Tuesday 16 January 2018

Horse lover's dream home in Kildare with stabling and paddocks on the market for €1.3m

Whitechurch, Straffan, Co Kildare €1.3m

Whitechurch on eight acres sits in the heartland of equestrian country.
Whitechurch on eight acres sits in the heartland of equestrian country.

Katy McGuinness

We originally bought a small cottage and some land from Whitechurch Stud in 1992," recalls the current owner of Whitechurch, situated just over a mile outside the village of Straffan in Co Kildare.

"Our intention was to build something bigger at the back of the site. We had two children and another on the way, and our businesses were located in Naas and Maynooth, so Straffan was the perfect location.

Beautiful living room that opens up onto the garden.
Beautiful living room that opens up onto the garden.

"We had a very strong idea of what we wanted to build. We spent a lot of time in West Cork and loved a house near Goleen called Toormore House. Whitechurch is loosely based on Toormore. We had built a shop on the main street in Naas in 1988, and our builder, Pat Doran, introduced us to the architect, Patricia Ennis, who was fantastic at turning our dream into reality."

That reality is now a fine Victorian-style house on eight acres in the heart of Kildare equestrian country, with a flood-lit sand arena, stabling for four horses, and two paddocks with water laid on.

Whitechurch is approached through a set of simple timber gates and up a driveway lined with mature, deciduous trees, including horse-chestnut, beech, sycamore and a spectacular weeping willow.

The driveway leads to the back of the house and the stable yard, ensuring that the house itself enjoys uninterrupted views of the pond and magnificent gardens, where the herbaceous borders will soon be blooming with lupins, foxgloves and columbine.

Views of the garden from the doors of the living room.
Views of the garden from the doors of the living room.

Set well back from the road, the position of the house means that the four children who grew up here had the freedom to run wild in safety, and the family could enjoy total seclusion and a rural lifestyle within easy reach of the capital.

Double doors lead from the front porch into the hallway, which has a vaulted ceiling, an arched window running the height of two floors, and an attractive timber fireplace. All of the reception rooms on the ground floor have open fireplaces and double doors leading into the garden; the floors are all solid beech. The kitchen opens out on to the terrace, which is partially sheltered from the elements by a clear roof, and there's a handy separate utility room and guest lavatory adjacent.

"Our favourite room is the kitchen/den," says the owner, who designed the room to include marble worktops and a Belfast sink. "It's cosy and warm all year round; I'd be lost without the Aga. The French doors that open out on to the terrace make for an easy flow from inside to outside, and the whole of the downstairs has always been a great space for entertaining, with many happy occasions celebrated here."

Upstairs, there are five bedrooms, several of which have double doors leading on to balconies that look out over the gardens and surrounding countryside. The master bedroom is en suite and has a walk-in dressing room, and there is also a family bathroom. The windows throughout are hardwood double-glazed, there's a floored attic ideal for storage, and the house features an integrated vacuum system.

"My biggest regret will be leaving the garden," says the owner, who plans to downsize to a smaller property in the area, where she has many good friends and neighbours. "I have put so much of myself into it over the last 20 years, and so many of the plants that were given to me hold special memories. We dug out the pond around eight years ago and it is one of the best things that we did. The wildlife it has brought to the garden is magical, with frogs, stickleback fish, ducks, egrets, herons, and fleeting visits from a kingfisher." There's also an orchard planted with apples and plums.

"Our children had an idyllic childhood at Whitechurch. My eldest daughter rowed for Ireland, and trained on the Liffey, and my son is a car fanatic, who competed at Mondello. My two younger daughters were both pony mad. The South County, The Kildares and The North Kildare Farmers all meet close by, and my husband played golf at the K Club for many years.

"When we first moved here, the roads were very quiet and the elder two could cycle to the shop in the village. Unfortunately that has changed since the two motorways M4 and M7 have been developed, but the upside of that is the convenience of getting anywhere. Dublin Airport is only half an hour away, and there are excellent train services from Maynooth and Hazelhatch. Bus Eireann also runs a very good service through the village, when they're not on strike!"

Agent: Goffs Country (045) 981 048

Viewing: Strictly by appointment

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