Wexford lodgings in a home on Dunbrody Estate
Home on the Dunbrody Estate comes to market for the first time
Estate agent brochures tend to be full of 'unique opportunities' but in the case of Mersheen Lodge in Duncannon, this actually rings true as it is the first time that the gate lodge, dating back to 1840, has ever come to the market.
The lodge is part of the Dunbrody Estate in Duncannon, Co Wexford, which was the ancestral home of the Chichester family, or the Marquesses of Donegall. The main house was sold to chef Kevin Dundon and his wife Catherine in the 1990s, and was transformed into the award-winning Dunbrody House Hotel.
Mersheen Lodge is one of the five gate lodges on the estate, which housed the Donegall's carpenter, and his family before him. In the late 1970s, the lodge was left empty so the local GP and his wife, who were friendly with Lord Donegall, approached him about purchasing the lodge that they had always admired. Lord Donegall had great respect for the man who was his doctor for years, so an agreement was reached, without the house ever being put up for sale.
The doctor and his children used the lodge as a personal holiday home, and in later years it was let out through agents, marketed as a 'romantic getaway'. It rents very well, fetching about €650 a week in peak season.
The lodge was originally a two-room property and in 1919 it underwent complete refurbishment to make it more 'grand' and transform it into a dwelling house. A kitchen was added in the 1980s, and extended further in 2005, along with a complete restyling. It has been very tastefully restored with crown glass windows to the front, latch doors and a cast-iron bath.
The entrance hall has a slate floor with the original bell of the lodge taking pride of place over the door. The living room has a solid timber floor, large fireplace and a window seat. The dining room has double doors out to a sun deck, and leads into the kitchen. The timber beams and county-style units in the kitchen are in keeping with the old-world feel to the lodge.
Upstairs are two double bedrooms with sloped ceilings and a bathroom with free-standing bath.
There is a small garden outside and a sun deck. The lodge needs little work as it has been rewired, replumbed and double-glazed windows have been put into the rear of the property.
Mersheen Lodge is located between the seaside villages of Arthurstown and Duncannon on the Hook Peninsula in Wexford. Duncannon has plenty in the way of shops, pubs and cafes. For bulk shopping, New Ross and its wide range of supermarkets would be about half an hour away, or the short trip on the Passage East car ferry to Waterford is a five-minute drive. A car journey to Dublin is just under two and a half hours, but should be reduced to two hours when the works are completed on the M11.
What To Do
If you've got the weather, this part of Wexford is spoiled with golden beaches. The strand at Duncannon is in the village and a nice place to have a dip, where you can then retire to a nearby pub or cafe for lunch. Other beaches around Hook Peninsula are Sandeel and Baginbun for safe swimming, with lifeguards on duty during the summer months. Carnivan is a very popular spot with surfers, while Booley and Dollar Bay are just down the road from the lodge.
A trip to Slade Harbour is a daily occurrence for those in the know, because not only can you admire the backdrop of the ruins of the old castle, dating back to the late 15th century, but it is also where one of Ireland's best coastal walks begins.
You can follow the dramatic coastline to Hook Head Lighthouse, where you can take a tour or just enjoy lunch in the lighthouse cafe, before heading back to Slade. The waters around the harbour are also popular with scuba divers, with Hook Sub Aqua Club just a few minutes up the road.
A tour of Loftus Hall, just 15 minutes from Duncannon, is not to be missed. The Redmond family built the house in 1350 and it became the property of the Loftus's in the 1650s.
The story goes that a young man arrived at the house in 1666, while the Loftus family were away. Charles Tottenham was staying there at the time with his wife and daughter Anne. The young Anne fell in love with this mysterious man, until one night when they were playing cards, she dropped a card on the floor and when she went to pick it up and saw that her new love had a cloven foot (yes, there are a number of versions of the 'cloven hoof at cards' story knocking about).
The man then disappeared through the roof, leaving a hole in the ceiling, that is still on show today during the house tours. It's said that poor Anne never recovered from the shock and sat with her knees tucked under her chin in her bedroom until she died. They couldn't straighten her body after her death as her muscles had seized and she was buried in that position.
You can choose from a family-friendly version of the tour, where humour beats terror, or an adult version, where you are locked in the house overnight.
Eating and Drinking
It would be rude not to call into your neighbours, the Dundons, for the odd meal or two in Dunbrody House. If your budget doesn't stretch that far, they have opened a bar on the grounds called The Local, which serves huge pizzas and a very tasty beer-battered fish and chips. You can relax with a drink, knowing that you only have to make it down the laneway to your bed.
Roches Bar in Duncannon is another great food option. There's something to please everyone on the menu and a good choice of craft beers to wash it all down with.
If you fancy eating at home, The Chipper in nearby Ramsgrange is the place to go, but be prepared to queue for quite a while in summer months.
As with all of Wexford, the Dubs come down in force every summer. The county really becomes an extension of the capital in high season and you can understand why when you see the great choice of sandy beaches, all within a short commute.
The upside of living in such a popular spot is that Dunbrody House also attracts the likes of Bono and Graham Norton, who are said to be regulars at the hotel. It might be worth popping into The Local the odd night to see who's propping the bar up.
What's Not To Like
There's nothing quite like a good shower when you arrive home all sandy after a day at the beach. The problem with Mersheen Lodge is that the sloped ceilings in the upstairs rooms mean that there isn't enough headroom to stand up in the bath, so you'll have to make do with a shower hose and sponge.
Duncannon, Co Wexford
Asking price: €235,000
Agent: PN O'Gorman Auctioneers (051) 421226