REACHED on a secluding driveway fringed by a bobbing audience of fuchsia, Lakefield House is a beautifully-built family home with a confident, understated presence - and 1.8ha (4.4 acres) of luxuriant gardens.
Long and low with the second storey set out in the roof-space by a sinuous eyebrow dormer, this is an architectural lens focused on what could be the most beautiful westerly view in Kerry — Caragh Lake.
Planning opportunities in this area are as rare as the Kerry Slug (Geomalacus maculosus), discovered in 1842.
Raising Caragh Lake to the level of a Special Area of Conservation, this little blighter has left a trail of sticky disappointments in its legally-sheltered trail.
Coming to market after 38 years in sole ownership via local joint agent Edmond O’Donoghue and Catherine McAuliffe of Savills, Cork, Lakefield House with its main dwelling and three letting units, is guided at €1.9 million and could prove itself a home, a second residence, an established business or a spectacular prize for the extended family. You decide.
Stepping into the hall on the east elevation caressed by wisteria with sentries of seasoned logs, the house all but puts its arms around you.
Three-centimetre thick quarry tile are warmed by underfloor heating installed when the house was designed and built in 1978 by its farsighted European owners.
All the tiled areas downstairs enjoy this primal luxury and the house features many intelligent updates.
To the right, an open tread L-shaped stair rises narrow, and flares in the turn to wider polished planks.
The house runs left and right from the entrance hall, all the principal rooms surrendering to an astonishing wrap-around view over Caragh Lake. The inner leaf of the walls was laid flat adding to the noticeable depth of walls and sills.
The insulation to the cavity, using Styropor® sheets adds to the cloistered hush, energy performance and perceptible rooting of the building. All exterior windows and doors were replaced in 2011 and the outside walls to the west are clad in a mixture of slate and mixed stone.
Reached by the entrance hall, a welcoming kitchen is of its time, and given the trend for everything 1970s, a rare joy. The teak in-frame kitchen units, crafted on-site in 1978, are still in-situ.
Apart from a refreshing lick of white to the louvers and the installation of state-of-the-art integrated eye-level steam and convection ovens, little has demanded change.
A wide breakfast bar calls the cook away from the mesmerising light play outdoors, to serve the family in one chic spin. New owners might re-configure the layout and re-consider the extensive tile counters.
A door leads out to the patio, its random flags poked open with vagrant flowers, their seeds breezed up to the house by prevailing winds channelled up from the lower Caragh River.
Moving through the generous hall, to the right, built-in floor-to-ceiling storage covers a sliver of wall.
There’s a practical utility room, a WC, and at the north end, a remarkably bright bedroom with en-suite, which serves both for guest accommodation and as a family office space.
More floor-to-ceiling wardrobes with ruddy coloured teak doors (sleek storage is a favoured element all over the house) take up one entire wall.
A pole bed with a hearty ledge of storage beneath catches the eye. The owners explain that the bedsteads were created on-site to accommodate their metrically sized mattresses.
Fit, as the carpenter put it, ‘for a cottage or a castle’ this is the assured style that pervades the choice of timeless, crafted furnishings and earthy textiles throughout Lakefield.
This bedroom and all the principal rooms which gaze down to Lake Caragh, have blessed access to the patio by double-glazed doors.
The main sitting/dining room is a large rectangular area taking up the south end of the building, with a stone faced fireplace (quarried in Glencar) occupying the lengthy gable end.
Neo-classical period furnishings, rubbed velvet couches, rustic fruitwood chairs and the thousand artefacts of extensive travel are composed in satisfying layers. The west end, unsurprisingly, serves as a dramatic dining space.
The black marble floor was ordered for an Irish government department, who promptly rejected it when it was found to be Italian and never buried in a cliff face of Connemara.
Tribal rugs and acres of disparate Orientals are staged over its silken, inky surface. The picture windows offer deep plank sills set low enough to recline in.
The upstairs layout is honest, and unfussy, taking its imprint from the ground floor and reaching left and right, with rooms orientated to the west.
Like the living room directly beneath, the master bedroom takes a complete slice of the south side of the house, east to west.
A short corridor of built-in storage, puts valet manners on clothes and linens. This draws us towards the rangy suite, footfalls stilled by the concrete sub- floors enjoyed throughout the first floor.
The master is divided by lengths of side wall and an open fireplace into two gently defined areas, nothing disturbing the serenity, vital to sleeping quarters.
A rectangular window set in the eyebrow roof, blinks diffused light over the bed.
A large adjoining en-suite offers delicious warm tiles from the underfloor heating, with wide vanity set with his ’n’ hers basins, bidet, shower and bath.
This intimate area of the room could be divided from the west side with pocket doors, but it would orphan it from the view.
