SOME of the tales associated with Moore Park Estate are movie material, such as the cast of locals outwitting British soldiers by selling them the same cattle twice.
A history of Kilworth and Moore Park British Army Camps 1896-1922 edited by Kieran Jordan recounts how cattle were driven in the front gate of the estate, sold to the army, driven out the back, and around to the front gate again, where they were re-sold.
Fortunately, the gate lodge in Moorepark East, which had served the great estate, was not cremated in the 1908 blaze, from which British officers fled in various states of undress 'one man wearing an officer’s wellington boot on one foot and a carpet slipper on the other'.
As auctioneer Michael Dorgan points out, The Lodge, currently up for sale, emerged 'a miraculous survivor of a time pre-dating the foundation of the State'.
Equally miraculous is the ancient tale of The Enchanted Horse of Cloghleagh Castle whose chief protagonist, Larry Toomy, gets his comeuppance from a horse after he threatens his wife with a three-legged stool for failing to buy him tobacco. The horse, an equine manifestation of the wife's uncle, subjects Larry to a terrifying ride as payback for his abusive behaviour. Not only does the chastened man never abuse his wife again, but he also quits smoking.
These hilarious tales are embraced by the current owners of The Lodge who have lived in the 200-year-old 700 sq ft residence since the beginning of last year, after relocating from near Macroom.
“We couldn’t resist the opportunity to re-establish and enjoy the character of this house,” the owners said.
Some of that character was in danger of being hidden away forever, so they set about bringing the garden under control, uncovering an apple tree, and a carpet of bluebells under the hawthorn. They also replanted a herb garden.
Internally, they refitted the kitchen, careful to keep the hand-painted doors.
Decoration inside and out was done with minimal intervention to preserve the historical features, particularly the architraves and doors. The roof was fully restored in 2005, with original slate kept and leaded ridges restored, preserving its shape and symmetry. They were 'bowled over' when they discovered the original cobble path around the house “which makes me think there may still be other historical features to be discovered”, the man of the house said.
“We love the sense of history in the features like the low doors and high ceilings, the wood architraves, leaded windows and wood stove, and the thought that this house was a key part of the comings and goings of Moorepark Estate,” he added.
He describes the garden as 'surprisingly large and very private', with secluded paths and seating areas to enjoy the views over the Estate and up to the castle.
They are sorry to be selling up but had never intended for The Lodge to be their permanent residence. “It suited us at the time because we were looking to downsize our place near Macroom and we always intended to move back in that direction,” the owner says.
A report by Fourem Architects, dated May 2002, describes how the gate lodge 'seems to have been constructed in the late 18th or early 19th century' and how internally 'much of the joinery is intact'.
In terms of site significance, the report says it 'represents a great deal of historic evidence of its physical construction and the workings of past societies'.
'To safeguard the site is to safeguard the evidence. The common responsibility to safeguard Moorepark Gate Lodge is recognised… it represents one of the last remains of the Moorepark estate buildings'.
Whoever its new custodians are — and Mr Dorgan believes it will be either a first-time buyer or a retiree looking to downsize — will acquire 'an unspoiled piece of Georgian architecture' with outbuildings that offer studio/office potential on a 0.17acre site. There's already an offer above the asking price of €167,5000.
Mr Dorgan recalls visiting the Moore Park Estate with classmates as a child 'to explore the towering Clogleigh Castle at the end of the Earl of Mountcashell's drive'. It was the daughter of the 5th Earl, Lady Harriette Holroyd-Smyth who sold the 800 acres of parkland to the British War Office in 1903 to be used as a training camp.
After the mansion burnt down in 1908, it was never re-built and these days, Moore Park belongs to Teagasc Agricultural and Food Development Authority.
The Lodge, in the margins of all this great history, is in Kilworth Village, just minutes from the M8 motorway.
Mr Dorgan says fishing, hill-walking, and equestrian activities are popular local activities.
Bijou residence brimming with character.
- Kilworth, Co Cork
- Size: 700 sq ft
- Bedrooms: 2
- Bathrooms: 1
- BER: Pending