Mansion built on whiskey in Bandon on the market for €2m
Good deed reaped the blessing of a stately home for distillery owner
Published 24/06/2016 | 02:30
In 1820 during penal times in Bandon, Co Cork, a woman took a priest into her home and hid him away for three days from authority forces who were hunting him down. As a thanks for her kindness, and ultimately saving his life, the priest said he would pray that her children would make riches out of water.
This woman had a son called James C Allman who, in 1826, converted a mill in the town into a whiskey distillery, drawing water from the nearby Ardnagira River.
It seems that the priest's prayers were indeed answered, and Allman became one of Ireland's most successful whiskey distillers.
Ardnacarrig House, or Park View as it was originally called, was built around 1840 by Allman so that he could keep an eye on work in the distillery across the road from the observation tower at the house.
Then, around 1889, a suspension bridge was constructed across the River Bandon, from Ardnacarrig House to the distillery. The approaching steps leading from the main house to the bridge are still in place today.
Allman's suffered badly from the change in commercial and political climate in Ireland during the 1920s, and was also hit by American prohibition. So much so that it ceased distilling in 1925 and the business was wound up in 1929. The distillery offices still remain in Bandon but the warehouses are now the local cattle mart.
A rare bottle of Allman's Pot Still Whiskey recently sold at auction for the handsome price of €6,600.
Thankfully Ardnacarrig House didn't suffer the same fate as the distillery, as it still stands proudly on a site just outside the town after two extensive renovations, one in 1989 and the other in 2010.
The current owner, former hotelier Tom McCarthy, used a Welsh firm of architects for the most recent restoration. Works included installing gas heating and double-glazed sash windows, and repairs to the roof.
Redecoration involved the use of heritage colours in fabric and wallpaper to ensure the property still looks like the stately period home it was when first built.
Access to the house is from Watergate Street through wrought iron electric gates. As you enter, the first thing you notice is the gate lodge that was built around 1880. This one-bed property is in perfect order with its canted bay windows, wide oak plank floors and cast iron fireplaces.
As you carry on up the driveway, you come upon a bungalow which sits on its own site and has been adapted to act as a storage facility. It has five cold rooms, three store rooms, an open-plan kitchen and a shower room. It is in need of work but has lots of potential as it has its own road frontage access point.
You begin to get a glimpse of the main attraction at this point as you see the three-storey house come into view. The distinguishing external features are the observation tower with its arched windows, and an arched carriageway access point that leads into the rear coach yard.
A series of hallways - one with ornate floor tiling, another with walnut and oak flooring and wood panelled walls - take you through to the house where you are met with a range of reception rooms.
The lounge overlooks the front lawns and fountain and leads into the drawing room. This room also has garden views, and a solid oak and walnut floor.
The small den to the rear of the property is away from all of the action and would make an ideal home office or library.
The kitchen and dining room area is open-plan and not at all formal for such a grand house. The dining room has a stained glass skylight and access onto a terrace. There are steps up to the bright kitchen area, with its hand-painted units and tiled flooring.
The utility room behind the kitchen is plumbed and has plenty of storage space. It also has access to the boiler room and coach yard.
There are two guest bathrooms on this level, or powder rooms as they were once called, as well as a guest bedroom with shower room.
On the second floor the master bedroom overlooks the front gardens and has a window seat, built-in wardrobes and an en suite bathroom.
The second bedroom is also en suite, while the four remaining bedrooms are all doubles with working window shutters. There is a shower room and family bathroom on this level too.
The tower can be accessed from a flight of stairs with a viewing point to survey all below and beyond.
The ground floor can be entered via the front, rear or internally. Here you'll find another living area with an open-plan kitchen and sitting room. The kitchen has an Aga cooker and a range of fitted units. There is a solid fuel stove and bookshelves, and access to the rear gardens.
Ardnacarrig has a selection of outdoor spaces to enjoy, the most impressive being the large, tiled terrace off the kitchen with steps down to the lawn and pond. Gravel pathways lead you all around the vast grounds.
The River Bandon bounds the property and provides plenty of opportunity to cast your fishing line in this secluded part of the lower garden.
On the north-east elevation there is a large lawn that would be ideal for ball games or possibly a tennis court. The original stables and hay loft can be found in the coach yard, and if you're lucky, you might find a stash of whiskey hidden away in the store rooms.
Ardnacarrig House in Bandon is on the market through Savills in Cork with a guide price of €2m. Viewing is strictly by appointment only.
Bandon, Co Cork
Asking price: €2m
Agent: Savills, Cork, (021) 4271371