Tipperary haven right on the River Shannon has its own private harbour and a hot tub
Water haven of the man who invented duty free
'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." So says the water rat to the mole as they row off from the shore down river in the early chapters of Kenneth Grahame's eternal classic The Wind In The Willows.
So too thought Brendan O'Regan. The man who brought the world the concept of duty free shopping and developed airport-based ground business actually much preferred to potter about on water.
In 1961, the Clare-born entrepreneur was the key driver in establishing the Shannon Free Zone. He was chairman of An Bord Failte from 1957 to 1973 and kicked off Bunratty Castle as a tourist attraction. After visiting the United States under the Marshall Aid Plan, he drafted a report for the development of Shannon evolving around tourism, air freight and industry.
But best of all, in 1947, as a catering boss at Shannon Airport, he launched the world's first duty-free shop - a concept that has since been adopted worldwide.
When he wasn't working, O'Regan messed about in boats. In the 1970s, he built himself a luxurious hideaway on the River Shannon with more than 400ft of river frontage with its own private harbour. Molua, which is located in Birdhill, Co Tipperary is one kilometre outside the cruising centre of Killaloe and Ballina.
Boating has since become a big business on the River Shannon since Brendan built his waterfront home base. A well organised river and canal cruise sector offers easily accessible bouts of waterbound freedom to domestic and foreign tourists alike. This waterway has developed over the years to the extent that you can cruise by river or by canal from Limerick right up to Lough Erne in Fermanagh.
The Shannon/Erne cruise scene has also developed a stalwart tranche of regulars who have acquired their own boats, and this has led to a thriving social scene.
So if you are a dedicated cruise boater or plan to be, the natural instinct is to acquire a home with good access to the water. Molua is your spot - on the lower Lough Derg segment of the Shannon. The harbour today offers room for three or four small to mid-sized cruisers.
The property has views across the lake/river and down to Parteen Weir and across the river to the Co Clare countryside. The accommodation needs to be updated somewhat inside, but it is laid out to take full advantage of the views. The main reception rooms have large picture windows and access to the sheltered terrace, which runs the length of the house. The terrace is a suntrap perch from which to enjoy the changing canvas of the river/lower lake. At one end of the house is the spa room, which has a large Jacuzzi with underfloor heating and this also enjoys water views. Double doors lead out to the garden.
A one-bedroom annex offers some flexible space with direct access to the main house, but also could be used as its own self-contained accommodation. It has a small kitchenette, bathroom and off the bedroom is the sun porch.
The main entrance hall, with parquet floor, leads to the drawing room which has a large full-length window looking over the water, a reclaimed oak parquet floor, stone fireplace and double mahogany doors leading to the dining room. Along with great views, this has double doors leading outside to the barbeque area and another set leading into the kitchen. A TV room and study complete the tally of receptions.
The kitchen/breakfast room has a tiled floor with Miele appliances and a large Velux window. There are four bedrooms, including the annex bed chamber, and bedroom three is also ensuite. The master has a panelled ceiling, its own ensuite and is plumbed for a sauna. A door leads from here to the aforementioned spa room.
There's a back hall with a door leading to the garage, storage cupboard and a laundry room. The family bathroom comes with a fitted storage cupboard. The garage has an electric door with a work area alongside the car space.
The property extends to approximately 1.9 acres of mainly lawn and mature woodland, interspersed with shrubberies and flowerbeds. There is also a much-loved tree house.
For those who like angling, the Lower Lough Derg section offers some of the Shannon's very best fly fishing for trout and there is salmon too. For coarse fishermen and women, there's also the prospect of big pike along here.
For those who want to explore the social scene, Ballina and Killaloe are both lively towns noted for their pubs, eateries and hospitality - a perfect package for when you're off duty and want to be free.
Birdhill, Co Tipperary
Asking price: €795,000
Agent: Savills (01) 6634350