Friday 21 June 2019

Victorian seven-bedroom home in thriving tourist area comes with a tennis court

Ardeen House and cottage Ramelton, Co Donegal €645,000


Fran Power

In 2015, William C Campbell became only the second Irish scientist to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine. He and his colleagues, among them Japanese scientist Satoshi Omura, had discovered avermectins, and developed a drug which kills the roundworm responsible for causing river blindness and other parasitic diseases in Africa and Asia.

Prof Campbell is believed to have prompted his company, Merck Research Laboratories, to distribute the drug free of charge, saving millions of lives in the process. As a result, the WHO has moved from treatment to elimination of river blindness. While William Campbell now lives in Boston, he originally hails from the small picturesque village of Ramelton in Co Donegal.

He is not the only well-known medic from the area, says his sister-in-law Anne Campbell, who is now selling her long-time Ramelton home. The seven-bedroom house, Ardeen, has been home to a long line of doctors. "We bought it 41 years ago from a gynaecologist and psychiatrist who emigrated to Australia." Before that it belonged to the local doctor and dentist, but its most famous resident was nursing sister Catherine Black.

The daughter of a prosperous local draper, Black was working as a private nurse in the Royal London Hospital when World War I broke out. She joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, and was sent to tend shell- shocked soldiers in north-west France before looking after those with self-inflicted wounds at 41st Stationary Hospital at Sailly-Lorette.

It was during her time in the trenches that she met King George V. In 1928, when his first bout of serious illness struck, "he asked her if she'd come back to the palace," says Anne, "and gave her a suite of rooms in Buckingham Palace. She looked after him until he died in 1938."

The story goes that the king's final words were addressed to 'Blackie'. His doctor, Lord Dawson of Penn, had delivered a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to the king to hasten his death. Blackie objected. "God damn you!" said the king.


Ramelton is still popular with the medical fraternity, who enjoy its proximity to Letterkenny Hospital, 15 minutes' drive away. The scenic setting on the shores of River Lennon, the bustling community, and the fact the town has two primary schools, a tennis club, two pubs, a yearly panto and the July festival are also big selling points.

Ardeen House sits on one acre, with a tennis court, on the outskirts of the town, and its mature gardens run down almost to the river. The rear gardens are south-facing with a patio and barbecue area from which to enjoy summer days.

The Victorian house was run for some years as a B&B and is in very good order, though new owners may wish to update the decor. The main house comprises seven bedrooms, four of which are en suite as well as fine reception rooms.

There are lovely Victorian details such as the fine hall floor tiles and stained glass windows, cornice work and sash windows. The kitchen is a large, well-kitted out space with dining and sun room, and there is a separate more formal dining room.


The original stables, "knee deep in manure and with the roof falling in" when Anne and her late husband bought Ardeen, has been rebuilt. Now it has three bedrooms, one en suite, and a shower room, and has obvious rental potential.

"Ardeen is a great place for children growing up - our three children had a great time," says Anne. "They were all keen on tennis. Even though the tennis court isn't Wimbledon standard, it's great if you've kids, they can knock about and their friends can come over and play."

Anne is down-sizing but planning to remain in the area. Ardeen would suit a family, or those interested in running a B&B, as the area is popular with tourists.

10 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms


Era: 1845

Size: 4,500sqm

Agent: Franklins (074) 918 8000

Viewing: By appointment

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