Ge­or­gian gem is an oa­sis of calm

DARN­LEY HOUSE Clonard, Co Meath €850,000

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Property - - SUNDAY PROPERTY - Words by Caro­line Allen

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

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