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Sunday 19 November 2017

Built to impress - See the Georgian mansion on 78ac on the market for €1.75m

Kilfane House is located close to Thomastown in Kilkenny
Kilfane House is located close to Thomastown in Kilkenny
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Kilfane House on 78ac near Thomastown in Kilkenny is a classic Georgian country house built for grandeur and high living. It is now or sale with Sherry Fitzgerald and comes with a price tag of €1.75m

The original owners of the lands were the Cantwells, the Lords of Kilfane banished to Connacht by Cromwell. In their wake, the Bushe family received some of their lands in grant as recognition of Col John Bushe's services to Cromwell's army. Kilfane House was built by his son, who rejoiced in the name of Amyas Bushe and had the dubious honour of serving as High Sheriff of Kilkenny.

The Power family subsequently married into Kilfane and it remained a Power possession until 1971.

An American banker and financier, Hal Clarke of Atlanta, Georgia, bought the estate in 1971 and, along with his family, used it as a summer residence until quite recently.

The estate
The estate

The property is approached from the Gowran to Thomastown Road where a gate lodge guards the main entrance.

A long avenue leading to the house crosses a bridge over a stream that meanders around the property, creating some lovely features. The avenue divides at a fork, with one branch leading to the main house and the other to the yard and the caretaker's house.

The remains of an " Ice House" and an ancient castle are located in the fields to the front of the main house.

The Georgian residence is set on 78ac, much of which is good grazing ground that is elevated and dry, while some is lower in nature but well drained by the lively stream that runs through it.

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There is no doubt if the 78ac of good Kilkenny land was to be separated from the house, it would sell immediately - it has the best of farming ground.

Aside from the land, the pleasure grounds include mature trees, orchards, streams and lawns. On the day I visited, the place was alive with daffodils.

Along with the main house, the property includes a two-storey, three-bedroom caretaker's residence currently lived in and set in a lovely garden to the rear of the main residence. There is also the one-bedroom gate lodge at the entrance.

Kilfane House itself is a three-storey-over-basement five-bay Georgian mansion with two-storey wings at either side.

I counted five huge interconnected reception rooms around the ground floor, spaces akin to the state rooms in the Palace of Versailles in terms of proportion. There is exquisite plasterwork along the ceiling borders and, of course, wooden floors throughout.

The place was undoubtedly built to impress and it still does with its ground-to-ceiling sash windows and ornate fireplaces.

The ground floor comprises an entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, library, sitting room, kitchen, breakfast room, pantry and guest WC. An inner hallway behind the entrance hall is panelled in wood and hosts the wooden staircase - a fine piece of craftsmanship that leads to the first floor.

The accommodation on this first floor includes eight bedrooms, three of which are reached by the back stairs, with two ensuite bathrooms and a communal bathroom.

The basement has several storage rooms, the original kitchen, the wine cellar, boiler room and a maze of other nooks and corners.

The outbuildings are located to the front of the caretaker's house and behind the main house. They are comprised of two stone storage buildings and a stable block that still has the original doors, mangers and floors. Any new owner of Kilfane will have to take it on as a project. It needs a lot of attention and the works will require expert hands. The place was built by a generation and a class of people that had more money than sense, but it will take a combination of both to bring it back to its former glory and give it a stable future.

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