Gothic Revival: Mini castle in Sligo can be scooped for €150k
Examining one of Ireland's finest Gothic Revival-style gate lodges
For just €150,000 - the price of a poky one bedroom apartment in Dublin 1 - true romantics among you can live in your own fairytale mini 'castle' in scenic Sligo, complete with a magical tower-top view that stretches for miles.
Described as one of Ireland's finest Victorian Gothic Revival follies, this is the West Gate Lodge of Markree and its 'big brother' is the famous Markree Castle at Collooney in Sligo. The latter was placed on the market last year by the Cooper family who have owned it for 350 years. Their ancestor arrived with Cromwell and was forced to take Sligo land in lieu of cash for wages when the New Model Army ran out of dosh.
It has been run as a country house hotel since the 1980s.
Back in the early 2000s their daughter Patricia, who was working in the family business, was looking around for her own place and decided to restore the elaborate gatehouse which was once the main entrance to the famous estate.
At the time, it had been run down and unoccupied for generations. Lichen and other plant growth had caused decay as well as cracking which allowed water damage and the structure had also been subject to vandalism.
By 2006, after a painstaking job, it was ready for Patricia and her husband to move into.
Now with a €3m plus sale going through for her original family home, and Patricia's own family extending to two young children, she and her husband have decided to sell up also and find something bigger.
The new owners will take possession of what is possibly Ireland's most unique private abode. The accommodation includes a bright high open space in the form of a kitchen, living room with an open fire and overhead gallery room accessed by a spiral staircase.
There's a main double bedroom, a bathroom, utility room and two hall areas - the main entrance hall and the bedroom hall. The decor is in a modern rustic style with a high beamed ceiling overhead. Outside, the garden is included in the semi-circular site area.
This remarkable home was designed by architect Francis Goodwin, the London based 'starchitect' of his day.
He sketched the Lodge in 1825 for Edward Joshua Cooper (MP for Sligo) as part of a plan of an elaborate communications and warning network intended to operate between the area's Anglo estates via signals. It was completed in 1832 but none of the others were built.
It was built off the main access road to Sligo from Dublin in order to reflect the importance of the Cooper family to those arriving in the area and served as the main entrance to the estate until the 1950s.
The architect wrote that it was hoped "that through refined taste and discriminating judgement... it will appear clothed in those attributes of ancient grandeur which must render it a highly interesting and most commanding feature amongst the bold and romantic scenery of the neighbourhood". Indeed!
At the time, the Cooper family were Ireland's most important 'commoners' - they lost out on a title by voting against the Act of Union - and their estates then compromised approximately 32,000 acres in Sligo.
Formed from hand-cut Ballisodare limestone with castellated parapets and posterns, the Gate House has a viewing balcony half way up and access to the archway spanning the road. Its most interesting feature is the 'telegraphic tower' with a spiral stone staircase and a viewing area at the top. Access to the tower top viewing point is from inside the residence which is located on the west side of the entrance gate.
As for this home's creator, Goodwin also designed The Museum and The Campanile at Trinity College as well as Lissadell House.
In the end, he was working on a design for the British Houses of Parliament when heaven's gate ushered him through in 1835.
West Gate Lodge
Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo
Asking price: €150,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Draper (071) 9143710