Take a 360 Video Tour of a $16 Million Irish Castle
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The notion of living in a castle is romantic, the reality, less so. A structure built to repel marauding hordes is, almost by definition, not built for comfort.
In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as it became clear that siege warfare was no longer a looming threat, the landed gentry in Ireland—fed up with living in these very large, family bunkers—began to tear down their ancestral homes and replace them with structures that were gracious in proportion, lavish in internal ornament, and, most importantly, bearable to live in.
Knockdrin Castle, built sometime in the early 19th century, is a prime example. Commissioned by Sir Richard Levinge [1785-1848], the building replaced an 18th century mansion that, in turn, had been built by his ancestor to replace a much older Norman castle.
Knockdrin’s Neo-Gothic style mimics the castles that preceded it, but unlike those castles, it has massive windows, airy rooms, and expansive views—all the gothic flair with none of the headaches.
The 19,375 square foot “castle”—it’s technically a Georgian country house—stayed in the Levinge family for more than 100 years. After the World War II, they sold it to an Irish film star, Paddy Dunne-Cullinan, who lived in it for 17 years until selling it to an aristocratic German family, Hans and Irene von Prodzynski. (The Prodzynskis had left their own ancestral home, which had been damaged in World War II, and bought Knockdrin as a replacement in 1961.)
They lived in the house for the next 50 years; Hans died in 1998, and Irene, whose noble title was the countess von Grote, died earlier this year.
Now, for the only the fourth time in the home’s history, the Prodzynskis’ son Ferdinand has put it up for sale, listing the property with David Ashmore at Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty at €13.5 million ($15.9 million.)
Knockdrin has seven primary bedrooms and five full baths.
The ground-floor entrance opens into a tiled red foyer with ornamental arches; visitors can either go straight, to the double-height oak staircase, which is domed by a large glass skylight, or to the left, which opens into the house’s large formal library. The ground floor also features the home’s ballroom (currently used as an office), a study, which looks out onto a fountain and the house’s walled garden, and a dining room, which is currently used as a storage space.
Upstairs, bedrooms have spectacular views over the property (land belonging to Knockdrin stretches out literally as far as the eye can see). One room, the “Crown Bedroom,” was used expressly by Winston Churchill when he stayed in the house during the Irish War of Independence. (His mother, Lady Churchill, who visited the house for fox hunts, reported that “the foxes are as wild as the locals.”)
Set about an hour and a half’s drive from Dublin, the house sits on 1,140 acres; 600 of those acres are arable land, while another 415 acres are woodland. Nearly 100 acres of lakes are on the property, while the balance includes manicured gardens and rolling lawns.
Along with the main house, the property includes multiple other structures such as the “yard cottage” (two bedrooms) “gate house” (three bedrooms), and “gate lodge” (one bedroom), along with another two bungalows with three bedrooms each. (The property therefore has 19 bedrooms, officially, although the number is actually higher if you count the main house’s staff bedrooms on the upper level.)
While the house isn’t in pristine condition, its current air is that of a grand, well-lived in mansion. Still, with even minor updates to bathrooms and living areas, owners will be able to put their own touches on the property quite easily.
Moreover, potential buyers will be pleased to discover that, as part of the sales price, the owners will include the home’s fitted carpets and curtains.