Sublime Kildare Georgian estate for €9.25m

Ballindoolin House, in Co Kildare, is on the market for only the third time in its 200-year history

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Address: Ballindoolin House, Carbury, Co Kildare, R45 V653
Price: €9,250,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes

The fate of Irish country estates is most often told in depletion and decline. Land is sold, houses gently fade away. Just occasionally they have better luck. When Co Kildare’s Ballindoolin was last on the market in 2014, for only the second time in its 200-year existence, it was extremely charming yet rather chilly.

Back then, the eight-bedroom late-Georgian house had 250 acres of farmland, which is not to be sneezed at. It also had no central heating: obviously far more sneeze-inducing. Robert and Esther Moloney, who had inherited it in 1993, had done a great deal in terms of fixing up the roof, rewiring and replumbing. They also found a trove of papers – 40 boxes of letters, ledgers and other estate records. These were donated to the archives at nearby Maynooth University, where Dr Ciarán Reilly is making a full study of them.

Reilly has a clutch of fascinating stories. Built by the Bor family of Dutch bankers, whose origins in the Dutch East India Company might be seen in the Hindu Gothic style plasterwork in the wonderful hallway, the house passed into the hands of their land agent, William Tyrrell, after a generation of Bors had borrowed ill-advisedly against their expectations. Tales of the house as a social hub are set against attempts to burn it out (like so many of its contemporaries) during the War of Independence. When Tyrrell's son was injured at the Battle of the Somme, he came home to recuperate, eventually recovering enough to go out hunting – which means, if you think about it, that he got over being shot at by shooting things.

Ballindoolin last sold in 2017, to an Austrian businessman, who fell in love with the house, its enviable position (less than an hour’s drive to Dublin city centre) and its stories. His plan was to lavish it with care and attention, and ultimately move over with his family. The first part worked out beautifully – Ballindoolin is in showpiece condition, but the family’s plans changed, and so it is now on the market, with Sherry FitzGerald at a guide of €9.25 million.


So what does the guts of €10 million get you? Rather a lot, as it happens. There is a whopping 1,105sq m (11,903sq ft) of living accommodation, and the current owners expanded the land holdings, to 625 acres of tillage. Not only have they fully restored the house, they future-proofed it too. This means you don’t just get central heating, you get underfloor heating, three-phase power and more. Shutters were repaired, sash windows renovated, chimneys relined, a new kitchen put in and a sunroom added. Already dripping with original features, the rather astonishing original wallpaper in the drawing room was sent away to be remade.

There are still eight bedrooms, but these are now spread over the two upper floors and have their own new bathrooms, although it’s more likely you’d end up using two of the top-floor spaces as a library and study. And if you have a yen for a project, you can still get stuck in. The arched and atmospheric cellars have been cleaned up (so there’s plenty of space for your wine collection), but give you lots of room to do more.

Doing more seems to be the order of the day at Ballindoolin, as out the back you have a coach yard, a stable yard and a farm yard. The stable yard features a restaurant and a museum, and I’m told that some of the workers spent so long on their painstaking project that they also used some of the abundant apples to make cider. Evidence of this can be seen in a clutch of tempting flagons.

Equally tempting is the incredibly beautiful two-acre walled garden. Brought back to life under the Great Gardens Restoration Scheme, it includes separate nut, herb, fruit and vegetable gardens, rose beds and melon pits. These latter have spots to dig in steaming piles of horse manure, to create the warmth to grow exotic fruits. That, plus all the land, makes you muse that Ballindoolin would be an ideal spot for compound living, should you have the desire and the funds to have a stab at salubrious self-sufficiency. It could also be a hotel, or an artist’s retreat – if the right foundation came along.

While the house, lands and gate lodge (designed originally by the famous William Morrison for the Duke of Abercorn) are for sale at €9.25 million, if you're a little less land hungry, there's an option to buy it in separate lots: the house and 490 acres at €8 million, and the outer farm and 135 acres at €1.25 million.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture