It’s one of the most expensive Munster properties offered in many years and, in a motors-marque coincidence, is being sold by the former holder of the Mitsubishi Motors franchise for the UK and Ireland, David Blackburn and family.
Lisselan Estate, close to Clonakilty, has over 300 acres alongside the River Argideen with 30 acres of tended gardens, plus an 80-acre, nine-hole golf course.
It includes a 30-acre section of land that had been home to tenant farmer John Ford, and his son William Ford who both emigrated just after the Famine in 1847. Henry Ford was later born on a Michigan farm, in 1863, and went on to revolutionise the way cars were made on assembly lines, making them affordable to consumers.
Originally part of an Irish estate of several thousand acres stretching from the Argideen river near Ballinascarthy to the Atlantic at Inchydoney, the picturesque house at Lisselan was built 1851-1853 by the Bence-Jones family, landlords to the Fords and to many others.
It is understood the selling agents, David Ashmore and Ray O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald with Knight Frank in London, are bringing the estate sale, with Ford ancestral home connection, to the attention of the Ford family in the US. Some 165 years after John and William Ford left with hunger and ambition in their family belly, Lisselan’s €9m finery might not be too far from the luxury more current Ford family generations have been reared in.
Built in a simple, French chateau style with turret, Lisselan has only ever been sold twice before — first, to Charles Orr Stanley, a radio, radar and later TV pioneer though his firm Pye Electrical, and a director of Sunbeam Wolsely. The Stanley family bought Lisselan in 1930, and sold 60 years later after enhancing its noted Robinsonian-style gardens.
It was taken on by wealthy businessman Mr Blackburn in 1990, who maintained it and added a nine-hole golf course. He regularly opened the gardens to the public. Plans were also made for a Ford Museum on the estate which has a collection of vintage cars.
Coincidentally, Mr Blackburn made much of his fortune through a Mitsubishi franchise — and Henry Ford was also a pioneer of the franchise car sale mode.
Now retired, Mr Blackburn said: “It’s time to pass on the challenge to others who might exploit the wonderful environment and superb facilities that Lisselan has to offer.”
In a further link to horsepower, Lisselan Farms was the owner of the Fergie Sutherland-trained Imperial Call, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1996.