Madge-ination- Former Neighbours star is selling up her thatched Galway cottage
Soap star sells her Galway cottage to return to the land of Neighbours
Last Friday was European Neighbours Day. But if you were a teenager in the 1980s and 90s, it was Neighbours day almost every day. The clock striking 5.35pm meant the latest serving of the insanely popular Aussie soap featuring Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Anne Charleston and Guy Pearce.
Some of the soap's most iconic storylines included the character of Madge Bishop, as played by Anne Charleston. A tough and hot-headed individual, Madge had her fair share of drama. There was the time her husband Harold was swept out to sea, leaving only his glasses behind, only to return four years later with soap-opera amnesia. Or when she temporarily lost her eyesight after brain surgery, and nearly set the house on fire. In 2001, Madge made her exit from Neighbours when she died of pancreatic cancer. Hearts broke all over the world as she passed away in the arms of her devoted Harold.
Actress Anne played the part of Madge Bishop from 1986 until 2001. In 1992, she took a break from the show and relocated to Ireland, where she was always drawn to because of her Irish grandparents. She returned to the world of soap, this time across the water when she played Lily Butterfield in Emmerdale from 2007 to 2009.
"I purchased Lisdonagh Cottage while I was still on air in Neighbours. The west of Ireland has always held a very special place in my heart, and when I first set eyes on the cottage, I knew I had to have it," says Anne. "I have a lot of family heritage in Ireland that goes a long way back on my mother's side and that, coupled with the breathtaking countryside and the many friends I had already made, meant that Headford seems like the perfect place to call home."
During Anne's long periods at the cottage, she totally refurbished and upgraded it to create a quirky yet cosy home. "I did a lot of work to the cottage over the years," she says. "I turned many of its ignored treasures into features. One of them being the patio that is situated at the very bottom of the garden and overlooks Croagh Patrick. On a clear day, it's absolute perfection."
After many happy years in this part of the world, Anne feels the time has come to say goodbye to her Galway neighbours and head back to Australia to spend more time with her son Nick and her young grandson Nathaniel.
"Two years ago, I made the decision to finally move back to Australia so I could be closer to my family and friends," says Anne. "I also have a lot of work in front of me here in Australia with plans and rehearsals for a one-woman show well underway."
However, Anne did not find it easy to walk away from her Galway home. "Saying goodbye to Lisdonagh Cottage is hard too, as it has been my home for 20 years and my connection to Ireland runs very deeply indeed. I sincerely hope that whoever ends up sitting on that back patio on a clear day, looking out across the mountains, can pause and have a quick glass of bubbles for me. It's not 'goodbye' though, it's merely 'see you later'."
Lisdonagh Cottage is a three-bed thatched property that has been extended and restored, but still retains many of its original features. You enter the house through the lounge, with its white stone fireplace, stove and wooden beams. From here you carry on through to the dining room, with its timber floors and stained-glass window. The kitchen has a pitched ceiling, fitted timber units and a tiled floor. There is a small utility room off the kitchen that is fully plumbed and has a door to the rear garden. The rear living room, with its timber floor and shelving, would make an ideal home office.
The three bedrooms have stone walls and the master is en-suite. The sunken bath and sauna in the main bathroom may look out of place in this old Irish cottage, but could be much appreciated on cold winter evenings.
Outside, the gardens are well-maintained, with a seated area to the front to make the most of the sun. There is a lawn to the rear, with a patio area surrounded by mature plants and shrubs.
Lisdonagh Cottage is for sale in the Wild Atlantic Way Sunshine auction on June 17 in the Harbour Hotel, Galway at which O'Donnellan & Joyce will sell more than 50 properties. There are open viewings every Wednesday and Saturday from 10.45am-11.45am in the run up to the sale for which the reserve is €65,000.
The house is 4.5km outside Headford, a small town in the north of Galway. Headford is a 30-minute drive to Galway city on the N84. The town has plenty of shops and cafes, with Joyce's supermarket being the largest of the stores. Galway city has all of the larger supermarket chains. The property is very close to the Mayo border, which means that the historic town of Cong, which is buzzing in the summer months, is only about 15 minutes away.
What To Do
The area around Headford and Shrule is very popular with anglers because of its proximity to Lough Corrib. It is the second largest lough in Ireland, covering an area of 44,000 acres. It is renowned for its wild brown trout and salmon fishing. There are boats for hire at several locations around the lake and angling is free.
If fishing seems like too much work, Corrib Cruises offer a variety of trips. A wonderful way to spend a day is to charter one of their boats and sail to Inchagoill Island for a barbecue. The food is prepared by a professional chef on board and live music can be arranged around an open fire on the island.
There's a good choice of trails around the area for walkers. The Clonbur Wood Loop Walk takes you through mixed woodland, with a wide variety of native and exotic tree species. Along the route you can enjoy views of Lough Mask and maybe go slightly off-trail to study the creepy remains of Ballykine Castle.
For golfers, Tuam Golf Course, which is about 20kms away, is a flat, parkland course that's suited to all levels and has reasonable green fees and a decent clubhouse.
Eating and Drinking
Headford has cafes for lunches or coffee including McHugh's, which do 'epic soup and toasties'. The Hungry Monk in Cong has a fantastic daytime menu with sandwiches like teriyaki pork belly on brioche bun. The Italian at Headford Arms Ristopub is very popular with locals.
Lisdonagh Cottage is within easy reach of Ashford Castle. Wilde's Restaurant at the Lodge at Ashford serves contemporary Irish food by chef Jonathan Keane who has award nominations to his name.
Headford's main attraction is Lough Corrib and many angling enthusiasts from around the country and the UK have bought second homes in the area so they can spend their down time on the lake. The local community is made up of natives, city workers and, in recent years, migrants. The Nesting Lark cultural event in the town celebrates the diverse community.
What's Not To Like
For those with young children, a day on the lake may not be as attractive as a day on the beach. The best of the Galway beaches at Barna, Silverstrand or Carraroe are up to an hour's drive away.
Largan, Headford, Galway
Asking price: €65,000 AMV
Agent: O'Donnellan & Joyce Auctioneers Ltd (091) 564212