Stylish bolthole in Co Clare
Opportunities for business and pleasure abound at waterfront location
First settled in the 7th century, Holy Island (Inis Cealtra) on Lough Derg may be one of Ireland's earliest monastic sites, but these days the only inhabitants of note are a flock of resident sheep contentedly grazing its grasslands and vegetation. Right across the lake however, the scene is straight out of the Hamptons.
With its secluded shorelines and private jetties, the banks of Killaloe, Co Clare are dotted with the kind of exclusive mansions that would not seem out of place in the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. Among its famous and flush residents are rugby legend and Killaloe native Keith Wood who this year opened a restaurant in the town, Ireland's biggest lottery winner Dolores McNamara bought the sumptuous Lough Derg Hall overlooking the lake, and a number of CEOs from Castletroy and elsewhere who want stylish boltholes that also give them easy access to Shannon Airport, Limerick city and the Dublin motorway.
This is luxury territory where buyers are willing to pay premium prices for properties with uninterrupted views and direct access to the lake. Ticking these boxes and a few more is Bunglasha Lodge, an eight-bedroom pile on 7.75 acres set on the waterfront in Oggonelloe. Unlike some residents who lease a jetty from the ESB, the current owners bought theirs outright, along with 200m of private lakeshore.
Surrounded by 300-year-old trees next to a Coillte forest, the lawned grounds include three separate stone-cut fisherman's cottages, dating from the 19th century, with planning permission until 2023 to be converted into holiday homes. According to the owners, in the Famine and post-Famine era, eight families lived in these cottages, surviving on the fish they caught in the lake. The planning permission allows for extensions, while retaining the original character of the cottages.
Both owners and selling agents see the likely buyer as a family with a taste for the sporting life looking for a capacious lakeside house or holiday home. With a paddock, it could also attract the horsey set who could convert one of the cottages into a stable. And as proved by the current owners to date, the property could also be run as a business. Only last week a large group of Americans rented the premises to celebrate a family reunion, and with its scenic setting and accommodation options, it could also be an ideal wedding venue.
While priced to sell the entire lot, there may be options to sell the main house with two acres, and the cottages individually or together.
Having bought the site in 2001 for €400k, the current owners had the house built a few years later, with the aim of selling. It went sale agreed for €3.5 million in 2008-09, but then came the crash and the sale fell through. Since then it's been rented to guests in the corporate, wedding and tourism markets at a rate of €3k -4k a week in high season.
The entrance is dominated by four solid limestone columns quarried and created by local stonemason Roger Costello. Inside, there's a grand, double-height entrance hall featuring a staircase made from white oak imported from Poland and a vaulted ceiling with solid oak beams.
Double doors lead to the living room with lake views and French windows open out on to a patio. Also on the ground floor are a tiled hallway with Roman arches and coving, a family room, formal dining room, kitchen-breakfast room with pine units and granite worktops, and separate utility room with access to a double garage plumbed for Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
Three bedrooms on the ground floor include the main bedroom with a swanky en suite bathroom featuring double wash hand basins and steps leading up to a Jacuzzi. Upstairs are five further bedrooms, one en suite, and a further bathroom.
The house is wired for stereo sound, has zoned heating and a central vacuum system. The main house has a floor area of 5,069 sq ft and the garage a further 387 sq ft.
Outside, at the edge of an Indian sandstone patio, roaring twenties decadence is evoked by a fountain featuring a statue of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, facing the hallowed island across the lake in all his naked glory.
Holy Island is soon to be the centre of a major tourism initiative. Having bought 41 acres of the 43-acre island in 2015 (the other two remain with the OPW) Clare County Council has agreed its sustainable tourism development plan which includes marketing, improved facilities on and near the island, and increasing access to and from the site.
Another initiative designed to attract holidaymakers is the new Lough Derg Blueway trail launched last March. Interlinking all the shorelines, land-based and waterway activities across the combined counties of Clare, Tipperary and Galway, in a bid to attract visitors with paddling, walking and cycling trails.
As well as its lakefront setting at the centre of all this activity, Bunglasha Lodge is also 11km from the twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina, 32km from Limerick City and 48km from Shannon Airport.
Oggonelloe, Killaloe, Co Clare
Asking price: €1.5m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes (01) 237 6300 and Sherry FitzGerald Talbot (067) 31496