In June 1974 it received national and worldwide attention when its then residents, Lord and Lady Donoughmore, were kidnapped by the IRA in an attempt to influence British policy in relation to the Northern Irish hunger strikes.
The people of nearby Clonmel came out in force to support the popular local couple and, in an unwanted reaction, the IRA drew an unprecedented amount of attention to its members countrywide.
The couple were released in the Phoenix Park five days later with Lord Donoughmore subsequently writing an acclaimed account of the couple’s ordeal. Knocklofty slipped back into anonymity and the estate was sold by the family in 1983.
The original house is Georgian, dating back to the late 17th century, with subsequent Victorian additions in the 18th and 19th century. It is arranged in a three storey central block with seven bays and two storey gable-ended wings at each side, forming a three sided court. A single storey corridor with domed porch was built along the front in the 19th century which is rich in history. On completion of a campaign with Oliver Cromwell in 1650, Richard P Hutchinson was rewarded with several thousand acres including Knocklofty.
Richard Hely Hutchinson was created Earl of Donoughmore in 1800 and the property stayed in the family until 1983. It became a country house hotel following that sale, but business failed and current owner, Denis English bought it from the liquidator in 1994. The building was subsequently leased to another hotelier but the building is now back up for sale.
The premises at Knocklofty is quite substantial with the main house alone covering some 22,600 sq ft set in 63 acres of parkland and pleasure grounds. Although much has changed over the years, some of the original grandeur remains. The drawing room still contains its original parquet floor with a gold and white plasterwork ceiling and carved wooden fireplace.
French windows open onto stone-clad terraces with stunning views over the river Suir. There is also an original oak-panelled dining room and a wonderful two-storey library, the upper gallery featuring a wrought-iron balustrade and ornamental bookcases on three sides. The main house has its own bar and kitchen area. It was home to a quite significant walled garden, which has now fallen into disuse.
The agents say a new owner could potentially re-launch as a luxury country-house hotel without significant further investment, with all 17 rooms already en-suite. Knocklofty also owns rights on the river Suir for a mile of single bank fishing with some of the best salmon runs in Ireland.
Due to the usage as a country house hotel in more recent years, ancillary accommodation was created throughout the estate. Should a potential purchaser so wish, there are a further 22 individual properties on the grounds, all fully occupied, which can also be purchased in association with an extra 100 acres of land. The agent says the vendor is open to offers but, as a guide, the entire was on offer in 2013 for €3m.
Agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes are looking for offers in the region of €1.95m for the estate and can be contacted on 01 6399300.