Geothermal heating, jacuzzi bath, American fridge - This bespoke rectory style house has paddocks for a pony
Garnaman Kells, Co Kilkenny: €750,000
You know someone has spent a lifetime in finance when they call their dogs Fannie and Mae. "We got them the week Fannie Mae went bust," says retired bank manager Morgan Doyle, referring to the US mortgage lenders.
Morgan and his wife, Phyl, the owners of the five-bed detached property Garnaman, had spent many years living in bank houses around Ireland. "Some of them were draughty and dampish all right - that was our experience," says Morgan.
When they decided to build their own home in 2007, they were determined it would be a warm, draught-free new build. They commissioned architect Milo Condon of MRC Design in Kilkenny to design a Georgian rectory-style house.
"We built this with the intention of having nicely proportioned rooms, a lot of height and plenty of light," says Morgan. "But at the same time we put in geothermal heating and solar panels so we can heat the house. Our ESB bill is about €2,000 a year, which is for electricity and heating. For a good-sized house, it's economic." The property also has an enviable BER rating of B2.
"We didn't cut any corners," says Morgan, adding that it cost the asking price of €750,000 to build and fit out, without including site costs.
The layout follows that of a typical Georgian house with reception rooms to the front, and the working rooms to the rear of the ground floor off a back hall. But it is in turnkey condition.
Solid oak floors run throughout the hall and reception rooms, and the high ceilings, sash windows and plasterwork details typical of the period have been repeated here. To the left of the hallway is the living room with a recessed stove in the fireplace and French doors onto a limestone paved patio. There are double doors to the dining room and open-plan kitchen to the rear, while a southwest facing sunroom opens off to the left.
The country-style kitchen has fitted cream units and granite worktops by Sinnotts and is designed with entertaining in mind. There is a large Rangemaster cooker and American fridge, as well as an integrated Siemens dishwasher and Sinkerator for food waste.
"It's great for a party," says Phyl. "We've had parties with up to 30 people and you wouldn't notice them in the kitchen and living room." The machinery of the house is hidden away with a walk-in pantry and a separate utility room with fitted cupboards and sink.
There was a bit of debate about whether to have an Aga, but the builders assured the couple that with the geothermal heating, there would be no need. And they were right, says Phyl, though she does admit to lighting the stove in the living room in the evenings "out of habit".
The more formal drawing room leads off to the right of the hallway, has a fine marble fireplace and is double aspect. The ground floor also has a further room that could be used as a home office or study, but is currently in use as a fifth bedroom.
The first floor has four double bedrooms, two of which have en suites, while the other two share a Jack-and-Jill en suite. The master also has a dressing room fitted with wardrobes and a Jacuzzi bath in its en suite. The second en suite bedroom also has a balcony that gives views over the lush Kilkenny fields.
When it came to the grounds - the house sits in six acres - the couple were meticulous about the details too. In fact, they originally planted a curve of beech hedging in front of the house, but when their garden designer said it was too close and playing havoc with the proper proportions of the house, they had it replanted further away. They also planted an avenue of semi-mature beech trees leading to the house.
Behind the house are five raised beds already planted with Phyl's early potatoes, while there are two newly re-seeded paddocks, both stud rail fenced, which would be ideal for keeping a pony. There are enough outbuildings to stash away all the essentials and luxuries of country life.
Selling agent Ella Dunphy, current president of IPAV, expects Garnaman to appeal to equestrian types, as well as those in search of the good life. The house is made for family living, with enough land to grow veg, plant an orchard and keep hens and horses. There are, says Morgan, many locals who commute to Dublin - it's an easy hour and 10 minutes.
The nearest village, Kells, is a kilometre down the road, where Jen's cafe in the restored mill is a big draw. Kilkenny town is 15km away. For families there is a good range of schools, including a Steiner school, and Edmund Rice College in nearby Callan.
Morgan and Phyl are ready to downsize and keen to move closer to their beloved golf club in Kilkenny. Sadly, their golden retriever Mae won't be going with them - she died last year, but her sister Fannie is going strong. "She's getting great treatment," says Phyl. The pair are immortalised in a painting that hangs in the sitting room.
Agent: DNG Ella Dunphy (056) 778 6000
Viewing: By appointment