Lim­er­ick’s Fort Hill look old - but isn’t

Tr­ish Dromey views a fine ar­chi­tect-de­signed home in Co Lim­er­ick with grace­ful pro­por­tions and sculpted gardens

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Property -

It’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that Hill Fort — a sprawl­ing vil­lastyle prop­erty with el­e­gant pe­riod-style fea­tures, mag­nif­i­cent ma­ture gardens, and acres of sur­round­ing park­land — was built a mere 25 years ago.

A gen­tly slop­ing gar­den mound at the front is one of the fea­tures used by the ar­chi­tect to embed the prop­erty in the land­scape — mak­ing it look as if it has be­longed there for decades.

When the own­ers bought the 17acre site at Pa­trick­swell in Lim­er­ick in the early 1990s, it was mostly level farm­land ex­cept for a fairy fort in a hilly field which later prompted them to call their new res­i­dence Hill Fort.

Ask­ing ar­chi­tect Peter O’far­relly to de­sign a home suit­able for their site, the cou­ple stip­u­lated only that it have two 20’ by 30’ rooms in the cen­tre — one for a kitchen and the other for a liv­ing room. “My wife put in the re­quest for the two large rooms, and I told him that that the win­dows had to be of a cer­tain size and height,” re­veals the owner.

The re­sult is an elon­gated prop­erty con­sist­ing of four wings. It ap­pears from the front to be sin­gle­storey — but has dormer win­dows at the back, which re­veal the pres­ence of a first floor in the cen­tre. Fea­tures in­clude tall pe­riod-style chim­ney stacks, a Ge­or­gian-style door­way with a fan­light, and some elab­o­rate gothic-style mould­ings over the win­dows.

Around the back there’s also a large classic-style Hamp­tons, con­ser­va­tory — a later ad­di­tion, which adds to the pe­riod feel.

The room with the most pe­riod in­flu­ence is, ap­pro­pri­ately enough, listed as the draw­ing room. Sit­u­ated in the cen­tre, it’s huge and maple-floored with a mar­ble fire­place, high ceil­ings with dec­o­ra­tive cor­nic­ing, and mould­ings as well as pic­ture rails.

While nowa­days most pic­ture rails are dec­o­ra­tive, these ones, used to hang all the paint­ings in the room, are also func­tional.

Dec­o­rated in a shade of Far­row & Ball white, the room has a green chim­ney breast and gold curtains and, with high pel­meted win­dows, looks every inch like a draw­ing room from an ear­lier era.

The equally large, ad­join­ing kitchen din­ing room is more tra­di­tional in ap­pear­ance than pe­riod style. Maple floored with a high, pine-panelled, slightly vaulted ceil­ing, it has hand-painted cream coun­try style units with granite work­tops as well as a rose­wood­topped is­land.

Oc­cu­py­ing one cor­ner of the ex­tra spa­cious room, the kitchen is equipped with oil-fired Aga range and a Neff oven. There’s also am­ple space for din­ing and a seat­ing/tv watch­ing area with a wood-burn­ing stove. Here too the own­ers have used the pic­ture rails to hang their paint­ings.

Ex­tend­ing from the front to the rear of the house, the kitchen has a door lead­ing to a util­ity room at the side, and an­other go­ing in to a chi­na­press­wherethe­own­erskeep the mi­crowave along­side their china. On the far side of this wing, there’s also a bath­room and a tack room used for stor­ing rid­ing clothes and sad­dles.

Off the spa­cious hall­way on the left side of the cen­tral hall­way is a wing with two en-suite bed­rooms. One of these is a sub­stan­tial mas­ter bed­room which also has a dress­ing room.

A be­spoke ma­hogany stair­case de­signed by the ar­chi­tect leads from the hall to the first floor which has a spa­cious land­ing, two bed­rooms and a bath­room.

When the own­ers bought the prop­erty they turned three acres into gardens and used the rest of the land to cre­ate three large pad­dock ar­eas for the horses, for which they also built three sta­bles “When we started, there wasn’t a tree in sight and the area in front of the house was level,” re­veals the owner, a keen gar­dener who has put time and ef­fort into sur­round­ing Hill Fort with ma­ture gardens with a great many trees.

He ex­plains that the func­tion of the gar­den mound is to par­tially ob­scure the view of the prop­erty from the front.

“This means that the house only comes fully into view as you come up the drive­way — an ef­fect some­times found in pe­riod gardens.”

On com­ple­tion of the project, the ar­chi­tect gifted the cou­ple with a gar­den de­sign which had been drawn up by his sis­ter, a land­scape de­signer. Af­ter 25 years of care and cul­ti­va­tion, the gardens now re­sem­ble the grounds of a pe­riod prop­erty with fea­tures such as rose beds, stone paths, steps and walls, shaded seat­ing ar­eas, clema­tis-cov­ered per­go­las and an im­pres­sive beech hedge.

Start­ing view­ings of the 4,000 sq ft prop­erty which is guid­ing at €850,000, Bill Hanly of Hanly Don­nel­lan says the gardens have been look­ing par­tic­u­larly re­splen­dent in the May sun­shine.

Ob­serv­ing that a house with this large acreage is quite a rar­ity, he says it is very ap­peal­ing to equine en­thu­si­asts and also to peo­ple look­ing for a high-qual­ity trade up with space and land.

Mr Hanly says the lo­ca­tion, around ten kilo­me­ters from the city, is per­fect for com­muters, while the prox­im­ity to Adare and the Clon­shire Eques­trian Cen­tre, 6km away, makes it at­trac­tive to horse own­ers.

VERDICT: Has the gardens, the grounds, and much of the grace of a pe­riod prop­erty — but the com­forts and ease of main­te­nance of a mod­ern house.

Pa­trick­swell, Co Lim­er­ick €850,000 Size: 371 sq m (4,000 sq ft) Bed­rooms: 4 Bath­rooms: 4 BER: C1

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