A sportsman's paradise in County Laois for €2.25m
Tulach Nore, Pike of Rushall, Portlaoise, Co Laois - €2.25m
When George Harding left his family home at Tulach Nore in the small village of Pike of Rushall to fight in the Boer War, his skills as a horseman ensured that the young soldier would be useful.
"In the army at that time it was all about horsemanship," explains his great-grandson James Maunder Taylor. "In Ireland he used to ride out into the Slieve Blooms with his friends to hunt grouse. The Irish were considered very good with horses; they knew how to ride a horse over tricky countryside which was exactly what was needed in Africa. So George and his friends were much in demand. He was a second lieutenant, and served as a charger, armed with just a pistol, who used to relay messages between positions."
Harding survived his adventures abroad and was later elevated to the rank of colonel, staying on in Africa after the war in both Sudan and Egypt. The legacy of his time there is evident in some of the dark wood furniture that still remains in Tulach Nore, his family home.
The handsome Victorian house built by Henry Harding, George's father, in the 1870s, replaced an older dwelling closer to the river,. It comes to the market with 225 acres. The 10 acres around the house are comprised of gardens and what was once a productive kitchen garden and orchard planted with fruit trees; 157 acres are good quality grazing land; and 55 are in forestry. There are also stables, farm buildings and a poultry shed.
An area of summer grazing known as The Callows is home to snipe and woodcock and the property also comes with 1,100 metres of river frontage onto the Nore, where there are otters, and a flight pond with teal and mallard. It is something of a sportsman's paradise.
"These days the farm is very much beef and cattle," says James, "but historically it was partly arable, growing oats to feed horses. Although there would have been some sheep and pigs, it was predominantly horses, and the steady, steep rise up the hill was used for the training of horses for hunting and pulling traps and carriages - gentlemen's horses."
After World War I, the estate was used for the rehabilitation of horses that had survived the war. They were returned to full health on the good pastures of the Irish countryside.
James spent his childhood summers at Tulach Nore with his grandfather, George's eldest son, who inherited the house and farm.
Major Cecil Harding was an artillery man; "In those days the artillery needed people who could do very fast mental arithmetic on the go and my grandfather was a mathematics genius." Major Cecil stayed on in the army for a while after World War II, after which he put his aptitude for figures to more lucrative use in the stock market. Some of his grandfather's numerical aptitude must have rubbed off, as James too now works in the banking and finance sector in the UK.
Tulach Nore has been well-maintained and is in good condition, although new owners are likely to want to update the interiors. On the ground floor there is a very large drawing room with three bay windows, along with a billiards room, dining room, study and family room, and a kitchen with associated sculleries, pantry and utility room. Upstairs there are eight bedrooms, the master with en suite and dressing room, plus two further bathrooms and a shower room.
Size: 516 sqm
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes (01) 237 6300 / Sherry FitzGerald Fogarty (050) 521 192