A stately 'small Big House'


CO CLARE:  €2.5m: The owners of Quinville Abbey have made sure to retain its ambience of the past while at the same time enhancing it for modern living

THE PAST clings stubbornly to the green tapestry of meadows and pastures spreading out from Quinville Abbey, the beautiful old house that sits on a hill amid a splendour of ancient trees above the village of Quin in Co Clare. The busy modern world is not far away, but Quinville Abbey is blessed with the bliss of solitude that Wordsworth wrote about and is sheltered by woodlands sunk deep into history and times long past.

Quinville Abbey (which the present owners, Desmond and Helen Houlihan, describe as a “small Big House” ) originally was the home of the Singletons who came from Lancashire and settled in Clare at the end of the l7th century.

Rich deposits of lead and silver were discovered a few miles away at Kilbricken in 1833 and the discovery was to make the Singletons wealthy beyond dreams.

The geological formations around Kilbricken presented huge difficulties for extraction of the ore, but the Singletons developed a new mining technology that overcame the problems and soon they were shipping cargoes of lead and silver to Wales.

One of the family, John Singleton, built Quinville and after some years commissioned it to be redesigned in 1830 by the Pain brothers, two innovative architects who had designed nearby Dromoland Castle for Lord Inchiquin.

The brothers redesigned the mansion so that the windows of all the major rooms face south, opening out onto an idyllic pastoral vista stretching down to the village and the l5th- century Franciscan monastery on the banks of the River Rine.

When Desmond and Helen Houlihan moved into Quinville 20 years ago, they undertook a top-to-bottom renovation of the house, but did so with scrupulous sensitivity, ensuring that nothing of its timeless character was interfered with in the least.

They made sure to preserve the neo-Gothic-cum-Elizabethan appearance of the house and its ambience of the past while at the same time enhancing it for modern living.

That same atmosphere of other times can be savoured in the village of Quin, a picturesque little jewel of a place with a main street that twists its way up and down a hill.

Quinville Abbey is now being put up for sale by Savills, and is without doubt one of the most enticing properties to come on the market in the west of Ireland for a long time.

The house is being guided at a price of about €2.5 million. Would-be purchasers have the choice of buying the house along with the entire 47 acres in which it is set. Alternatively the house can be purchased along with just 12 acres.

Quinville Abbey is set on a height, cloistered by tall hardwood trees, overlooking an expansive lawn through which a gravelled avenue leads to the front door. This opens into a sturdy cut-stone porch. Just inside the front gate of the estate, there’s a one-storied cottage style gatehouse. At the rear of the mansion are a number of unused outbuildings.

There’s a walled garden and orchard close to the house and a leafy rustic path runs through the grounds, providing the temptation of delightful walks.

The house has three storeys and at ground level there’s an elegant reception hall with an original hardwood staircase and a capacious cloakroom. All the rooms are large and airy with splendid views onto the countryside.

There’s an unusual, octagon-shaped library, large parlour and diningroom, and a fully-fitted solid wood kitchen with a granite worktop, as well as a livingroom behind the kitchen along with a breakfast room and a den.

In the two upper storeys there are seven large bedrooms all with spacious bathrooms and all providing those breathtaking views cleverly designed by the Pain brothers.

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