Grand Georgian house with fishing rights
Shortly before Irish property prices crashed, a hawk-eyed developer landed his helicopter on the lawn of a house in Co Tipperary and offered to buy the place for €5 million. As one did.
The rotary blades of the infernal machine frightened the horses and scattered the chickens.
The dastardly cad’s presumptuous offer was rejected. Which is just as well, because otherwise today the lovely Cahir Abbey House might be an abandoned country-house “spa” hotel with a half-built colony of luxury lodges in the grounds.
But now, the owner of this splendid Georgian mansion – a wealthy Irish expatriate businessman living in the US – is selling his rarely used holiday home.
It is for sale via Sherry FitzGerald at €1.75 million.
Any residence with the word “abbey” in its title is almost certain to be posh and Cahir Abbey House doesn’t disappoint.
Unlike the Dracula castle-style gloomy entrances to many Irish demesnes, the avenue from the main road up to the gravelled drive is interspersed with lampposts.
A grandly porticoed entrance leads into a huge hallway with a parquet floor polished to convent standard perfection.
The house may have been used only occasionally by the owner and his family but it’s in excellent condition.
The high-ceilinged, light-filled, airy rooms are classic Georgian and many of the original features survive, including plasterwork, shutters and impressive fireplaces. The bright basement leads out to an attractive sunken garden.
Accommodation – just over 840sq m (9,000sq ft) – is exceptionally spacious and arranged as five large bedrooms (once there were 10) and four reception rooms. A first-floor gentleman’s study is decorated like an oligarch’s den with button-back leather furniture and a mahogany bar.
A courtyard includes stabling for nine horses, old coach houses, various stores and workshops and a pleasant two-bedroom apartment of 125sq m (1,345sq ft). Further staff accommodation is available in a pretty, one-bedroom gate lodge. The 35 acres of grounds include a mile of frontage – and fishing rights – on the River Suir.
The property has been expertly maintained by Ned Grant, the caretaker for the past 30 years.
The house looks as if it could be in the heart of the countryside but is, in fact, on the edge of Cahir town centre – a short stroll away along a path skirting the ruined medieval abbey after which the house is named.
This is country-house grandeur where a trip to the shops doesn’t have to require taking out the Range Rover.
A 19th century estate agent once claimed that “Cahir is remarkable for pureness and salubrity of air”.
That’s a difficult assertion to prove but the town’s indisputable claim to fame is a magnificent OPW-managed castle in a stunning location on its own island in the river.
Since it was built in 1833, Cahir Abbey House has had many owners who have regularly upgraded it.
In 1880, records show that an elaborate bathroom was installed – with “hot and cold water laid on; wc and Turkish bath” – surely a first for Tipperary.
This early evidence of Celtic-Tiger-style bling appears to have overstretched the then owner’s finances because, six years later, the house was in the hands of a receiver; the Provincial Bank of Ireland (now part of AIB) and let for £45 a year to a succession of Victorian colonels.
The gentry finally departed in the mid-20th century and, prior to the current owner, the house was owned by Raymond Jones, a Texan Mormon and prolific author of science fiction novels who had taken advantage of Ireland’s generous tax regime for creative writers.
This house is likely to appeal to wealthy Tipperary families, affluent members of the Irish diaspora and, possibly, Chinese billionaires who are reputedly developing an interest in Irish horse racing and breeding. Coolmore is a short drive away.
Cahir Abbey House, Cahir, Co Tipperary
Description: edge-of-town Georgian mansion on 35 acres with frontage to the River Suir for €1.75 million
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald