Return to grand style in this gothic pile

Rose Martin ambles around an Elizabethan-style home that comes with its very own ruins attached.

PERHAPS the most unusual estate sale in Co Cork is being handled by Sherry FitzGerald O'Donovan at the moment.

Ballygiblin House, near Cecilstown in Mallow, is a 140-acre estate with a five-bedroom residence, but it also comes with the gothic ruins of the old Ballygiblin House, which has a long association with the Wrixon-Becher family.

It's on the market with a price tag of 2 million through Michael O'Donovan.

Although the history of the Wrixon-Bechers goes back to the Elizabethan era, Ballygiblin House was built in the 18th century by Thomas Becher, aide-de-camp to William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne.

In 1830, an overhaul of the original property was commissioned from William Morrison who remodelled the property in Elizabethan style.

According to selling agent Michael O'Donovan, it has a beautiful setting on a high point of the parkland and an imposing limestone entrance with a mature, tree-lined driveway.

Considerable interest has already been shown in the property with a number of viewers interested in restoring the house, says the agent.

It was in use until the early 1960s, when it was abandoned and had its roof removed by its then owner, a Captain Hornsby of Mallow.

The story is mirrored in another gothic property in South Cork.

Castle Freke, the impressive, 19th century seat of the Freke family, had its windows ripped out and roof removed in the '50s and lay abandoned until this year, when restoration work began on the imposing pile.

Coincidentally, a direct descendant of the last Lord Carbery has purchased and is now restoring his family's former home.

There will be an open day at Castle Freke grounds on Sunday July 25 from 4-10pm as a fundraiser for local community projects. It might be the chance to monitor progress.

Perhaps the same will happen at Ballygiblin under a new owner it would make a terrific trophy property, despite having shrunk from its original 20,000 acre estate to the present 140-acre farm.

The Ballygiblin House that stands now was formerly a stable block in the courtyard adjoining the castellated property, but is now a period home in its own right.

Clad in Virginia creeper, it has a small enclosed courtyard and private gardens to the rear and comes with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two reception rooms, a conservatory and large kitchen/dining room with obligatory Aga.

The cut-stone yard has 14 loose boxes and other store rooms which could also offer conversion potential, says Mr O'Donovan. There's also a walled-in paddock and sand arena to the back of the yard.

At one stage, Ballygiblin was the home of trainer Jack Lombard, who ran a successful racing and training stud there.

It was he who purchased the property from the Wrixon-Bechers in 1935.

The home farm is top quality arable land, says Mr O'Donovan, and is under tillage at present, but would also be suitable for grassland farming or equestrian use, he says.

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