Galway home with many of its original 19th century period features on the market for €495k
Beer was big business one time in Tuam, Co Galway. Charles Blake had a brewery at the end of Shop Street which, in 1837, was producing four or five thousand barrels of malt liquor a year, plus about 600 quarters of malt. That was more than enough to keep everyone in town feeling no pain, with plenty left over for export.
The numbers were reported in Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in that year, and it may be reasonable to assume that Lewis's correspondent partook of some of the refreshment himself. He found plenty to praise in Tuam's "sources of recreation", which included a reading room over the market house, a public billiard room and annual horse races.
There was a newspaper too, The Tuam Herald, which began to be published in the same year, and a mile-long public promenade around the archbishop's "tastefully laid out" demesne. The newspaper survives to this day, and the walk around the palace grounds is still helping to keep the populace out of the pool halls.
The brewery is long gone, however, having by all accounts succumbed in 1890 to competition from a crowd producing plain porter at St James's Gate.
Charles Blake made the most of his heyday though. He was Tuam's "foremost industrialist", writes the inimitable local historian Tony Claffey in the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series. He was Sovereign of the town in 1820, and "his brewery with its associated milling and malting establishments were the main industries in early 19th-century Tuam".
Some time around 1830 he built Bridge House, a handsome three-storey residence next door to his business concerns. From there he would have been able to supervise everyone's comings and goings, as it's on one of the four main commercial thoroughfares that radiate from the town square, 100 metres up the street.
In the post-brewery era, Bridge House has been a doctor's surgery, doctors being renowned for somehow always snapping up the most ivied and venerable houses in any town. It last sold in 2011, according to the Property Price Register, fetching €280,000.
Since then, though, it's had a complete makeover. And although the windows have been replaced with PVC, many of the other period features are intact, including high ceilings with coving and some magnificent fireplaces.
It's just under 5,000 sq ft on three floors, and the two main reception rooms are on the first floor, that being the best vantage point from which to observe one's fellow townspeople making their way to and from their sources of recreation.
They consist of a living room and a dining room, both about 21ft by 16ft, and both are decorated and furnished in faithful early 19th-century style, with flock wallpaper and showpiece marble fireplaces.
The rest of the living rooms are on the ground floor, the main one being a lounge, also about 21ft by 16ft with another marble fireplace.
The kitchen on this level has been extended into a sunroom or breakfast room, and has a red-brick fireplace with a wood-burning stove in it. There's a separate utility room too, as well as a shower room and an office on this floor.
As well as the two main reception rooms, the first floor also has two of the five bedrooms. The other three are on the second floor, including the master bedroom which has a cast-iron fireplace and a walk-in wardrobe.
It's on Galway County Council's Record of Protected Structures so there's no Building Energy Rating, but oil-fired zoned central heating and the aforementioned PVC double glazing should help to keep energy costs down.
Sadly, many of the gorgeous old buildings and amenities in this locality have been razed to make way for a giant car park, but there is still plenty of antiquity to be enjoyed in the grounds of Bridge House.
Out the front is a lawned town garden behind a low limestone wall and cast-iron railings. A former carriage arch to one side of the house leads into the back garden, which is lawned with some specimen trees and flowerbeds and has a water feature.
The grounds also include a lofted stone outbuilding measuring about 19ft by 15ft, which might be converted to another use - an artist's studio perhaps, or a hobby house for home brewing.
Bridge House is across the street from a still extant water mill and next to the ornamental limestone bridge over the River Nanny.
Shop Street is the centre of town, so there's no shortage of shops, cafes and, of course, pubs, for when your fancy turns to small beer.
The town has four primary schools and four secondary schools, including the 19th-century St Jarlath's College. Galway city is about 35 kilometres away.
Bridge House is for sale for €495,000 with the main selling agent, DNG Maxwell Heaslip and Leonard in Galway (091) 565 261. DNG John Joyce in Tuam (093) 25078 will arrange viewings.
Tuam, Co Galway
Asking price: €495,000
Agent: Main selling agent, DNG Maxwell Heaslip and Leonard in Galway (091) 565 261, DNG John Joyce in Tuam (093) 25078 will arrange viewings