Even Mr Darcy would feel at home in €2.5m Limerick mansion with a pool
Even Jane Austen's Mr Darcy would feel at home in mansion set on 17ac
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a grand old stately home is not worth tuppence without a fish pond.
Yes, you can still stroll the grounds in your empire-line dresses, all sparkling wit and pert opinions, gathering lavender and politely rebuffing the advances of worthless young men. But unless there's a fish pond, you have absolutely no hope of seeing Mr Darcy emerging from it looking radiantly dishevelled.
Happily there need be no such deprivation at Ballyneale House in Ballingarry, County Limerick. It has a sizeable fish pond - and has had since the house was built in the 1850s.
Better still, it has a swimming pool as well. This means that if your latter-day version of Mr Darcy is averse to the company of carp, you can hope to achieve the same effect from the cleaner waters of the pool.
Ballyneale also has an all-weather tennis court, a croquet lawn and stables. And if those pursuits sound too unladylike for a Jane Austen heroine, there are acres of formal gardens in which to wander demurely, dreaming of romance - or plotting a novel of your own. The place has form for this.
Ballyneale's owners are the property millionaire David Pearl and his wife Ros, who last year published her first book. It's an international espionage thriller called 'A Strange Way to Die', co-authored with her son-in-law George Bamford, heir to the JCB fortune. It was begun when Ros was 60-years-old, and completed in the time she was able to spare from gardening and grandchildren.
The Pearls bought the house in 1998 from the late Lehman Brothers chief executive and philanthropist Lewis Glucksman. It's reported they spent around €3m doing it up before putting it on the market in 2007 - at the height of the boom, and before the collapse of Lehman Brothers - for €8m.
Since then, the property has shed some of its acreage, and has a dramatically reduced asking price of €2.5m.
For that, you get a beautifully-proportioned and fully restored mansion set on 17 acres, together with a staff cottage, courtyard with guest accommodation, folly lodge, and a cinema, as well as all the aforementioned amusements.
The house itself is 5,543 sq ft, with a central bay on two storeys over a raised basement, flanked by two-storey wings on each side. It faces south, overlooking its own meticulously restored gardens.
There's a flight of steps up to the fan-lit front door, leading to an entrance hall that runs the full depth of the house, with three reception rooms off it. To the left is the dual-aspect drawing room with French windows giving onto a balcony to the west.
A pair of archways leads from here into a slightly smaller sitting room at the back, with a carved timber fireplace. To the right of the entrance hall is the dining room, also dual-aspect.There's a kitchen on this level, as well as a pantry and guest toilet.
The original kitchen, where the cook would have dressed your mutton, is on the lower ground floor, and there's also a bedroom downstairs, where a cook might retire to bed exhausted, possibly having first ventured into the adjoining wine cellar for a snifter of something restorative.
The basement also has a family room, bathroom, and a large utility room measuring 18ft 6ins by almost 15ft.
Perhaps surprisingly for its size, Ballyneale has only three bedrooms, all on the first floor. The master bedroom looks south and west and has an en-suite bathroom and dressing room. It also has a door into a second bathroom shared with another of the bedrooms.
There's a first-floor study which could be used as a bedroom if the need arose.
But there's no shortage of sleeping spaces in the surrounding outbuildings. Behind the house is a stone courtyard, with an old coach house converted into a guest wing with four suites.
The rest of the outbuildings include a manager's house and staff apartment, together with an office and canteen.
Behind this is a garden with a sun terrace, which is where the swimming pool can be found. And nearby is another stone outbuilding housing the cinema and a billiard room.
The outer courtyard has 10 stables.
Out the front of the house is a terraced lawn rolling down to the ornamental lake, with a wooded island in the middle of it. There's a kitchen garden covering three-quarters of an acre, and a small stone cottage with a bedroom, kitchenette and shower.
Elsewhere there are both formal and informal gardens, with a long pond, sunken garden, rose garden and nuttery, with scented walkways.
Ballingarry is deep in south County Limerick, near the Cork border and about equidistant between Charleville and Newcastle West, which are both about 17 kilometres away. Limerick city is about half an hour's drive away, and Shannon Airport about 45 minutes.
Ballyneale House is for sale with Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes & Estates, (01) 237 6300, with a reduced asking price of €2.5m.
Ballingarry, Co Limerick
Asking price: €2.5m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes & Estates, (01) 237 6300