Not so long ago, all the flour that was consumed in Ireland was ground locally in mills around the country.
Long before the arrival of the large sliced pan, the flour produced in these local centres was used in homes to produce the finest soda or wheaten breads. Once there were over 7,000 mills grinding the grain for our bread. Today, Portarlington is home to the only remaining industrial mill, with the majority of the flour we use now coming from the UK.
One of the great mill houses that would have provided locals with flour was at Millvale in Tullyvin, Co Cavan. The mill is long gone from the yard, but the stream that powered it still flows behind the house.
The early Victorian property retains much of its original material and detail. The formality of the façade was a sign of the social standing of the mill owner back in the late 1800s. It stands on 18 acres and has two entrances - one which would have been for the workers and the other for the homeowners.
The slow demise of grain milling saw Robert Flood, who lived here in the late 19th century, seek his fortune in his nephew's Bessbrook Spinning Company, which produced linen.
But then war broke out in Europe and in 1915, Robert Flood headed off to the Great War. Serving in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, he took part in the second Battle of the Somme. He fought at Ypres, after which he was awarded the military cross for bravery and cool headedness under fire. Only 1,358 were ever awarded. As captain, he led his company into attack on German positions, held the German trench for a time, but was then forced into retreat following a counter attack. He regrouped his men at a new position and held on. Sadly, just two months later on December 5, 1917, at 9am, a German shell detonated in his trench and he was killed by shrapnel. Captain Flood was one of a thousand Cavan men lost in the Great War.
His former homestead was sold in 2013 and has since been extensively restored and upgraded by its current owners. It is a two-storey, over-basement, five-bed property that was built in 1834. With a guide price of €845,000, it comes with 18 acres, stables and a guest cottage.
The attention to detail in the restoration, as well as the extra accommodation in the cottage, and the potential to develop further into other outbuildings, means this could be a good option for anyone looking to open a country house hotel or wedding venue. The hall sets the tone for the rest of the house with a polished tiled floor and chandelier welcoming visitors in. The original staircase has been carpeted and the coving and cornicing restored.
To the left is the formal sitting room with marble fireplace and wood panelling. There are French doors that lead out to the veranda and shutters on the sash windows. Beside this is the family or tv room, with a solid fuel stove.
On the other side of the house is the dining room at the front and the kitchen to the back. With wood panelling, dark wooden floors and chandelier over the table, the dining room feels grand and old-world.
In contrast, the kitchen is shiny and new with cream fitted units and polished granite worktops. There is a Falcon double oven, an island with an integrated wine fridge and a timber beam over the cooker with the words 'Millhouse 1834' above it. The curved staircase is a real standout feature in the house and the vendors did well to let it shine by adding a subtle carpet runner all the way up with flawless paintwork on the panelling and banisters. Three matching chandeliers light the way from the bottom of the stairs to the end of the landing.
There are four bedrooms on this level. The master has an ensuite with double shower, and his and hers sinks. The main bathroom has a bath with overhead rainwater shower.
The basement will totally sell the house to remote workers or teenagers. It is accessed from a stairway at the end of the hall, and down here, the possibilities are endless. Currently, it has a home office, a cinema, a bedroom and a utility room. The office is large enough to fit a few desks, so would be ideal for a small business. The utility houses the boiler, washing machine, dryer and sink, and the cinema is large enough for a group of grumpy teens to hide away in.
The guest cottage can be found in the rear courtyard. It's a great opportunity for extra income as it's already set up to cater up to eight guests. It has three large bedrooms with a bathroom at one end and an open-plan living space at the other. There are high ceilings with wooden beams and a compact kitchen with breakfast bar.
There are other outbuildings and stables in the courtyard that could also be converted, subject to planning.
For a house of this age, it has a very impressive BER rating of B3 and has its own water supply. It is heated by oil-fired central heating and also has a recovery ventilation system.