Pop star Mark Feehily is selling his lakeside Sligo home, a generously arranged two-level ranch house, complete with cowboy bath and stellar views of Lough Gill and its 16 islands, immortalised in WB Yeats's poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Feehily, one of the singers in superstar pop band Westlife, bought the house in 2006 and has since then used it as a retreat from his hectic touring and recording schedules.
He said he knew he was going to buy it before he ever crossed its threshold and has overseen every stage of its refurbishment, from drafting plans by hand for the builders to follow to sourcing furniture and sanitaryware.
The property was built in the 1970s, reputedly by an American pilot who, the story goes, flew in an architect from the US to design it. While the architect is unnamed, the property has retained its American mid-century feel.
Built on a slope to elevate the living space, it was already well sited, but it has been completely redesigned to make the most of its setting. It now has a large front deck, almost the same size as the property itself, where you can drink in the views. The garage is at drive-in level and includes storage, a wine room and an office. From here you can climb stairs, surrounded by backlit shelving, to the main living floor.
Feehily’s dream house recognises the beauty of Ireland’s lakelands, a proposition that offers seductive waterside views equal to those of the nation’s many coastal properties. Set on almost 3.3 acres (about 1.3 hectares), covering both sides of the road, the estate gives you frontage to Lough Gill.
It includes the main residence, which is bounded to the rear by the deciduous trees of Slish Wood – which appears as Sleuth Wood in another of Yeats’s poems, The Stolen Child. In addition there’s a single-storey dwelling that’s been converted into a recording studio and a shed.
Across the road, the field, about 0.7 of an acre, runs down to the lake, where Feehily swims, kayaks and uses his stand-up paddleboard. There are also the remains of a jetty that could be reinstated by a boating enthusiast.
From the living room you can see Church Island to the north, considered by some to be the real inspiration for The Lake Isle of Innisfree. It is home to the ruins of an early church, founded by Lommán of Trim and burned during the Sack of Sligo in 1642. The poet visited it many times, according to former staff of Clogherevagh House, built originally by the Gore-Booth family and now used by St Angela’s College.
The main entrance to Feehily’s house meanwhile is from its deck, via a set of shallow steps. There are two accommodation wings, set on either side of its split-level, open-plan living space.
The living area opens out to the deck. From here you can see the lake, Benbulbin's bare head to the west and glimpses of Parke's Castle to the northeast, in neighbouring Co Leitrim, for the county line bisects the lough.
The living room has plush velvet upholstered seating, and a centred chimney breast creates a natural break between it and the kitchen, which is up a level, and accessed via steps that run either side of the feature.
The kitchen is sizeable; its island could probably give any in the Lough Gill archipelago a run for their money. Sunshine-yellow stools are set around the island’s timber top, where there is a six-burner-hob and the ability to keep the cook company. The pantry is similarly well designed.
The use of sloping roofs and clerestory windows in the bedrooms delivers private yet light-filled slumber chambers. Feehily told selling agent Philip Guckian that he hasn't closed the curtains in 15 years.
The main bedroom is painted a soothing sap green, while the principal feature in the family bathroom is a double-ended copper cowboy bath that boasts impressive views that will have you soaking yourself a little longer. Adjacent to the bathroom is a home office with picture windows framing the lake views.
The separate building housing the recording studio is a refurbished dwelling with exposed stone walls that also has a home bar.
The nearest place to get a pint of milk is the local Applegreen, which is just a six-minute drive away, while Moran's Bar in Ballintogher is the place to go for a pint of plain.
The property, with a BER of C1, is on the market seeking €1.15 million through joint agents SherryFitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Draper.