Thursday 14 December 2017

Amazing Victorian house once home to award-winning writer on the market in Kilkenny for €800k

Writer's beloved Victorian manse comes to market for €800k, writes Alison Gill

The large tiled hall has been well-maintained
The large tiled hall has been well-maintained
The staircase leading to the first floor
Viewmount House is set on seven acres of land
One of the four reception rooms with marble fireplace
The main front of the house was built sometime around 1850

Alison Gill

The writer Kildare Dobbs was best known for his short stories, narrative non-fiction, travel books, poetry and journalism. His first book Running To Paradise won a Governor General's Award in Canada in 1962, his adopted home until he was returned to Ireland for burial in Castlecomer in 2013.

Dobbs was born in India but spent most of his childhood at Viewmount House in Kilkenny. In his 2005 autobiography Running The Rapids: A Writer's Life, he regales us with stories of his lamp-lit, big house youth after his family moved back to Ireland from India and bought the Victorian mansion in 1925.

"At last, we settled in Viewmount, near Gowran in Co Kilkenny. It was not far from Castlecomer, where father had grown up, and almost 11 miles from Kilkenny, where Grandpa had been bishop from 1911 to 1915. Once settled in, neat and welcoming with new paint, rich Indian carpets and family furniture taken out of storage, we were at home again. Life resumed its rhythm - regular meals, walks, church-goings and domestic music. The rooms were lit by lamps and candles, heated by log fires in marble chimney pieces."

Life in Ireland took some adjusting to for Dobbs and his siblings, but his great love for his new Irish home is evident throughout the book.

The main front of the house was built sometime around 1850
The main front of the house was built sometime around 1850

"Viewmount was well named, sited in clear view of Mount Leinster. The changing light on the mountain - now purple, now blue, now brownish - was never the same from moment to moment. The mountain was framed on one side by the walled gardens with herbaceous borders in front, and on the left by tall trees, including a majestic Sequoia gigantean."

He tells many tales of his strict upbringing and his home-schooling by his governess Miss Caldwell. Her constantly harsh manner caused Dobbs and his brother to rebel against the regime on one occasion. "One evil day, when our parents were away in Dublin, something snapped and we rose in revolt. After all, our country existed because of a rebellion. When Miss Caldwell tried to collar us, I whacked her on her corseted behind with a cricket stump, a disgraceful deed, though she was well-armoured."

The Dobbs family sold the house in the mid-1950s to Vincent and Ann O'Callaghan, where they remained until the late 1970s. Viewmount was then taken over by Ann's nephew Jim Hanlon and his wife Finousa. The Hanlons have kept the main house just as it was when little Dobbs used to gaze at Mount Leinster - with all original features still intact like the sash windows, flagstone tiled floors, open fireplaces and ornate cornicing and ceiling roses. Although it will be hard for them to part with such a property, they are looking forward to downsizing and no longer worrying about the upkeep of such an enormous home. The back part of the house is believed to date back to 1750 and it's thought Viewmount was a dower house for one of the daughters of Francis Flood of Farmley, who took over the land around 1725. The main front of the house was built on sometime around 1850.

The floor area of the house is 3,000 sq ft and it comes with seven acres of land. The large tiled hall, with its fireplace and wooden staircase, has been beautifully maintained. There are four reception rooms off this, each with marble fireplaces and large windows. The kitchen, pantry, utility and boiler room complete the accommodation on the ground floor.

There is a separate wing to the side of the house, which could be converted into a self-contained annex as it is already laid out with a kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. This would be ideal for an elderly relative or could be done up as a luxury holiday let for extra income. Upstairs, there are eight large bedrooms, a shower room, bathroom and WC. New owners may want to add a few ensuite bathrooms and dressing rooms. Not surprisingly for a house of this age, it comes with a BER G, which will need to be addressed.

Outside, the inner courtyard has a number of outbuildings that are in need of restoration and water comes from a private well.

The staircase leading to the first floor
The staircase leading to the first floor

Viewmount House is on the market through joint agents Colliers International (01) 6333700 and REA Boyd's in Kilkenny (056) 7764833.

Viewmount House

Paulstown, Co Kilkenny

Asking price: €800,000

Agent: Joint Agents Colliers International (01) 6333700 & REA Boyd's (056) 7764833

Indo Property

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