A HOUSE FIT FOR A QUEEN

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Words by Caroline Allen

IT’S al­ways been said that Queen Vic­to­ria in­tended at one stage to buy Emo Court for her way­ward son, and that she took tea in the draw­ing room here with the rec­tor at the time,” muses Wil­fred Deverell, ven­dor of The Old Rec­tory, Cool­banagher, Emo, Co Laois.

Close to the Gan­don-de­signed Emo Court, and St John’s Church, also de­signed by Gan­don — ar­chi­tect of The Cus­tom House and The Four Courts — The Old Rec­tory is a fam­ily home with the hand­print of his­tory. “You can see the hand of the glass maker in the din­ing-room win­dow,” says Deverell. Other orig­i­nal fea­tures in­clude doors with peep­holes, some fire­places and floor­boards, and shut­ters.

En­joy­ing a serene set­ting, the Ge­or­gian res­i­dence on 45 acres which are in grass was built in 1790 for the Hon Rev Wil­liam Daw­son, son of Lord Car­low and brother of the Earl of Por­tar­ling­ton. Two years ago, the sev­enth Earl of Por­tar­ling­ton took time out from a visit to Emo Court to drop in.

Orig­i­nally known as ‘Clon­banagher Glebe’ or ‘The Glebe’, it was bought by Wil­frid Deverell’s par­ents from the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Church Body of the Church of Ire­land in 1952. Among its in­hab­i­tants was Rev Dud­ley Fletcher, said to have walked with Sean O’Casey in the Dublin Lock­out. “He was al­ways in trou­ble as he felt very strongly about the Ne Te­mere de­cree,” says Deverell.

“The house hadn’t been lived in since 1947 so there was a good bit of work to be done when my par­ents bought it,” he re­calls. “I re­mem­ber potatoes be­ing sown to clear the front gar­den, be­fore turn­ing it back into lawn. The whole house was re-dashed and the court­yard done up.”

Af­ter board­ing school, Deverell re­turned home to farm, go­ing on to breed pedi­gree Charo­lais. Mar­riage to In­grid, a Lon­doner, 45 years ago, saw them move into the main part of the house, while Deverell’s par­ents re­lo­cated to the wing which was orig­i­nally the ser­vants’ quar­ters.

While the three Deverell chil­dren were at univer­sity in the 1990s, In­grid started a pre-school in one of the farm build­ings, and at the end of that decade, they di­ver­si­fied into self-ca­ter­ing apart­ments.

Fol­low­ing a fire in 2007, the main house had to be reroofed, rewired and re­plumbed. “There was a lot of smoke dam­age and it took us 10 months to get ev­ery­thing re­stored. The neigh­bours were in­cred­i­bly help­ful,” Deverell says.

Lo­cated 2km from the M7 mo­tor­way, and 89km from Dublin air­port, the seven-bed­room house is ap­proached through an av­enue bounded by ma­ture trees. There are sep­a­rate en­trances to the house and the court­yard and farm build­ings. There is also a walled gar­den.

View­ers to the prop­erty will see dou­ble, as many things are in pair­ings. These in­clude stairs, sun­rooms and kitchens. Sell­ing agent Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry Fitz Ger­ald Coun­try Homes, Farms and Es­tates, says that the liv­ing room, se­condary kitchen, sun room, three bed­rooms in the wing, and shower room could be used as a self-con­tained unit. Or the new own­ers may want to re­con­fig­ure the lay­out to in­tro­duce open-plan liv­ing ar­eas.

The two dual as­pect re­cep­tion rooms — the draw­ing room to the right with its bay win­dow, and the din­ing room to the left — are flooded with nat­u­ral light. They have their orig­i­nal fire­places — black mar­ble sig­ni­fy­ing mourn­ing, ac­cord­ing to Deverell, and white mar­ble, as­so­ci­ated with wed­dings and bap­tisms.

The rest of the rooms are less for­mal. There’s a main fit­ted kitchen and break­fast room with ac­cess through pa­tio doors to the lawns and gar­den. The other kitchen is off the liv­ing room which is fit­ted with a stove. There’s also a util­ity room, stor­age and stairs to the wine cel­lar. One sun­room is to the side of the house off the en­trance hall­way, with ac­cess to the rear court­yard, while the other is to the back, off the liv­ing room, over­look­ing a pond. Doors lead to the pa­tio and pond which con­nects to the lean-to area that can be used as an out­door cov­ered din­ing space.

There’s a shower room down­stairs, and two bath­rooms, a shower room and guest WC up­stairs. The main part of the house has four bed­rooms on the first floor. The other three are in the wing.

The char­ac­ter­ful court­yard com­prises two con­verted coach­houses, both could po­ten­tially bring in a rental in­come; an of­fice; stor­age house and two-storey build­ing with wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and toi­lets. There are also umpteen barns and sheds.

It’s a cov­etable lo­ca­tion, close to Emo Demesne where Deverell rented land. “We’re down­siz­ing but not mov­ing far — only up the road where we plan to build a house. We will be look­ing from The Rock of Du­na­mase back to­wards the house which we are very sad to leave. We have been very for­tu­nate to have lived in such a nice com­mu­nity.”

De Vere Hunt points to the po­ten­tial of the prop­erty, not just as a fam­ily home, but as a busi­ness, be­cause of its out­buid­ings and lo­ca­tion. It’s ap­peal­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tion­ally, with en­quiries al­ready re­ceived from the UK, she says.

Clock­wise from top, the Old Rec­tory was built in 1790 for Lord Car­low’s son; the prop­erty sits on 45 acres of grass­land, with a size­able sta­b­le­yard, out­houses and walled gar­den; the for­mal draw­ing room; and din­ing room.

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