Angela Lansbury is just one of the notable previous owners of this intriguing home, writes Trish Dromey
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 Monty’s Pass — galloping by.