Trish Dromey reports on an 18th Century Georgian mansion which comes with extensive equestrian facilities.
Conna, East Cork €1.8 million
Size: 700 sq m ( 7,500 sq ft)
AN IMPRESSIVE Georgian mansion near Conna in east Cork with 100 acres of agricultural limestone land and extensive stables, Aghern House is certain to attract a horse owning buyer.
Since buying the stud farm in 2002 the current owners, John and Eva Peet have been providing foaling services for thoroughbred horses to owners in Ireland and the UK, while also carrying out extensive renovations on the 18th Century property.
Situated on the banks of the of the River Bride, a few kilometres from Conna, the sandstone property was built in 1740 by the Gifford family — on the site of Aghern Castle constructed by the Earl of Desmond in the 14th Century to control the river passing.
Two towers from the original castle remain — situated at the sides of the two-storey three-bay country house which is described in Buildings of Ireland as having a sombre elegance and being a notable example of Georgian architecture.
The Landed Estates database records that Aghern House was owned in the mid 1800s by Spotswood Bowles and that it belonged to his relatives until they sold it in the 1970s.
The Bowles family had owned estates in Munster since receiving a land grant in 1666.
With seven bedrooms, three reception rooms and a more recently added attic apartment, accommodation in the main residence stretches to 7,500 sq ft.
In the grounds there’s a small gate lodge, a bungalow, as well as 70 stables, and a mix of courtyards and barns.
The property has been used as a stud by a succession of owners and the land is divided into large fields and post and rail-fenced paddocks.
Selling agents Michael O’Brien Auctioneers, who are guiding the property at €1.8 million, say this is top quality agricultural land suitable for horses, tillage, or cattle.
When the Peets bought Aghern House in 2002 the stables were ready for immediate use but the house had not been lived in for 20 years.
“It was in very poor condition, had a hole in the roof and the décor was brown and orange and horrible,’’ reveals Eva Peet.
They moved their horses and their business to the stables, but delayed taking up residence in the house until a few years later when they had partly renovated it.
Renovating a property of this size was a huge undertaking, but the Peets — who had previously restored two smaller period properties — took a gradual approach.
“We started by reroofing the building and putting in an attic apartment — after that, we worked on one room at a time.”
They repaired the coving, installed oil fired heating, rewired and bought specialised period-style wallpaper which they hung themselves.
They also sourced period fireplaces, antique radiators and old pine flooring in salvage yards and put in three en suites and a new kitchen, replacing an old one with a garden room.
Ms Peet says she was particularly pleased with the dining room — restored to former glory with a chandelier, a period fireplace and red and gold wallpaper.
Having spent many years working on the house, the Peets haven’t quite finished the task — and are leaving some rooms for renovation by new owners including the morning room, a bathroom, and a bedroom.
Accommodation in the house is almost too vast to list.
As befits a stately residence, it has an inner and outer hallway and three reception rooms — a morning room, a dining room, and a sitting room.
There’s also kitchen and pantry, a back sitting room and a large garden/sun room.
The first floor has seven bedrooms as well as one en suite and a bathroom in need of refurbishment.
In the attic there’s an apartment with a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and a bathroom.
Outside there are two courtyards with 70 stables — including two American barns with 41 stables.
Auctioneer Kieran O’Brien says Aghern House could be used for a variety of equestrian enterprises including racing and breeding — and is already attracting interest from local horse owners
VERDICT: Courses for horses
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