Stunning Meath mansion could be yours for €1.25m
Ratoath mansion has gardens once opened to the public
Some homes, like Glebelands in Ratoath, Co Meath, have seen a phenomenal degree of change throughout their existence.
And sometimes, in periods of rapid social change, the families who live in them witness flux over a much shorter period. Sometimes the residents themselves are at the heart of the change.
The explosive development of Dublin's commuter belt became apparent to the Heslin family over one just generation in residency at Glebelands in Ratoath. When Leo and Carmel Heslin moved here from Dublin in 1989 to start a new life in the country, Ratoath was a rural village with a population of 600.
Today, as their son Peter places the house (accessed off the main street) on the market for €1.25m, the town's population has surged to more than 10,000.
The architect Arthur Lardner, who sold the house to the Heslins, had already transformed the grounds of Glebelands after a bad hunting accident saw him break his leg - removing him from his beloved equestrian pursuits.
Lardner instead turned his architect's eye to landscaping and gardening and began to transform the plain fields surrounding Glebelands into formal gardens of note. By the time he sold the property to the Heslins, serious plants folk were coming from all round to see them.
Arthur held on to a plot to build a new house next door and he became the Heslins' neighbour. He began developing a new garden on his side of the fence - this time in the Japanese style.
Sadly Leo Heslin passed away just three years after purchasing his country home. Following his death, his widow Carmel threw herself into Lardner's old gardens.
Neighbours Arthur and Carmel soon found common ground and decided to combine their gardens to create a new venture. They opened what would become known as the Glebelands and Glebewood Gardens. For 10 years until the two great gardeners passed away, their combined amalgamation of formal and Japanese gardens brought three coachloads of paying visitors a day in high season.
As rectories go, Glebelands is on the grander end of the scale with three storeys and a decent double five-bay frontage.
Back when it was completed in 1813, the Georgian country home had been designed as a handsome and spacious rectory for the Church of Ireland minister of the village and was then likely part of the Corballis estate.
In that year, the newspapers told of Napoleon rampaging in Europe and Jane Austen publishing Pride And Prejudice amidst rave reviews. Here in Ireland, Isaac Butt, the father of the Home Rule movement, was born whilst the practice of Catholic faith was still outlawed and it would be another 10 years before Daniel O'Connell would launch the Emancipation movement.
The house is accessed via a flight of stone steps to a flat-roofed central porch hall.
Next you pass into the main entrance hall with a sweeping staircase rising to the upper floor, with the drawing room on one side and the formal dining room on the other. Also on this floor is the study and one of the home's five bedrooms. Downstairs on the ground level is the main kitchen, the living room and the a dining room, a conservatory and a bedroom. There's also an ensuite which was once likely the rector's private household chapel.
The second floor has the master bed chamber with a dressing room off it as well as an ensuite. The main bathroom is also on this floor and it will require some modernising.
The house spans 4,250 sq ft and the 2.3ac of gardens are still maintained. This is the heart of hunt country and the old stable blocks are still here.
Glebelands was also once a national equestrian association HQ attached to nearby Fairyhouse, which is, of course, home to the Irish Grand National.
Ratoath, Co Meath
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 2376308 and Sherry FitzGerald Geraghty (01) 8350577