Once a shooting lodge for guests of the Duke of Devonshire, and more recently a country house hotel, Ballyrafter has a long tradition of hospitality, plus all the attributes of a signature family home.
• Built circa 1830
• Historic pedigree on the Blackwater Valley
• Elegant formal rooms including library, dining room and lounge
• 14ft ceilings in ground floor rooms, with original features intact
• Large banqueting room
• South facing and spacious conservatory
• 14 bedrooms, 12 en-suite
• Outbuildings including coach houses and storage space a plenty
• Approx. 1.53ha (3.8 acres) of mature grounds
• Idyllic secluded location
• Walking distance to all the amenities of Lismore Heritage Town
• Huge potential, whether as boutique hotel/guest house or private residence
Ballyrafter House was built circa 1830, on the commission of the Duke of Devonshire, one of the wealthiest men in England, whose Irish Seat is the nearby Lismore Castle. Initially intended for the Duke's Steward, it soon became a hunting and fishing lodge for his guests. Adjacent to the famous Blackwater River, rich in trout and salmon, and at the foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains, you can see why the spot was in such high demand.
The story of Ballyrafter goes even further back. The name comes from the Irish Baile an Reachtaír, The Provost's Land, as the approx. 1.53 ha of grounds on which the house sits, were part of vast church lands, leased in the 1500s by Sir Walter Raleigh, and then sold to Sir Richard Boyle.
The house the Duke built befits this history: a graceful Georgian country house, reached via a winding leafy avenue, the original house, now extended to approx. 894.4 sq m (9,627 sq ft), is surrounded by mature planting, including specimen trees and sweeping lawns. Most recently, Ballyrafter has been a much-beloved 14-bedroomed country house hotel, extending its history of hospitality to new generations.
Such is the building's graceful elegance, it has all the ingredients of a luxurious boutique hotel, or an exceptional family home, in company with the other Great Houses of the Blackwater Valley.
Stone steps, flanked by seating terraces, lead to the front door of Ballyrafter House. Once inside, a charming wood-panelled hallway brings you to an inner hall, accessing the dining room to the left, and Drawing Room to the right. The dining room has a lovely French bay window, and the Drawing Room is very elegant to relax. All the formal rooms at Ballyrafter have original features marble fireplaces, and 14ft ceilings.
To the left of the Drawing Room is the conservatory, with geraniums to the ceiling and behind this a bar, leading on to a function room and very generous double-height banqueting hall. This in turn brings you to a service area, cold room, utility room, and on to the kitchen. The kitchen is kitted out for professional catering – a chef's delight with Aga cooker. This layout has served Ballyrafter well during its time as a highly regarded country house hotel, but can be easily reconfigured, should you wish to return the house to a once-in-a-lifetime family home.
Upstairs, the original house has five bedrooms, all ensuite, while a newer wing, accommodates five more. The East wing would make for ideal staff quarters, au pair flat or guest wing. There is also a meeting room at this level.
Again, the bedrooms make future use as a hotel/guest house a strong option, but there is also amazing space here for something truly luxurious by opening up to create some seriously stunning suites. The views from the upper floor are again of the glorious grounds, the woodlands, and of Lismore Castle, rising high across the Blackwater River.
Gardens and Grounds
Set back from the quiet country road that leads on up to the viewpoint Vee, Ballyrafter House is reached via means of a curving avenue, flanked by mature trees. The approx.1.53ha (3.8 acres) gardens wrap around the house, sheltering it and offering great privacy. These were landscaped when the house was originally built during the Georgian era, and bear all the hallmarks of that period of horticultural innovation.
A terrace at the front of the house gives onto a grassy slope, deliberately created to open up views of the fairy-tale castellation's of Lismore Castle. The grounds are large enough to be enclosed for grazing, should you want horses to once again occupy the stabled coach yard, which lies to the rear of the house. These currently offer ample storage, and are ripe for conversion.
Beyond the lawns, the gardens have been very well maintained, with mature plantings, flowering shrubs and specimen trees. There are secluded areas to sit, and a charming upper garden, to the side of the house.
The picturesque and historic heritage town of Lismore and its surrounds are home to Lismore Castle, Irish Seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, as well as many of the famed Great Houses of the Blackwater Valley. The Blackwater River itself is renowned for its fishing, while Ballyrafter House, just a short walk from Lismore, sits at the gateway to the Knockmealdown Mountains, which are much feted by walkers. The beaches at Youghal and Ardmore are close at hand.
Lismore itself has a strong sense of community, with good schools and sporting facilities. There are charming pubs, with Foleys being a favourite for food, and The Summer House a popular café. McGrath's Butchers are known throughout the region for their excellent meats, while a weekend Farmers Market is a great spot to catch up with friends and buy local ingredients. Cork and Waterford are an hour away, with Cork Airport providing international connections.
Lismore - 1.6km / 3 minutes
Dungarvan - 25km / 22 minutes
Cork City - 68km / 1 hour
Cork Airport - 68km / 1 hour
Waterford City - 68km / 1 hour
Dublin City - 218km / 2.5 hours
Dublin Airport - 225km / 2.5 hours
All distances and times are approximate
From Dublin or Cork, take the M8, leaving at exit 17. Follow the N72 to Lismore. Keep on the N72, turning left at the Monument. Over the bridge at the petrol station, turn left onto the R668. Continue on for 100m, and turn right for Ballyrafter House.
Oil fired central heating
Three phase electricity supply
Biocycle septic tank
Private water supply