Peek inside this beautifully restored manor house in Galway on the market for €1.25m
Newtown House, Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway €1.25m
One of the stranger quirks of the property market at the moment is that while Dublin's first-time buyers are experiencing packed viewings, bidding wars and spiralling prices at the lower end of the market, the higher end is seeing some fine properties selling at bargain prices - both in the city and further afield.
For example, Borleagh Manor, a lovely 19th century property on 154 acres with a walled garden and gardener's cottage, first went to market in 2014 at €4.75m, and is now asking €3.75m; in Co Kildare, the 30-acre Furness estate, owned by Patrick Guinness, originally went to market in 2013 at €3m, and is now asking €2.4m.
It seems that if you are in the market for an historic pile with all the trimmings, you are spoilt for choice.
But, according to Philip Guckian, selling agent with Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, the market is now beginning to move. In particular, he says, "the US buyer is starting to come back strongly in the last few months".
Newtown House, a fine Georgian manor house in the west of Ireland, definitely falls into the category of historic pile. Not only is it a lovely period piece but it has all the flourishes that you would expect of a country residence - a well-stocked trout river, stableyard buildings ripe for conversion as potential guest cottages and extensive gardens and 180 acres of land.
It has been on the market for a number of years and represents extremely good value - in 2014, it was quoting an asking price of €2.25m, now it is has been reduced to €1.25m.
The house itself is thought to have been built around 1810 - though it may have merely incorporated an earlier house dating all the way back to 1730s and built by the Browne family. Newtown was purchased in 1802 by the O'Kellys, a prosperous Catholic family who later dropped the 'O' from their surname.
James Kelly, one of the three generations of the family to live at Newtown House, was said to have owned two plantations in Jamaica at the time that slavery was abolished in 1833, receiving a large payout from the British Government in compensation for the perceived loss of his 'property' of 316 slaves.
In the 1930s, the house was bought by Major Carr, of Carr's water biscuits, a dry biscuit designed to stay fresh on long sea voyages. In the 1960s, the house then passed to another British Army officer, Lord Wrottesley, who reputedly led a rackety life and whose parties at Newtown are still remembered locally.
It has also been owned by a German film producer and a Dutch psychiatrist.
The new owners, an English couple, moved in about 20 years ago. They had been living in Galway and wanted to move out of the city as they neared retirement.
The house was in need of modernisation and they set about restoring it with the support of the Irish Georgian Society. Many of its period details had been removed and their renovations included installing new wooden sash windows and lime rendering the exterior according to traditional techniques.
The approach to Newtown House is via an impressive mile-long tree-lined avenue. Inside, there is an grand tiled entrance hall with a sweeping staircase to the upper floor.
There are five reception rooms on the ground floor, which include all the entertaining spaces that you would associate with a fine Georgian home, a light and spacious dining room, drawing room, morning room, as well as a bar room, study, office, games room and large country-style kitchen/dining room with Aga, wood-topped island, pantry and access to the cellar.
The ground floor also comprises a guest wing with access to a laundry room, boot room, guest WC as well as a one-bed apartment.
On the first floor, there are two bedrooms with en suites, while a wing to the rear, houses three further double bedrooms and two bathrooms.
To the rear of the house is a sizeable courtyard with four single and double-storey houses which offer obvious potential for restoration as guest cottages, as well as a hayloft and workshops.
A further outer yard contains a large garage, seven stables, a tack room and arena. The house is close to Moycullen Riding Centre and the Galway Equestrian Centre, and those interested in hunting will find themselves well-catered for with the Galway Hunt.
The grounds are laid out in extensive lawns to the east of the house with some large and rare trees, box hedging and a mature and productive orchard. The 180 acres comprises 95 acres of forestry, some of which is newly planted, 25 acres of bogland, and 62 acres of pasture.
The vendors are now in their 70s and plan to downsize and move closer to the city.
While the house has been well-maintained, it is in need of some updating. It would make an ideal family home. Alternatively, it could also be re-purposed as a wedding venue, holiday accommodation or small equestrian centre.
Newtown House is 182km from Dublin, and 31km from Galway city, though with the new N18 Tuam-Gort motorway set to open later this year, the property's connectivity will only improve.
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes (01) 237 6308/ Sherry FitzGerald Mannion (093) 26622
Sunday Independent Supplement