ON the outside, the former girls’ school in Cloyne has all decorative features and embellishment of the Victorian era – on the inside, it has all the comforts of home.
Built in 1886, it’s a long, T- shaped limestone building with a very significant amount of redbrick dressing, used in the window surrounds, corner quoins, pilasters and chimney stacks as well as on a central arch feature at the front.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage says that with it typical Victorian architectural red brick dressing, roofline and window variety, this building adds interest to the Cloyne-Midleton Road.
When the owners bought the property in the late 1990s it was a disused shell which had been empty for over 20 years. The challenge was to turn a schoolhouse with four classrooms into a modern family home, without interfering with the character and the original features.
On the ground floor, this was relatively straightforward – two large classrooms at the front became two large sitting rooms and a smaller room connecting them became a study. ‘‘One cloak room became a ground floor bathroom, the other is still a cloakroom and the class room at the back is now the kitchen,” says the owner.
Adding a second floor proved more problematic because of the presence of large oak ceiling beams which they did not want to disturb. They solved this by creating two separate first floor living areas, accessed by three sets of stairs.
The result is a house with a quirky and interesting layout, which is decorated as a modern home, but which has kept original internal features such as exposed stone work and ceiling beams and has two sections of full -height vaulted ceilings.
An attractive and unexpected feature added during renovations, is a fully equipped corner bar in one of the sitting rooms, built with some of the school’s original red brick.
A quirky feature of the property is the fact that it doesn’t have a front door - the school was built with an entrance at each side as well as one at the rear.
The back door is now become main entrance, leading in to a large tiled kitchen which, three years ago, was upgraded with cream units, granite worktops and splash backs and a centre island. In addition to the contemporary units the room has traditional style wainscoting, a section of full height vaulted ceiling, some exposed stonework and an original stone fire surround fitted with a cream stove. Decorated with a red/cream colour scheme, it has exposed red bricks on the walls as well as a set of pillars by the island unit which, painted deep red, make quite a striking feature.
At the front of the property there’s a large carpeted living room with a slate fireplace and a large corner bar with a redbrick counter, high stools and beer on tap. Alongside this room there’s a study which opens in to a second large sitting room with red poppy wallpaper and a fireplace built from the original redbrick.
A staircase in the study leads to a first floor area with two bedrooms. One of these is a walnut-floored room with oak beams, sliderobes and an en suite, the second is a large games room/ bedroom, with exposed beams and four Velux windows, which in the original plans was two rooms.
A staircase in the kitchen leads to another first floor area which has another timber floored bedroom and a bathroom.
During renovations, the building was fitted with oil fired heating and double glazing and the walls were drylined internally.
“We added more insulation when we redecorated in the last few years,’’ says the owner who was disappointed with the C2 BER rating which would usually be seen as high for a Victorian building.
The old school house has a graveled garden area at the front with shrub beds, trees, lanterns and a large fountain. There is parking at the side and some old stone outbuildings at the rear.
Located on River Street at the edge of Cloyne village within minutes walk from amenities, it is seven and a half kms from Midleton.
Guiding the spacious 2,800 sq ft property at €382,000, Michael Murray of Home & Away Properties says the old schoolhouse offers the perfect balance of traditional elegance and contemporary chic.
“It is attracting interest from foreign buyers and we are getting enquiries from the US,’ he adds.
VERDICT: Impressively Victorian outside and attractively modern inside
Cloyne, East Cork
Size: 260 sq m (2,800 sq ft)