Kells, Newmarket On Fergus, Co Clare, €890,000

If you fancy waking up in a tower then this Kells home is ideal, writes Trish Dromey.

Kells, Newmarket On Fergus, Co Clare, €890,000

Much more than bricks and mortar went in to the construction of this castellated mansion in Clare — it also embodies the dreams of a couple who wanted a home with castle towers, a great hall and a roof terrace.

Borrowing architectural features from an earlier era they put on a turreted round tower and a square castellated one, but building low rather than high they made it long, modern and open plan with oak flooring, geothermal underfloor heating and solar panels.

Built over three years and occupied in 2002, it has a vast 450 sq metres of living, single storey except for the two towers. In the centre, there is an enormous high ceilinged space with a huge fireplace which is described on the brochure as a drawing room — but was designed by the owners, Pauline O’Brien and her late husband Ron to be “a great hall.”

“My husband loved all things Celtic — he was the one who came up with the idea for the towers and the great hall,’’ reveals Pauline. Starting out with a five-acre site with views of the Shannon Estuary, the couple got an architect in Liscannor to design a home which was modern, spacious and bright but replete with highly individual features.

To make it resemble a castle they did a great deal more than add two towers. The double entry arched doorway is much more imposing than a standard house entrance and the eight long narrow windows at the front are reminiscent of arrow slit castle windows. There’s also a front courtyard with an archway separating the house from the garage.

Entering through the imposing front door and passing through a hallway, guests arrive in the great hall which provides generous living and dining space, plus an addition designed with modern rather than medieval hospitality in mind — a fully equipped bar.

Under a high vaulted ceiling with oak beams and rafters and huge wrought iron chandelier style lights, the long hall has polished parquet oak flooring.

At one end of the split level great hall is a spacious living area with a large granite fireplace and a stove.

Although the house has narrow windows at the front it has a high level of glazing at the rear to let light into the great hall — there are several large windows as well as patio doors and a large bay window space which is occupied by a grand piano.

Under the vaulted roof above the dining room is a galleried mezzanine area which is used as a study. Double doors from here lead out on to a roof garden which has a seating area, Astroturf underfoot and scenic views of the Shannon Estuary in the distance. A doorway from the dining room leads through to the kitchen which has a Clive Christian oak kitchen with granite worktops, a large centre island and French slate floor tiles.

At the opposite end of the property is the wing with the two towers which accommodate five en suite bedrooms. Inside the round tower are two circular bedrooms — including one on the first floor with a high vaulted ceiling with oak beams.

Set on a site of five acres, the house has extensive lawns and has been planted with both beech and oak trees. Access is through electric gates which open onto a quarter of a mile of winding tree-lined driveway. Running along the house at the rear is a large patio with distant views of the Shannon Estuary and the River Fergus. Although designed as a home the couple decided after a few years to run it as a guest house, aided by a location within 10 minutes of Bunratty and Shannon: guests loved the opportunity to sleep in castle towers.

Following the death of her husband in recent years, Pauline has now put the castle-like property on the market, and agent Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country has recently reduced the guide price from €1.25m to €890,000.

VERDICT: medieval design meets modern space, style and comfort

Cost: €890,000

Size: Sqm 450 sq m (4,844 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 6


Best Feature: Towers

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