'This house found us," says Sally Sweeney, who first saw Rockfield, located overlooking Tramore Bay on Waterford's Copper Coast, many years before she and her husband, Eric, both originally from Dublin, bought it in 2001.
Eric Sweeney is a well-known composer and organist and a member of Aosdana, and was head of music at Waterford Institute of Technology until he retired in 2010.
Previously Eric lectured in music at the Dublin College of Music (now DIT) and at Trinity College, and was the choral director at RTE. At various times over the course of a long and illustrious career he was composer-in-residence at the Newport Festival Rhode Island, as well as at universities in Illinois, Portland and Indiana.
"We used to live in Waterford," says Sally. "It was very convenient when our children were in school in the city, but we always had a yen for the countryside. And one day when we were out walking we spotted the house, but it was a wreck.
"I said to Eric at the time that it would make a lovely home for someone, but we are not very practical people and we didn't want to take on a big project, so we more or less forgot about it. And then a man from the area who worked in construction and had been living in Australia bought the house in 1996. He did an amazing job of doing the place up. We were delighted to buy it in turnkey condition with all the hard work done."
Three years after they moved in, Sally and Eric retained the services of local architect, Douglas Davidson, and undertook further building work, adding on a home office and utility room, as well as an en suite bedroom.
They also extended the glazed dining room to the side of the house to include a sitting area that catches whatever sun is going - Sally says that it's where she sits to read the newspaper.
Rockfield has a country feel to it, appropriate for what was once an old farmhouse.
On the ground floor there is a sitting room, music room and home office, and the kitchen has a large pantry. The modern dining/sun room extension leads to the south- and west-facing patio. A large utility room is on the other side of the hallway, along with a handy downstairs lavatory.
Upstairs, on the first floor, there are four double bedrooms, two of which are en suite, and a family bathroom. The rooms to the front of the house have magnificent views over the surrounding countryside towards the sea, with Tramore in the near distance.
Sally and Eric are very involved in the GIY or Grow it Yourself movement, which is head-quartered in Waterford, and the site at Rockfield provides plenty of space for what Sally calls "a degree of self-sufficiency".
There's a polytunnel, three decent-sized vegetable plots and four raised beds, while a hen run gives the couple's three laying hens a generous amount of space.
"In the interests of biodiversity," says Sally, "we have left the rest of the garden to nature." To the front of the house is a three-bay outhouse that's used for storing tools and as a potting shed.
Rockfield may be in the countryside, but its position at the end of a lane where there are another six houses means it's not isolated.
Sally says that one of her favourite things about the house is that if you want to go for a walk you don't have to get in the car to do so.
"There's a lane that runs along our back boundary - a boreen really, it's probably an old mass path - and you can walk to Carrigavantry Lake and Ballyscanlon Woods beyond it. There are ancient megalithic tombs that you pass on the way." Carrigavantry Lake is stocked with trout by a local angling club, and there is a good local trekking stables nearby. Garrarus and Kilfarassy beaches near Tramore are both popular for sea swimming.
Tramore, 3km distant, has become trendy in recent years, and is attracting a new generation of younger residents.
"Tramore always had the hurdy gurdies and still does - they are wonderful in their own way," says Sally. "But it has really changed. There is a fabulous surfing culture and the place is humming all through the winter. There is a new arts centre in the Old Coastguard Station and the Lafcadio Hearne Japanese gardens are lovely."
The food culture of Tramore has also taken off, with Sarah Richards's wonderful Seagull Bakery supplying excellent sourdough bread, the Mezze deli and cafe satisfying a growing demand for middle-Eastern food, and the imminent opening of the new Beach House restaurant from Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola, the husband and wife team behind the Fish Shop restaurant in Dublin, much anticipated.
Sally and Eric are downsizing and moving into the town of Tramore, from where there is a bus service into Waterford every half hour, to a new-build house with a smaller garden.
"We are both in our seventies and it makes sense to be closer to the banks, doctor and all the supermarkets, " says Sally, "but it will break my heart to leave Rockfield."
4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Agent: Michael Griffin Auctioneers (051) 330 569
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