Fit for a Lord at Knocknaseed House, built as a hunting lodge for Kenmare's finest

It's not every day that a period house with river frontage, land, a working farmyard and outhouses with conversion potential comes to market, writes Catherine Shanahan
Fit for a Lord at Knocknaseed House, built as a hunting lodge for Kenmare's finest

Knocknaseed House, Rathmore, Co Kerry, a 4,553 sq ft, five-bed, five bath, A3 quality period property.

Rathmore, Co Kerry



423 sq m







OVER the past two decades, two sets of owners have dealt sensitively with Knocknaseed House, erstwhile 19th-century high-society hunting lodge, more recently home to well-known Killarney business people the Falveys. The upshot of their work is a house with 21st-century qualities, despite a 182-year-old history.

Built in 1839 for the entertainment of the Lords Kenmare, it has been largely rebuilt without compromising period features.

Previous owners, Cambridge couple Jill and Alex Talnan, bought derelict Knocknaseed for €450,000 in 2002, and worked wonders, attaining a seemingly improbable ‘A’ energy rating, by ploughing at least as much again as the sale price into the house and grounds, re-building, putting on a new roof, installing robust insulation and a half-acre of geothermal piping for efficient heating, and generally doing an all-around sterling job. While they were at it, they set about fine-tuning the 28 acres (11 Ha) it sits on, planting 2000 native species, creating a more sustainable habitat for themselves and the native wildlife.

Having achieved so much — and possibly in need of a rest, not to mention sorely missing UK-based grandchildren — the Talnans sold up in 2009 for €710,000, leaving behind 2,800 sq ft of fully renovated space in this mini estate, whereupon Knocknaseed pivoted back to local ownership, with the arrival of the Falvey family.

In the 12 years since, the Falveys have put their own stamp on Knocknaseed, extending the property further in 2018, adding two additional bedrooms, including a very large and well-appointed master suite to the rear, with ensuite and spacious dressing room and investing heavily in the restoration of outhouses (there are 5,700 sq ft of outbuildings), employing a stonemason for the best part of a year to re-point stonework on coach houses and outbuildings, installing new natural slate roofs, restoring a courtyard and building a modern, heated, insulated garage for cars used for historic rallying, which the owner has a particular interest in.

A toll booth on the land was also restored — where local farmers handed over their coppers in order to cross the River Blackwater with livestock, on the way to Fair Day in nearby Knocknagree.

In fact, Knocknaseed has its own working farmyard to the rear, with a separate vehicular entrance, where three stone outhouses, under a lovely stone archway, have huge conversion potential, according to Michael Coghlan of Sherry FitzGerald Coghlan, who is joint selling agent with Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes.

“There’s a lot of potential with those outbuildings. They could be converted into residential or home offices,” Mr Coghlan says.

One outhouse already has a gorgeous adjoining patio and BBQ area “creating clear possibilities for holiday rentals”. There are also stables.

The main house, originally a classic Georgian box, but now with two sunny wings, including a sunroom, is accessed up a long drive via impressive stone pillars, salvaged from the Mount Falcon Estate in Co Mayo. It’s surrounded by pasture and paddocks, nature reserve, woodlands, an orchard, with plum, apple, and pear trees and it’s bounded by the Blackwater, where there’s half a mile of river frontage going with the estate. There’s also a purpose-built dog kennel and run, an income-producing forestry area, a Mass rock, and an old bog road.

Moreover, there’s scope for keeping cattle. Mr Coghlan says the current owner was a “hobby farmer” and kept some cattle.

The owner is now downsizing, family reared, and the house he leaves behind is substantially bigger (4,553 ft) than the home he bought from the Talnans in 2009. The main living space is laid out on a single floor, including a drawing room, country-style kitchen (with large utility off it), dining room in a wing to the right with French windows to the gardens, and the sunroom to the left. 

The inner hall leads to a study and to the bedrooms, of which three are in the original house. All of the bedrooms are at ground level.


There’s a stunning staircase that leads to a wraparound upper gallery, with a drop-down den area, with options for library/teen den/office space/home gym.

Mr Coghlan says Knocknaseed is a “charming mix of old and new, of comfort and of style” and ideal for entertaining. It could, he says, be a permanent residence or a country retreat.

Much of the interest so far is coming from ex-pats, he says.

“That seems to be the profile, people returning home and looking for a very good house and lands. The quality of the house is spectacular and with the Macroom bypass well underway, the journey to Cork will only take 45 minutes when it’s finished,” Mr Coghlan says.

As it stands, Killarney is less than a 20-minute drive and Rathmore is a short stroll.

There are national schools at Knocknagree, Gneeveguilla, Rathmore, and Rathmore is on the main rail line linking to Cork, Dublin, and Tralee via Killarney. Rathmore has a co-ed secondary school and a farmers’ market on Saturdays, as well as a choice of shops and cafés.

VERDICT: Rare opportunity to get a quality period property with land, river frontage, and a history that dates back to the great McCarthy Mór.

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