Historical Connemara lodge attracts keen interest

Costello Lodge, located in Casla, Connemara, or The Lodge as it is affectionately known, forms part of DNG Maxwell Heaslip & Leonard’s first summer auction of the year and is expected to attract huge interest due to both its keen price and its interesting and varied history. Among this impressive and vast property’s previous owners is the infamous Joseph Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, the company that owned RMS Titanic.

Large period homes are thin on the ground in Connemara. In 1913 this home, originally a fishing lodge, was transformed into a 10,000sq ft luxurious villa on circa 12 acres. Ismay became a social castaway on both sides of the Atlantic due to his alleged snap decision to step onto the small boat, reserved for women and children, on the night of April 14 1912. As the chairman of the White Star Line, he was the most prominent survivor of the Titanic’s sinking. Had he realised how his life would have changed, Ismay may well have returned to the deck rather than taking his place on Lifeboat C. There have been many movies made of the disaster where Ismay received very bad press, and three American towns called Ismay even lobbied to have their names changed. However, during his time in the house in Casla, locals spoke of a shy, kind-hearted, intelligent man, who had a good relationship with his staff and locals.

Mr Ismay resided in the property with his family until he died in 1939. His wife stayed on there for a few more years after this, but she then returned to London. The lodge was then bought by wealthy fishermen who only used it for the fishing season from March to September. At the confluence of the Casla river and the sea coast at Rossaveal, Costello Lodge, with its extensive river grounds, has been described as one of the foremost salmon fishing locations in the British Isles. However, the Lodge no longer has any fishing rights attached to it.

In 1981 the most recent owners, Jack and Agnes Toohey, purchased the property when they returned to Connemara after spending time in Florida. Agnes Toohey was a former Ireland sportswoman and she narrowly missed out on the 1960 Olympics in Rome for fencing. She was a glamorous and talented dress designer, and with her husband Jack their clothing company, Doreen Holdings, became a major textiles and garment manufacturer in Dublin. They had outlets throughout Ireland and the UK. On purchasing Costello Lodge in 1981, now rundown due to lack of use, the Tooheys began to restore the lodge and its gardens to their former glory. The house was built in the style of Edwin Lutyens and it is believed, although it cannot be confirmed, that it was actually designed by Lutyens himself. The gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll, who worked extensively with Lutyens. The numerous bay windows and balconies provide views towards Galway Bay and the Twelve Bens.

The house is now being offered for sale by the executors of the late owners. It is in need of some upgrading and modernisation and with circa 10,000sq ft of accommodation offers plenty of scope for new owners to acquire a magnificent, large, family home, or perhaps develop a charming boutique hotel or specialist centre.

Ground floor accommodation includes an entrance porch, large reception room, living room, sunroom, drawing room, dining room, pantry/store room, kitchen, utility room, gents’ cloakroom, ladies’ cloakroom, breakfast room, and games room/gym. First floor accommodation includes a landing, sitting room, sun terrace (overlooking garden ), eight bedrooms, and five bathrooms. Included on the grounds are also three out garages, carports, and out offices. The house is nestled on a well defined circa 11.5 acres of landscaped gardens.

Costello Lodge will be auctioned on Friday May 10 at 3pm in the auction rooms at the Imperial Hotel, Eyre Square, Galway. The solicitor with carriage of sale is Helena McGrath, McDermott & Allen solicitors, St Francis Street, Galway, and the property is guiding an AMV of €395,000.

Viewing is by appointment and full details are available by contacting DNG Maxwell Heaslip & Leonard on 091 565261.

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