Ard Na Gréine, Cartron Hill, Sligo
Asking price: €490,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Draper (071) 9143710
For those unfamiliar with Withnail and I, the 1987 British tragicomedy by Bruce Robinson, know your life is not yet complete. Those already in the know on the funniest British movie of all time are already cracking a smile.
Withnail and I follows two young out of work actors in 1960s London: Marwood (Paul McGann) and his Byronic/moronic flatmate Withnail (Richard E Grant), who share an alcohol-soused existence in gruesome Camden flatland.
Deciding they need a change of scenery, they visit Withnail’s wealthy Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) in his sprawling Chelsea period home to see if they can persuade him to hand over the keys to his private holiday cottage in the Lake District. Bedlam ensues with Grant and Griffiths both turning in astounding performances.
Modern cult status means some fans can quote the script in full, including Grant’s startling rendition from Hamlet (“What a piece of work is a man”) at the end of the movie.
Items featured in the film soon began to take on a life of their own over the years. Withnail’s distinctive frock coat was bought by Chris Evans at auction for £8,000 (€9,344).
Today, bespoke tailors will make you a perfect replica for £1,500 (€1,752). But it was the domestic style of Uncle Monty, the film’s tweed upholstered and melodramatic aesthete, that would go on to develop legs in the world of interior design.
His opulent lounge sparked a revival of luxuriant recreation sofas and armchairs in the style of Howard & Sons and a renewed interest in Edwardian indoor planters for ferns (though Monty grew carrots in his). Country Life magazine even devoted a glossy spread on how to get ‘the Monty look’ and, today, faded Persian-style rugs are totally de rigueur.
Monty’s Chelsea pad was in fact the unadulterated real life home of Professor Bernard Nevill, himself a London design star of the 1960s. Nevill designed for Uk department store Liberty and was on the board until the 1970s. Considered by many to be the father of the ‘shabby chic’ look, he was also a devoted collector of antiques.
In 2011, key items of furniture used in the film were sold in a high-profile auction at Christies of London, with buyers swarming to pay more than £200,000 (€234,000). When the designer passed away in 2019, his remaining home contents were sold here in Ireland at auction at Fonsie Mealy’s in September. Nevill’s complete design catalogue was offered (guiding €8,000), but was snapped up even before the auction took place.
That look, which uses luxuriantly deep and well-stuffed sofas, lush throws and floors festooned with combinations of Persian-style rugs, all set off by elegant side table lamp lighting, is captured to perfection at Ard Na Gréine, a 1920s-built home with neo-Gothic touches which is located at Carton Hill, near the harbour in the old part of Sligo town.
The pleasingly mismatched interiors combine velvets and warm, rich textures with an emphasis on comfort through the antique look, making you want to flop down to toast marshmallows on that open fire with a goblet of claret at hand.
The substantial drawing room, with its open fireplace, has a large south-facing large bay window, and a door leads out to a patio area. A formal dining room with fireplace and connecting door to the drawing room takes the wallpaper on to the ceiling.
A traditionally laid-out Shaker style kitchen is handmade and comes with a granite worktop. There’s a traditional pantry off it and a utility room, and the whole lot is set off with bright yellow and blue floor tiles. Also on this floor is a study/office room and a garden studio room, which also connects to the garden and the courtyard.
On the first floor are four sizeable double bedrooms, two of which are equipped with ensuite bathrooms and two of these rooms also have balcony access. The master bedroom, which has a distinctive four-poster bed, also includes a period style stand-alone claw-foot bath tub.
Outside, there is a small courtyard off the residence, with a fuel store as well as a shed and a good-sized garage.
The site is quite private with high boundary walls, even though it’s raised up from the Rosses Point Road. It’s located within walking distance from Sligo town and within reach of the north west’s renowned beaches.
Sherry FitzGerald Draper is asking €490,000 for this period home, which spans just under 2,500 sq ft. Given its location and styling, it would make a perfect offbeat B&B in an area loved by tourists. And unlike Withnail, buying this home ensures you’ll never go on holiday by accident ever again.