Fishing rights and island included in Co Cork for €3.5m
A sensitive renovation and makeover, costing €2 million, makes this Georgian gem, on the banks of the Blackwater in Fermoy, one of the best of its type in Ireland
The Blackwater Valley is peppered with incredible houses. There’s beautiful Ballynatray, which can be hired for groups if you want to get that big house feeling without the mortgage; Michael Flatley’s Castlehyde, currently on sale for €20 million, and the Duke of Devonshire’s Lismore Castle, which opens its gardens and gallery at this time, and that’s just for starters.
Now Ileclash House in Fermoy, right on the banks of the Blackwater, has come to the market. The house, which has been completely and sensitively renovated and restored by its current owners, Diane and Michael Frazer, has an intriguing history. Built in the 18th century, it had been home to the usual clutch of the wealthy, including men of the church and socialite types, falling steadily into elegant disrepair.
Following restoration, Oswold Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, lived there with his wife, Diana, one of the famous Mitford sisters. Another Mitford sister, Deborah became wife to the 11th Duke of Devonshire, and so spent time downriver at Lismore.
The house, just half an hour from Cork city airport, had supposedly been refurbished, but Michael remembers discovering, once they moved in, that there were some surprises in store. “The survey had said it was perfect, and it was only when we arrived and started to live here that we found the refurbishment had just been a makeover. We put on a new roof, replaced 52 windows. It took us four years and nearly €2 million to do that work.”
Cork architectural firm Frank Murphy and Partners, which also worked on Castlehyde, did a thorough job, also replacing the shutters and other woodwork, and bringing the interior back to the standard of its heyday. Marcus Magnier, who is handling the sale for Colliers, says that while he realises agents can be “noted for their exaggeration”, he doubts “there is a house in Ireland of this type in better condition. Not only has everything been done perfectly, but it has been done with excellent taste.”
To the rear, the old coach houses have been converted into a pair of charming guest cottages, providing even more space. Now retired, the Frazers are downsizing and planning to move to warmer climes.
“It’s a very easy house to live in, and exceptionally easy to maintain because of all the work we had done,” says Diane. “It’s warm and comfortable, even when it’s miserable outside. But it’s best when it’s filled with people. It’s like a little oasis of peace. You’re on the edge of the town, but in the middle of the countryside.”
Outside, there are 12 well kept acres, with approximately 2km of riverbank including the fishing rights, and if fishing isn’t your thing, the river is flanked by a series of atmospheric caves, plus charming meandering paths. There’s also an island that comes with the property, reachable by a small boat, for extra fishing options, which Michael describes with relish.
In the garden, the trees are coming into bud, and there are swathes of daffodils, and red squirrels playing. “Children love watching them,” says Diana, with nostalgia already in her voice.
Fans of old movies might recognise the graceful viaduct that is visible from the property. No longer in use, its elegant construction framed a key biplane scene in the 1966 war film The Blue Max starring George Peppard and Ursula Andress.
When the house was for sale in 2008, a figure of €4.25 million was quoted. It was more recently for sale in 2011 with Michael Daniels, at an undisclosed price. It is now with Colliers International, at €3.5 million.