The Sopwell Hall Estate, Ballingarry, Tipperary

  • 1322 m²

  • 10 beds




A most distinguished early 18th-century Irish country house positioned within an estate of some 300 acres, including attractive parkland and mature woodland and a 16th-century castle. 5 Principal Reception Rooms, 10 Bedrooms

The house is privately and centrally positioned deep within mature parkland. The accommodation at Sopwell Hall is grand and beautifully executed, with the principal house comprising some 14,235 square feet or 1,322 square metres. The castle, built circa 1590, is now unoccupied but largely intact. The stone outbuildings are of the highest quality and richly augment the house and castle. A Studio, Gardener’s Cottage, Bailiff’s House and 2 Gate Lodges complete the accommodation to present some 18,342 square feet or 1,704 square metres of possible accommodation in total.

In all the estate extends to some 300 acres or 121.4 hectares
Sopwell Hall is situated in a triangle of the historic towns of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh. The nearest small town is Borrisokane, which is some 5 miles or 8 kilometres away. The International airports at Dublin, Cork and Shannon are within easy driving distance.

Built in 1745, to a design attributed to the renowned architect Francis Bindon, Sopwell Hall is imposing yet welcoming and conforms to the best traditions of early Georgian architecture. A popular and highly regarded architect, Bindon’s most noted country house designs are classically derived, like that at Russborough House, where he worked in collaboration with Richard Cassels. Indeed, this collaboration may have influenced the design of the top-lit domed landing at Sopwell Hall.

Symmetrical in composition, Sopwell Hall is a beautifully balanced structure occupying a slightly elevated site with commanding views over the surrounding gardens and countryside. The house stands three storeys over basement with direct access from the ground and basement levels.

All the windows on the seven bay façade and the round-headed front doorway have cut-stone block architraves and large keystones, which on the upper storey break into the frieze of the entablature under a pronounced cornice. Each side elevation has three window bays, one with block architraves and the other a Venetian window. The overall effect is extremely elegant and aesthetically pleasing.

Substantial compensation monies received on the dispersal of wider estate lands hugely benefitted the house and core estate, with exceptional expenditure apparent on the building of significant stone outbuildings and considerable upgrading works to the house interior between circa 1866 to 68. The handsome fluted Doric pilasters in the main reception hall were added at this time along with shallow arches and marbled half-columns to the large top-lit domed landing. Ornate cornicing was added to the drawing room and dining room.

A large orangery style conservatory adorned the south-eastern elevation but was sadly removed in the 1950’s due to disrepair. The current owners created an elegant sunken garden within the space incorporating period limestone walls, steps and terracing. A high archway leads to an enclosed courtyard off the other side elevation. This courtyard itself leading to an adjacent yard which includes the impressive range of stone outbuildings.

The Sopwell Hall Estate is a haven of tranquillity and privacy that is rare in the 21st-century. Positioned at the end of a half-mile drive Sopwell Hall occupies a central position within its own estate and enjoys a panoramic view over the park and woodland. Interspersed with mature specimen trees the parkland pasture surrounds the house. The outer parts of the estate comprising a perimeter woodland belt and creating a great sense of privacy and seclusion.
Among the many ancient and specimen trees throughout the estate are some particularly fine Spanish chestnut, a noted ancient beech wood and a rare Siberian crab-apple tree. The woodlands include indigenous oak, beech, ash, larch and spruce. Unsurprisingly there is, too, much wildlife to be found on the estate. Red squirrels, pine martens, foxes and hares are regularly sighted, and buzzards, owls and falcons can also be found.

Since 1985, when the current owners acquired Sopwell Hall, a substantial amount of restoration and improvement works have been carried out in the gardens and wider pleasure grounds, which had become neglected. Spacious lawns were laid down, the two gate lodges restored and a hard tennis court installed. The sunken garden was created at the southwestern end of the house, incorporating a central water-lily pond, limestone walls and steps to create terracing. Works on the Walled Garden commenced in 2009 and, with expert advice, a fruit orchard planted to include apple, pear, plum, medlar, walnut and cherry trees and incorporating some old heritage varieties. Behind a mixed hedgerow divide lies a productive garden, with a large soft-fruit cage, a flower garden, herb garden and vegetable beds.

