RTÉ’s new show takes us into the houses of some well-known people, writes Richard Fitzpatrick
Senator David Norris
Georgian terraced house, Dublin
“What I love are the proportions of the rooms, the plasterwork, marble fireplaces. It’s an eighteenth-century house. They had a great sense of light – the way they organised the windows, the light pours into the house. Also I’ve remodelled the house entirely to suit myself so it’s quite idiosyncratic.
“The funny thing about the Celebrity Homes programme is that the judges are not supposed to know who lives in the house but I have about 17 portraits of myself all the way up the stairs and in several of the rooms. It’s not that I’m a megalomaniac like Charlie Haughey; it’s that I do a lot of charity work. Very often they say, ‘We have something for you,’ and they give me a painting of myself. One of them I really didn’t like and I threw it in the skip. One of my neighbours gave out to me: ‘Why are you doing that?’ I said: ‘I don’t like it.’ She said: ‘What’s wrong with it?’ I said: ‘The legs are terrible for a start.’ She said: ‘But the head is alright.’ So she gave me a bread knife. I took it out of the skip and I decapitated it. I have the head framed and it’s on the stairs now.
“I have a tree indoors. It was given to me when I won the European Court of Human Rights case in 1988. It was only about six inches tall and it has grown so much now that it goes right up five floors to the roof.”
Eoghan McDermott, Radio and TV presenter
Three-storey, end-of-terrace house, Dublin
“I’m only in the house eight months so it’s still a novelty walking in the front door. It’s my first house so every cent I own has gone into it. When we got it, we ripped everything out and started again. Everyone was telling me to get a laminated floor. That it’s much easier to keep, but I ended up getting a wooden floor, which sent me into overdraft, but it’s worth it.
“My favourite place is a reading cubbie. It feels very warm because of the brick around you, and the way the light hits it. You can see out the back garden, and you can see up the skylight. It’s a nice vantage point. It feels really roomy and airy but at the same time it feels cosy and intimate. I’m trying to read more in the evenings — as I’ve become a pointless phone addict — so it feels like a little sanctuary space.
“I looked at buying in an already-built TV unit and plonking it in the living room. One they are very expensive. Two I didn’t really like any of them that much so I had this idea in my head and I drew it on a piece of paper and I gave it to Dave, my builder and talked him through it. I said: ‘Can you do that? I want to have cubbie holes for little trinkets that I’ve picked up over the years and some lights, something a bit spacey.’ He said, ‘Ah, yeah,’ and they had it built in two days. It looks like something out of a Space Invaders game.”
Mike Ross, Cork-born rugby player
Nineteenth-century house, Dublin
“I like the volume of the house. It’s only a single storey but all the rooms have 12-feet, 14-feet high ceilings. Not so great to change a light bulb, but it makes the house feel bigger than it is. I like the old features in it; some of them are from the 1890s or so. Other parts are extensions. As far as I can tell it’s a gate lodge. There’s a mirror image of it on the other side of the hedge. It might have been a thousand-square feet before it was extended. There used to be paddocks all around it, which is now a housing estate.
“I do a lot of barbecues. For years I had been looking at pictures online so I went and built an outdoor kitchen. I got the place landscaped last year. I spend quite a bit of time out there. I really like having it. If it’s raining, it doesn’t matter.
“I love the location and privacy we have. We have massive hedges around it. It’s on about a third of an acre. Being from a farming background, I like a bit of space around me. It’s out by Milltown Golf Club so it’s not built up, but it’s still only a 15-minute walk into Rathgar. You can get all your food deliveries as well. Trying to get take-out in the countryside can be difficult!”
Melissa Hill, Novelist
Re-imagined 1980s bungalow, Co Wicklow
“It was a standard, rectangular bungalow with a long, dark hallway, a bit uninspiring. About four years ago we completely changed the aspect. It has loads of windows now so there’s lots of light. I’ve been writing for 15 years so I’ve collected quite a lot of books. It’s nice to be able to display those. I call it ‘the ego wall’.”
Lorraine Keane, Broadcaster
Period house, Co Dublin
“What I love about this house is the original features – the fireplaces, the wood floors, the doors, the windows are original so the heating is on full blast over the winter months. My husband goes around turning off radiators while I turn them on again.”
Celebrity Home of the Year is on RTÉ One, 9.35pm, next Tuesday, January 2. The winner will receive a €5,000 prize to donate to their chosen charity
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