Letter reveals happy past of Georgian manor
Lowlands House, Fancroft, Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Guide price: €585,000
'I A D Medlen, née Sheppard, of Clifton, am going to put this in a bottle, so that whoever lifts these floors in the years to come may find, as it were, a voice from the past speaking to them, wishing them well and that they are as happy in dear Lowlands as we have been for 20 years. God Bless you, the finder of this."
In the end, the author of this letter didn't put it in a bottle, but rather in an envelope addressed 'To The Finder'. It was discovered under the floorboards when Philomena and Joe Carroll were doing up some of the rooms in Lowlands soon after their marriage in 1970.
Joe Carroll first came to Lowlands in 1948 at the age of six, when his parents bought the house and the farm.
"His mother was a teacher and his father farmed the land," says his daughter, Anne Carroll, who is one of the executors of her father's estate.
"The family lived there with a woman called Nelly, who looked after them all. And then when my parents got married, my mother moved into the house and my father farmed dairy cattle."
Anne Carroll recalls a blissfully happy childhood at Lowlands with her brother and sister. "It was a magical house, particularly at Christmas, when we'd have a huge Christmas tree. My mother played the guitar and friends and neighbours would come around for a sing-song.
"In the summer, the front door was always open and so was the back door. I was friends with another girl who lived close by and we'd take off on our bikes in the morning, roaming the countryside, and not come home until the evening."
Lowlands is a pretty, three-bay, two-storey, Georgian country farmhouse dating from 1830, located in a picturesque setting a couple of miles outside Roscrea and sitting on over 44 acres of good-quality pasture land. The entire property is on the market at a guide price of €585,000 but there is an option to buy the house and 9.5 acres at €275,000 or a parcel of land of 34.7 acres at a price of €310,000.
The house is surrounded by mature trees that protect its privacy. A sweeping gravel drive leads to the house, in which the light-filled and elegant rooms are arranged over three levels. Although now in need of restoration and refurbishment, many of the original period features, including marble fireplaces, window shutters, cornicing, centre roses and timber floors, remain intact and the house could easily become a comfortable and practical family home once more, bearing in mind that it is a protected structure.
The front porch, with its stained-glass and tiled floor, was added in 1880 and leads to the entrance hall, off which are the principal reception rooms on either side. These rooms offer views across the surrounding gardens and there are reading rooms located in adjacent wings. Up the main staircase are five large bedrooms, while a second rear staircase leads to the ground floor and a large country kitchen to the rear of the house, as well as a number of other family rooms.
Outside are the original kitchen courtyard, coach house stables and stone outbuildings, all in need of restoration. The farmyard has a five-span barn, plus a couple of lean-tos, as well as its own separate access to the road.
An original one-acre walled garden, from which Anne Carroll remembers harvesting apples, pears and plums, now needs attention, but the majority of the lands are laid out in grass and are described as being of excellent quality.
Roscrea is a designated Irish Heritage Town, and is a beautiful example of a traditional market town, with a wide main street lined by shops and local businesses.
The author of the letter writes about her family's domestic servants, including her "faithful and pretty maid", who she hopes will marry another servant, Mick Guinan. She writes about the recently completed glasshouses and her cats, Pedro, Schellia and Polly.
"We don't know much about the people who lived in the house or when the letter was written," says Anne Carroll, "but I love the way the letter gives an insight into life back then. We'll pass it on to the new owners as it is part of the history of the house. I hope that a family buys it, takes care of it and is as happy there as we were.
"Lowlands is a house with a lovely soul; there is something very special about it that anyone who has ever stayed there has remarked upon." "I'd love to see it put back to the way that it was."
Size: 517 sqm
Joint agents: Ganly Walters (01) 662 3255 / Sherry FitzGerald Fogarty (0505) 21192
Viewing: By appointment
Last traded: Built in 1830, the property has had the same owners for the last 70 years
Highest recorded house price in the area (past 12 months), according to sellng agent: €585,000 (10 acres included)
Recent sales in the area
€300,000 for Beechgrove, Coolcroo, Twomileborris, Co Tipperary in May 2015
€260,000 for Crohane House, Killenaule, Co Tipperary in September 2015
€411,000 for 11 Glen Carrig, Two Mile Borris, Thurles, Co Tipperary in March 2016
€235,000 for 11 Cluain Cregg, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary in February 2016
Amenities: Roscrea is a traditional market town with plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and supermarkets, and several primary and secondary schools
Close to: Lowlands House is close to the M7, while Limerick city and Shannon Airport are under an hour's drive away. Dublin and Dublin Airport are 1.5 hours' drive away.
Data sourced from Property Price Register