All through the year there is a kaleidoscope of colour throughout the grounds with a great display of daffodils announcing the arrival of Spring, many of the 30 or so varieties found at Sopwell are original to the estate and are enhanced by arrays of snowdrops and crocuses. The ancient beech wood displays an abundance of bluebells and is quite a magical scene. Numerous shrubs and trees provide rich colour in all seasons. A large border flowerbed contains a wide selection of shrubs and climbers underplanted with various perennials and bulbs. Several varieties of climbing roses, clematis and wisteria adorn the various outbuildings in the coachyard and the large arched entrance. In the 18th-century and 19th-century many pleasure walks and bridleways were created around the estate with many still evident and in use today. Part of the original 1,000-acre estate demesne is now owned by Coillte, the semi-State forestry group, and across which forest walks, and horse riding can be enjoyed. The Sopwell Estate itself is private and exclusive.

Sopwell Hall is at the end of a half mile drive and is at the centre of the estate. The property is entered through fine cast iron pillared gates set within a cut-limestone entrance splay and adorned by the charming front Gate Lodge. The drive leads through undulating open parkland to a gravelled forecourt in front of the house.
Of the circa 300 acres or 121.4 hectares within the estate about two-thirds comprise mature parkland grazing and one-third is in woodland, with about 74 acres or 29.9 hectares in mature woodland and some 20 acres (8 hectares) in a commercial plantation. Some 185 acres of grazing lands are let annually on an 11-month conacre basis. This arrangement could possibly continue, or the lands could be farmed in-hand. A walled enclosure adjacent to Killaleigh Castle has a useful range of outbuildings.

Sopwell Hall and its circa 300 acres are entirely private and bordered by some 500 acres of Coillte (the semi-State forestry company) forestry and approximately 160 acres of farmland is used as part of a training farm for Gurteen College, which is 3 miles away. These three holdings combined constituting the original core estate at Sopwell.
The Sopwell Hall Estate is private and exclusive with no third-party Rights of Way across the estate. There exists a Wayleave to allow mast collection in the beech wood by Coillte, but it appears not to have been exercised in over 30 years. The estate has the benefit of a Right of Way across some adjacent lands. The Coillte forestry which adjoins the estate greatly enhances the enjoyment of living at Sopwell Hall, as it provides great amenity for long walks in beautiful surroundings.

Whilst being wonderfully secluded the estate is nearby to town amenities and easily accessible, with the M7 motorway accessible some 12.4 miles or 20 kilometres away at Roscrea (Junction 22).

The Castle, called Killaleigh Castle, is long unoccupied but largely intact. Built, circa 1590, by the Gaelic MacEgan Clan as a fortified Castle or Tower House under an Elizabethan grant until 1662, when the Clan’s lands were forfeit. Killaleigh Castle with its immediate lands and over 1,000 acres coming into the possession of a Col. Thomas Sadlier, Adjutant General to Henry Cromwell, for his military achievements. Through buying up debentures on lands awarded to fellow officers who wished to return to England he had an accumulated estate of over 5,000 acres by the end of the 17th-century.

The castle was in a ruinous state and Col. Sadlier rebuilt it and doubled it in size, adding a second overlapping rectangular section in the mid-17th-century and, presumably, the unusually tall chimneys. It is a fine example of the transition from basic fortified castles to more comfortable castles or houses, albeit still with fortification as evident from the mâchicoulis. In 1745 a Francis Sadlier, grandson of Col. Thomas Sadlier, built the imposing Sopwell Hall to become the principal and statement house on the estate, with the castle then uninhabited. The Sopwell Estate ownership passing to the Trench family in 1797 through the marriage of his daughter, Mary. The Trench family remaining in ownership until 1985, when the current owners purchased Sopwell.

