Monday 22 July 2019

Tally-ho! Georgian home with horse spa on the market for €1.8m

Aghern House, Aghern, Conna, Co Cork €1.8m

Eva and John Peet at Agherne House, Conna, Co. Cork
Eva and John Peet at Agherne House, Conna, Co. Cork
The richly decorated dining room in Agherne House, Conna, Co. Cork
The sitting room in Agherne House, Conna, Co. Cork
Some of the ruins of the 13th Century Aghern Castle

Katy McGuinness and Tony Gavin

Aghern House in Conna, Co Cork is a fine Georgian house built some time around 1740 by the Gifford family. The history of the site dates back to 1389, when Gerald Fitzgerald, the Earl of Desmond, chose it as the location for Aghern Castle. The stone fortress of this castle forms the boundary of the current house and its courtyards. Two of the original castle's towers remain - these were positioned to be vantage points from which the occupants could keep an eye on the comings and goings along the River Bride.

The house is described in Buildings of Ireland as "a notable example of Georgian architecture. The classically inspired facade retains a sombre elegance through the restrained use of ornamentation.

The entrance is particularly well-designed. Its carved timber columns and limestone plinths being indicative of the quality of 18th Century craftsmanship."

Inside, Aghern has elegant, well-proportioned rooms with handsome bay windows and wide halls, and retains original period features. The principal accommodation is arranged over two floors and there is a half-basement. Altogether there is approximately 697 sqm of living space, with the original gate lodge and a separate bungalow of more modern construction included in the sale.

The current owners, John and Eva Peet, have a record of all the families who have ever lived at Aghern. The Giffords were followed by Brabazons and Bowles, Hares and Smiths, and finally the Fennesseys, from whom the Peets purchased in 2002.

"We love the house," says John Peet. "Even though it's large, it's easy to manage and it's been a great family home."

The Peets have run Aghern, which stands at the end of a mature beech-lined driveway and comes with 100 acres of land, as a stud farm with an equine spa for the rehabilitation of racehorses and more than 70 stables in a mix of courtyards and barns. One Aghern stallion, Baron Blakeney, a grey, won the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1981 at 66/1.

"When we bought the house," says Eva Peet, "it hadn't been lived in for about 20 years, and we attended to the roof, re-wired, installed new central heating and moved the kitchen."

The kitchen is now at the back of the house and opens out onto a sunny courtyard, while the original kitchen, still with its ceiling hooks for the hanging of smoked salmon and game, is used as a family room.

The Peets also installed en suites to most of the seven bedrooms upstairs.

The land is a mixture of large fields and tree-lined post and rail paddocks, which are all serviced with water. Agent Michael O'Brien describes it as a "kind" farm: south-facing, free-draining and sheltered. "The land is top quality limestone land and the location is beautiful," he says. "We hope it will make more than the guide price as it is excellent value."

As for fishing, the Peets say that they have not had much luck, although Eva says that they can see the bridge from the house - their neighbours spotted big trout there last summer.

For more ambitious anglers, the nearby Blackwater is regarded as one of the best salmon fishing rivers in the country. Aghern is a 15-minute drive from Fermoy and 35 minutes away from Cork city.

Era: 1740

Size: 697 sqm

Agent: Michael A O'Brien Auctioneers (058) 56109

Viewing: By appointment

Sunday Independent

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