Take a breath of fresh Eire

As the mar­ket be­gins to pick up, now’s the time to explore ru­ral Ir­ish prop­er­ties

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

FOR breath­tak­ing beauty and tran­quil­lity, few Ir­ish coun­try prop­er­ties can hold a can­dle to the grand coun­try es­tates of Co Wick­low, few of which ever ap­pear on the open mar­ket. How­ever, even Robert Ganly of long-es­tab­lished Ganly Wal­ters (00 353 1 662 3255)—a man rarely lost for words—is hard put to con­vey the magic of the 110-acre Lake Park House es­tate (Fig 1) on the shores of Lough Dan, near Round­wood, on the edge of the spec­tac­u­lar Wick­low Moun­tains Na­tional Park, yet less than an hour’s drive from Dublin air­port, via the M50 mo­tor­way.

Hav­ing sold the es­tate to its Ukbased Ir­ish owner eight years ago, Mr Ganly is now han­dling its re­sale at a guide price of €4 mil­lion. It fol­lows a root-and-branch re­fur­bish­ment of the charm­ing, 6,000sq ft main house, set in an­cient wood­land against the back­drop of glacial moun­tains sweep­ing down to the shores of Lough Dan and sur­rounded by gar­dens lov­ingly re­stored by the owner with in­put from de­signer Daphne Levinge Shack­le­ton.

Orig­i­nally part of the Shel­ton Abbey es­tate, an­ces­tral seat of the Earls of Wick­low un­til 1951, Lake Park House was built as the main lodge of a newly cre­ated shoot­ing es­tate in 1835 and is one of a trio of im­por­tant lake­side houses in this part of Wick­low, along­side Lug­gala at Lough Tay and Lough Bray House at Lough Bray. The area has long been a haunt of Ire­land’s lit­er­ary elite and pre­vi­ous own­ers of Lake Park House in­clude the ac­claimed nov­el­ist Edna O’brien and the poet Richard Mur­phy.

Against the gen­eral run of play in the Ir­ish coun­try mar­ket, the agents

re­port ‘good Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est’ in Lake Park House, which un­doubt­edly mer­its its de­scrip­tion as ‘a won­der­ful fam­ily home, a spe­cial ru­ral re­treat to un­spoiled na­ture, a stun­ning place to en­ter­tain, to fish, to hunt, to swim, to ride or to sim­ply get away from it all’.

Set dis­creetly at the end of a tree­lined drive is the el­e­gant, part sin­gle, part two-storey house, whose dra­matic south-west-fac­ing en­trance over­looks the val­ley on all sides. In­side, the pic­turesque 19th-cen­tury el­e­ments of the for­mal draw­ing room and din­ing room have been re­tained and re­stored and blend with light­filled con­tem­po­rary liv­ing ar­eas de­signed to max­imise ev­ery pos­si­ble view.

The modern main fam­ily wing in­cludes a TV room, a stylish mas­ter suite and two fur­ther en-suite bed­rooms. A splen­did guest wing pro­vides three more bed­rooms and a bath­room. A lux­u­ri­ous stu­dio and games room over­look­ing the for­est is an­other in­spired ad­di­tion.

With its pri­vate ac­cess and ex­ten­sive frontage to Lough Dan, Lake Park’s ex­ten­sive sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties rep­re­sent the ic­ing on the cake for res­i­dents and guests alike. They in­clude trout and salmon fish­ing, sail­ing, swim­ming and wind-surfing, as well as shoot­ing, walk­ing and rid­ing over one of Ire­land’s most awein­spir­ing land­scapes.

De­spite a fur­ther stum­ble on the road to re­cov­ery caused by the UK’S Brexit vote, there are signs of a turn- around in the Ir­ish ru­ral prop­erty mar­ket, says Roseanne de Vere Hunt of Sherry Fitzger­ald’s Dublin-based coun­try homes, farms and es­tates depart­ment. She cites as proof the sale, in Septem­ber 2016, of the 180acre Bec­tive Demesne (Fig 4) on the banks of the Boyne be­tween Trim and Na­van in Co Meath at an ask­ing price of €3.5m—said to be last year’s ‘largest coun­try sale out­side of Dublin’, de­spite the need for to­tal restora­tion of its 13,000sq ft Vic­to­rian man­sion and gate lodges.

Still within the Pale, Sherry Fitz-Ger­ald Coun­try Homes (00 353 1 237 6402) quote a guide price of €6.5m for an­other prime can­di­date for restora­tion, the 338-acre Lan­den­stown es­tate (Fig 5) near Sallins in Co Kil­dare. With the es­tate’s once-grand, mid-18th-cen­tury, Pal­la­dian es­tate house, gate lodges and farm build­ings all in need of com­plete ren­o­va­tion and work also needed to re­store the park­land to its for­mer glory, Lan­den­stown’s en­vi­able lo­ca­tion 22 miles from Dublin city cen­tre and 27 miles from the air­port will be the key to its even­tual sale.

The 5,726sq ft, two-storey main house, which sits at the end of a long me­an­der­ing drive, re­tains some im­pres­sive orig­i­nal fea­tures with classic Ge­or­gian well-pro­por­tioned rooms and won­der­ful views over the sur­round­ing es­tate, es­pe­cially from the first-floor bed­rooms.

To the east of the main house, the court­yard could be con­verted to fur­ther ac­com­mo­da­tion, sub­ject to plan­ning con­sent.

The es­tate has large ar­eas of pro­duc­tive farm­land, in­ter­spersed with beau­ti­ful ar­eas of amenity lands bounded on one side by the Grand Canal. This be­ing Kil­dare, the lands, although ne­glected in re­cent years, could eas­ily be re­turned to pro­duc­tiv­ity, the agents say.

