Georgian grandeur in Co Kildare for €3.25 million

Ballindoolin House has 11 bedrooms and is set on 250 acres with historic gardens and extensive farmland

Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 00:00

Ballindoolin House is one of those large, late Georgian houses full of stories. These aren’t grand tales of lords and ladies and urgent affairs of State, but smaller ones of wealth and hope, loss and love, farming and growing, and domestic lives unfolding over almost 200 years.

Set on 250 acres, Ballindoolin in Co Kildare is about an hour’s drive from Dublin and is on the Meath/Offaly border. It was built in 1822 by the Bor family from Holland.

Since then, it has been sold only once, in the 1890s, when the Bors ran out of money and returned home. When Robert Moloney inherited it in 1993, he and his wife Esther began a huge project of renovation and restoration, including reroofing, replumbing and rewiring.

Outside, with the help of Fáilte Ireland and some EU funds, the original large walled gardens were returned to their exact and former glory, as one of 26 chosen under the Great Gardens Restoration Scheme. Since then they have been open to the public, although this isn’t a requirement for any new owners. The rest of the land is farmed.


Wealth of stories
Robert and Esther used documents and diaries to ensure the restoration, inside and out, was in-keeping, later donating 40 boxes of account books, ledgers and records to the archives at NUI Maynooth for safe-keeping.

These reveal a wealth of stories about the day-to-day running of the house, although it is just as easy to imagine them coming alive as you wander through the rooms. There is the wide, stone-flagged hallway, and the cosier, but still imposing back hall. The drawing room has its original wallpaper and chandelier; the marvellous fireplaces are intact.

The dining room nudges at the imagination with images of Mr Darcy-types passing the port.

As Esther points out, there are no dark passageways, and it’s a friendly, if somewhat grand, house to live in.

Atmosphere is all very well, but there’s more to be done. The Moloneys put in a small efficient kitchen on the ground floor, which works perfectly, but catering on a bigger scale will call for something larger.

Downstairs in the vaulted basement, the original kitchen, wine cellar, staff pantry and meat rooms are still exactly as they would have been. Exploring at this level, I feel as if we’ve wandered into a film set. The atmospheric old fashioned spaces seem to be waiting for a cast to assemble, and the director to call “action”.


Restored gate lodge
The first floor has eight bedrooms, all opening off a huge landing, and charming original loos. Up another flight of stairs is a top-floor apartment which needs some work. New owners will no doubt want to alter the sleeping arrangements to include more bathrooms, and another, more major project may be the installation of central heating. Thick walls insulate, and currently the house is warmed by solid-fuel stoves, storage heaters, fireplaces and plug-in radiators.

Outside there are stable yards, cattle yards, and curiosities, both elegant and quirky, such as a melon pit (which used horse manure to warm the soil to grow these once-exotic fruit), a shamrock-shaped dovecote possibly built as a folly, lime kiln, Iron Age mound, and a nature trail.

There is also a lovely tiny gate lodge restored and liveable. Some of the outhouses have been converted to a coffee and craft shop, for visitors when the gardens have been open.

Ballindoolin is now preparing for the next chapter in its story. It is for sale by private treaty through joint agents Savills and William Montgomery for €3.25 million, including the farmlands.

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