No 3 Churchfields, the largest of the 20 houses overlooking the fairways of the K Club in Straffan, Kildare, has gone on sale for €2.75 million. Video: Sherry Fitzgerald
While golf clubs in Ireland have seen plummeting membership levels, as the Golf Participation Report in Europe for 2019 shows, there appears to have been a shift in demand for golf properties since the coronavirus took hold.
This is certainly the case at the Arnold Palmer-designed K Club course in Straffan, Co Kildare. Since January five properties have sold in the grounds of the club and five-star hotel, which was sold by businessman Michael Smurfit earlier this year. Three of these sales were completed after lockdown.
The buyer of the hotel and club, Michael Fetherston, who is believed to have paid €65 million-€70 million for the resort, has committed to an extensive refurbishment of the hotel. This has already begun, with new walkways and paths around the grounds.
Agent Roseanne De Vere Hunt, head of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, describes No 3 Churchfields as a “signature home”. It will be a good litmus test for the ongoing appeal of the exclusive resort.
The 582sq m (6,246sq ft) property was constructed as the final home for the late Vincent O’Brien and his wife, Jacqueline, after they moved from their equine training facility Ballydoyle. In 2003 O’Brien was voted the greatest influence in horse-racing history in a worldwide poll by the Racing Post, and in earlier polls he was voted the best ever trainer of national hunt and flat racehorses.
O’Brien built the property in 1997, and it remains the largest of the 20 houses overlooking the course’s fairways, sitting on a site of 0.59 acres. No expense was spared with the neoclassical design set in the private estate.
In 2017 the property was bought for €2.3 million by its current owners, who then gave the entire property a complete overhaul.
They engaged the London-based Irish interiors architect Bryan O’Sullivan, whose projects include The Berkeley Bar and Terrace in London (which has just been shortlisted in the prestigious annual Dezeen awards), Ballinahinch Castle in Connemara and the 50m super yacht Mosaique – which costs a cool £160,000 for a week’s charter – to oversee the project.
Solid parquet flooring was laid on the ground floor throughout the four reception rooms, study and impressive hallway, with soft furnishings in pale neutrals reflecting the natural light. In addition, a new central heating system was installed, which now gives the house a very good BER rating of B2.
The interiors of this property are vast, and two of the four reception rooms open out on to a rear patio that overlooks the lake with the fairways in the distance.
The gardens are pristine, and a special rose garden planted by Jacqueline is still maintained by the K Club gardeners, which is an option for future owners to engage for maintenance.
There are many selling points that will attract buyers to this lavish property. Firstly, its location by the golf course surrounded by 700 acres. There is a lake at the end of the rear garden and the property comes with a private jetty, which means it has absolute privacy from passing golfers on the course. In addition, it lies in a group of just 20 homes set behind electric gates that are monitored by a 24-hour private security firm, giving future owners peace of mind if they also spend periods overseas.
Included in the sale – No 3 is seeking €2.75 million through Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes – are two memberships to the golf course. Facilities at the five-star hotel include a swimming pool, gymnasium and a spa, in addition to three restaurants and a cocktail bar. The local village of Straffan, just 30km from Dublin and a five-minute walk from the house, has everything for local supplies, including catering facilities from the pretty Quirc Cafe and interior design boutique run by Catherine Quirke.
In addition to the five-bedroom property are two perfectly symmetrical buildings flanking each side of the main house. One is a 51sq m (549sq ft) guest lodge, and the second – with the same dimensions – is a two-car garage. This could be converted – subject to planning permission – to further accommodation but with the vast space in the main house it may not be a requirement.
The owners are selling as they have found another dream home, and No 3 has recently been rented for €7,500 per month. The high rental – which is on a par with prestige coastal homes in Killiney and Dalkey – is an indication of the size, location and interiors of No 3. It is really worth viewing the interiors video to truly grasp the extent of this superb house.
The main house at the K Club was originally Straffan House, which dates from 1832 and was built for Hugh Barton, of the famous wine family. The lavish design was based on that of a very fine chateau at Louveciennes, west of Paris and not far from Versailles.
After the death of Barton, Straffan House passed through several generations of the family until 1949, when it was sold by Derick Barton to motorcycle manufacturer John Ellis. Other owners over the years have included car importer Steven O’Flaherty and film producer Kevin McClory.
Michael Smurfit bought the estate in 1988 and lavishly restored it as a luxury golf destination, and opened The K Club in 1991.