Ballykilcavan House was built sometime between 1680 and 1720, probably on the site of an existing fortified house, and has been altered and extended many times over the centuries. From the front, you can see the full-height wings which were a feature of fortified houses of the seventeenth century and sometimes appeared on early eighteenth century houses as decorative features.
In the 18th century Ballykilcavan was given a more Georgian aspect with a ‘floating’ pediment-gable, a fine cut-stone doorcase and sash windows with thin glazing bars. There is good 1730s plasterwork on the hall ceiling, and even finer work above the staircase and landing.
The first big alteration to the house was carried out by Raphael Walsh, the Dean of Dromore, who began an ambitious remodelling after the death of his brother, General Hunt Walsh. Raphael planned a large new drawing room at the rear. Either he ran out of money, or work was interrupted by the 1798 rebellion. In any case, the drawing room was only half completed, and the half finished course of bricks can still be seen at the back of the house. His sister's grandson then built a new block at the North end of the house 50 years later to fill in the space.
The U shaped stable yard at Ballykilcavan was built sometime between 1754 and 1839. It is not shown on the 1754 estate map, but appears on the first Ordnance Survey map which was produced 85 years later. The most likely candidate for building it appears to be General Hunt Walsh, dating it to around 1780.
The yard was a self sufficient unit for the horses that were used by the family. There were stabling facilities for 7 horses, a tack room and general storage room and a first floor apartment for the coachman whose morning commute would have been down a flight of stairs and a 20 metre walk to the horses.
The rest of the first floor consisted of space to store hay and sacks of grain and the pulley system to haul them up is still visible in places.
Built at around the same time as the neighbouring stable yard, the old stone farmyard housed everything that was needed for a modern 18th century farm. Along with more stabling for plough horses, there was a forge which would have been busy making and repairing horse shoes and plough parts.
The main feature in the yard is a custom built, 7 sided water mill that took water from the nearby river to drive a horizontal water wheel. This powered a mill stone before the water was taken away in a 500 metre long, metre high, hand dug tail race back to the river.
Like the coachman in the stable yard, the man in charge of the milking cows had a house in the farmyard so that he could get to his animals early in the morning. Above his house, the dove cote has niches for over 200 birds and holds a windvane in the shape of a Griffin, which is the symbol of the Walsh family.