The less flamboyant of the two gate lodges at Dromana Estate is charming in its own right, says Trish Dromey.
DROMANA ESTATE in West Waterford had two gate lodges — one a flamboyant Hindu Gothic structure with an onion dome and minarets, the other a picturesque 19th Century property much more typical of its era.
The first is now a much-photographed tourist attraction while the second, renovated and extended, is a charming and unusual home which has recently come on the market with a guide of €300,000.
Situated at the estate entrance nearest to the village of Villierstown, this gate lodge was built by the Villiers family in 1875 around 50 years after the more exotic Brighton Pavilion-style one.
Much has been written about the Dromana Estate, (which, in 1820s extended to 40,000 acres) and about its owners the Villiers Stuarts and their oriental gate lodge.
Less is known about this property, although the Buildings of Ireland website notes its importance due to its association with the Dromana Estate and describes it as an attractive feature on the approach to Villierstown.
Tucked in to one side behind the estate pillars, it once guarded the avenue leading to the estate house, an avenue which has now become a public roadway.
It had been in the hands of a local family for several generations but was derelict and falling into disrepair when the current owner bought it in 2003.
A local who played in the nearby woodlands as a child, he says he’d always admired its architecture and was delighted to have the chance to restore it and live there.
“It was in a bad shape – the rafters were rotting,’’ he says, explaining that he spent a year renovating, doing much of the heavy work himself but also bringing in builders who built on an extension.
‘We saved as much of the timber work as we could —but had to replace a lot of the rafters, we got old slates to replace damaged ones,” he says, adding that the original windows were replaced with timber sash ones and the decorative chimney stacks were repaired and replastered. While carrying out the work they came upon a timber plank which is dated 1892 and has a signature, possibly that of a craftsman who worked on the lodge.
The single storey extension, which incorporates a sitting room, a small conservatory and a bathroom was designed to blend in with the existing structure and brought the square footage of the small gate lodge up to 1,130 sq ft.
The main entrance in the extension at the side leads into a small lobby area and through to an attractive country-style kitchen with a large original stone and brick chimney breast which was repaired and fitted with a stove.
Fitted with oak units, granite worktops and a centre island, the kitchen has terracotta floor tiles and a sash window with original working shutters.
Alongside it is a timber-floored room with coving, a dado rail, two shuttered sash windows and double doors to the garden — originally a sitting room, this has now become a bedroom.
A stairs in the kitchen leads up to the first floor which has a shower room and two bedrooms with sloped ceilings and sash windows.
The sitting room in the extension has a stone effect fireplace with a stove, timber flooring and an archway to the small conservatory with four sash windows which is used as a dining area.
Enclosed by railings, low stonewalls and hedging, the gate lodge has private gardens with graveled areas, lawns, a garage and a few apple trees. Across the road, it has a separate garden where the owners used to grow vegetables.
Selling agent Brian Gleeson Property describes the gate lodge as being cosy and comfortable as well as unique and charming.
Mr Gleeson says the key attractions are its history and character as well as the scenic setting on the edge of Villierstown close to the River Blackwater which is renowned for its fishing. “The present owner keeps a boat on the river and regularly fishes for salmon and trout,” he adds.
The property has attracted the interest of some Dublin buyers and also some from abroad. “It could sell as a permanent home but would make a wonderful weekend retreat,” says Mr Gleeson
VERDICT: Not as exotic as its other lodge counterpart — but picturesque and charming.
Size: 105 sq m (1,130 sq ft)
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