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Dromard coast is clear to land €1.8m treasure


The Old Coastguard Station at Domard, Co Sligo

The Old Coastguard Station at Domard, Co Sligo

The dining room at the Old Coastguard Station

The dining room at the Old Coastguard Station

The slipway at the Old Coastguard Station where there is 900 ft of private sea frontage

The slipway at the Old Coastguard Station where there is 900 ft of private sea frontage

A suit of armour in the hall.

A suit of armour in the hall.

The views from the Gothic style windows.

The views from the Gothic style windows.


The Old Coastguard Station at Domard, Co Sligo

THE coast guard in Ireland was set up for the purpose of "revenue protection" - better known to anyone who's ever read Enid Blyton as foiling smugglers.

The British admiralty took control of the coast guard in Ireland in 1845, and a whole phalanx of stations was installed along the Irish seaboard in the decades that followed.

The smuggling scene was hot in Sligo where the coastline had smugglers like the Blythonesquely named John Black, who worked his dark arts from the equally dastardly descriptive Dead Man's point.

One of these was at Derk More, near Dromard in Co Sligo. There, may be a clue in the name, as Deirc Mór means "great cavern" - in other words, just the sort of place that the Famous Five would think of searching search first.

Derk More coastguard station was commissioned in 1871 and was to cost £1,804 13 shillings and tuppence (state budgets were more precise in those days). Designed by Enoch Trevor Owen, assistant architect and chief draughtsman of the Board of Works, today it consists of a watchtower with a conical roof, and adjoining terrace of crew quarters, together with a boathouse and slipway.

The building was completed in 1873 but wasn't used for long, all told. On the night of the 1901 census, we find Andrew Strathdee, the Scottish chief boatman, in charge of the premises, along with his four boatmen living there.

They supplied only their initials and, oddly enough, all described their occupation as 'schoolboy'. The men's wives and 14 children, some as young as a year old, were living in the adjoining crew quarters.

Then, in 1906, the Secretary of the Admiralty announced that Derk More would be one of a dozen coastguard stations to close in Ireland the following year. At the 1911 census, Derk More was deserted.

The story goes that the building was attacked and burned by the IRA during the War of Independence in 1919. It was left as a ruin until the 1960s, when an Irish-American architect bought it from the government and partly restored it.

In the 1980s, it was sold to a German hotelier who refurbished it fully as a holiday home, and then sold it in 2005 to its current owners, who further modernised the house and outbuildings.

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The building that once provided work and living accommodation for 10 adults and 14 children is now a single-family home of around 4,470 sq ft, with a rambling if rather quirky layout.

Inside the gothic front door there's a hall with a dining room off it at the front of the house, and a bathroom. Turn right and you'll go through a study, with an inner office behind it. Then there's a back hallway, with two bedrooms off it, one of them ensuite. At the northeast end of the house on this floor there's a library.

Stairs from the lower hall lead up to a large drawing room at the southwest end, around 25 feet by 19. Off this room is a long hallway along the front of the old terrace, with Gothic windows overlooking the sea. The kitchen can be found is off this hallway, as are three more bedrooms, all ensuite.

Other rooms include a pantry, a boot room and a 'shell room' - presumably named after munitions rather than marine creatures. Meanwhile, the watchtower has been converted into a utility room on the lower floor and an 'observatory' above

Out the back is a courtyard where you can find the original stone well, various modernised coastguard outbuildings, a couple of recently-built garages and a greenhouse.

It's on seven acres of ground, with 900 feet of frontage to the shoreline. The driveway is split, going one way past the split-level front lawn towards the house, and the other toward the stone boathouse, which has a slipway and two moorings.

Ganly Walters, which is seeking €1.8m, says "it would make an ideal home for both busy and creative people".

Practically speaking, this means it's isolated enough for creative people and expensive enough for busy people. So ideally, you should be both.

The property is no doubt less remote than it was when 14 children were being raised in it more than 100 years ago.

The imposing building is located at the end of a cul de sac, with few neighbours, and has unblemished views of Sligo Bay and Knocknarea. On a clear day, you can probably make out Queen Maeve's cairn on Knocknarea's summit.

It's five kilometres from the nearest village, which is Drumard, and about 25 kilometres from Sligo town.

The nearest airport, meanwhile, is Ireland West (Knock), which is a little over an hour away. From there, you can get to Britain and Europe. For the most part, it means flying Ryanair. However, should your busy creativity happen to have earned you the price of a small private plane, you can park it at Knock airport for €10 a day - that's not bad considering it costs €9 a day to park a car there.

The Old Coastguard Station

Dromard, Co Sligo

Asking price: €1.8m

Agent: Ganly Walters (01) 6623255

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