Friday 17 November 2017

In Pictures: Home once owned by Grand Slam-winning rugby star on the market

Stone outbuildings were home to Grand Slam-winning rugby star

Williamstown Court near Castlebellinghan dates from the 19th century
Williamstown Court near Castlebellinghan dates from the 19th century
The tennis court
The sun room
The entrance hall
The sitting room
The country-style kitchen
The aerial view of the house which stands on 6.64 acres and includes numerous outbuildings
The billiard room

Eithne Tynan

For more than half a century, rugby star Des O'Brien enjoyed the distinction of being a member of the only Irish team to have won a Grand Slam, in 1948. O'Brien died on St Stephen's Day in 2005, aged 86, so he did not live to see Ireland win its second Grand Slam a few years later, in 2009.

O'Brien lived in Edinburgh for the last 20 years of his life, but before that, his home had been Williamstown Court, near Castlebellingham in Co Louth. In 1952 he married into the Chester Walsh family of nearby Williamstown House, and until the 1980s he and his wife and their children lived in some comfort in the converted outbuildings of the courtyard, about 400 metres to the southeast of the main house.

It's a handy place for sporty types. O'Brien, for instance, was quite the all-rounder. As well as being a celebrated rugby player, he also played tennis, squash and hockey. Williamstown Court has a floodlit tennis court on the grounds and comes with more than enough acreage to practise throwing a ball around.

It stands on 6.64 acres of land, including a tree-lined avenue, a courtyard with numerous outbuildings, and a lawned garden with a pond and patio. And if that's not enough, there's the option to buy another 23 acres with it.

The tennis court
The tennis court

The site of what is now Williamstown Court is marked as Williamstown House on the first-edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed in 1835). The Italianate manor was built some years later, to an 1858 design by architect William Francis Caldbeck on behalf of Finlay Chester, Des O'Brien's great-grandfather-in-law.

At any rate, Williamstown Court dates from around the same era, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which describes the former outbuildings as "well maintained, retaining their character and continuing to make an attractive contribution to the architectural heritage of Louth".

It's a higgledy-piggledy arrangement of buildings lying at odd angles to each other, and consisting of the main house, a two-storey cottage and various other outbuildings, including two coach houses.

The main house is a considerable size, at 5,783 sq ft, and at the back it faces full south, surveying its own garden and the tennis court. The footprint is roughly C-shaped, and the accommodation is one room deep for most of its length.

To the right of the main hallway there's a big country-style kitchen measuring about 35ft by 16ft. There's an Aga in there set into a brick wall, as well as a stove and French doors to the patio outside.

Off the kitchen there's a sun room about 40ft long, with a stove at one end for when it gets chilly, and from there you reach the sitting room, where there's a brick fireplace with another stove in it.

The sun room
The sun room

Beyond the drawing room there's another hall with a study off it, leading to a store room at the end of the house.

Back in the central hall there's an unusually big utility room, about 25ft by 9ft, and then to the left there's a garage. Beyond that the whole eastern wing of the house is given over to the enjoyment of people who prefer indoor pursuits to outdoor ones.

This area consists of two vast recreation rooms. One is a billiard room that's 50ft long and has a fireplace at one end, with room for an assortment of sofas and a grand piano.

The other is a so-called party room, measuring almost 70ft by 16ft, which the selling agents say can accommodate 80 people sitting down. These rooms could be absorbed into the main house as reception rooms or bedrooms, or they could become a guest suite. Or if you have a business plan in mind, they might serve as function or meeting rooms.

The first floor has room for four bedrooms, two of them with en-suites, as well as a family bathroom.

The cottage on the grounds needs some refurbishment. It has a living room, kitchen and shower room on its ground floor, and two bedrooms upstairs, one with an en-suite.

The sitting room
The sitting room

Outside there's a courtyard with outbuildings including two coach-houses, garages and storehouses, and next to that there's a farmyard with barns, an old grain store and storage sheds.

About three kilometres away is the village of Castlebellingham, where you'll find shops, pubs, restaurants, a couple of primary schools and of course the Bellingham Castle Hotel.

Dundalk is about 14km to the north, and Drogheda is 20km to the south. There are more than two dozen trains from MacBride station in Drogheda to Dublin Connolly on weekdays. Or if you prefer to drive, you'll reach the capital after about an hour's drive down the M1.

The agent for the sale of Williamstown Court is Savills Country (01) 663 4350, and the asking price is €650,000.

Williamstown Court


Co Louth

Asking price: €650,000

Agent: Savills Country (01) 663 4350

Indo Property

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