Tuesday 16 July 2019

Fisherman's dream on the River Lee

Carrigrohane Lodge, Carrigrohane, Cork €1.8m

Carrigrohane — a former hunting lodge that is now a fisherman’s paradise — overlooks the River Lee
Carrigrohane — a former hunting lodge that is now a fisherman’s paradise — overlooks the River Lee

Words by Katy McGuinness

'I remember the first day that my parents brought us to see the house," says the daughter of the family which is now selling Carrigrohane Lodge. "It was a Saturday in October 1973 and the horse chestnut trees were laden with conkers. My brother and I explored the paths that meander through the gardens and down to the river. There was something enchanted about it back then, and there still is. The location is magical, with views from the house down the valley. My parents put an offer in straight away and it was accepted."

The price agreed back then, when Ballincollig was a village rather than the town it is now, was IR£36,000 - a figure to make the house-hunters of today weep - and one which registers as even more of a bargain given that the previous owners, the Foleys, had already done most of the heavy lifting in terms of renovation.

The Foleys had in turn purchased the house some years earlier from the Pine sisters, a familiar pair in the area who drove around Cork in a pony and trap until well into the 1950s.

Prior to the current owners' purchase of Carrigrohane Lodge, the Foleys had sold off an amount of the land on which the house stood to a developer; the Bridgewater housing estate was constructed in the early 1990s but until then there was no house within 400 yards.

Carrigrohane Lodge
Carrigrohane Lodge

Carrigrohane Lodge was originally built around 1790 as a hunting lodge annex to Carrigrohane Castle, the childhood home of disgraced financier Breifne O'Brien, which sold last year for €1.5m, according to the Property Price Register.

There is some evidence that an earlier house may have stood on the site of the Lodge since the 1500s.

"There's a wall down in the basement that we think must have been built around a big rock that was in the way of construction," says the vendor, "and there are still bars down there from when the gamekeeper would have apprehended poachers and kept them down there overnight before sending them on their way in the morning. We used to amuse ourselves playing dungeons down there."

The Georgian house, which stands behind cast-iron automatic gates between stone pillars, has been well-maintained over the years, and re-wired as recently as 2015. The front elevation has five bays, with an elegant portico facing south and plenty of room for parking.

The living space is laid out over two floors and the basement, with the principal reception rooms on the ground floor and the four bedrooms, one of which is en suite, on the first floor.

The basement now houses a laundry room and play room, and new owners may wish to upgrade this level to make greater use of the space.

Carrigrohane Lodge overlooks the River Lee
Carrigrohane Lodge overlooks the River Lee

In total, the house has 185sqm of living space, and stands on 2.3 acres of garden, bounded by high walls and hedging. The garden to the front of the house faces south and is laid in lawn (it was formerly a tennis court). The current owners once pitched a marquee for a family wedding here, but more often used it as a croquet court that saw some competitive family tournaments.

There is a large yard with outbuildings to the western side of the house which may have potential for an extension to take advantage of the magnificent views over the River Lee and surrounding countryside, subject to planning permission.

"I loved the huge garden, and fishing and swimming in the river," says the daughter of the house. "I saved up for my first fishing rod with Green Shield stamps, but my brother was more dedicated to fishing than me - every evening in the summer he'd be out there with his rod until dark. You'd catch perch and eels and the odd salmon. The eels were a pain because they'd swallow the hook and you had to cut them open to get it back."

The family have diligently maintained the fishing rights along the river frontage, and these will form part of the sale.

"You'd want to know where you were swimming," says the vendor, "because there's a bit of a current and you could be swept down the river and on to a little beach on the opposite bank. I remember my mother having to race down there and rescue one of my friends. A little way upstream is a whirlpool that's known as 'Hell Hole', and on days when the river was quiet and calm I remember diving in to try and find the bottom, but I never did."

Despite the secluded feel of Carrigrohane Lodge, it's less than a 15-minute drive into Cork city and the Link Road is just a couple of minutes away. Ballincollig has schools, shops, bars and restaurants and all the amenities of the busy town that it has become since the current owners of Carrigrohane Lodge moved in all those years ago.

Carrigrohane Lodge's impressive entrance hall
Carrigrohane Lodge's impressive entrance hall
  • Agent: Joseph Woodward & Sons (021) 427 3327

Carrigrohane Lodge's inviting living room
Carrigrohane Lodge's inviting living room

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