Monday 24 July 2017

This spacious Wicklow home was once an old schoolhouse

A 19th-century school is reincarnated into a substantial family home

The former classroom is now an open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen
The former classroom is now an open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen
The master bedroom
The exteriors of the Old Schoolhouse
The kitchen and dining room end of the large open-plan living space
The study
The main bathroom
The first floor landing
The gardens of the Old Schoolhouse

Eithne Tynan

When you first hear the cuckoo in spring, you should take off your shoe and see if there's a hair on it. If there is, it will be the same colour as the hair of your future husband.

Similarly, when you first hear the cuckoo, count the number of times it calls. This will tell you the number of years until you get married.

These snippets of animal lore were preserved for posterity in the Schools' Collection - a massive compendium of folklore and tradition gleaned from the pupils of 5,000 primary schools between 1937 and 1939. It amounts to almost three-quarters of a million pages of information, recorded by the children from their grandparents, parents and neighbours.

The youngsters attending Castlemacadam National School, in the Vale of Avoca in Co Wicklow, more than did their bit. As well as the two contributions quoted above, they supplied a wealth of local history, superstitions, customs, legends and proverbs, notwithstanding their possibly unhealthy obsession with getting married and cuckoos.

The master bedroom
The master bedroom

The school is long since gone, and with luck its pupils will have got everything they hoped for by way of husbands and what have you. But the building in which their precious little notes were chronicled still stands.

It was reportedly built in 1887, although the early maps show a school on the same site long before that - in 1838. At any rate its new incarnation is as a family home, and although there's been a substantial upgrade of the building, you can still sit in the former classroom and ponder the youthful citizens of the Irish Free State.

When you're finished pondering, you can do something the children almost certainly never contemplated doing, and that's practise your golf, as there's a putting green on the grounds.

But back to the former classroom, which is now a large, open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room and very much the locus of the whole house. It's triple aspect with windows facing due east, west and north, old schoolroom-style, for growing bodies needing their Vitamin D.

There's a double-height wooden ceiling in there with exposed rafters, and part-panelled walls - all painted in a pale palette to enhance the available light.

The kitchen end has fitted cabinets with granite countertops and an oil-fired Aga, with a small utility room off it. There's a solid-fuel stove at the living room end, and light wooden floors unifying the whole 740 sq ft of it.

The exteriors of the Old Schoolhouse
The exteriors of the Old Schoolhouse

As well as that main living room, there's also a sitting room with an open fire together with a study - or optionally a spare bedroom - with a flagstone floor, a wood-burning stove and fitted shelving. Off this study is an inner hall and a boot room, both with flagstone floors. The agents suggest this could become an en-suite, should you want to use the study as a fifth bedroom instead.

There's one other bedroom on the ground floor and it's the master suite at the back of the house, overlooking the garden. It has a wooden floor and an open fireplace, and there's an en-suite shower room off it.

The other three bedrooms are on the first floor - up the stairs in the sitting room. All have wooden floors and one has a fireplace.

The main bathroom is also upstairs and has a free-standing bath and a separate electric shower.

The floor area comes to 2,544 sq ft in total inside, and you've got 1.7 acres of grounds outside with a stream flowing through them. The gardens have lawns and mature trees surrounded by bluebells and wild garlic that are getting ready to come into bloom.

Separately there's a paddock and that putting green, complete with bunker so you can't make the game too easy for yourself. And once you've improved enough to display your chips in public, you can try 18 holes at Woodenbridge Golf Club which is about a five-minute drive away. Green fees there are €55 per person at weekends.

The kitchen and dining room end of the large open-plan living space
The kitchen and dining room end of the large open-plan living space

The Old Schoolhouse is about an hour and 20 minutes from Dublin city via the M11. And when you don't have to leave the neighbourhood, Avoca itself is about a kilometre away to the north-east, so a trip to the village will make for a pleasant meander though the Vale of Avoca, passing the picturesque Holy Trinity church along the way.

Meanwhile, some four kilometres to the north is the Meeting of the Waters where, fittingly enough, two infatuated waterways got married - with or without the counsel of a cuckoo - and lived happily ever after as the Avoca River.

The Old School House is for sale with Sherry FitzGerald Myles Doyle in Arklow (0402) 32367 and has an asking price of €595,000.

Old Schoolhouse

Avoca, Co Wicklow

Asking price: €595,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Myles Doyle in Arklow (0402) 32367

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