Stepping out of the shadows of Monkstown’s restored castle

STEEPED in the past, but contemporary in just about every other way is the Coach House, in the historic shadow of Monkstown Castle.

Set just across the Monkstown demesne access lane from the hugely restored castle, the Coach House is an appealing, manageable buy with some pretty impressive neighbours, some very new, other very, very old. How old? Try four centuries.

It comes up for sale as a means of funding the further phases of restoration and conversion of the original 1636 castle: the castle was reportedly built for one groat or four pennies, after its wily owner Anastacia Archdeacon (nee Gould) charged its building crew for their food, accommodation and other provisions.

Now, the castle’s reborn coach house is launched for sale with a €425,000 asking price, via estate agent Stephen Clarke of O’Donoghue Clarke.

“I’ve to find home for the ‘child’ first, and then we’ll look after the ‘mother’,” he quips, standing by the towering hulk of the quite extraordinary multi-million euro castle re-birth, the latest in a line of Co Cork castle salvations, including Cor, Kilcoe and Dunboy.

Although the castle at Monkstown Demesne was first conceived by its 2007 co-purchaser Niall Fitzpatrick as a unique one-off house, he has more recently secured planning permission for its conversion instead to three very large apartments, of 1,580 to 2,260 sq ft apiece.

The castle’s exterior has been restored with an amount of exactitude, with lime render, slate roof, leaded valleys, tall pointed gables and chimneys, refashioned mullioned limestone windows, and cast iron guttering, all done to ensure another few centuries of survival and use. In its centuries of existence, it has served as a private home, as a home for wealthy clergy, as a military barracks, a HQ for a badminton club, and as the clubhouse of the ‘new’ Monkstown Golf Club from 1908 to the late 1970s, when it was gutted by fire.

The castle’s full renovation story and future uses will be covered here later this year when internal work advances (see www.monkstowncastle.com for a fair overview to date) but the immediate property market interest is in the Coach House’s sale.

Its construction dovetailed with the major works being undertaken on the castle itself, with the same mindful workers involved, under the aegis of builder/foreman Nigel Clifford, a clearly capable Kerryman.

He and some of his crew, such as artisan worker Pat ‘the wall’ Dunne, have worked on careful conservation work in the likes of Crosshaven House and on the famed steeple at St Anne’s Shandon in Cork city.

They’ve been two years working on the castle and, almost as an afterthought, on its coach house.

Occupying a small but attractively formed and placed site, fringed by old larch, pine, ash and oak trees the ‘new’ build is a quirky, bright, beguiling single storey, 1,340 sq ft two-bed home arranged around a central courtyard. This is very much seen as an outside room and closely detailed with sandstone paving, raised stone beds, lime renders and some slender 80mm cedar sheeting contrasting withe Rationel windows and doors.

Designed by architect Noel O’Keefe, it has its two bedrooms and two bathrooms towards the front, with high ceilings, but then ceiling heights really jump up another metre or so in the more contemporary-styled rear spaces, some rising up to 15’ high.

Features back here include high-placed clerestory windows under the Brazilian slate roof, some lofty Veluxes and a kitchen/dining room gable wall with five more windows and glimpses of demesne greenery through each. The Coach House might be somewhat overshadowed by the castle, but it clearly ain’t going to stay in its shade.

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