Trish Dromey reports on a period house refurbishment in Clonmel
Clonmel, Co Tipperary - €400,000
WHEN they were built in the 1820s, the elegant townhouses on Anne Street in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, must have been some of the most fashionable properties in town. Almost two hundred years on, the street has maintained its elegance and its 24 fan lit Georgian doorways, and, according to selling agents for No 17, Sherry FitzGerald Power & Walsh, it is still a very sought-after residential area.
Designed by architects Thomas and John Tinsley, the property and all the others on the street are listed for preservation. According to the Building of Ireland website the two-bay three-storey over basement house has a number of typical Georgian features including diminishing windows and a round headed door opening as well as a cobweb fanlight.
Although the façade had survived, the interior had lost most of its elegance when an Irish builder and his wife purchased it in 2002. He had worked in construction in the UK for 40 years and the house in Anne Street became his retirement project.
Specialising in restoration, he had done some work on several period properties — including Windsor Castle — and the couple, over the years, had also renovated several properties to live in.
Renovating a period property in Ireland had, according to his wife, been a long held dream for the builder. When they bought this house, she says it was habitable but much of the cornicing was broken as were the window shutters and it needed major work.
It took five years, but working mostly on his own, the owner renovated the entire house, one room at a time. He started by re-slating the roof and,when requested, also re-slated the roof on the house next door.
Repairing and replacing where necessary, he set out to restore as much as possible of the original features and elegance.
In addition to working on the cornicing, shutters and architraves, he added dado rails, sourced flooring in salvage yards and found a suitable replacement for a more modern fireplace in the sitting room.
The couple decorated with suitable traditional-style furniture which they had brought with them from the UK.
For a final touch they went to the Czech Republic on a holiday and came back with three crystal chandeliers — one each for the sitting room, dining room and master bedroom.
Spread over four floors, the property has 2,150 sq ft of living space including five bedrooms. Inside the front sash window at street level is a large sitting room which once again has some of the features of a Georgian drawing room. An archway connects it with the dining room with a sash window, antique style radiator and the décor suitable for a period home.
The kitchen, situated in a rear extension with roof lights, oak-fitted units and terracotta-tiled flooring, is the most modern room in the house.
From the hallway, steps lead down to the basement which was probably where the servants worked. Now it has a large carpeted TV room with an elaborate fireplace and period style décor. A hallway at this level with exposed stonework also offers access to a guest WC and small office.
The first floor now has luxuries the Georgians definitely didn’t have — two en suite bedrooms. The master bedroom at the front is a large timber-floored room with two high sash windows and built-in wardrobes which the owner made from reclaimed window shutters . He used cast iron handles and designed the wardrobes to look like the ones which would originally have been used.
The second floor has a bathroom and an additional three bedrooms with sloping ceiling and decorative timber ceiling beams.
Sadly, the builder who renovated the house, passed away shortly after he had completed his dream project and his wife is now planning a move to something smaller.
Guiding it at €400,000 auctioneer Dermot Power says this is a home of exceptional quality, charm and character. “It would make an excellent family residence. it’s just a few minutes walk from the town centre and it could also suit a buyer downsizing from a larger property in the country.”
Verdict: Spacious and central property with the charm of a bygone era.
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