An­gela’s As­sets

An­gela Lans­bury is just one of the notable pre­vi­ous own­ers of this in­trigu­ing home, writes Tr­ish Dromey

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Property -

Owned over the years by a movie ac­tress, a mu­si­cian and an artist, Hal­cyon is a charm­ing and un­usual prop­erty with a past that is guar­an­teed to keep din­ner guests en­ter­tained. When ac­tress An­gela Lans­bury lived dur­ing the 1970s at Knock­mourne Glebe, a nearby Ge­or­gian prop­erty, she bought this as a guest cot­tage for vis­it­ing fam­ily, friends, and Hol­ly­wood ac­tors. Among those who stayed was Hurd Hat­field a 1950s mati­nee idol who is quoted as hav­ing spent many happy af­ter­noons at Hal­cyon.

When orig­i­nally built in 1969, this was a two-bed Ro­fab house made with pre­fab­ri­cated con­crete pan­els. What made it in­ter­est­ing was the fact that to make it south fac­ing, its first owner put the front en­trance at the rear of the site — which means para­dox­i­cally that you have to drive around the back to get to the front.

Some years later, when Jimmy Mag­ner, the owner of the ad­join­ing prop­erty put in a gal­lop, the front of this house was per­fectly po­si­tioned to look out on the horses as they trained.

“We can look out over the front hedge in the morn­ing at the horses go past,” re­veals the owner, adding that the horses gal­lop­ing by have in­cluded 2003 Grand Na­tional win­ner Monty’s Pass.

An­gela Lans­bury owned Hal­cyon for around ten years be­fore she went back to the US in the 1980s to film Mur­der She Wrote, and still owns an­other East Cork coastal prop­erty.

The local postmistress fa­cil­i­tated the sub­se­quent sale when she told her brother-in­law, Comdt De­nis Mel­l­er­ick, about the prop­erty. “He bought it when he re­tired as di­rec­tor of mu­sic at the Cur­ragh and made one ma­jor change — he ex­tended the lounge and put in a bay win­dow to bring in a grand pi­ano,” re­veals the cur­rent owner, also a brother-in-law of the local post-mis­tress, who bought Hal­cyon in 1996.

At first it was a hol­i­day home but when he and his wife moved there per­ma­nently, they trans­formed the prop­erty with a sub­stan­tial ex­ten­sion. Adding a sun lounge, a large sit­ting room and an en-suite bed­room, they in­creased the liv­ing space to 2,000 sq ft. They re­dec­o­rated ex­ist­ing rooms which in­cluded two bed­rooms, one en suite, a bath­room, a kitchen, a util­ity room and a lounge which they turned into a large front bed­room.

The trans­form­ing fea­ture is a huge glazed sec­tion — made with Nor­we­gian hard­wood by a joiner in Omagh, it gives the front some­thing of the ap­pear­ance a Vic­to­rian gar­den room.

Painted ter­ra­cotta red on the out­side, the highly in­di­vid­ual prop­erty looks as if it’s made up of three sep­a­rate wings. In the in­ter­ests of sym­me­try, the last owner’s bay win­dow has been moved around to a bed­room at the back.

The main room is a 25’ long sit­ting room which has been painted deep red — to con­trast with the white of a snowy paint­ing of Napoleon’s cav­alry which hangs above a re­claimed art deco ma­hogany fire­place. This is one of many pictures in the prop­erty which have been painted by the owner.

Fea­tures in the sit­ting room in­clude a vaulted ceil­ing, a door­way sur­rounded with book­shelves, and a cor­ner bar, com­plete with a 100-year-old stained-glass win­dow which orig­i­nally hung in the owner’s grand­fa­ther’s pub in Derry.

In­side the large win­dows at the front is a rest­ful sun lounge which is used as a din­ing area and is also a good place to watch the horses gal­lop past.

Around the prop­erty there’s half an acre of well-planted gardens with lawns and trees, and a green­house with Black Ham­burg grape vines.

There’s also an en­closed Mediter­ranean style pa­tio with a built-in BBQ oven, a bar and a strik­ing naked lady water­fall fea­ture.

Sit­u­ated at Cur­ra­heen, one mile east of Conna, Hal­cyon is now on the mar­ket with a guide of €290,000. Sell­ing agents Michael Dor­gan Auc­tion­eers say it has charm, char­ac­ter, at­trac­tive gardens and scenic coun­try­side views — all within a 30-minute drive of the Jack Lynch Tun­nel. VERDICT: Colour­ful and char­ac­ter­ful, like many of its own­ers

Hal­cyon in Conna, East Cork, was orig­i­nally built in 1969, but has been ex­tended a num­ber of times. The drive up to it brings you around the back, giv­ing the south-fac­ing front an un­ob­structed vista of horses — once in­clud­ing a Grand Na­tional win­ner...

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