Dating back to 1730, the Donnybrook House is a remarkable Georgian gem on prime grounds 11 kilometers from Nenagh in Co Tipperary, described in Lewis’s 1837 Topographical Dictionary as “a beautiful mansion, beautifully situated”.
It was built for Thomas Poe, a lieutenant in Cromwell’s army who received grants of land (originally estimated at 243 hectares) under the Settlement Act under Charles II.
It has had an interesting set of residents over the years, including Elaine Poe, the granddaughter of the original owner. She is immortalized in the book The Doctor’s Wife Died, by Andrew Tierney, a Nina-born archaeologist and scion of the Poe family.
In a gritty legal drama, Tierney tells the story that shook the core of gentle Victorian society, when Ellen Poe’s husband, a violent and deceitful monster of a man, Dr. Charles Langley, sent a letter to the local coroner requesting an investigation into her death. . A problem arose, even though Elaine was still alive when Langley asked to investigate.
The townspeople were so enraged at her death – through neglect – that they formed crowds and stormed the doctor’s house while she was being carried in a poor coffin. She had spent the last two months of her life confined to a small room “as small as the black hole in Calcutta”.
After the Bo family, the Bailey family resided. Helen Maria Bailey, who married Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, was a great-grandson of Reverend H Bailey, who fathered 23 children.
He described it as “not cool at all”, while a later woman of the Bayley family was the only resident of Donnybrook House until her death. Legend has it that her black dogs monitored her body until it was discovered, and oddly enough, two ornate dog heads now surround each side of the front door.
After that, the property was owned by Harry Howard, who penned his memoirs and the harvest was completed, giving a glimpse into life on land in Tipperary.
It was eventually bought out by its current owners in 2019 for €400,000, according to the property price history, and they did some updating and redecorating.
They replaced open fires with stoves in the main reception rooms.
“For the first time, last Christmas, we had to open the dining room doors during dinner, and this greatly increased the comfort of the house during the winter,” says the owner, who is downsizing.
It is an excellent location, situated at the end of a half kilometer of private trail, retaining all period features.
Made up of two floors above a high basement, the house has two bedrooms upstairs with three more bedrooms on the first floor. The living room and kitchen are on the lower level, while at the entrance level there are two impressive formal reception rooms within a set of granite steps, where the heads of the tusks still sweep the floor.
Located on 4.45 hectares (11 acres), “there is a nice walk down the road where we used to walk 5km every day,” says the owner, referring to times of Covid restrictions.
The grounds are filled with wildlife including the “patrol fox,” hares, rabbits, Eurasian kestrels and some hawks, who clear their grounds from an old oak tree struck by lightning.
“One day I peeked a fish out of a pine in the kitchen window and was as surprised as we were,” recalls the owner. “We think we also have barn owls, where we found some of their pellets.”
Speaking of sheds, there is a nice patio at the back of the house, which can be converted into two huts. In addition, there is a walled garden that the family cleared.
In its heyday, “the servants tended a spacious, walled garden rich in formal decoration, providing fruit and vegetables for the kitchen, and a pleasant haven for quiet walks and solitary retirement,” according to Tierney’s account.
While the new owners will likely want to upgrade the electricity, heating, and windows at some point, this is still a very smart Georgian home on beautiful grounds. It is exempt from Ber and is now on the market by Sherry FitzGerald Talbot seeking €650,000.
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