The first doctor based in Clifden was brought to the town in the early 1800s by John Darcy, the man who established Clifden and owned most of what Connemara is today.
His son, Hyacinth Darcy, did not have his father's financial savvy, and ended up selling the entire town and 17,000 acres of Connemara, less than two decades after inheriting some of the most beautiful lands in Ireland.
After the sale, Hyacinth moved from the family home at Clifden Castle to The Rectory – also built by his father, where he took the position as first rector of Clifden.
The Old Rectory – as it is now known – has been home to Dr John Casey and his family since 1975, and is one of the finest private residences in Connemara.
The property lies on five acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands overlooking Clifden Bay, and includes a cut-granite coach house set in a cobblestone courtyard which houses a wine cave, gun and fishing-tackle room, and turf shed. The Caseys completely restored the house dating from the early 1800s, replacing the old butler’s pantry with a sun room – which catches the sun all day.
In 2002, the family converted the old coach house and ostlers quarters to a three-bedroom guest lodge which lies in the courtyard.
The interiors of the property, clad in a mixture of Virginia Creeper and Chinese wisteria, are elegant and refined.
Both dining and drawing rooms feature original fireplaces, pitch-pine flooring and overlook the manicured gardens.
“We have something in bloom 12 months of the year, and also planted a millennium orchard with cherry, plum, apple, pear and walnut trees,” says Dr John Casey.
In addition, the gardens also provide a bounty of vegetables from beds and a greenhouse, and feature a rare cork tree – which came as a seedling from the Domecq vineyard in Jerez.
The main house, with its striking overhanging eaves stretches to 300sq m with four fine bedrooms on the upper floor. Three further bedrooms lie in the coach house, which itself extends to 119sq m.
The Old Rectory, just minutes from the sea for morning swims, is somewhat of a rarity to appear on the market – as the majority of the great houses of Connemara became hotels.
The property is for sale through joint agents Ganly Walters and Matt O'Sullivan with an asking price of €1.5 million.