It’s hard to describe Ross House outside Westport without the use of too many superlatives. A rambling Georgian gem that was actually built onto a much older farmhouse – as is evident from the exposed stone walls in the kitchen – lying on a 70-acre peninsula in Clew Bay.
In fact, the current owners are the only family who have not added to the main house, which dates from 1838 and is described in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as “an important component of the early 19th-century domestic built heritage of Co Mayo” with “deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking an inlet of Clew Bay”.
It is the location on the peninsula on Clew Bay that makes the property something really special. It was the home and residence of the late Meike Blackwell, a physiotherapist, artist and author who resided at the Co Mayo beauty spot for half a century – more time than she spent anywhere else in the world.
Sliced into Clew Bay, the natural ocean inlet with Ireland’s best examples of sunken drumlins, the private peninsula on which Ross House lies has a 70-acre (28.33 hectares) working farm with superb panoramic vistas overlooking Tonaknick Point in the near distance.
Its waterside setting allows a Rib (rigid inflatable boat) or dinghy to be kept at a small jetty that runs from the shore, or should new owners require a greater draft, there is scope to anchor a mooring in deeper waters. Mayo Sailing Club is a 15-minute spin away – either by Rib or by car.
Internally the property is a really charming pile and filled to the brim with contemporaneous antiques. It has six bedrooms, four of which are suites with bathrooms, and all four reception rooms have period details such as deep architraves and elegant fireplaces.
A later addition in the 20th century added a library, studio, two additional bathrooms, a wine cellar and two pantries for the kitchen – which was originally part of a 17th-century farmhouse. The Ber-exempt 444sq m (4,778sq ft) property is on the market through Lisney Sotheby’s International Realty seeking €2.5 million.
Extending to almost a quarter of a mile, the avenue to the house is lined with Montbretia, as are many of the gravelled paths that lead to the woodlands, while Lovers’ Walk leads to an attractive bathhouse adjacent to a stony beach for early morning swims.
The walled garden has been used for almost two centuries and is filled with historic planting, making the most of its southerly aspect. “Mum was often out there in the early mornings picking fruit and vegetables for guests – at times up to 20 – for lunch,” recalls son Alex.
Though the farm has 20 cattle – well short of its optimum potential – the 70 acres are supported by a modern farmyard with livestock housing, two cobbled courtyards, coach houses and stables. Just at the entrance to the property lies a two-storey lodge, which has two bedrooms and views of the bay from upstairs.
Added to the mix is a 4,000-year-old megalithic tomb, a twin-chamber court cairn identified on maps as that of Diarmuid and Gráinne, the fabled Irish lovers on the run from the great warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill.
All in all, Ross House, which lies equidistant from Newport and Westport, is a charming property. Its position close to Westport, on a private peninsula surrounded by clean waters teeming with lobster, crab and mackerel, adds to its charm.