Rugby-mad Kiwi/Irish family selling their luxury home with a cinema and two guest cottages
The family are selling their luxury Wicklow home which is close to the city but in the heart of the countryside
For one rugby-mad family, the battle between Ireland and the All Blacks doesn’t end with the full-time whistle, but follows them home too, regardless of which continent they’re living on.
When Kerry and Niall Manning lived in New Zealand, Kerry wanted to make sure that her husband felt at home in her native land and encouraged him to hang up as much rugby merch as he desired. Now, however, the tables have turned and it’s Kerry’s turn to bring the All Blacks to Ireland. In the cinema room in their Wicklow home, there is a framed jersey hanging proudly on the wall to remind her of her beloved team, and teddy bears wearing both Ireland and New Zealand t-shirts to keep the peace.
After living in New Zealand for nearly 30 years, the couple decided it would be nice to move to Ireland with their daughter Shauna for a few years to spend some time with Niall’s family. They bought Mountain Spring in Ashford, Co Wicklow in the summer of 2017 after looking for a house that was outside the city but not totally cut off from the world.
“It’s funny,” laughs Kerry, “that we just kind of replicated our life in Auckland, where we also had a house that felt remote but was only about 20 minutes from the city.”
The property had undergone an extensive renovation about 12 years previously, when it went from being a split-level bungalow, to a 632 sq m contemporary home with two guest cottages on six acres of landscaped land. The Mannings didn’t have much to do but made a few changes to make their mark. “It feels like we’ve done a lot in that short space of time, but only things that we thought would improve the house, not change it. We’ve put in two EWT water unit systems to enhance the quality of the water. We also added glass to the veranda to extend the outdoor living capability, so it wasn’t just a place we used when temperatures were high.”
The house has party written all over it. It would be wasted on someone who didn’t enjoy having a busy home. The kitchen was designed with entertainment in mind with four ovens and heating drawers so catering for a crowd would never be a problem. And when the party’s over, there is plenty of room for your visitors to stay over, with five bedrooms in the main house and two separate units to the rear. The house has a mixture of formal and informal spaces throughout. It impresses straight away with the tall entrance atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sweeping cantilevered ash staircase. To the right of the hall is the dining room with polished oak floor and direct access out to the veranda and garden.
Any interested buyers with chef aspirations will be sold on the kitchen alone. Apart from the four ovens, there’s a gas hob and grill, double dishwashers, a wine fridge and a central island where you can show off your culinary skills as your guests sit and watch. Double doors lead out to the seating area on the veranda. There is a utility room with a pantry and a back staircase that leads up to the drawing room on the first floor.
The cinema room is on the other side of the house. It has a large screen area and a bar. The perfect spot to view the rugby.
There is a bedroom on the ground floor with a dressing room, ensuite marble bathroom and double doors out to a private patio.
Upstairs there is the galleried landing the looks down over the entrance hall. Off the landing is the formal drawing room. This room is large enough to fit a grand piano and a bar in the corner, as well as couches, armchairs, coffee tables, book shelves and tv unit. Further along the landing is an office that’s fitted with a desk and shelving. There are four more bedrooms on this level. One has an ensuite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. The two at the back share a bathroom; and the master has a walk-in wardrobe with a dressing room and bathroom with Italian tiling, a rolltop bath and a double shower.
The cottage to the rear of the house has a fully-fitted kitchen, living area, double bedroom and bathroom. The garden room or log cabin also has a kitchen and bedroom. The extra accommodation has come in very handy for family and friends visiting from New Zealand, who jokingly call Niall and Kerry ‘The Hotel Mannings’.
The grounds are very well laid out, from the curved driveway that brings you up to the house, to the bridge over the stream that runs through the garden. There is also a four-car garage, stable block and two paddocks.
It is about 3km outside Ashford and just four minutes to the N11 by car. A commute to Dublin city would take about 50 minutes, while Arklow is about 20 minutes away. With the €90m expansion plan for nearby Ashford studios, Kerry thinks the house would make a great bolthole for visiting movie stars.
The village of Ashford is home to the famous Mount Usher Gardens as well as being near the scenic Devil’s Glen which offers plenty of Sunday walks by the river and up in the glen’s higher reaches.
Ashford is home to Sculpture in Woodland, 200-acre gardens that feature a quirky and rather unique collection of contemporary sculptures by Irish and international artists in wood.
Other activities to enjoy here include equestrian sports and yes, there’s rugby within reach with clubs at Greystones and Wicklow Town. For the Mannings though, it’s back to New Zealand.
“We always said we’d just come for a couple of years to spend time with family,” says Kerry, “so it was never our intention to stay here permanently. While we love our lives in Ireland, we feel the move back to New Zealand is right for us now and we’re all looking forward to it.” Niall just better to remember to pack his Ireland jersey.
Mountain Springs has a guide price of €1.75m through Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes: 01-2376308