Reeled in to a fisherman's dream on the Slaney
Aghade Lodge is a 19th-century country house on nine acres in Tullow, Co Carlow for sale at €925,000
More than 100 years ago, when Aghade Lodge was advertised for sale in 1889, it was listed as “suitable for a Gentleman and his family . . .”
“I would say how right they were,” the current owner David Richardson tells me. He has lived here with his wife Carolyn, their daughter and two sons since 1975, farming the adjacent acres. Now that the family has grown up, they’re moving to add more land so that everyone can continue farming, which means you get a chance to own a gorgeous six-bedroomed 19th-century former hunting lodge, packed with original features, with the added attractions of three separate apartments, almost nine acres of unspoiled grounds, river frontage with salmon fishing on the Slaney, plus a pleasure island for picnics, built by one of the house’s previous illustrious owners.
In his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Mark Bence-Jones describes Aghade as “a two-storey gabled Victorian house on the river Slaney, with an overhanging roof and bargeboards”. That’s a fair enough description for starters, but doesn’t take into account the decorative plasterwork, woodwork, 40ft hallway, large windows and cosy kitchen – complete with Aga, in what had formerly been the butler’s pantry.
In all, the house is 510sq m (5,500sq ft), plus an additional 228sq m (2,460sq ft) laid out in four separate apartments, which can bring in a good income as lets, especially during fishing season. Hunting and fishing are rich in the history of Aghade Lodge.
It was formerly owned by the O’Grady Roche family, who originated in Limerick, were friends of royalty and liked nothing better than to come to Aghade and tear around the countryside on horseback, or dip lines and hooks into the flowing Slaney.
Street view: Aghade Lodge, Tullow, Co Carlow
“There were coverts here when we bought it,” remembers Richardson, “though we converted them to farmland.”
As with many older Irish families, the ones who were wealthy enough to have their heritage remembered for them, stories abound. Richardson recalls being told locally about Sir Standish O’Grady Roche, the 4th Baronet, who was decorated for heroism after protecting the convoys around Malta during the second World War.
He later married the daughter of an army Major in Malta, but on returning home for a celebratory party, was ambushed on the stairs by a disappointed local flame, brandishing a carving knife.
Both O’Grady Roche and the woodwork survived, and the family eventually sold the house and moved to find warmer weather in Portugal in the 1960s. “The next owner spent a lot of money on it,” says Richardson, and in 2000, the Richardsons also invested in the house by adding a new roof, new heating and upgrading all the electrics.
The result of this is that everything is in good order, and the house is easy to run – and not extortionate to heat, despite its size and the scale of its elegant formal rooms. The oil-fired heating is backed up by an integrated wood-burning stove.
David Ashmore of Sotheby’s International, who are joint agents with Carlow-firm REA Dawson, adds his voice to the house’s claims, describing it as “the country idyll, offering an elegant late 19th-century country house that enjoys a picturesque riverside setting nearby to a village. With over eight acres of land, it’s easily reached, being less than 10 miles from the M9 motorway,” he says. The asking price is €925,000.
Outside, the acreage that comes with the house is enough to create paddocks if horses are your thing, and there are outbuildings for stabling too. The pleasure island was created by Lady Roche in the 1900s. “It’s magical for barbeques. We rebuilt the bridge to it, and restored the tea house. It also looks out to Aghade Bridge, which is one of the seven wonders of Carlow,” says Richardson. He’s sounding wistful, so I wonder what he’ll miss most. He considers the amazing chestnut tree outside, so tall that he had it measured for height to check the house would be safe in a storm (it is). “Probably the space,” he says. “Yes, it is a very wonderful house to live in.”