Monday 20 May 2019

The €1.95m Tipperary estate so big they needed a helicopter to snap it

Knocklofty holds the equivalent floor space of 40 average Irish semis

The Knocklofty Estate in Clonmel, Co Tipperary is for sale for €1.95m
The Knocklofty Estate in Clonmel, Co Tipperary is for sale for €1.95m
The swimming pool in the leisure centre.
One of the bedrooms in The Knocklofty Estate in Clonmel, Co Tipperary is for sale for €1.95m
The library of The Knocklofty Estate in Clonmel
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Kncoklofty House happens to be one of Ireland's largest country homes.

The 17th-Century country house in Clonmel is so large that since it has been placed up for sale, the photographers have needed a helicopter in order to get the entire frontage into one shot. When the average Irish country home has two bays, or four, it is expansive; Knocklofty has no less than six and its insides span the equivalent of a whole estate of 40 average three-bed semis.

Standing at 40,000 sq ft today, it was built "large" in the middle-to-late 18th Century by a returned immigrant from the Bronx.

In the 1640s, when the adventurous unwashed were first starting to make their way to the new world, Richard Hutchinson - whose family was among the very first to settle in America - was on his way back, having had his fill of it.

Richard's mother Anne Hutchinson was a controversial religious separatist who preached religious tolerance and equality of the sexes and was therefore ejected from starchy witch-burning mainstream Boston and Salem puritan society in the 1630s.

Taking her relaxed and egalitarian religious views with her, she moved with her 15 children to Rhode Island which was then home of a fledgling breakaway separatist colony. But they were ejected again.

This time Anne headed out into the wilderness with her children and they became the first to settle at "Split Rock". Today it is the Bronx. But soon after they arrived in 1643, Hutchinson and six of her children were massacred by the Siwanoy tribe, a misguided reprisal for an earlier wipeout of natives by the Dutch. Her nine-year-old daughter was saved because of her red hair and raised by the natives.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that her surviving adult son Richard had by now had enough of the religious tolerance lifestyle because a few years later we find him in Ireland working as an officer in the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell careering around the country and merrily wiping out Catholic towns.

As a reward for his enthusiastic efforts, the kid from the Bronx was presented with a few thousand acres of land in Waterford and Tipperary - including the estate at Knocklofty in Clonmel.

His descendant, The Right Honourable Richard Hely Hutchinson was created Earl of Donoughmore in 1800 and the family remained in residence until 1983.

Most recently it has operated as a country house hotel - a function continued by the current owner, businessman Denis English, who acquired the property in 1994. The house is now being offered for sale with 63 acres for €1.95m. Of this, 35 acres are pleasure gardens planted with Rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, collected mature trees and woodland walks.

It is also bounded by the River Suir and fishing rights are included in the sale for a one-mile stretch. The original walled garden, which once grew all the fruit and veg needed to feed a heavily-staffed big house.

The entrance is decorated by two stone eagles surmounting the gable ends of the wings and Doric pillars.

The house itself dates back to the late 17th century, with subsequent 18th- and 19th-century additions. At the entrance front, the house comprises a three-storey central block with seven bays, with two-storey gable-ended wings to each side, forming a three-sided court. In the early 19th century, a single-storey corridor with a domed porch was built along the front and is attributed to the architect William Tinsley.

The best reception rooms here include the library with its upper gallery and hand made wooden shelves and panelling, the drawing room, music room and the wood-panelled dining room. There are two bars, two kitchens (including commercial kitchens) and there are more than 21 bedrooms. The sale includes a range of other cottages on the estate.

The grounds include a comprehensive equestrian complex with two large American stabling barns while Knocklofty House is situated in the centre of some of Ireland's best hunting country.

The property has a number of hotel-standard inclusions such as its own leisure centre with a swimming pool and jacuzzi. There's a full-sized and well-equipped gym.

While the main rooms and bedrooms are in excellent condition, the house will require some investment. However a big bonus is that the leisure centre is open for business and producing an income towards the house's maintenance.

The agents will take offers for an additional 20 acres on top of the 80 being offered for €1.95m.

The Knocklofty Estate

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Asking price: €1.95m

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 2376300 and Dominic Daly (021) 4277399

Indo Property

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