Minister James Reilly's Moneygall estate for €2.75m
Minister is selling 13-bed mansion in Obama's 'home town'
Until it was discovered Barack Obama could, in a ritual regarded as compulsory for all American Presidential candidates, trace his Irish ancestral roots to the small village of Moneygall in Co Offaly, few people had ever heard of the place, which counted a population of 310 in the 2011 census.
Obama's maternal great-great- great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, left Moneygall, where his father had been the village shoemaker, for the US in 1850. When Obama and his wife, Michelle, visited four years ago, they stopped for a pint in Hayes' bar and put Moneygall on the tourist map once and for all. Since then, a motorway service station, Barack Obama Plaza, has opened at Junction 23 on the nearby M7, cementing the connection for posterity.
The Obama connection is not the only political significance of Moneygall. On the outskirts of the village, Loughton House, an important late 18th-century detached three-storey Georgian house is the home of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, and his family, who purchased the property in 2002.
"Together with my wife and children we have had the privilege of being the custodians of this wonderful house and lands for the last 13 years," said Reilly. "It is imbued with a rich sense of history and one is always conscious of that fact.
"Artefacts from the early 1800s remain in the house to this day.
"We took great joy and pride in doing a considerable amount of work on the house and in the gardens, restoring aspects of the property to its original condition."
Loughton was built in 1777 for a Major Thomas Pepper, on the site of an earlier 17th-century house. Architect James Pain made additions to the house in 1835, changing the original north-facing orientation, and turning it around to face south.
During the 19th century, Loughton was owned by Lord Bloomfield, to whom the house passed on the death of his brother-in-law, another Thomas Pepper, in a hunting accident.
The 13-bedroom country mansion measures 14,500 sq ft and is set within 157 acres of gardens, parkland and farmland, and approached via a tree-lined avenue.
It's an imposing, attractive house, the front consisting of two wide and shallow three-sided bows of three bays each, with a two-bay centre between them.
There is a single-storey wing of two bays, adorned with pilasters. Pediments and entablatures on console brackets sit over the ground floor and first floor windows.
The house has been fully restored in recent years and has elegant reception rooms at ground floor level, with the drawing and dining rooms dating from the Pain renovation.
There's a billiards room and a grand library with built-in mahogany bookcases, as well as a comfortable sitting room, study, kitchen with four-oven Aga and laundry.
The house has very fine detailing, some dating from the original 18th-century house and is considered to be Pain's finest classical work.
Period features include the original ornate cornicing and ceiling plasterwork, individual fireplaces in each of the reception rooms, restored sash windows and working carved panel shutters.
A cantilever staircase designed by Pain leads from the oval hallway, floored in York flagstones, to the first floor, where there are five bedrooms, two of which are large suites that overlook the front garden.
There are eight further bedrooms on the second floor, three of which are ensuite. There is also a separate shower room and bathroom on this level.
In the basement, the vaulted rooms that would originally have comprised the old kitchens, sculleries, pantries, wine cellars and servants' accommodation have been modernised and underfloor heating installed.
A separate staff wing includes bedrooms, a sitting room and store rooms.
The gardens have been restored in recent years and are glorious in early summer. The vines in the walled garden's glasshouse were a wedding gift from Queen Victoria to Lord Bloomfield's son, who married one of the monarch's ladies-in-waiting, and there are orchards, raised beds for vegetables, walkways and babbling streams, a lily pond and mature woodland planted with beech, oak and ash. There are even the ruins of a Norman keep.
As well as the main house, the property includes two gate lodges, one of which has been restored. There is room for seven horses in a superior class of cut-stone stable yard, and various farm and other outbuildings.
Hunting and fishing are available in the vicinity (the Ormond and North Tipperary Hunts are within boxing distance), and the estate has hosted shooting parties in the past. Lough Derg is suitable for sailing and Loughton is located within easy reach of both Nenagh and Roscrea, where there are secondary schools and shopping facilities. Moneygall has a primary school. Shannon Airport is half an hour's drive and Dublin city centre a distance of 150km.
The price quoted of €2.75m is for house and lands. Buyers can also bid for the house with 87 acres, or a separate lot of 70 acres.
Moneygall, Co Offaly
Asking price: €2.75m
Agent: Ganly Walters (01) 6623255