Whilst in need of complete restoration the castle appears to be largely structurally sound and comprising some 3,976 square feet or 369 square metres could provide useful additional amenity, were it required and subject to any necessary consents. It stands within a walled enclosure that also contains the Bailiff’s House and a long range of single storey outbuildings. The Bailiff’s House comprises some 1,480 square feet or 137.5 square metres of potential accommodation. The outbuildings extend to some 5,812 square feet or 540 square metres of net internal space. Killaleigh Castle and the Bailiff’s House are positioned a short distance from Sopwell Hall and can be accessed from an internal roadway or independently from the rear or castle entrance.

Sopwell Hall is situated in a triangle of the historic towns of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh. Nearby Ballingarry village is a five minute drive away and has a church and ‘The Glue Pot’ pub. The small town of Borrisokane is some 5 miles or 8 kilometres away and includes a primary and secondary school, a doctor’s surgery with adjacent health centre, a butcher and two grocery stores, a petrol station, pubs and a hardware shop. Alternatively, Cloughjordan town is equidistant.

The larger towns of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh providing wider shopping, schooling and leisure amenity. Birr, a designated Irish Heritage Town has wide streets with many elegant Georgian buildings. Birr Castle and Science Centre includes the great Leviathan of Parsonstown astronomical telescope that was the largest in the World from 1845 to 1917. The town annually hosts a Vintage Week and Art Festival, The Irish Game and Country Fair, and The Irish Hot Air Balloon Festival; there being a strong aviation link with The Ormond Flying Club based at Birr Airfield. Birr Theatre and Arts Centre is a local cultural and social amenity for the arts, dance, film, music and theatre. Roscrea town provides access to the M7 motorway, about a 20 minute drive from Sopwell Hall and accessing Dublin and Limerick cities with an array of shopping facilities, theatres, restaurants, pubs, wine bars, café’s, boutique salons and leisure spas. The M7 giving motorway access to Dublin, Shannon and Cork International airports.

Equestrian, walking and cycling facilities are abundant in the area with Sopwell Hall within easy reach of mountain trails. The Slieve Bloom, Silvermine, Slieve Bernagh, Slieve Aughty, Slieve Felim and Arra mountains all being nearby. Locally there are walking trails in the Knocknacree Woods and Scohaboy Bog and of course privately within Sopwell estate itself. For equestrian enthusiasts there are many riding schools and clubs in the area and the local Ormond Hunt has in the past met at Sopwell Hall. Horse racing takes places at Tipperary and Limerick. Golf courses within a 30-minute drive include those in Nenagh, Roscrea and Birr.

Nearby Lough Derg, less than a 20-minute drive from Sopwell, is referred to as Ireland’s Pleasure Lake and is perfect for the water sport enthusiast with good sailing breezes and uncluttered expanses providing superb conditions for sailing, windsurfing and cruising. Lough Derg is the largest lake on the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland and Great Britain. A harbour and marina in Portumna town provides cruiser boat rental and there are further harbours nearby at Terryglass and Dromineer, which has one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world. Lough Derg offers good trout, pike and bream fishing and walks on the Lough Derg Way.

Sopwell Hall offers many amenities within the estate with historic bridleways and walking paths throughout the open parkland and mature woods. With over 90 acres of woodland there is also potential to create a small sporting estate. Tranquil and private Sopwell is a preserve of wildlife.

Ballingarry village 2.8 miles or 4.6 km, 6 minutes driving
Birr town 10.3 miles or 16.6 km, 18 minutes driving
Roscrea town (M7 motorway) 12 miles or 19.3 km, 20 minutes driving
Nenagh town 13.3 miles or 21.4 km, 22 minutes driving
Dublin city 93 miles or 150 km, 55 minutes driving
Limerick city 39 miles or 63 km, 54 minutes driving
Cork city 99 miles or 160 km, 2 hours 4 minutes driving
Dublin airport 1 hour 48 minutes driving
Shannon airport 1 hour 10 minutes driving
Cork airport 2 hours 5 minutes driving.

