If perfection in this life is attainable, it currently awaits the discerning buyer with access to €7.5 million, prepared to make their way to Cootehill, Co Cavan and experience the sheer pleasure that is Bellamont Forest, one of Ireland’s finest 18th century Palladian villas. This magical property, situated about 110km from Dublin, is set upon 1,000 acres of wood, open parkland and lakeshore.
It has been gracefully restored with understated flair and respect by a descendant of the original owner, Thomas Coote, once Lord Justice of Ireland, for whom it was built between 1725 and 1730. Designed by Coote’s gifted nephew, architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, Bellamont combines a sense of classical Italian design flourish with an inspired, and inspiring, feel for ease and comfort.
The approach is unique; the main gates are situated just off Market Street in the attractive, relaxed traditional country town of Cootehill. Within a couple of hundred metres of woodland, the private estate proper opens onto an avenue of about one mile with lake views to the right of Town Lake. There are no traffic sounds, no signs of development-scarred Ireland. Bellamont inhabits a private world where herds of deer graze uninterruptedly and the pheasants really do stop and stare. Gradually Dromorelough comes into view as does the boat house down by the trees.
Even with the trees still bare, the setting on a cold but sunny March day hints at summer, the daffodils are beginning to open and soon the bluebells will emerge. The two-storey over basement, four bay square house, built of red brick, with facings of ashlar, initially appears quite compact, sited as it is on a slight height.
The stone steps leading up to the front door are almost as wide as the simple façade which is complemented by a dramatic Doric limestone portico decorated by engravings of musical instruments.
Be warned, even before entering the beautiful, airy entrance hall with its Portland stone tiles, Ionic columns and coffered plasterwork ceiling, the aptly named Bellamont will have already cast its spell.