How we live has changed. Nowadays, we’re craving the countryside, room to move and wide open spaces to socialise in. “Having a comfortable place to relax and entertain outside takes on even more importance in these strange times we are now living in,” says architect John Meagher.
Meagher knows what he’s talking about. As one half of the multi-award winning de Blacam and Meagher Architects, along with partner Shane de Blacam, he has been changing the face of design in Ireland since the 1970s.
The practice works on commercial and residential projects and one that is close to Meagher’s heart is No.11 Foxes Covert. One of the best and largest homes built on the grounds of the renowned 15th century Mount Juliet Estate, Co Kilkenny, this two-storey, five-bedroom residence has matured beautifully since its completion in 2006. Its timeless design pays homage to Frank Lloyd Wright, the pioneering American architect, who favoured geometric layouts, pitched roofs, overhanging eaves and focal-point fireplaces.
“We were given a blank canvas by a long-standing client, so decided to veer away from the neo-Georgian mansions that you see all around this part of Ireland, which in my opinion look quite out of place in this beautiful rural setting of trees and seemingly endless swathes of grass,” he says.
Instead, Meagher felt the site – which faces northwest across the fifth fairway of Mount Juliet’s renowned golf course – lent itself better to a prairie style of home which emerged in the US in the first decade of the twentieth century.
“They evoked the Midwestern landscape of America and represented a dramatic shift in design from the traditional houses of the day,” he explains. “These homes, with expansive rooms in enfilade layout reflect a philosophy Wright termed ‘organic architecture’, and one which I think we can all agree is more relevant than ever to 21st century living.”
Mid-century in inspiration, the house is modern in all aspects. Superbly designed and extending to 5,084 sq ft/472.29 sq m, Meagher worked off a T-shaped floorplan. In the main wing, the living room, dining room, kitchen, study/playroom and conservatory all run into each other and face directly out onto the fairway, with verdant views enveloping at every turn. These spacious living areas feature beautiful pitched roofs, overhanging eaves and large high windows and give a great sense of spaciousness and light to the house – yet it’s still a very comfortable family home.
In the perpendicular arm, four double bedrooms – two en suites – run along the ground floor, while the master suite, with bathroom and dressing room, dominates the entire upper floor from the mezzanine above the dining room to the sunny south side of the home.
The interiors are calm and comforting with off-white walls and panelling, offsetting the rich oak joinery and flooring and make for a simple but an elegant backdrop for new owners to add their own style too. “It remains one of my favourite houses that I have designed. It is timeless, and will age well and grow old gracefully,” says Meagher.
Sitting on almost an acre of land, the exterior, with its cedar clad eves and rambling wisteria and ivy is the stuff of fairy tales. Extensive private gardens enclose two courtyards to the rear, one with a barbeque terrace, and a golf terrace on the other side.
Fully set up for serious al fresco entertaining with an outside cooking and dining area, there is also a jacuzzi pool, no doubt very inviting after a long day on the golf course. “Well designed outdoor living and entertaining spaces make all the difference to a home, especially when you have a location as beautiful as this, you must take full advantage,” says Meagher.
There’s also a separate double garage, with plenty of room for bikes, riding equipment, golf carts and sporting equipment, and reflects the charming country lifestyle a house like this can so easily lend itself to.
Always-bustling Kilkenny town is less than 20 minutes’ drive away
Life on the magnificent Mount Juliet Estate offers all the privileges seven generations of earls and countesses have enjoyed since the Earl of Carrick built the manor house and developed the grounds back in 1747 and named his legacy after his wife, Juliet.
The lovingly cared for grounds span 500 acres of expansive pastures. The river Nore winds gently through it and there are herbaceous and formally maintained herb, rose and walled gardens.
Well known as a golfers’ destination, it is the location of the world renowned 72 par, Jack Nicklaus Signature 18-hole golf course. The new Clubhouse and Jack’s bar is a bustling social hub for many Kilkenny locals and visiting golfers alike.
For horse lovers, there is an impressive equestrian centre, or you can try your hand at archery or salmon and trout fishing on the river. If you prefer to expend energy indoors there’s a gym and health club with a 15-metre heated swimming pool and a small spa with treatment suites.
The property is very special in terms of architecture, style, accommodation and location
Dining options include the newly developed Hunter’s Yard, where you can have a casual bite in the Hound restaurant. The Lady Helen Restaurant in The Manor House holds a prestigious Michelin star and the hotel has also been voted the AA Irish Hotel of the Year 2020.
Always-bustling Kilkenny town is less than 20 minutes’ drive away, and its lively food and arts scene plus countless pubs and festivals is sure to keep the social calendar full of diversity.
No.11 Foxes Covert is now available for sale through Hooke & MacDonald, and Ken MacDonald, the selling agent, is excited about the house.
“We were delighted to be appointed to sell this property. It’s very special in terms of architecture, style, accommodation and location,” he says. “This is a rare opportunity to buy such a quality golf-side residence. This year in particular, people who would normally buy in Spain and Portugal have opted to buy in Ireland and we’ve also had inquiries from residents of other golf resorts here, as Mount Juliet really is a world class, unique resort.”
To make an appointment to view No.11 Foxes Covert, visit their website by clicking here.