A 5,123 sq ft glass-fronted home with views of Lough Swilly
Contemporary home in Donegal was designed to maximise the light, writes Alison Gill
By 2014 a jump in property prices showed that Ireland was hauling itself out of the property crash.
A property in Dublin's Blackrock that changed hands for €7,923,900 became the most expensive nationwide in that year. Popular tourist areas like Kerry, Cork and Kilkenny saw their highest grossing homes creep up over the €1m mark. In contrast, Leitrim's highest price was just €215,000.
Donegal's record price that year landed somewhere in the middle with the sale of Moorfield Lodge in Ramelton, then a contemporary B&B property which changed hands for €710,000. Five years later, it's back on the market and clearly hoping to hit the top spot again with an asking price of €895,000 this time round.
The glass-fronted contemporary home with views of Lough Swilly has a floor area of 5,123 sq ft. It was being run as a B&B when American couple Neal Viemeister and his wife Ginny Kirby first came upon it. They stayed there as guests without realising that one day they would call it home. "We just loved the serenity, beauty, design and comfort of the house," recalls Neal. "We also fell in love with the area and locals."
A few years later when the house went up for sale, they felt they had to seize the day and buy up a little piece of Ireland for themselves. So they did, utilising it as a second home for the past five years and even venturing into the guesthouse business themselves at one stage.
"We bought it to run it as a 'hobby' B&B," says Neal. "It was wonderful meeting people from around the world. But after three years we stopped taking guests because it became too restricting."
Going by reviews, it sounds like the couple was well-suited to the job. Everyone raved about the beauty of the house and the warmth of the hosts. Out of the many five-star reviews, one read, "best B&B we have ever stayed in. Ginny and Neal welcomed us at our car on our arrival, showed us around their magnificent floor-to-ceiling, ultra-modern building. Ginny cooked us marvellous breakfasts. We cannot recommend this B&B too highly - if you are going to this area you must stay there".
Others remarked on how peaceful they found the house and area, or how much they enjoyed the views from the over-sized windows.
The house was built in 2007, with a design that was all about maximising the light and letting the rooms flow from one to the other. All of the living space downstairs is open-plan, yet cleverly broken up with the use of shelves or furniture. Neal and Ginny did some upgrading when they bought it, such as putting down new wooden floors and tiles, so there is little to no work to be done by new owners.
When looking at the layout, it's clear to see that it's perfect for use as a guesthouse because the living space is all in the centre, with bedrooms at each end. It would be very easy to retain your own privacy at one end of the house and let guests go loose in the other.
The living, kitchen and dining area has a double-height ceiling. It's all kept clean and simple inside so that the views can speak for themselves. There are sliding glass doors around the house that open out from living areas and bedrooms onto decks, with independent areas here and there for everyone to enjoy.
A floating staircase in the hall with a brushed chrome handrail leads up to a mezzanine level that would be ideal for teens looking for a gaming or movie room. They might have to share the large terrace up here with adults, however, as it would be a super spot for summer drinks or barbecues with views of Lough Swilly, Rathmullan and Buncrana in the distance.
Behind the kitchen is a large utility room that houses the hotpress, washing machine and dryer. It also has a small bathroom and plenty of storage.
The master bedroom is tucked away beyond this through a glazed hallway. It seems far from the hustle and bustle of the main areas in the house and is very large with a tiled wetroom and two dressing rooms.
On the other side of the house there are three more en suite bathrooms. The glass walkway down to them makes you feel like you're entering a spa. The largest of the three rooms is quite special as it has a small living area and mirrored sliding doors into a split-level bathroom that has a sunken Jacuzzi bath with a TV built in at eye level, allowing one to soak for hours.
There is a loft that is currently being used for storage, but it's so large that there is potential to add more living accommodation if the desire was there.
Outside there is a double garage, a boiler house with a new Grant Vortex condensing boiler and stables for two horses.
The house sits on four acres of fenced garden that is bordered by a forest, giving the property a real sense of privacy. Neal says one of their favourite things about the house is the grounds, where their dog Tilly is at her happiest.
The village of Ramelton is a five-minute drive away. It's a pretty little heritage town with a couple of shops, restaurants and bars.
Letterkenny is 15 minutes away for bigger shops and supermarkets, while the seaside town of Rathmullan is 15 minutes away in the other direction and is a great spot for eating out. There's Belle's Kitchen and An Bonnán Buí in the town, or up at Rathmullan House there's the option of pizza and Kinnegar craft beer in the Tap House or the chance to sample the best produce on offer in Donegal in their Cook & Gardener restaurant.