Archive for the ‘country house’ Category

Doneraile Court

August 8, 2011

Doneraile Court was cared for and preserved by the Irish Georgian Society until it was handed over to the OPW some years ago.  Sadly since that hand-over, the house has been boarded up and has been in an unloved state.  It is disheartening for Irish Georgian Society members who subscribed so generously over the years towards the restoration to see it slowly fall back into decay.

The house is steeped in history having been the home of the St Leger family for many generations.  It’s time to encourage Failte Ireland, the OPW and Cork County Council to work together to create a wonderful tourist attraction.  The Examiner reported today some encouraging news that plans are afoot to spend euro 10 million to open up the house.  We should not forget our domestic tourists in the equation when working out the viability of this project.  The park is currently very well used and is a fabulous amenity for all to enjoy.  Lets make it even more special by opening up the house.

Posted by Catherine FitzMaurice of Kilbrogan House Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, Bandon


Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

July 5, 2009
Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House in Ardingly, Sussex is the home of Max and Cleone Pengelley who take  Wolsey Lodge guests.  I had the good fortune to stay with them during my recent visit to Sussex.  This was a wonderfully ‘English’ experience.  Just picture a 14th century listed timber framed house with a view of a perennial border packed with vibrant colours, sweeping lawns and paddocks with one horse wrapped up in blankets as a fly deterrent.  Outside the front door was the horse box.

It was a sweltering hot day so Max was quick to produce elderflower cordial and lime squash on my arrival.  Cleone cooked a delicious dinner for myself and two other guests – a green salad with egg and thinly sliced prosciutto, fish with broad beans and spinach from the garden and a delicious mousse-like dessert with a strawberry compote – Yummy.   The other guests mentioned that normally they would go abroad but this year they had decided to explore the South East of England.  They gave me some great tips of places to visit including Hever Castle which I thank them for as it was a treat!

Had I remembered my swim gear, I would have been able to take a dip in the pool.  I highly recommend this accommodation.  Thank you to Max and Cleone for a very enjoyable stay!!  I also compliment Cleone on producing an excellent dinner.  We gave up offering dinners a few years ago as it was such hard work.

Cork Houses and Gardens Qualifying for Section 482

July 16, 2008

The following houses and gardens in County Cork have qualified under section 482.

Bantry House and Gardens

Blarney Castle and Rock Close

Blarney House and Gardens

Burton Park, Mallow

Carker House, Doneraile

Carraigbarre House, Bishop Street, Cork   (Student Accommodation and steep admission charge of euro 12)

Castlemartyr House, Castlemartyr

Creagh House, Doneraile.  Guest House so admission only to guests

Crosshaven House, Crosshaven

Drishane Castle and Gardens, Millstreet

Dunboy Castle, Castletownbere

Dun na Sead Castle, Baltimore

Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale

Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen

Kilshannig House, Rathcormac

Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire

St Fachna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery

St Johns Priory, Youghal

Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Cork

Section 482 explained

July 16, 2008

This income tax offset applies to those who have been approved by the Revenue Commissioners under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

An individual who incurs expenditure on the repair, maintenace and restoration of an approved heritage building or garden can offset the expenditure against his income from all sources. Obviously, in order for this section to be attractive, you need income from elsewhere to be able to offset the expenditure.  Take Bantry House as an example, whatever expenditure is incurred in the house and gardens can be offset against any tax owing on monies earned from admissions, concerts, the cafe and whatever investments they may have elsewhere (the offset is not restricted to income from the house).  Michael O’Leary used to be the best example but I think he de-listed most likely because he didn’t want people wandering through his house.

In addition if repairs or maintainance are carried out to an approved object such as a picture, sculpture, book, manuscript, jewellery, installation of security, provision of public liability insurance,  up to euro 6,350 per year can be offset whereas there is no cap on the amount clawed back under the repair, maintenance and restoration of the building or garden itself.

The property has to be open to the public for not less than sixty days per year and forty of those have to run between May to September inclusive.  The access price has to be reasonable and access to a substantial part of the property must be given, ie not just one or two rooms.

There are slightly different rules for passive investors, ie for somebody who has taken an interest in the building from the original owner.  I am guessing that this applies to foreign owners, churches etc but I would need to clarify this.

