Monday 27 February 2017

Peek inside this €890k castle of dreams along the Wild Atlantic Way

Kells, Newmarket on Fergus, Shannon, Co Clare: €890,000

Katy McGuinness

Kells is a modern castle with eco-frills including solar panels, underfloor heating and rooftop garden
Kells is a modern castle with eco-frills including solar panels, underfloor heating and rooftop garden

'From the first time we saw the site we knew immediately that this was home. We were not disappointed." Owner Pauline O'Brien is speaking about Kells, the house that she and her late husband Ron built almost 15 years ago.

"We started the build in 1999," says Pauline, "and moved in on Good Friday, 2002. Some years later we decided to operate a B&B. We met the most wonderful people along the way who enriched our lives in so many ways - and had we enough rooms we could quite easily have trebled our occupancy. Our location was the key. As well as being 10 minutes' drive from Shannon Airport and Bunratty, we are within 20 minutes of Shannon, Ennis and Limerick. The gateway to the West is on our doorstep."

The living room
The living room

Kells originally came to market with an asking price of €1.25m but this has been recently revised to €890,000, representing good value for money. With five en suite bedrooms, the prospect of reviving the B&B business run so successfully by the O'Briens is open to prospective purchasers. Or they could simply sit back, relax and enjoy what is a very comfortable family home.

"The house brought us so much happiness," says Pauline. "It's such a warm house and has a lovely friendly atmosphere with lots of natural light and sunshine streaming through the many windows. The house is on five acres which affords us great privacy. It is so peaceful and tranquil and sitting out on the patio with a cup of tea looking out onto the Shannon Estuary is just heaven. Sadly, my husband Ron passed away in 2013 and this is the reason for selling our wonderful home."

Kells is a fine, modern residence with two striking towers, built, say the agents, to the highest of standards, with limestone and solid oak used generously throughout. The house is set behind electronic gates and approached via a driveway that is a quarter of a mile long.

The site that had such instant appeal for the O'Briens is mature and elevated, planted with beech trees, and overlooking the River Fergus and the Shannon Estuary, with lawns that have been meticulously maintained.

Vaulted ceilings in the great hall
Vaulted ceilings in the great hall

Kells has 450sqm of living space plus a further 33sqm in the garage that is linked to the house via a covered walkway. The adjoining plant room houses the electricity generator.

The external design of the house, with its two towers, may be reminiscent of an ancient castle but inside there has been no stinting on modern conveniences so the house is warm and comfortable and has an impressive B3 BER rating thanks to underfloor heating fed by a geo-thermal system and solar panels. Kells also has its own water supply.

The internal layout is split-level on both the ground and upper floors. The main reception rooms are all spacious and feature high ceilings with timber beams. The great hall is an open-plan living, dining and sitting room with direct access to the patio and lawns - it's easy to imagine the space being enjoyed by guests and family alike, especially when you factor in the handy full bar that's just adjacent. Also on the ground floor is the kitchen, utility room, family room and guest WC.

There's an office and roof garden at mezzanine level and upstairs there are five en suite bedrooms, two of which also have dressing rooms.

A bedroom in one of the towers
A bedroom in one of the towers

The location is excellent for golfers, with several fine courses within easy reach. Many of the O'Briens' guests would have used Kells as a base from which to foray out to different courses each day. These include Doonbeg, Lahinch, Kilkee, Dromoland Castle, Shannon and Ennis. Likewise, those with an interest in water sports and angling are well catered for, with plenty of good fishing in the area. Lough Derg, the second largest lake in Ireland, is close by.

The coast of Co Clare is on the Wild Atlantic Way, which has brought a significant increase in the number of visitors to the area and is home to major tourist attractions including the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. The Burren is popular with walkers and cyclists and the region has carved out a niche as one of the forerunners of a new type of eco-tourism with its Geopark initiative.

It has also developed a reputation for excellent food, with the restaurant at Gregan's Castle near Ballyvaughan serving a menu that makes the most of the abundance of fine local and artisan produce.

The Burren Smokehouse and the Wild Honey Inn are two other restaurants that are popular with visitors, and the tiny chocolate factory on Hazel Mountain is a destination in its own right.

The luxury kitchen
The luxury kitchen
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 237 6402; Sherry FitzGerald O'Donovan ((061) 361 905

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