Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Ieverstown House is
250 years old and
needs a little imagination
Ieverstown House, facing the Fair Green in Sixemilebridge, Co Clare, is a fine old town house, built around 1730-1770, and standing on a prominent corner site in a pretty market town.
When I visited Sixmilebridge about nine months ago [September 2017], I noted that this is a curious detached, five-bay, two-storey house with dormer attic, and while ‘it now seems to be crumbling, it must have been an attractive townhouse in the past.’
Now Ieverstown House has come on the market for sale by private treaty and with an asking price of €290,000.
Although the house was occupied until recently, it is in need of rextensive repair, restoration and renovation work. Yet, this is an interesting opportunity for someone to buy an interesting Georgian house in the heart of Sixmilebridge yet within commuting distance of Limerick, Shannon, Ennis or even Galway.
Sixmilebridge is half-way between Limerick and Ennis, just off the main N18 road, on the old ‘back road’ between Limerick and Ennis. You may think this is a pretty, sleepy village, but the commercial core of Sixmilebridge has tripled in size in recent years, with many new retail units and businesses, along with hundreds of new houses.
Sixmilebridge is often referred to locally as ‘The Bridge’ and the full time in Irish is Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh (‘Bridge of the River of O’Kearney’). The ‘six-mile’ part of the name alludes to the fact that this place is about six Irish miles from Thomondgate in Limerick. Donough O’Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond, built the bridge in 1610 – and from then until 1804, when the bridge at Bunratty was built, traffic between Limerick and Ennis passed through Sixmilebridge.
The village has wide streets and large squares that were laid out by the O’Brien family from the 17th century. By the end of the 17th century, development was linked to the industrialisation of the area as people of Dutch origin found the river very suitable for milling. The east of the village was once its commercial part, with water powered mills, a brewery, a market house and a fair green.
Sixmilebridge became a river port where goods including rape seed oil and soap were exported and imported by boat from the mills just south of the village. Boats from Amsterdam sailed up the river almost as far as the town in the 17th and 18th centuries. But by the early 18th century the town had gone into decline and the river trade came to an end in 1784 when Henry d’Esterre built a toll bridge at Rosmanagher.
According to local tradition, the fatal duel between Daniel O’Connell and John d’Esterre in 1815 arose from Daniel O’Connell’s refusal to pay the toll. However, the duel arose from a speech by O’Connell to the Catholic Board in 1815, when he described the Dublin Corporation as beggarly. At the time, d’Esterre was near bankruptcy and took this as a personal insult. He challenged O’Connell, and died two days after the duel at Bishop’s Court, Kildare.
In 1852, a magistrate and eight soldiers of the 31st Regiment escorted 18 people to Sixmilebridge to vote for Colonel Vandeleur, the conservative candidate in the Co Clare. In the ensuing affray, six people were killed and eight were wounded, one of whom later died.
Many of the old buildings in Sixmilebridge have been preserved and have found new uses.
The former Church of Ireland parish church of Kilfinaghty, dating from 1810 and designed by the Pain brothers, was restored in 2001 and is now an award-winning library.
The Old House Bar, which stands opposite Ieverstown House on Fair Green, was built around 1775. This was the birthplace in 1917 of Dr Brendan O’Regan, who had the vision for developing much of the Shannon Region. The Mill Bar on Frederick Square dates from around 1770, but has a stone plaque reading ‘Frederick Square 1733.’ The former woollen mills are now apartments.
An attractive feature in Sixmilebridge is the highly decorated but functional ‘duck inn’ on the O’Garney River, close to Ieverstown House. This is a floating raft with glass windows and painted walls. It houses the ducks during winter and is also where their locally consumed eggs are hatched and collected. It forms part of the tourist trail of Sixmilebridge.
Ierverstown House is for sale through Sherry Fitzgerald O’Donovan of Shannon, Co Clare.