Ballindoolin House has its own walled garden, farm and restaurant for €2.75m
Ballindoolin House, Carbury, Co Kildare €2.75m
Look out the bedroom window of Ballindoolin House and the land as far the eye can see belongs to owner Esther Molony. "I'm monarch of all I survey," she says, laughing.
Ballindoolin House and estate may not quite be a kingdom but at 250 acres of rich Kildare pastureland and woodland, with an immaculately restored walled garden, cattle yard, stable block, restaurant, working farm, gate lodge and various outhouses, it is certainly a substantial estate.
The property went on the market last year at €3.25m and was later reduced to €2.9m. Last week, the price was further reduced to €2.75m. According to Pat O'Hagan of Savills, it is now well priced and there is strong interest both from buyers outside the country and those closer to home.
Built in 1822 for a Dutch family, the Bors, it was taken over by their land agent William Tyrrell in the 1890s. Ballindoolin House has been in their family ever since.
Esther and her late husband Robert Molony inherited the house from his step-father in 1993. It had become very rundown. "I had to have a bucket in the sitting room when it rained because the water would come through two storeys into the sitting room," she says.
The couple replaced the roof, rewired and replumbed the house but left the original features and the layout of the rooms intact. "I've tried to keep it the way it was. All of the features - the fireplaces, the floors, the doors - are original. The craftsmanship is very good." For the potential buyer this means that while the house still retains its character, there is renovation work to do. The property is set out over three storeys with a basement and measures 865 sqm in all.
At entrance level, the front hall is an impressive high-ceilinged room with stone flagged floor. "The hall and dining room were regarded as masculine rooms," says Esther, "so the cornicing is Gothic arches. It's quite an austere space and shouldn't have any upholstered furniture. That wasn't considered suitable."
The dining room is to the left of the hall and its table seats 16 comfortably. Great golden brocade curtains, which are included in the sale, hang at the large sash windows. Esther reaches behind the shutter of one window and pulls a chamber pot from a little alcove. "The ladies would withdraw after dinner to the drawing room, that was the feminine room, and the gentlemen would smoke cigars and pass the port. Port to the left and chamber pot to the right under the table."
To the right of the hall is the drawing room, which, like the other public rooms, is an elegant space with 14 ft high ceilings. The original large motif wallpaper still hangs on the walls. "It's called Rainbow and was made in Paris - the blue colour comes from arsenic." An electrolier - a chandelier with light bulbs - replaced the chandelier when electricity finally came to Ballindoolin in the 1970s.
Behind these public rooms are cosier spaces - the back hall, the estate office, and what is now the kitchen, a small room that was once the butler's pantry. The top floor has a second kitchen but the former pantry is the only working kitchen in the house. Here too is Esther's favourite room - the morning room with double aspect Georgian windows containing the original dimpled and bubbly handmade glass that catches the sun all day.
The main staircase leads from the back hall to the first floor where there are eight bedrooms in total and a small bathroom. Five of the bedrooms are spacious and have a connecting smaller room ideal for conversion to an en suite. "They were probably dressing rooms, or for children or maids," says Esther.
The top floor was once the servants' quarters but has been reconfigured into a large apartment with a generous kitchen/sitting room, bathroom, living room and three bedrooms. With refurbishment it could be a sizeable staff quarters or have rental potential. A back staircase down to the ground floor and basement meant the servants could move discreetly about their duties.
The basement has changed little since the last century when it rang to the sounds of the servants. A number of rooms range off a central hall with lovely vaulted ceiling. The original kitchen is vast, with the old range and fireplace still in place and, according to Esther, was used up to the 1970s to cook for the household. The laundry room is used as Esther's utility room and a 21st Century washing machine and rusting mangle sit side by side.
There are three separate yards on the estate, a stable yard, farm buildings and a rough cobbled cattle yard. They are charming and in good condition with new roofs and fine stone walls. One set of buildings has been converted into a restaurant with a commercial kitchen. Now, however, it is a craft shop and café that caters for the visitors who come to see the exquisite walled garden.
Less than an hour from Dublin, Ballindoolin House has great appeal as a large family home, though the restaurant, and many farm buildings mean it has potential as a wedding venue or as a small hospitality venture.