In Pictures: Horse heaven on the banks of the Liffey for €1.1m
River House, Barretstown, Newbridge, Co Kildare €1.1m
When the vendors of River House first commissioned the architect Tom Cowper to design their home on the banks of the Liffey, he took to visiting the site at odd times of the day. They were bemused at first. "He would sit down and read the paper," recalls the owner. But then they realised he was testing where the light was best and when. "He had spent a lot of time in South Africa and his big thing was the light."
It was time well spent. Sited so that the main living rooms are south- and west-facing and flooded with light, the property also commands views of the nearby river Liffey. There are French doors from the kitchen, dining room and both sitting rooms out to the gardens. "Sitting at the kitchen table," says the vendor, "I have 150m of river in my view and at the moment there are swans floating down it."
Second priority on the architect's brief was that the house must work for entertaining. "On a summer's day, when you have a bunch of people here, the traffic flows through and out to the garden. It is designed to work with the garden and open out rather than in," says the vendor.
River House was built in 1998 on land that had originally formed part of the Barretstown House estate. "We bought the land in 1988," says the owner, "but it was 10 years before we were in a position to do anything with it - we'd been travelling a bit for work." The couple run a well-established stud farm nearby, and built a smaller house for themselves on their land in 2006 with an eye to downsizing one day. Now, their three children are grown up and it is time to make the move.
Built on a grand scale, the property runs to 408.8sqm in total with a large porticoed front door, an impressive entrance hall with a staircase that runs around an upper mezzanine, and to the rear of the house, a verandah and gravelled patio area designed for barbecues and al fresco meals where diners can also feast on views of the river. The ground floor includes three reception rooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room, a separate dining room, utility and guest WC, as well as a home office with its own entrance and a double garage that, subject to planning permission, could easily be repurposed as separate guest accommodation or a granny flat.
Upstairs, off the galleried landing, there are five bedrooms in total. Three are en suite, and two of these also have balconies over the ground floor bay windows, and dressing rooms.
The property has been screened off from the road with plantings of native Irish trees, an avenue planted with blue cedars winds up to the house, while the river forms a natural boundary to the rear.
Kildare is famed for its bloodstock breeding and racing and River House is well placed for those who enjoy the sport - the Kildare Hunt meets just a few kilometres away, while the racecourses at Naas, The Curragh, Fairyhouse and Punchestown all make for a great day at the track. The property itself comes with the option of purchasing extra land, should a potential purchaser wish to keep horses themselves, and is priced at €1.1m for two acres or €1.2m for seven acres.
For those who prefer to swing a club or cast a fishing rod, there is also much to divert: the K Club, home to the 2006 Ryder Cup, is 20 minutes' drive, while the stretch of river frontage which comes with the property - and its fishing rights - is a short stroll from the breakfast table.
Nearby, there is a selection of good pubs and restaurants to choose from, including local favourites the Hangman's Arch in nearby Milltown, and the Vie de Chateaux at Naas. Kildare Village designer outlet, 15km away, stocks enough clothing stores to satisfy any wardrobe needs, while Emporium Kalu in Naas is the go-to shop for fashion for the ladies who lunch.
River House would make a fine family home, whether for a home-worker, a commuter to the city centre or even internationally, as access to the M7 is roughly 10km away, the city centre is a 50 minute-drive and Dublin Airport is 52km away.
Joint agents: Colliers (01) 633 3700; Smyth Auctioneers (045) 895 440
Viewing: Strictly by appointment