Inside the € 1.2 million Tipperary mini mansion on land once part of the estate of famous owner “The Skinner”
Kilfeacle House, Kilfeacle, Co Tipperary Asking price: € 1.2m Agent: Savills Country (01) 6634357
Vknown as “Skinner Scully”, “Tyrant Scully” and “Lord Scully”, Tipperary-born landowner William Scully was such a horribly horrible landlord that his actions were successful in changing the laws here and in the States -United ; to provide additional protection to all tenants.
While claiming to be an English aristocrat, The Skinner would end up owning a quarter of a billion acres; more than the richest of the British gentry and only less than Queen Victoria.
Born in the 1820s in Kilfeacle in County Tipperary to a Catholic family, his father was lawyer Denys Scully, one of the leading activists for Catholic emancipation. Young William inherited property in Tipperary and became a speculator with a nose for a bargain.
As a young man, he traveled to the United States where he took advantage of the end of the war between the United States and Mexico by soliciting hundreds of demobilized soldiers who were rewarded with 160 acres of land each in territories newly acquired around Illinois. It is estimated that the Skinner bought over 150 of these plots for very little and drained the land for farming.
He used the assets to take out a massive bank loan (his family was on the board of Tipperary Bank, which later caused Ireland’s first bank crash when its owners “lost” the deposits). With his loan, Scully again purchased more land in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
After the death of his wife, Margaret, Scully returned to expand further into Ireland and acquired property around Ballycohey in Tipperary.
The Skinner relished acting like his own bailiff and the first title he made was for shooting two young boys from the Bergin tenant family during a dispute over rent. The courts found him not guilty. But when he later broke into a tenant’s house at night and beat Ms. Teehan, he was given a year of forced labor to cool off his heels.
Renewing the leases on the land he had bought, the Skinner raised the rents, demanded in advance a quarter of the year’s money and the right to take the farmers’ crops at any time; or their new tenants could lose their homes and hit the road.
His real intention was to evict tenants en masse. They were all summoned to the Dobbins Hotel where he sat at a desk with a gun in front of him and an armed police guard by his side. But the tenants got what Scully was up to (he had eviction notices ready for everyone) and most mailed their rent payments. An enraged Scully raised a contingent of armed police and unleashed them. Attacking a house rented from the O’Dwyer family, Scully, an armed policeman and his bailiff were all shot dead in the first shooting of a group of defenders occupying the attic.
While the other two died at the scene, a blood-dripping Skinner attacked with his double-barreled breach magazine in one hand and a revolver in the other. Those present said he was shot at least six times by the contingent in the house. When Scully finally barged into the attic (they had climbed the ladder), he discovered the tenants had escaped through the roof. The event became known as the Battle of Ballycohey.
It was later reported from the police side that Scully first prepared himself by donning sheets of wire mesh armor under his clothes, like a bulletproof vest.
Genuinely alarmed that Scully would single-handedly spark an all-out insurgency, another local landlord, MP Charles Moore, stepped in to buy Scully’s land for The Skinner’s benefit. Reports of Scully’s behavior appeared in British newspapers and directly influenced Gladstone to pass what would become the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1870.
Finding his wicket somewhat sticky in Ireland, The Skinner returned to the United States, this time targeting the land supplies made to Civil War Union veterans. Soon he had accumulated 250,000 acres of American land and was again mistreating tenants, now in the thousands. His army of ground agents was soon known as the “Scully Scalpers”.
Petitions have been signed by tenants and landlord farmers in a number of different states; demanding that something be done about “Skinning Scully”. In American newspapers, the phenomenon of foreigners buying land and renting racks from locals has come to be known as “Scullyism”.
One historian wrote: “No border landlord in the whole country has caused so much trouble among their tenants and been the object of such resentment and political turmoil as William Scully.
Petitions and campaigns against Scully eventually led 10 states, including the four in which he owned land, to introduce laws preventing absent “foreign” owners from acquiring land.
The Skinner was on the ground but not out. He applied for naturalization and finally, in 1902, he became a United States citizen. But threatened again, he sold 20 pc and headed for London, where he died in 1908. William ‘Skinner’ Scully left American land equivalent to Barbados x 2 and today worth the equivalent of $ 300 million.
Kilfeacle House, built in Georgian style, stands on what was the original Scully estate. His antics, and those of other heady figures of a historic powder magazine location (Soloheadbeg is just off the road), have fascinated former English-born international banker Edward O’Sullivan since he and his wife were born. in Derry, Marianne, moved to Ireland to buy the house 20 years ago.
“We weren’t told about Irish history at all at school in England,” says O’Sullivan, whose parents were both Irish emigrants to the UK and who has since become an avid enthusiast. of tradition, to the point that he now writes. a history book. This local knowledge came in handy for the couple, who have a long history of running a hospitality business from home and believe they have hosted over 30 nationalities there (in addition to hosting big opera nights). “It took us about six months to fit out the house and two years later we had the cottages restored,” says Edward.
But Covid-19 and the departure of their adult children gave the O’Sullivans food for thought and now they are selling. The property comprises the main house of 400 m², three chalets of three, two and one bedroom.
From the entrance porch, you enter a large reception hall. Off these are the five large receptions: the dining room, the living room, the living room and the breakfast room. There is also a large kitchen and a covered terrace on this floor.
Upstairs is a substantial library landing and a master bedroom suite which includes a full bathroom and walk-in closet. There are five other bedrooms on this floor (four ensuite) as well as a family bathroom. Outside there is a summer house and a sauna.
The prize is 1.2 million euros via Savills Country. “Of course, we also learned that O’Sullivan means ‘the one-eyed chef’,” says Edward, who now has his eye on a house in sunny Portugal.
The house would suit those looking to sell an upscale home in town and move into country living with land attached.
A revenue stream has already been established as the O’Sullivans have a long-standing vacation rental business here that deploys all three cabins as well as the main house. Fortunately for the locals, the wealthy “skinners” in today’s US are much more city-focused when it comes to their speculative scalpings.