Elevation above sea level: 77 metres or 252 feet

From the gravelled forecourt to the front of the house wide limestone steps lead through both outer and inner doors into the magnificent reception hall. Spacious and well-proportioned it is lined with distinctive fluted Doric pilasters and divided by a screen of arches. Fine ceiling plasterwork includes twin ceiling roses and decorative cornicing. The large marble chimney piece is original to the 1745 build and has an open fire. An interconnecting arch links to the stair hall. To the left of the main hall is a study and to the right a charming timber panelled morning room, with original marble chimneypiece and decorative ceiling work.

The drawing room and dining room are each impressive and, again, accessed from the central main hall. Displaying the very best features and proportions of fine Georgian architecture each is filled with natural light, has impressive large marble chimneypieces with open fires and ornate cornicing. The stair hall incorporates a fine 18th-century carved timber staircase lit from a large Venetian window on the stair return and from the large top-lit domed landing above. Concealed doors lead to a guest WC and a roof terrace. A secondary stair hall accesses the floor below and the upper floors. A small kitchen on this level serves the dining room. A feature of the main reception rooms and, indeed, the entire house is the abundance of natural light with ample tall and large glazed windows.
The broad carved staircase, complete with original handrail and spindles, leads to a generously large landing on the first floor. Impressive architecturally, there are six matching scagliola sienna marble columns and a large, perfectly proportioned domed ceiling, with a glazed atrium at the apex, which is surrounded by fine plasterwork. There are five principal bedrooms and four bathrooms on this floor.

The Master Bedroom Suite occupies the south-eastern corner. The bedroom enjoys a dual aspect and has marble chimneypiece with an open fire and interconnecting doors to an en-suite bathroom and to Bedroom 2, which could be used as a dressing room and links to its own bathroom. The bathroom, off the master bedroom, is charming with the design inspired by a bathroom in the Chateau de Rambouillet in France. Bedroom 3 has a dual aspect with fine parkland views towards Knockshegowna Hill (Cnoc Sí Uwa, which translates as ‘Hill of Fairy Una’) and an interconnecting door to Bedroom 4, which in turn connects to an en-suite bathroom. These rooms combined could make a large suite with a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom. Bedroom 5 retains the original 1745 oak panelling and has an interconnecting door to a shared bathroom with Bedroom 4 and/or can utilise a family bathroom across the hall.
A laundry room with linen shelving is positioned off a secondary stair hall, which accesses the second floor and floors below. The second floor provides five further bedrooms and a bathroom and has a games room, study, large store and access to the roof.

The lower ground floor has a large axial central hall that opens at ground level to both the courtyard and the sunken garden. It includes a sitting room with an open fire. A large kitchen has glazed double French doors to a South facing garden terrace, an open fireplace with a vintage water heater, and a range of fitted timber wall and floor cupboards with solid timber worktop, a large Belfast style sink, an integrated Viking Professional electric oven with six gas hob plates, clay tiled flooring, spot lighting and interconnecting door to a pantry. The old servant’s hall has an open fireplace and 5 recessed alcoves. The Wine Cellar has 20 wine bins and additional racks. A boot room, store, laundry, boiler room, estate office and staff apartment complete the accommodation on this floor. The staff apartment has a bedroom, bathroom and small living room or lobby.

The Studio is positioned in the upper floor of the adjacent courtyard buildings and is a large space comprising some 660 square feet or 61 square metres and has a solid fuel stove, fitted cupboards, book shelving and timber flooring.

Positioned immediately adjacent to the main house the courtyard comprises an impressive range of single and two-storey cut-stone outbuildings that include a Coach House, garaging, a Studio, workshop and various stores. Exceptional expenditure on their building is apparent as they are extensive and surprisingly elaborate for outbuildings. They are thought to have been constructed between circa 1866 to 68 following the receipt of substantial monies for the sale of estate lands. Combined they extend to some 3,346 square feet or 311 square metres of net internal space.

