Streamstown House, Rathmolyon, Enfield, County Meath. Asking price: €1.1 million. Broker: Coonan Property (01) 6286128
Aul Downes thought his three young children might like riding ponies. The thought led him to Julie Allman and her three children. Eventually it brought them all, including the horses, to new life in an old rectory in Co Meath.
It was 1997 and Paul had just gotten separated. His three young children, aged three to seven, came to see him at the weekend. “I was in East Wicklow and saw this sign for pony trekking and asked the kids if they would like it,” says Paul. “They said, ‘Yes, Dad, we would love that.’ So we went with and who ran the business, just Julie. That’s how we met.
“A few weeks later I had to have my German Shepherd dog looked after, he was in an emergency shelter. So I called Julie and asked her if she knew a place. She said she wasn’t sure but would get back to me. I called her again the following evening and although she hadn’t found a spot she said if I got stuck she would look into it.”
He took the dog to Julie’s Stables at Redcross. “I didn’t even ask him what kind of dog it was, I’m just an animal lover,” says Julie. After that, Paul would come to Redcross’s once or twice a week to walk the dog and soon the romance blossomed. “The dog moved in before Paul,” says Julie. “There was no turning back after that,” adds Paul, “we fell head over heels in love and here we are.”
It wasn’t an easy coming together, however, as Julie was also going through a divorce and had three children, ranging in age from three to 12.
“We were both trying to navigate the world and wondering how the hell we are supposed to get on in life now and the next thing we met was like two pieces of a puzzle coming together. Suddenly we had six children together,” says Paul.
After that they came to Portobello to live. Julie had sold most of the stud farm at Wicklow but kept some fields where she still kept her horses. Paul, a structural engineer, went into business for himself and she came to him as his financial controller.
“Life was very busy and we had twice as many families as we had planned, so we needed more space,” says Paul. They have since added a seventh child to the clan.
“People used to call us Brady Bunch,” Julie notes, “and when we went on vacations, especially to Spain, we would cause consternation if all nine of us showed up at a restaurant.”
The business grew and soon gave Julie and Paul the freedom and the wherewithal to look for a place with space for the family, the business and the horses. It was at this point, in 2004, that they found the vicarage at Streamstown, Rathmolyon, with its coach house and stables. It had everything they wanted, so they bought it.
Streamstown was built for the Catholic clergy in the 1880s. It remained Church property for a century until it became privately owned in the 1980s and changed hands once or twice before Paul and Julie bought it.
“It was in pretty good condition when we moved in,” says Paul, “the brickwork, joinery and hardware in the house are second to none and the materials they chose in construction should last.” Still, the led An extensive renovation program was carried out by the new owners to ensure that the work they carried out was consistent with the original building and its materials.
The home is 3,897 square feet and is set back from the road on 12 Ac land 4 miles from the M4 at Enfield. The property also includes a self-contained two-bed coach house, a courtyard with stables, equestrian facilities and a tennis court.
An elm lined avenue winds through paddocks and landscaped gardens to the front of the house. A set of natural stone steps lead to the double wood paneled front door and to a porch with a skylight and the original Victorian mosaic tiled floor underfoot. Decorative glass doors open to the hallway which, like much of the house, features high ceilings, cornices and decorative plasterwork.
Accommodation on the ground floor comprises a bay window dining room, drawing room, study/office and one of the five bedrooms. Among other rooms on the ground floor is a pantry with ash cupboards, a utility room, a shoe room and a laundry/shower room.
The modern kitchen features ash cabinets, granite countertops, a large central island and appliances including a Belling oven and Maytag fridge freezer. There is also a wine cellar with racks for 200 bottles. Upstairs is the family bathroom and four large bedrooms, two of which are ensuite.
During the renovation, the couple wanted to make the most of the original home. As a structural engineer with an interest in historical buildings, it was an affair of the heart for Paul.
“Many of the beautiful details in the building fabric were painted over, the brick border, the stringers, the corbel masonry and the red sandstone lintels were all covered. We took everything back, uncovered the stone and then had it professionally repointed with waterproof lime putty mortar. It will be 50 years before it needs to be realigned.”
They also exposed the original pitchpine planks and, with the help of Paul’s carpenter father, refreshed the intricate carpentry details. This work included the restoration of the original sash windows, interior doors, baseboards, cornices and shutters. A new water system and two state-of-the-art bathrooms were installed.
Other features include marble fireplaces, a wood burning stove in the office, central heating and fiber optic broadband.
Typical of large houses of its vintage, Streamstown features a courtyard with stone buildings at the rear. This includes a completely renovated coach house with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom.
Julie, having been around horses all her life, made sure the equestrian facilities were exactly what she wanted. The farm has seven stalls with Equimat floors, a tack room and a large workshop. Behind the stable building is a four-post hay barn with a concrete floor, a Monarch horse walker and a large sand arena.
The vicarage is now too big for Julie and Paul because the Brady Bunch chicks escaped the nest. “When we found it, we fell in love with it,” said Paul, “it compressed everything for us, bringing the family and the horses together in one home. But when it comes to a property like this, the owners are custodians who take care of them to pass them on.”
Streamstown House is being sold under a private deal and is managed by Coonan Property, Maynooth for €1.1million.
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/homes/the-house-brought-two-families-and-our-horses-together-into-one-home-a-love-story-at-the-stables-41858776.html “The house brought two families and our horses together in one home” – a love story in the stable