B&B in Fermoy has staying power

Abbeyville House, built in 1841, has been run as a guesthouse by three families, says Tommy Barker

Fermoy - €1m

Size: 500 sq m (5,400 sq ft), including out-buildings, on half-an-acre

Bedrooms: six, plus three

Bathrooms: 10

BER: exempt

HERE’S a long, fertile, history with Fermoy’s Abbeyville House.

Built in 1841 (the year the Cork Examiner was founded) by a Mathias Hendley, who was a land agent for Scottish landlord, Sir Robert Abercromby, it’s almost as old as the town itself, which predates it by 30 years.

It is one of two very similar, side-by-side, equally impressive houses.

Abbeyville House has been many, many things to many people, from birth to old age, and while it has functioned for several decades as a B&B and reached coveted, five-star Fáilte Ireland standards, after a major overhaul in 2005, it has also served as a private residence.

From the 1930s, it switched from private domestic use to a private nursing-and-maternity home, called St Anne’s, before the last birth there was recorded in 1964.

During that period, too, ‘minor’ surgeries, such as removal of tonsils and appendixes, were carried out in the house, and old people were cared for by its original operator, a nurse, Margaret FitzGerald.

It next came into use as a guesthouse, in which role it has been through three ownerships, the O’Mahonys, Buckleys and, now, the Lemasneys.

It changed its name to Abbeyville House along the way.

Kilworth natives, Sean and Mary Lemasney, bought Abbeyville in 2004, and did an impressive two year-long, top-to-toe, roof-to-basement renovation, at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of euros, and have operated it as a high-end, five-star B&B since, with input from three daughters.

They’ve lived at the lower-ground level, in an entirely self-contained private section with three bedrooms.

Overhead, over the next two levels, are six en-suite bedrooms, and the hall, living, and dining rooms are elegance personified, high-ceilinged, authentically true to period, graceful and bright.

Many rooms have views over what was the old main N25 Cork-Dublin road (now bypassed by the M80) by the town’s bridge, over the Blackwater to Abercromby Park, with public walks, facilities, and a swimming pool.

Abbeyville’s trading extremely well (Fermoy has no hotel), from the likes of Teagasc/Moorpark, other major employers, anglers, and tourists.

It generates strong income, and gets consistent five-star reviews on Tripadvisor.

It even has purpose-built kennels for guests’ dogs.

It’s on half-an-acre, with the similar-looking Riverdale House just to the north, comprising quite the gem-like, twin-set between them, slap-bang in the centre of Fermoy and an architectural adornment to the N25.

Appointed to sell are Maurice Cohalan Cohalan Downing, if it’s to sell as a going concern, or his colleague, Malcom Tyrrell, of CDA, if it is is to return to private use.

Two lofted coachhouse buildings have accommodation potential, and there are outhouses and an old stable, and a second, secure access point to the rear, off a quiet street.

The Lemasneys returned the private garden to the side/rear to a pristine state, and added a glazed, stand-alone pavilion-like sun room.

They also reopened an old well on the property, and it supplies Abbeyville’s water, filtered and purified.

Now, the house has solar panels, zoned central heating, secondary double-glazing, upgraded insulation, damp-proof courses, and ethernet and wi-fi internet access.

VERDICT: Highly impressive.

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