Country garden escape with private fishing in Waterford for €1.1m

Spectacular gardens, guest lodges and private Blackwater fishing rights on this idyllic 6-acre property

  • Address: Ballyin Garden House Lismore Co Waterford
  • Price: € 1,100,000
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes
 

It’s hard to know where to begin to describe Ballyin Garden House, located just outside the historic town of Lismore. But the description in Ryder’s History of Waterford from 1824 as “a relief to the mind to wander through this charming spot” captures the essence of this endearing country home.

The gardens are both famous and spectacular and, though now private, were once open to the public and are one of the main reasons the owner purchased the historic house on 2.4 hectares (6 acres).

“You can spend all you want on a house, but you simply cannot build a 300-year-old garden,” says the owner, who purchased the property in 2018 for €1.01 million. It is now “with regret”, he says, that he is selling, as work demands his time be spent between Copenhagen and London. The property is launching to the market through Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes seeking €1.1 million.

Ballyin Garden House, Lismore, Co Waterford
Ballyin Garden House, Lismore, Co Waterford

The earliest parts of the grounds date to as far back as the 1500s and fragments of history are to be found everywhere, from an old archway dating from a much earlier incarnation as a monastery to garden sculptures, beautiful walled gardens and tree-lined walks. They were inspired and maintained by the Lismore Estate, the Irish Seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, and visitors to the house and gardens have included such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII.

A curiosity is the little garden house with its old stone walls, glass front and thatched roof, which was built using the ruins of what was originally a bandstand. In the late 1800s, when these gardens were open to the public, the Duke of Devonshire would occasionally arrange for a local band to play in the gardens on Sunday afternoons.

Along with colour from rhododendron, azaleas and a plethora of roses, specimen trees include a Monterey Cypress towering to 25m (82ft) on the main lawn. These trees were introduced into Ireland in the early 1800s, which makes this tree about 200 years old. This particular Monterey Cypress, which is listed on the Monumental Trees of the World website, has the largest girth of any tree in the county – just under 9m.

Garden house
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie

Ballyin was once a vast mansion, but a fire demolished most of it in 1726, leaving only one wing that now comprises the main house and a far more manageable 275sq m (2,963sq ft) of living space.

Ceilings in the principal bedroom – which has lovely views over the gardens and river – soar to 15ft and are decorated with historic cornicing. They serve as a reminder to how vast the original property was, and the elaborate coving reflects the importance attached to both the owners and visiting guests from that period.

Two guest lodges and a coach house opposite the main residence date from the early 19th century and offer a combined 409sq m (4,402sq ft) of additional accommodation. The first lodge has four bedrooms over two floors and is fully functional as it has a kitchen, dining room and living room. The second is more cottage style, with one en suite bedroom, a kitchen and sitting room, while the large two-storey coach house has a multitude of potential uses.

Ballyin’s setting along the banks of the Blackwater – where many locked-down anglers would give their eye teeth to be at the moment – is one of the best salmon rivers in the country. But back in the good old days, Ballyin had its own “killing hatch”. Before an old weir was destroyed, salmon were forced to make their way up a side stream, ending up in a one-way gated hatch that became a holding area from which they could be hauled out for dinner.

Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie
Photograph: Niamh Whitty/pictureitsold.ie

Today catching dinner will require substantially more skill and patience, and the property comes with 400m of single-bank private fishing rights. While the salmon here may be subject to an annual catch limit of 10 fish over the season, there are still plenty of brown trout, bream and perch for supper. As the land is a floodplain of the Blackwater, it is very fertile and the gardens have fruit cages and a huge vegetable plot that allows owners a great degree of self-sufficiency.

The lovely village of Lismore is only down the road and is home to the Lismore Food Company, whose tradition of fine food is as old as the Monterey Cypress in the garden. The village has a weekly farmers’ market and it is also home to the annual Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

“Ballyin Garden House is really a lifestyle home,” says Roseanne De Vere Hunt, who is handling the sale. “Not only could it be an artist’s or writer’s dream, it could also appeal to those wanting a second home, as everything – the gardens, fishing, golf up the road and the pretty village of Lismore – is right on the doorstep.”