American Gothic in Wicklow for €1.5m
An historic lodge with wrap-around conservatory
There must be something in the air around Dunran Hill - that heathery peak that superintends a corner of the east Wicklow landscape - which makes the people who live near it so chronically unable to halt themselves on the home improvements.
Take, for instance, the properties scattered around the Dunran Demesne near Ashford, at the foot of Dunran Hill. There's Dunran itself - a handsome, two-storey Georgian house built in 1820, whose owners could not rest until they had remodelled it into a bow-ended Italianate mansion.
Then there's nearby Dunran Castle (or sometimes Kiltimon Castle), a squat medieval tower dating from the mid-16th century that's no longer simply a squat medieval tower. It's now a folly, having been restored as such in the early 19th century. And unlike most follies, which pretend to be something they're not, this one, as the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage remarks, is exactly "what it pretends to be - a castle ruin".
Then there's Killiskey Lodge, constructed in the 19th century as a gate lodge at one of the entrances to the Dunran Demesne. A glance at the first-edition ordnance survey map shows what it must have been in the early 19th century - a simple and typically quite small lodge, but it's been utterly transformed since then.
Now, Killiskey Lodge consists of a pair of two-storey wings flanking a three-storey stone tower, with assorted Gothic features, and a wrap-around Gothic-style conservatory hugging the northernmost wing.
It's now almost 4,000 sq ft in size too, making something of a mockery of the word 'lodge'.
True to its provenance, though, it has been furnished and fitted with care and sensitivity. The owners sourced all sorts of architectural salvage when renovating the place, to blend the old parts of the building with the new. For instance, the beams on the kitchen ceiling came from a cotton mill in Louisiana, and the vintage timber floor from New York.
The Gothic-style front door in the tower opens into a galleried reception hall, where there's a polished wood floor, a hardwood staircase and an open fire.
To the right of this is the new wing, which has the kitchen, acquired from a firm in nearby Ballymore Eustace. It has fitted cabinets in cherrywood with a marble work surface. There's an island unit complete with a black marble countertop and an integrated microwave, while a four-oven Aga is set into an exposed brick wall. There's also a granite fireplace.
There are two sets of double doors in the kitchen - one opening to the conservatory and the other to the drawing room, where there's an ornamental fireplace in hardwood with a marble inset.
Another two sets of double doors in the drawing room lead into what is probably the most impressive room in the house - the wrap-around conservatory which measures a whopping 700 sq ft and has a terracotta-tiled floor. Again, there are two more sets of doors in the conservatory, leading out onto the Indian sandstone patio and barbecue area outside.
Back in the original part of the house, left of the entrance hall, is the dining room, painted in vivid red, where there's a fireplace and gothic-style stained glass windows shedding coloured light onto the polished wood floor. Also at this end of the house is a utility and boot room, and a passageway between the entrance hall and the dining room where you'll find a wine cellar in a brick alcove.
The stairs lead up to a first-floor gallery landing and, if you turn right, you'll reach the master bedroom suite, also in the new wing. The bedroom itself has a double-height ceiling and gothic window, and next to it is an en suite shower room and a dressing room with wall-to-wall fitted wardrobes.
There are three more bedrooms on this level, one of which has a cast-iron fireplace, as well as the main bathroom with a free-standing Victorian bath and a separate shower.
The fifth and last bedroom is on the second floor, at the top of the tower, to suit whichever member of the family has princess tendencies.
Killiskey Lodge is on four-and-a-half acres of beautiful gardens, with both formal and informal aspects. A stream runs though the grounds, filling two ornamental ponds, and there are two bridges over it - one in stone and one in wood, clad with roses. There are mature trees all over the grounds, including ornamental cherries, and a half-mile walk has been carved out among them. Elsewhere, there are lawns, a rose arch and a raised vegetable garden. There's also a field behind the house for grazing a pony, and two wooden sheds for storage.
As the crow flies, Killiskey Lodge is about one-and-a-half kilometres from the N11. It's far enough away to cause no trouble with noise, but close enough that you can use it to get to Dublin in about 50 minutes. The nearest towns are Ashford, a little over four kilometres to the south, and Newtownmountkennedy, about seven kilometres north.
Killiskey Lodge is on the market for €1.5m with McDonnell Properties in Ashford, (0404) 42828.
Ashford, Co Wicklow
Asking price: €1.5m
Agent: McDonnell Properties in Ashford, (0404) 42828