Perfect country retreat

BOUGHT on a honeymoon visit to Ireland almost 40 years ago, Dereen House still has all the trappings of a more romantic era.

The period home in the Lee Valley in Co Cork has been an Irish holiday home hideaway for an internationally-based couple with a background in finance, and who have had houses in New York, Florida and Eaton Square in London, among other pretty desirable settings.

Up against such exalted company Dereen House is no slouch either, in fact its selling agent reckons it is one of the most modestly perfect country house packages to come to the Munster market in quite a few years.

Devoid of any bling or signs of vulgar spending, the setting in the landscape is its key appeal. It has 46 acres of land, including acres of centuries’ old mature woodland, running to a densely green valley with a stream, which foams in winter spate and which feeds into a crystal clear and an inspiredly scooped-out lake, giving a touch of ‘Powerscourt-lite’ to this sale offering.

Then, its immaculately kept grounds include a five-bedroomed bungalow directly alongside, used partly for guests and partly as possible staff accommodation as well, plus simple stone stables, utility buildings/garage, walled gardens brought back to stone-walled perfection by s skilled mason, a hard surface tennis court, and glenside walks down to that feature lake, stocked with fish and with a boat upturned, just ready for oars to be pulled out.

Dereen House is so private that even many people living near it in Coachford, 20 or so miles upriver of Cork city, don’t know that it exists.

It’s private, a real retreat, utterly blissful and with a beguiling, quirky and entirely appropriate interior – a place to weather the recession, if you can step up to the c€2.2 million asking price.

Auctioneer Brian Olden of Cohalan Downing is upbeat about its sale prospects despite the assorted ills of a credit crunch and economic recession. “It’s the best package I’ve seen come along for sale, in more than 15 years in the business,” he asserts.

It’s not that he claims it to be the best house, for the very original period c 3,200 sq ft home is only one element of the sum of its parts. In fact, very many families looking over it will consider extending from its current four reception rooms (one at first floor level) and four bedrooms: there’s immediate scope for adding on to the eastern side: contrasting contemporary glass box, anyone?

Other attributes that pair so neatly with it are interior feel, so old-worlde as to be almost museum-like, with a study panelled entirely in stripped old pine, and with some other of its main rooms lined with padded silk walls, or covered in red and green baize (could this be a leftover from the time it was owned by the O’Mahony family of Blarney Woollen Mills fame?) as well as the surrounding maturity, comforting but not threatening, tiered and sloping lawns and oh, that magnificent lake to look down to.

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