It was at the pinnacle of her musical career in 1996 when the late Dolores O’Riordan moved into Carrickfergus Lodge with her then new hubby Don Burton, the road manager of Duran Duran. Both were seriously in need of a rest.
It had been a crazy three years for the Limerick singer. The Cranberries had just released
To The Faithful Departed, which would sell four million copies in six weeks. Their previous album,
No Need To Argue, went triple platinum in 1994, driven by the hit single
That same year the media had swarmed over the couple’s wedding at Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary. The previous year the band had shot to international superstardom with
Hoping to take time out and start a family, the couple were also focused on planning the build for their own modern dream home mansion in Dingle.
So they rented Castlefergus Lodge, a characterful 2,282 sq ft period coach house conversion next to the famous Ballyhannon Castle at Quin in Co Clare. By all accounts they spent a very happy year in the house with its huge sofas, luxury Persian rugs and warming stove fires.
And it came with its own pub attached across the courtyard, with plenty of room to entertain visiting friends and family.
Little has changed since their time here and indeed the plush medieval influenced interiors would later be echoed at Kilmallock Stud, their home from 1998 (they only stayed a year in Dingle).
Almost a decade later, fellow Limerickonians Liam and Margaret Moore bought the Castlefergus Lodge along with the adjoining 15th Century Ballyhannon Castle on a whim.
For almost 15 years they ran it as a tourism rental and hospitality business, living here for a time but eventually letting out both buildings. In 2018, the year of Dolores’s tragic death, they sold the castle and in 2019 they put Castlefergus Lodge on the market too. They were moving to Dublin.
In their years at the helm, numerous celebrities retreated to Castlefergus Lodge. Among them were Richard E Grant and Woody Harrelson, Keith Duffy, Jack L, Keith Barry and at one point, the entire cast of the
Vikings series checked in on a team building vacation.
Astronaut Scott Kelly (famous for living in space for 520 days) stayed over and it has been a holiday retreat for the controversial former Republican Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin.
But in 2019 when it came to the crunch, two factors intervened to prevent the sale. “The first thing was we couldn’t shake that deep attachment we had to the house. We kept thinking ‘if we could make our move and hold on to Castlefergus Lodge at the same time, then why should we sell it?” says Liam.
“The next thing was that a couple arrived from the USA and asked if they could rent the house to run a hospitality business there just as we had been doing. So that sorted it and we took it off the market. Unfortunately, Covid 19 meant they had two rough years. So now we’re bringing it back to market again.”
While the nearby Ballyhannon Castle dates from the late 15th century, a plaque on the wall of the Lodge reads “1898” but an 1848 ordinance survey map shows a building of the exact same footprint on the site. “We think it’s been there pretty much since the castle itself and that someone restored it to its present incarnation in 1898,” says Liam.
In 1970, the castle and coach house were restored by the petroleum heiress Elizabeth Phillips who spent the equivalent of millions on the two historic buildings. Phillips was the first woman in the USA to pay out alimony when she divorced her husband, Republican party elector Henry Irwin.
The Moores bought the property after a flyer dropped into Margaret Moore’s office advertising a castle and coach house for sale in 2004. “I showed Liam. We didn’t know there was a castle in the area so we made an appointment to view it, just to have a look,” she says.
Liam adds: “We didn’t go with any notion of buying. But when I stepped into the castle I turned to Margaret and said ‘we are going to buy this place.’ She said ‘would you go away out of that.’ But I was serious. Then we went to the Lodge and she looked around and turned to me and said ‘yes we are going to buy this place.’ And we’ve had the Lodge ever since. As one guest told us, this house really does have soul.”
The five- bedroom home on three quarters of an acre also includes the outbuilding converted into the pub.
“My favourite space is that huge living and dining room with its cosy stove,” says Margaret. “It’s so relaxing.”
There also a west facing conservatory located off the main living room. The kitchen also has a wood pellet stove and there is a downstairs en suite bedroom and living room.
Upstairs has the master bedroom en suite plus three more double bedrooms. The property is located within own territorial stone-walled perimeter and overlooks the Shannon Estuary.
Sherry FitzGerald McMahon seeks €545,000 on behalf of the Moores who have now decided to linger in Dublin.