The Kavanagh-Ballyane Family from Mali Tabor

This exhibition features the family of Baron Kavanagh-Ballyane, once the masters of castle Mali Tabor in Hum na Sutli. The Kavanagh-Ballyane family originates from Ireland. Their ancestry shows relations with Queen Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. They acquired ownership of Mali Tabor estate through matrilineal succession. Simon Henry Kavanagh (1784 – 1830) married Leopoldina Moscon, the granddaughter of Ana Rattkay, thus acquiring the right to half of the estate.

It is pretty certain that castle Mali Tabor was built in the late 15th century as a Renaissance fortress. Later it was turned into a Baroque castle. The Rattkay family had been the owners of castles Mali Tabor and Veliki Tabor until 1793 when the last member of the Rattkays died, leaving no heir. Veliki Tabor passed into state ownership, and Mali Tabor was inherited by Leopoldina and Josip Wintershofen, both Ana Rattkay's children, each claiming one half of the property.

Castle Mali Tabor remained in the hands of the Kavanaghs until World War II.

Baron Harry Kavanagh-Ballyane (1844 – 1912) lost his father when he was only four. Although he emabarked on a military career, and earned the rank of a lieutenant, he left the army quite quickly – right after he married Kate Graham Williams. James Williams, her father, was an American consul in Istanbul (Constantinople) from 1859 until 1861. Harry and Kate had two children, Lucy and James.

Baron Harry Kavanagh-Ballyane was a virilist in the Croatian Parliament. In his time, castle Mali Tabor was considered as a confluence center for the intelligent. Baron has often been visited by Janko Leskovar, a writer and a teacher in Prišlin, Frane Bulić, Ksaver Šandor Đalski, Mimica Kantoci, and Dr Luka Marjanović.

It is well known that Baron Kavanagh was a hobbyist archaeologist. He was keen on excavating at fortress Vrbovec, old Roman site Brezno, and prehistoric site Špičak.

Although a valuable piece of Croatian cultural, historic, and architectural heritage, castle Mali Tabor succumbed to considerable decay after World War II. The castle once had four semicircular towers. Only three remained preserved, with one missing its roof. However, the Museum managed to retrieve a part of the valuable archives and furniture which has somehow stayed preserved in the castle's basement. The literary material is in fact the family Kavanagh-Ballyane archival records. Besides the numerous letters, we found records of legal and property law matters - contracts, lists, settlements, photographs and photo albums, books, and even pieces of furniture.

Since the retrieved material was in a really bad shape, a large part had to be restored under the supervision of the Museum, and with the help of Croatian Ministry of Culture. The Family Kavanagh-Ballyane from Mali Tabor exhibition presents only a selection from the family's heritage. The objects on display tell tales of everyday life in castle Mali Tabor within the period of 19th and early 20th century.

By studying the photographs one can get to know the members of the Kavanagh-Ballyane family, as well as their relatives and friends. Most of the photographs have been taken in ateliers in Vienna and Graz, but some of them originate from Paris, Istanbul, the US (Tennessee), and Wiesbaden which tells us that certain members of the family often embarked on various journeys. Two of the photographs were taken by the famous Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri.

One of the oldest preserved documents from castle Mali Tabor is The List of All Objects Belonging to Baroness Leopoldina, Widow von Kavanagh on Manor Kiš-Tabor. This manuscript from 1831 lists all objects in dedicated rooms of the castle. We now know what the castle's facilities were at the time, as well as which objects each room contained - from well equipped quarters to parts of the property with commercial purposes. Additionally, the list gives very detailed information on the status of supplies (crops, livestock, wine).

The List of Tithe and Annual Tax Payers to Mali Tabor Estate from 1823 is considered a valuable document, as well as The List of Books from the Castle's Library which features 500 titles, all chronologically organized beginning from the oldest published in 1541 to the most recent from 1820.

We believe the exhibition is going to substantially add to our understandings of the noble Kavanagh-Ballyane family from Veliki Tabor.