Kevinsfort House (co-ordinates 54.26928 -8.50148) is a distinctly Georgian period 2-storey 3-bay detached manor house, with a classical pedimented porch, built of limestone in the Palladian style, a European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580).
Kevinsfort House was built in 1820 by Captain George Dodwell, who came from a hugely important Sligo family, whose surname can be traced back to the time of the Spanish Armada.
The house boasts impressive inner and outer halls, six bedrooms and three reception rooms. The bathrooms in Kevinsfort House were first supplied with hand-pumped water, until the 1860s when the new Sligo Town water supply was used.
The estate also had coach houses and farmhouses, stables for racehorses, as well as stables to house polo ponies, used for the frequent lawn polo matches played at Hazelwood House amongst other places.
At the time of Griffith’s Valuation, the first full-scale survey of ownership and valuation of property in Ireland, overseen by Richard Griffith between 1847 and 1864, Kevinsfort House was valued at £52.
Kevinsfort House was built within a 580-acre estate just outside of Sligo Town at Kevin’s Park, now Kevinsfort, although the origin of the estates name is shrouded in mystery.
Dairy farming was a major part of the Kevinsfort Estate, which led to the formation of the Kevinsfort Dairy. A surplus of milk during the summer months led to the setting up of a sideline in ice-cream making – a novelty in the 1930s.
Kevinsfort Choc-Ices were soon being made from butter which came from Achonry, chocolate from Cadburys, and milk/cream from Kevinsfort, with ice lollies and ice cream blocks being delivered throughout the north-west of Ireland.
The Kevinsfort Dairy had a staff of up to 24 people, some of whom were seasonal. With some staff working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, clocking on at 7am and finishing at 4pm.
Eileen Keaveney who worked at the dairy for 9 years from the early 1960s and knew many of the 60 Fresian cows by name, spent her time filling the ice-cream boxes, washing bottles and machinery, and described the working environment at Kevinsfort Dairy as `a happy one’.
This fine period house is open to the public, with guided group tours being welcome by appointment. Phone: 071 9162787.