Down Yonder, Rosses Point, Co Sligo Asking price: €2.4m Agent: Savills (01) 6181300 and DNG Flanagan Ford (071) 9159222
WHILE it’s nearly eight times the size of an average family home at 8,114 sq ft; Down Yonder, a coastal property at Rosses Point in Co. Sligo, is actually made up of three.
That’s because the recycled materials used to build Down Yonder with its nine en suite bedrooms include key components salvaged from three very different period houses once located in Tyrone and Fermanagh and all of which have long ago been demolished.
Eavan O’Hara and her family who own Down Yonder were dealt a life changing blow in 1997 when her husband Ronnie suffered a brain injury after a fall.
“At the time Ronnie had a stonework business and I had an IT business in Sligo. Because he had been told he would never work again we decided to look around at different businesses and thought about guest accommodation.”
After two years rehabilitation, Ronnie made a full recovery and Eavan decided to sell her business and go into the stone business with him. It was around this time that they came upon a site in the townland of Down Yonder at Rosses Point and bought it in 2000.
When it came to designing the house, Eavan called on the services of her father, John Leyden, a technical drawing teacher and renowned local draughtsman who suggested that they should ‘future proof’ the building, in case their lives took a different turn again.
As part of that process, they included nine en suite bedrooms with guest accommodation potential to give them an extra option to run a business from the house going forward.
Even before they had planning permission at Rosses Point, Eavan was looking ahead.
“My hobby was antiques, buying and selling bits and pieces of furniture for personal use. “A friend and I were at a furniture auction at this lovely old Georgian house in Omagh and we discovered it was about to be knocked for redevelopment.
“It was a big beautiful Georgian country house. And although it was in bad condition, you’d never get permission to knock it today.
“We asked what they were intending to do with the floors and doors and were told, if we were interested, we had three days to come and take whatever we wanted.”
The couple paid £2,000 and the following day Ronnie and his workmen got a flat-bed truck and drove to Omagh. “We basically dismantled the house.
"We pulled up all the floorboards, took out all the doors, the architraves and the window shutters, which we used as panelling here in the house. The arched internal door, along with its glass was brought in one piece from Omagh. We took as much as we could.”
The O’Haras weren’t finished yet, “After the house was knocked, we went back and got the solid stone windowsills along with beams from the stables which we used in the sunroom. We also salvaged enough bricks from the chimney stacks to use for the chimneys here.”
Much of the timber required work before it was incorporated in the new house.
“There was about 150 years of paint on it. In order to bring it back without damaging the grain we were told we would have to blast it with crushed walnut or hazelnut shells, which we did.”
Once it was treated and ready to reuse, a local carpenter put the old wood to new use giving the place a distinctly old-world feel. They put in 11.5ft ceilings in the living area and a plasterer friend did all the decorative cornicing and plasterwork.
When it came to the external finish on Down Yonder, the O’Haras returned to the north for Fermanagh sandstone, salvaged from the demolition of two different period houses.
Thus we could argue that the soul of three very old and elegant homes now resides at Down Yonder.
It was finished in 2003 and, with their four children, the O’Haras lived happily here until 2012 when the long-term effects of Ronnie’s accident meant he had to close his stone business.
So at that point they decided to follow the advice of Eavan’s father and in 2013 made used of the spare capacity of the house to open a boutique bed and breakfast.
“I’m sorry we didn’t do it sooner,” Eavan says. “It worked really well, and really suited Ronnie’s big personality. It also meant we could both stay at home with the kids.”
Sadly, fate dealt them another unkind hand when Ronnie was diagnosed with cancer and he died after a short illness in 2015, just as the guest house business was reaching new heights.
“We were voted the best B&B in Ireland in 2015 and number 10 in the world by TripAdvisor. We got the call in January and Ronnie passed away in April.”
Eavan has since continued the bed and breakfast business and now, with all the children through college, she has decided to move on to new things..
“I was happy to be here with the kids and Down Yonder enabled me to run a business while I could be around Ronnie and care for him at the same time.”
So she is selling Down Yonder as a family home saying that, while it is partly a business, it was gathered and put together as a family home and she hopes it will be bought as such.
‘Down Yonder’ was totally refurbished in 2017 to improve its insulation and now has a B2 energy rating.
The footprint of the house is in a very shallow ‘V’ shape designed to make the most of the views of the sea and Ben Bulben which looms in the distance.
A walled entrance through stone piers with cast iron gates leads through a tree-lined avenue to the front of the dwelling.
The front door opens to the lobby and the arched door from Omagh with the original glass leads to the hallway.
A cloakroom at one side and a guest WC at the other side of the lobby are accessed from the hall. In the large hallway the re-worked wood comes into its own in the floors, doors and architraves.
The timber and decorative plasterwork give the place the feel a real Georgian feel.
A door to the left of the hall leads to the drawing room with a bay window overlooking the gardens while a second leads to the sitting room with views to Ben Bulben and the sea at Rosses Point, one of the north west’s best loved beaches.
Both rooms are connected to a semi-circular sunroom and breakfast room with great views.
The kitchen extends out from the house proper in an inverted ‘U’ shape with corner windows and French doors giving some of the best views in the house.
A large size, as you would expect from that to be found in a guesthouse of note, it includes an Aga cooker along with a solid wood island, worktops and hand-painted units.
To the right of the hallway a corridor running the length of the house gives access to the dining room, the study and four bedrooms.
The formal dining room has a marble fireplace with a bay window looking out on the front gardens.
All four bedrooms on the ground floor have en suite facilities while the largest has a bay window with sea views. The en suite in another bedroom is entirely wood panelled with a wooden floor and a free-standing bath.
A stairwell at the end of the corridor leads to the basement at spilt level where the spaces include a utility, two storerooms, a workshop and a games room.
Upstairs the master bedroom comes with a spacious en suite bathroom, a dressing room and a large dormer window with sea views. There are four more en suite bedrooms on this floor.
The house comes with 19 acres of land and is within walking distance from the beach at Rosses Point and also 8km from lively Sligo town with its colourful and trendy shops and pubs.
Down Yonder is now on offer for €2.4m through Savills Country Agency and joint agents DNG Flanagan Ford.