Georgian gem is an oasis of calm
DARNLEY HOUSE Clonard, Co Meath €850,000
Size: 325sqm Agent: Sherry FitzGerald County Homes, 01 237 6300 Viewing: Strictly by appointment
HAVING become “quite besotted” with gorgeous Georgian residences from accompanying her aunt on house tours, the vendor of this property determined to find a gem of a home for her own family. “My aunt was a member of the Irish Georgian Society for years and going on tours with her really instilled a respect in me for heritage buildings,” she says now. Her husband, a vet, and their two children, one of whom had a passion for showjumping, didn’t need much convincing when it came to buying their own period property.
“We made a decision in 2003 to buy a period property. However, we found a lot of those we looked at were sprawling. I just found them too big and creaky,” she says.
Darnley House — on 26.5 acres of pasture — which became theirs in 2005, was, she says, worth the wait. “Although charm is an over-used word, this was the quality that struck us about this property. It wasn’t so big that we felt lost in it, and we loved its serenity.”
Top-class equestrian facilities sealed the deal. Darnley House, which is a short distance from the historic village of Clonard on the R148 road between Kinnegad and Enfield, was being run as a professional stud at the time, according to the vendor. “It would have been known as a sister stud to Park Stud, which was previously owned by John Oxx Snr,” she says.
Although the house, which has a BER of E2, with oil-fired central heating, was in good condition and comfortable, the family injected modern touches and expanded the accommodation. They revamped the bathroom and dining area, and installed an en suite, as well as a new bedroom, sun room, utility area and downstairs WC.
The property retains many original features, such as the cornicing and cast-iron tub in the bathroom.
“It’s a superb house for relaxation,” says the owner. “It’s great for lunches, dinner parties and barbecues. The Virginia creeper on the exterior is a vibrant red in late summer/early autumn, adding to the lovely atmosphere.”
A striking wooden staircase sets the tone in the tiled hallway. The dining room is to the right with a cast-iron fireplace, while the focal point of the drawing room to the left is the original marble fireplace. “Both reception rooms have dual aspect and beautiful light, with original shutters,” the owner says. “In the drawing room, the original coving is gilded.”
The kitchen and family area to the rear is the hub for everyday living. French doors lead to a south-west facing patio and garden area.
There are four bedrooms on the first floor, with one en suite. Two bedrooms have fireplaces. As well as the main bathroom, there is a separate shower room.
The gardens and yards are private and secure, with electric gates and mature hedging along the boundary to the front.
The vendors upgraded the already impressive equestrian facilities with an all-weather arena of 20m x 40m and lunge menage, which were used for breeding sport horses.
The yard contains 21 loose boxes, is plumbed for water, and has a secure tack room and office. There is also a large hay and machinery storage area, with a sheltered turnout area for winter months. These facilities have their own access from the driveway, with plenty of parking. The well-sheltered lands have stud railing throughout, with extensive road frontage. The cut-stone coach house and stables are of particular interest.
Selling agent Philip Guckian, manager at Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, describes Darnley House as a “beautiful low-maintenance family home” with equestrian facilities that are second to none, and pleasant views. “The attention to detail, inside and out, really stands out,” he says.
“Commercial viability could be brought to the yard whether it’s a riding school or livery business. There are loads of different options,” says Philip Guckian.
It’s with great reluctance that the owners are departing. However, with the children’s interests now centred in the capital, the city is where they spend their time. Leaving Darnley House will be a wrench.
“We love this property and are so glad to have spent 12 years here,” says the vendor. “It has been our oasis.”
Clockwise from top: Darnley House in Clonard, Co Meath; the drawing room, which boasts an original marble fireplace; one of the property’s bathrooms, featuring the original cast-iron bathtub; and an exterior view of the rear of the house, showing part of the gardens