Westview on the North Mall in Lismore isn’t historic just because the Duke of Devonshire built it in the 1820s – it’s also a little historic because its barn used to be the Popcorn Palace where local film buffs and courting couples came to watch movies.
“The doctor who owned the house used it as a private cinema, possibly in the 1970s or 80s," say the owners adding that several locals have spoken fondly of visits to the Popcorn Palace during their courting days.
Additional interest attaches to the late Georgian semi detached property because it was the childhood home of travel writer Dervela Murphy who was born in the town in the 1930s and mentions Westview in her autobiography Wheels upon Wheels.
The current owners have had possession of the former cinema, the two storey house and its extensive walled gardens for almost 20 years. ‘
’It was built in 1825 as one of a number of houses for estate managers for the Devonshire Estate and has elaborate ceiling cornicing rooms done by Italian artisans,’’ reveals the owner.
When they bought it, Westview had a high number of original features but was a little lacking in the type of creature comforts we have come to expect in modern times.
“The roof had been repaired but the house hadn’t really been touched – it had original flooring, shuttered sash windows, picture rails and beautiful cornicing but was difficult to heat because of its thick stone walls.’’
Over a two year period the owners renovated and modrenised making it a comfortable home for them selves and their two children.
“We put in bathrooms and central heating, added insulation where we could and ten years ago we put in solar panels."
A listed building its single glazed sash windows at the front are protected, although the owners managed to create some extra thermal insulation with the addition of detachable storm windows on the inside. They say that closing the original timber shutters on a cold winter’s night works well to keep the heat in.
Inside the front door is a hallway filled with original features including a fanlight, elaborate cornicing and a timber staircase as well as patterned tiles which the owners were delighted to discover intact under some old linoleum.
The feature which most impressed them on first viewing the house was a huge arched window on the stairs,“This floods the hallway with light’’.
At either side of the hallway there are high ceilinged reception rooms with cornicing, ceiling mouldings and picture rails.One has a marble fireplace while the other has a carved timber fireplace, both rooms have stoves and bookcases.
A door at the rear of one of the reception rooms leads to the kitchen. Fitted by the owners with maple units, granite countertops and a Belfast sink it has open shelving and all signs of being a well used kitchen where fruit from the gardens is turned in to jam.
It has views of the flowers in the courtyard outside and for all year round colour, a large vivid painting by a Venezuelan artist.
Off a corridor at the rear there is a bathroom, a pantry and a cloakroom.
The first floor four bedrooms with timber flooring, high sash windows and cornicing, two at the front two at the back. The owners used the roof space above the kitchen, (a single storey later 19th Century addition), to create an en suite for a bedroom at the rear. Opening up the space they fitted large roof lights and a corner bath.
Previous owners had already opened up the main attic to create two large rooms with beamed ceilings and roof lights. To provide access to it, the current owners added a ladder stairs.
Outside the kitchen at the rear of Westview is a pretty courtyard with an herb garden a frog pond and space for sitting out. Beyond it is the huge stone barn which used to be the Popcorn Palace and since been comprehensively renovated.
A two storey building with around 1,000 sq ft of space it two large living rooms as utility space, a bathroom and sauna. A new owner could turn it into an apartment.
Outside the barn there’s a decking area, a log store and original cobblestone pathway leading to an extensive lawned garden enclosed by high stonewalls. Along the sides are colourful beds planted with cottage garden flowers such as sweet pea, wisteria, roses and strikingly tall purple lupins.
One section is devoted to fruit and has loganberries, raspberries, and strawberries and also has plum and apple trees. At the bottom of the garden there is a polytunnel for growing tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables.
Westview is one of a number of Georgian properties on the South Mall, a street that was laid out under the direction of the sixth Duke of Devonshire who also reconstructed Lismore’s castle in gothic style and landscaped its gardens.
All the amenities of the town including schools and shops as well as the castle and gardens are within a short walk.
Quoting a guide of €525,000, Brian Gleeson Auctioneers say this is an impressive property with beautiful gardens which will appeal to a variety of different buyers.
Verdict: A spacious and comfortable home with Georgian elegance and bountiful gardens.