Massive kitchen in this 6-bedroom Hamptons-inspired home (and the child's toy kitchen would rival some in Dublin)
Fletcherstown Lodge, Wilkinstown, Navan, Co Meath €885,000
Last August, portfolio manager Brenda Earl placed her 1,858sqm Hamptons home, Fordune, at Water Mill in Southampton in the US, on the market for an eye-watering $175m, the most expensive listing ever on the New York real estate market.
The 12-bedroom 12-bathroom house was built in 1960 for Henry Ford II and his wife Anne McDonnell, who was awarded the property when the couple divorced.
The canny Ms Earl picked up the waterfront property in 2002 for a (relatively) modest $21.75m and - even though the 2008 renovation that she undertook must have cost a million or ten - she will be looking at a handy return on her investment when a sale is concluded.
Closer to home and, with a more manageable 576sqm of living space, a tad smaller in scale, Fletcherstown Lodge in Wilkinstown, near Navan, dates from 2003 and its design was inspired by that of the Ford house. Not surprisingly, one of its features is a huge garage to which there is direct access from the house, with plenty of room for a couple of ride-on lawnmowers and the owners' two four-wheel-drive vehicles. A large home office occupies the space above.
The vendors purchased Fletcherstown Lodge in 2013 for €592,500, according to the Property Price Register, and are now on the move in order to be close to their extended family, hoping to replicate what they have at Fletcherstown in a property closer to the M4. When they first saw the house five years ago, they say that they felt that it had what they call the 'F Factor'.
"First of all," says one of the owners, "we thought that it was a great house for a family [the first F, they say], with cosy areas for when we are here on our own, and a massive kitchen with an Aga and views out over the fields. The light comes in one side of the room early in the morning and moves around during the day, so the room is always bright and you almost don't need a clock to tell the time. Plus there's plenty of room to have the whole family to stay for Christmas."
The toy kitchen set up in one corner of the actual kitchen is larger than those in some Dublin apartments, which gives some indication of the generous proportions of the space.
The owners also wanted 'formal' entertaining space, and Fletcherstown has a fine drawing room that inter-connects with the dining room, although the latter has currently been hijacked by the owners' three-year old son, who puts it to good use as a playroom.
They wanted to live within easy reach of good restaurants, so the third 'F' is for food.
"Being in the middle of the Boyne Valley, an area renowned for producing great food, means it is a terrific location for eating out. We love Tankardstown, Zucchini and the Vanilla Pod, and the food at Cabra Castle and the Conyngham Arms is excellent. Our friend Owen Brennan at Dowth Farm has revived the point-to-point meetings there, and he puts on a farmers' market with products from artisan producers whenever there is racing."
The fourth 'F' is for farming. "I grew up on a farm," says one of the owners, "and the 20 acres we have here allow me to keep a small herd of 20 beef cattle that I look after myself. I've also got two pedigree Angus heifers - Lady Juliet and Lady Babylon - that came from Michael O'Leary's farm at Gigginstown. Our three-year old has the job of feeding the pair each morning, whatever the weather."
Fletcherstown Lodge has an American barn with six loose-boxes and tack room, so it is a house that will appeal to those who wish to keep horses, and there is plenty of equestrian activity in the area, including hunting, jumping and pony club. The current owners have invested in upgrading the fences, and the land currently used for cattle is suitable for horses.
The final 'F' is for fun. There's an easy flow from inside the house to the sunny patio area for barbecues, and room for trampolines, goalposts and all manner of outdoor play equipment. And with Tayto Park nearby, the vendors say there is never a shortage of friends and family dropping in on their way home from a day out, although some of their older visitors prefer horse-racing at Navan and Fairyhouse, or the neolithic attractions of Ireland's Ancient East at Dowth, Nowth and Newgrange.
The appeal of a house such as Fletcherstown Lodge lies in its abundance of modern comforts - features include a central vacuum system and underfloor heating - in a quiet rural location, within easy reach of Dublin and the airport. The six bedrooms and abundant bathrooms and en suites make it a house for a large family, or a sociable one with many friends.
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 237 6308 / Sherry FitzGerald Reilly (046) 906 0450
Viewing: By appointment