It was love at first sight for a young German couple who were considering buying Irish property when, 31 years ago, they stood at the gates of Ardmore’s period gem, Melrose.
They had only arrived the day before a January day in Rosslare, after having vacationed together the previous summer on tour in Ireland: in the meantime, the idea of living here had started to take hold.
“We would like to half buy here,” remembers Herbert Mundler and when they arrived all these decades ago, they had spent the night in a B&B in Ardmore, and decided to take a walk through the pretty picture postcard village of West Waterford the next morning after the full Irish breakfast.
They strolled along Rocky Road and stopped in wonder at the gates of Melrose: “It was one of the most beautiful houses we have ever seen,” notes Herbert. He and his then-girlfriend Anja took the plunge and purchased the Melrose built in the 1850s, steeped in local Ardmore tradition.
Original Victorian and Tudor Revival style with many elaborate touches and ornaments inside and out, and enhanced by Tudor style brick fireplaces under high eaves and carved fascia boards , the walled acre house was originally owned by a wealthy Western Waterford family, with a large estate and two centuries of ties to Dungarvan and Ardmore.
The Odells built this house, one of three or four grand houses on Rocky Road in central Ardmore, overlooking the sea, Blue Flag beach and the Round Tower, and it was known for years as the name Odell Lodge, getting a name change to Melrose in the early to mid 1900s.
At various properties after leaving Odell’s hands in the 1920s, it served as a guesthouse and small hotel for gentlemen; had a beverage license at one point and appears to have served almost a private club in the mid-1900s.
Now selling to trade, current owner Herbert Mundler said he had met a venerable member of the Jameson family of whiskey distillation fame while on a fishing trip, and he told her he remembered d ‘sipping whiskey at Melrose.
When they were young themselves, Herbert and Anja embarked on a rebirth of Melrose’s tradition of hospitality, with Anja planting much of the gardens in the incredible state of naturalistic beauty they now find themselves in. , running it as a B&B for about ten years.
They closed the B&B after Herbert got another job, using some of his many talents: he self-mocks himself a demi-carpenter (he remade several of the huge carved fascias and roof barges, some of which are in place now on high for 25 years) and half electrician.
The fit and capable couple have maintained a series of upkeep and improvements, with the acre of gardens being a vital part of the overall charm, seen through the simple wrought-iron gates that still appeal to passers-by, just like in 1990 .
Herbert is now selling to downsize, a few years after his partner Anja passed away, and he says he hopes to move from Melrose to something much smaller, hopefully in the same hinterland as the sea, from fishing to surfing and kayaking. .
Melrose came onto the open market last week with Ardmore-based agent Brian Gleeson who runs the very rare quality property in the heart of the village at 1.3 million euros, and he knows he has it all. at the price to be held.
Mr Gleeson also recently listed a more modern oceanfront home in Curragh, Ardmore with pool for 2.5 million euros, now called Yankee Cottage. It sold for 2 million euros in 2016, when it was called Pebble Beach. However, its U.S. owner for the past five years died of a COVID-19-related illness earlier this year, from where it is resurfacing in the market.
Also in the upper echelons of Ardmore prices, the price register also records the sale of the old Ardmore Rectory in 2018, at 1.7 million euros.
Thus, the village has a property pedigree to attract well-heeled buyers and admirers, and it is also regularly visited by some of the wealthy and elite in Ireland, who choose to stay at the five-star Cliff House and its Michelin starred restaurant.
Could a Cliff House Hotel aficionado, Irish or foreign, come and pick up or choose Melrose? It is very possible, and it is only a short walk from this hotel, on an ambulatory circuit that visitors and tourists love to do in Ardmore.
It’s within a five-minute walk of bars, craft shops, and restaurants, with places like the popular family-run White Horses restaurant currently doing a booming business in the summer of 2021 in an outdoor courtyard.
Now that Melrose is on sale for the first time in decades, could the new owners decide to reinstate it as a kind of welcome place, as it has done on and off for almost a century?
The salesman Herbert Mundler jokes that in previous periods it was “a kind of cozy and comfortable fare and lodging for tea”, and he says that the guests they had and who kept returning were aged from 20 to 80 years old and came from all over Ireland. , the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Listing beauty Melrose, 170, auctioneer Brian Gleeson said: “This is one of the special homes in the magical village of Ardmore in West Waterford, in the very heart of this historic seaside hamlet.
Melrose, he continues, “has charm and class in abundance. This is one of those very rare opportunities for the discerning buyer to purchase a generational home in this beautiful village.
Its sellers have been wonderful guardians, he adds, and opening up the prospect of his next chapter, he says it might as well be bought as a private residence, or, buyers might choose “to share its beauty and its history with others making it a charming guesthouse / B & B.
The impressive two-storey, multi-gabled high house with box and bay windows and its adjoining stone shed, now a detached single bed house, with a characteristic stone archway with the date 1850 engraved into its keystone, is towards the rear of its fortified site, with a neat circular driveway around a central lawn.
Closer to the house are planted and landscaped patios, sit-out patios, walkways, rose beds and paved walkways, with several very mature fig trees. The fig trees give bountiful harvests each summer and fully ripen even on a dull Irish summer it is said, and along with the central access gates to the property there are attractive small pedestrian gates located at either end , at Rocky Road in the village.
The main house has six bedrooms on the first floor, one of which is en suite, as well as a large main bathroom, an office and an office.
On the ground floor, there is an irregular, completely asymmetrical floor plan with front and rear halls, a kitchen, pantry, utility room and store, as well as a freestanding one-bed annex. attached to the house and separate from the shed unit. .
The two main reception rooms are interconnected, each with a view to the front and each has magnificent limestone fireplaces, large and carved, but appearing to be just as comfortable in a castle as they are. ‘a good sized private house like Melrose.
The owners were informed by experts of the OPW of castles with similar limestone, which were said to have been Italian. Several times, guests and visitors have questioned whether they will ever be sold, but rightly so, the owners have resisted, keeping the authenticity absolutely in situ. (Auctioneer Brian Gleeson’s description of the owners as caretakers is relevant.)
So it is with arched Gothic sash windows, leaded glass, sturdy doors with carved quatrefoils, original floorboards and much more, almost all weathered by time.
(An old-fashioned quirk is the memory of welcome notes printed on some of the six numbered rooms, advising guests to try to minimize their smoking in the rooms and also asking them not to light the dining area until that all the other customers have finished their breakfast!)
Besides the main airy reception rooms, there is a one bed annex on the ground floor of the very old basic kitchen which still has the old meat curing hooks encrusted in its ceilings, with worktops sturdy installed on brick and block racks: it’s about as far removed from a fitted and stylish 21st century German kitchen as you might imagine.
The period home is as atmospheric as anyone could wish and, of course, a new owner could invest some money in it, making and remaking the whole or its many parts to the highest conservation standards. higher.
But, as is often the case, the best conservation advice is to keep interference to a minimum (that said, the Buildings of Ireland Register estimates that Melrose itself was built by Ardmore’s Odells on the footprint of a much older house and may have had a basement, now filled in.)
As appealing as the 4,100 square foot main building is and the span it now holds in subsequent hands, the charm of the 665 square foot shed (with adjacent work shed), with a downstairs ground floor. open concept with fireplace and a bedroom on the first floor with bathroom. It can be used for family, visitors, guests, or rental / airbnb income.
Oddly, the first floor of the shed has the option of accessing the bridge connecting a raised section of garden to a gabled gate, over almost a moat-shaped rear passage showing the uncoated stone construction of the impressive Melrose him. -even.
: The weather has been good for Melrose, a truly alluring Munster seaside home in Ardmore chi-chi.