Inside this lakeside Donegal dream home on the market for €850k
Carn Lodge, Ramelton, Co Donegal €850,000
When the current owners of Carn Lodge first viewed the property in 2006, they had no intention of buying the place. "To be honest," they say, "we went to steal some (or a whole lot of) design ideas. We had passed the house while it was being built and really loved the design."
It was one of a number of local houses built by a small-scale German developer Jurgen Siewer, and designed by the local firm of MacGabhann Architects, and it looks for all the world like a period property. It is also built to a very high-spec - the roof is tiled in original blue Bangor slates, says the owner, the hardwood double-glazed windows were made by an artisan in Gweedore, the stairs were bespoke and made in NI, the cornicing was custom-made in Dublin.
"I can remember the day," he says of that first viewing, "as we approached Carn Lodge through the tree-lined drive. My wife's breathing changed and when we knocked on the front door, she was literally having palpitations. As the estate agent came up the hall to open the door, she whispered, 'This is it - I could definitely live here'."
The couple had been looking for a site with sea views and shore access to build their own home. Their two eldest sons had already flown the nest, and their third was 'in the departure lounge'. "We were beginning to think about safe, magical and fun places for grandkids to visit and explore." But they were also looking for a space that would encourage creativity. "My wife is a published poet, writer, mentor and workshop facilitator, and she always dreamt of having her own workshop and performance space - a writer's retreat."
Carn Lodge ticked all the boxes. It had all the appeal and character of a period property, but none of the maintenance headaches. No draughts, leaks or damp. "My wife wouldn't go back for a second viewing. She said, 'I'm not going back to be disappointed if we don't get it'." In fact, she didn't return until the contract was signed.
And for the 10 years since, as well as being a family home, Carn Lodge has hosted writers and poets looking for peace, quiet and encouragement to write.
The property comes with 3.54 acres of woodland and lawns that run down to the shores of Lough Swilly and comes with paths that run along a boundary stream. Those in search of a restoration project can busy themselves with rebuilding the two old flax mills, known as the Mill Race, that were once powered by the stream.
Carn Lodge sits just outside the pretty Heritage Town of Ramelton in Co Donegal, and is on the Wild Atlantic Way, making it a good base from which to explore the coastline, or hike in nearby Glenveagh National Park or Ards Forest Park.
From the exterior, the house has the air of a prosperous Victorian property, but it also has New England touches, such as the wraparound verandah and a double conservatory.
Inside, the proportions are generous, with a fine entrance hall, complete with cornicework, ceiling rose and mahogany bannister. It also includes a guest WC. There are three reception rooms that boast 3m-high ceilings set off with cornicework, and with wooden floors throughout. The drawing room and living room have open fireplaces. A study doubles as the dining room, although the kitchen, at 4.84m x 4.80m, is large enough to accommodate stools at the granite-topped island counter. There are double doors leading on through to the conservatory where, the vendors say, they have sited their breakfast room as it catches the morning sun.
On the first floor, there are three bedrooms, including the dual-aspect master with en suite and a second bedroom with en-suite shower room. The second-floor bedrooms have pitched ceilings- the floor houses three more bedrooms, the family bathroom and a large games room. A double garage with loft is ideal for conversion to provide extra accommodation, either as space for staff or as a granny flat, subject to planning permission. The property currently extends to 396sqm, but also comes with planning for an additional 140sqm, which is valid until 2020.
There are plenty of attractions in the area - including the beach at Rathmullen, 11km away, and an idyllic stretch of beach at Portsalon, 20 minutes' drive away. Derry Airport is 50 minutes' drive, Dublin Airport is 258km, and Letterkenny, with its shopping, restaurants and amenities, is 15 minutes' drive away. The property would suit a commuter working in Letterkenny, although, with its access to the coastline and parks of Donegal, it might also appeal to the foreign market.
The vendors are staying local, and intend to downsize and build their own home. "We have had the workshops, the seminars, the storytelling and recitals, the weddings, the births, the graduations and the grandchildren," they say. "Retirement beckons. And new beginnings."
Back in 2006, Carn Lodge was priced at €2.2m and, at its current asking price of €850,000, represents significant value for money.
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Rainey (074) 912 2211
Viewing: By appointment