The full horsey set: west Cork stud farm for €2.8m

Horses and humans are given equal footing at Garryhankard House and Stud – the former with stables, foaling boxes, paddocks and a sand gallop; the latter with elegant reception rooms, eight bedrooms, a swimming pool and three additional residences


The stables at Garryhankard House and Stud near Upton, Co Cork, are more salubrious than your average house.They reflect the standard of the facilities, for both horses and humans, throughout the grounds of this refurbished and vastly extended period home.

Earlier this year the property was quietly marketed internationally with a €4.5 million price tag – presumably in an attempt to attract a wealthy overseas buyer. This week it comes to the local market with a revised asking price of €2.8 million through Ganly Walters.

Set on just under 40 acres Garryhankard was the home of the late Cork-based solicitor James O’Mahoney - who died in 2006 – his wife Kathleen and their family.

O’Mahoney, who acquired much of his wealth through property, rode with the nearby Muskerry Hunt, and had a passion for horses and for antiques. He indulged both by buying an adjoining dairy farm and rebuilding the stables complex; he also added two large wings and a rear extension to the existing house. In the process, he created space for the fruits of his frequent trips to the auctions and antique shops of Francis Street. Kathleen and their daughter Claire remember him returning from his visits delighted with his new finds.

Built in the early 1800s, the original house was owned by the church, changing from Protestant to Catholic hands over the years. The former oratory is still there, and neighbours remember baptisms and weddings taking place at Garryhankard.

The O’Mahoneys began their building works in 1998, when they bought the house for around £300,000, and Kathleen remembers it taking two years. “We were out for the millennium,” she says. The work was done with an exacting attention to detail, with stunning plaster work on the ceilings, bespoke mahogany doors, and rich mahogany parquet flooring in the drawingroom and diningroom, which was reclaimed from the former Sweepstakes building in Ballsbridge.

The two upper floors house eight bedrooms; downstairs are the formal and elegant main reception rooms, as well as cosier spaces and a classic family kitchen, with a stone-flagged floor and cream-painted wooden units, where, Kathleen says, the family spends most of their time. An atrium at the back has an oval internal balcony above and French windows opening out to a courtyard below.

Behind this are offices, a boardroom and staff canteen. Elsewhere is a large indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, steamroom and sauna, and snooker room. And if all that wasn’t enough, the site includes a three-bed coach-house, a two-bed gate lodge and a two-bed staff cottage.

The horses are equally well catered for, with 26 stables and four foaling boxes set around a classic yard, with clock tower and arches, plus tack and feed rooms and a large barn. A horse walker, sand arena and 10 paddocks with excellent grass, as well as a two-and-a-half furlong sand gallop, complete the stud farm, which can be accessed from a separate entrance.

From the main front gates, a charming tree-lined avenue leads over a little bridge, past an ornamental lake and up to the imposing façade. The gardens have been landscaped to sweep down in undulating swathes of lawn to the lake. To one side is a putting green, complete with sand bunker. You can access the stud farm from a separate entrance.

Garryhankard is close to the towns of Innishannon and Kinsale. At just under 1,580sq m (17,000sq ft), it is an enormous house. Every so often in the distance there’s an occasional happy whinny: you don’t have to love horses to live here, but it helps.

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