Stunning views and comfort by the Bann

Four bedroomed Georgian country house with stable yard

Thu, May 30, 2013, 00:00

When the sculptor Éamonn O’Doherty and his wife Barbara first came to see Milltown, just outside Ferns, “he headed straight for the studio, and I went for the stables. The poor auctioneer was left standing on his own in the house.”

As a place to suit the artist, who died in 2011, and was most famous for the Anna Livia fountain formerly on O’Connell Street in Dublin; and his wife, who is passionate about horses, Milltown couldn’t have been better. There are 12 stables, a horse walker, tack room, spacious yard (which has hosted pony club events), four paddocks and an all-weather outdoor arena. All this, plus a huge studio for Éamonn, lawns sweeping down to a view of the Slaney, an orchard, rockery, vegetable garden, summerhouse, greenhouse, hen house and pheasant run. In fact, I’m not quite sure if I’ve walked into an episode of The Good Life or the Irish RM; in the end it’s the seven enthusiastic dogs and the three horses that tip the balance in the Irish RM’s favour.

Inside, Milltown is one of those unpretentious Georgian country houses, with a beautifully made wooden staircase that curves around a return. There are four bedrooms, and the main modernisation has been the installation of a bright kitchen, with French windows out to a sunny patio that gives onto the yard; plus PVC windows that are practical if not utterly lovely.

You don’t get en suites but you do get stunning views and a sense of ease that feels as if it has been untroubled for centuries. Éamonn’s legacy is everywhere, in terms of the paintings and sculptures about the place, vying for space with Barbara’s books and prints and paintings of horses. “Wexford,” she says, “is knee deep in horses.”

There’s also an original framed map, which Barbara says “goes with the house”, showing the house and the lands it used to command.

Rewired and reroofed, Milltown is comfortable and cosy, but it could easily be grand if that’s what you wanted of it.

I sipped my coffee slowly because I didn’t want to leave.

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