Rathealy House has acres and acres of potential

A price drop should renew interest, says Tommy Barker.

Rathealy House has acres and acres of potential

Rathealy House, Fermoy, Co Cork. €785,000

Size: 440 sq m(4,700 sq ft)/40 acres)

Bedrooms: 6

Bathrooms: 3

BER: Exempt

A price drop, after quite a while on the Munster country house market, could and should bring Fermoy’s Rathealy House the viewing interest it deserves: there’s a whole lot of River Blackwater fronting property, and heritage buildings, in the mix, for its revised €785,000 price guide, writes Tommy Barker.

Tall, not too imposing, with roots back to the early 1700s, many original period house features and overall ‘feel,’ with later additions, it comes with an annexe plus cut stone courtyard outbuildings, barn and stables, along with a south-facing aspect with Blackwater views, over a kilometre of river frontage with single bank fishing rights, sloping land, and it’s all set within a walk of Fermoy town.

What’s not to like?

Well, the elegant, three-storey main house of over 4,500 sq ft now needs work, for starters.

Its vendor is looking to trade down having been here since the 1970s, and while it is lived in and has some delights (the grounds! The grounds!) it’s dated, and hasn’t been hugely invested in in recent years.

And, then, there’s the relative proximity of the high-level bridge carrying the main Cork-Dublin M8 traffic, over the River Blackwater.

A necessary fact of life since 2005, it’s just a tad upriver of Rathealy House, on the town side, and in fact the road gives great, albeit at-speed flashing glimpses of this particularly picturesque property, amid its centuries’ old holm oaks, cedars, maples, and copper beeches and immense other, demesne-like hardwoods.

That proximity means some road noise, and while its owners are absolutely immune to it, it’s something a visitor may notice on arrival outside, on the approach drive to its climbing plant-bedecked front.

It’s no different to what many others living along roads (or, near rail lines, airports, other bits of 21st century infrastructure etc) become accustomed to, but it’s a contrast to the otherwise utterly bucolic setting.

Then again, if it wasn’t there as a background thrumm, the price, and the demand, would be higher.

Rathealy House is now guided at €785,000 by estate agent and country house specialist Michael H Daniels, and so even on land values alone, it equates to under €20k an acre.

The 40 acres is a lovely amount of lovely ground, and the land drops down in paddocks past tree-lined ditches and boundaries, past grazing horses to the northern bank of the Blackwater, with attractive walks, banks and fishing rights.

The kilometre or so of river frontage extends as far east as Ileclash House, a fully restored Blackwater period beauty of nearly 7,000 sq ft, which had a price drop last year from €3.5m to €2.75m, after some time on the market also (Brexit and a Sterling value drop has deflated the country house market for the past few years, evidently).

Ilesclash, which featured here previously, is currently listed as POA, ‘Price on Application’, and is on just 12 acres, which might be on the shy side for some aspirant Irish country estate buyers?

Might someone even seek to add much of Rathealy’s lands to Ileclash’s? There’s already been some interest in this paired-up option, Mr Daniels allows.

Right now, Rathealy House is entered past original splayed entrance pillars off the Rathealy Road, nearly opposite the Sanmina SCI electronics plant, which is a key Fermoy vicinity company and which employs nearly 40,000 worldwide.

The SCI campus is a two minute walk from a second entrance to Rathealy’s grounds and its rear, attached but self-contained three-bedroomed c 1,600 annexe, with old-word feel and high ceilings plus enormous Fermoy-branded and manufactured cast iron kitchen range.

Might it be an option for those who might be keen on rental income right on their doorstep?

Auctioneer Michael Daniels notes the main six-bedroomed house’s character, indicative indeed of early to mid 1700s roots, with Queen Anne-style pitch to the roof and attic, along with later additions of gable dormers, bargeboards, canted bay windows and, most recently, a western gable end sun-room, linking one of the two front reception rooms to a rear, garden oasis courtyard.

Views out over the river Blackwater meanwhile include ‘your’ own private acres, the local hospital across the river in a period building, and old castle on a promentory, and, just downriver and seen from the land is the rusted, yet robust, remains of the Carrickabrack railway viaduct (then linking Mallow to Waterford) which had a starring role in the 1966 film The Blue Max, filmed at a number of Irish locations (pic, right).

That classic war movie starred George Peppard, James Mason and Ursula Andress, and in its most dramatic scenes, WW1 flying aces flew under the bridge, between its arches, possibly causing a slight bit of noise disturbance too, at the time, for those at Ileclash, and Rathealy House, and everyone (including the grazing sheep) got over it.

VERDICT:

Price drop on a serious slice of Fermoy and River Blackwater history.

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