Ash House near Aherla, west of Cork City and halfway out to Macroom, has history, and none of it is more colourful than the stories its owner TJ Lane might tell, of farming and animal rearing and husbandry that has changed utterly in just a generation.
Dating to 1920, Ash House was built at a time when many Irish houses in the countryside were being burned down, and was one of two quite substantial houses built either side of the road into Aherla from the N20 for farming landowners.
The other house survived and prospered too, and is where the O’Flynn family farmed, before so many of the next O’Flynn generation went in to building/construction, development, and property.
Ash House was first associated with the O’Connor family, became the home of a Paddy Field, and several decades ago was bought by poultry farmers the Lane family, who had huge success for decades with their ‘Lovely Cottage Brand’ chickens and eggs.
In its early heyday, around the 1950s, the Lane family employed up to 400 in Catford, by Tower St in Cork City, by Murphy’s Evergreen Bacon factory, prompting years of predictable chicken and ham anecdotes, before moving on to purpose-built facilities here at Aherla, and, ultimately, at several other poultry farms about the country.
Ash House is being sold on by its current owner, the still-enterprising TJ Lane, after he reared a large family here, and upgraded and extended the two-storey detached long house to almost double its size.
It’s now about 4,200 sq ft with two staircases, and up to eight bedrooms, and five reception rooms, plus kitchen with Aga.
It comes for sale in lots (and with open viewings within the past week) with Aherla-born Frank Walsh of O’Mahony Walsh in Ballincollig, and includes house on half an acre of tended gardens, guided at €600,000, and among the other lots is 35 acres of recently planted forestry, set to earn €7,300 a year in forestry premiums for the next 15 years.
There’s 20 acres of level agriculture land currently pushing a maize crop up through ground- hugging polythene at €330k or €15,000 per acre; plus an industrial yard with four various outbuildings/sheds, some let (one to a mechanic, another to a garden-shed maker) and others with vacant possession, guided at €250,000.
Then, at a far boundary is a 12,000 sq ft, bone-dry well-built warehouse, with concrete beams and now laid out for secure storage of classic cars and camper vans, where proud vehicle owners pay a ‘no-chicken feed’ €40 a month to have their chariots kept out of the elements in marked-out wide parking bays. Did we mention the property’s owner was enterprising?
The same TJ Lane’s knowledgeable across a range of fields, and, apart from his poultry and eggs experiences, also had business back in the day buying rabbits, and foxes, from trappers.
The rabbit meat went to local butchers and Continental buyers — “and you’d pay twice the amount for an East Cork rabbit than you would for a Kerry rabbit, they were so big”, TJ recalls.
After curing the pelts of foxes and rabbits, they went to Belgium, to be made into hats and furs, and so in all likelihood there are citizens of Brussels to this day walking around with rabbits “from the Lanes of Aherla” on their heads.
A slice of country and village life, a short spin out from Cork City.