Georgian manor house and agricultural estate on 340 acres in Co Offaly for €5m

Built in 1807, Bellair has capacity for a range of leisure activities – and to generate income

  • Address: Bellair Estate, Ballycumber, Co Offaly
  • Price: € 5,000,000
  • Agent: Savills
 

 It is difficult to describe the Bellair estate, about 4km from the village of Ballycumber in Co Offaly, as there is so much on offer that will appeal to a multitude. Horses for courses, as the saying goes, though in the case of Bellair it would currently be more suited to those with a preference for beasts of the bovine kind.

As it stands, the estate is run as a successful dairy farm with a 1,576sq m (16,968sq ft) barn with a rotary parlour, a former cheese-making plant and estate offices – which have to be some of the nicest in the country as they are in a now restored old castle that predates the house itself. Add to that a farm manager’s house (185sq m/1,992sq ft) and a gate lodge to the main residence, which has four marvellous reception rooms and seven bedrooms and extends to a whopping 940sq m (10,117sq ft). And that is before you add in the basement, which the current owners do not use.

Then there are the sporting and leisure facilities. The property has a large indoor pool and a tennis court, plus lots of park and woodland should you prefer to view the lands on horseback. For hunting there are a number of driven pheasant shoots locally, and there are three golf courses within a 20km drive.

The history of the estate dates from 1757, when the Mulock family acquired the lands, which are today noted for productive dairy and stock rearing farms with a good agricultural infrastructure including merchants, milk processors, abattoirs and livestock markets.

Drawing room
Drawing room
Living room
Living room
Dining room
Dining room
Entrance hall
Entrance hall

Richard Morrison, a former pupil of the great architect James Gandon, is credited with the design of the house, which is believed to date from 1807. The most famous resident was Sheila Beddington-Wingfield, the poet who later became Viscountess Powerscourt. Although she had spent many summers in the grounds as a child, in the end her aunt Enid Mulock left the entire estate to her. The current owners of this remarkable Georgian pile are the Baars family, who purchased Bellair in 1976. “It was my late husband Cees’s dream to be a farmer since he was a boy,” recalls chatelaine Jeanne Baars. “He had come to Ireland from Holland as a child and travelled extensively here. He just fell in love with Ireland and he also knew that the climate and soil were just perfect for a dairy farm.”

The Baars family ran the dairy farm, while Cees also established a cheese-making plant on the lands in the late 1970s and produced a Dutch-style cheese, which was sold under the Monte Bellair brand. Sadly, Cees died at the age of 59 in 2005. “Though I knew nothing about farming I really wanted to continue his work as it was his dream and we have a great manager here so we kept the whole thing going,” says Jeanne, who was 49 and had young children when her husband died.

Swimming pool
Swimming pool
Bedroom
Bedroom
Castle
Castle
Dairy herd
Dairy herd

As her now-grown-up children have moved on with their lives and their own families, she is taking the “very emotional and difficult decision” to put her home and the business her husband established on the market through Savills, which is seeking €5 million. What she loves about her home is “its very open character, its quietness and all the old trees” studded about the estate. She planted lots of apple and pear trees imported from the Netherlands in the walled garden, so now the property has a lovely orchard that will produce enough apple pies to feed any amount of farm workers and visitors.

“What is rare about Bellair is that it not only has a superb dairy farm, you also have an incredible house. But it is also the opportunities to diversify that are important here – and not just the outbuildings but also the lands, which could be used for conservation,” according to James Butler of Savills, who is handling the sale.

Whatever new owners decide to do with Bellair, which is BER-exempt, they will most certainly be spoiled for choice.