Soaking up the sea views on the Fanad peninsula for €1.3m
This home is one of two for sale in Donegal over €1m
Any keen gardener who takes up residence on the Atlantic coast soon gets used to living in a state of constant mild heartbreak. Season after season of scorched leaves, vanished blooms and stunted growth will do that.
Strong winds, salt spray and often waterlogged soil present unique challenges for plants and their custodians. Trees will reach four feet tall - if they're lucky - and then abruptly throw in the towel. Tender ornamental shrubs will give up their flowers at the first sign of trouble. And as for fruit trees, forget it. The blossoms will be blasted off before they have a chance to set fruit. Many's the stout-hearted gardener who has given up in despair, either retreating inland or letting nature take over.
Not so the owners of Apple Tree House near Rathmullan, on the Fanad peninsula in Co Donegal, who have somehow defied the elements and created an idyllic garden on two acres right beside the shore.
They've got lawns winding down to the beach, tall conifers mingling with broadleaf trees, gentle soft-leafed shrubs and low-growing tender flowers. They've got two streams and a large pond with an island in the middle of it, closely and cleverly planted to look wild and natural, and there's a Monet-style bridge to take you over there. They've got a gazebo right beside the water. And they've got an orchard full of quietly thriving fruit trees - enough apple trees, in fact, that they were able to name the house after them.
The garden hints at years of dedication and energy - and if there have been disappointments along the way, they no longer show.
Needless to say Apple Tree House itself has been designed in such a way as to enjoy the best views not only of the horticultural wonderland outside the windows, but also of Lough Swilly beyond.
The house was built in the 1980s and then completely reimagined about 10 years ago, when it was upgraded and extended to 4,026 sq ft. Despite all this space there are only four bedrooms; most of the house consists of living rooms with huge windows, from which to contemplate doing another bit of gardening.
It's set into a sloping site that veers gently down to the sea, so it's split-level, with the first floor considerably bigger than the ground floor.
The front door is on the upper level, and leads to an entrance hall with a utility room tucked away on the right. Straight ahead is the eat-in kitchen and living room, which measures 22ft by 25ft. The kitchen has a vaulted ceiling with beams and is lit by skylights and a wall of windows, including double doors to a terrace. In the cooking area there's a centre island and an oil-fired Aga, and there's an informal seating area up against the windows.
Turning left in the entrance hall takes you to a large drawing room, over 26ft by 18ft, with a solid-fuel stove in a marble fireplace. The drawing room has another vaulted, beamed ceiling and a floor-to-ceiling window shooting up into the apex. There's also a partly glazed wall here cleverly placed to shed light on the staircase going down to the ground floor.
Double doors in the living room open to the dining room, which is triple-aspect with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, and there are two sets of sliding doors giving onto a wraparound balcony.
A passage in the entrance hall leads to the staircase and to a second inner hallway around which the three bedrooms on this level are laid out.
The master bedroom is almost 23ft wide and has sea views and two walk-in wardrobes, and its en-suite has a double shower and twin sinks.
The second bedroom on this level also has an en-suite shower. The third bedroom isn't en-suite but it is right beside the family bathroom, where there's a modern free-standing bath.
On the ground floor there's a large games room measuring roughly 28ft by 17ft with a floor-to-ceiling window echoing the one in the drawing room above, and double doors to the patio.
Also on this level there's a library or study with built-in shelving, and a sunroom looking over the water. There's also a guest bedroom on the ground floor which has an en-suite and two sets of French doors to the patio and garden.
From the house it's an easy wander to the garden, and from the garden it's an easy wander to the beach. And if you were in the mood for a longer wander, that beach starts at the end of the garden and ends in the village of Rathmullan, about two kilometres away.
A second entrance to the property leads to an architect-designed barn built from solid oak. As it's 1,488 sq ft in size and has two storeys, the agents suggested it could be converted to a four-bedroom guesthouse.
Apple Tree House Rathmullan, Co Donegal
Asking price: €1.3m
Agent: Savills Country (01) 6634350.