'There are very few houses like this in the area," explains one of the vendors of Prospect House, located in Donegal yet only 6km across the border from Derry City. "Most of the Georgian houses around here are former rectories with big rooms and high ceilings, whereas this is a lovely comfy size for a family and is more in the English country cottage style."
Not that Prospect House, which lies behind electric gates at the end of a long avenue lined with mature trees and has been home to the current owners for more than 45 years, is by any means a small residence.
With 345sqm of living space in the main two-storey-over-basement house, which has a modern extension to the rear, as well as converted outbuildings and a barn house, there is ample room here for a large family and, indeed, for multi-generational living.
Prospect House was originally a dower house. - one built for a widow close to the main house of her late husband's estate. In this case, for the family of Captain John McClintock of the adjacent Dunmore House, which dates from 1740.
The McClintocks were the main landowners in the area, which is known for the excellent quality of its agricultural land. The family endowed the local church and effectively ran the local plantation village of Carrigans, settled by the Scottish Stewart and Cunningham families after the Flight of the Earls in 1607.
Dunmore House was later home to Francis Heron, a Ramelton native, who emigrated to Canada and became a proprietor of the Hudson Bay Company. It is now home to Sir John and Lady Marietta McFarland; its beautiful walled gardens are included in the Donegal Gardens Trail.
Prospect House is a protected structure standing on 10 acres of its own parkland within the Dunmore Estate, with views over Lough Foyle. The grounds include a private lake, walled gardens, lawns, converted outbuildings, a barn house and a hard tennis court; new owners would be able to keep ponies if they wished.
"When we bought it, there was no running water," says one of the current owners. "We had to pump all our water from the wells. We have spent the last 40 years doing it up and have spent a fortune on making it a very comfortable family home."
Certainly the house appears to be in immaculate condition, and retains many original features. Those include antique fireplaces and the tripartite Wyatt windows that became popular in response to the window taxes introduced in the 18th Century and which enabled one large window to be used where previously two had been deployed.
A bright entrance porch and hallway open up to a fine drawing room and formal dining room, which has seen many great dinner parties in its day. Beyond the reception rooms is the inner hall, leading up to the first floor bedrooms and down to the basement wine cellar, which is extensive enough to accommodate many years of collecting pleasure for anyone serious about their wine.
A large kitchen / living / dining room, the focus of family life over the years, is kept cosy by an AGA and leads on to a sun-room, utility room, and sauna wing with essential country boot room.
In total there are five bedrooms, two of which are en suite. The main family bathroom, a large twin bedroom and one of the en suite bedrooms, currently used as a study, are on the first floor return, directly above the kitchen and sun-room.
The main bedroom and two others are on the first floor and each has a splendid view over either the grounds, the lake or Lough Foyle. The lake features a fountain, waterfall and a multitude of flowering lily pads.
The outbuildings have been meticulously well cared for, and include a gardener's shed, bin storage, potting house, sports shed, generator and oil tank shed, log shed, covered carport for three cars and a separate covered area for lawnmowers and trailers.
Above the main outbuilding, which fronts onto the tennis court, is a large open plan area, which has been used as a games room. Subject to planning permission, this building could be converted to habitable use very easily as all services are available. There is an additional detached single-storey outbuilding, which could (again, subject to planning permission) be converted into a one- or two-bedroom cottage - this has independent access via the rear laneway.
The vendors have made good use of the amenities in the surrounding area while living at Prospect House.
"There is very good sailing on Lough Swilly and Ballyliffin, with its championship courses, is our local golf club."
Having retired from their shirt manufacturing business a decade ago, the current owners are - with no small amount of reluctance - down-sizing and plan to move closer to their children.
"It has been a dream living here," they say. "It really has been a wonderful place to raise a family, to be able to have the peace and quiet of country life in a completely rural setting, yet with the city of Derry, just 10 minutes' drive away. Just the other day we ran out of milk and it was so handy to be able to jump in the car and nip down to Marks & Spencer for a carton!"
5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Rainey (074) 912 2211
Viewing: Strictly by arrangement
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