Holding court on the green

A former courthouse and barracks has been converted seamlessly into a stunning four-bedroom family home with period features sitting on the crescent in the picturesque village of Tyrrellspass


Situated on the crescent, the Court House is a landmark building in the historic village of Tyrrellspass, Co Westmeath, where the Battle of Tyrrellspass, took place in July 1597.

The property, originally built as a school but used as a court house and barracks, overlooks the Georgian green, given to the village by local landlords, the Boyd-Rochforts. Robert Rochfort, son of Prime Iron Rochfort, one of Cromwell’s lieutenants and the first Earl of Belvedere, received the lands.

He commissioned nearby Belvedere House and its famous jealous wall. Robert’s second son, George, married Jane, Countess of Belvedere. He died in 1814 and Jane married a Dublin lawyer, Abraham Boyd, and introduced the hyphen.

One of her sons, Cecil Boyd-Rochfort was a successful thoroughbred horse trainerwho died earlier this year.

The courthouse has a limestone facade with steps in the same stone leading up to the front door, with its fanlight, engraved keystone and original clock face above it.

The house is situated across the road from St Sinian’s Church of Ireland church. At one time the church’s sexton and family lived in the property.

When the current owners bought it in 1988 it was in a state of dereliction. They saw the “For sale” sign being posted and knocked on the door to find a bleak interior. Windows were broken, doors had been taken off, there were holes in the floors and the roof was letting in water.

Describing themselves as “complete novices” they set about returning it to “the way it had once been as a family home”. The restoration drama has produced a fine period home with plent of interesting features to fuel dinner party conversation.

One of the small rooms to the front, now a family room, was originally the judge’s changing room. The adjoining space, the drawing room, was where court sessions were held. Painted a cornflower blue it remains a space where the family holds court. It features a Kilkenny marble fireplace that is reputed to have come from a house on Merrion Square.

The property has a huge country-style kitchen with pine units, a pitch pine floor, salvaged from a church, and an oil-fired Heritage range.

Bell tower
To the rear is an office that has a separate entrance and double doors that open outside. A set of stairs lead to the games room above. These could be converted into a smart self-contained apartment.

The house, which measures about 400sq m (4,300sq ft), is asking €450,000 through agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Lewis Hamill.

Upstairs in the main house there are four bedrooms. The master bedroom overlooks the green, and has a good-sized dressing room and shower en suite.

The bell in the bell tower still works. During the refurbishment the couple replaced its feet and rang it “just once”. Access to the tower is via the attic.

The current owners’ children have flown the coop so the couple use the sizeable walled garden, about an acre in size, to “chip golf balls over the willow tree”.

The James Braid-designed Mullingar Golf Club is just 10 miles away, while Dublin is just over an hour’s drive.

Great conversions: Two to tackle
The Old Barracks, Kilcashel, Avoca, Co Wicklow
This six-bedroom detached house is asking €199,000 through agents Sherry FitzGerald Myles Doyle. Originally the old RIC barracks and office for the Avoca mines, the house is said to date from the 1840s.
Highlake Monastery School, Ballinaheglish, Co Roscommon
This former two-room national school retains some original features including a quarry-tiled hall and timber panels in the ceiling. It was refurbished internally only and is asking €150,000 through Roscommon-based agent John Earley.

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