD and Samuel Gilmer about 1918.  After a short time Dr Armstrong, finding the house too expensive to maintain, re-sold it. 

This time Mr J B McAllister bought it on behalf of Canon O’Donnell, for the Parish of Ballymena and in 1924 the Parish rented it to the Sisters of St Louis.  It was bought over from the Parish in the 1960’s.

The land that went with the house was used mainly by the Youngs for grazing their horses.  They went in, in a very big way for horses, and had a row of stables off the courtyard.  They did not go in for farming as such.

The pump in the Courtyard for pumping the water, was erected in 1870 and still remains although the well underneath is no longer in use.

The Youngs are possibly buried at Ahoghill (Church of Ireland) or in Broughshane.

John Bryson, who is married to Rose Young, great grand daughter of William and Margaret, has a family tree of the Youngs.  He said he would be happy to share information on the family tree.  His address in 1984 was:

 Mr John Bryson
 Huntley House

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