Thursday 22 February 2018

Birthplace of Victorian scientist has chemistry in Limerick for €625k

James Apjohn once roamed the grounds at Sunville

Sunville House has almost 6,000 sq ft of accommodation, as well as a guest cottage and numerous outbuildings.
Sunville House has almost 6,000 sq ft of accommodation, as well as a guest cottage and numerous outbuildings.
A stained glass window.
Sunville: courtyard arch with bell tower.
Prof Apjohn
The dining room.
The kitchen
One of the bedrooms.
One of the four main reception rooms.
The games room.
A second ensuite bedroom.
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Anyone who has ever studied the subjects of physics or chemistry should know about the Apjohn dew point formula for humidity in the atmosphere; or they might even recognize a lump of Apjohnite when they see it - a generally white rock containing aluminium, hydrogen, manganese oxide and sulphur. Both are named after the scientist Professor James Apjohn, born in Limerick in 1795.

In the mid to late 19th Century Professor Apjohn was one of the world's leading experts in studying the behaviour of gases and in minerology.

Educated at Trinity College Dublin, he later lectured there in the school of engineering, in applied chemistry and mineralogy. Later, in 1850, he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the college, a position he held for 25 years.

He published many scientific papers and reports of global interest based on his own experiments. His lectures were so popular that larger venues often had to be booked.

Apjohn's research interests were varied. As mentioned, he devised a formula for determining the dew point (the point at which dew forms), which today bears his name. He published a number of papers on the specific heat of gases.

Apjohn became interested in mineralogy and described many new minerals. The one which bears his name was sourced in Africa before Apjohn made a study of and determined that it was a new strain of mineral in its own right which had not yet been categorised. He catalogued the mineral collection held in TCD and published a textbook, Manual of the Metalloids, in 1864.

The eminent scientist was born at Sunville, a palatial spread at Pallasgreen in County Limerick, to the son of a wealthy land agent who collected taxes for absentee landlords.

According to the national archive of historic buildings, the current house, which has just been placed for sale at an asking price of €625,000, dates from 1820, a time when Apjohn was away as a student at Trinity.

The archive praises the house and the original outbuildings around it for retaining their character over the decades, after being upgraded by the owners in the 1990s to be run for many years as a country house B&B before reverting back to residential use again.

The Georgian-style residence has two storeys at the front, three at the back, is approached via a curving driveway and is set in seven acres of grounds, including a large formal walled garden. At almost 6,000 sq ft, not including the private wing (1,600 sq ft) and a cutesy guest cottage, this is a substantial abode. True to the archive's report, despite having a considerable investment ploughed into it in the nineties, it retains most of its original ornate features including elaborately corniced ceilings, period fireplaces, some lovely stained glass windows, original doors and window shutters.

Accommodation includes an entrance hall and four main reception rooms: among them the library, dining room, a sitting room and a living room. In addition there's a recently added garden room which opens right out onto a patio and a garden area which includes a fountain.

There's also the main kitchen, tiled in a country house style, with a rustic-looking range.

Testament to its time as a B&B, the property has six good sized bedrooms, all of which are en suite.

There's the additional wing which has a living room and kitchen, an additional four bedrooms, one with a dressing room and an en suite. There's also the gate lodge with a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms. This area houses the games room which currently includes a snooker/pool table and a piano among its attractions.

The outbuildings, many of which are arrayed around the original old courtyard with its arched entrance and bell tower, include a garage, a workshop, an old forge, two coach houses, a stable block and a studio.

Overall, the substantial amount of accommodation, in addition to the potential for converting outbuildings, means there is obvious potential for running a tourism related business here, especially given its proximity to Lough Derg and a number of golf resorts including the Adare Manor.

The gardens here are festooned with trees which were growing here back in the day when Professor Apjohn made regular visits home to roam about and study the stars, another hobby of his.

The grounds currently include an array of statuary and the circular fountain. The one acre walled garden would have been used back in Apjohn's day to create a microclimate to grow most of the big house's food for staff as well as residents.

The house is located 22km from Limerick City, 48km from Shannon Airport and 20km from the M50. The property has just been placed on the market for sale through the Dublin-based Ganly Walters agency.

Sunville House

Pallasgreen, Co Limerick

Asking price: €625,000

Agent: Ganly Walters (01) 6623255

Indo Property

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