Writer’s scene stealer

HAVING searched the entire country for an Irish home back in the mid-1990s, Austrian playwright Felix Mitterer settled happily upon the set piece that is Castlelyons House.

The north Cork Georgian home had utter privacy in its ancient wooded grounds and “secret gardens”, but it also had something else – a village on its doorstep.

“You think you are out in the country, but you go out the gate and just up the street, there’s a bar, small shop and all the other services,” he says of the house’s quite special, edge-of-village setting.

He, his wife and his then-teenage daughter Anna came here after a year in Dublin and found the setting – as much as the very original period home itself – to be the draw. With a reluctant move back near Vienna now dictated, they are preparing to uproot and leave the house and gardens in a much-improved state than they found them more than a decade ago.

The gardens include an apple and pear orchard (stone outhouses have baskets of just-harvested fruit), a glasshouse and greenhouse, vegetable and herb gardens and shrubs and flowers. There’s also the outline of an old tennis court and wooded river walks inside old demesne walls.

A high stone boundary wall and screening trees – including a fruiting fig trying to make a break for village freedom over the 10ft wall – runs along the road side of the three-acre property, the Shanowen stream forms a back boundary, while sheep graze in a farmer’s field on the distant side.

Setting is just 20 minutes or so from Cork city, off the Dublin road via Rathcormac, while also nearby is Fermoy. Estate agent Jarleth Boyd of Savills says buyers could come from Fermoy, Cork city or from overseas. Asking price is €1.5 million and it’s a rare enough offering, with gardens to lure in lovers of nature.

Castlelyons House dates from the 1820s and was built for Joshua Browne Ryder, whose family included a number of Church of Ireland clergy and they also owned Ballinterry House, home to the late Hollywood actor Hurd Hatfield).

It’s a house of immense, but understated, architectural integrity, with its interiors are faithfully kept. In fact, several of the formal reception rooms are like a stage set in their wholly lived-in charm.

The main house, with a two-storey side wing, has up to six bedrooms, plus an easily-accessed series of attic rooms, while beneath is a wonderful wide entrance hall beyond a graceful fanlight and sturdy door.

A Shaker-style kitchen overlooks a kitchen garden and there are two large reception rooms, a study, library, utility rooms and stores.

Original glazing, for the most part in large, elegant sash frames, is a feature, as are views to the gardens.

Those gardens are graced by 200 and 300-year-old hardwoods, , such as a horse chestnut with its dome of sheltered space under its still-leafy canopy.

More recent planting includes herbaceous borders, drifts of lavender, roses, climbers up the courtyard’s stout and well-kept outbuildings and two-bed guest cottage.


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