THERE are few properties where you can look down (topographically at least) on Lismore Castle and its ducal family.
With style, substance and situation, Monamon House in west Waterford is an impressive contemporary build and an unexpected urbane sophisticate in the loveliness of the Blackwater Valley, better known for traditional cottage spreads, new manors and genuine period piles.
Five minutes from the heritage town and reached by a climb of whiplash, single-lane road, Monamon House is approached through automatic gates on stacked cut-stone wings and piers.
The house reclines confidently into the feathery site, and looks full south west to the fertile plain enriched by the river and its tributaries.
The terraced woodland and gardens (set out on the instructions of the owners only after the house was finished) were designed by landscape architect Patricia Tyrrell, and include forest-like stands of bamboo, and handsome granite kerbs and slabs.
Hundreds of native deciduous trees, exotic shrubs, and grasses flank pathways to cool, hushed clearings jewelled with flowers. Your children may never come back from this wonderland, but you will need a gardener with a nerve for heights.
The house was positioned and stacked into four levels to celebrate the precipitous site.
The front door proper is tucked away on the north side of the house, but the main body of the Monamon is best appreciated for its altitude and attitude looking straight up from the basement level to the principal floors and their terracing.
A monumental concrete and stone plinth supports a further mezzanine wing between the second and third floors, a pleasing visual counterpoint described modestly as a mezzanine by agents DNG Morrissey.
Entering the ground floor, the hall introduces a treacle coloured, open tread staircase in highly polished bubinga wood and wrought iron.
This architectural tour-de- force by Pikeman Forge of Wexford, acts as a generously swooped spine for the whole house, scattering light and connecting all levels.
The living room and kitchen are opened through a curtain wall into one vast area focused on the elevated view and hosted by a huge wooden deck on galvanised RSJ-style supports.
The kitchen at the rear features a six oven AGA and Neff appliances in a solid cherry wood fitted units with Indian Nero Star Galaxy granite and American walnut worktops.
Under foot in the living area here and elsewhere in the house is semi-solid white oak married to ceramic tiling.
There are solid concrete floors and under-floor heating throughout this house, gifting Monamon a B3 BER rating, exceptional energy efficiency for a super house built 12 years ago.
There’s a tranquil guest bedroom with en-suite on ground level and travelling via a landing and a few steps is the sitting room, a handsome single-room wing.
Infused with gilded light, it features a raised fireplace and handcrafted solid ash king post trusses and purlins to a fully vaulted ceiling, provided by local craftsman Sean Willoughby.
The dedicated terrace with granite sets and fully planted beds of oriental planting is set on that concrete plinth and connects via steps both down to the living room decks and back down to the gardens.
The varieties of outdoor staging offers oodles of versatility for entertaining, suspended amongst the stir of the tree canopy and fall of the valley.
Upstairs again, are four more light-drenched double bedrooms, two en-suite, with a large family bathroom.
The master faces south west with its own balcony, a superb dressing room and bathroom with a choice of tub or shower.
There’s plenty of storage in each room and a large built-in run of floor to ceiling cupboards on the corridor to take any overspill.
The house is served by a central vacuum system, a blessing with such a steep climb.
The clincher for Monamon is likely to be the basement, which apart from delivering a motor lover’s double garage with automatic doors, hosts a fabulous games room big enough for both a full size pool table and dedicated cinema room.
Flopped in a fur beanbag the size of a Mini-Cooper, the family enjoy theatre surround-sound on a large screen, and the whole room can be blacked out.
There’s also a useful office, a laundry room, and even a wine cellar.
Executive quality living in one of the most gorgeous scenic chapters of the newly dubbed Ancient East, with salmon fishing a free-wheel away, there should be lively interest in this house from local aspirants and overseas buyers. Michael Morrissey (DNG) pitches this one to ‘five-star clients’ with €750,000 his price for exceptional luxury and location.
VERDICT: A Lismore original keep
Size: 520 sq m (5,595 sq feet)
Best features: fabulous views and quality of finish
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