House of the week: Glenaknockaun West, Waterford, €235,000

Jim Stack came across veteran architect Peter Legge, at the RIAI/Simon Open Door event in 2012, at a time when Legge & Associates’ reconstruction of two conjoined stacked stone cottages in Connemara, was causing enormous interest.

House of the week: Glenaknockaun West, Waterford, €235,000

Having bought a charming but heavily degraded cottage and outbuilding in The Vee, near Lismore in west Waterford, Jim was intrigued by Legge’s sympathetic restraint. Today, this cottage cluster in Glenaknockaun West, offers buyers who might otherwise have been priced out of the field, the chance to buy a solid piece of work at €235,000.

With the design imprint of Peter Legge and with 1,750 sq ft set out in three distinct volumes at the gateway of one of Ireland’s most beautiful mountain ranges, it’s a fascinating prospect, bound to cause interest.

The footprint of the failing 19th century cottage and the neighbouring sandstone barn (not originally connected) were saved and developed. A new addition finished in cement fibreboard signalled change and allowed the inclusion of four, full bedrooms from the formerly tiny vernacular homestead. Understated yet quietly monumental, it’s fully resurrected but still indivisible from the heart-stopping scenery.

The house is approached over an ancient (now reinforced) bridge, once part of the old coaching road from Youghal to Clonmel, stepping over the Owenashad (River of Diamonds).

Two acres are gently divided into three paddocks, the house standing at the head of a quaint valley of rusting ferns, crowding rhododendron and native trees which moat the property to the south west.

There’s a marked variety of habitats, common to the few properties established in The Vee pass — emerald fields girdling nearby Lismore, breaking into the raw beauty of the foothills of the Knockmealdowns.

From the curtain of glaciated mountains, to stone-faced banks crusted in lichens, every view is painterly and unspoiled. The cottage was re-built in standard cavity wall construction. The door and window openings were repeated, preserving a period light in this brand new part of the house.

The superb, one storey sandstone barn (not quite at a right angle) was renovated to domestic use, and married to the cottage with a short glass conjunction. This architectural device has a lightness of touch respecting the authentic views between the two old parts of the property.

A new addition, again structured in block, is completely finished in corrugated fibre cement board by Irish supplier Tegra. Screwed stoutly in place, the material is cool and rigid to the touch, in tune with the trend for a soft industrial aesthetic.

Inside, the cottage hosts the rangy entrance hall, an ante-hall, two bedrooms including a generous master with en suite, a utility and the family bathroom lit from a vertical opening and a Velux. The barn has a block construction inside the outer sandstone skin, and has been completely repointed on the exterior in traditional lime-mortar.

Perceptibly narrow, only due to its length, a partial wall divides the space equally into a kitchen/diner to the gable end and a living room where it elbows the cottage.

With a sliding door and tasteful window units looking south west, the barn wing terminates in a wonderfully preserved stone, voussoir arch. All windows are by Munster Joinery, a mixture of double and triple glazing. The modest extension, again block-built, leads off the main hall and hosts an ample corridor and two further pleasant bedrooms.

So, where’s the rub? Second fix, grading, landscaping and a few big buys are all needed.

The nerve-mincing business of getting the house weather tight, walls plastered and services in, is over— it’s a relative freewheel to Paradise.

Buyers will have to allow in the area of €50,000 and two to three months to finish this beautiful little sleeper. Finished flooring, bathroom suites, kitchen units, second fix plumbing, electrics and carpentry, the boiler (the good cistern is in place and the rads’ are in), a biocycle style waste treatment, and full interior painting- this final round is the challenge.

VERDICT: A rare opportunity to bag a unique project, with room for self- sufficiency in a spectacular, protected area with every civilising amenity you could want.

Glenaknockaun West, The Vee pass, Waterford


Size: 162 sq m/1,750 sq ft

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2

BER: Pending

Best Feature: Wild seclusion but not remote

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