Former chief justice's fishing lodge on the shores of Lough Conn for €650K

A keen fisherman the late Tom O’Higgins bought Levally Cottage near Pontoon from Olympic gold medallist David Cecil

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Address: Levally Cottage Bofeenaun, Co Mayo
Price: €650,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald and Tom O'Higgins

A love of fishing is what first brought the late chief justice Tom O’Higgins to a secluded corner of Co Mayo. Aged 26, in 1942, he would get the train to Foxford, then cycle to Healy’s Hotel in Pontoon, and fish in nearby Lough Conn.

In the early 1970s, he and wife Terry bought – and converted – a two-room schoolhouse in the area, and they holidayed there annually with their seven children. Then in 1982, they bought Levally Cottage from their neighbour, David Cecil, the former English Olympic gold medallist and Conservative MP, Lord Burghley, the Marquess of Exeter. Born in 1905, he won his gold medal in 1928 in Amsterdam in the 400m hurdles. He had bought Levally Cottage in 1968.

"I remember the lord and his wife coming to the schoolhouse. As children, we were fascinated that he was wearing slippers monogrammed with a gold 'E'," says Tom and Terry's daughter, Derval FitzGerald.

Derval’s brother, estate agent Tom O’Higgins, also has happy memories of family holidays spent in Levally: “I caught my first trout on Lough Conn with dad in the 1960s.”


Now Tom and Sherry FitzGerald are jointly handling the sale of Levally Cottage. With an address at Bofeenaun, Co Mayo, the detached 165sq m (1,776sq ft) single-storey four-bed on around 12 acres is for sale for €650,000.


After her husband Tom died in 2003, Terry O’Higgins lived full-time in the cottage on the shores of Lake Levally with Nephin mountain as a backdrop. In 2005, the house was remodelled and refurbished by architect Paul Keogh when an emphasis was placed on taking full advantage of the views, with floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows and sliding doors running the length of the house.

The livingroom sits at the centre of the wide house, and overlooks the lake: it has a vaulted ceiling, open fireplace and like most of the rest of the house, Juncker wooden floors and underfloor heating.

The kitchen/diningroom (with a utility room off it) and small lounge are at one end of the house. The main bedroom at the other end also opens on to decking outside through floor-to-ceiling sliding glazed doors. It has a fully-tiled en suite, as does one of the other three bedrooms off the hall that runs through the centre of the cottage.

The house has mains water, oil-fired central heating and a septic tank.

Outside, there are terraced gardens beyond electronic gates, opening into pasturage. It’s in an area that’s “unspoilt but not remote” says Tom O’Higgins, who believes that the chief attraction for any buyer will be the excellent fishing in the area. Pontoon is famous for angling on Lough Conn and the nearby river Moy. There’s also coarse fishing in Lake Levally.

The O’Higgins clan aren’t quitting the area which Tom and Terry’s 31 grandchildren have enjoyed for so many years – they have another family home there. Bofeenaun is about a three-hour drive from Dublin, 25 minutes’ drive from Knock Airport, and half-an-hour from Westport, says Derval. Levally Cottage is a 10-minute drive from Pontoon.

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property