House fit for a duke for €1.8m

 

A riverside Georgian house on 25 acres in Carlow which was once the Duke of Wellington’s secret love-nest is for sale, writes MICHAEL PARSONS

AS IF on cue, three plucky pheasants strutted across the tree-lined, gravelled avenue leading to Erindale during The Irish Timesviewing. Who said birds don’t have brains? But this 18th century house on the outskirts of Carlow town has long been used to classy visitors.

Its first owner was the Duke of Wellington, Britain’s greatest-ever general, who soundly thrashed the derrière of upstart Gallic twerp Napoleon at Waterloo. Daniel O’Connell once remarked witheringly: “The poor old Duke! What shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse.”

Not Irish? Why, the man was surely thoroughbred, given his eye for a good property.

Although his aristocratic Anglo-Irish Wellesley family’s principal residence was at Dangan Castle in Co Meath, the Duke, like many a contemporary Irishman, acquired a portfolio of properties, including this gem, where he reputedly installed a mistress. A heraldic crest above the entrance to Erindale is graced with the high-minded Latin motto Spectemur Agendo (Let us be judged by our acts) which was, presumably, added at a much later date.

The house, on 25 acres of parkland overlooking the River Barrow, is for sale by private treaty through Jordan Auctioneers of Newbridge, with an asking price of €1.8 million. The current owners are a local businessman and his wife who are downsizing after 32 years.

His wife describes Erindale as “a beautiful place to bring up a family and we’ve been very happy here”. It’s easy to see why.

The bow-fronted brick house on the sought-after Kilkenny Road near Carlow’s Institute of Technology has 511sq m (5,500sq ft) of elegant accommodation in a very private setting.

A large entrance hallway, lit by an impressive fanlight, leads to spacious reception rooms with ornate plasterwork ceilings and Gothic-style windows.

The kitchen has spiral stairway access down to a vast cellar which runs the length of the house. Upstairs, five double bedrooms (and a nursery) are decorated in the traditional country-house manner which minimalists may decide requires a makeover.

Outside, four acres of gardens include stone patios, lawns, a secluded walled garden and a charming summerhouse originally designed as a gazebo overlooking the river. The remaining land – three paddocks in permanent pasture – borders the river with access to fishing and boating.

During the economic boom, Carlow improbably joined the commuter belt when an estimated one in six workers in the county travelled to and fro daily, mostly to Dublin. Ironically and, sadly, too late for many, that gruelling 100-mile return journey has just become much more tolerable with the opening of the M9. Erindale is now within an hour’s drive of Dublin.

The owner is also selling an adjacent four-acre plot, with separate access and road frontage, which has full planning permission for 19 houses designed by Murray O’Laoire Architects, an award-winning firm which went into liquidation in April.

The scheme, which could be amended, envisaged 11 five-bedroom detached houses and a mix of eight terraced and semi-detached houses with two, three or five bedrooms. The site, worth an estimated €3 million “at the peak”, has an asking price of €500,000. If there’s a builder out there with the courage of the Iron Duke this could, just, be a bargain. Or another Waterloo.