In the west section, a masculine presence is indicated by a weighty campaign desk and Eames chair in battered leather.
Two windows meet at this private corner, framing views south to the Secret Garden, and west to the lake.
A stately dividing pillar of open frame bookshelves in teak interrupts horizontal planes of windows, and speaks of a tranquil study and a library. To the right a cross trainer is pointed at the distraction of the landscape.
Rich emerald slices of the far shore sit lightly on the shifting waters. There’s a classic composition — one third of verdant landscape, and two thirds of energising sky.
The other two upstairs bedrooms are both of immense dimensions compared to the set standard of such a large house — stuttered out in perhaps six.
Both are served by a large family bathroom with a quarry tile floor, and both have snugly insulated glazed doors leading directly to a long, shared balcony against a warm slated wall. The potential of a full sized floored attic remains overhead.
Lakefield has two other dwellings, let successful as holiday accommodation in three units.
The first directly across the yard has been teased from a vernacular Irish cottage. Stretched up and out to 60m², it contains two double bedrooms, a full bathroom and OFCH.
The open-plan interior with a Liscannor limestone floor has a soaring pitch crossed by beams and speared to the roof by a twin-sided open fire.
The rough stone walls are rendered to sympathetic undulating planes and washed in pure white. A short stroll away is the first of several modest outbuildings.
The Games Room (I suspect originally a bothy) hosts table tennis, and adjoins a large authentic European sauna for six, with a resting area, a WC and shower.
Following a happy river of gravel to the north is the two storey lodge, built in 1990, which contains two further lets.
Contemporary and urbane outside, tasteful and uncluttered within, the downstairs unit sleeps four, and has a living room set in the embrace of northern reaches of the garden. Upstairs, with another
four guests comfortably settled, panoramic views of Lake Caragh trip along the top of the Rose Garden walls.
The apartments could easily be thrown back into one 200m² dwelling, and tantalisingly there is lapsed planning permission for a separate entrance to the Lodge from the public road.
The 1.8 ha (4.4 acres) of land with Lakefield is set out in important gardens with a stirring tension of impressive formal lawn and shaggy beds, bowers and woodland studded with specimen-sized trees, many pre-dating the house.
There’s a terrain of high and low stone walling, much of its ancient purpose yet to be explained, but higher reaches fortify the property on two sides. Several outbuildings including the delightfully titled ‘Three Door Hut’ offer useful storage for timber and machinery.
Everywhere, the grounds billow to the waist with flowers, ferns and tender shrubs that thrive in the temperate, Mediterranean micro-climate.
Parkland or fairyland, wildflowers and cultivated gems are equally welcome, and the owner’s environmental sensibilities have nurtured the presence of red squirrels, bats and precious feral bees.
The result is both a natural and horticultural adventure. On wilder days, you can wander through the tapestry of tree tall rhododendron and lap the salty air of Dunbeigh from your lips.
The Rose Garden, once used for vegetables growing for the original razed Victorian house, offers an Austen-style retreat of square and ample lawn.
Old rambling climbing roses claw the sunny lichened walls. At the garden’s centre are a full two acres of parkland rolling down to the lake.
This sylvan golf course is managed with a ride-on mower and dedicated ramps which drop in and out of challenging reaches. Children at Lakefield, supplied with sandwiches, are not seen from dawn ’til dusk on a sunshiny day.
A stand of Jurassic-sized Gunnera beckon down to sleeper steps which lead on to a rocky crescent of private shore, regularly used for wild swimming.
There’s a block-built boat house and slipway with space for two lake boats below and plenty of hearty wall and exposed rafters overhead for canoes and oars.
A manual winch drops the boats to the water: the owners are happy to negotiate for a vessel, if the purchasers of Lakefield want a head start on tickling up some brown trout.
The glacial Caragh Lake dams the upper and lower reaches of the Caragh River.
Set on the foothills of the distant McGillacuddy Reeks, the elevated lake frontage of Lakefield House is not only heart wrenchingly beautiful, but set within a short coveted reach of the much lauded Wild Atlantic Way, easily accessed by rail, air and road.
Ten minutes from Killorglin, the gentle hills of Glannagilliagh (Glen of the Woodcock) lead directly to the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, and are a mere 10 minutes from the silken sands of Glenbeigh.
The house is close to the South West’s major golf courses, links and local clubs including Dooks, Beaufort and Killorglin.
A good national school, endless outdoor sporting, award-winning dining, spas, feted towns and farmers’ markets, ensure there’s everything a sophisticate could want, here on the edge of the waters and the wilds.
Unique gardens with breathtaking views. Minor updating and this is a handsome home to love.
There’s a classic composition — one third of verdant landscape, and two thirds of energising sky