Wednesday 17 July 2019

This €1m former home of Ireland's boldest bag man has the floor space of 22 family homes

The historic seat of Ireland's boldest bagman has the floor space of 22 family homes

The exterior of the Palladian mansion
The exterior of the Palladian mansion
The rear of the property
The Turner designed conservatory/orangerie.
One of the drawing rooms
Couches surround a stone fireplace in another reception area
The views of the River Suir
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Marlfield at Clonmel in Co Tipperary, which was on offer in 2014 for €8m with 390 acres attached, has just returned to market, minus most of the farmland, for a much more managable €1m.

It means that for the price of a four-bed semi in Dublin 4, a buyer now has the chance to acquire a true country mansion big enough to house an entire estate of family homes inside. With a square footage of 22,600 sq ft, Marfield's accommodation equates to that of of 22 average family semis.

For this, a buyer gets the 14-bedroom 18th century house, one of the finest Georgian Palladian homes in Munster, plus 31 acres.

This house was famously the seat of the wealthy Bagwell family, who strove unsuccessfully for generations to gain a nobility title; manoeuvres over which included the construction of the vast mansion itself.

The Turner designed conservatory/orangerie.
The Turner designed conservatory/orangerie.

Among its owners was the 18th century Tipperary MP Colonel John Bagwell - better known by his well earned nickname: "Old Bags." The owner of the then 3,500 acre Marlfield Estate (he had another 1,500 acres elsewhere in Ireland) caused ructions during the run up to the introduction of the Act of Union in 1799 and 1800 when he very publicly u-turned on his position to support the dissolution of the Irish parliament and usher in the Union. He then u-turned on his u-turn.

Lord Lieutenant Cornwallis who was in charge of bribery in order to secure the Union vote for the authorities in London took public issue with Old Bags for changing sides from the pro dissolution to the anti dissolution/pro Irish parliament camp.

The problem was that Cornwallis had already paid Bagwell off from the London Exchequer for his vote but the latter had then been offered €9,000 by the opposition to change sides. Old Bags suggested he would revert for €10,000 - along with prestigious appointments for his sons and friends. Society was shocked. But Bagwell's vote was bought (again) and the Act of Union was passed. To put it in context, earning £25 per year, it would have taken his average estate worker 400 years to realise this amount.

Bagwell was a builder who made money constructing flour mills but he desperately wanted a title. To this end, Old Bags began to take the usual steps - in 1785 he completed Marlfield with one of the widest frontages of any Irish country seat. He founded the local loyalist militia of which he made himself colonel and he began lobbying anyone and everyone who would listen to his case for a peerage. But Bags' opportunistic ways saw his path blocked again and again. In 1809 the viceroy eventually stated overtly that Bagwell was "not quite the most proper person" (to place among the peers). His death as a commoner in 1818 saw the chief secretary of the day assert that he had lost a peerage "through a nickname".

The house remained in the family until the 1970s when the Kent family bought it. The house with larger acreage had more recently been the subject of a hotel and golf club plan that faltered.

Many of the services had already been put in place to facilitate the scheme with one source suggesting that this is the "best serviced Palladian mansion in Ireland". The other most notable feature about Marlfield is its Richard Turner designed glass conservatory. He also designed the principal glass houses at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

One of the drawing rooms
One of the drawing rooms

The accommodation includes a great hall, a formal dining room, a drawing room, a sitting room, study and the massive Turner glasshouse conservatory. In the basement is a games room, a gym, the kitchens and a range of ancillary rooms. There are 13 bedrooms overhead, many of which have ensuites attached and there is a vaulted wine cellar and basement.

The house has 20 acres of pleasure gardens and these include an ornate duck pond of some size. There's two apartments of two bedrooms each in the right side wing and the stables and another one bed contained in the other. It also faces right on to the River Suir which has obvious potential for outdoor sporting activities.

On the downside, Marlfield still needs needs a substantial amount of work put into it. A full survey would, of course, be paramount, but those who have looked at it already estimate that it will require another €1m, at least, put into it to bring it up to modern requirements.

To bag Marlfield for a million talk to either of the joint agents REA Stokes & Quirke and Sothebys.


Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Asking price: €1m

Agent: REA Stokes and Quirke (049) 4380038 and Sothebys Internationial Realty (01) 9059790

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