Tuesday 19 March 2019

Homage to a Georgian manor

The Lodge in Westmeath is a Celtic Tiger-era tribute to a much larger historic home, writes Eithne Tynan

The unusual large reception hall
The unusual large reception hall
View of the balcony and piano in the reception hall
The garden at The Lodge

Though they might appear sleepy to the unschooled eye, the twin medieval villages of Killucan and Rathwire in Westmeath have been thriving transport hubs of one kind or another for more than 200 years - on and off, that is.

First, the villages found themselves favoured by the Royal Canal, which arrived in 1805 and brought previously unheard-of commerce and culture with it. Then later, the canal's fortunes sank a little, but only because of the arrival of the Midland Great Western Railway in 1848.

The 1960s put paid to all that activity and prosperity for a time. The canal was finally closed in 1961, and the local railway station closed only two years later in 1963.

Now, though, the villages are back in the thick of things. Thanks to its proximity to the M4 motorway, the area has become popular with commuters in recent decades.

By way of proof, the population of Killucan and Rathwire almost quadrupled in only 15 years. But when you look at the numbers, that's not as alarming as it sounds. There were 357 people there in the 1996 census and by 2011, there were 1,226.

It's still a pretty peaceful hamlet, in other words, where you can enjoy the advantages of a rustic way of life and still be only about an hour's drive from Dublin city centre. Less than three kilometres from the village of Killucan is The Lodge at Wardenstown - a rambling, detached house on a nice bit of land, with a very promising garden.

Architecturally speaking, The Lodge is a homage to nearby Wardenstown House, a Georgian manor that was once home to the Vandeleur family.

The Lodge was built during the height of the Celtic Tiger era in 2006 in the neo-Georgian style, with reproduction features including cornicing and ceiling roses, a panelled front door with a fanlight, and six-paned windows.

You reach the house through electric gates leading to a driveway that curves around towards the front of the property. The building itself has creeper-clad exterior walls, with clematis, roses and wisteria giving it a cottagey look and disguising its size.

In fact it's 4,421 sq ft, with five bedrooms and four reception rooms, one of which ­- a reception hall - is a very unusual and vast at 22ft 6ins by almost 20ft, intended for use as a dining room. It's a double-height room with a fireplace, and galleried landings overhead reached via a double wooden staircase.

From there you can reach other reception rooms, including an interconnected drawing room and sitting room, both with marble fireplaces and floor-length picture windows.

Two doors from the dining hall open to a tile-floored conservatory, which is currently configured as the dining room, with several skylights and doors out to a paved terrace bordered by shrubs and flowers.

The kitchen/breakfast room, which has an oil-fired range, measures almost 20ft by 14ft and opens into a sort of courtyard outside. Off the kitchen can be found both a utility room and a scullery, as well as a large hot press and a downstairs toilet and cloakroom.

The other side of the courtyard consists of a wing of out-offices including a good-sized double garage (accessed from the scullery), a potting shed, outside toilet, a dog house, and a couple of store rooms.

There are two bedrooms on the ground floor, one with an ensuite. The other three bedrooms are upstairs, including the master bedroom, which has an ensuite bathroom and a dressing room. The other two bedrooms on the first floor are not ensuite but are situated conveniently enough either side of a family bathroom.

There's oil-fired underfloor heating and an air circulation system, giving the house a B3 building energy rating. It has mains water and a septic tank.

The Lodge is on eight acres, including a pond and a vegetable garden bounded by box hedging and crab apple trees. The gardens include azalea and roses, ornamental trees with spring bulbs peeping beneath them, and smooth lawns. A stream runs through the border of the grounds and there are two bridges leading to a wooded area.

It's still early days for this garden, as the place was built less than 10 years ago, but the owner didn't hold back in either ideas or labour. In years to come it promises to be a beautiful sanctuary surrounding the house. If the vegetable garden doesn't supply enough provisions, you'll find convenience shops in nearby Killucan, as well as a post office, doctor's surgery, schools (three primary and one secondary) and a handsome market house, built in the mid-19th century and featured in the 1990 film Fools of Fortune.

And while barges laden with corn and passengers no longer ply the canal, the waterway is back in use as a local amenity, supporting fishing and boating.

As for the railway, the line is still open, linking Dublin and Sligo. You can join it by heading west to Mullingar or east to Enfield, a 25-minute drive in either direction.

The Lodge at Wardenstown, Killucan, is for sale for €650,000 with Ganly Walters in Dublin (01) 662 3255.

The Lodge,  Wardenstown, Killucan, Westmeath

Asking price: €650,000

Agent: Ganly Walters (01) 662 3255

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