It's not every day that musical royalty comes to tea. And it's an even rarer occurrence when they offer to buy your house over a cuppa and cakes. But that is exactly what happened when Dr Jan Mohamed, of Pouldrew House, opened the door to Priscilla Presley and her daughter Lisa Marie.
The house in question is a compact Georgian mansion built by Viscount Doneraile in 1816 and sits on the edge of a 12-acre man-made lake and waterfall, deep in the cleft of a wooded valley with its own deer park.
"They had tea and cakes and were entertained with my dad's usual jokes and ghost stories - stories of his time in the jungle and hunting and discussions of world affairs," says Dr Jan's son, Alexander Jan.
The Presleys were introduced to the family by Renate Helnwein, wife of the renowned Irish- Austrian artist Gottfried. The Helnweins live at nearby Castle Gurteen de la Poer in Waterford, where Gottfried's friends Marilyn Manson and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese tied the knot in Gothic splendour.
Priscilla and Lisa Marie are not the only well-known names to come knocking at Pouldrew House though. One day, actor Brad Pitt also arrived in a convoy of black SUVs to walk the land. But ultimately, Dr Jan decided against selling.
Until last November when, aged 71, Dr Jan finally put his much-loved Pouldrew House on the market. Sadly, he died a few weeks later but his son has decided to continue with the sale as his father had intended.
Dr Jan was not your usual Big House owner. Born in Singapore, he served as a major in the army, had a black belt and was trained in many martial arts. He worked as an ENT surgeon in both Galway and Waterford but went on to specialise in acupuncture and, in particular fertility, practising from his basement office up until his death last November.
He spoke 14 languages, played numerous instruments, was a skilled painter and wrote a handful of books and, as the interiors of Pouldrew House show, was a collector. In fact, he offered his collection of Asian artefacts to the Irish Government a few years ago but, says Alexander, the offer wasn't taken up. The collection itself is not necessarily valuable, points out Alexander, just objects his father found beautiful.
When Dr Jan bought Pouldrew in 1992 there were hens and geese in the basement, says Alexander. He brought in a team of 20 builders for six months to renovate, re-roof, re-wire and plaster every inch of the place. "He spent a few hundred thousand fixing it up," recalls his son. The house runs to 1,207sqm, and is a two-storey-over-basement Palladian-style building.
The entrance hall is a striking space with a double mahogany staircase, smart white pilasters and Waterford crystal chandeliers. Four large public rooms open off the hall - the Chinese room is a large formal drawing room with original fireplace, sash windows and cornice work. The floors are original and Alexander recalls spending six months restoring them to their current immaculate order.
A more informal living room, known as the Irish room, leads off the drawing room, again with fireplace and cornice work intact. The grand dining room is a wonderfully elegant, double-aspect space with marble fireplace and access to a butler's pantry.
The fourth reception room is a spacious, cheery kitchen with a bright blue Aga and matching units, as well as a door to the side garden. Tucked away in the back hall are all the working parts of the house - a laundry room, larder, boot room and shower.
The basement was reconfigured to house Dr Jan's clinic and waiting room but could easily be adapted to make two bedrooms, with en- suite, library, games room, wine cellar, bar and store room. It also opens on to the south-facing lakeside terrace.
The rest of the five bedrooms open off the first-floor gallery, three of which have open fireplaces, while two have en-suites. One bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and there is a further bathroom and two store rooms.
With a little imagination, the rooms could be reconfigured to make the most of the views over the lake and waterfall, though the property is perfectly habitable as is.
The grounds are stunning. The avenue leads across a bridge lined with stone parapets, giving views of the waterfall and lake. The waterfall originally powered a mill owned by the Malcolmson family in the 18th century, but according to local legend the mill was sold off, brick by brick, to pay gambling debts incurred by one of the less thrifty sons.
The lake is good for coarse fishing and is fed by a tributary of the Suir, the Dawn. Dr Jan used to say you could row all the way to Waterford if you wished.
The avenue leads on through the deer park and curves round through mature trees that on a spring morning are loud with birdsong.
A row of stables and former staff cottages set on a courtyard have been re-roofed and refurbished and would be the perfect spot, subject to planning, for holiday accommodation or some sort of eco-tourism venture. The 46km Waterford Greenway passes 10 minutes' walk from the property at the old Waterford and Suir Valley Railway and Pouldrew would make a lovely spot to pause for lunch or stop overnight.
There is the option to purchase the former manager's house, Pouldrew Lodge, with the property. It is a two-storey, three-bedroom house with its own entrance, though is in need of modernisation. It comes to market, also with Lawrence & McDonald, with a price tag of €195,000.
Pouldrew House is about 13km from Waterford city and the same distance from the M9 route to Dublin, 175km away. Cork city and airport are roughly 120km away, while the pretty town of Tramore and the beaches popular with surfers are just 20 minutes' drive.
Agent Lawrence & McDonald (051) 391 010
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