There may be many big country piles for sale across Ireland, but few are within a short walk or an even shorter boat ride of the local village.
This is what makes Slevoir House most notable: its lakeshore setting. Situated on the northeastern shore of Lough Derg, the largest of the river Shannon’s lakes, it faces west and enjoys almost 1.5km of lake frontage.
Considered one of Ireland’s finest Victorian country houses, the 11-bedroom residence has graced these property pages several times in the past few decades.
And with good reason: its extensive lake frontage, complete with private harbour, 119 acres of parkland and woodlands, combine to offer buyers what selling agent Roseanne De Vere-Hunt, head of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, joint agent with Sherry FitzGerald Talbot, describes as “a safe harbour”.
She says that in these uncertain times many super-prime buyers are looking to invest in land and property.
The Italianate abode, with a campanile of ashlar granite that can be seen from across the lake, has an excellent pedigree.
It was built by Lt Col James F Hickie and his Spanish-born wife, Lucitia, who commissioned architect John McCurdy to design it. Anyone who has enjoyed a drink or afternoon tea within the impressive period features of the Shelbourne Hotel or what is now the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge, built as the Masonic Female Orphan School of Ireland, will already be familiar with McCurdy’s legacy, as it also includes these landmark Dublin hotels.
The Italianate style was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their Isle of Wright summer residence, built between 1845 and 1851.
The tower takes working from home to a whole new level. From its top, in a lounge cum study lit by arched windows on all sides, the views are impressive. Indeed you can work from any room in the house; there are fixed wireless ethernet connections with speeds of up to 100MB.
Set on the Co Tipperary side of this expansive body of water the residence comes to market with 119 acres of good quality pasture land that would also suit prime beef or bloodstock needs, given the presence of a stone-fronted stable block, as well as accommodation for an estate manager in a detached bungalow.
The walled gardens and orchard are substantial, extending to about two acres and including pear and apple trees. More could be made of this sheltered space to give you all-year round planting and a self-sufficient supply of fruit and vegetables.
For fans of water sports and fishing the property offers unrivalled access to the lake. Its harbour has a timber jetty where water is about 1m deep but this leads out to a deep water channel within the bay. It can accommodate fishing boats, a small sail boat or a pleasure cruiser. There is also coarse fishing as well as brown trout and even salmon, subject to licence. You can also swim from here, or canoe or kayak. And while the charming village of Terryglass is about a 10-minute walk, a trip to the shop for milk will only take a minute by boat.
The shoreline is a special amenity area, which means it would be difficult to get planning for a harbour: this shows the value of the existing one, according to joint agent Walter Talbot.
The water frontage is also part of the property, meaning the current owners can open the French doors of their drawingroom and walk through lawned terraces right down to the shoreline.
The house is as impressive as its setting. In walk-in condition, rare in the country house market, it is heated by an oil-fired boiler and a wood burner so you can switch between the two, an aspect that has become more important during the current energy crisis.
Its entrance hallway is at the base of the tower and leads through to one of its finest features, a large baronial hall with carved staircase and wrought-iron balustrades, top-lit by a glazed atrium. The stairs leads up to a gallery on the first floor.
Slevoir House remained in the Hickie family until 1965 when it was sold to the Salesian Sisters, an Italian order that was invited to Ireland in the 1920s by the bishop of Limerick.
The house was used as a convent until the mid-1980s when it was sold to Germans who set up a fish smokehouse in a disused barn on the property.
In 1999 it sold at auction for IR£3.1million to an American who never lived there. It made headlines again when it sold to investors for more than €4million in 2006. They had planned to turn it into a luxury country house hotel – and there is still potential to do this, subject to planning.
It is listed on the Property Price Register in 2013 as having sold for €450,000 but this is likely to exclude its considerable lands, which may have sold for between €10,000 and €12,000 per acre, according to De Vere-Hunt.
Set on the outskirts of Terryglass, Co Tipperary’s pleasure cruise capital, and a resort town that teems with activity from about Easter to the end of September, it is seeking €2.95million through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Talbot.
For someone on a big buying spree, the house next door is also for sale. It belonged to the Hickie family who built Slevoir, and when they sold the period property in the 1960s they retained about 50 acres. Situated farther from the village the 278sq m (3,000sq ft) property has 0.8km of water frontage and is seeking €1.495million through Sherry FitzGerald Talbot.