It's horses for courses at 33 acre Kildare stud farm
A home for humans and equines close to the capital
Published 29/01/2016 | 02:30
Horses hog your time and money. They hoover up bale after bale of hay, which they convert to steamy mounds for you to shovel away. They roll in mud which they need you to painstakingly clean off. They're particular about their bedding, insisting on fresh straw every night and a mint on the pillow. Then there's the expense of the vet's bills, the tack and equipment, the bedding, the feed, the worming, the vaccinations, the shoes…
But we continue to love our horses. In Ireland in particular, we have a strong cultural association and a long standing natural love affair with the equine which sees us ranking among the world's best bloodstock nations.
And this means we'll need homes and lands kitted out to keep them and breed them. The choice for many is between acquiring an existing property - which may be expensive to tailor to your equine needs - or just go ahead and design your own from scratch.
The owners of Blackwood House at Rheban West near Athy, Co Kildare, had this in mind when they planned their stud farm in the 1990s. They wanted to enjoy the horsey lifestyle with equines earning their upkeep, and they wanted to be within an easy drive of the capital.
They began looking at older properties in the area but quickly realised the expense of conversion would be prohibitive, to say nothing of the ongoing running costs associated with a period building. So they started anew, designing and constructing their own custom-built stud farm, and building it exactly how they wanted it.
What they ended up with, when the project was completed in 2001, was a large, modern, two-storey house at the centre of a 33.5-acre stud farm, set in the flattest and greenest of Kildare land, and only a little over an hour's drive from Dublin.
Now, 15 years later, the owners of Blackwood are ready to move on. With their children grown up, they are looking for a smaller property without land - and without horses, for better or worse.
There are two driveways into the property, one leading to the equestrian buildings and the other to the house, which should reduce mud contamination.
Inside, Blackwood House is expensively finished, with 10ft ceilings in the reception rooms, solid wood flooring in oak and beech, Italian tiles and an Aga in the kitchen. It's also a sizeable house, at 3,703 sq ft, but has a fairly manageable energy rating of C1.
There are five bedrooms, all on the first floor. Four of these are en-suite, and the fifth is next to the family bathroom on this level.
This leaves the whole of the ground floor for living rooms, all laid out around the L-shaped entrance hall, with its Italian chequerboard floor tiles.
To the right, at the corner of the house, there's a formal dining room, dual-aspect, and painted dark green, with a wood floor and elaborate door mouldings. The dining room is more or less on its own, whereas the other three living rooms flow into one another.
First of these, to the right of the entrance hall, is a sitting room measuring 22ft by 19ft. Like the dining room, it's also dual-aspect and wooden floored, but is painted in dark red.
From the sitting room you reach a bow-ended sunroom at the back corner of the house, measuring 13ft by 12ft, with glazed double doors to the garden.
The last of the living rooms is the 15ft by 13ft family room, reached from the sitting room, the sunroom and the entrance hall. Next to it is the tile-floored kitchen, fitted with wooden cabinets at floor and eye level, a cream-painted centre island, and a matching cream Aga.
There's also a good-sized utility room (12ft by 7ft) off the kitchen, as well as a guest toilet and cloakroom in the entrance hall.
As to the stud farm, the owners planned it in such a way that could be managed by one person alone.
So if you're a couple, you can either both be idle half the time, or one of you can do all the work while the other does nothing at all. And it should be immediately obvious which of those two options is likely to promote harmony in the relationship.
There are two stable yards, the first with 11 stable boxes and the second with a double-span barn, a six-bay walker and a 40ft lunge ring.
The lands consist of seven paddocks, all of them visible from the house and the stud office, so there's no chance of your horses getting up to no good behind your back.
Blackwood House is located in the heart of Irish equestrial country about 70 kilometres from Dublin and a convenient distance from racecourses at The Curragh, Punchestown and Naas. That is, if you don't get quite enough of the nags on your home turf.
Rheban West, Athy, Co Kildare
Asking price: €925,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Haythornthwaite, Wexford town, (053) 914 6046