Wednesday 13 December 2017

Former monastery on 17 acres for €545,000Built in 1857, Highlake, Roscommon is a four-bed property with a unique history and modern features, writes Caitriona Murphy

"Somebody with a sense of adventure and romance in their blood," is how Dutchman Edward van den Berg describes the potential buyer for his beautiful period home at Ballinaheglish, Co Roscommon.

Highlake House is a former Franciscan monastery, complete with its own chapel, bell tower and 17.2 acres of land.

Originally built in 1857 by the Franciscan Brothers, Highlake was a centre for the local parish, with the brothers engaged in local teaching and farming, horticulture and woodwork until it closed in 1968.

At one stage it was bought by an English couple who began to restore the house as a country property, but in the year 2000, decided to sell it before the work was complete.

Dutch couple Edward and Jane van den Berg had been looking for a glebe house or rectory to live in, having lived in a glebe house in Mullingar between 1974 and 1980, as well as a period home in their native Holland.

Edward, an engineer by trade, and his wife fell in love with the rural seclusion and the history of Highlake and embarked on an ambitious restoration project for both the house and the chapel.

Between 2001 and 2003, the couple worked carefully to restore the character of the property, while adding modern conveniences.

The work included re-wiring, new plumbing, new slate roofs, insulating all the ceilings and a complete re-build of one wing of the house.

All external doors were replaced with new teak doors, while the couple added a formal inner yard and also began work on a landscaped garden with orchard.

The restored Highlake House is a 251sqm (2,700sq ft) two-storey home approached by a 100m avenue off the rural road. The accommodation includes a living and dining room, kitchen, pantry and laundry, as well as a flower room and an office overlooking the inner yard.

There are four bedrooms in all. The master bedroom is en suite, with a dressing room attached, while one of the guest bedrooms is also en suite and a third has the family bathroom next door.

To the rear of the house is Highlake Chapel which measures 14m x 5m. The great hall, as the owners refer to it, holds up to 60 people seated in the nave, not including the sanctuary. It also features a magnificent altar rescued by Edward and Jane from a Dutch church that was bombed in World War II.

"The chapel or great hall would make a wonderful concert hall because of its acoustics, or a gallery," says Edward.

"Every year we have the local choir come to sing here, and it's beautiful."

It has also played host to weddings, baptisms, blessings and other celebrations, as well as concerts and exhibitions.

Unusually for a Franciscan church, Highlake Chapel is decorated with painted Celtic motifs on the walls.

But the van den Bergs have decided to sell it as they wish to spend more time with their grandchildren in both Co Cavan and Holland. By selling Highlake they hope to buy two smaller properties in both Ireland and Holland and divide their time between the two countries.

As well as the chapel and house, Highlake also includes a functioning three-storey bell tower, a series of centrally-heated outbuildings, store rooms, a stable and a detached 116sqm barn.

The 17.2 acres of land surround the house, and there is the option of purchasing a further 6.5 acres, located directly opposite the main entrance. It is located about 20kms from Roscommon Town.

The asking price has been reduced from €845,000 in 2011 to €545,000.

Enquiries to Sherry Fitzgerald P Burke on 090 6627200

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