A GOOD eye, a very sharp one, eclectic too with a quirky and unerring taste applied the final gloss to Lismore’s Headview, once part of the Devonshire estate.
This Victorian home, just on the edge of the restful River Blackwater’s ‘heritage’ town of Lismore, is one of the more manageable quality and lifestyle country house properties to hit the Munster, if not Irish, market this year.
A real lifestyle retreat, it is newly up for sale with a €1.25 million price guide quoted by joint agents Michael H Daniels in Cork, and Ken Madden in Lismore: its buyer could be local, Munster or from farther shores and it doesn’t seem to need any significant further cash spent on it any time soon.
It, its gardens, grounds, outbuilding and lands (five acres in all) have had a fairly thorough makeover in the current owner’s period here, about 15 years of careful ministration and generous, judicious spending.
Lismore-based jeweller and goldsmith Jonathan Ackroyd and his wife Alison came to Ireland from the UK and spent, he says, quite a while trawling through all of the then-available (or ‘quietly available’) Irish period houses. They plumped for Headview, and got to work on it.
Now, after a steady programme of work and pet projects, the house with its 1880s Victorian core (and its earlier Georgian rear section,) has been re-roofed, two stone outbuildings have been made over to quality self-contained Garden and Courtyard cottages with rental potential – and there’s still a bone dry lofted coach-house and stone barn to play around with, or use for storage.
Then, there’s a one-third acre of bountiful walled garden with old apple trees, glasshouse and row, upon row, of herb, vegetable and flowers. And, lots of plain, decent spuds.
You’d easily feed a family from here, and right now there’s hens as well for eggs, and a pair of donkeys in a large, lush paddock by the stone entrance pillars, with new cast iron estate fencing recently put in, and made by local craftworker Charlie Trigg.
Headview doesn’t immediately impress with a blast of grandeur, it is only a slightly slower burn: it’s the quality of the place, the recent work done on top of good, decent original craftmanship and materials, and its spaces that grow on you (the art, sculpture, books and furniture finds add hugely to the overall impression.)
The two-storey house has over 3,500 sq ft of living space, with a great, bay-windowed drawing room, good-sized rooms overall (the dining room currently has a full-size snooker table), two working kitchens, each country style, one now a bit edgier with pale green Smeg oven and gas hob, and there’s three bathrooms and five bedrooms, plus a recently added enhancement, a stout sun-room with good joinery, and white marble internal sills.
The airiness is followed through by things like the open landing/library, with seating and a big central hall (pristine, original Victorian floor tiles), plus secondary stairs, butlers’s pantry with stone flagged floor, and other trimmings. Oh, and just about every room’s new timber sash windows has a view that could be tackled by a watercolorist.
More distant views are towards Helvick Head, and the Knockmealdown mountains, while Lismore and its undoubted charms are a short walk away.
Headview now has a lawn for croquet (and a croquet set in the hall), plus there’s a hard-surface fenced tennis court. A suitable addition is a pavilion garden house to a sort of Terence Conran design, stylishly fashioned in corrugated steel, with viewing veranda, and there’s a sauna inside, and a large hot-tub outside.
Other classier and classical external seating includes a semi-circular carved stone seating bench, a choice piece of architectural salvage. Headview has been rather stylishly salvaged, and gloriously renewed.
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