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Moy, oh Moy! Dream house from hit RTE series 'Smother' is off the market for staycationers, say owners

Staycationers be warned, house is off the market

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Moy House, near Lahinch, Co. Clare

Moy House, near Lahinch, Co. Clare

Moy House, near Lahinch, Co. Clare

Take a look at the dream house from hit RTÉ series Smother that has staycationers besieging its owners to rent this summer.

Hollywood stars Hugh Grant and Kyle MacLachlan and writers Marian Keyes and Edna O'Brien have all been lucky enough to sample the delight of staying in gorgeous Moy House, near Lahinch, Co. Clare.

But those hoping to enjoy a brief R&R in the spectacular seaside property that Dervla Kirwan and co have made their home from home are in for a disappointment.

Not only is it currently being rented out while a second season of Smother is being filmed, but its owner today reveals to the Sunday World it will never be used as an upmarket guesthouse again.

"It has nine guest rooms and we were open up until early last year before Covid hit," owner Antoin O'Looney tells us.

"We've had lots of foreign and famous people staying. We have our own gardens. We had our own cows, sheep and pigs, we had polytunnels (greenhouses) all that stuff going on."

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The cast of Smother, which is filmed at Moy House.

The cast of Smother, which is filmed at Moy House.

The cast of Smother, which is filmed at Moy House.

Antoin's father, Odhran, used to own the Atlantic hotel in Lahinch, and also ran O'Looney's bar and restaurant in the scenic town.

"I was in Germany, California, and I was in England for a good while," recalls Antoin. "I came back here in 1991 and I took over the place on the prom in Lahinch."

He soon set his sights on Moy House.

"The house was built in the early 1800s by Sir Augustine Fitzgerald and that was his summer residence, and his winter residence was Carrigoan, just outside Ennis and Newmarket -on-Fergus, which is kind of a nursing home now," he explains.

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Antoin O’Looney outside O’Looneys, in Lahinch.

Antoin O’Looney outside O’Looneys, in Lahinch.

Antoin O’Looney outside O’Looneys, in Lahinch.

"His estate was 9,000 acres, so there has been a number of owners since then and I purchased it is 1995 from an Irish-American, a New York property-based guy originally from Northern Ireland by the name of PJ O'Hara and he had it for about 15 years, But he had it completely locked up and it had gone into pretty much disrepair."

Ruins

Antoin (56) employed a team to turn the estate around.

"There were then two projects," he says. "The grounds were one project, because we had to set out for 15 or 16 acres and it runs from a road out onto the sea."

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Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

It took nearly three years before Antoin managed to open it up as a functioning guesthouse in 1998.

It is completely modernised and boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic ocean.

"It is a one-of-a-kind I suppose around here and I suppose for Ireland it's one-of-a-kind as well," he admits.

Antoin politely declined to say how much he purchased the property for or spent on turning it into one of the nicest mansions in the country.

While being run as a guesthouse its prices ranged.

"It varied, it depended on the size of the room, there were rooms with sea views, room with garden views, ones which were suites," he points out.

So some would cost at least €250 a night?

"Yes and up," he confirms.

While most were individual bookings they did try to accommodate groups.

"We would have whole families taking over the nine bedrooms, that did happen from time to time," he recollects.

"Or a big group would come, maybe 10 or 11 people would come and stay for a couple of nights

"The food was very good in the kitchen and we provided breakfast and snacks throughout the day. It was a fantastic place with an excellent team."

Market

Many of the guests down through the years have been colourful.

"The majority of my custom base would be overseas, American golf market, European market. And some Irish market as well," he observes.

"For the Irish Open a couple of years ago you had all those famous golfers staying there.

"Hugh Grant has stayed there, Kyle MacLachlan was also there, Edna O'Brien, Marian Keyes also stayed there. Robert Mueller, the FBI guy (who was its director from 2001-2013) has also stayed there.

"We had a lot of people from America, a lot of government people from America would stay. They stayed primarily for golf reasons, because Lahinch is famous for that."

He admits that Smother has sparked huge interest in his property.

"Yes, I've been inundated, not to be too blunt about it," he chuckles when asked if many people have asked to book.

But times have now changed for both Antoin and Moy House.

"The way the world has gone I'm not going to open it as a hotel or guest house again, and I'm not doing private lettings either," he insists.

"I will keep it private. I'm not doing any market, I'm finished! I will hold on to it, I live elsewhere. I don't know what I will do with it. I'm not in the zone to go back into the business again.

"I am born and bred here and I used to surf a lot. I'm not in the hotel business anymore. I'm now taking a different view on life, I'm going back surfing again."

The series on Sunday nights has been entertaining hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Dervla Kirwan (Val Ahern), Niamh Walsh and Seána Kerslake (two of Val's daughters) are among the stars in the story that follows the Ahern family after the death of the patriarch which completely rocks their foundations.

Moy House is the Ahern's mansion in the show and was the setting in episode one for Val's dramatic 50th birthday party.

Attention

Antoin is enjoying watching Smother and revels in his Moy House being centre of attention.

"I didn't meet any of them to be honest," he replies when asked if he met Dervla or any of the other stars.

"I've really enjoyed what I've seen so far and it has given a great sense of excitement to the community here in Lahinch.

"I think the show cast a light on a very beautiful part of the west of Ireland," he adds.

Online Editors


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