Those glued to Escape to the Chateau, (including wedding finale last weekend on Channel 4), may now have a much greater appreciation and understanding of what it takes to make an old house work, writes.
There is blood, sweat and tears involved and a whole lot of money too, while the stress of a project on a large scale requires a dedicated, perfectionist soul to bring it to fruition.
That’s the case at Ileclash House in Fermoy, where the standard of the restoration is superb — from the structure, outwards. The dedicated couple who purchased this fine, Georgian property in the noughties were aware that taking on a manor house was a bit of a Sisyphean task, but it wasn’t until the full engineering report was in, (and at which stage they were signed and committed), that they realised the roof needed to be replaced.
Ileclash had been the recipient of an upgrade at that stage, but it didn’t stretch as far as the standards of this exacting couple. So they got stuck in again and re-roofed the property, adding swathes of insulation and more, to bring the house up to a stunning, B BER rating, even though the property is exempt.
Add to that underfloor heating, (run on an oil boiler for flexibility) and any old bones of the house were transformed into heat storage units instead. The old front door was lovingly restored, with add-on porch removed, and the windows were replaced, using a National Trust-approved company who recreated the narrow Georgian beading of the six over six sashes, while at the same time, sandwiching narrow double glazed panes in each.
This house is warm and comfortable — almost a shock considering we all expect a draughty, damp undertow in these old properties — not at Ileclash.
And to be fair, it’s been continually lived in over the centuries since 1830 (including one Oswald Mosley, who ran away to Ireland following release from internment in the 1950’s) and that’s down to its aspect and its high, well-drained location on the Blackwater.
Originally named Licklash House, after the Norman, Licklash Castle nearby, there’s a great internal layout in that all of the main living rooms follow the sun around the house on the south western side, connect by an enfilade and have a large curved bay window apiece, with three inset windows creating sunny, warm rooms.
The detail in the decoration is superb — the owner, with the help of designer Daphne Daunt — has pulled off a luxurious country house feel in caramels, minks and taupes, with Shantung silk, interlined curtains, feather-bedded upholstery, magnificent Regency fabric-lined walls, tactile accessories in cashmere and silk and more, against a backdrop of superb, Georgian furniture.
But for all the obvious perfection, (and that’s not a stretch), there’s a welcome here too, a relaxing cosiness that makes a home, a home. One look at the kitchen, with sun room opening onto the garden, evokes a house of food and laugher and rooms that fill with children and children’s children. And then there’s the library, full of books and nerdy collectors’ bits, bedrooms galore, luxe bathrooms, guest cottages, parterre gardens and the River Blackwater spinning out below the house. This is a heavenly spot.
Ileclash has a smooth, level approach from the road, (which is only a mile or so from Fermoy), with a neat, trimmed driveway leading to a wide, gravel turn with evergreen oak standing sentinel before the perfectly symmetrical house. The land falls away on the southern side towards the river, giving what the Georgians would describe as a glorious prospect — and the topography means it sits high on a limestone bluff, (crag and tail), with wide views over the Blackwater and its own river island.
The house is now reduced in price to sell at €2.75 million, (from an original guide of €3.5 million) and is a bit of a bargain for buyers at this level, considering the quality. It’s on the market with joint agents, Jackie Cohalan of Cohalan Downing and Marcus Magnier of Colliers International.
An opportunity to move into a perfectly restored, pristine period house, as one would to a brand new build. A must-see for buyers at this level.
Size: 683 sq metres, (7,000 sq ft)+ cottages
BER: Exempt (B)