WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

TIMING is everything, they say, and for West Waterford and the Dungarvan/Clonea area, lots of planets are aligning and crossing paths to give it a deserved place in the sun.

Clonea, Dungarvan €685,000

Sq m 278 (3,000 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4+1

Bathrooms: 5

BER: N/A

Best Feature: country lane living, updated with elan

The Déise Greenway 45kms cycle, walk and running trail is coming together beautifully, with the last few sections of the route now coming into play linking Waterford city to Dungarvan.

In Dungarvan town itself, the square in the centre of the picturesque coastal town is undergoing an expensive repaving and upgrade of its public areas, reinstating its 19th century grandeur, while the new Fáilte Ireland Ancient East trail aims to do for the region and points east and north what the Wild Atlantic Way has done from points from Kinsale in the other direction, dizzyingly so along the coastline from Mizen to Malin.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

It’s not just Irish rural tourism that is finding its way again, as the ‘rest of Ireland’ rises to match the lure of Dublin as an international weekend destination; we are – hopefully – falling in love with our landscape once more. 

And, one of the best places to do just this is one of the most under-appreciated sections of Irish coastline, Waterford’s 17kms of Copper Coast, a European and UNESCO Geopark since the early 2000s, reflecting its rich geological legacy over millennia, and proud history of metals mining.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

In a golden setting near the Copper Coast’s western fringes, and just a few fields away from the Déise Greenway is this new-to-market, one-off, barnstorming rural home and cottage cluster called Stonehill, reworked back to some architectural splendours by a family who fell for Waterford’s charms while living in the UK, and who made the move over in the early/mid 2000s with young/teenage family in tow.

They spent the best part of five years effectively ‘camping’ in the then-quite original dwelling, before taking it soundly in hand, and reinventing Stonehill as a family and guest-friendly home, in a courtyard cluster, integrating old stone sheds and stables and, then, adding on as a final and highly appropriate flourish, a barrel-roofed barn extension which is home to a quite dramatic, double height master bedroom suite and viewing highlight. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

As it comes for sale this August, estate agent Denise Radley has quite rightly billed it as “one of West Waterford’s most spectacular homes.”

Stonehill is a ell-considered, and well-delivered, one-off, a sort of Grand Design harmonious project that works so well in how it combines its many disparate buildings and elements into a quite cohesive home, ranged around a paved courtyard, pitch-perfect for family living in the great outdoors, with all indoor creature comforts.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

It’s guided by Ms Radley at €685,000, and it’s just the sort of lifestyle home that will attract a relocator from Dublin, London or further afield. 

Yet, in this case, there’s a surprise assertion by the selling agent: “I’m certain this will be bought by a local, who’ll appreciate just what they’re getting here.” 

Viewings just started in the past week and some local Dungarvan professionals were to the fore in the first walk-through of the 3,000 sq ft cluster, on an utterly peaceful bucolic acre amid rich farmland and pastures, a mile off the scenic R675 by where the River Dalligan finds the sea at the eastern end of Clonea beach.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

It’s reached up a country lane, crossing the old rail line, now paved and purposed as the Greenway, with grass strip in the middle of wildflower and bramble strewn ditches. 

It then turns down an even more private, shared access drive between stone ditches and farm fields populated by horses and cattle, with views from house, garden and grounds to the Comeragh mountains inland.

Digression: best Comeragh views from Stonehill? It has to be from the upstairs of the master bedroom suite in the added-on barn wing. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Its end/gable wall is floor to ceiling panels of glass, right up to the half-circle curve of ceiling, deliberately positioned for full-on majestic mountain vistas, and which can be as equally enjoyed from the bed as from the standalone, egg-shaped bath that’s such a feature on this bedroom-level plinth.

That indulgent master bedroom is just one of several double-height spaces that make this home feel all-so airy and accommodating. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

It’s a private section of the dwelling, with ground floor access corridor, plus bathroom and cloakroom, and the stairs is by a seating/sewing section, in cast concrete, painted white, and very much the sort of stepped access you’d typically see on the outside gable of a traditional Irish stone shed or barn, only integrated in this case under the barn roof’s arching embrace.

As in the rest of the main dwelling, heating is underfloor and geothermally sourced from an air to water pump, and the bedroom’s floor and bath surround is pale porcelain tiles, with some feature LED lighting; this upper-deck level has plain glass balusters to the double height section, plus a second, smaller bathroom and a capacious walk-in dressing room to boot. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Lighting is a mix of uplighters and downlighters, on taut cables, very much commercial in look, and would not be out of place in an art gallery: in its own right, this barn-wing with its upper level bedroom plinth is high-end in every sense, probably the size of a city two-bed apartment as its stands.

Its roof is done externally in zinc, a contrast to the natural slate on top of the house’s other roofs, and all the external walls are done in a sympathetic-looking sand coloured render.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Windows are double-glazed, in alu-clad Scandinavian pine, pale green on the outside and varnished pine on the inside, and doors are a similar quality, including one or two cottage-style half doors such as in the main, hearth-of-home long, double height kitchen with exposed red pine roof trusses.

The kitchen is double aspect, opening via the aforementioned half doors the courtyard on one side, and to a herb garden and a BBQ spot on the other where there are views to the Comeraghs, past lawns, orchard and farmland.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Stonehill has all the signs of a home where good food has been favoured and flavoured. 

The 30’ long and 15’ wide kitchen houses a black Aga oven and a Falcon fridge-freezer, with in-frame units in painted timbers, and walnut, sourced and supplied from the UK, with hardwood tops and a multi-hued greenish marble island worktop with feathery waves in the stone around the slender, back-up sink and an electric hob.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Outside, the BBQ’s quite a decent beast, on a stone serving island surrounded by herbs planted in slate-fringed beds among gravel, and is supplemented by an outdoor pizza oven, cleverly and simply fashioned out of two glazed ceramic pots.

The wood-fired oven has a slot cut at out at its base for feeding in fuel and shovelling in/out pizzas, and is made from one pot inside another, with an insulating layer between them (google it, there’s lots of variations online, and while it mightn’t be a match for cob or brick ovens, it’ s an affordable option for even the most marginally able DIYers.)

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

Elsewhere inside, this house has two large, feature living rooms each with double-height, vaulted ceiling and exposed beams and trusses, and each has a wood-burning stove to churn out heat for these high-volume spaces. 

They’ve separate characters, each room; the more formal is 24’ by 17’, with enormous stove, and has French doors to the grounds.

The ‘smaller’ one, at 21’ by 15’ just off the kitchen (which is in the original house’s core) has been decked out a bit like an alpine ski chalet, with graphic cable car motif on the chimney breast and integrated stove, augmented by early 1900s wooden skis that belonged to a family member, and a back wall is clad in cedar boards, on the horizontal, with spiral stairs to a lofty mezzanine.

A blank-looking door, in matching cedar under the mezzanine, swings back to open up the link to the bedrooms’ wing, with master suite one direction, in the barn extension, and with three further bedrooms plus main bathroom in the other direction. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

They’re off an external glazed corridor along the former out-house’s exposed original stone wall, with an upmarket air, akin to a hotel spa’s suite of treatment rooms. 

Handily, all three of these double bedrooms each have access via glazed doors to the property’s central, feature courtyard.

Running along the outside of the barn and bedrooms’ corridor is a long, outdoor pool, just about a metre wide, and when the water’s fresh, and the sun is out, sunlight hits this length of water and reflects back inside, shimmering on the walls and ceilings inside, and is particularly effective in the barn section, where some windows are low down, at ground/shin level only. 

It’s a sheer, ephemeral visual treat, and an example of design-thinking at the design stage. 

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

While the owners mention an architect’s involvement for the planning process (and planning was quite easily achieved given the sympathetic-to-vernacular layout) they say most of the ideas for the house and the way it turned out was down to their own wishes for it, aided by the fact they lived here for five years, before doing the big extensions/renovation and knitting together job.

Other rooms in this adapatable cluster of blocks include a large utility with garden access, ideal for washing down after a day outdoors, off the kitchen, and a bright entrance hall with atrium-style roof light, next to a plant room that links together the services, that include geothermal and solar heating, with oil for back-up, but rarely if ever used.

Also warming are the outdoor attractions such as a wood-fire-fuelled cedar hot tub, next to a heated (by oil burner) counter-current swimming pool that’s about 15’ long. 

It’s had much use by the current owners, one of whom is a triathlete, and so has had his own swimming training pool right on the decked doorstep of home.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

On the securely-fenced, hedged and walled grounds too is a small stable block, with two boxes (those into the equine side of things will need to lease additional land for grazing ponies and horses), an outdoor shed and fuel store, pig pen, orchard, lots of shrubbed beds, fruit garden and the metal, circular outline of a trampoline has now been wired in, handy for keeping livestock or fowl, or pesky pests away from fruit bushes. 

It’s clever re-use of a frame that has reached the end of its bounce, while also ‘repurposed’ is the metal wheel rim of a truck, set up on three welded-on legs as an outdoor brazier for chillier evening BBQs.

About the only thing Stonehill doesn’t have is a sea or a coast view, and the positive trade-off for that is utter privacy at the end of this little travelled cul de sac boreen; the acre’s far boundary ends is a sort of a ha-ha level change to farm fields home to curious cattle, held at bay by new, wrought railing ram-rod straight and tautly wire-fenced.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

In view over the sloping pasture is a metal viaduct bridge by the Dalligan River valley, once used to carry train traffic, now showing the lighter load of appreciative leisure cyclists on their off-road adventures.

That proximity to the Copper Coast and Déise Greenway could open tourism accommodation doors for new owners and occupants at Stonehill, should they choose to share. 

Its main residential section has an adaptable 3,000 sq ft, with four bedrooms, and one or two more could easily enough be found, while a separate, stand-alone converted stone outbuilding is already comfortable enough for guests (with two rooms, kitchenette and bathroom, plus air to water geothermal heating,) but to date has been used mostly as a workshop for dance and pilates classes, and for occassional fortunate guests and visiting family members from the UK.

WATCH: This spectacular cottage is an architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape

VERDICT: A so-sensitive architectural addition to the West Waterford landscape.


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