Dating back to 1670, Kilmurry House, County Kilkenny, is one of the finest country manors in Ireland. But beyond the handsome Palladian-style façade, its considerable charm is enhanced by its rich history. Celebrated Irish artist Mildred Anne Butler was born in the Grade I listed Georgian property, and lived there for the whole of her long and purposeful life.
A member of the Royal Academy from 1893, Butler was an acclaimed painter for more than 30 years. Kilmurry, with its exquisite walled garden, tranquil trout lake, and verdant woodland, was the inspiration for many of her finest en plein air paintings that depict the abundant wildlife and flora surrounding this magnificent home.
Originally purchased in the late 1800s by her father, Captain Henry Butler, grandson of the 11th Viscount Mountgarret, the house remained in the family until 1981. A restoration has extended the building to 17,861 square feet (1,659 sq m) and the expansive property now boasts 11 bedrooms and seven full baths, as well as a newly added indoor swimming pool.
You can see from an artist’s point of view that this was an unbelievable space to work from—Roseanne de Vere Hunt
“When the current owners took charge about 11 years ago it was on 20 acres (8 ha), but they have since bought back its gated lodge plus land to make it up to the original 100-acre (40 ha) estate,” says Roseanne de Vere Hunt, head of country homes, farms, and estates at Sherry FitzGerald. “It’s a true country house surrounded by mature woodland giving total privacy, once you drive through the gates, there is simply peace and quiet, which is exactly what people are looking to Ireland for—low-density living and a calm, relaxed lifestyle.”
Beyond the gated entry, a tree-lined drive leads through the grounds, ending at a smart forecourt. Step inside the majestic limestone building, and Butler’s legacy soon becomes clear. Generously proportioned ground-level rooms take in a bright entrance hall, an elegant drawing room with views over the lake, a comfortable sitting room and library, and a formal dining room, as well as a unique gallery space and a light-filled orangery that once served as the artist’s studio.
“All of the reception rooms feature original carved fireplaces and moldings, and are perfect for entertaining,” says de Vere Hunt. “The upgraded orangery replaces a previous structure that was in poor condition, and the space—a favorite of the current owners—is now bright, airy, and quite wonderful. It really does invite you to just sit and relax.”
Also on the first floor is a fully equipped chef’s kitchen with marble surfaces and professional-grade appliances, a games room—once a grand ballroom—with access to the ample terrace, and the contemporary indoor pool. Additionally, there is a self-contained courtyard cottage. “This has its own kitchen and sitting room, and could be used for guests or as staff quarters,” says de Vere Hunt. “The same goes for the two-bedroom gated lodge, which has a modern kitchen and bath.”
Move upstairs via the sunlit, open staircase, and the second and third floors are home to a relaxing entertainment room as well as the bedrooms, with the impressive owners’ suite located at the very top of the house. With an original fireplace, a dressing room, and a chic bath, the suite also benefits from views over the two-acre (0.8 ha) walled garden that inspired much of Butler’s work, most notably her best-known painting, The Lilac Phlox, which is a plant that still flourishes there to this day.
The space is bright, airy, and quite wonderful… it invites you to relax—Roseanne de Vere Hunt
Perhaps the building’s greatest attribute is the amount of light that floods every space, thanks to the vast glass doors and double-height windows that feature throughout. “It’s such a rarity in a period property like this,” notes de Vere Hunt. “You can see from an artist’s point of view that it was an unbelievable space to work from.”
The grounds are a nature lover’s sanctuary, offering mature woodlands—a haven for wildlife, including eagles, otters, and red squirrels—as well as pastures for horses and livestock, paddocks, a children’s adventure trail with a zip line through the woods, lush, lawned gardens, and space for a helipad.
“In my opinion, there is nothing on the market now as good as Kilmurry. The current owners have expertly refurbished the house for the 21st century, while retaining the integrity of the original build,” says de Vere Hunt. “It’s in walk-in condition, and what’s more, it won’t need attention for many years to come. This standard and finish in a country house are rare, which makes it an unmissable opportunity for buyers looking for history, privacy, and security in a pocket of rural Ireland.”
Banner image: Kilmurry House in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland