Live like a lord: Wicklow estate that featured in The Tudors and Matt Damon film for €8m

Hundred-acre grounds feature an Italianate manor house and castle ruins used for filming Jonathan Rhys Meyers series

Address: Dunran Demesne, Ashford, Co Wicklow
Price: €8,000,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes
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While designs for the house at Dunran Demesne outside Ashford in Co Wicklow were being finalised back in the late 1790s, work had already commenced on the 100 acres of surrounding parklands. Back then, General “Gun” Cunningham, later titled Lord Rossmore, had an army of manpower who diverted streams in order to create a lake on his land that still, some 200 years later, remains a focal point in these magnificent gardens.

Home to the same family for the past two decades, Dunran is almost an empty nest, so the couple are downsizing from their hideaway in the Wicklow wilderness. But despite feeling far from everything, the country sporting estate is only 22 miles south of Dublin.

It’s difficult to know where to begin, but this little slice of paradise in the countryside ticks an awful lot of boxes for those with deep pockets, as the 100-acre (40-hectare) estate is listed at €8 million through Sherry FitzGerald Country Estates.

Firstly, there’s the three-bay two-storey pile, described on the National Built Heritage Inventory as “a fine and well-preserved house”, adding it’s “a strong asset to the heritage of the area”.


Its entry calls the Italianate-style country house Dunran Castle, but over the centuries it appears to have become a bit modest and dropped the “castle” bit.

That’s probably a good thing to ward off confusion as the estate has its own castle too. Known as Kiltimon Castle, it dates from the 1500s, and was originally a three-storey Norman tower. When the estate house was being built in the 1790s/1800s, the castle was given a facelift by Lord Rossmore, who added its decorative bartizans. It is surrounded by a circular walled garden and is featured in scenes from The Tudors (the historical drama series starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

The idyllic setting, with views to the Irish Sea against a backdrop of forested mountains, was also used when Matt Damon was in Ireland during the pandemic; he celebrated his birthday with a slice of cake on the pony paddock during lockdown while filming The Last Duel.

Inside the significant 750sq m (8,070sq ft) of the manor house, none of the rooms feel overwhelmingly large thanks to its Georgian design. At garden level, there is a large country kitchen, a television room, a diningroom, an office and an all-important ballroom, which was a later addition. The family who live here love to entertain, and the capacity for the ballroom is 80-100, while they have hosted two family weddings with marquees on the lawn for about 150 guests at a time.

There are four bedrooms on the top floor with a fifth bedroom at basement level, where there is also a game room and a wine cellar. At 55sq m this level has the capacity for a full-sized billiards table – and all the kids if you’re having a party upstairs.

If billiards aren’t your thing, and you would prefer to be outside, there’s a championship-sized tennis court and an equestrian arena. The owners are amateur Connemara pony breeders who have had lots of fun rearing winners here – all of whom have the Dunran prefix. The property enjoys sporting rights to the endless sheltered trails of the Coillte forest behind it, where owners love to take the horses for a hack. The estate also enjoys exclusive fishing rights over an additional 60 acres (24 hectares) until 2060.

Then there’s the river and its beautiful thatched boathouse, where you can row or power to the lake and picnic on one of its little islands.

If swimming is your thing, the location of Three Mile Water is more than explanatory for daily dips, while you’ll never tire of the walks on grounds. Not just through the thousands of mature trees and shrubs planted by Lord Rossmore, but also what owners have added over the years, including specimen trees such as Ginkgo biloba.

If you’re feeling a bit weary after all that exercise, Powerscourt Hotel and Spa is nearby for a bit of pampering or for overnight guests, if you happen to be throwing a shindig.

There are a few options for guests on the estate, too. Besides the main house, there are two charming gate lodges: the first lodge (86sq m) has two bedrooms and is newly renovated, while the second, a one-bedroom cottage called Goose Cuckoo gate lodge (sadly no one is aware of the origin of this name) is also beautifully renovated and lies to the southeast side of the grounds. There’s also a grooms apartment within the stables.

Besides an oxbow lake, rivers, mountains and 100 private acres with 200-year-old planting, if you’re in the market for a complete hideaway with an abundance of sporting facilities, a fine period home, and wish to be close to the capital, Durnan Demesne could be the ideal place for you.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables