School in a woodwork class of its own

This old school house is a dream buy for lovers of timber, says Trish Dromey

School in a woodwork class of its own

  • Price: €265,000
  • Size: 175 sq (1,890 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 4
  • BER: D2

This old school house is a dream buy for lovers of timber, says Trish Dromey

YOU would probably have to search the country to find a property with as much variation in its interior timberwork, or as large a log store, as the one Shelbourne School at Gortrooskagh.

Once a 19th Century schoolhouse and now a four-bed home, it has period style sash windows made from Austrian larch, an American red oak kitchen as well as elegant staircase handcrafted in South American cherrywood and walnut.

The living areas have walnut-stained silver fir ceiling beams while the sitting room has a cabinet made from parana pine. Oak rafters salvaged during renovations have been crafted into a sizable four poster bed in the main bedroom and leftover timber pieces have been used to create a parquet topped dining table. The reason for the varied timberwork is, as might possib ly have been guessed, that one of the owners is a carpenter. “The house has been a showcase for what he can do and there have been several sales of staircases to people who visited,’’ reveals its co-owner.

The reason the wood shed is so substantial is that timber is used to fuel the Stanley range which heats the house and also for the living room stove. “Filling up the shed provides enough heat for a year,” says the owner adding there are solar panels to heat the water.

Used as a school from the 1800s to the 1970s, the property became a holiday home for a while before the current owners, attracted by the idea of rescuing the old property and by its five kilometre from Kenmare location, set about making it their home.

First steps involved taking off the roof as well as the plaster covering up the limestone walls which have now been repointed. “ Because of the age of the schoolhouse which we think was built in the mid 1800s and because of the thickness of the walls, we guessed there was stone underneath,’’ says the owner.

The work took two years and started with the construction of a large garage/ workshop which was later clad with leftover stone.

Inside the property which was once a two-room school, they added on an upper floor and, later a sun-room, increasing the square footage up to close to 1,900 sq ft.

The carpenter owner, who is also a builder and a welder, did most of the work himself. In addition to doing all the timberwork and the stonework, he also made some wrought iron candelabra style light fittings for the main living areas.

With its hand-crafted oak granite topped units, Stanley stove and dark timber beams the kitchen is totally traditional looking except for the breakfast bar The sunroom alongside it has windows looking out on the wood store and on the rocky hillside behind the old schoolhouse.

Beside the kitchen is a traditional looking sitting room which has a stove with a rustic timber surround. The ground floor also has a bathroom and two bedrooms each with an en suite WC.

At the top of the handcrafted cherrywood and walnut staircase are two large rooms. One is a master bedroom which has a four poster bed, a large dressing room area and en suite bathroom with timber units. The second room has a vaulted timber panelled ceiling and a wall of mirrors and is currently being used as a Pilates studio but could be a fourth bedroom.

On its half acre site, the old schoolhouse has a lawned garden and an extra large woodshed as well a stone clad garage/workshop at the side with a gothic style door. To the side of the garage there’s a glasshouse for growing veg.

The setting in the Sheen Valley is scenic and hilly and nearby amenities include the Sheen Falls Lodge and Bonane Heritage Centre. Situated on the Beara Peninsula, the property is within a 20 minute drive from Glengarriff.

Guiding the old stone school house at €265,000, Sherry FitzGerald Daly says this is beautifully renovated property which is being sold complete with contents... and logs. “We are getting interest from locals who want to buy it as a family home and also from international buyers looking for holiday properties,’’ says auctioneer Elaine Daly.

VERDICT: A property that timber lovers will fall for.

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