THE owners of Templenoe House are swapping riverside living along one of Ireland’s best angling rivers for a new life chapter by the sea, hence the market arrival of the period property with long and noble roots.
Parts of this River Blackwater property mix date back 260 years, to the 1760s when first associated with the Hyde family, of Castlehyde whose estates at one stage in the Fermoy area ran to as much as 11,000 acres.
Set about a mile upriver from the Michael Flatley-owned Castlehyde, this is a far more modest property than that entrepreneurial entertainer’s 35,000 sq ft mansion on 150 acres, restored at a cost of up to €27 million. Also dating to the 1760s, Castlehyde was put for sale at one stage at €20m, later reduced to €12.5m and still unsold: in fact, UK grocery websites note that Mr Flatley has recently registered the Castlehyde name as a brand for food and drinks.
The more palatable news for Munster home hunters still seeking a bit of distinction along the chi-chi River Blackwater is that Templenoe House can be had for a fraction of what Castleyde had its high price hopes for: in fact, it’s pitched at under the €1 million mark, listed at €975,000 by auctioneer Michael O’Donovan of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan.
It’s a lovely, cherished period home, most of which now dates to a later, early to mid-19th century time, with over 5,000 sq ft, on 19 acres with 300 metres of frontage to the Blackwater, between Fermoy and Ballyhooley, along the N72.
It’s set closer to the road than to the river, reached via a curving drive through excellent land, much of it planted with native hardwoods such as oak by its owners of the past 20 years, and it includes paddocks for horses, while the overall mix includes a walled garden, coach-house conversion in a pretty courtyard, plus two semi-detached guest cottages.
The couple now relocating to another extensively restored period property and land near Kinsale had bought Templenoe House back two decades ago pretty much at the same time as Michael Flatley bought downriver from them, but their interventions were simpler. They upgraded the cottages and reroofed the main house in 2011, doing maintenance work and burnishing its charms, without over-restoring.
Previous owners included the Hyde family, and the house rested on over 150 acres through several ownerships, gradually reduced when the bulk was sold to nearby farmers, and at one stage a Derby-winning horse Ballyhooley Lad traced his roots and grazed the quality limestone land here too, it’s recalled.
The current owners, now the vendors, say they purchased from a Lord and Lady Mounteagle, and before that, it was owned for a period by a family the Rudds, who came to Cork in the 1960s from New Hampshire in the US.
Now, it’s time for another family or buyer to add a new surname to the list of owners, and at a c €1m price guide, it’s as likely to be bought by an Irish person as someone from overseas.
The Blackwater has always been popular with Continental European buyers, as well as British families, often due to the long history of salmon fishing, even if angling had suffered in recent years: the best stretches are said to be between Mallow and Lismore, so Templenoe’s a bit of catch in its own right in this regard also.
(Recent sales on the Blackwater, include the purchase of the immaculate Ileclash House downriver from Fermoy.
On the market for over five years, with price drops from €4m to €2.75m, the expensively restored 7,000 sq ft home was bought earlier this year by a Cork businessman for an undisclosed price, yet to appear on the Price Register.
Also bought was Waterford’s Salterbridge estate, a 15,500 sq ft 18th century home on 140 acres, acquired by Irish property per and investor Stephen Vernon: on 140 acres, that period home had had a €3.25m guide.
Sold closer to Fermoy too, just downriver of the town, was Rathhealy House on 40 acres and needing renovations, with a €795,000 AMV prior to its sale.
SFOD’s Michael O’Donovan describes Templenoe House as “a beautiful Georgian home of considerable character and charm, in a parkland setting,” noting the array of beech, lime and oak trees on the grounds, with the vendors having planted over 500 oaks for future generation to enjoy.
They say they’ve always loved the setting and the distraction of the views from many of the windows in the main house, including views to the 13th century Cregg Castle, with Nagle Mountain views also of note.
Set at an angle to the earlier 1760s house which still makes up part of the courtyard cluster, the main house has three reception rooms, gracious hall, six bedrooms, three bathrooms plus one en suite, as well as a utility, and pantry, much and all of it with a pleasant patina of age, with many rooms having fireplaces.
Further accommodation includes a 815 sq ft garden apartment in the coachouse, overlooking the walled garden, with independent access and second access to the main residence.
There’s a sheltered, enclosed cobble courtyard for a mix of light and shade, whilst separately there are two one-bed cottage-style 550 sq ft residences, semi-detached and recently refurbished, “suitable for extended family or rental purposes if required,” comments SFOD’s Mr O’Donovan, adding that setting is almost unrivalled, given the historic and current appeal of the Blackwater river.
The grounds include an organic vegetable and fruit garden, and packing up shortly to move towards the Cork coastline, and another horticultural project also, the owners say they’ll hugely miss the charms of Templenoe House and the adjacent river, getting ready to pack their Canadian canoe for fresh adventures, on salt water instead of fresh water.
VERDICT: the real River Blackwater deal.