This €850,000 four-bed home has a kitchen with views to die for
Opportunity to emulate Best Mate's success in prime horse country
Jacques Van't Hart came to Ireland from the Netherlands back in the 1980s, to set up a factory for a company involved in veterinary pharmaceuticals in Trim, Co Meath. He was immediately taken with the area, particularly the social aspect of life in Co Meath and the absence of traffic, and started looking for a site on which to build a family home.
Van't Hart's search took a few years - he wanted land surrounded by mature trees for privacy - but eventually he found what he was looking for and set about designing Moyfern House, with the assistance of a developer friend. They built the house in 1996.
"Because of the lack of light in Ireland in the winter months, we designed Moyfern according to the German principle," explains Jacques. "That means that the rooms are arranged to follow the sun throughout the day. The kitchen faces east, to get the morning sun, and the sitting room faces west, to capture the evening sun. The south facing side of the house is made almost entirely of glass, to maximise the amount of heat and sun."
The result is a fine family house with 3,175 sq ft of living space that looks quite different to the typical Irish dormer bungalow. Moyfern is set well back from the road, behind electric gates imported from Belgium, and surrounded by 23 acres of pasture land, with the mature beech trees that attracted Van't Hart to the location at the outset now supplemented by many more that the Dutchman planted himself.
Despite its rural location, Moyfern has a contemporary feel. The large entrance hall doubles as an office/study, and has a feature marble staircase, wooden flooring and dual aspect windows. The kitchen - which has an island unit and breakfast and dining areas - has views over the surrounding fields, and direct access onto the patio at the rear of the house, making it ideally suited to entertaining. The family room and lounge have patio doors leading out to the deck, while the basement houses the utility room and has plenty of storage space.
Upstairs, the bedrooms all have views over the surrounding countryside. The master is an en-suite with a Jacuzzi bath and separate shower, and has a secluded balcony area and walk-in wardrobe. There are three further bedrooms and a family bathroom, as well as a large attic space that could be put to a variety of different uses.
Moyfern holds a special place in the hearts of horse-racing aficionados as the birthplace of Best Mate, the three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, trained in the UK by Henrietta Knight. The gelding was known as the nation's favourite horse until his sudden death at the age of 10 and a statue of him stands beside the winners' enclosure at Cheltenham. He was inducted into the Cheltenham Hall of Fame alongside Desert Orchid in 2007.
Jacques Van't Hart described himself as a hobby breeder back in 1995, when Best Mate was born. He had bought the dam, Katday, for what he describes as a 'suspiciously low price' (the equivalent of approximately €1,200), on the basis that he would get his money back if he failed to get the mare into foal. He introduced her to the stallion Un Desperado and she foaled on her own in the middle of a snowy field at Moyfern in January 1995, two weeks ahead of her due date.
The little bay foal almost didn't make it, but thanks to the care and attention that he received from Van't Hart and his vet, he survived. Because Van't Hart had to go abroad for work soon after the foal was born, he sold him on for a modest €2,500. Katday's subsequent foals sold for upwards of €120,000, and Best Mate went on to win over £1m in prize money over the course of his career.
"I missed out," says Van't Hart, ruefully.
This part of Meath is prime horse country, and it will be open to new owners to see if they can emulate Van't Hart's success. Moyfern comes with a few loose boxes, and plenty of room for grazing, so even if the idea of trying to breed a champion racehorse does not appeal, there is ample space to keep and enjoy ponies or hunters.
Trim lies approximately 25 miles from Dublin, on the banks of the River Boyne, and is convenient for the M50 and Dublin Airport. The town is known as the location of Trim castle (also known as King John's Castle), Ireland's largest Norman castle, built in the late 12th century following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Trim and the surrounding lands were granted to Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath, and a Norman baron, and Richard II stayed at the castle before he was ousted from power. In the 16th century, Trim was one of the outposts of the Pale and sessions of the Irish Parliament were held there from time to time.
Trim, Co Meath
Asking price: €850,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, (01) 2376300 and Sherry FitzGerald Heffernan, (046) 943 1525