The Irish Historic Houses Association and Section 482

July 15, 2008

A new Historic Houses association has recently been formed by Susan Kellett at Enniscoe House in Crossmolina in Co Mayo and George Gossip of Ballinderry House near Kilconnell, Ballinasloe in Co Galway to help ensure the survival of historic houses

Every historic building regardless of its proportion is likely to demand an owner in possession of an above average income as there is a propensity of historic houses to devour unlimited amounts of cash as I know too well myself with the vast outlay here at Kilbrogan House in Bandon.  There is a European body called The Union of European Historic Houses Association which the IHHA hopes to become a member of.

The new association believes that there needs to be some more innovative ways of allowing people to open their houses in return for some benefits or government assistance. Currently Section 482 assistance is very lucrative for those who can avail of it but many like myself here at Kilbrogan House do not qualify because whilst the house is listed, it is not considered to be of exceptional significance to be accepted under the scheme.  My house is not exactly Castletown but nevertheless is a fine example of a Georgian Townhouse with quite ornate plasterwork throughout.

I personally believe that the application of section 482 status is unfairly carried out.  I mentioned this to our local TD, Jim O’Keefe who didn’t even know what section 482 was so that’s how informed our politicians are! It’s not exactly a vote catcher so I didn’t expect any feedback, positive or otherwise and surprise, surprise didn’t get it. There are a number of houses which qualify for the section that have been restored from the ground upwards, ie with nothing having remained of the building except a shell.  This has allowed developers or private individuals with significant wealth to effectively build a new house offsetting all expenditure against income, ie paying little or no tax.  Yes, its the story of the rich becoming richer.

Those who avail of section 482 have a requirement to open their properties to the public but the sad reality is that very few people in the country even know what houses are in the scheme or what houses are open to be visited.

The new group hopes, among other things,  to swap ideas about renovation work and heating.  Modern remedies for heating such as double glazing and improved methods of insulation are often forbidden in protected structures where their installation is likely to affect the historic fabric of the building.  In addition, the scale of the houses makes everything very difficult and extremely expensive to install. For example, I am currently about to undertake the restoration of my front door  which through the years has fallen into a major state of disrepair making it difficult to open and allowing cold air to fly through it.  Even finding a carpenter qualified to undertake such a restoration job was an incredible task and eventually led me to the Letterfrack Furniture Conservation College in County Galway.  Yes, my  front door will be spending a holiday this year in County Galway.  The bill for this small project is immense and will certainly not be covered by the annual income from Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering.

I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and information about how to restore old buildings.  It took me over two years to find somebody who was qualifed to repair ornate cornicing at an affordable price.  There are plenty of workmen who will put up pre-moulded cornicing but it’s another story to find experts who will take casts of mouldings and recreate the originals.

Good luck to the Irish Historic Houses Association

A visit to Ballyogan House Bed and Breakfast in Graiguenamanagh

June 26, 2008

I had a day off from Kilbrogan House to visit some friends in Graiguenamanagh in County Carlow. I spent the night at Ballyogan House, a delightful Country House that offers Bed and Breakfast accommodation a couple of miles outside the town of Graiguenamanagh and just a short drive from Kilkenny. Fran and Robert have been running their guest accommodation for the past 8 years and are doing a brilliant job at it.

My room looked out on a beautiful garden with herbatious borders that were in full bloom. If you are a garden lover, you should definitely stay here. I loved my short visit and would highly recommend Ballyogan House to anybody planning to visit Kilkenny and the surrounding area. My room (The Bluebell Room) was extremely comfortable and breakfast was delicious – even eggs from the hens running around outside. Their website is

Ballyvolane Country House

May 31, 2008

I had the good fortune to attend an informal lunch at Ballyvolane Country House in Castlelyons near Fermoy. What a magical place. The house was originally built in 1728 in the georgian country house style with three storeys. The top floor was removed in 1847 to create a two storey house with an extensive west end wing. The Greens have lived here since 1955 and run it as a successful country house guest house.

The gardens around the house include a mixture of deciduous trees, shrubs, both formal and informal areas and a large walled garden with copious amounts of vegetables all planted very neatly. Apparently it takes 9 hours to mow the lawn around the house and the croquet lawn looks absolutely perfect without a hump or bump in site. The garden at this time of year is a dream with bluebells throughout the woods and Rhododendrons, azaleas etc all in full bloom.

For anybody who feels like a quiet country break near the Blackwater, this is the place to stay.