IN the mid-19th Century, the Earl of Dunraven in Limerick, a bon viveur and big spender of vast appetites, got it into his head that his "big house" - the fairly decent but dull Georgian style Adare Manor - just wasn't quite up to tick any more.
All over the country his fellow aristos were embarking on big house overhauls and revamps. Going Neo-Gothic was a big trend and Dunraven decided he'd go larger than anyone else (except perhaps the Hume Dicks at Humewood Castle who completely bankrupted themselves).
Investing what must have been a gargantuan fortune at the time, the Earl of Dunraven hired the architects to produce what is not only one of Ireland's most fantastical Gothic "big houses" but also once of our most internationally renowned luxury country house hotels.
With its vast demesne and the modern Robert Trent Jones Senior-designed golf course, Adare Manor also has a die-hard following of well-to-do weekend breakers from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway cities.
Earlier this year the hotel was reported sold - for between €25m to €30m - to bloodstock businessman JP McManus, ensuring that its future is likely to be rosy.
But in the Tiger years, the then-owners of Adare, along with many comparable big house hotels like Carton, decided to raise some capital by permitting a limited amount of development within the Demesne.
And so Limerick's ultra-plush "Adare Estate" was developed providing a variety of extravagant modern homes for buyers who wanted to avail of the hotel's amenities and grounds, but live in their very own contemporary homes.
It's rare that these properties come to market, so the arrival of 6 The Demesne, a contemporary glazed property of almost 5,000 sq ft (that's almost five times the average semi) to market earlier this year offers an opportunity for those who fancy a permanent residency at the "Manor", but at a price - in this case, €1.85m.
If this sounds severe, consider that in 2008, one of these homes was offered for sale at €12m and someone apparently put €10m on the table. The deal, however, didn't go through.
Number 6 comes with a half-acre of Verney Naylor-designed garden attached and the whole package is designer, designer, designer.
The house itself, with a heavily glazed exterior and a remarkable hall atrium with a glass stairs and overhead viewing walkway, was designed by the Dublin firm of Wejchert - renowned for many of Ireland's best-known public buildings including some of the UCD campus.
In the true tradition of Adare Manor's builders, the owners went large with super-high internal spaces many of which stretch up the full height of the house.
Aside from the atrium there's the living room, four bedrooms, bathrooms and the huge open plan kitchen/living room/dining room again with double-height spaces.
But perhaps the biggest talking point is the bespoke kitchen by the renowned anti-conformist kitchen king, the San Francisco-based Johnny Grey.
Born in London and raised on a farm in the Sussex Downs in England, his career began when his aunt, the cookery writer Elizabeth David asked her 17-year-old nephew to "do something with" her kitchen.
In the 1980s, he pioneered the revolution of the "Unfitted Kitchen" - a big kick against the mainstream fitted cabinets. Grey believed that kitchens should reflect usage not the needs of the manufacturer.
His highly irregular creations are today considered "art" and bought for 50k-plus by the great and good throughout the world. This one was handmade in Melbourne and shipped here from the other side of the world. He's so proud of the Adare kitchen that today it's showcased on his website. Top drawer stuff.
6 The Demesne, Adare Manor is for sale for €1.85m with Sherry FitzGerald Limerick (061) 418000.
On an elevated site in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, with views out over the city, and across Dublin Bay to Howth and beyond, Farnham Hill is a striking contemporary house that will appeal to purchasers in search of a large family home within easy reach of the city centre and the airport. Located behind electric gates, the house is approached by a gravel driveway with immaculately landscaped gardens, featuring Wimbledon-standard striped lawns on either side.
Woodhill House, at Lovers' Walk in Cork, was not only one of the city's most important and beautiful houses, it was also one of its most storied, with a history full of melodrama, romance and scandal. It was built in the 1700s by Cooper Penrose, a merchant prince of Cork and a Quaker, though not a very conscientious one.