Grand designs on offer in Laois
The granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 saw the 'coming out' of an underground Catholic Church.
Part of that coming out was an attempt by the Catholic authorities to place their clergy in housing that matched, or surpassed, their Church of Ireland counterparts and, in some cases, the local 'big house'.
Kilmartin House, at Ballaghmore, on the old N7 near Borris in Ossory, Co Laois, was built in 1829 and was home to the parish priests of Knock/Ballaghmore for as long as people can remember. It is a regency-style country house on 14ac, surrounded by an old courtyard of stone-built out offices and the remains of an old orchard and kitchen garden.
The property is accessed from the main road via a grand old entrance complete with a gate lodge (pictured).
While the entire place is in need of renovation, the house has been kept in good condition by the owners, the parish councils of Knock and Ballaghmore.
As was the custom in the 'big house' era, the kitchen is on the lower ground floor, along with the dining room. The ground floor has an entrance hall and two reception rooms (15x21ft) with fireplaces.
The first floor has two large bedrooms and a bathroom, while the second floor accommodates two bedrooms. On the third floor is a single bedroom, while in the attic are two rooms with timber floors and velux windows. The rooms on the first floor have access to balconies.
The gate lodge has one bedroom, living room, bathroom, back kitchen, porch and hall.