Trish Dromey admires a fine old schoolhouse with stunning views which has been sensitively extended and modernised.
An Australian couple who came to Tipperary in search of their Irish heritage have done wonders with this old schoolhouse in the Glen of Aherlow.
Not only did they put time and effort into conserving its original features, while at the same time making it a comfortable home, they also held an open day a few years after moving in and invited the former pupils of the school to come around for a visit.
Both locals and some expats turned up for the open day, and regaled the owners with stories of attending the school which had closed in 1971, after 60 years in existence.
“They talked about their schooldays, also about earlier times when the first teacher was taken away from the school by the Black and Tans.”
Nowadays all is tranquil and quiet at the scenically-situated schoolhouse, which ten years ago was fitted out with a bright, modern extension with large windows to look out on to the Galtee Mountains.
Derelict for 20 years after it closed, the schoolhouse had already been converted to a residence when the couple found it in 1998, while researching the roots of ancestors who had left Ireland after the Famine, hers from Tipperary and his from Derry and Donegal.
They renovated and modernised, careful not to disturb the character or the original features in the old schoolroom which is now a large sitting room with exposed red sandstone walls and a large fireplace, which has recently been fitted with a stove.
On the open day, the visiting ex-pupils showed the owners where the masters used to sit and said the room had not changed a great deal.
An archway at the side of the sitting room leads through to a small kitchen area with fitted units and there’s also a door to a bathroom and a ground floor bedroom, both with exposed sandstone walls.
At one side there’s a stairway leading up to mezzanine level added during conversion, which has one bedroom with timber-panelled ceiling.
Ten year ago the couple put on an extension — very appropriately getting the grandson of the man who built the original school to clad the new addition in local red sandstone.
A doorway in the old schoolroom opens on to a book-lined corridor and through to a large modern kitchen/dining/living room with a huge feature window with views of countryside and surrounding hills.
“The best views of the Galtees are through a set of double doors at the side,” reveals the owner, adding that there are views of other hills on the opposite side.
The room has a high vaulted timber-panelled ceiling, timber flooring, a stove and an extensive range of kitchen units, grey with polished stone countertops and which include a large centre island.
Fitting the extension with double-glazed Scandinavian pine windows, the owners also added on a new modern bathroom and a bedroom.
“You can lie on the bed and look up at the Galtees,” observes the owner.
The extension was designed so that the new section and the schoolhouse can be used as two small properties or one large one.
On a quarter of an acre, the property has a driveway at the front and side and lawned gardens at the rear. 10km from Tipperary town, it’s a seven-minute drive from Lisvernane village.
Moving on after 20 years, the owners expect their scenic and characterful home to appeal to holiday home buyers or possibly other foreigners.
Having used the Internet to run an international consultancy from the property for the last 20 years, the owner says it is open to a wide range of possibilities.
Guiding the old schoolhouse at €295,000, Savills say it’s a beautifully-converted and historic property in a truly stunning setting.
Verdict: Top marks for comfort, space, character and particularly scenic views.
Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary
Size: 167 Sq m (1,800 sq ft)