Tipperary's got flour power
Miller's former home was built from 'grounds' up
There were few legitimate paths to riches for a commoner in the early 19th century. Inn-keeping and milling were about the only routes from rags presented to those who had somehow managed to save, borrow or steal a few bob to invest, but didn't happen to have been born with a silver spoon in their gob.
Milling had its "gold rush" around the start of the 19th century as improving technology meant that anyone who opened for business at the right hot spot between big farms and towns, with fast running water and cheap labour, could strike it rich within a few years.
Farmers and labourers for landlords would come from all around to have their wheat ground. Mills became social centres as customers hung around to gossip as their grain was processed.
During this milling boom Patrick Murray constructed one of the once famous "seven mills of Clogheen" in County Tipperary. The wheat came from the surrounding farms, the resulting flour was carted to Clonmel and shipped down the River Suir to Waterford and from there loaded onto boats direct to England.
Once a miller had money, his next goal was to build a house of some standing to denote his new status. Murray built Glenleigh House near the site of his then thriving mill circa 1840.
At a time when the very first nouveau riche were emerging, you had to be careful not to make your house too ostentatious or you'd attract the ire of the local gentry bigwigs who ran local politics and the judiciary. These often had members of the new merchant class framed on trumped up criminal charges to take them down. You also had to watch out for the competition.
With his one mill, Patrick Murray went up against the wealthier Samuel Grubb of Grace Castle, who had five. Through his role in local government, Grubb was part-responsible for directing that the planned local workhouse be located on a site which had to be compulsorily acquired on the Murray property. There are records of complaints from Murray over the disruption the new workhouse caused to his home and business, and of compensation paid to him following the workhouse's opening.
But then the Famine hit in 1847 and rail technology in America brought cheap flour to its East Coast and then on to Irish shores.
The milling boom ended and records show that Murray sold his mill before the decade was out. The famous mills of Clogheen are long gone, leaving only some of the big houses of their one time owners.
Glenleigh is being brought to market by Sotheby's International which is seeking €1.35m. The late Georgian country home built in the Regency style today stands on 37 acres, making it what many would describe as a "pocket estate." The house is being sold on behalf of an American national who bought the property 20 years ago with the intention of spending time there, but the plans never got legs. The house is believed to be in good general structural condition throughout but requires replumbing, rewiring and a general upgrade which is likely to cost between €100,000 and €300,000 depending on the quality required.
The house has many of its original period features including timber sash windows, expert period joinery and chimney pieces in marble.
Laid out over two floors, the house has granite steps leading to the main entrance and into the hall. From here you have access to the three main reception rooms. The drawing room is on the left as you go in and it includes a bay window which possibly overlooked the milling operation nearby, and most likely was the office from which Murray ran his business.
On the right is the library, and further on is the dining room. There's a cloakroom and wc on this floor too.
The house was extended at the back in the 1930s and this area currently has a kitchen, a conservatory and ancillary accommodation which includes a walk-in larder and the boiler room.
Upstairs on the second floor there are five bedrooms. The master chamber has a very large walk-in dressing room attached which is almost the same size as the main bedroom itself. There's also an en suite bathroom. One of the other bedrooms comes with its own shower room off it and there's a family bathroom on this floor.
All in all the house is 3,550 sq ft, or the equivalent of three average semi-detached homes.
There's also a bungalow lodge of 860 sq ft inside which has been uninhabited for some time.
The 37 acres of grounds are a big attraction. The gardens include access to the River Duag and the Glounliagh stream and a trout lake, forests and landscaping, and ensure the site is certainly not run of the mill.
Clogheen, Co Tipperary
Asking price: €1.05m
Agent: Sotheby's International Realty (01) 9059 790