Luxury on the Curragh for €1.55 million

An 18th-century house, on three acres, has seven bedrooms and huge, high-ceilinged reception rooms

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 01:00

In the summer of 1955, Jackie Kennedy and her husband visited Ireland and went to the races at the Curragh. She later recalled the drive down from Dublin “past rolling stud farms, one of which was for sale and Jack had to drive and look at it.

“It seemed at that moment so perfect, you could only live in Ireland forever”.What a dream endorsement for Kildare property.

It’s not known which property caught JFK’s eye but he didn’t, of course, buy – eventually plumping for a large detached residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. Jackie’s enthusiasm for one of Ireland’s most unexciting landscapes is puzzling but the Curragh has long been a magnet for the wealthy and powerful because it is home to the “Sport of Kings”.

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In the 18th century the gentry built grand “Racing Lodges” in the area and one of these houses, Jockey Hall, on three acres, is now for sale by private treaty through Jordan Town & Country Estates for €1.55 million.

Don’t be deceived by that word “lodge”. Normally associated with the bijou residences of gatekeepers at the entrance to great estates, the rich, in an act of inverted snobbery, also used the term to describe opulent houses they built to enjoy pursuits such as shooting, fishing, hunting and racing.

Jockey Hall is described as a “period residence” but the seven-bedroom, 650sq m (7,000sq ft) house is, in fact, virtually a new-build.

In the late 20th century the stud farm was sold off and the house was converted into first, a restaurant and, subsequently a well-known nightclub called Nijinsky’s where for decades the fillies and foals of the Irish horsey set brayed, whinnied and boogied.

By 2001 the place was a wreck and was bought “almost as a site” by the current owners who engaged Newbridge-based conservation architect John Delaney to design and oversee a lavish and costly total refurbishment.

The couple are now downsizing and selling an archetypal classic boom-time home in pristine condition.

The interiors are classic Noughties – a look and style as utterly distinctive as, say, Georgian or Victorian, and more authentically Irish than either.

The central section of the house has huge, high-ceilinged reception rooms and a kitchen opulent enough to be described as truly noughties-style. Both east and west wings have (all double-size) bedrooms and luxurious bathrooms on both ground and first floors.

Other features include a geothermal heating system, a walk-in wine cellar and a private pub with a Glasgow Celtic FC theme featuring a €36,000 solid wood bar.

A large sunroom overlooks well-maintained gardens and there is garaging for five cars. The front lawn is decorated with a spectacular water feature.

The house is just minutes from the M7/M9 motorways and a 30-minute drive to the M50 so it would make a family home for a commuter or a 21st-century “Racing Lodge” for an Irish expatriate seeking a holiday home/weekend pad close to three major racecourses, and golf at the K-Club and other venues.

Nearby towns include Kilcullen, Kildare and Newbridge – an area containing some of Ireland’s most discreetly-rich properties whose owners include the Aga Khan (the Queen dropped in for lunch during her 2011 visit), Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, and,for now, Sir Anthony and Lady O’Reilly.

Jockey Hall has an excellent security system but, should there be any concerns about safety, the “Boys in Green” are just a gallop away at the Curragh Camp.

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