Phepotstown House in Co Kildare has proved a very good sport

Elegant country house and lands, selling for €1.6m, are perfect for horse and sports lovers

Maybe it's something in the water, but Phepotstown House has a more than illustrious sporting history. Once the home of Willie Robinson – a jockey famous both for his rivalry with Pat Taaffe, and for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Grand National, as well as the Hennessy three times – it has more recently belonged to the Treacy family, including daughter Sara, who made it to the final of the 3,000m steeplechase at the Rio Olympics last summer.

Owners Liam and Siobhán Treacy have lived at Phepotstown with their four children for 25 years. When they first came to the house it was in need of more than a little tender loving care. “We bought it without a comprehensive survey,” says Liam, ruefully, though it’s clear he’s still sure they made the right decision.

In fact, the level of work needed to restore the house gave them the opportunity to fully make it their own. In addition to replastering, reroofing, rewiring, replumbing (and re-pretty much anything else you care to think of), they added a wing, which is in keeping with the original house, and provides three extra bedrooms – taking the total to six, plus a back hall and living room on the ground floor.

Walled gardens

It was a love of horses that brought the family to the area. “The children were getting interested in ponies, and so was I,” recalls Liam. “I was late to riding, but we ended up buying a pony, and then we came here. This is the place we’d always wanted to have in the countryside.”

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After lavishing love on the house – which is elegant without being overly grand, and has comfortable spaces; such as the very nice country-style kitchen, to offset the more formal drawing room and dining room – they turned their attention to the grounds.

“We moved on to the stable yard and the grounds,” says Liam in what is a bit of an understatement. The gardens are beautifully private and very gorgeous: there’s an orchard, and the original 18th century walled gardens have been brought back to life, with a pavilion for summer evenings, barbecue area, woodlands and lots of mature planting. Over in the yard, find 11 stables for very happy horses, plus a feed area, tack room, floodlit sand arena and hay barn. The horses can be turned out into any of three paddocks, well kept with stud rail fencing, and viewed from the tree-lined avenue – in all there are 11.47 hectares (28.34 acres) to enjoy.

Family gatherings

There are also various other outbuildings, and a separate office, which Siobhán, a specialist physiotherapist, uses for her Walk Well Clinic (walkwell.ie). The practice will continue after they move. With all that space – the house itself is 460sq m (4,951sq ft) – and now that the children have grown up, it’s time to downsize. Savills is handling the sale for €1.6 million.

“The neighbourhood is superb for a family,” says Liam. “There’s lots going on. You’re very close to Maynooth and Dunboyne, Kilcock and Trim. It’s 40 minutes to Dublin, and there’s a regular train service.”

What will he miss most? He pauses to think. “I suppose the family gatherings, and having everyone about. It was great fun, but it was bedlam. We’d be heading off to horse and pony events at the weekend, Siobhán would go in one direction with the horsebox, and I’d go the other, and we’d meet up somewhere at lunchtime – they’d be jumping out of running spikes and back on a horse.

“It’s the ideal lifestyle, the ideal family home.”