Waterford estate with own hydroelectric power – and a Priscilla Presley connection – for €1.85m

Pouldrew House, on 45ac, has been restored to a beautiful home with potential to go off-grid

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Address: Pouldrew House, Kilmeaden, Co Waterford X91 HD00
Price: €1,850,000
Agent: Sotheby's International
View this property on MyHome.ie

More than 100 years ago, an article in the Waterford News described Pouldrew House in tones of wonder. The anonymous writer was deeply fascinated by the fact the estate had hot and cold running water but reserved particular admiration for the lighting, noting that "the countryman who passes bye [sic] and expects to see occasionally a stray of light from some cabin, is suddenly transfixed, and gazes at it with superstitious awe, and astonishment".

Back then, Pouldrew, which had originally been built in 1814, had undergone major works thanks to the input of wealthy industrialist Richard Power.

A century and a half on, Pouldrew is still astonishing, standing tall on the edge of a private lake fed by a tributary of the River Suir. "It's the house people know as they go by," explains Alexander Jan, whose father, Dr Jan Mohamed, had bought it more or less on a whim. A native of Singapore, he had come to Ireland to work in Waterford Regional Hospital – now known as University Hospital Waterford – (among others), and became the first practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Ireland.

“We had been planning to move to Australia,” Jan recalls. “It was 1992, and we were all packed up, we had our visas and everything. Then Dad went into town to buy us marbles in a toy shop. He was walking past the estate agent and he saw the house. He went in and asked the price. . .” And that was that. “Dad bought it and sank a few hundred thousand more into doing it up. It was one of his passions.”


That passion included fixing up the roof, damp proofing, rewiring, replastering, polishing and painting; previous owners, according to Jan, having somewhat let it go. He describes chickens once living in the basement and the evidence of bicycle races through the grand hall, which today is almost impossible to imagine in these graceful spaces.

The house, a “magical oasis”, as Jan puts it, is surrounded by 18 hectares (45 acres) of gardens, pasture and woodlands. With memories of parties in the lavish reception rooms, sessions in the cosy kitchen and the wonders of a 6m-high (20ft) Christmas tree in the imposing hallway, he also recalls surprisingly satisfying hours with his father on their hands and knees, reclaiming the beautiful original timber floors. “I had come back from school and said to Dad: ‘Let’s see what’s under that awful paisley carpet’.”

Dr Jan was well known in the community and in the wider world. Near(ish) neighbours, the artist Gottfried Helnwein and his wife, Renate, had recommended him to Priscilla Presley, who came with her daughter, Lisa Marie, on several occasions for acupuncture. They then became friends. On one occasion, Presley is reported to have made an offer to buy the house, as it was also rumoured, did Brad Pitt. Chinese ambassadors and international royalty came and enjoyed chats with locals and neighbours alike.

Dr Jan died in 2019, and Alexander, who now lives abroad, is selling the house through Sotheby’s International with an asking price of €1.85 million. The house had previously gone on the market in early 2020 but we all know what happened next.

“It’s a house that people have to come and see,” says Jan, who quickly realised what damage travel restrictions could do to potential viewings. “One of my friends describes it as a trophy home for someone returning home, someone who has done well,” and it is a house with a reputation to conjure with. “Dad had a letter from a friend who had forgotten his address. The envelope said ‘Asian Doctor, The Big House on the Lake, Waterford.’ It found us, too.”

For anyone considering an alternative to an upmarket Dublin townhouse, €1.85 million is an attractive price. You’re exactly two hours from Dublin, and 20 minutes from Waterford city. You get eight bedrooms, laid out over three floors, plus a separate stable block with scope for more conversion. There’s also a games room and a bar. In all, the house has 342sq m (3,680sq ft) of accommodation but Pouldrew House has another enticement up its capacious sleeve.

Farther up the grounds, there is a gorgeous waterfall running a hydroelectric system, providing enough power to heat the house. Remembering fixing it and harnessing the energy, Jan grows as passionate about its potential as his father once did about restoring the house itself. He promises, excitedly, to offer any advice and support to the new owners. With energy uncertainty, and new eco-thinking, your very own power supply could be just what you need. Add well water and super-fast internet provided by (I kid you not) Elon Musk’s Starlink, and you can quickly and smoothly go off-grid, should you need to.

“One of Dad’s favourite ideas was ‘simple life, high thinking’,” says Jan. This might be just the place for it. Oh, and did we mention there is reputed to be a 40-carat ruby ring lost somewhere in your own private lake? As if you needed further inducement.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

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