The Bailiff’s House, originally a steward’s house, is positioned adjacent to Killaleigh Castle within the walled enclosure. Whilst in need of restoration the structure appears generally sound and the layout is very pleasing. It extends to some 1,480 square feet or 137.5 square metres.

The Gardener’s Cottage is positioned within the Walled Garden, abutting the wall at the very north-western end. It extends to some 722 square feet or 67 square metres over 2 storeys.

The Front Gate Lodge is architecturally impressive and is positioned just inside the main entrance gates to Sopwell Hall it is set out over a single storey and extends to 566 square feet or 52.6 square metres. There is a living room, kitchen, bedroom bathroom and laundry room and provides useful accommodation.

The Back Gate Lodge or Castle Gate Lodge is positioned at the top of the rear entrance. Extremely picturesque the accommodation extends to 681 square feet or 63.3 square metres over 2 storeys and includes a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. It has been recently restored and provides charming accommodation.

Acquired by the present owners in 1985 both Sopwell Hall, the outbuildings and the lands required substantial restoration and upgrading, therefore comprehensive programme of work has been undertaken in the subsequent years. Conservation works included the repair and restoration of timber panelling and plasterwork and all the windows being taken out and refurbished. Fine Georgian chimneypieces were sourced and installed to replace three less suitable Victorian ones added in the circa 1866-68 remodelling.

The entire house was re-wired and re-plumbed, and a modern oil-fired central heating system installed, complete with an efficient condenser boiler and thermostatic controls for zoned areas. A smoke alarm and monitored security alarm were installed. Rooms were re-commissioned to provide or create five bathrooms, two new kitchens, a laundry room, boiler house and a roof terrace.

Great emphasis was given to ensuring security of services with a private well water supply

Acquired by the present owners in 1985 both Sopwell Hall, the outbuildings and the lands required substantial restoration and upgrading, therefore comprehensive programme of work has been undertaken in the subsequent years. Conservation works included the repair and restoration of timber panelling and plasterwork and all the windows being taken out and refurbished. Fine Georgian chimneypieces were sourced and installed to replace three less suitable Victorian ones added in the circa 1866-68 remodelling.

The entire house was re-wired and re-plumbed, and a modern oil-fired central heating system installed, complete with an efficient condenser boiler and thermostatic controls for zoned areas. A smoke alarm and monitored security alarm were installed. Rooms were re-commissioned to provide or create five bathrooms, two new kitchens, a laundry room, boiler house and a roof terrace.

Great emphasis was given to ensuring security of services with a private well water supply added to augment a mains water supply, a powerful generator installed to provide back-up in the event of an outage on the mains electric supply and two large (3000 gallon or 11,500 litre) oil tanks installed to provide long term on-site storage. Woodland on the estate providing a stable supply of logs for the open fires in the house.

Sympathetic to the historic importance of the house and yet cognisant to create a country home suitable for the 21st-century the extensive restoration and improvements works undertaking over the last 35 years present Sopwell Hall as a comfortable and elegant home. A fine collection of period furnishings adds to the overall charm of Sopwell. While not included in the sale it is understood the majority could possibly be subsequently purchased by a successful buyer.

The property is offered for sale freehold and it is the intention to provide vacant possession on completion of the sale.

All fitted carpets and curtains will remain in the property on closing and will become the property of the purchaser. The light fittings, furniture and any other chattels within the house or other buildings are excluded from the sale. As are the garden statuary, ornaments and machinery. The majority are understood to be available by separate negotiation and/or the owner retains the right to hold an auction of the contents of the house on the premises prior to a sale completion.

The property is offered for sale subject to and with the benefits of all matters and rights of way which affect the property. It is understood there are no Rights of Way across the property, aside from the small Wayleave outlined.

BER Details
BER: Exempt

Viewing Details
To arrange a viewing for this significant estate please contact Callum Bain.

Joint Agent David Ashmore – Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty


The Sopwell Hall Estate, Ballingarry, Tipperary

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