Sunday 25 September 2016

Tipp treasure - Kilcooley Abbey could be yours for €8M

Kilcooley Abbey is a classic 'big house' standing on a vast estate that includes 950ac of forestry expected to generate an income of €3.6million over the next 15 years

Jim O'Brien

Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30

Kilcooley Abbey - a classic big house
Kilcooley Abbey - a classic big house
Aerial view of Kilcooley

Kilcooley Abbey Estate in Co Tipperary, not far from Urlingford is a 1,263ac estate with an extensive 18th century mansion and three lodge houses.

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This huge property is on the market by private treaty with a guide price of €8m in a sale handled by joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Carroll, Dundalk. A large section of the estate, 950ac, is in forestry and has the potential to generate an income of about €3.6m over the next 15 years

Kilcooley has been on the market for some time and has been featured before but a visit to the property is the only way to get a real sense of the size and scale of the this, the largest farm for sale in the country at present.

Located 5km from Urlingford and a little over an hour's drive from Dublin and Cork on the nearby M8 Motorway the estate is one of the more substantial properties to come on the Irish market in many years.

Arriving at the estate from Urlingford the first thing to strike a visitor is the great dry stone wall that encircles the property, it is a journey in itself to drive around it. A long avenue leads from an impressive gateway through wooded ground to an inner gate. The house itself is an impressive two storey over basement Palladian mansion. It stands in sight of the ruins of the 12th century Kilcooley Abbey located on the estate and cared for by the OPW. The presence of this monastic settlement is testament to the historic nature of the place and a reminder of the length of time people have made a living from these lands.

In Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Kilcooley is described as a large winged house, built circa 1790 by Sir William Barker, 4th and last Baronet of Kilcooley whose family had previously lived in the old abbey which was converted to a house in circa 1700.

The house was partly destroyed by a fire, circa 1840 and during the rebuilding the family moved back into the old abbey. The interior largely dates from the period after the fire with a vast galleried hall, partly top lit by a glazed dome with low panelling along with a panelled dining room and a library.

When the Barker family died out the house fell to the Ponsonby family who continued to live in Kilcooley until its sale some years ago.

The house was bought most recently by buyers from north of the border who paid something in the region of €3.5m for it. The estate is now for sale for €8m and is in much the same condition as when it changed hands last.

While the great house is in a state of considerable disrepair its grandeur is clearly visible through the damp and decay.

Extending to 3,000sqft the accommodation includes a large reception hall with a magnificent gallery running around the four sides at first floor level and lit overhead by a glazed dome over a ceiling with extraordinary plasterwork.

My host, Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes explains that the annual Tipperary Hunt ball was held in this space every year until the Ponsonbys left.

Both aspects of the house have magnificent views with one side looking out on Kilcooley Abbey and the other out on the ornamental lake. The gardens are completely over-grown and like the house will take a lot of work.

Lodges

There are in all five lodges/houses on the property. At the entrance there are two, one of which is derelict the other a modern structure with three bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom.

The third house is a two-storey house which requires minor works in order to be rentable. It has an entrance porch, kitchen, sitting room, dining room, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The fourth is a part cut stone two storey house, which has been upgraded and has a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. The fifth is a modern prefabricated bungalow with a living/dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom. The three habitable lodges have been occupied by the same tenants for a number of years and produce regular rental

On either side of the house are two small courtyards with lean-to storage, small coach house and stores. Beyond the house there is an extensive range of outbuildings of various ages and condition and include old cattle wintering units and lying-in space, barns and open fronted machinery sheds. The original quadrangular courtyard is in very poor repair but two sides retain lines of original Victorian loose boxes and these are in fine condition

Of the 1,283ac, 950ac are in forestry. When the previous owner bought the property the forestry was leased by Coillte on a 99-year lease but Coillte have been bought out and the forestry is now back with the estate.

Of the remaining 220ac, about 180ac are in a mix of grazing ground, some good grassland and some low lying, with the balance in a combination of more woodland, the avenues, the grounds around the house and a 5ac ornamental lake with a boathouse.

According to Ms De Vere Hunt the owners would look at selling the house on 220ac as one lot and the forestry as another. This would appear to be a sensible way to ensure that this magnificent estate finds a new owner to restore it to its former glory.

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