Bennetts of Ballinacurra

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleBennetts of Ballinacurra
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/B609
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1806-2006
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium227 boxes, 37 volumes, 99 volumes of computer printouts, 5 framed pictures, 29 large rolled drawings, 3 large rolls of maps


Creator(s): John H Bennett & Co Ltd

  • Administrative History ↴

    The malting firm which was to become John H Bennett & Co began business about 1792, when the Charleston Maltings was built by John Anderson and John Lapp. By the turn of the century the firm was in the control of a group of Cork merchants including Samuel McCall, and came to be known as McCall & Co. In the 1840s, the company came to be owned entirely by John Hallaran, upon whose death ownership was transferred to his nephew, William Hallaran Bennett. His son, John Hallaran Bennett, came into control of the company in 1885, changing its name to John H Bennett & Co, and greatly expanding and improving the business throughout his time at the helm, up to his death in 1935. Throughout its history, the firm malted barley for Arthur Guinness and Sons, and acted as a commission house, malting under contract to that firm, from 1836 on. Guinness assisted in the expansion of Bennett's operations. From the early 20th century, Guinness funded a Department of Agriculture Cereal Station at Ballinacurra, of which John H Bennett was director, and which operated on land rented from Bennett's firm. The station was dedicated to the improvement of barley breeding and cultivation in Ireland, and achieved much success. Its association with John H Bennett & Co continued until the Station at Ballinacurra closed in 2003. Following John H Bennett's death in 1935, the company was managed by his step-daughter, Dorothy MacNeill, later Mrs West. Mrs West maintained a strong relationship with Guinness, and in 1951 that firm became the majority shareholder in John H Bennett & Co, with Mrs West continuing as director until her retirement in 1969. Under a Guinness reorganisation, John H Bennett & Co ceased to malt barley for them but still acted as a barley drying and storage depot. Drying of barley, and some malting, continued for many years, until the firm dried its last harvest in 2006. The Bennett and West families managed the firm for most of its existence, living at the family seat at Charleston, Ballinacurra, within walking distance of the firm's offices and malthouses. In many ways the personal and professional lives of John H Bennett and Dorothy West overlapped with the history of the company they controlled, as the records reflect.
  • Archival History ↴

    The transfer of records of John H Bennett & Co, and of Bennett and West family records, occurred through the good offices of Mr Trevor West of Ballinacurra, son of Dorothy West, Mr Eamonn McSweeney, General Manager of John H Bennett & Co Ltd, and Ms Ursula O’Mahony, Secretary of John H Bennett & Co Ltd. The bulk of the business records were transferred in July 2004. A further transfer of business records occurred in October 2007, while the final transfer, containing personal and family records as well as further business matter, took place in January 2008. All three transfers included records of the Department of Agriculture Cereal Station held by the firm, and the initial transfer also contained a small amount of personal matter. The records of the business, including Cereal Station records, were formerly kept on the company’s premises in Ballinacurra. Personal records and a small quantity of business records were maintained by Mr Trevor West including records consulted in preparation for Mr West’s biography/history of John H Bennett and the firm, 'Malting the Barley: John H Bennett, the man and his firm - 200 years of malting barley in Ballinacurra' (Charleston, 2006).
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: John H Bennett & Co Ltd ↴

    The Bennetts of Ballinacurra collection is comprised primarily of the records of John H Bennett & Co Ltd, a malting firm which for most of its existence acted as a commission house making malt for the brewing firm of Arthur Guinness and Son. Also present in the collection are many records of the involvement of the firm, and in particular of John H Bennett, in the creation and operation of the Department of Agriculture Cereal Station at Ballinacurra. In addition, the collection contains personal and estate records of John H Bennett and his family, and of the West family, which came to represent the Bennett interest in the firm.

    The collection contains a wealth of information on the malting and brewing industries in Cork and Ireland, barley cultivation and farming in Cork and Munster, and the efforts of the Department of Agriculture, Guinness, and others to improve barley breeding and malting through scientific methods. The personal papers present shed light on the cultural milieu of John H Bennett, an upper middle class Protestant businessman in east Cork in a period of great social change. Events such as the Great War (in which his only son, Jack, was killed) and the War of Independence, and their local impact, are reflected in his diaries. Sporting interests, notably sailing, and personal relationships are also documented. The business and personal papers relating to Dorothy West document the life of a unique figure, reckoned in her time to be the only woman at the head of a large-scale malting firm in Europe.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    Further accruals expected
  • Arrangement ↴


