Tuesday 21 November 2017

19th Century Home in Connemara is wracked with clerical history for €1.5m

19th century house witnessed clash of the clergy

The Old Rectory sits on five acres of lush gardens
The Old Rectory sits on five acres of lush gardens
Doors lead from the kitchen to the garden terrace
The dining room
Care has been taken to preserve the rectory while restoring it
Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
The drawing room is dual-aspect with high ceilings
Clifden Harbour is across the road
The sunroom

Eithne Tynan

When Father Patrick McManus arrived in Clifden as Catholic parish priest in 1853, he fell out almost immediately with the incumbent Protestant clergyman.

The rector in question laboured under the name Hyacinth Darcy, and he was the son of John Darcy, the man who built Clifden out of virtually nothing and established the family seat at Clifden Castle.

Doors lead from the kitchen to the garden terrace
Doors lead from the kitchen to the garden terrace
The dining room
Care has been taken to preserve the rectory while restoring it
Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
The drawing room is dual-aspect with high ceilings
Clifden Harbour is across the road
The sunroom

The Darcy fortunes having declined, Hyacinth had set himself up in the rectory at Sky Road, where he ought to have been in a comfortable position to dole out noblesse oblige in the form of soup. The garrulous parish priest, though, wasn't swallowing any of it.

Writing to the Dublin Telegraph in 1860, Fr McManus decried the "falsehoods" of Hyacinth and his wife, Fanny, in their fundraising for famine relief, and he didn't hold back either.

McManus alleged that the couple had claimed there were 11,042 children in their schools - a number which "exceeded by thousands the entire population" of men, women and children in the whole locality.

"If the English people knew how the money they give so liberally was spent, they surely would cease to support a system so prolific of fraud, abuse and gross excess," wrote McManus.

Fanny was dead by then, and, in his letter, the parish priest even went so far as to joke that this was because she had sworn she wouldn't live in the town if a Convent of Mercy were built in it, so "true to her word, she took her final departure."

History has not recorded what Hyacinth made of this very public and unseemly spat. But whether he was wounded, angered or amused, he had a tranquil haven away from it all, looking out at the sea from his Sky Road home, and a bit of seclusion too, as the house can barely be seen from the road.

Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
Doors lead from the kitchen to the garden terrace
The dining room
Care has been taken to preserve the rectory while restoring it
The drawing room is dual-aspect with high ceilings
Clifden Harbour is across the road
The sunroom

The rectory was reportedly built in 1856 and remained in church hands until 1975, when the current owners bought it. By then they had a bit of a job to do restoring it, but they took the utmost care to preserve it.

It has sliding sash windows with shutters, ornate plasterwork, original doors and floors, and period fireplaces.

Some years later, in 2002, they also restored the old coach house and stables behind the property, so now, as well as the four-bedroom main house, there's a three-bedroom guest apartment in the courtyard.

There is plenty of room for entertaining in the main house, though, with several reception rooms all flowing into one another.

To the right of the entrance hall there's a drawing room - dual-aspect with high ceilings, huge sash windows and a fireplace. Double doors lead from there into the dining room behind it, where there's a wood floor and another fireplace.

Then the dining room opens into a sun room or garden room at the corner of the house, dual-aspect again, with arched windows overlooking the grounds.

From the sun room - as well as from the hall - you reach the kitchen, fitted out in a cheerful and modern style, and with doors to the terrace in the garden.

The kitchen also has a separate utility and boot room, keeping mess to a minimum.

Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
Further accommodation in the coach house includes two bedrooms
Doors lead from the kitchen to the garden terrace
The dining room
Care has been taken to preserve the rectory while restoring it
The drawing room is dual-aspect with high ceilings
Clifden Harbour is across the road
The sunroom

This means that, with all the doors open, your party can occupy all of the rooms, including the kitchen, and filter out into the garden too. And if you want solitude, there's a study on the opposite side of the entrance hall, on its own.

All four bedrooms are on the first floor. The master bedroom suite takes up almost the whole front of the house, with a dual-aspect bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom. Another of the bedrooms is also en suite, and there's a separate bathroom and toilet on this level as well.

The coach house, meanwhile, has a kitchen and living room on the ground floor, as well as a utility room and shower, and there are two bedrooms upstairs, both with bathrooms.

In a pinch, the upstairs landing is easily big enough to be used for a bedroom too, though obviously not with much privacy.

As well as the coach house, there are several other buildings around the cobblestone courtyard, including a games room, a wine room, a stone barn and various stores.

The Old Rectory is on five acres of lush gardens, with an orchard and vegetable garden, an apiary, terraces and pathways, 22 different species of specimen trees, paddocks and even a stream. And if the hyacinths have withered, they can easily be reinstated.

About 500 metres from the house you'll reach the centre of Clifden, Connemara's capital and a draw for illustrious visitors down the decades, from radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi and aviators Alcock and Brown to film director John Huston and actor Peter O'Toole.

Galway city is just under 80km away.

The Old Rectory is for sale for €1.5m with Ganly Walters, (01) 662 3255.

The Old Rectory

Clifden, Connemara, Galway

Asking price: €1.5m

Agent: Ganly Walters, (01) 662 3255

Indo Property

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