Kilkenny estate gets season moving


The country property season got off to a slow start this year primarily because of the travel restrictions brought about by the foot and mouth crisis. Now that these restrictions are easing, country houses are starting to come on the market.

Mount Loftus in Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny is one such house and the period property on 53 acres is likely to appeal to a variety of purchasers: not only is the six-bedroom house fully renovated, it also has an extensive range of outbuildings. Mount Loftus is for sale by private treaty through Ganly Waters, which is guiding £1.5 million (€1.9m). The present owners are horse trainers and immersed in the busy country life of the area. When they bought the property six years ago, they completely refurbished the 11 stone-built stables and also created a range of guest accommodation for staff and visitors. As well as a gate lodge, there is a guest apartment - attached, but separate from the main house - an attractive looking coach-house and an apartment over one of the stables.

Everything has been done with great style and attention to detail and the guest accommodation has been decorated with contemporary flair. While the house is impressive, it started out as the staff wing of an infinitely grander property. The original Mount Loftus was built in 1750 by the first Viscount Loftus. In 1906, that house was demolished and a more modest, although still grand house was built in its place. It was destroyed by fire in 1934 but the servants' wing was saved and was built up to become the present house.

At the back of the house a set of granite steps, punctuated by pillars but now leading nowhere, are ghostly reminders of the property's past. Other grand features include a magnificent walled garden which has been redesigned by Irish landscape gardener Angela Jupe. There are a variety of stone outbuildings dotted around the land in varying states of repair and there is even one in the walled garden - this time a most unusual apple store.

The present house's humble origins mean that its transformation into a comfortable family home was relatively simple. There are no grand-scale rooms or imposing staircases - everything is on a more modern domestic scale. The house is very bright and many of the rooms have two windows, with restful and uninterrupted views over the Barrow Valley as well as towards the Blackstairs mountains.

The largest room is the formal livingroom, and off that is a diningroom, but the family lives in the country-style kitchen complete with Aga, and relaxes in the adjoining study. Three of the bedrooms have en suites. There is the usual variety of boot rooms, utility rooms and fuel stores.