    B609/1/A Correspondence with Arthur Guinness & Sons, 1901-1990
    B609/1/B General Letters, 1851-1989 (1826-29)
    B609/1/C Incoming Letters, A-Z Series, 1939-1964
    B609/1/D Letters Received, 1900-70
    B609/1/E Other Letters Received, 1937-98


    B609/2/A Barley Growers, 1951-2006
    B609/2/B Weather Reports, 1931-93
    B609/2/C Barley Returns, 1907-39
    B609/2/D Production Control: Statistics (1926-90) and Quality Systems (1997-2004)
    B609/2/E Malt, Tally, and Summary Books, and other malting records, 1910-77
    B609/2/F Freight and Weighbridge Books, 1913-28; 1974-89
    B609/2/G Malt Barley Drying and Fuel Consumption, 1894-1994
    B609/2/H Malting Analysis Records, 1914-94
    B609/2/I Seed Barley and other Sales, 1904-78
    B609/2/J Barley Purchases, 1909-76
    B609/2/K Harvest Printouts, 1982-2002


    B609/3/A Cash Books, 1898-1971
    B609/3/B Journals, 1871-2002
    B609/3/C Ledgers, 1867-2000 (1824-27)
    B609/3/D Other Financial Volumes, 1845-1990
    B609/3/E Bank Statements and Harvest Cheques, 1956-96
    B609/3/F Receipts, Invoices, and Petty Cash Records, 1960-2000
    B609/3/G Stocks and Shares, 1920-2005
    B609/3/H Taxation and Rates Records, 1922-99


    B609/4/A Articles of Association, 1928, 1951
    B609/4/B Directors’ and Management Committee Minutes, Annual Reports, and related matter, 1951-93 (1929-42)
    B609/4/C Directors’, Management, and Company Secretary’s Correspondence, 1950-69 (1935-37)
    B609/4/D Company Statements of Account, and related matter, 1918-96
    B609/4/E Involvement in Other Companies and Industry Bodies (including Irish Malt Exports and the Irish Maltsters’ Association), 1939-91


    B609/5/A Workmen’s Agreements and Records of Service, 1917-2006
    B609/5/B Wages Books and Printouts, 1908-2000
    B609/5/C Salaries and Pensions Printouts, 1986-96
    B609/5/D Wages Rates and Analyses, 1908-15; 1936-86
    B609/5/E Other Employee Records, c1908-2000


    B609/6/A Inventory, Valuation, and Insurance Records, 1925-96
    B609/6/B Surveys, Plans, and Control Books, 1896-2006
    B609/6/C General Estate Management, 1935-71 (1899, 1926)
    B609/6/D Farm Records, 1924-81


    B609/7/A Letters to the Department concerning the Cereal Station, 1932-77
    B609/7/B Letters Received regarding the Cereal Station, 1899-2004
    B609/7/C Cereal Station Administrative Records, 1901-2003
    B609/7/D Cereal Station Scientific and Experimental Records, (1960-85)


    B609/8/A Photographs and representations of JHB property and premises at Ballinacurra, and of Ballinacurra 1884-1990
    B609/8/B Photographs of JHB Officers and Staff, 1920-68
    B609/8/C Other photographs, visual matter, and OS Maps


    B609/9/A John H Bennett Diaries and related items, 1881-1935
    B609/9/B John H Bennett, personal letters, photographs, and other items, 1877 to 1935 (1952)
    B609/9/C John W ‘Jack’ Bennett and Gwendoline Bennett Records, 1904-38
    B609/9/D Esther Bennett (formerly McNeill, nee Duffey), 1939-57
    B609/9/E Dorothy West (nee McNeill), Diaries, 1936-51
    B609/9/F Dorothy West (nee McNeill), other records, 1932-77 (1915, 1987)
    B609/9/G Other Bennett family records, c1806-1880

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket.
Creation Dates1806-2006
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium227 boxes, 37 volumes, 99 volumes of computer printouts, 5 framed pictures, 29 large rolled drawings, 3 large rolls of maps
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list + lists of additional material Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialCork City and County Archives: PR16 Trevor West Deposit, March 2008 Guinness Archives, Diageo Ireland: GDB/RM04 Malt, Maltings, and Barley Research Records, 1824-1996 National Archives of Ireland: Department of Agriculture Records, 1899-2006

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteTimothy O'Connor
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of DescriptionsMarch 2008, Revised 2009