Friday 30 September 2016

Property: Galway gem

The combination of a period house, 135ac and 800m of sea frontage make this a once in a lifetime property opportunity in the west, writes Jim O'Brien

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

Renville House, Co Galway
Renville House, Co Galway
Land at Renville House, Co Galway
Herder's Cottage at Renville House, Co Galway

When we think of the shores of Galway Bay we immediately think of Connemara but there is also a lovely southern and eastern shore to the bay from Kinvara right into Oranmore. Along this shore near Oranmore is Renville, home to a stretch of fertile land with fine stands of trees that runs down to the shore.

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One of the most prominent properties in this area is Renville House, a 19th Century period house that was once home to the Blakes, one of the Tribes of Galway, and since the 1960's was home to a Dr Lydon and his family. The house on 135ac of fine land is for sale by public auction and comes with a guide price of €2m.

It was a good, blustery day when I left the busy N18 at Oranmore and drove 3km to Renville House. A solid tarmac driveway stretches for a mile through a series of powerful meadows until you reach the house. You can see the land and the views in all their glory as you drive past the fields separated by neat stone walls that run down to the narrowest stretch of Galway Bay.

The house is a 19th Century period house and it has charm written all over it. I suppose its vintage, dating from 1820, makes it Georgian in provenance if not in style. Inside the house is elegant but not grand. The rooms are modestly proportioned with those to the side of the house built with bay windows looking out into an intimate rose garden.

The residence does need some renovation and refurbishment. The front two-up-two-down part is most probably the original house but behind is a series of extensions.

The accommodation includes two reception rooms, a sitting room and dining room at either side of a spacious hall. The sitting room has a bay window fronting on to the rose garden and the dining room has all the relics of auld decency. There is a lovely feel to the house and I sense myself turning into a cross between Francis Brennan and Dermot Bannon as I poke around the place.

Other accommodation downstairs includes an intimate lounge with a bay window to the garden, a library, study, kitchen, bathroom and a guest WC.

Upstairs are five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nursery room, a linen cupboard and a hotpress. The rooms are in the main quite spacious but require some renovation.

The local GP lived in this house from the 1960s and the coach house to the rear was at one stage used as a surgery. The space has since been converted to a tasty two bedroom apartment suitable for guests, staff or recalcitrant teenagers.

To the rear again is a traditional farm courtyard with a range of dated but interesting farm buildings including a lofted granary and a series of stables and houses. Behind the courtyard is the 'more modern' farmyard and what is striking about this part of the premises is that it has the best views out across the bay. The round roofed sheds and cow byres sit on an elevated site beside a copse of trees overlooking the water.

Grazing ground

As for the land, in a word it is beautiful. The 135ac is laid out in a series of big fields fenced with neat, well-kept stone walls without a pebble out of place. Other fencing is provided by well-maintained hedgerow.

About 112ac is very good to excellent grazing ground that was traditionally used for sheep and cattle with 23ac in low-lying land near the sea front and part of an SAC.

The ground is undulating and self draining and while rented for a number of years is in good heart and well looked after. It may need some minor work and perhaps some re-seeding here and there; on my walk through one of the shore-side fields there are some signs of poaching under-foot.

Renville House and farm is a gorgeous place and as I write I am reminded of other lovely bits to it like the beautiful walled garden, currently under a crop of hay and a quaint little farmyard near the shore with a herder's cottage that will make a lovely retreat.

"You will never get planning in a spot like that again," says auctioneer Clive Kavanagh from Jordans who are handling the sale. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a period house, 135ac of land and 800m of sea frontage. Huge interest is expected when the property comes to auction at 3pm on Thursday, 14 July at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway.

Indo Farming

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