In con­trast, the sale, for the first time in al­most 60 years, of one of Co Cork’s larger and bet­ter-pre­served Ge­or­gian hold­ings, the won­der­fully pri­vate, 195-acre Bil­berry es­tate (Fig

3) near Mi­dle­ton, 18 miles from Cork city, is a tes­ta­ment to the long-term com­mit­ment of its Ger­man-cana­dian owner, who bought it in 1959 as a safe haven for her­self and her young sons. Fol­low­ing her death in her nineties in 2015, the highly pro­duc­tive and well-man­aged farm­ing

and wood­land es­tate is be­ing sold on be­half of her sons, now in their seven­ties and liv­ing in the USA.

Cur­rently for sale through Sherry Fitzger­ald Coun­try and lo­cal agents Sherry Fitzger­ald O’dono­van (00 353 21 462 1166) at a re­vised guide price of £2.95m, the fo­cal point of the es­tate is the charm­ing, 6,350sq ft, mid-ge­or­gian Bil­berry House, built in about 1770, with the rear sec­tion added at a later date.

In­side, the rooms are bright and cheerful and in­clude a morn­ing room, a din­ing room with panoramic views of the sur­round­ing east Cork coun­try­side, a spa­cious sit­ting room and a li­brary lead­ing to a de­light­ful pa­tio and gar­den area, a kitchen, a heated in­door pool and a sauna. The first and sec­ond floors house six bed­rooms, in­clud­ing a mas­ter suite with a dress­ing room, a bath­room and— a touch­ing relic of a by­gone era— a sewing room.

The gar­dens and grounds de­signed by the gar­den ar­chi­tect Rus­sell Page are a ma­jor fea­ture of Bil­berry House. Beau­ti­fully main­tained over the years, they are bounded by lush lawns, and thought­fully planted to pro­vide colour and blos­som through­out the year.

Colour abounds in the rolling farm­land and wooded river val­leys around im­pos­ing Bal­ly­grig­gan House (Fig 2) near Castle­town­roche in north Co Cork, which is cur­rently on the mar­ket through Fer­moy-based coun­try-house agent Michael Daniels (00 353 25 31023) and Ganly Wal­ters at a guide price of £1.85m. The prop­erty is bounded to the en­tire east­ern and north­ern perime­ter by the en­chant­ing River Aw­beg, a tribu­tary of the Black­wa­ter said to have in­spired Ed­mund Spenser, who lived at nearby Kil­col­man Castle, to write his Faerie Queen.

Ap­proached along a tree-lined drive, Bal­ly­grig­gan House sits on high ground in the cen­tre of its lands over­look­ing the river, with glo­ri­ous views of the Gal­tee, Na­gle and Bal­ly­houra Moun­tains on the hori­zon. Dur­ing their 20year ten­ure, the present own­ers have ex­e­cuted an am­bi­tious pro­gramme of up­grad­ing and ex­ten­sion, which has seen the floor area dou­bled to about 8,200sq ft of bright and sunny ac­com­mo­da­tion, in­clud­ing a re­cep­tion hall, four re­cep­tion rooms, seven bed­rooms and seven bath­rooms.

Set among the fields to the north of the house is the pretty, two-storey North Lodge, which was com­pletely re­stored from a ruin in 2004. Di­rectly be­hind the house is a yard of tra­di­tional stone out­build­ings pro­vid­ing garag­ing and stor­age. Nearby is a sta­ble yard with 10 loose boxes, a tack room and an all-weather arena. Away from the house, a farm­yard com­prises two modern steel build­ings linked by an in­ter­nal road.

Michael Daniels is also han­dling the sale of Bal­ly­ma­gooly House (Fig

6) on the banks of the Black­wa­ter near Mal­low, which, ac­cord­ing to Anna-maria Ha­jba’s Houses of Cork, was the site of one of the ear­li­est Roche cas­tles, built here in 1344. The castle was prob­a­bly in ru­ins by the early 18th cen­tury, when the orig­i­nal Bally ma­gooly House and its out­build­ings were built, pos­si­bly by John Nor­cott, who died there in 1719.

Mr Daniels quotes a guide price of £1.7m for the 103-acre es­tate as a whole or £850,000 for the house, sta­ble yard and 22 acres of land, with 900m (al­most 3,000ft) of sin­gle bank fish­ing.

Cur­rently ar­ranged as two dwellings that could eas­ily be con­verted back to one, the main house has been com­pre­hen­sively mod­ernised and up­graded since the own­ers bought it in the 1990s. Gen­er­ous ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cludes a re­cep­tion hall, four re­cep­tion rooms and four bed­rooms, with the an­nexe pro­vid­ing two fur­ther re­cep­tion rooms and five bed­rooms.

Fig 1 above and top: Lake Park House nes­tles in a mag­i­cal set­ting in Round­wood, Co Wick­low. €4m

Fig 3: On the mar­ket for the first time in 60 years: Bil­berry House at Mi­dle­ton, Co Cork. £2.95m

Fig 2: Im­pos­ing Bal­ly­grig­gan House, at Castle­town­roche in Co Cork. £1.85m

Fig 4 above: The sale of the 180-acre Bec­tive Demesne for €3.5m was 2016’s ‘largest coun­try sale out­side of Dublin’

Fig 5 above right:

The Lan­den­stown es­tate at Sallins in Co Kil­dare is in need of com­plete ren­o­va­tion. €6.5m

Fig 6: Bal­ly­ma­gooly House at Mal­low, Co Cork, is two dwellings that could be con­verted back to one. £1.7m

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