Wednesday 21 February 2018

Magical €350k 'Apple Cottage' complete with lime trees and an ancient grapevine

Apple Cottage Morette, Emo, Co Laois €350,000

Rev Olive Donohoe bought Apple Cottage from a friend in 2003
Rev Olive Donohoe bought Apple Cottage from a friend in 2003

Caroline Allen

The apple didn't fall far from the tree when Rev Olive Donohoe bought this quaint cottage in Morette, Emo, Co Laois, in 2003. "It had been bought by the husband of a friend of mine, who was planning on doing it up. I called around and once I saw the interior I said, 'I'll take it'," she recalls. "After walking around, I was smitten."

Playing no small part in her decision was the setting, close to Emo Court House, the neo-classical mansion designed by James Gandon in 1790 for the Earls of Portarlington. Restored by the late Cholmeley Harrison, formerly a London stockbroker who presented it to the State, the magnificent house and gardens, with a lake and coffee shop, are now in the care of the OPW. The house hosts cultural events from time to time, with the Leaves Literary Festival concluding today, and the grounds are greatly enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Little is known about the history of the three-bedroomed property on three acres. Rev Olive, as she is known, who is rector of the Athy Union of Parishes, understands that it was originally a small farm cottage, with a Victorian cottage added to the front. The two were joined by a long corridor. "I think the cottage, previously known as Killone Cottage, may have been used as a toll house on the old Dublin/Portlaoise Road. I changed the name because of all the apple trees, and the beautiful apple blossom in the spring time."

The original features also drew her eye. "I love the original windows and working shutters, the cornicing and coving, the doors and the quirky cupboards," she says. "It was the bare bones when I bought it, and I tried to do as much restoration work as possible. I got work done on the roof and dry lining, and put in a new floor in one of the roofs. I enjoyed my time here, even through repair work. The desire to decorate it overtook me as I went. I let it in summer lets in order to pay for the repairs, and it has been let continuously for the last two years," she says.

"It's such a lovely house to be in. It has a really serene atmosphere. Anybody who visits loves it. I've had lovely dinner parties and family get-togethers here that have moved out from the lounge and the kitchen to the outdoor area."

The entrance hall features parquet flooring, double doors and chandelier lighting. There is a solid fuel stove in the sitting room and there is also oil-fired central heating. In the characterful salon, the open fireplace is a focal point, with timber and marble surround. The kitchen incorporates an oil-fired Stanley cooker with Fired Earth tiles in the splashback. There's also a utility area. The WC includes a hotpress and the bathroom features a cast-iron freestanding bath. One of the bedrooms is en suite.

The vaulted sitting room with marble fireplace
The vaulted sitting room with marble fireplace

The lean-to conservatory features an ancient grapevine, Black Hamburg. "I had a huge crop this year," remarks Rev Olive. The outdoor area includes an acre of paddock, currently occupied by Rev Olive's two donkeys, a courtyard and a garden. "There are two beautiful lime trees, and of course lots of apple trees," she says.

With the M7 Dublin-Limerick motorway just minutes away, she sees the property as having great appeal for couples, families and the early retired who want easy access to Dublin, while enjoying village life - and a project. Emo has a national school; a shop with post office; a pub and an Italian restaurant, Batonis. For second level schools and other facilities such as railway stations, Portlaoise, Portarlington and Monasterevin, are close.

"There is a great sense of community in Emo, and I will be sad to leave both the house and the area, but Apple Cottage would benefit from the fresh eye of a new owner, who will continue the renovation work. It will be a great project for someone."

Selling agent Graham Peavoy, of Peavoy Auctioneers, says the cottage enjoys the best of both worlds in many areas. "It is on a quiet road, but is not isolated. It is in a village in a very sought-after area, but offers easy access to Dublin, and the rest of the country," he says.

The property has a large, country-style kitchen/ dining room and a Stanley range with Fired Earth tile surround
The property has a large, country-style kitchen/ dining room and a Stanley range with Fired Earth tile surround

Era: Mid-1800s

Size: 190sqm

Agent: Peavoy Auctioneers (057) 866 050

Viewing: Strictly by appointment

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