The impressive exterior of Middleton Park, which was once the subject of a raffle organised by the late professional gambler, Barney Curley.

Middleton Park back on market at €1.85 million

The stunning Middleton Park mansion in Castletown Geoghegan is back on the market – just months after the government rowed back on plans to house 240 international protection (IP) applicants at the 15-bedroom property.

Guiding at €1.85m, the house is to be offered for sale by auction on September 27.

The property has in the past functioned as a private home, and also as a hotel and wedding venue. Most recently, it was again in use as a private house.

The auctioneering firm Daphne Kaye and Associates are handling the sale.

One of the most beautiful homes in the country, the property was acquired by the present owners, Bray couple Michael and Carolyn McDonnell, and Carolyn’s brother, Henry King, towards the end of 2018.

Following something of bidding war, they paid some €900,000 – considerably over the guide price, which was €650,000.

The house featured in 2020 in an episode of the show ‘Great House Revival’ presented by architect Hugh Wallace, and the McDonnell/King family revealed that the house had lain empty for the three years before they bought it, and that period of vacancy had taken its toll on the building. Since then, they have carried out extensive renovations.

The house has had some interesting residents, including the late professional gambler, Barney Curley, who, famously, raffled the house in 1986.

The original owner, George Boyd-Rochfort, was a descendant of the Earls of Belvedere. His grandson, also George, who later owned the property, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1915. That George’s brother, Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his actions at the Battle of the Somme, and he went on to become trainer of the royal family’s horses.

According to the auctioneers, the current owners have undertaken a substantial refurbishment and restoration programme to return this impressive period property to its former glory and to enhance its commercial viability and obvious potential.

The house, designed by architect George Papworth and built in the mid-19th century, had an innovative heating system buried in its walls which circulated heated air. In a special gas house, coal was converted to gas to fuel the boilers.

In construction of the house, the most modern materials of the time were used, including cast iron beams for structural support in the vaulted basement, instead of the usual timber.

Other features of note in the property include the sweeping stone cantilevered bifurcated staircase, regarded as one of the finest in Ireland, and the conservatory, which is one of only six Richard Turner-designed conservatories in Ireland.

Turner is best-known for his Palm House at Kew Gardens in London and his glasshouses at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

The house is vast, measuring up at 3,250 square metres (35,000 sq ft) and standing on c.7.69 Ha (19 acres) of gardens and woodlands, with a deep sense of history.

There are four formal bedroom suites each comprising double rooms with lounges and bathrooms; and a further 12 en suite bedrooms. Work is also currently under way on the provision of 10 additional bedrooms, all en suite.

The auctioneers state: “The principal reception rooms are graciously appointed with style and flair befitting the elegance of the era, resplendent with ornate plaster detail throughout, elaborate fireplaces and many fine period features intact.”

These rooms include a drawing room, dining room, sitting room, morning room, snooker room, ballroom (comprising three interconnecting reception rooms), kitchen/breakfast room, and mezzanine library.

The varied selection of other rooms include stores, workshops, games rooms, gym, shower/sauna rooms, toilets, boiler room, wine cellar and a previously-used commercial kitchen.

International Protection applicants plan abandoned

In January of this year, it emerged that the Department of Children, Equality, disability and Youth was considering accommodating 244 asylum seekers at Middleton Park.

The news was greeted with dismay in the area, and the Castletown Geoghegan Village Steering Group released a statement saying the community was “shocked and outraged” at the revelation, and arguing that the infrastructure was not in place to cater for such large numbers in a village of the size of Castletown.

“According to the 2016 census, there are 141 residents living in Castletown Geoghegan, the proposed numbers are drastically disproportionate to the current population of this village, increasing it to double overnight,” the group said in a statement released to the Westmeath Examiner in February.

The group said that it was “failing to see the sense in proposing these numbers to the village”, a village where the local medical centre opens on limited hours, that has no library, poor water infrastructure and no public paths or public lights from Middleton Park to the village.

In July, the department issued a statement revealing that the plan had been shelved.