Yours for just £5m: Dundarave House, Bushmills, modelled on London's famous Reform Club
Would-be buyers are travelling from London and Dublin to view a north coast mansion that has gone on the market for £5m.
Dundarave House in the village of Bushmills, which has been used as a holiday home since the 1920s, has been attracting plenty of interest since it was put up for sale two weeks ago.
Set in 549 acres, the house comes with 100 acres of forest – described by estate agent Savills as an "excellent pheasant shoot" – as well as six estate dwellings including four gate lodges, two of which were designed by celebrated architect Charles Lanyon.
Savills director Neil Morrison said viewing has already started, with three parties visiting last week and another three or four touring the estate today. "We're hoping to have more over the next couple of weeks," he added. "People are coming from across the UK and down south. It was launched on the Belfast, Dublin and London markets at the same time."
The property appeals to a range of buyers, he said, from Northern Irish- born people who have made their money elsewhere and want to come home, to local farmers, to developers.
"Hopefully, we would prefer it to go to an owner-occupier, someone who would live in it," he added.
No offers have yet been received but it is early days, Mr Morrison stressed.
"We've had a healthy interest in the property but it takes a bit of time for some people to co-ordinate themselves, particularly as it's a working farm as well."
A Grade 1 listed building, Dundarave House was built for the Macnaghten family in 1846 to a classical design by Sir Charles Lanyon, who was also responsible for some of Belfast's most famous buildings including the Custom House, Crumlin Road Gaol and the main building of Queen's University.
The spectacular Great Hall was modelled on the Reform Club in London and Dundarave House has seven main bedrooms off the galleried landing, three of which have separate dressing rooms. A further wing houses another seven bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Sir Malcolm Macnaghten inherited the house – believed to be one of the largest private residences in Ireland – following the death of his father, Sir Patrick Macnaghten, in 2007 and has said it no longer has any practical place in the lives of his remaining family.
"Although it's a very sad decision, it's a great opportunity for the house because it opens up a new chapter and there's the possibility of a new owner putting fresh life into it," he said.
No one has lived at Dundarave full-time since the 1920s, although it has occasionally been used as a shooting lodge or for family events. The family preferred to stay in the slightly less grand Victorian Gothic surroundings of nearby Runkerry.
The first Macnaghten came from Scotland in the 16th century and served as secretary to the Earls of Antrim, the McDonnells. The lands they acquired included much of the village of Bushmills, which the clan rebuilt in the late 1800s. Sir Charles Macnaghten undertook a major renovation of the house in 1910, completely rewiring and replumbing it. But he died soon afterwards and his only two sons were killed at the Somme.